From the Mists of Legends

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From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:00 pm

Joe Michaelson looked into the mirror of his hotel's bathroom. He was a dark-haired man, large and muscular, with his 5-o-clock shadow heavily laced with gray. He dropped his chin to his chest as he stood before the simple white porcelain sink in his hotel room. The harsh over head fixture threw his face into stark plains and angles. Sweat beaded on his forehead and dripped off his chin as he struggled with the entity in his mind.

His large hands gripped the edges of the sink so tightly that it caused every muscle in his body to tense to the point that he looked as if he could shatter with a single touch. The muscles of his arms trembled with effort of holding himself upright.

From the bedroom beyond the hotel's bathroom, a sleepy woman's voice called to him with a false seduction. "You alright baby? Got any candy for me?"

Oh for fuck's sakes. Joe thought. "No. I don't have any drugs." He answered her gruffly. In his own mind he heard Justine's malicious laughter. Carefully, Joe let go of the sink and stumbled to the doorway of the bathroom.

The woman sauntered toward him, all easy hip-swaying movements. "You like me, Joe? Want me to help you relax?" Her fingers drew a slow circle on his bared chest and her too-red lips smiled up at him.

"No." He jerked his chin toward the door. "Get out."

The prostitute's face took on a disillusioned pout, preparing to argue with the big man. "But, baby we just got here...."

"Get the fuck out!" He roared at her, barely under control.

The woman retreated as quickly as her thigh-high stiletto boots would permit. As the door closed with a bang, a feminine laugh echoed in Joe's head. It was dark, hateful and vicious.

You can't even take pleasure in a woman you have to pay for, Joe. Why do you bother?" Asked the woman's voice.

Joe looked back toward the mirror. This time, in its surface was the face of a delicately-scribed blond. Her chin was narrow and delicate. Her hair was curled into impossibly perfect ringlets that framed her face. Her eyes had been blue and always filled with laughter, in fact, she had been a beautiful woman. When she had been alive.

Justine Duncan had been the widow of his second in command 3 years ago. But after an attack by a nest of Vampires had taken Ross' life, Justine had blamed Joe. She began to stalk him, threaten him, even somehow managed to dislocate her spirit from her physical body in order to haunt Joe's dreams. The more obsessed Justine had become, the less time she'd spent back in her own body. In the end, Justine had also died a year to the day after Ross had. Her spirit, however still haunted Joe. In his guilt and after a year of Justine's haunting, she'd slipped into his mind, possessed him and very nearly made him eat his own gun.

He'd managed to fight off her influence that night and after another 6 months of Draconis Group shrinks, priests and sheer force of will had made a comeback. Justine still tried to gain possession of Joe's body and still haunted him every night. But she had also come to understand that should Joe die, so would she. For the time being, she doesn't actively try to gain possession of his body, however she does make his life a living hell.

"Shut up, Justine." Joe mumbled, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He stepped out of his jeans and then climbed into the steaming water of the shower.

As often happened, he suddenly found himself in a white void space where Justine waited for him. The malicious sneer on her face marred her pretty features and Joe found himself wondering again why he'd never noticed the signs of it on her face when she was alive. She wore the cornflower blue dress she'd been buried in. It was made of a flow-y sort of fabric he wouldn't have been able to name and the style reminded him of the pictures of what ancient Grecian women used to wear.

"You're getting another team, Joe. Are you going to kill them too? Like you did Ross and Dave?" She spat at him. "Do your new team members know about your past?"

Joe sighed, "Vampires killed Ross and Dave, Justine." He'd gone over this a million times. "They separated from the res..."

"LIES!" The woman shrieked at him. "You can't lay the blame on anyone but yourself! You were their leader! He was your best friend! You were supposed to protect him!"

"You can see my memories, Justine. We've been through this." He straightened from the scalding hot stream of water, realizing he was speaking aloud again. "Go away, Justine."

"And let you forget what you've done? Never. I will never go away." Her image faded suddenly and Joe found himself alone in his shower and more keyed up than he had been before his 'relaxing' shower.
__________________________________________________________________________________

The flight from La Guardia to Heathrow and then on to Edinburgh was blissfully free of Justine's persistent badgering thanks to a couple large cocktails and sleeping through nearly the entire flight. As he collected his bags, Joe reflected on the call that had sent him to the Draconis headquarters in the Scottish capital. It had been curt. But, then again, Alice had always been that way.

"You have 24 hours to arrive in Edinburgh, Mr. Michaelson. Flight number 314 from New York, flight 224 from Heathrow will put you here within that time. I'll have a car waiting." And she'd hung up on him.

Joe had stared at the phone with a scowl. "Nice talking to you as always, Alice."

Just as she'd promised, a non-descript Ford Anglia waited to pick him up, the driver was leaning on it's fender having a smoke. When Joe emerged from the terminal, the young man had leaned away from it and waved. "This was, man." Evidently, he'd been given a photo or maybe he was a Mythic....it wasn't unheard of, after all.

The drive to the red brick office building was spent in silence, other than the too-loud music on the barely functioning radio of the car. Joe was grateful it had been a relatively short ride, he'd barely been able to fit his 6 foot 4 inch frame into the narrow little car. When he moved to extricate himself and his bags from the car, the young man bent low to look at him through the open door. "Third bank of elevators, 3rd sub-basement. Alice is waiting. Good luck, mate."

Joe would have told the kid that he already knew the way, but the old car was already puttering off down the road. He sighed, picked up his bags and headed inside. It was when he was inside the elevator when Justine decided to reappear. "You're going to fail again, Joe. You're going to murder more people! How do you live with yourself? He ignored her incipient allegations and she fell into an angry silence.

The elevator finally opened to the main headquarters to the Hetja beneath the unobtrusive office building above. He hadn't been here in 2 years. Not since he'd lost his best friend and another team member and the subsequent 'therapy' he'd undergone. A medium-height woman with short, iron-grey hair stood in the kitchen slowly stirring a delicate cup of tea. Her face was lined with age and her countenance was disapproving. "How was your flight?" She asked, but then kept speaking, not really caring how it had been at all. "Your new team is going to be a bit unconventional. They are due to arrive in the next few hours. One is a local. One is a zoologist and one a history student." She leaned away from the counter, put her tea cup down and began to walk toward the elevators. "The files you need are on the table." As she drew along aside him, she looked up at him with a stern face. "Try not to screw this up, Mr. Michaelson."

Joe didn't turn his head as Alice headed into the elevator and headed to wherever her office might be. His face was tight and he could hear Justine's laughter in his mind. He glanced to the conference room where the files were and then turned to find a room to dump his gear. "Fantastic." He muttered.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:33 am

‘How did I get myself into this mess?’

A sour expression marred Catherine Ettridge’s delicate facial features as she stared out the window of the jet, her chin propped on one hand and her posture slouched in a decidedly unprofessional manner. So far there hadn’t been much to see out that tiny window except for clouds, but at least she could let her mind wander instead of dwelling on the reason why she was so grumpy.

She was still kicking herself for her naïveté and blind stupidity, and would probably continue to do so for the unforeseeable future. She never should have trusted that man, never should have touched his “sample” with a ten-foot pole. He had seemed so friendly and genuinely interested in her work, but in the end he had taken advantage of her good will. And what had she gotten? Her research files held hostage, her career as a zoologist ruined before it could begin, and a so-called new job with a group of Bigfoot-chasing fanatics calling themselves Draconis.

‘Harpy’s wing my foot. That sample must have come from some kind of buzzard. Probably American,’ Catherine thought bitterly. There were so many other explanations for why that sample had been so unusual. Maybe it had come from an extinct species. Maybe she hadn’t isolated the DNA correctly. Maybe the sample had been poorly preserved. Absolutely anything would make more sense than saying it had come from a mythical creature that simply didn’t exist.

She readjusted her wireless rim glasses, tucked a strand of light brown hair behind her ear, and forced her attention back to her laptop, which was sitting on her tray table. She had spent most of the short flight drafting emails to her colleagues back home to send when she arrived at her destination. Everything had happened so quickly, all within the past week, that she had barely gotten the chance to move her equipment out of her former advisor’s lab and bid her family farewell. Now she was trying to play catch-up and give her colleagues the cover story that she had gotten a new job in Scotland but would be unable to collaborate on future research until further notice.

Before she could dwell on the situation any longer, the flight attendant’s voice sounded over the intercom, politely asking the passengers to prepare for landing. Catherine spared one last thought for the “bloody pseudoscientists” she would be working with before stowing her laptop.

The airport in Edinburgh was clogged with masses of people all disembarking from their flights at once. Luckily, Catherine remembered her way around from when she had come to Scotland while doing her Ph.D research and retrieved her luggage from the baggage claim with little trouble. As she started to head for the exit, Catherine remembered that she had absolutely no idea where to go. The Draconis members – what did they call themselves? Hetjas? – that had recruited her had simply given her a flight itinerary and sent her on her way.

Luckily, she didn’t have too long to wander aimlessly. As she approached the double doors leading outside, she heard her name. “Dr. Ettridge?” She turned towards the voice to see a young man dressed nondescriptly and speaking in a decidedly Scottish accent.

“Um…yes? May I help you?” Catherine stammered, more than slightly unnerved that some random stranger recognized her.

“I have been instructed to see you to the headquarters. Please follow me.” Despite her good common sense screaming at her to avoid trusting strangers, Catherine really had no other choice but to follow him to the parking garage, where he unlocked a small brown car and helped her stow her bags. Either Draconis took stalking to a whole new level, or they were more prepared than she realized. Sadly, neither explanation made her feel any better about the situation.

The ride to the headquarters passed in relative silence. The driver didn’t attempt to engage Catherine in conversation, and that was just fine with her. Catherine’s eyes widened just a little as the car pulled up to the stately red brick office building. She had to admit, Draconis could have done much worse with the oceanfront location. Having the ocean so close made her feel slightly more at home.

Catherine retrieved her bags from the trunk and followed the driver, leaving the car parked on the side of the street. The foyer didn’t look too different from a typical office building. Plush carpet covered the floors, and she also noticed a small coffee shop and offices belonging to several small business firms. “This way, please.” The lady behind the security desk simply smiled and waved them on as the driver led her to the bank of elevators and stopped in front of the third one. She watched as they entered the elevator and he pulled a key out of his jacket sleeve.

“What are you…?” Catherine began.

“This key allows special access to the underground headquarters. It’s one of the ways we keep our presence concealed from the public,” the driver explained. He inserted the key into a tiny slot near the panel of buttons, twisted it, and the elevator began to descend. Just as Catherine started to question her sanity, the elevator gave a soft ding as it came to a stop. “Here we are.” He led her through a large living space with walls of living rock and concrete, equipped with a conference room, galley kitchen, wall-to-wall bookshelves, a computer desk, and an office. They passed through a hallway to the left of the elevators that had several small bedrooms and a bathroom. “You will be staying in this room. Of course, you are more than welcome to move to housing within the city if you prefer.”

Catherine scoffed mentally, ‘As if that would happen. If I have my way, I’ll get out of the job and back to the real world before I spend a cent on housing in Edinburgh.’

“I will leave you to get settled. Your team leader is Joe Michaelson. I believe he is waiting in the conference room.” With that, the young man gave a small nod in acknowledgement and left Catherine to get settled.

For a few moments, Catherine simply took stock of the room. It was simple but serviceable, with a comfortable bed, nightstand, desk, office chair, closet, and lamp. ‘No sense in putting off the inevitable,’ Catherine mused quietly. She left her bags in the room to unpack later, save for her briefcase, which held her laptop and doubled as her purse. She straightened her charcoal gray blazer and slacks, quickly checked her reflection in the mirror to make sure she didn’t look too rumpled from traveling, and headed down the hallway towards the conference room, her heels clicking lightly against the floor.

Catherine couldn’t completely stifle her apprehension, but she kept her expression strictly professional as she entered the conference room. The room only held one other occupant, a tall, dark-haired man who looked to be in his early thirties. He was sitting at the conference table going through files of paperwork but looked up when Catherine entered the room. “Are you Joe Michaelson?” she asked calmly. “I’m Dr. Catherine Ettridge, and I was told to report to you. I hope I’m not late.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by quakernuts on Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:25 pm

A young man sauntered down the street, a gray T-shirt adorning his person, along with almost perfect fitting blue jeans and a black backpack that he hung onto with one shoulder and hand. Earbuds were fitted into his ear as the white strands from the connecting Ipod swayed in time with his step as Richard pressed forward to his new job. The look of excitement was not easy to miss as a giant smile was on his face nearly the entire time he strode forward. He had made sure to prep himself accordingly, going for the casual but well groomed look. He had done his hair up in a spiky front ridge, made sure he had cleaned everything ahead of time, and spent enough time in the bathroom it made him question whether or not he had inherited some girlish tendencies.

Despite this, the beautiful day only added to his attitude as the Draconis Inc. Shipping and Receiving Company building loomed ahead once he rounded the corner. When he had been asked to join the company, they had offered him a spot at the HQ to stay, but he still ended up getting a small apartment just a couple blocks away in case he needed to distance himself as a safety precaution. He doubted he would be spending much time there, but the money he would be getting from his new line of work would easily cover it and more. Besides, it wasn't just the money that interested Richard, it was the job itself.

Never would he have believed that everything he had been looking at for all these years, mythological creatures of varying cultures, would have been literally right underneath his feet. They had brought him to the building from the U.S. and shown him everything after signing a non-disclosure agreement, and that was all that he needed for him to make a decision to move to Scotland and start doing more with his life. He hadn't gotten used to the accent by the locals yet, and sometimes felt like he was being ridiculed for his, but he got by it mainly.

He walked up the steps and into the building. Inside there sat a secretary behind a desk, a few stairs on either side, and a long dramatic walk to a bank of elevators straight in front of Rick. He looked to the secretary and gave a smile, who looked up and returned it. "Welcome back Mr. Tornan. How are you settling into Edinbourgh?" Her accent was unmistakeably Scottish.

"Perfectly Candice." Richard returned. "Still trying to get a hang of the accents, but that comes with the territory." He smiled even brighter than he thought he could, the excitement getting to him before he could control it. Candice simply gave a small laugh.

"You look like a kid in a candy store. Let me call someone up for you." She tapped a few buttons, and talked into the headset for a couple of seconds before looking back at Rick. "Someone's on their way up for you. He'll talk to you in the elevator."

"Thanks Candice." Richard stated as he started walking towards the elevators.

"Good luck Mr. Tornan." She stated as Rick reached the elevators and waited for one of the doors to open. It felt like minutes, even if it was just seconds, but eventually the doors parted to reveal a man that looked much like the ones that had recruited him. The man was tall, wearing a black suit almost like the actors from the movie 'Men in Black', but less formal. He looked over at Richard before giving a practiced and professional smile.

"Mr. Tornan. Welcome to Draconis."

"Glad to be here." Rick smiled before entering the elevator and offering a hand. The man took it in a firm grip and gave it one shake.

"Good to hear. A few things to note. You will be answering to a team leader, his name is Joe Michaelson. He'll be waiting for you in the conference room." Rick simply gave a small nod as the tone ticked down as they went farther underground. Another trip that seemed longer than what it actually was, and the doors opened to reveal the common room. The man led him through some rooms, the most noticeable one being the library, where no doubt Rick would be spending most of his time. He was a nerd, but he didn't care. The man led him into a room, complete with a bed, a desk, nightstand, among other things that would suit his needs. "This is where you'll be staying, should you ever decide to rest here rather than your apartment Mr. Tornan."

"Cozy." Rick said as he walked inside and gave the room a once over.

"Mr. Michaelson will be waiting for you in the conference room once you are done. Have a nice day Mr. Tornan." The man left Rick to his own devices, and he took the time to simply sit on the edge of his bed for a moment. He set the backpack down on the floor, and just let everything sink in. He had already seen the underground city, at least from the elevator, and couldn't wait to get down there again. Even as his thoughts drifted, he yanked himself back to the present in order to solidify what he was going to do. He needed to head to the conference room to meet with his new boss, but he didn't know what exactly he was supposed to bring other than himself.

Quickly he opened his backpack, and grabbed a large binder that contained a huge amount of information on as many mythological creatures that he could document. He opened it up, and gave it a few flips to calm his mind slightly before closing it and zipping it up again. He felt like this was the first day of university for him, and he couldn't help but bring up some of the similarities. He had been brought here because of this extensive knowledge of mythological creatures, and nothing else. He wanted to make sure that people recognized that he knew what he was doing, or else this could go downhill really fast should they see him as nothing but a liability. He would not allow himself to get fired from this job, his dream job.

So, with his binder in hand, along with a few writing utensils should he need to sign something or take notes, and wandered around the area for a moment. He eventually found his way into the conference room, noting that two others were in the room already. One was obviously the man that he had been told would be their team lead. His gruff appearance and obvious stature seemed to indicate that he had seen a fair amount of action, but also that he seemed to be a little more than abrasive. Call it intuition, but Rick had a feeling he didn't want to piss this man off.

The other was a woman sitting at the table. Just by the look of her, Rick could say without a shadow of a doubt that she wasn't here for her fighting prowess. It looked like if a gust of wind came along suddenly, she would be blown over. Despite looking frail in appearance, she seemed to hold herself with an air of authority that defied her physique. Rick made a mental note not to piss her off either. Seemed like that would be the trend with the team. As he entered he gave a nod to both of them.

"Hello. Richard Tornan. I was told to report to a Joe Michaelson for a briefing?"
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:07 pm

La la la la la
La la na na na
La la la la la
La la na na na.

His eyes snapped open as if he’d been dunked in ice water, and he snapped upright as his vision blearily adjusted to his sudden waking. Reaching blindly at the nightstand, his fingers fumbling wildly for the source of the blaring music.

Girl I've been all over the world
Looking for you
I'm known for taking what I think I deserve
And you're overdue

Finally, his hand tightened round the phone, and he flicked it open in irritation before pressing it to his ear. “Jackie…how many times have I told you not to touch my phone?” There was a giggle from the other end, and he chuckled, a smile forming on his lips. “What do you need, kiddo?”

“Nothing, dad. You just need to wake up for work.” He blinked, glancing over at the clock, grimacing when he made out the time. The groan didn’t escape Jackie, who giggled again. “New day, new job! You can’t be late!”

Scratching his chin, Cameron shook his head slowly at her insistence. “Not really a new job, kiddo, but thanks for waking me up.” Stretching, he rose from his bed, shaking away the numbness from his limbs as he wandered towards the bathroom. “I’ll probably be late tonight, so help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge. And do your homework before you watch TV, alright?”

“Yes, Dad.”

Grabbing a towel from the hall closet, he tossed it into the bathroom. “I mean it. I’ll be checking when I get in tonight.” Glancing at the time, he forced himself not to swear. “Alright, I need to get going. Have a good day, Jackie. I’ll see you later.”

“Bye, Dad. Love you!”

“Love you too, sweetheart.” Flicking the phone shut, he tossed it carelessly onto the counter and started up the shower. Inside the warm rush of water, he relaxed, eyes drifting shut as he made a plan for his day. There wasn’t much too exactly do. Shower up, have something for breakfast, before a casual walk over to the Draconis building. The thought made him scowl. He wasn’t exactly looking forward to his new ‘career’ as a…shit, what was the word?

“Professional moron.” That sounded about right. Finishing up his shower, Cameron made his way to the kitchen, wrapped in only a towel, and put some bread in the toaster, before rummaging through the pile of clean laundry he’d left out the night before. They hadn’t mentioned anything related to a dress code, so he didn’t feel the need to dress in his old security uniform. Which was a good thing, considering he’d burned it in an alleyway two days ago in a fit of rage. He grinned lopsidedly. It had been therapeutic beyond his expectations.

Tugging on a clean pair of boxers and fresh black jeans, he snatched the toast from the toaster shortly after it popped and smeared an ample supply of PB and jelly. With breakfast sorted, he grabbed a simple white muscle shirt and slipped it over his head. Next came his graduation ring, then the Celtic cross that dangled around his neck on a silver chain. Rubbing at his chin, he spent the next ten minutes searching for his wallet, before finding it tucked under a brown bag in the fridge. For a moment, he wondered why the hell he’d put his wallet in the fridge, before noticing that someone had scrawled his name on the bag. “Making me lunch now?” He mused aloud, grabbing the bag and setting it on the counter.

After a few more minutes of wild searching for things he really should have put in one place, he was finally ready for his first day as a…seriously, what were they called again? Locking up behind him, Cameron pulled his headphones over his ears and cranked the volume on his ipod as he began the trek to Draconis. His toast dangled from his mouth, slowly being chewed and pulled deeper into his mouth.

Luckily, it was a rather nice day, with a gentle breeze that cooled instead of chilled. He’d taken this route countless times; barely even needing to pay attention as his feet automatically weaved past people and obstacles. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his dark jacket, he thumbed the cold frame of his harmonica, muttering a swear under his breath.

His luck had once again proven itself to be more than willing to kick him in the ass whenever he got comfortable. This time however, it’d had gone overboard. Working with some secret syndicate that kept the world from discovering the existence of mythical creatures? It was a bullshit premise that belonged in the books he bought for Jackie, not in real life. And yet here he was, dragging his heels but working ever closer to the ‘top secret base’ where he’d protect the world from horrendous abominations that no one would ever see.

“Fuck me.” Slowing to a stop, he stared up at the Draconis building, looking at it as if he’d never been there before in his life. Any minute now, someone would tell him this was a stupid joke, and that he’d won some ridiculous sum of money for playing along. He’d buy a cruise, and he’d take Jackie to the Caribbean for a month. Waiting for a moment, he waited for the host to appear. “Of course not. Because killing faeries is so much more realistic than winning a TV show.”

Trudging up the steps, he shoved roughly past the few employees bustling in and out of the building, and completely ignored the small line for the reception, tapping his ring loudly on the desk to get the woman’s attention. He’d seen her countless times during his work as security, even had a few light conversations with her. Candice turned to him slowly, a slight look of annoyance on her face. “Hello, Mr. Aitkin. I trust you’re well?”

“Fantastic, really. How do I get to the…” He glanced towards the other man at the desk, who was glaring at him. “…you know. That place.” Candice opened a drawer, and produced a single, rather plain looking key, setting it on the counter for him. He wasted no time snatching it up.

“The last elevator. Use the key. Bottom floor.” He nodded in understanding. “Have a pleasant day, Mr. Aitkin.” She gave a smile, before turning back to the other client.

“No promises.” He stalked across the lobby, pressing the call button for the final elevator, leaning against a wall as he waited for it. He looked out of place in the classy building, his scowl and rougher clothes making most of the other personnel to avoid wandering too close. He’d seen half these people countless times, but a simple change of clothes made them incredibly leery. Jackasses. “Maybe I should have kept the damn uniform…”

The soft sound of the elevator doors sliding open banished the thought, and he stepped inside without a moment’s delay. Pushing the key into the small lock, he hit the button for the bottom floor, and felt the telltale lurch as the elevator began its descent. He’d expected the trip to be brief, but he found it stretching on longer and longer. He glanced upwards, noticing a small camera in the corner. “This thing go fucking deep enough?” Cameron flicked out his phone, noting that he had absolutely zero service. “I’ll have to get Jackie my work number…hopefully this place has a landline.”

As the door opened, he stuffed it back away, and stepped into his new ’workplace’, if you could really call it that. It was far nicer than the break room the guards had, and after a few minutes of silent exploring, he stumbled across the rooms. Did they actually expect people to live down here? Opening a few of the doors, he found suitcases, and a backpack in one, meaning they were likely claimed by whoever he was supposed to be working with. Finding one of the empty ones, he casually tossed his jacket on the bed, not really intending to ever use the room, but he figured he might as well mark on as his for the time being. Digging his harmonica out, he spun it about in his grip a few times, before returning to the main room. His lunch was tucked into the provided fridge, and then he resumed his wanderings of the area.

Voices from one of the rooms drew his attention, and Cameron entered cautiously, eyes narrowing once he caught sight of his ‘team’. “Ah fuck. You people aren’t from around here, are you?” He gave each of them a quizzical look, before sighing heavily and tossing himself into one of the open seats. “I get the feeling I’m under dressed, and undereducated. Just fantastic.” He rested his head in his hands, grumbling something under his breath. “Cameron. Thrilled to fucking be here.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:45 pm

Joe sat in the conference room trying not to listen to Justine’s constant badgering in his own head. He tried to focus instead on the very brief files of his ‘team’. Alice had told him they would be unconventional, but as he looked through the files, he realized that unconventional was a euphemism for cannon fodder.

”You already want them gone, don’t you Joe? You don’t want the responsibility, do you?”

Just at that moment, a slender young woman with light brown hair entered the conference room which precluded Joe actually answering Justine’s accusation aloud. “Are you Joe Michaelson?” she asked calmly. “I’m Dr. Catherine Ettridge, and I was told to report to you. I hope I’m not late.”

Joe rose from his chair in a display of courtesy almost completely lost in the times to greet the woman, extending a large hand to her. “Yes, I am.” He shook her much smaller hand gently and then indicated a chair to sit in. “You’re actually the first to arrive.” His thick Brooklyn accent left little doubt where he called home. Joe took his own seat once more. “I see you’re a zoologist.” The big man paused, almost uncertain. “Interesting work?”

”She’ll die! Like they all will. And you will kill them. You!” Justine’s shrill voice speared his brain like an ice pick, causing him to wince slightly.

Joe reached up to rub at his temples slightly in an attempt to alleviate the pain. He had to find a way to get that bitch out of his head. His only answer was a sickening laughter.

Not long after Dr. Ettridge sat down, a young man with a bright eagerness in his eyes, even though he tried to act more seriously also found his way into the conference room. He also had light brown hair, like the Doctor, but with blue eyes and the build of an athlete. "Hello. Richard Tornan. I was told to report to a Joe Michaelson for a briefing?"

Joe glanced up from the Doctor and nodded at the young man. He hadn’t expected the bookworm to be in decent shape. It was definitely a point for the kid. Maybe he’d last just by being faster. He almost sighed, but didn’t quite. He saw hours of weapons training and face time with Alice for these poor babes in the woods. “Come on in and have a chair. This is Doctor Catherine Ettridge from London. She’s also a new member of this team. We’re just waiting on one more. And then we’ll get started.

Joe let Richard and Catherine introduce one another and make a bit of small talk while he skimmed their files once more. On paper, they’d be a fairly good asset in research…but not in the field. Not even close. What was he supposed to do with them? Make Vampires and Troll play tea party and patty-cake?

The last member of Joe’s so-called team entered with a sour expression and an attitude. “I get the feeling I’m under dressed, and undereducated. Just fantastic.” He rested his head in his hands, grumbling something under his breath. “Cameron. Thrilled to fucking be here.”

Joe looked at the young man with sandy hair and fashionable, rocker sideburns. “You must be the former Security Guard.” He observed unnecessarily. In truth Cameron’s rough and tumble background was the closest thing to any fighting experience the three new members of the Hetja had. “You can stow the attitude and we’ll get along fine.”

”Fighting already? Dissention in the ranks? Justine positively cackled in Joe’s mind.

Joe looked at Catherine and then at Cameron, pointing to them, “Hard recruitment.” He pointed at himself and Richard, “Soft recruitment. That’s how this works. You either get a choice as Richard and I did because we saw too much and wanted to know more. Or, you were bullied or threatened into it because you can’t be running around with the knowledge that Mythics exist without supervision.”

Joe leaned back in his chair and absently rubbed the knuckles of his right hand with his left and began to tell the 3 new members gathered there about the history and mission of the Hetjas and Draconis Group. Any time any of them attempted to insert a comment or question, he’d hold up a hand to silence them until he was done. All told the telling took nearly an hour and included information about the Under City and how the hierarchy worked within the Group.

Once done, he looked at each of them with a hard stare, “My job is to take you on assignments as we get them and get you out alive again. You’ll each contribute your special expertise and skills to making the mission work. But make no mistake, I’m going to work you every damned day on how to use a weapon, hand to hand and a shit load of reading. He then pointed at Richard, “He’s going to help there.”

You can’t save them, you know. No Doctor, no bookworm can help you…and a thug? A street musician? What possible use can he be?”

Just as Joe finished his little speech, an older woman with iron-gray hair and a permanently angry expression on her features, entered the room. Out of the blue she reprimanded, “Oh do shut up, Justine. You’re being even more tiresome than usual.” As the woman stated this to no one in particular, it seemed, she handed out some folders to each member. “Sign these. Release forms and wills. I’ll have them notarized.” Her words were so dry and seemingly without care, it was startling.

“Warm and fuzzy as always, Alice.” Joe commented under his breath. But, secretly, he was grateful that the sea hag could address and actually shut the ghost up, even if only of a little while.

Alice merely looked down her nose at the big American. “It’s my job, Mr. Michaelson. One, I have to perform, as you are well aware.” The venom in her tone was unmistakable. She then turned her dark gray eyes to the new members, “I’ll want those back by the end of the day, if you please.” The woman, then turned and exited the room like a small battleship under full steam.

Joe just shook his head, “That was Alice. She is your handler. Any missions and information come through her. And yes, she’s always that pleasant.” He looked at each of them, “Don’t be too worried about her, though. She’s a Sea Hag under a geas to the Hetja and follows it to the letter of the law.” Joe leaned forward, resting his forearms on the table. “Alright. Questions. Fire away.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:32 am

Even if Catherine hated the premise of this job, she appreciated the courtesy Joe showed as he rose from his chair to greet her and shake her hand. “Yes, I am.” She noticed right away that he had a strong accent, not from any countries in Europe. She recalled collaborating with a colleague in Brooklyn who had the same accent. “You’re actually the first to arrive.” He sat back down and indicated her file. “I see you’re a zoologist.” He paused as he pondered his next question. “Interesting work?”

Catherine wanted to make a snarky remark about how she did not appreciate being torn from her “real work” to chase nonexistent fantasy creatures, but she kept her demeanor strictly professional. After all, he was her new boss for the time being. “Yes, very much so. “I actually specialized in systematics via DNA analysis and am hoping to continue that line of work.”

While Catherine spoke, she noticed Joe rub his temples as if he had a headache. Before she could ask what was wrong, another person entered the room, a young man with light brown hair and blue eyes. “Hello. Richard Tornan. I was told to report to a Joe Michaelson for a briefing?” While Catherine had zero experience with men outside of a strictly professional setting, she had to admit that he had a nice build and a pleasant expression.

He also looked WAY too happy to be here.

Joe greeted Richard and introduced Catherine before leaving them to make small talk. Even though Catherine had no intentions of staying in this job long-term, she figured she should still be polite. Her parents and professors had all grilled her in manners and professionalism practically her whole life, and she didn’t want to start burning bridges with her new boss and coworkers. She shook Richard’s hand, slightly surprised at the strength in his grip, and assumed a pleasant smile. “Good to meet you. Please feel free to just call me Catherine.” She extended that second statement to Joe as well. “What kind of work do you do, Richard?”

Shortly after that, the final team member, another young man with sandy hair and sideburns, entered the room, introducing himself as Cameron and spouting an attitude. He reminded Catherine more of a street thug than a former security guard. ‘And of course I’m the only woman. Outstanding,’ she groused mentally.

Joe called the meeting to order before Cameron could complain anymore. At least she wasn’t alone in her dislike for this new job. “You either get a choice as Richard and I did because we saw too much and wanted to know more. Or, you were bullied or threatened into it because you can’t be running around with the knowledge that Mythics exist without supervision.” He held up a hand for silence when Catherine tried to object that Mythics most definitely did not exist and launched into an hour-long lecture about Hetjas, Draconis, and even some so-called haven for Mythics called the Under City. Needless to say, Catherine didn’t buy any of it. She panicked slightly when Joe mentioned weapons and hand-to-hand. There was a very good reason why she had no athletic achievements on her resume.

Catherine glanced at Richard briefly when Joe said he would help with reading assignments. ‘Oh great, THAT’S why he’s so happy to be here.’ Phrases floated through her mind like “Bigfoot chaser” and…what was that game Americans liked so much? Dungeons and Dragons? However, she managed to keep her expression neutral even though she thought all the hubbub about Mythics was complete nonsense.

And then things got even better. Their “handler” Alice entered the room, passed out liability forms, and spoke as if she had never had a good day in her life. And what kind of term was “handler”? It’s not like they were wild beasts needing taming by a “handler,” like the tigers at the circus or elephants in the zoo.

“Don’t be too worried about her, though. She’s a Sea Hag under a geas to the Hetja and follows it to the letter of the law,” Joe explained. He leaned forward and rested his arms on the table. “Alright. Questions. Fire away.”

Silence pervaded the room for a few moments. Finally Catherine couldn’t take it anymore. Everything she had just heard sounded too ridiculous. It wasn’t science, it wasn’t history, and it certainly wasn’t true. Taking a breath for composure, Catherine stated, “I’m just going to come out and say it. I’ve never believed in the existence of these so-called Mythics, and I find it hard to believe anything you just told us. How do you expect us to believe that an organization like Draconis has existed for so long without mention in any history books or documents? And if these Mythics are so prevalent, how come the scientific community hasn’t exploded with research on them?” Catherine also wanted to say something about how absurd Alice’s story was. Sea Hag? She was just an ordinary, if extremely grouchy, older woman. However, she didn’t want to risk insulting an authority figure just yet. She had probably already done enough damage with her current questions as it was, so she let them hang in the air and waited for Joe’s rebuttal.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:02 pm

Maybe it was a good thing he had shown up after everyone else. The others didn’t exactly look like the type of person he’d get along with easily, especially the big man sitting at the head of the table. He grinned lopsidedly, although it was a humourless thing. He wanted to toss a wise crack at the man, but he promptly wasted no time launching into a ‘lecture’ about Draconis’s recruiting methods. It was a crock of shit when you actually paused for half a second to think about it.

Who in their right mind would believe him if he started spouting about being attacked by legless little bouncy ball people? A few gossip rags would scream about it, no doubt, but anyone with half a head on their shoulders would look at him like a crackpot. Which would have been fine by him. Honestly, the only thing he’d wanted to do after his little run-in was drown himself in a few pints and blame it all on the alcohol. So much more reasonable than being dragged ass over head into some shitty new job without so much as a say in his options.

As Joe continued on with his explanation, Cameron steadily tuned the man’s thick accent out, eyes drifting from place to place in their little ‘conference room’. There was the odd moment when the woman would shift or open her mouth to say something, only to be silenced by a raised hand. He snorted. If he wanted to say something to the prick, he’d say it regardless of a hand.

Speaking of the woman, the former guard finally resolved to at least look at his other…‘team-mates’, starting with her. She looked like a porcelain doll, but the stiffness of her features and the annoyed disinterest pegged her with a bit more bark than your typical weakling. Still, she was the only other ‘hard’ recruit, so if he had anything in common with anyone, it was her.

“Tragic.” He muttered, earning a quick glance from Joe as his rambled on about history or some such. His gaze lazily shifted to the other young man, and he frowned deeper, if such a thing was possible. He was happy, first and foremost. Cameron wanted to reach across the table and cuff him upside the head a few times to knock the smile off his damn face, but that would probably be frowned upon. While he had the same sort of ‘smart’ look that the woman did, this one actually had some muscle to his body, although it was easy to peg him with a runner’s build, not a fighter’s.

“My job is to take you on assignments as we get them and get you out alive again. You’ll each contribute your special expertise and skills to making the mission work. But make no mistake; I’m going to work you every damned day on how to use a weapon, hand to hand and a shit load of reading." Cameron glanced towards their boss, in time to catch him point back at other man. “He’s going to help there.” Gritting his teeth, Cameron opened his mouth to tell the ‘boss’ off, only for the sound of approaching footsteps to cut him short.

The old woman who entered only got a glare from him, and he snatched the sheets from her hand roughly, trying his best to ignore the fact that she was talking to the air just a moment ago. The sheets were dumped without concern onto the table, and he leaned back wearily in the chair, trying to ignore the cramp forming in his butt from sitting so long. The busker snorted at Joe’s explanation. “Hag is right.” The floor was then opened for questions.

He wondered lazily what to ask, before the sharp intake from Catherine drew his gaze and brought a grin back to his face, however tiny. She let loose a barrage, basically saying Joe was full of bullshit, just in a much more pleasant way than he would have. He managed a silent chuckle. “Well, in regards to scientists, there’s the whole issue with the collective lot of em having their head stuck up each other’s asses that might be blinding.” He looked to Joe proper, his amusement fading in to a scowl. “As for this everyday bullshit, you can take that and stuff it up your ass. Five days a week, like a regular job, that’s my contract. I made that perfectly clear in those ‘negotiations’.”

Resting his head back in his hands, he wondered briefly if it was overly wise to insult his boss. Not that they could really fire him from this position. It was rather…permanent. A small bonus to his contract, he supposed. “Does this place have a ‘landline’, by the way? My cell doesn’t get reception ten thousand feet underground, go figure, and it’d be a pain in the ass to have to constantly use the lift for a five second phone call.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:17 am

Joe had an intuition about the good Doctor and sure enough, hers was the first voice he heard. She cried foul on absolutely everything he’d spent the past hour explaining, from the existence of Draconis itself to Mythics. But, he’d been through this many times before. He could open the door for Catherine, but he couldn’t force her to see. “You ask exactly the right questions, Dr. Ettridge. And most of it I can answer. Originally, we were part of the Vatican Guard. That is historical fact. Witch trials and persecutions happened, also fact. That was us in the beginning.”

He continued with his explanation. “Anyone who studies the ancient religions and legends of the world would note the remarkable similarities in the old stories; winged beings ranged from the Angels of the bible to Isis in Egypt to gods in Mesopotamia and even Quezocoatl in Meso-America. Helpful household spirits we call pixies or brownies are also exceedingly common around the world. The remarkable similarities without those civilizations having any contact stretches the bounds of coincidence a bit far even for you, I’m sure.” His eyes crinkled at the corner in soft amusement, though he wasn’t being condescending.

Justine simple snorted in his ear, ”Useless! She’ll be the first to die. Will you watch the light go out of her eyes as you try to stem the flow of blood from her throat, Joe? Like Ross?”

Joe paled visibly, but after gathering himself, he went on. “As for the Mythics? Why hasn’t science jumped all over them?” The amusement in Joe’s eyes disappeared. “Because we make sure that the world of the Mythics and those of Humans don’t meet if at all possible. Most are sentient and some aren’t in any way friendly. Others can be dealt with.” He knew that wouldn’t satisfy the scientist in Catherine, so he continued. “Every day, creatures that humans were positive did not exist are ‘discovered’. At the bottom of the darkest ocean, in incredibly remote jungles. You know that. How long ago was it when the supposedly extinct Coelacanth was hauled up alive in fishing nets?” He smiled again, “I’m just asking that you keep an open mind, Doctor.”

Immediately after the doctor opened up with her salvo of questions, Cameron followed up as well, although his concerns were more mundane. After answering Catherine, Joe turned a hard look back to Cameron, slouched in his chair. His comment on scientists having their heads up their asses set his teeth on edge.

Justine’s maniacal laughter sounded in Joe’s head once more.”Isn’t he a fun one? I like him! Maybe I can play with him too?”

“You’ll be here for any training I deem necessary, Mr. Aitken. Right now, you’ve had a tiny little brush of what you might run into. Fairly harmless. Oh you might have starved before we found you, but the Trows didn’t really mean you any harm. You have a few skills, but not enough. I intend to keep you alive and the best way I can do that is to educate you. Whether you like it or not.”

”Life is hard and then you die! Die! Die!” Justine sang in his head.

The question of the land line almost made Joe laugh, it was so mundane and…perfect. He waved a hand toward the main living room, “Yeah, in there or in each of the bedrooms. They go through the switchboard upstairs and the relays are scrambled.” He looked back toward Cameron with a wry twist of his lips, “What? No questions about a dental plan?” Joe backed off a bit, “Look. This isn’t exactly a regular 9 to 5 job. We won’t always be on call. There are other groups around the world, so you’ll find you have more free time once you’re trained. But until I’m satisfied that you know what you’re doing and won’t get us all killed, it’s going to be intense.”

Joe noted that Richard had been quiet throughout the exchanges, but his file showed that he’d been shown at least the beginnings of the Under City, so he looked at the young man. “How about you?”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by quakernuts on Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:40 pm

Richard had only taken a brief glance in the room before having a seat himself. While the place was sort of your standard conference room, save from being deep underground, Richard couldn't get over the fact that it seemed slightly cold in the room. Maybe it was the fact that his boss seemed distant from them, or maybe the woman beside him didn't seem like she wanted to be there, or maybe he was even feeling slightly claustrophobic from being underground. Regardless of the reason, he chalked it up to the jitters and placed his binder in front of him, and opened it up to a random page, filled with mythological creatures, historical references, and hand made notes that depicted several characteristics sighted from various other books he had read.

While he was flipping through the pages, he noticed that a hand was outstretched to him from the woman beside him. She introduced herself as Catherine, and proceeded to ask him what he did. He didn't know her at all, but he couldn't help but feel she was a certified profession of some sort. There was just a subtle air of superiority about her that Rick sometimes got from his professors back at the University. He immediately felt a little held back, simply for the fact that he wasn't even employed at the time of taking this job and its perks, but felt like he couldn't be rude and not answer. So he took a small breath and looked back at his binder, flipping a few pages. "Well, I'm simply a student." Rick started. "Majoring in History, hadn't even graduated yet before I was offered a position here." He held up the binder slightly. "Mythology, sort of a hobby of mine that got me noticed here."

Before Rick could continue, a third man entered the room with all the grace of a bull in a china shop. Richard didn't say anything, preferring to remain the quiet observer in the grand scheme of things and witness everything unheard and unnoticed. He had survived a great deal of school due to this, that and he didn't try to stick his nose where it didn't belong. A quick answer from the boss and Cameron took a seat at the head of the table. Once he was down, Joe started with explaining a few things, along with saying that the others aside from he and Richard were 'hard' recruits. Basically people who didn't want to be here, but were forced to participate. That was not a good sign, it was like giving a man a gun, and telling him to protect something he hated. It was never a good feeling to have knowing that the man with the gun may simply throw it down, say 'Fuck it' and walk off.

Joe then launched into the history and lore surrounding Draconis and the Hetja groups that formed the teams within the organization, eventually ending with the Undercity and the hierarchy of things around the building. After about an hour, he finally got around to saying that he would be working them every damn day until he felt they were ready to go on real missions. That was understandable to Richard. He was fit, sure, but he wasn't a fighter. He didn't want to go out there and not be able to defend himself should something come his way. When he pointed to Richard in regards to helping research the various Mythological creatures and beings, Rick gave a nod but nothing else, sensing the feelings from the others as downright disbelieving or almost hostile, since he caught the glare from Cameron earlier. Joe seemed a little troubled through his entire speech though, as if he was having a headache of sorts, but Richard kept his mouth shut on that entire ordeal as well.

Another person joined the room, an old woman speaking to someone that obviously wasn't in the room...or was she? Richard was confused when she started handing out wills and waver forms, demanding that they be given to her by the end of day. Rick gave a quick look over it, but lay it down for a further inspection later. There was a brief exchange between Alice and Joe, and she left quite quickly. When Joe mentioned she was a sea hag, he quickly flipped through his binder to remind himself of what exactly that meant. He quickly frowned, remembering more as he read on, and really hoped that he never saw her true form which was said to be able to sap the strength from living creatures because it was so horrific. Despite this recent discovery about their boss's boss or 'CEO', Rick never let his enthusiasm wander as his want to continue with this line of work never wavered.

When Joe asked for questions, Rick had expected the man to speak up first, but instead it was the woman beside him. While she spoke, Richard got the gist of it, and tried not to flinch as she basically called everything that he had seen a lie. She was calling them out, expecting answers that, by her tone, would not be believed unless there was solid proof to the contrary. Rick knew there was, but he doubted Joe was willing to show his hand just yet. Rick remained silent, not wishing to interfere in what seemed to be a slight power struggle between the man that was supposed to be their leader, and the woman who refused to believe anything without solid proof. Then the man spoke up, basically complaining that he would be doing nothing besides what the contract specified. While Rick couldn't blame him for that, a contract being a legal binding document and everything that was specified should be followed to the letter, he did feel the man was being a little harsh for his liking. This was an opportunity, not a ball and chain. However, the way that he leaned back in his chair, the hands behind the head simply reminded Richard of every smartass jock at his high school and University that thought they were better then everyone else. An opinion was already forming about the man, but Rick still played it smart and let everything play out.

The man then asked about a landline, and Rick had actually been wondering about that as well. He didn't have many people on the outside, but he did want to keep in touch with his mother. She was doing a lot better since the death of his father, but he felt that if he stayed out of touch for too long, she could suffer a relapse of depression. Quickly though, Joe started to answer the questions that had been put forward. He tried first with Catherine, but Rick already knew that no amount of talking was going to convince her without actually showing her. When he brought up the Vatican, the ancient religions, and legends of the world, Rick slowly nodded his head absent minded. He already knew about all this even before Draconis had contacted him. Once he had been shown the Mythics, he had dug even deeper and found the Draconis records that weren't classified to learn more about the organization. He already believed they existed, even before being shown them, so he didn't worry too much about the answer to this particular question. His answer to the Mythic question was good, but Rick still knew it wouldn't be enough. He dropped the thought for the moment.

When Joe turned towards Cameron, Richard expected a barrage of orders like a drill sergeant from the man. Instead what he got was a cool reprimand that stated in a smarter tone that Cameron would do whatever Joe wanted him to do. It was surprising that a hard recruit had at least seen some Mythics and still didn't want to do this job, but maybe it was simply the nature in which he discovered them that made him reluctant to even be here. Joe answered the question about the landlines, then poked fun at Cameron just to rub it in a little that he didn't like the man's attitude. Joe explained that they wouldn't always be on call, that this wasn't a 9-5 job, but Richard already knew that and was prepared to do anything that this position required of him. Instead, with the questions answered, Rick simply looked back down at his binder again, flipping through the pages.

"How about you?"

The question caught him slightly off guard as he looked up to see Joe looking at him. Rick looked around at the others for a second before sitting up right and giving a slight shrug. "I don't really have anything to ask. I've already gone over the company's history and records, the ones that weren't classified anyways. In regards to why they haven't been seen or massively publicized though Catherine." Rick stated as turned to look at her. "Think about the Illuminati. Many people claim they are real, with proof that always seems to be up to debate to back up their claims, but they are dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Regardless of whether the Illuminati actually exists is irrelevant, people will never believe in something that outside their realm of understanding without physical proof and visual confirmation." Rick put a hand on his binder. "You've been told they are legends, so you believe them to be legends and any other talk is the word of a nutcase. I can understand that, I've been called worse. I however, have seen them. I believe they exist not simply because it is physically capable of them to be, but because my eyes don't lie to me." Rick turned back to Joe.

"I don't think we can convince them of anything else without actually showing them the reason we're here sir."
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:21 pm

This day was quickly going from bad to worse. No sooner did Catherine finish her little tirade against Draconis, then Cameron decided to lash out with his own particular brand of humor: “Well, in regards to scientists, there’s the whole issue with the collective lot of em having their head stuck up each other’s…”

Catherine’s mouth dropped open, and her face turned red in indignation as he finished that sentence. Even the edges of her vision were tinged with red. She swiveled abruptly in her chair and gave the young man a furious glare. “I beg…your pardon?” she demanded in stilted, barely contained tones. He may have a thick Scottish accent, but she could pick up his verbal barb as plain as day. He had no right, saying something like that to people he barely knew! It was wholly inappropriate and unprofessional.

Luckily, Joe intervened before Catherine could retaliate. It was probably for the best, considering the best she could have done was some furious, unintelligible stammering. “You ask exactly the right questions, Dr. Ettridge. And most of it I can answer.” He responded to her queries with a mix of historical facts and logic. “The remarkable similarities without those civilizations having any contact stretches the bounds of coincidence a bit far even for you, I’m sure.” She scoffed mentally at that statement. Joe obviously didn’t know that correlation did not necessarily equal causation. For all he knew, all those civilizations could have been equally deluded. “I’m just asking that you keep an open mind, Doctor.” She couldn’t make any promises there, but at least he had not belittled her and had answered her questions with genuine courtesy.

Catherine couldn’t keep from feeling smug as Joe turned to Cameron next. He reminded him diplomatically who was in charge while not giving him any room to argue. She guessed this wasn’t his first time dealing with unruly recruits. Catherine wasn’t exactly thrilled about the training or long hours either, but she knew better than to complain and get on her new boss’ bad side on the first day. She was actually glad to hear about the landline so she could check in with her family, but she didn’t intend on revealing too much about this job. Her father would probably think she had been demon-possessed if she told him about working for a bunch of people that chased mythical creatures.

Joe turned finally to Richard, and Catherine relaxed a little. At least Richard had revealed that he had been a student in academia, so she could relate to him a little better than the others, despite his clear obsession with Mythics. To her surprise, he also tried to answer her objections about their existence, once again trying to use logic related to the Illuminati and hinting that he had actually seen Mythics with his own eyes. “I don’t think we can convince them of anything else without actually showing them the reason we’re here sir.” Oh great, so now Joe and Richard were suddenly on the same side, while Catherine and Cameron were the disgruntled skeptics in need of convincing.

Catherine spoke up again, forcibly keeping her voice calm but firm. She turned to Joe first. “You bring up a good point with the coelacanths, but fossil evidence already existed for them before they were rediscovered. I’ve never heard of anyone finding a fossilized minotaur or unicorn or any of your other so-called Mythics. Oh, and Quezocoatl was a species of flying reptile, also in the fossil record, and not a Mythic.” She looked over at Richard next. “I understand believing what your eyes tell you, but the closest thing to a Mythic I’ve ever seen is a poorly preserved bird wing that someone tried to pass off as part of a harpy when it was probably just an extinct condor. That’s what landed me here, not some once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a live Mythic.” Meeting Joe’s gaze once again, she asked, “What would you actually be able to show us anyway?" She gave a humorless laugh. " I mean, it’s not like you have some of these Mythics lying around just to convince the skeptics, right?”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:21 am

“Eh, I’m not worried about dental. I break the teeth, not the other way around.” He flashed a lopsided grin that was somewhere between joking and serious, before looking off towards the room he’d come from. “Look, that’s all well and good, but I’m not some fresh out of college nerdling with the whole world at my finger tips. I’ve got this funny thing called responsibility. Has a way of rearing it’s head when I least suspect it, kinda like a disease or something.” Something akin to a grumble, or perhaps more a sigh rolled from his chest.

“Whatever, we’ll see how this goes.” Joe seemed satisfied for the moment, and went after the last member of their merry band, who spoke up and promptly established he was already well versed in everything he needed to be. “Brownnoser.” Cameron felt his eyes narrowing on the man, drumming his fingers rapidly against the table to some beat he’d heard vaguely on the radio a few days prior. Some club track or something. It had certainly gotten stuck in his head easily enough.

"I don't think we can convince them of anything else without actually showing them the reason we're here sir."

Cameron snorted lightly. “They’re teaming up on us now. Can’t have that.” His eyes snapped to Richard, humour fading from his face. “Stuff it, nerdling. I’ve seen’em too, so get off the soap box before I drag you down from it.” His smile was caustic, taunting, as if begging the smaller man to feed the fire some more. After a tense moment, he heaved a heavy sigh, and Catherine took the chance to respond to the others.

“You bring up a good point with the coelacanths, but fossil evidence already existed for them before they were rediscovered. I’ve never heard of anyone finding a fossilized minotaur or unicorn or any of your other so-called Mythics. Oh, and Quezocoatl was a species of flying reptile, also in the fossil record, and not a Mythic.” Some part of him just wanted to strike himself in the head repeatedly until he fell unconscious. Was this how everyday was going to be? Listening to them debate the science of it all? Maybe he could get a rifle and blame it all on a series of accidental misfires…

“I understand believing what your eyes tell you, but the closest thing to a Mythic I’ve ever seen is a poorly preserved bird wing that someone tried to pass off as part of a harpy when it was probably just an extinct condor. That’s what landed me here, not some once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a live Mythic.” He slammed his face into the table, groaning loudly, but they seemed content to ignore his protests to this pointless conversation. Maybe some explosives would work better…where would they keep those? Did they have an armoury, or did they have a box in the pantry by the Cheerio? “What would you actually be able to show us anyway? I mean, it’s not like you have some of these Mythics lying around just to convince the skeptics, right?”

“Asking for it much?” Turning his head slightly, Cameron’s eyes watched her dully, noting she still had a slight tint of red to her cheeks from earlier. “We’re sitting in an under ground mini-fortress, and you’re wondering if they’ve got a few freaky fuckers on hand? Where do they grow you? Test tubes, or did you get hidden in a cellar for the majority of your life?” His eyes wandered for a moment. “They grew some parts right, at least.” Rising from his seat, he kicked the chair back roughly, burrowing his hands into his jean pockets and sending a pointed look to Joe.

“She asked for it, big boss. Might as well show us some damn proof, cause I’d bet my left testicle you’ve got some kicking around.” The Scotsmen paused for a beat. “If not, I’m going to go take a fucking nap, cause I’m not listening to you three circle jerk about this horseshit any longer.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:44 pm

Joe listened to the three back and forth on the whole subject, Richard backing him, because he’d seen them and believed their existence in the first place. Catherine definitely in the camp of “Absolute rubbish”. And Cameron, oddly knowing that Mythics existed but not giving a good God damn. He admitted that one was a new one. But, the guy’s attitude problem got on his nerves almost as much as Justine’s insane banter in his head did.

Of course, that brought on an immediate response from the ghost that haunted him, “You want to kill him. I can sense it, Joe. You’ll break him with your own two hands. HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Joe clenched his fists on the table and growled under his breath. “Shut up, Justine.” After a second or two of fighting off the ghost’s influence on his mood, Joe took a deep breath and nodded to the group in general. “Alright. I think that might be a good start.” He rose and walked into the living area to pick up the landline phone. Dialing a number, he waited a moment, “Alice? I’m taking them to Under City.” He paused a moment and nodded, “Yeah. I know. I’ll be ready.”

Joe hung up the phone and turned to beckon them to follow him. “Alright, kiddies. Leave your stuff here, we won’t be very long.” He then led them to the heavy steel door to the right of the little kitchen that looked so out of place.

Once through the steel door, they found themselves at a hidden dock area the Hetja has access to. Joe paused to explain that from here, they could come and go under the cover of night, if needed, either transporting a Mythic in or out as necessary. He led them a few steps along the dock area to another rust-covered steel door. Several large dents mar its surface as if it had been hit with a sledgehammer from the opposite side. Strangest of all, the door had a massive wheel on it, the sort one thinks of as water-tight doors aboard submarines.

Turning the huge wheel and grunting with the effort of opening the surprisingly heavy door, Joe led the group down the short flight of stone stairs to yet another heavy steel door. This one was clearly massive and made no pretense of disguising itself as anything but the highest level of strength and security. Odd runes were carved into the stainless steel and the keypad to the left of the door looked state of the art. Joe stabbed in a 10 digit code and palmed a scanner to open the door. Once the door opened, they found themselves in a massive cavern. Huge vaults such as seen in cathedrals and other intricate stone work decorate most surfaces. Immediately to the right of the door was another massive steel door such as the one they’d just come through.

The cavern appeared to be organized much as a city above would be. Streets are lined with all manner of houses and neighborhoods. But, that is where the similarity ended. Some homes were tiny, no more than 18 inches high and shaped like toadstools. Others were massive and so rough that they looked as if they might fall in at any moment. In the distance, the group could make out the ambient glow of different colored lights as if separating territories and surrounding it all were areas of absolute darkness.

As their eyes adjusted, shapes began to resolve themselves into creatures that should not exist. Pixies flit in and about their heads. A family of centaurs clip-clop past, the male keeping his eyes on the intruders warily. From a ramshackle pile of rough wood and stone, a lumbering troll standing nearly 8 and a half feet tall ducks out and then plods back into the darkness. A magnificent, multi-headed lion stalked past the group sniffing the air for their scents before ambling along the street directly before them. Even with all that can be seen, there is the distinct impression that there was far more in the inky black places that stare at the group with malevolent intent.

Joe stood, looking deceptively calm as the others took in the sights. He wasn’t worried about Richard or Cameron falling apart. Both had seen Mythics before. He was slightly worried, however that Cameron would make the wrong remark to the wrong Mythic, however. Catherine, was another matter entirely. He couldn’t begin to guess at her reaction. Scream and faint? Bluster and try to ‘unmask’ one of the Mythics when it came near? Stand in stunned silence and then deny all when safely topside? Likely the last. At least he hoped so. It would be too much to ask that she believed it all in one visit.

Joe disliked coming to Under City. It felt like a prison somehow. Mythics displaced from their natural homes came here or other similarly created cities. And because of the naturally ambient magic in the air, Justine was even stronger here than anywhere else. ”You are afraid, aren’t you Joe? Afraid I’ll take you over and you’ll die? Are you afraid of death?” She cackled insanely. ”You should be. It’s cold and dark and you’d be alone! Like you left me!” Her screeching pierced his mind like a hot poker. Joe winced heavily and his knees bowed slightly before he caught himself. He struggled to straighten himself once more and reached into his pocket for a small piece of rock candy. Unwrapping it, he placed it on the palm of his hand and held it out at waist level. “Quiet now.” He whispered. “No sudden moves.”

It didn’t take long before a half dozen bright colored lights streaked toward them. They flitted about Joe’s hand and descended on the piece of candy after only a moment of indecision. In seconds it was gone. But, the group could easily make out different small forms within the colored lights. They looked like Faeries or pixies, and a few smaller amorphous lights that never really materialized fully. The creatures were gone nearly as fast as they came. Joe looked at the others. “We should head back. We’re kind of the interlopers down here. We don’t want to overstay our welcome.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:18 am

Within only a few minutes of hearing her so-called “teammates” speak, Catherine could already tell she was going to butt heads with Cameron. His language was so abrasive and unprofessional she wondered how any boss tolerated him. Already she couldn’t tolerate him and wondered how long it would take for Joe to get sick of his attitude and give him the boot. “Where do they grow you? Test tubes, or did you get hidden in a cellar for the majority of your life?” Before Catherine could give an angry retort, his eyes drifted lower. “They grew some parts right, at least.” Gasping in horror, her eyes widened as she immediately brought up an arm to cover her chest, even though she hardly considered herself “well-endowed” and her blouse was totally work-appropriate.

“Y-you! How dare you…!” she started to sputter, her cheeks redder than a tomato. Cameron smoothly cut her off by telling Joe to show them some proof.

“Shut up, Justine.” That soft command under his breath snapped Catherine out of her embarrassment. Who was Justine? She looked around the room, but no one else was there besides their group. Before she could ask, Joe announced, “Alright. I think that might be a good start.”

“Good start? What are you…?” Catherine started to ask, but Joe picked up the phone before she could continue to tell Alice he was taking them to Under City. Wait…she hadn’t been serious about him showing them proof. And what proof could he possibly show them?

“Alright, kiddies. Leave your stuff here, we won’t be very long.” Catherine bristled mentally at the “kiddies” comment as she got up to follow Joe. Of course, she didn’t miss the chance to shoot Cameron a nasty glare from behind her glasses on the way out.

Joe led them through a series of heavy steel doors, which only made Catherine more suspicious. What on earth did Draconis have that required this much security? Finally, they went through one last door into a massive dark cavern, and Catherine got her first look at Under City.

At first, it looked just like any ordinary city, except for being underground and lit with different colored lights in some kind of pattern. But then Catherine noticed the toadstools with…doors? And the massive houses that reared up to the ceiling. Who lived in a house that big?

Then things started getting strange. Tiny glowing faerie-things flitted past their heads. Okay, she could chalk that up to someone behind the scenes working the remote control with some fancy motorized lights. A group of half-man, half-horse creatures sauntered past, the male (At least, it looked like a male) keeping one wary eye on the group and the other on his mate and...child? Foal? She didn't know what term was more appropriate. And surely those were fancy animatronics, right? But then her eyes bulged out of their sockets when a troll exceeding 8 feet tall lumbered out of the darkness. That…that was impossible. Surely she was dreaming.

Catherine gasped, and her hand flew up to her mouth as the multi-headed lion drew closer to the group. She wanted to scream and flee, but she knew from her zoology classes not to alert a predator to her presence. As the creature looked towards them and sniffed the air, she instinctively backed up a few steps, keeping her hand over her mouth so she wouldn’t scream. She suddenly felt light-headed and stumbled over her heels, which clacked against the floor, and she reached out with her free hand for something to grasp so she wouldn’t fall. Her hand grasped someone’s arm, and she turned her head to meet Richard’s confused expression. She immediately yanked her hand back in apology but was still too terrified to speak.

Joe’s quiet, steady voice brought her back to the present. “Quiet now. No sudden moves.” He held out a piece of rock candy, and a group of brightly-colored winged creatures descended on his palm and snatched the offering. Even though they were probably harmless, Catherine shrank back behind Richard and Cameron, her eyes as wide as dinner plates behind her glasses. Her skin crawled from the sensation that they were being watched. She didn’t know what other monsters lurked in the shadows where they couldn’t see, and quite frankly, she didn’t want to know.

“We should head back. We’re kind of the interlopers down here. We don’t want to overstay our welcome.” Yes, that sounded like a good plan. She needed to get out of here before she lost it and sort out in her mind all that she had just seen. Either that, or she needed to wake up and realize that this was just a dream.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sun May 06, 2012 10:40 pm

Cameron chuckled as the woman floundered when Joe, predictably, agreed with her ‘demand’ for proof. “Careful what you wish for.” She seemed easy to fluster, and even easier to aggravate. As she moved to follow Joe, the woman shot the Scot a blistering stare, to which he only winked cheekily, falling into step behind her, lacing his hands behind his head. Their fearless leader led them through the rather obnoxious steel door next to the kitchen, Cameron wondering to himself how he failed to notice the damn thing when he’d dropped off his lunch.

On the other side, they found themselves in a hidden and apparently private dock. It made sense that the dock was private, considering they were how far beneath sea level? Probably needed a submarine to get in and out. He honestly didn’t find the thought surprising considering who he was working for. Maybe he was acclimatizing a little too quickly, but then, he’d always been fast to do things.

As Joe approached another steel door, Cameron noted the massive dents all throughout the surface, raising an eyebrow sceptically at the damage. “Did anyone ever consider replacing the fucked up door? I mean, it looks like it’s about to fall over.” Joe either didn’t hear, or ignored the comment, grunting with effort as he spun the massive wheel that kept the door sealed. “Just me then. Cool.”

As they descended further underground, Cameron sighed silently as they came to an even more massive door. “Please tell me this is the only other one.” Joe promptly set to work opening it, and Cameron bit his cheek to stop himself from swearing. Again. He could understand security, which was reasonable. Although if they had things in there that needed a door this fucking big to stay IN, why exactly was opening it a good idea as part of orientation? Did they have any other security? Maybe a few dozen men with big fucking guns, perhaps?

The metal screeched, drawing him from his thoughts as the titanic slabs dragged themselves out of their way. It felt ominous, and a little foreboding to step into the massive cavern beyond, but Cameron simply sighed and followed in behind the others, not really wanting to be the only one left standing outside. The nerds most certainly wouldn’t pass up the chance to gaze in wide wonder. Despite himself though, Cameron’s eyes opened the slightest amount more at the sprawl before him, and he gave a low whistle. “That’s pretty cool.”

Countless sights and wonders wandered past, each more strange than the last, and he found himself chuckling at it all. “It’s like a nerd’s wet dream, ain’t it? Nothing but bizarre and fucked up as far as the eye can see…and then some.” The feeling of being watched sent a chill down his spine, but he remained straight faced, simply searching the darkness for a moment before the slight gasp from Catherine drew his gaze. He snorted as she stumbled away from the multi-headed lion, only to catch herself on Richard’s arm. The woman was going to be a riot to work with and relentless teasing and mockery of her was likely going to be the highlight of his day for the foreseeable future. At least until they let him hit something in the face a few dozen times.

Joe shushed them all, drawing their gaze forward as he held out the rock candy, only for a swarm of bright little lights to descend on it. Cameron watched with a raised brow as they snatched up the candy greedily, feeling Catherine creep behind him and the other guy to put a barrier between herself and the little…things. Faeries, probably. “Careful. Those little things might decide you look tasty too and swarm you until there’s nothing left but bones!” He whispered, amusement sparking in his eyes at her discomfort.

“We should head back. We’re kind of the interlopers down here. We don’t want to overstay our welcome.”

The Scot stuck his lip out in a mock pout. “Shame. I was really hoping to see the mythical red light district. I bet you I could find a succubus stripper or two and have one hell of a party. Or maybe a nymph to round everything out…hell of a threesome if I could swing it.”

Joe’s disapproving scowl said it all, and he could only grin in response. “Can’t blame a man for having a goal, boss.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by quakernuts on Thu May 10, 2012 8:48 pm

Richard was used to having people berate him, even physically assault him whenever they felt the need, but there was still the ever present hatred for anyone that talked as if they were leagues above him. When Cameron came after him, his tone and words chosen for the sole reason of exacting a response out of the Historian, he gave a shrug. Sure, he wanted to say a few words, possibly something he would later come to regret, but he shoved it to the back of his mind with such a practiced ease that it appeared as if the comment had even calmed him. He had long ago gotten over the fact that people were assholes, it wasn’t a medical condition, it was a genetic disorder that every human had to varying degrees. This man simply had it more prevalent than any other gene in his body.

Disregarding the man for the time being, he found himself looking between the two. If they didn’t want to be here, why were they here? Forced seemed to be the likely scenario, but the way they talked and acted it felt like they were a lost cause. Especially Catherine who struck him as someone who would deny something was in her hands, even if she could feel it, until she opened her eyes and saw it laying there. Richard felt like he was the odd one out, his dream job seeming to be slammed on both sides from these other two recruits. It hurt just a little, knowing that his hobby turned profession was going to be hindered by these people, but again just like his previous reaction to Cameron’s comments he shoved it to the back of his mind with practised precision. However one thing was going right and that was the fact that he would get to see the Undercity once more, however briefly. He loved the place even from the glance he caught when they first brought him there, and he was happy for whatever chance brought him to the place once more. He would spend most of his days down there if they would permit him.

When Joe asked someone to shut up, Rick looked over and then at everyone else, trying to discern who exactly the man was talking to. He thought about bringing it up, but fought against it. He didn’t know everyone well enough, hell, he had just met the team lead today. Who was to say that Joe wasn’t a mythic himself? In the end, he simply remained silent but kept a watchful eye on their new leader. Last thing he needed among a disbeliever and an asshole was a mentally unstable commander. So, with a quick word to his superior, they were all lead out of the conference room and followed Joe to a steel door beside the kitchen, which lead to a dock that was meant for a submersible craft to allow for stealth dockings, and ended up at a massive steel door with a huge dent in it. Richard had already seen all this of course, but he still felt giddy inside, it was as if he expected to wake up at any moment from a blaring alarm clock stating he had missed class again. Once they were through that door, Joe led them to yet another door, where security both technological and magical protected it from all sorts of attacks. Richard was almost bouncing at this point and wanted so much to simply get through that door. Needless to say when Joe opened it, Richard was first in right after their squad leader.

It should have been where the first time seeing the Undercity would have been more invigorating, but Rick found it to be roughly the same. His face lit up like a Christmas tree as he looked around and saw the various Mythic creatures milling around and doing their day to day things quite literally underneath the feet of the average Joe in the city above. It was spectacular, and as the larger creatures passed by like the Centaurs and the Troll. Rick almost stepped forward to go with them when Catherine bumped into him. She was gripping his arm, likely to stop herself from tripping, but Richard simply raised an eyebrow as she quickly released and looked away. Despite that, Rick wanted to move farther in, but before he could Joe held out a hand and revealed a piece of candy. Quickly little glowing beings surrounded his hand and quickly devoured the candy. Fairies, he didn’t catch the variant since they were so quick, but they sure did like their candy. It was right after that that their leader decided they should leave. Richard’s shoulders sank as he turned to leave. If he could, he would spend days in here without coming up for air, but he knew his place as he went to follow Joe.

It was about that moment he caught Cameron’s joke about the red light district and Succubi, and Rick looked at him with a weird look before giving a small smile. He knew better than to say anything, even if he wanted to say something. He knew the man was joking, and knew that he was trying to get reactions, and knew what kind of person this guy was. He had dealt with his kind before, and simply gave a small smile at the man before turning with the others and leaving through the massive door.

He wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Mon May 28, 2012 6:00 pm

Back in the common room, Joe went to the small kitchen area and poured a cool glass of water for Catherine. She didn’t have the look of a drinker and he guessed that a stiff belt of brandy would knock her right out. He walked back to the common room where she had taken a seat and handed the Doctor the glass along with a slightly apologetic smile. “Sorry to do that to you, but I needed you on board and I just don’t have months to spend convincing you that Mythics are real.” He remained there standing near her just to be sure she was going to be able to get her head back on straight. After a while, when he saw some color coming back into her cheeks, he nodded, “Will you be alright?”

”You are a fool, Joe. Do you hear? Grow close. Go ahead and start to care. It will break you forever when they die!” Justine’s voice whispered evilly in his head.

Joe straightened from Catherine and raked his thick fingers through his gray-touched hair. Justine’s jibe about growing close to members of his team had been a sobering warning. He simply couldn’t afford the risk. He backed away from Catherine with a tight expression and looked back toward Richard and Cameron, but addressed all three of them. “Beginning tomorrow, we’ll have regular 8 hour days. Physical training in the morning, a break and then you’ll meet the Archive for some education, time with Alice regarding Mythic relations and then time in the afternoon or evenings to do as you please.”

Joe crossed his arms and looked to Catherine first. “For you, I think Aikido will suit you best along with stun batons or tasers. Perhaps a shotgun if absolutely necessary. I’ll get Alice on that. I also want you to get some field medic training.” He forestalled any potential objection from her. “I’m sorry, Doctor. Having a weapon and knowing how to use it is non-negotiable.”

His eyes travelled to Cameron speculatively, “You already have good brawling skills, let’s add some Krav Maga to that and some of our heavier pieces. That will be a more extensive training since the weapons will change depending on the mission. I won’t even bother with Diplomacy for you.” A slow smile built on Joe’s lips. “Some of our operatives are past experts. You’ll get a lot out of training with them.

Finally, Joe looked at Richard, “You’re our resident knowledge expert for this team. With your hobby of Parkour, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu might be up your alley and then we’ll add in a small SMG. I definitely want you with the Archive. You and Catherine should find Mr. Aziza at every opportunity and will be in charge of briefings on any missions if we run into something we aren’t expecting.”

After giving his new team their schedule and orders, Joe took a deep breath. “I shouldn’t have to tell you to keep everything here absolutely to yourself. Do not even allude to what you’ve seen here.” He paused for affect and then ended. “That’s my speech for today. Go get some rest. If you’re staying here, I’ll be in my office. The Archive is open to you at any time and if you want anything for the kitchen or your room, let Alice know.” He glanced down at the watch on his right wrist. “Be back here by 8am.”
________________________________________________________________________________
Joe left the three in the common area and retreated to his office near the conference room. His head pounded and he was exhausted. He was forced to wonder what Alice had been thinking in recruiting this bunch? Richard might make a good diplomat or even an Archive someday, but he wasn’t a fighter. Catherine? Dear gods. What was he going to do with the woman? He needed a few soldiers, not a biologist…wait, zoologist…whatever. And Cameron? He just might kill that kid himself. He had more attitude than sense and if he didn’t lighten up on the Doctor, Joe would have to step on his neck. But, he’d let her fend for herself for a while until or if it got out of hand. He was suddenly given an image of himself in high school against his will.

”You think you were any better than him? Don’t you remember what you were like? How judgmental of you, Joe.” Justine purred in his ear.

Joe rested his elbows on the desk top and punched the bridge of his nose fighting back the intense headache Justine’s presence and imagery always caused. God help them all. He thought to himself.

Alice’s voice came through to him within mere feet of his desk. He hadn’t heard her coming. She was simply there. “You know as well as anyone that there is no god in the conventional understood sense, Mr. Michaelson.”

Joe jerked slightly in his chair when Alice spoke. “Damn it, Alice.” He growled at her. “You enjoy that, don’t you?” He leaned back in his chair when he got no answer to his question. “What do you want?”

Alice merely regarded Joe with those dark blue gray eyes, “I assumed you would have requisitions?” Somehow she managed to make it sound like an accusation and an unforgivable inconvenience to her.

“Do you have to be so angry about every damned thing?” Joe asked rhetorically. As he did so, he wrote out a list for the supplies, weapons and grocery he’d been asked for and handed it over to the sea hag.

Alice just stared at Joe with an intense hatred. In a carefully controlled voice, she hissed at him, “If you were held captive and forced into slavery by a geas over 400 years ago and no end in sight, how would you react, Mr. Michaelson?” She snatched the paper away from his outstretched hand, continued to stare at him for an inordinately long period before finally turning on her heel and leaving with a forceful clack of her heels.

Joe breathed out suddenly. “Jesus Christ.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:13 pm

Catherine sat numbly in a chair in the common room, staring down at her clenched hands while she tried to piece together everything she had just seen. Surely it had been a dream or someone’s idea of a cruel, sick joke. Even now, from the safety of the conference room, just thinking about the trolls, centaurs, and that monstrous lion made the room tilt at an odd angle.

A glass of cold water appeared in front of her face, and she looked up to see Joe. His expression was not unkind from behind his stern façade. “Sorry to do that to you, but I needed you on board and I just don’t have months to spend convincing you that Mythics are real.” He stood near her to make sure she wouldn’t faint, and eventually the room stopped spinning. “Will you be alright?”

She managed a weak nod and straightened in her chair. “Yeah…I think so.” She slowly sipped her water to make sure it would stay down, and it helped ease the pounding in her head. Once Joe was certain Catherine wouldn’t suddenly slip into hysterics, he got right down to business and explained how their days would proceed. She panicked a little mentally at the mention of physical training. There was reason, a very good reason, why she specialized in lab sciences and not sports. Surely Joe didn’t expect her to fight like a solder on the frontlines, right?

Sadly, she was wrong as Joe dealt out her sentence first. “For you, I think Aikido will suit you best along with stun batons or tasers. Perhaps a shotgun if absolutely necessary. I’ll get Alice on that. I also want you to get some field medic training.” The mention of weapons elicited a knee-jerk reaction of vocal jibberish. “I’m sorry, Doctor. Having a weapon and knowing how to use it is non-negotiable.”

Catherine mulled over these requirements as Joe addressed Cameron and Richard. She didn’t have the faintest clue about aikido, and she had a sinking feeling that any electricity-based weapons would probably zap her more often than any Mythics. ‘Although…I could always use it on Cameron…’ Catherine quickly hid the devilish smirk that tried to make its way across her face. Shotguns? Forget it. She knew those things kicked like crazy, and she did not like the idea of a bruised shoulder every time she used a weapon. Joe’s “time with Alice” just sounded like a torture hour, given what she already knew about the woman’s temperament. Pretty much the only things on her to-do list that held any appeal at all were the field medic training and time with the Archive, whoever or whatever that was. Once again, she missed the quiet, monotonous work of running samples in her lab and the prospect of learning new knowledge from her research.

Before she could continue pining for her little slice of science heaven, Joe dismissed them with orders to return by 8 AM. As Joe departed and Catherine looked at her new teammates, she realized that she really didn’t have any other place to go. She hadn’t made any arrangements for housing outside the headquarters, and now she regretted the decision. “See you in the morning,” she muttered to Richard and Cameron before making a beeline for her room and closing the door.

Catherine spent the next hour organizing her belongings into the drawers and closet, but it did little to make the room look like someone actually lived here. After showering and changing into more comfortable clothes, she lay on her bed and tried to process everything that had just happened today. She had grown up with a very rigid mindset and had clung to those values for so long that they were a part of her identity. Mythics weren’t real. Science was the only way to discover new knowledge. Believe only what her senses told her. But everything she had just seen today threatened to undermine the foundation of “truths” upon which she had based her entire moral existence.

At some point in her web of logic, mental and physical fatigue finally caught up with Catherine, and she drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep…

The next month settled into some semblance of a routine, albeit a rather painful and exhausting one. Joe was a hard taskmaster when it came to physical training, and Catherine couldn’t remember the last time her body had ached so darn much. He quickly figured out that she had zero upper body strength and very little in the way of muscle or stamina, so he sent her straight to the weight and cardio machines for some basic physical conditioning first thing every morning. She began their aikido sessions already exhausted, and progress was painfully slow at first.

Catherine was actually pleasantly surprised to learn that aikido challenged her mentally almost as much as it did physically. The martial art relied on principles of physics, pressure points, and using the opponent’s weight and momentum against them. In other words, the user relied more on finesse than brute strength. However, while the principles made sense on paper, putting them into practice was a whole different story. Joe had Catherine repeat the same move over and over again, tweaking her grip and position slightly every time, until he was satisfied. Then they would move on to another technique and repeat. At first, she had trouble remembering how each move went and practically had to re-learn them every time she practiced. If Joe grew frustrated with her slow progress, he never once showed it. He simply maintained his stoic façade of calm and patiently went over the moves as much as she needed. She went to bed exhausted and sore every night, woke up with muscles stiff and throbbing in protest, and frequently raided the communal medicine cabinet for Icy Hot patches for her lower back. Her caffeine addiction reached a record high from all the coffee she drank to stay conscious throughout the day, and her mood soured to the point where even Cameron kept his distance…for a while, at least.

After the first week, luckily, Catherine seemed to get past the initial learning curve. Joe didn’t make her repeat her aikido moves as often, and he started letting her use him as more of a punching bag to practice her throws and takedowns. The first time she actually threw him to the ground, she actually giggled, much to the older man’s amusement. He started bringing in other Hetjas who also practiced aikido to spar with her and offer instruction. He even had Richard spar with her a couple of times to give her some practice against an unfamiliar fighting style. As for Cameron, Joe wouldn’t let him within eyesight of the training area while he was working with Catherine. The first few times Catherine sparred with Richard, she ended up flat on her back on the training mats within the first five seconds. His experience with parkour meant that he was almost inhumanly fast and adept at dodging her blows. While she never succeeded in defeating him, she could at least boast that she got in a few good hits.

Weapons training was even more painful than aikido. Catherine lived up to her self-defeating prophecy and shocked herself with the stun baton the first time she tried it, which left her with painful muscle spasms for the rest of the day. Joe quickly confiscated the unpleasant little gadget and had her practice with a wooden stick until she could handle it without hitting herself. Fortunately, as she got better at aikido and became a little less klutzy, some of that hard-won finesse started bleeding over into her baton practice. The taser, fortunately, was not difficult at all to use (Just point and press the button), and she got the hang of it within a day. Finally, Joe had her practice a little bit with shotguns, but the model he chose was a scattergun that barely had any recoil. “Maximum power with minimal need to aim,” he had explained. While she probably wouldn’t carry a gun for her first real missions, he at least wanted her to know about gun safety and to be comfortable around them.

Once again, Joe did his best to keep Cameron well away from the training area during Catherine’s weapon training. The last thing he needed was Catherine getting annoyed at the brawler and trying to shoot or stun him. However, when she asked if she could use the taser on Cameron if necessary, Joe had simply laughed, winked, and said something about “if I don’t see it, I can’t technically say you did it.”

On the other side of training, where she struggled with physical training, she excelled at the education aspects. She bent her nose to the grindstone during her sessions with Alice to get them over with as quickly as possible and to avoid throwing any kindling on her volatile temper. Catherine spent most of her lunch breaks going through the readings that Joe regularly assigned to her and quite often fell asleep at night with a manuscript or old tome beside her pillow. At first, she read everything with more than one grain of salt. The older tomes Joe assigned were often written more like storybooks, which did not appeal to Catherine’s logical side at all. The more recent manuscripts, while written in a style that she had often encountered in graduate school, still did not convince her of their scientific merit.

No, what finally started to help her come around to the idea of Mythics was, ironically, a Mythic.

At first, Catherine refused to believe that Mr. Aziza was anything remotely close to mythical. There were plenty of people with the genetics that made them as short as he was, and she chalked up his single leg to an unfortunate amputation. But the more time she spent in the Archive talking to him, the more she started to believe that there was something…different…about him. He often spoke as though he were from another time period, and the sheer amount of knowledge he possessed…no single person could obtain even if he studied for his whole life. He was well versed in every possible subject besides just Mythics – history, art, science, religion, literature, math, and that was just scratching the surface.

Catherine would often frequent the Archive on breaks or in her free time and spend hours talking to Mr. Aziza about anything and everything. He never seemed to grow tired of her endless stream of questions but rather delighted in their conversations and also expressed interest in the research she had done prior to Draconis. After a couple of weeks, she started to see him as a genuine friend, the first one she had really made since moving to Scotland.

As for her teammates, Catherine slowly but surely got to know them a little better. Aside from all the time spent with Joe in training, the man was mostly a closed book. He never offered information about his past, and Catherine didn’t want to pry. She noticed that he sometimes zoned out for a few seconds, as if distracted by something she couldn’t see, but the moments would pass as quickly as they would come. Richard was a breath of fresh air for civilized, intellectual conversation in between Cameron’s constant stream of sarcasm and general grouchiness. She often ran into Richard when she would visit the Archive, and the two quickly realized that they got along quite well. While their views on Mythics clashed at first, Catherine was relieved to at least have someone to talk to who had been in academia so recently. She still saw him as a bit of a Mythic “tree-hugger,” but at least she no longer associated him with that silly Dungeons and Dragons game.

Not surprisingly, Cameron didn’t spend much time with Mr. Aziza, only the bare minimum required, so the Archive was her “Anti-Cameron Fortress of Solitude.” He always had a sarcastic comment or inappropriate innuendo on hand for the sole purpose of making her uncomfortable, at least as far as she could tell. Catherine figured that they would continually butt heads for the rest of her tenure at Draconis and resigned herself to tolerating it as best she could.

Then one day she met Jackie.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

‘Finally. Some fresh air above ground…’

Catherine blinked against the afternoon sunlight, which felt too bright even with her sunglasses, as she strolled down the sidewalk of a residential district. She still didn’t believe in vampires, but she imagined that one would feel like she did after spending so much time underground in the Draconis headquarters. The cabin fever was finally getting to her, and she wanted a space away from her job to call home.

Which is what brought her to this particular neighborhood today. Alice had given her a tip-off that some of the apartments had become available for rent and were within walking distance, so she was out getting a feel for the area. Plus, she hadn’t really gotten much time to herself away from her teammates lately, so she relished the chance to get some peace and quiet.

Of course, the peace and quiet didn’t last long. As she turned a corner, Catherine was so distracted with her personal thoughts that she nearly bumped head-first into…who else…Cameron. She frowned as she backpedaled away from him. "Oh great, I can't even get a day where..." Then she noted a little girl beside Cameron, blinked, and said the first thing that came to mind. "Are you kidnapping that child?!"

For a moment, Cameron just deadpanned at Catherine while the girl, who was, in a word, adorable, giggled up at her. "Nice to know you think so highly of me."

Catherine quickly regained her composure and blushed from embarrassment. What in the world was she thinking? Sure, Cameron was annoying, but even he wouldn’t do something that bad…right? "Uh...s-sorry, I just didn't expect... Is...she your..." She then noticed the family resemblance. "Are you two related?"

Cameron nodded and got right to the introductions. "Cat, this is Jackie. Jackie, this is Cat. She works with me at my new job."

Jackie smiled and gave a little wave. "Hi! Nice to meet you, Kitty!" she exclaimed brightly. Cameron just snickered.

Catherine started to bristle at the two new nicknames but then quickly slapped a grin on her face so as not to make Jackie upset. She bent down a little to be at eye level with the girl and replied, "Nice to meet you, Jackie! And how do you know Cameron?"

"He's my Dad."

Catherine’s eyes widened slightly in shock, but she once again suppressed it. "I see! Well...I'm sure he's...a very good dad!" She kept the cheerful mask on her face but could not believe what she had just heard. She just could not picture Cameron as a father. It made no sense given what she had seen of his personality.

"The best! We're gonna get ice cream!" This kid was clearly all smiles all the time. How in the world had sarcastic, grouchy, no-nonsense Cameron spawned such a happy, adorable little girl? More importantly, how had he not corrupted her with his abrasive mannerisms?

"Celebrating my first actual day off in forever." Cameron gave her a questioning look. "Speaking of which, don't you have aikido today?"

“Well, ice cream just sounds delightful!” Catherine said to Jackie before straightening to address Cameron. “I told Joe I was taking the day off to go apartment-hunting, but really I’m just playing hooky.”

"Not exactly proper to skip your training. I'll make sure to remind you when you end up in the hospital because you got tossed by a..." He glanced down at Jackie, who was watching them curiously. "...thug."

"Dad..." Jackie frowned and fixed Cameron with a look that seemed...out of place on a nine year old. He just chuckled.

"No worries, Kiddo. I'll keep her safe."

Cameron? Keep her safe? Catherine would believe it when she saw it. "I'm...flattered?" She looked between father and daughter with a slightly confused expression and then sighed. "To be honest, I'm not the best at playing hooky. I'm always at headquarters anyway, so Joe really didn't complain too much about me taking some time off today. Besides, I don't think all the aikido training in the world is going to get me in any shape to fight even..." She paused and dredged up a word that did not name a Mythic. "...a thug."

Cameron shook his head. "Lucky you. We should probably get going. I don't want to spend my entire day off shooting the sh-" He stopped for a second, checking his language. "Breeze." Ah-hah, so he actually used a speech filter around his daughter. Well, Catherine could certainly give him a couple of brownie points for that.

Jackie then made an excited noise. "Oh! Oh! Dad, can Kitty come with us? She's just playing hooky, so she should come!"

Catherine did a quick double-take at the child’s forwardness. "I-I...wouldn't want to impose on your family time..." Seeing Jackie's hopeful look, she completely melted inside and couldn’t bring herself to say no. ‘She’s…so cute,’ she thought privately. Catherine said aloud, "I'm free if it's okay with your dad."

Jackie turned to Cameron, full blast hopeful. Catherine could see the initial protest on his face, but it withered pretty much immediately. Clearly Jackie had him wrapped around her finger like a true daddy’s girl. "Yeah. She can come with. She can buy her own though."

Catherine high-fived Jackie and then turned to Cameron with a teasing look "But of course. I would hate to impose such an awful financial burden on you, Cameron," she said sarcastically. She turned to Jackie and grinned at her as they started walking. "So what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?"

"Tiger!" Jackie replied with that same bright smile before launching into a cheerful monologue about anything and everything. She walked right beside Catherine, while Cameron trailed behind the two, watching Jackie chatter away while Catherine smiled and nodded.

Catherine was too engrossed in the conversation to turn around, but if she had, she would have seen Cameron watch for a moment, sigh, and give a light, genuine smile.

The ice cream shop was only a couple of blocks down the street. Cameron and Jackie both got Tiger ice cream, while Catherine ordered dark chocolate ice cream with strawberries. They found a small table outside the shop to sit, and while Jackie inhaled her ice cream, Catherine remarked to Cameron, "You know, you're not completely annoying when you're actually acting like a normal person."

Cameron raised an eyebrow and licked his ice cream. "And you're half as entertaining when you're not freaking out over everything I say."

Catherine rolled her eyes and replied sarcastically, "What a shame. I'm so sorry to deprive you of your only sport."

Cameron’s face took on a positively devious expression. "I have more sports involving you I can try, if you prefer." He licked his cone very slowly.

Catherine turned ridiculously red while Jackie, happily oblivious to the innuendo, continued eating. "Uhhhhhhhhh...I think...I'll pass, thank you very much." She paused to take a bite of ice cream and raised her eyebrows. "Also, since when did I say you could start calling me Cat?"

Cameron just shrugged. "Your loss." Jackie just kept smiling, as usual. Cameron smiled back at her, before glancing over at Catherine.

Jackie then beat him to the punch with her next question. "You don't like being called Kitty? But it's a cute nickname!"

"Kiddo has a point."

Cat gave Cameron a martyred expression over Jackie’s head and then grinned at Jackie while coming up with an excuse. “Oh, it’s just…that I’ve…never had a nickname before! But if you think Kitty is a good nickname, then I’ll keep it!” She groaned mentally, knowing that Cameron would never let her live this down back at headquarters.

Cameron grinned back. "Then Kitty Cat it is." Jackie looked at him curiously. "You call her Kitty, I call her Cat. Combine the two, you get Kitty Cat. Clever, right?" Jackie nodded excitedly. "But we'll just keep the full one for ourselves. Our little secret."

Catherine wanted to protest, but once again, she just couldn’t bring herself to dampen Jackie’s enthusiasm. While Jackie chattered at Cameron, drawing the man’s full attention, Catherine smiled slightly to herself. ‘This…actually feels nice,’ she thought. ‘Almost…normal, even.’ Even though she and Cameron had butted heads since day one, she now started to think that maybe, just maybe, they could be friends.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Teammate bonding aside, the best part of her training happened after the first three weeks. Joe found her falling asleep over her coffee and bagel in the conference room with his latest reading assignment, gave her a sympathetic smile, and bade her to follow him to a section of the underground headquarters to the left of the kitchen that she really hadn’t noticed before. He opened the door, let her enter first…

…and she fell hopelessly in love.

It was a LABORATORY.

Granted, it wasn’t the biggest laboratory in the world, given that the Hetjas kept their headquarters underground and had many demands for space. But to Catherine, it was the most wonderful sight she had seen since arriving at Draconis. A handful of researchers worked at various lab stations with equipment that Catherine instantly recognized – Bunsen burners, glassware, electrophoresis trays, bacteria cultures, and more. They had all the major science bases covered – biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and even a little physics. Catherine very nearly hugged Joe when he offered her an empty workstation and said that Draconis (and their fat budget) could procure any additional equipment that she needed.

And that’s how she spent most of her free time during the fourth week of training. Joe also eased up on the required reading so she could spend more time getting her lab station up and running. As it turned out, Draconis had a backlog of frozen DNA samples – tissue, blood, skin, feathers, etc. – from a variety of Mythics over the years, but this particular headquarters had very few trained geneticists. In addition, the field of genetics was still relatively new to the science world and even newer to the Hetjas. Catherine threw herself into the arduous task of performing basic genetic analyses on the samples and placing orders for more advanced equipment and supplies so she could conduct more rigorous analyses. Working within her realm of expertise did more to persuade her of the existence of Mythics than anything else could have. While she couldn’t get conclusive results to completely sway her within a week’s time, she could at least see with her own eyes that these samples stood out from those that she had worked with for years.

Overall, the first month at Draconis went better than Catherine had expected. She still had a long way to go with her combat training, but she was slowly but surely making progress. She had made a new friend in Mr. Aziza and was even starting to get along better with her teammates. As for the Mythics, well, she still wasn’t a total believer or Bigfoot chaser or Mythic tree-hugger by any means. However, she did believe, from talking to Mr. Aziza and working in her lab, that some creatures existed that defied her previously conceived notions about the world. She didn’t necessarily like having her nice little box of logic compromised, but she was learning to deal with it.

And for now, that would have to be enough.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by quakernuts on Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:03 pm

Richard joined the others back in the common room, and watched with slight sympathy as Catherine was given a drink to calm her nerves. He had to admit, it was quite a large thing to take in. He himself had been shocked, but because he had been more open minded and a little obsessed with these beings in the first place, it was the good kind of shock. Once Catherine was settled, and everyone was more or less listening, Joe got into the routine for all of them. The whole day intrigued Rick to be honest. He was hoping for some more physical activity for the simple sake that he would eventually be forced to fight in this job and he wanted to be ready, even if he had no idea what kind of style this Ju Jitsu really was. The Archive bit made him want to shuffle in his seat, but he suppressed it. He was so looking forward to going through all the books, learning everything there possibly could be, and focusing on being the foremost expert on Mythics on the team. After all, you could have the strength to fight a Mythic, but a person with the know-how will be able to do that as well in less effort. Fight smarter, not harder.

After everything was sorted out, and Joe gave them the whole ‘warning’ aspect of the basic rule kit, he left them sitting there and exited the room. Soon after that, Catherine took her leave as well, and Rick was left there with Cameron. Despite the fact that he had already formed an opinion of the man in his mind, he knew that, at least for the foreseeable future, they would be working together. This meant that he at least had to put on a nice front, not do anything to purposely piss the man off, and maybe he might even eventually grow to like him and his crass nature. Only time would tell as Rick got up from his chair and gave a nod and a smile to the man. “See ya tomorrow Cam.” That being said, Rick grabbed his things and left the room. He quickly found himself wandering around the place, taking in the floor plan before eventually finding his way back to his own little cot.

After eventually putting the gear and items that would stay in the base where he could easily find them, Rick took what was left in his backpack and left the room. Despite having a place to stay here, he was also renting a place topside as well. As much as he wanted to be as close to the Mythics as possible, constantly staying underground would drive him insane. His hobby of Parkour had gotten him so used to open spaces with plenty of things to climb that, when he actually took a look around, left him feeling slightly claustrophobic. So, without running into anyone or anything, Richard got into the elevator and up to the main floor. With a quick farewell to the secretary, Rick exited the building into the bright sunlight.

It was only a few blocks before Rick came up to his apartment building; a three story, decently kept complex that housed a little more over fifteen people. At least, that’s what he gathered on his first walkthrough by taking a look at the mailboxes, he hadn’t spent enough time here to really get a feel for the place aside from where the building was and which room was his. He used his key to enter the building, and on the inside saw a man roughly in his late twenties look over and give a small smile. He gave a polite ‘hello’ and then returned to looking at his mail. Richard returned the gesture, and climbed the stairs. His apartment happened to be on the third floor, which would be good for exercise, bad for exhaustion, which guessing his schedule for the next little while, would be very strenuous. With a quick few steps, Rick was up the three flights of stairs, and was greeted with a bland looking hallway, fixed with white walls and two doors on each side of the hallway. From the closest one he could hear music blasting, what sounded like rap, through the walls. He wasn’t sure who lived there, but he hoped they didn’t decide to keep blasting that while he was trying to sleep. The first door on his right was his, 3A. He unlocked the door, and stepped inside.

He hadn’t even really looked at the place prior to now, only having actually been in the building since last night, and leaving early this morning. There was a small living area with a kitchen connected to it. A hallway led to these from the doorway, with a door on each side of the hallway. The one on the left led to a small, but well kept bathroom and the one on the right led to a room just large enough to get a bed and dresser in. The walls were much like the hallway, white and bland. Brown carpet covered much of everything, save for the kitchen which held the standard appliances that you would expect. There were several cupboards and cabinets, along with a small stove and a standard sized fridge. The living room was completely bare except for a small couch, desk and chair, and T.V. with its own stand that Rick had brought with him and had moved up here by himself surprisingly well. A laptop sat on the desk, currently powered down but Rick hopped over and quickly powered it on while simultaneously flipping the t.v. on. When he was greeted with static, he suddenly realized he hadn’t bought any cable yet and quickly flipped it off. Well there goes one relaxing option down the drain. Rick thought to himself as his laptop finally powered up and the first thing he did was check for WiFi connections. They were all locked of course, but he managed to find out that the apartment actually right next to him was one of the connections.

Shit...no free WiFi channels. C’mon Richard, just go over there and ask them. Rick thought to himself as he stepped up from his desk and went to the door. A few steps later and he was standing in front of 3C, his hand wavering over the door for a moment before he finally knocked. He wasn’t sure how this was going to pan out. He had just barely moved in, and already he was asking for WiFi access from someone he hadn’t even met. He waited for a few moments before he heard movement from inside. The door opened to reveal a kid, no more than fifteen years old wearing a baggy T-shirt with a band that Richard wasn’t familiar with and some blue jeans. He had a standard short haircut with brown hair, and his face had a slight amount of acne as his body went through the necessary changes of evolution. To Rick’s surprise, the kid looked at him with a genuine smile and a surprisingly weak Scottish accent. “Yeah man, what can I do for ya?”

“Uh, hi. My name’s Rick. I just moved into the apartment right beside you guys, and I know this is really forward of me to ask, but I haven’t managed to get any internet or even cable as of yet. I was wondering if you guys would mind allowing me to piggy back on your signal for a few days until I get it sorted out.” The kid looked at Rick for a second; his smile never wavered though which was impressive for a teenager. He turned back to the room for a moment.

“Hey mom, come here for a second.” More movement could be heard from inside and finally another face revealed itself. A woman in her mid thirties stood there, her brown hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and she wore a loose fitting shirt and pair of shorts. There were bags under her blue eyes, as if she had just gotten up. She gave a small smile, and Rick wanted to take a step back for a moment, thinking he had woken this woman up from sleeping off her nightshift.

“I’m sorry ma’am, did I wake you?” Rick said, trying to be diplomatic but not insulting at the same time. The woman paused, looked down, and gave a small laugh.

“Oh no, don’t you worry. We were just cleaning up around the place before you knocked.” She spoke with the same weak accent, as if they both had moved here only a few years ago. She looked to her son. “What’s the problem?”

“He just wants to know if he could piggy back on our signal for a couple days until he gets his apartment set up.” She looked up at Rick.

“Right next door to you, just moved in yesterday.” Rick stated.

“Ah, gotcha. Well, so long as it’s only for a couple of days, I don’t see why we couldn’t. Give me a sec.” She wandered back off into the apartment, and Rick stood there slightly awkwardly as the kid held the door. A couple seconds later and she reappeared. “There’s the name of our WiFi and our password. Just try to do us a favor and try not to suck up to much bandwidth.” She gave a smile once more.

“Can do ma’am, thank you.”

“Call me Mary. It was nice meeting you, and welcome to the apartment.” Rick gave a nod, and she closed the door. That was easier than I thought Rick thought to himself as he went back to his apartment, ignoring the blaring metal music coming from the room across the hall.




A few minutes later, and Rick was all settled in for the night. The WiFi was working well, and he had already gotten his skype up and working. There was only one call to make as he quickly put in the numbers and waited for a moment. Soon a face appeared of a middle aged woman with long brown hair, slightly dyed, and a face that betrayed her as someone much older. Despite the obvious wear and tear, she gave a large smile once she saw who was on the other side.

“Richard! About time you called, I was worried for you.”

“No need to worry mom, you know I can take care of myself.” Rick answered, settling back for a bit.


“You know I’ll always worry...” She sort of drifted off, her eyes going somewhere else entirely before Rick piped up again.

“Hey, Scotland is great by the way. It’s a beautiful place where the sun is shining, and the people speak English but you still can’t understand them.” She gave a small laugh.

“I know what that’s like, we used to have an archaeologist by the name of Connor...”

“Yeah, he had an accent so thick that he often had to write out what he was saying. I remember him, surprisingly I don’t think I ever saw him drink.”

“That’s because I forbid him to whenever he was around me. If you thought he was hard to understand sober, you have no idea the troubles we had when he was drunk.” There was a bit of small laughter between the two before a silence fell again. “So how was your first day at your new job?”

“It was pretty exciting, but you know I can’t tell you anything about it.” Rick answered, his face getting a little serious.

“I know, I hate it, but I know how the government can be. The secrets, the propaganda, everything. Why not let people tell the truth.”

“Anarchy, divorce, chaos, that sort of thing.” Rick answered. “But anyways mom, I called to simply let you know I was alright. I have to get off of here, I’m currently piggybacking off of someone else’s signal, so I can’t talk long.” She gave a huff, but slowly gave a nod.

“Alright, I understand. We’ll talk later than when you get an actual internet connection for yourself.”

“You bet. Love you mom, see you later.”

“Love you too.” Rick cut the connection, and then turned off the computer. He knew a lot of people would see him talking to his mom so frequently might take it as being a momma’s boy, but it was actually the reverse. He knew that if he didn’t frequently check in, she would very easily slip back into depression due to his father’s death. He was all she had left, and he had to play the role of a supportive child and make sure he was there for her. A small portion of his paycheck was already signed to go off to her when he received it, and he had made arrangements with the people that hired him to look after any medical needs she may have. He was set for the time being, and after shutting everything off, fell into his bed and quickly fell asleep.




The next month was more or less a fixed routine of activities ranging from sparring, to reading in the archives, to practising his parkour outside of Draconis. His sparring was entertaining, as it was more about using the enemy’s energy against them. Taking whatever was their strength and finding a way to use it to your advantage. While the style also included grapples, which weren’t entirely Rick’s style, he quickly acclimatized to it. His athletic build and parkour hobby allowed him to perform most of these moves with little difficulty, and the quick strikes were right up his alley. Although fighting in general was a foreign concept to Rick, he had always been a quick learner. He still had a long ways to go in order to even become close to feeling comfortable to using the style outside of sparring, but he had managed to grasp the fundamentals relatively quickly.

When he was pitted against the others, Cameron and Catherine, those were the most entertaining times of all. Catherine was, naturally, a much easier target than Cameron. She was a frail person, and every time they sparred, Rick felt a little bad for going up against her. He was ordered not to hold back, which he didn’t when the time came, but he still didn’t like it that much. It was an uneven fight in his mind, even if a few times he felt bruises where her strikes had come into contact with pressure points. It wasn’t until near the end of the month where the feeling of inequality started wearing off, where she started to get better at what she was doing and Rick had to pay close attention to where her hands were going lest she hit one of the many pressure points on his body and push the attack.

It seemed like equality in this group was going to be hard to come by though. Where it was unfair for Rick to fight Catherine, so it felt the same way with Rick and Cameron except reversed. Rick knew a little about Krav Maga, having heard others in his school who had taken the self-offense course. Many times Rick found himself drilled to the floor trying to regain his breath only for Cameron to continue the attack while he was on the ground. Sometimes it took Joe to actually step in and take the man off of him, and each time the man’s reason was the fighting style he was being taught. Rick could see that being part of the reason, the other reason being that this man loved to fight. Richard dreaded sparring with Cameron, often coming away with a few more cuts and bruises than were necessary, but it toughened him up quite a bit. By the end of the month, Rick’s skin had calloused where Cameron had broken skin, and his pain tolerance had managed to heighten ever so slightly due to the punishment that Cam would often push his way. During these bouts, Rick had never actually won a fight, but he had delivered a few good blows of his own, but he lost every single one eventually.

Overall the style fitted Rick better than most others might have. He was not a straight up fighter, and the way that this style incorporated his use of parkour suited him quite well. His flexibility and endurance were his saving factor many times, and despite the fact that he had never really fought before in his life, he found himself looking forward to each training session.

While the sparring was entertaining, the Archive and learning about the Mythological creatures was intriguing and interesting. This was his dream that he was living, and here he stood in a library filled to the brim not about imaginary monsters of legend, but of real living creatures of flesh, blood, rock, air, water, etc. Richard often found himself sitting in the Archives for hours on end, sifting through all the legends and history of every Mythos known to man. Breaks, lunches, even sometimes after work you could almost always find Rick there if you happened to lose him.

Then there was also Mr. Aziza. At first he wondered if the name was just a coincidence, but after seeing the man, or fairy, or whatever you really wanted to call him, it was pretty clear that he was indeed a Mythological creature. At least, from what Richard could discern from his findings during his lifelong hobby and obsession. The man was a walking, talking library all in himself. Between the books and the caretaker of the Archive, Richard could have gotten lost down there for years if it wasn’t for the fact that he had a job that he was being paid to do.

He also found out that the Archive was where Catherine liked to stay as well, which didn’t surprise Rick at all. She was an intellectual, more so then himself of course since his speciality was history, but he found that despite their initial misgivings about each other that they worked pretty well together. At the very least, they could get into a conversation that didn’t end with Cameron talking about dirty parts of the female variety. While she stuck mainly to the science end of the spectrum and Rick to the history and lore end, they found that they could often cross sides to ask the other questions that would be more in their field. Whenever Rick had a question as to how something could possibly work on a creature, or when Catherine had a question as to what reason a Mythic was doing something. Rick still got the feeling that her logic-sided brain still managed to perceive him as some sort of zealot when it came to Mythics, which was fine, it was her opinion. So long as it didn’t cloud her judgement when she was dealing with him, he didn’t care all that much.

Outside of sparring and the occasional Archive ‘class’ they had together, Rick didn’t spend too much time with his other team mates. Catherine was often very much self absorbed in her research and Cameron...well Cameron was Cameron. Rick doubted the man wanted very much to do with him either, so it suited them both just fine. The month went by relatively quickly with little going on outside of training. Rick managed to get cable and internet for his apartment, spend enough time running around outside practising parkour to learn the layout of the city, and managed to keep to himself for the most part outside of Draconis HQ, which made it easy to not tell anyone about his work.

Rick had managed to trim up whatever fat he may have accumulated in the short time he hadn’t been working out, sharpen his mind on the history of Draconis and the Mythological creatures, and learn the basic structure of the organization well enough to know his place in its infrastructure. Finally, after Rick had began to wonder whether or not training included actually going into the field, he got a call from Joe telling all of them to meet in common room. Rick looked up from his book in the Archives before taking the book and returning it to the shelf. After taking a moment to grab his backpack from where he was sitting, he made his way to the Common room, where he found Joe standing at the head of the table. Joe looked up, and Rick gave a slight nod before making his way around the table and taking a seat. The others hadn’t arrived yet, and Rick couldn’t help but wishing they would hurry up.

He didn’t know what was really going on, but if Draconis had taught him anything, is that nothing would be ordinary about this.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:54 pm

The following weeks fell into a routine, such as it was. As expected, Catherine escaped to see Mr. Aziza at every opportunity and Richard wasn’t far behind. Both Cameron and Richard did very well in the physical training, though Cameron had to be pulled off Richard more than once. It made Joe wonder if there wasn’t some berserker in the guy. He’d have to watch that tendency very carefully. Poor Catherine simply got taken to task whenever she was paired with anyone other than Richard. Sadly, it was also the quickest way to get her used to getting out of the way and using her speed to avoid and then redirect a frontal attack. Joe limited how often he allowed Cameron pound on her. Richard or a member of another Hetja was a better match when Joe felt she needed to recoup.

In between training and research projects he assigned to his recruits, Joe poured over files trying to get a feel for what was happening around the world in the past year that he’d been out of the loop. There had been reports of the Papal Iron Hand turning up dead. They also investigated Mythics. But they hunted and killed. The secret position of the Church being that all Mythics were demon spawn and to be eliminated. Joe had known that that part of the Roman Catholic Church had been rebuild after the Knights of Draconis had split away. But, it seemed oddly coincidental that so many of them had simply vanished. Sorting files, Joe turned his attention to loss of personnel within Draconis itself. The figures were disturbing to say the least. In the same time frame, Draconis had lost 3 entire Hetjas. His had been just the beginning salvo, it seemed.

Joe reached for his phone and dialed it. Waiting a moment until it was picked up, he then said, “Alice? Can you send me all the files on rumblings in the Under City? I have a bad feeling.”

Whatever Alice’s caustic answer might have been, Joe didn’t hear because he hung up the phone on her absently. Joe continued to read through the files he had with growing concern. When Alice finally arrived with an armful of manila folders and an even more impressive scowl than usual, Joe stood to take them from her. “Thanks.” Alice only snorted and turned to leave the room but Joe stopped him, “Let me run something by you. The Iron Hand is losing people in droves. We’ve lost 3 of our Hetjas and we don’t have that many to start with.” He dropped the files onto the top of his desk, then indicated them with a wave of his hand. “And these are all incident reports relating to the Under City.”

Alice’s dark gray eyes merely stared through him, “And?”

“I think we might have a rebellion on our hands. Have any of our diplomatic relations been cut?”

Alice considered Joe’s suspicion, and then nodded. “It’s possible. We haven’t had to call a meeting with any of the nations in quite some time, so I don’t personally know of any ties being cut.” It looked as if it caused her great pain to answer him honestly.

Joe frowned, “I was afraid of that. We might need to call a meeting of the nations to see where they stand and what they’ve heard. Can you handle that part? I think I need to take the team back down to the Under City and do a bit more of a patrol. I want to get a feel for the feelings down there.”

Alice scowled heavily. “I don’t recommend that action, Mr. Michaelson. If things are as tense as you believe, then a more experienced Hetja should be called in.”

Joe cut her off. “There isn’t one available, Alice. We’re running thin as it is. Use the more experienced teams in the field.”

The pair stared at one another, but for once, Alice blinked first. “Fine. It’s your funeral.” With that ominous announcement, the Sea Hag turned and left his office.

Joe blew out a frustrated breath and returned to the stack of incident reports and his cold coffee.
_________________________________________________________________________________

The tunnel was low and dank. Joe remembered the smell. It had a coppery, moldering stench that could almost be tasted. He watched Dennis, the youngest member of the Hetja and a gangly blond kid of 23, gag and try to hide his nausea. Ross and Mike, the other team members remained silent so as not to give away their position, but managed to grin at each other despite the tense situation they found themselves in. Ross was Joe’s second in command and his best friend. Joe had stood for him when he’d married Justine. And there was no one he trusted more in a place like this.

The group of four edged their way down the sewer tunnel toward an old, abandoned subway station in Chicago that had been built over and forgotten decades ago. It had been taken over by some of the nastier Mythics that had refused to go to the safer Under Cities built for them around the world. This particular station had attracted some Vampires that chose to resurrect their age-old habit of hunting and killing humans. A few other Mythics such as lesser demons and at least one Basilisk had also been reported in the area. Joe’s group was tasked with cleaning the nest out. As a result they had been armed with the heaviest and most modern weapons developed by Draconis to fight incredibly powerful Mythics.

The stench seemed to intensify as they approached the opening to the run down station. Joe crouched and held up a fist, they others instantly crouched behind him; Ross to his side with Mike and Dennis behind them. Ross and Joe looked over the ruined rail station through their IR goggles, but got only small hits. They were likely caused by some of the humans that had been snatched and were being held for later consumption. Thankfully, the Basilisk was nowhere to be seen. Joe and Ross traded a look and loaded UV producing flash bangs onto the launches affixed to the underside of their SMGs. Joe looked behind him to Dennis and noted the kid’s pallid complexion. He was shaking like a leaf. “Stick with me. Keep close but don’t step on me, got it?”

Dennis nodded in a jerk of his chin, but kept silent.

Ross glanced from Dennis to Mike and then nodded to Joe. They were ready.

Joe aimed his SMG up toward the ceiling of the station and whispered calmly, “Alright. Light ‘em up.” Together, he and Ross fired their grenades and the station exploded into excruciatingly bright light. They could clearly hear the screams of the Vampires that had been caught in the open. They died nearly instantly. One or two of the lesser demons died with them.

Joe and Ross rose and moved out as if they were joined at the hip. They’d been doing this side by side for a long time. Mike and Dennis quickly fell into step behind them, their own flash-bangs ready for use. As the first grenade began to fade, they came. Dozens of Vampires began to converge on the tiny group. Their guns chattered in economical 3 round bursts. The bullets filled with blessed holy water and garlic were more effective than one would think. Only the oldest Vampires were able to shake off the debilitating affects before they were dispatched by stake or machete.

But there were too many. Far too many Vampires. They were being pushed back and surrounded. Ross was a machine taking out Vampire after Vampire. Dennis went down first. A shadow Vampire had caught him looking away and had torn his throat out before Mike or Joe could react. Mike took off its head for it. Joe began to sweat, they weren’t going to make it. They were going to die. “Ross! We have to get out of here. There’s too many.” Just then, Mike screamed as he was dragged off his feet by a demon. He fired his flash-bang into the creatures mouth and it exploded into a shower of cockroaches that ate the Hetja agent alive.

Ross and Joe now found themselves back to back. Joe’s shirt was soaked with sweat. His hands shook uncontrollably. “Ross! We can’t stay here!”

“Get your act together or I’ll shoot you myself!” Ross snarled.

The men turned in a slow circle. There were no less than twenty Vampires surrounding them. All showing gaping slavering jaws with blood-stained fangs. And suddenly, a grating sound of rock against rock was heard in the tunnels behind them. The Basilisk!

“Fuck!” Joe yelled.

“Stand your ground, damn it!” Ross growled.

The Vampires suddenly flowed forward as a single entity. They were unwilling to give up their prize to the Basilisk. Joe and Ross kept firing and slashing with their machetes until they were out of ammo. Then the SMGs became clubs. Just as they were almost overwhelmed, Joe broke. As Ross went down under an avalanche of Vampires, Joe scrambled out from the melee and ran. He threw aside his weapons and ran and ran and ran. He could hear the screams of his best friend as the Vampires played with him, killing him.

Joe kept running, sometimes slipping and falling with gulping cries. He could still hear Ross’ screams He imagined the Vampires still pursuing him.

An incredibly sharp slap jerked Joe back into the land of the living painfully. His cheek stung tremendously and his eyes watered not only from the memories of the dream. Dashing the tears from his face, he looked up to find Alice standing over him. The effect was less than comforting.

“What the hell?” He demanded.

“She had you again. I heard you screaming.” Was Alice’s terse answer. “Get yourself together, Mr. Michaelson. I hope none of your team heard you.” And once again, she was gone.

Justine’s laughter floated through his mind.

“God damn you Justine.” He growled. “God damn you. That wasn’t what happened.”

“Are you so sure?” The ghost asked.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:09 pm

Once they had made it back to the common room, Cameron slouched into one of the chairs while Joe fetched Catherine some water to quell the shock of all the creatures she’d just seen. He scratched at his beard idly, boredom evident across his features. He almost sighed in relief when Joe finally addressed the group as a whole. “Beginning tomorrow, we’ll have regular 8 hour days. Physical training in the morning, a break and then you’ll meet the Archive for some education, time with Alice regarding Mythic relations and then time in the afternoon or evenings to do as you please.”

“Oh goody.” Joe quickly set about explaining Catherine’s training schedule, and Cameron chuckled at the way he didn’t even give her a chance to protest having to learn how to fight. As their ‘leader’ looked to him, the Scot shifted slightly, eyebrows raised expectantly as the man regarded him for a moment.

“You already have good brawling skills, let’s add some Krav Maga to that and some of our heavier pieces. That will be a more extensive training since the weapons will change depending on the mission. I won’t even bother with Diplomacy for you.” The man‘s smile raised some warning signs in his head, but he just nodded in understanding. “Some of our operatives are past experts. You’ll get a lot out of training with them.” He looked to Richard next, but Cameron wasn’t listening by that point.

Krav Maga? The hell was that? Rubbing his chin in thought, he had to admit there was a certain appeal to heavy weapons, assuming that was what the Yank meant by piece. What did that entail exactly? Rifles? Machine guns? He spent the remainder of Joe’s speech in silent thought about the toys he might get to play with. Before he really knew what was happening, Joe was gone, and Catherine was disappearing down the hall with only a bitter “See you in the morning.” to send them off. Richard and he glanced at each other for a moment, before the younger man rose from his chair.

“See ya tomorrow Cam.”

Waving a two fingered good-bye to the nerd, Cameron lazily flipped his phone out of his pocket and glanced at the time. “The fuck do I do for the rest of the day?” He muttered, rising to his feet and trudging into the elevator without another word.

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

Climbing the steps to his apartment, Cameron fished around for his keys in frustration. How his pockets got so disorganized from a day of talking and light walking was beyond his pay grade and attention span, but damn if it wasn’t annoying. Resting his hand on the doorknob for a moment, he swore colourfully and gave the handle a squeeze. To his surprise the door clicked open, causing him to stare for a moment in confusion. Then he frowned. “Jackie!”

Stepping inside, he kicked off his shoes as a small mop of red hair poked around the corner at the end of the hall. “Dad? Don’t you work late tonight?” Her blue eyes bore into him suspiciously, as if he was skipping work or some other foul deed. “You didn’t get fired right?” Her small face puffed up adorably, and he fought the urge to rush up the hall and pinch her cheeks. That wasn’t exactly within his…image.

Cameron deadpanned. “No. I didn’t get fired. They let us go early.” Walking down the hall, he jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “How many times have I told you to lock up when you’re home alone, Kiddo?” She opened her mouth, but he pressed a finger to her tiny lips. “Plenty of times. It’s to keep you safe. Don’t want to give me a heart attack.” She frowned against his finger, before nodding. He knew they’d be having the same conversation in a week, but for now, was satisfied.

Jackie grinned as he ruffled her hair affectionately, moving quickly to walk beside him as he headed for the fridge. “Do you like it?” He rooted around in the fridge for a moment, before settling on a sandwich sitting neatly wrapped on a plate.

“Remind me when you learned how to use saran wrap without tangling it?” She pouted at his ducking of the question, and he chuckled as he freed the sandwich from its plastic prison. “It’ll be interesting.” Taking a bite, he handed her the other half before setting the plate in the sink.

“Interesting?”

“Yeah, interesting.” She pouted, sandwich hanging out of her mouth in a way that made his heart melt. He ruffled her hair again, a strange habit he'd developed over the years, before squatting down to eye level with her. “Is your homework all done?” She nodded slowly. “You positive?” Jackie frowned behind the sandwich.

“It was easy! I got it done at school!” Her protest only made him smile more, and he fixed her with a comically suspicious look. She had her mother’s smarts, leaving little doubt in his mind she had already done it like she said, but her reactions made it all the more fun to tease her. “I did!” She swatted him in the arm, and he laughed, hands raised in surrender.

Maybe a little bit of his temper. “Alright, I believe you!” She took a bite of her sandwich, glaring lightly at him over the bread as she chewed. “Well, since you’ve been such a good girl, how bout we play a game, hm?” Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “I’ve got the whole night off, so I’m all yours.” Jackie was practically bouncing with excitement. Actually, she was literally bouncing, the sandwich in her mouth flopping about comically as she did. “Alright then. What shall we play kiddo?”

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

As much as he complained, in the next month, Cameron took to his training like a fish to water. Free from the obligation of diplomacy lessons, almost all of his time at the base was spent sparring, training and working out. The style that Joe had picked out for him, Krav Maga, couldn’t really be called a style, so much as enhanced street fighting. There was little doubt that Cameron thoroughly enjoyed the combat aspect, and when Joe first introduced the man to his teacher, there was a surprising absence of his utter disinterest like the day before.

His teacher was a Hetja commando, and promptly explained the origins of the style in brief, glazing over the needless history in favour of getting straight to the meat of the lessons. Which, at first, composed mostly of Cameron taking shit tons of abuse at the hands of his instructor. Every time an explanation would have sufficed, they settled for a live demonstration, and it became a rare day to see Cameron not sporting some sort of bruise or cut. Whenever they had training though, it was difficult to miss the madman’s grin stretched across his face.

Both Joe and the commando discovered the ‘issue’ of Cameron’s near berserker-like tendency to go wild during a fight, and controlling it became one of the focuses of his training. His teacher often found himself on the receiving end of a whirlwind of strikes from provoking the Scot too much, but was more than capable of slamming him to the mat until he calmed the hell down. It took work, and a few near broken bones, but eventually, progress was made. While Cameron was far from the total control one might hope for, it took more than basic jabs to bring out the ‘zerker’.

With that under control, Joe opened the floor to fighting with Richard. Most of their spars were battles of attrition, with Richard ducking and weaving past the furious barrages Cameron favoured, tagging him with hits when there was an opening. The constant weaving and ducking around Cameron’s aggressive style eventually wore Richard out though, and then Cameron would snare him, taking him to the ground and going to town with every kind of hit he could land. Numerous times had Joe physically pulling Cameron off to actually stop the spar, but he never apologized for the beat downs. His style was aggressive, and that was that.

Before long, it became less mandatory for Cameron to be there for the whole day, and Joe even threw in a few days off every now and again. The musician was the team’s combat man, so it made little sense to force him to sit around the base when the others were focused on diplomacy or the minute details of a mythic genus. Those idle days just made him spend hour after hour in the gym, and while Cameron was already in good shape, even he noticed the bulk building up from his training.

Weapon training was an oddity, as Cameron had about as much experience with a gun as any average person, which is to say next to none. Heavy handguns were the primary focus in the early stages, and once they were confident that he wasn’t about to snap and unload a clip into someone, they moved him up to assault rifles. His natural proficiency with fighting helped a little, but it was rather clear that they weren’t going to be shaping him into a marksman anytime soon. More than one gun lesson ended in instruction as to why using the rifle as a club wasn’t an acceptable tactic, but by the end of the month, he was at least getting the hang of all the basics.

One of his days off with Jackie saw a chance encounter with Catherine, or Cat as he’d taken to calling her and for a reason beyond him, Jackie had attached herself to the woman. This often led to nagging about bringing her along for ice cream, and Cameron was never one able to resist the puppy dog eyes. So, begrudgingly, he found himself forced to spend more time around the woman. Fortunately, she was easy to tease with the simplest of implications, giving him a good source of entertainment. Richard and him generally stayed away from each other outside of sparring and the few mythic lessons the musician was forced to sit on. Joe was much of the same, never really interacting beyond lessons and scolding him about his temper.

And so the month came to an end…

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

Trudging the familiar path to work, Cameron heaved a sigh. His body ached, the day before having been particularly rough due to some stupid modifications to the rifle they’d given him. The recoil had been murder on his shoulders, and he was pretty damn sure he had bruise forming around the joint. Grumbling something about guns under his breath, he began to trudge up the steps towards the building when his cell went off with an all too familiar ring-tone.

Fuck you; I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you; I won’t do what you tell me!
Fu-


The few businessmen and women climbing the steps around him shot nasty glares at his obnoxious phone, but he paid them little mind as he flipped the phone open. “What you want, Joe?”

The ‘fearless’ leader sounded a little frustrated as he spoke. "Aitkin. You’re late. You up yet even?" Cameron held the phone away from his face for a moment, checking the time before resting it against his ear again.

“I’m ten minutes late, get off the soap box.” He started climbing the steps again; shooting a nasty look at one of the people he passed. “I’m just outside, what’s the rush?”

"I don't want it to be a habit. If we get called out we all have to be ready and be where we're supposed to be." There was a pause before Joe added a curt. "Don't let it happen again." Cameron fought the urge to simply snap the phone shut, fist clenching in his pocket.

“Of course it won’t happen again. It’s not like I value walking my daughter to school more than I value my precious time staring at your grumpy-ass face.” Cameron tugged the door open, nodding in greeting to the receptionist as he trudged to the elevator. “Spend less time with the hag, you might just be tolerable. On the lift.” He closed the phone before Joe could respond, and stuffed it into his pocket. “Fucking asshole.”

As the doors began to close, he caught a brief glimpse of the burning gaze of the last person you really wanted to see in the morning. Alice’s eyes spoke a very simple statement. “Hag, Mr. Aitkin?” He grimaced as the lift closed; thumping his head on the metal as it began its descent.

That was going to bite him in the ass later. A few moments later, the lift opened, and he trudged into the common room, coming face to face with another glare, this time belonging to Joe. It was going to be one of those days, wasn't it? “You spend way too much time with Alice, I ain’t taking it back.”

“Sit down.” Waving his hand a few times with a muttered ‘yeah, yeah’, Cameron dropped into the chair that he’d sat in since their first meeting. He wasted no time propping his head up on his hand, elbow braced against the table. Sparing a quick glance to the others, he grumbled out a greeting.

“Morning, Cat. Nerdling.”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:29 pm

Joe snapped his phone shut and waited for everyone to arrive and settle into the different seats in the common area. He looked haggard from lack of sleep and hadn’t shaved in a few days. Holding a porcelain coffee mug he sipped at it before addressing the group. “I had hoped to give you more time to train and learn your jobs, but we have to head into the Under City.” He looked at each of them. “We’re not going down there to hunt anything or to confront anything. We’re just going down to be seen. Using cop lingo; “Being high profile.” The big American stalked back and forth in front of them, thinking things through. “All we want to do is be seen. We’re going to make some contacts, let the Mythics that make their homes down there know we’re still here. Talk to a few that we can. Maybe visit some of the leaders of the various communities, if we can. We’ll have to play it by ear.”

Joe paused and looked at each of them. “We have to go down there armed. It’s just the way it is. But we won’t take anything obvious or overt.” He almost smiled, “You know that old adage about never letting them see you sweat? Well it’s particularly true down below.” I’ll do most of the talking if needed. But Richard and Catherine should also know which Mythics can be dealt with by now. I’m going to let you two make the call if you want to engage any of the Mythics in conversation. I’ll only step in if I see it going wrong or if you’ve made a bad call.”

Joe turned his eyes toward Cameron. “I need you to find a larger jacket or coat and pick a fairly large handgun and ammo to take down there. I believe in being prepared.”

”Oh, prepared? You know you can’t save them. You can’t be prepared enough and you know it. I’m stronger than you down there, Joe and you know what I can do.” Justine cooed in his mind.

Joe squeezed his eyes shut trying to banish the echo of Justine’s words in his head. After a few seconds, he opened them again and looked at Cameron again. “Just.” He took a deep breath, “Just don’t go off without cause. The last thing we need is a running fire-fight. Because we’d lose.” Joe then looked at each of them with what was supposed to be a reassuring smile, “Go get your gear and we’ll leave in half an hour.”

Once the others had split up to prepare, Joe sat down with his elbows on his knees and bowed his head. He hadn’t slept much since the nebulous fear wriggled into his mind. Something was going on among the Mythics. They were stirred up. Of course, it happened every so often. But now was a very bad time for things to crop up again.

Lost in thought, Joe didn’t hear Mr. Aziza move into the common room. Even though the old man had to hop on his single leg, he somehow managed to make no sound at all. Sitting in a chair near the former Brooklyn cop, Mr. Aziza cleared his throat gently. Joe looked up into the gentle dark-eyed Archive. “Hello, Mr. Aziza. Help you with anything?” He asked.

“No.” The old man shook his head at him. “I think you need my help.” He tapped his temple. “The ghost inside you. She grows stronger doesn’t she?” He tilted his head at Joe. “She won’t go until you let go of her.”

Joe looked completely perplexed. “What are you talking about? I tried therapy, Exocism, cleansings…the only thing I haven’t done is a lobotomy.” His voice grew tense in his frustration. “Don’t you think I would do anything to get this bitch out of my head?”

Mr. Aziza merely shrugged. “Obviously not.” He rose from his chair looking slightly saddened. “Good luck below. Come back with all of them, yes?” With that request, the old man hopped away, the trail of smoke from his pipe flowing like a streamer over his shoulder as he went.

Joe just watched the old man, completely perplexed. He hated when Mythics spoke in riddles like that. It drove him nuts when he didn’t know what they were talking about. Shaking his head, he rose and headed to the armory to get his own gun and a few clips then tossed on his leather jacket before returning to the common room to wait for the others.
___________________________________________________________________________________

Once they had all reassembled, Joe lead them back through the locked vault doors into the Under City. As before, the dark corners seemed to harbor shadowy things that watched them suspiciously. Joe led them to the left and through a few seemingly normal houses that only seemed different from the world above in the fact that the doors were exceptionally tall. Joe, who stood an easy 6 and a half feet tall, was over-topped by the door by at least 4 feet. Walking up to one of the homes, Joe blew out a sharp breath as if steeling himself for something unpleasant and knocked sharply on the door.

A deep rumbling growl was clearly heard from the opposite side the massive door. Joe waited and suddenly the door shot open to reveal a 7 and a half foot tall humanoid with bulging muscles and a wolf’s head. Its lips were curled back from massive teeth and it continued to snarl when it saw Humans on its doorstep. The beast opened its mouth, howling its apparent displeasure and its arms shot out to seize Joe by the shoulders. Jerking the former cop close, it threw its arms about Joe’s body.

Joe found himself lifted off his feet as if he were a baby. The creature squeezed him tightly, making Joe groan in pain. When he finally was able to gain the breath, Joe slugged the wolf-creature hard on the shoulders. “Let me down, Billy! You’re breaking my back!” He gasped out.

‘Billy’ put Joe down, supporting him with a massive arm around Joe’s bicep. “Oh. Sorry man.” The creature said with a gravelly voice that was definitely not used to speaking a Human language. He then looked past Joe to the others with him. “It’s good to see you. You dropped off the face of the Earth. You doing tours now?”

Joe coughed slightly and shook his head. “You’re going to kill me one day, Billy.” The comment about tours made Joe smile, a little sadly. “Not exactly. New team.” Joe turned to the others, “This is Billy. He’s a friend of mine.”

Before he could finish the introductions, Billy interrupted, “He tell you how many times I save his ass or drank him under the table?” Billy chuffed in what must have been a laugh for him. “I could tell you stories…”

Joe interrupted him. ”Another time, Billy. Wanna tell me what the feel is down here? We’re getting a whiff of bad feelings down here.”

Billy shrugged, “Maybe. The young ones feeling their oats, some of the darker types stirring things up. Same as usual.”

Joe looked around them. “We’re going to walk the area. Sort of walking the beat so to speak. See what you can find out, will you?”

Billie nodded, “Sure. Cost you a case of Newcastle Dark.” Billy grinned and it was, frankly, a terrifying sight with his fangs.

Joe half-smiled, “Fair enough.” He then turned away and began to lead the group back to the main thoroughfare to begin their tour. This would be the furthest any of them had been in the Under City.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:08 pm

“You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I’m alone
And so I tell myself that I’ll be strong
And dreaming when they’re gone”

Catherine bobbed her head in time with Ellie Goulding’s catchy pop lyrics playing through her ear buds while flipping through yet another manuscript on Mythic physiology. She had constructed a cozy little fortress of solitude for herself in a secluded corner of the Archive. She was curled up in a plush leather recliner, her legs tucked comfortably under her body, and dressed casually – at least by her standards – in dark jeans and a purple drape-neck shirt. A notebook and pen balanced precariously on her knees. Her hair was still damp from her shower after her morning aikido practice, and her afternoon coffee sat on a coaster on the table in front of her, along with a foreboding stack of manuscripts that she still needed to review and annotate.

Draconis had precious few manuscripts on Mythic genetics, so Catherine was researching every remotely tangential field of study to try and get as much background as possible. Today was all about physiology – rather bizarre stuff, actually. Lycans’ responses to silver on a molecular level, how vampires maintained cardiovascular integrity when deprived of blood, muscular and skeletal adaptations for flight in wyverns, and more that made her head spin. Catherine tried to look at the papers from a strictly scientific perspective, but the juxtaposition of the scientific method and fantasy creatures like dragons and fae stretched even her analytical mind.

“Cause they’re calling, calling, calling me home
Calling, calling, calling home
You show the lights that stop me turn to stone
You shine it when I’m alone
Home”

The song wrapped up and transitioned into the next one right as Catherine finished making the last of her notes on this manuscript about oxygen exchange in mermaids. She hit the pause button on her iPod and pulled out her ear buds. “Okay, coffee time.” She uncurled her legs and reached to place her notebook and papers on the table and winced as stiff muscles protested from sitting still for so long. “Ow…” she muttered, reaching over to massage a painful knot in her shoulder. “Cameron owes me an ice cream for that one. I can’t believe Joe made me spar with him today.” Even though she was alone, complaining out loud made her feel marginally better.

As if on cue, she heard a familiar warm chuckle, and Mr. Aziza ambled over, hopping silently on his one leg. At first, his ability to move soundlessly on one leg had unnerved Catherine. Now she was actually used to it. "Your bones hurt, Miss Catherine?"

Catherine couldn’t keep the look of misery off her face. "Is it that obvious?"

Mr. Aziza handed her a small linen bag of herbs and other unidentifiable ingredients. "This is very good." The old man smiled through his usual cloud of tobacco smoke. "Next time you can ask sooner?"

The sudden gift caught Catherine off guard, and she stammered for an appropriate response. “How did you…?” She mentally slapped herself. Archive. Knows everything. Duh. She smiled gratefully. “Thank you. I’ll give this a try. Heaven knows ibuprofen hasn’t been helping at all.”

Mr. Aziza smiled pleasantly and left Catherine to her work. Just as she was gathering up her supplies to head back to the HQ kitchen and try his concoction, her cell phone buzzed. Grumbling under her breath, she checked it to find a text message from Joe announcing an important team meeting first thing the next morning and to not be late. Catherine smirked to herself, knowing Joe wasn’t referring to her or Richard with the “don’t be late” comment.

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

The next morning, Catherine could not completely wipe the smirk off her face as Cameron rolled into the meeting ten minutes late. Joe’s grumpy expression was the only thing keeping Catherine from laughing out loud. She had totally called it, and the surprising lack of sore muscles, courtesy of Mr. Aziza’s mystery tea, only enhanced her mood. “Morning, Cat. Nerdling.” She nodded in acknowledgement and made a mental note to bug him about ice cream later.

Unfortunately, her good mood abruptly evaporated once Joe explained their mission. Catherine had gotten more comfortable with the idea that Mythics existed, but that didn’t mean she was jumping up and down to go back into the Under City, especially after nearly fainting from shock the first time. Even worse, they had to go armed. What good would tasers and pistols do if something really nasty wanted to turn them into lunch? “I’ll do most of the talking if needed. But Richard and Catherine should also know which Mythics can be dealt with by now. I’m going to let you two make the call if you want to engage any of the Mythics in conversation. I’ll only step in if I see it going wrong or if you’ve made a bad call.”

Oh great, now Joe expected them to suddenly turn into diplomats and talk to the Mythics too? Catherine didn’t know if she was quite ready for that. It was one thing to listen to Alice lecture about Mythic etiquette. It was quite another to put those skills into practice. Joe tried to reassure them with a smile, but it only made the knot in Catherine’s stomach tighten. “Go get your gear and we’ll leave in half an hour.”

Catherine tried to keep the look of panic off her face as she made a beeline for her room. She was currently narrowing down her apartment options, so she still stayed at HQ. She quickly changed into more appropriate attire that would allow her to conceal her weapons while still maintaining a sense of authority. First, she picked a pair of black dress trousers that fit just a little loose so she could tuck her taser and holster inside the waistband on her right hip. Her stun baton went into a soft fabric sheath that strapped to her left forearm at the wrist and just below the elbow. She donned a button-up, long-sleeve shirt with wider sleeves to hide the sheath, but she could still easily reach across with her right arm and draw the baton in an emergency. The shirt also came down far enough to hide the slight bulge that her taser holster created in her waistband. Finally, she opted for black walking sneakers. Her overall look gave the impression of an authority figure – or so she hoped – but was comfortable and easy for her to run or maneuver. Finally, she stuck a small notepad and pen in her pocket just in case one of the Mythics said anything worth remembering.

Satisfied that her gear was in order, Catherine started for the door…and then paused as she noticed the little jar of honey on her nightstand. She normally kept some on hand to sweeten her afternoon tea, but she remembered something Alice had said in one of her diplomacy lectures. The chances of Catherine actually acting on this idea were slim to none, but it never hurt to be prepared. Before she could psych herself out, she shoved the palm-sized honey jar into her other pocket and hurried to rejoin the rest of the team.

Catherine’s second trip into the Under City was not quite as terrifying as the first, but she didn’t think she would ever get over the skin-crawling sensation that something was constantly watching her. Luckily, Joe walked with a purpose that said he knew his destination, so Catherine stayed close to him as they approached a set of houses with massive doors. Joe knocked on one of those towering doors, and Catherine held her breath, awaiting the appearance of whatever Mythic lived there. She took a step backward, nearly bumping into Cameron, at the sound of a rumbling growl, and she nearly screamed as the door shot open to reveal a tall, muscled humanoid with a wolf’s head – a Wulver, if she remembered correctly from Joe’s assigned readings.

The Wulver howled viciously and reached out with clawed hands to grasp Joe by the shoulders, and Catherine fought the urge to scream and started to fumble for her taser as the creature squeezed Joe in what looked like an attempt to snap him in half. “Let me down, Billy! You’re breaking my back!”

Catherine froze in shock upon hearing Joe address the Wulver by name and then watching him put Joe down, almost gently. “Oh. Sorry man,” Billy spoke in a harsh, gravelly voice. Catherine could only listen in stunned silence as Joe conversed with Billy and then introduced him as a friend. So not only did this Wulver have a name and the ability to speak, but he had apparently befriended Joe. Did that mean his apparent murder attempt was…a hug? Catherine only dimly heard the rest of Billy and Joe’s conversation about the situation in Under City before he was leading them back to the main thoroughfare.

Catherine tried to keep Joe’s reminder about not letting them see you sweat in her mind, even though her palms were sweaty and shaking from nerves. To distract herself, she turned to Richard and asked quietly, “So who were you thinking of talking to?” She didn’t want to use the word “Mythic” down here and risk offending any of the locals.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:53 am

Joe turned his eyes toward Cameron. “I need you to find a larger jacket or coat and pick a fairly large handgun and ammo to take down there. I believe in being prepared.” The Scot’s face split into a wild grin, and he pounded his fist on the table enthusiastically.

“Action! Now you’re speaking my fucking language! Bout fucking time we did something remotely interesting!”

Joe seemed less than enthused about his response, squeezing his eyes shut for a few moments. “Just.” He took a deep breath, “Just don’t go off without cause. The last thing we need is a running fire-fight. Because we’d lose.” Cameron rolled his eyes, but nodded to appease the man regardless. “Go get your gear and we’ll leave in half an hour.” With that dismissal, Cameron stepped out of the common room, intending to head for the armoury when the intercom by the lift crackled to life.

“Is this on? Yes? Oi! Aitkin! You down there, ya daft bastard?” Narrowing his eyes at the familiar voice, Cameron crossed the room, jamming the response button roughly and grinning into the small speaker that would transmit his voice.

“Lammond. I was beginning to miss that high pitched screech of yours. What do you want?” There was a laugh on the other end, and a sound he assumed was clapping. After a few seconds of scraping and muffled noise, the older voice returned.

“I was worried you’d gone off already to the Undercity already! It’s good that I’ve caught you, get your grouchy rump up to R’n’D, double time!” Before he could even mutter a question, the speaker crackled again, the voice much louder than it was before. “Prepare to have the mismatched socks blown off your feet! I’ve got a present for ya!”

Jerking away from the speaker, Cameron hissed a curse at the old codger for yelling in his ear. “Alright, keep your damn pants on; I’ll be up in a minute.” If the man had responded, Cameron wasn’t paying attention, boarding the elevator and pressing the button for the R’n’D floor. He’d never actually visited the true heart of Draconis’s nerd population, but today, it seemed that was about to change. Mentally bracing himself for a barrage of big words and lingo he didn’t understand, Cameron grimaced when the lift dinged and its doors slide open.

Glancing about, he wasn’t overly surprised to find it very similar to the laboratory they had downstairs that Cat always holed up in. Although this one wasn’t strewn with beakers and Bunsen burners, or anywhere near as clean. Every counter and surface was littered with weapons, blueprints or bits of weapons and blue prints. Tools of various shapes and sizes and designs he’d never even seen before were mounted on the walls, and somewhere in the back, he swore to god he saw an actual forge burning.

Before Cameron could really question anything saw, the grey bearded face of Finlay Lammond appeared in front of him, grinning that same stupid grin he always had on his face whenever they talked. “There you are, boy! C’mon, c’mon! I got it over here!” His accent was even thicker than Cameron’s and it had been a point of amusement whenever they spoke that barely anyone understood what they were going on about.

They’d met about half way through Cameron’s training, when Finlay had come to the sparring room for, as he put it, ‘little bit of exercise.’ Making weapons and running tests all day and night obviously didn’t make for the healthiest lifestyle, and Finlay was at the age where apparently he gave more than two craps about seeing the rest of his years. They’d talked for a few moments, and Cameron’s instructor suggested Finlay have a round or two with the younger man for a good warm up.

Suffice to say, the two Scotsmen wound up going for several rounds, first beating the every living crap out of each other, then had gone to the pub down the street for several round of the alcoholic sort. Long story short, they’d woken up with the kind of hangover Cameron hadn’t had since he was a teenager. Thanks largely in part to their violent first meeting, the two had bonded quickly, and it was uncommon to see Cameron and Finlay heading for a drink after the day’s work had ended.

“So, what exactly is this present, Lammond? I don’t need to get chewed out twice in one day because you have something pretty to show off.” The grey haired man laughed, wrinkled face split by a cheery grin. “It better be good.”

“Patience is a virtue, but we all know you’re lacking in that department.” They stopped in front of a small table, haphazardly covered by a large white sheet, no doubt for dramatic effect. Finlay had a head for things like that. After a moment of silence, Cameron motioned to the table impatiently, and the older Scotsmen held up his hands in surrender. “Alright, since you’ve waited all of thirty seconds, I’ll reward your great patience.” Gripping the sheet, he pulled it away with one fluid motion, revealing…

“…It’s a fucking gun and some braces. Seriously?” Finlay laughed at Cameron’s unimpressed deadpan, roughly slapping him on the back and tossing the sheet away with his free hand. “I can get a gun in the armoury!”

“Oh, you can get a gun. But you won’t get a beast quite like this little beauty.” He hoisted the gun up, placing it in Cameron’s hand and coiling his hand around the grip. “She’s completely custom, first of her kind. Made from lightweight polymers but reinforced with stainless steel, she’s got the capacity and speed of a Glock, with all the power of a Desert Eagle lurking in her belly.” Cameron glanced along the length of the barrel, noticing the sleek shine of the barrel and how the grip seemed to fit just right in his hand. “The grip isn’t the same standard shit you see on mass produced models, not on my baby. It’s designed to fit the hand as comfortably as possible, making those long days of shooting much easier on your palms.”

Cameron nodded, ejecting the magazine and taking a look inside. “Slugs?”

“Aye, boy! .50 calibre slugs. A round like that, center mass, will drop anything short of a Minotaur, and I promise the Minotaur in two rounds!” He motioned to the clips arrayed on the table, retrieving one with a quick swipe of his hand. “Now, another thing of note is she’s a capable girl. I’ve got you two clips of slug already to go, but in-case you need a little extra fire to your firepower, I’ve got two incendiary clips loaded and ready as well.” He tilted the magazine slightly, showing Cameron the first round inside. “Crimson red means it’s gonna burn, golden means it’s a slug. Got it?”

“I got it. This…this is a hell of a gun, Lammond.”

“Ain’t she? She’s one of my finest, and I figured, who better to test the girl out, than the crankiest sonuvabitch I ever met!” He leaned against the table, still smiling like a madmen as Cameron examined the gun some more. “I called her the Ankou.” The younger man’s ears twitched at the familiar name, and a wry grin spread on his lips at Finlay continued. “And on my faith, this one is a nasty Ankou.”

“I like it. I’ll take good care of her.” The men gripped each other’s forearms, nearly identical grins stretched across their faces. “And I’ll do my best to make sure she stays busy.” Finlay slapped him lightly with his free hand, and Cameron laughed. “Right, I’m not supposed to be using the gun.”

“I don’t make her to not be used, but don’t go shooting people who don’t deserve it, boy. You’re a Hetja, not a murderer with a pay check.” It was one of the few times the older Scot had a serious tone, and Cameron didn’t even bother trying to look him in the eye. “Hetja means hero, no matter what you think of the job itself. Try and act like one...” Turning back to the table, he hoisted up the harness for Cameron’s gear and helped him slide it on. “…at least for the little one and those of us dumb enough to believe in you, alright?”

Cameron frowned for a moment, before sighing in annoyance. “Yeah, alright.” He grunted as Finlay tightened the harness, shooting the man a look as he turned back to the table. “So, anything else you got laying around for me?”

“Greedy, aren’t ya? I do, as a matter of fact.” He tossed over the first bracer, watching as Cameron slide it over his fist and experimentally flexed his hand to get a feel for it. “Those are essential if you’re going to be using the Ankou for more than a few shots. They brace your wrists so you don’t break anything or get seriously sore after a gun fight.” The musician examined the bracer as his friend spoke, running his hand along the firm black material, noticing the rigidness of it. His fingers brushed over the knuckles, and he felt the slightest indentation. Finlay answered the question before he could ask. “It’s got brass knuckle built in, and the bracing means you’re not likely to break anything if you punch a little too hard. If you’ve got something specific to deal with, we can attach things to the knuckles with those little indents. Adaptable, provided you know what you’re going into.”

“When does that happen?”

“In my experience? Never.” The old man laughed, wrinkled cheeks stretched into a smile as Cameron frowned slightly at his antics. “Survive your first mission, and we’ll talk customizing, alright?” He glanced towards the clock on the wall, frowning slightly to himself. “Well, you best get back. I doubt Michaelson will be impressed if you’re late.”

Nodding in agreement, Cameron slipped a clip into the Ankou, before tucking the handgun into the underarm holster built into his harness. He then slipped the clips into their holders, making a mental note which side carried which ammunition type and double checking so nothing would spill out while he was on the move. Once he’d gotten the second bracer on, Cameron glanced down at himself. He looked like something out of an action movie, and the thought brought a grin to his face. He’d have to show Jackie at some point. “Think this is a good excuse to show off my new jacket. Thanks, Lammond.” He started back towards the elevator, waving with two fingers over his shoulder.

Finlay nodded at the man’s retreating back, brow creased with the slightest hint of worry. “Keep your head on right down there, boy. Don’t need you getting torn up down there!” Cameron simply laughed, disappearing into the lift. Finlay glanced up at the ceiling, heaving a sigh. “You‘re gonna regret that, Finlay. Boy has more anger than sense.” He caught his reflection in the stainless steel finish of his workplace. “Well, let’s pray he leaves the anger at the door then.”

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

Following loosely behind the group, Cameron’s hazel eyes scanned the streets lazily, barely lingering on the parade of freaks as they passed. On the few days he’d been forced to sit with the Archive, the old…whatever he was, had focused primarily on showing Cameron flashcards of different species. It helped Cameron remember the names of most the creatures kicking around, but it did little else. Stuffing his hands even deeper into his pockets, the Scot slowed to a stop as they came to a towering house.

He whistled low at the door, but it was more for show than actually being impressed. The rumbling growl set his hairs on edge, and the sharp breath from their leader only served to worry him further. When the door swung open, and the towering wolf-headed creature stared down at him, Cameron swore lightly under his breath. Catherine had nearly backed into him, but he was already moving to get in front of her, hand reaching quickly into his jacket for the waiting Ankou. ‘Well, Lammond, looks like she’s going to get some exercise.’

Just as he unlatched the clip of the holster, though, Joe spoke to ‘Billy’. There was a moment where all semblance of control left Cameron’s face, eyebrow raised at the apparent friend of their leader, who, for whatever reason, was ignoring the whole almost being ripped in half thing. As Joe spoke with the…wolf-man…thing, Cameron busied himself re-clipping the holster properly, muttering under his breath. “Remind me to avoid wolf-man hugs in the future.”

For whatever reason, Billy was apparently helping them now, and Joe started guiding the group even further into the Undercity. He vaguely noted that this was farther in than the last time they were here, but that was about as far as his attention span was willing to depart from its typical grumbling. He raised an eyebrow as Catherine whispered to Richard, no doubt striking up another one of their infamously boring conversations. This mission was going to be boring as hell, wasn’t it?
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by quakernuts on Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:27 am

The meeting was brief to say the least, but Richard still managed to get the gist of it. They were going down to the Undercity to be a presence, nothing more and nothing less. Regardless of their simple objective, Rick was excited. He gave off a childish smile as the meeting came to a close, the only thing hampering his excitable nature was the fact that they needed to go armed. This was a problem, considering that his firearm training scores weren't the best and his fighting style was specifically made for unarmed combat. Rick mentally shrugged, orders were orders so he would do what Joe said and grab a simple pistol from the armoury before heading down to the possible minefield that was the Mythic's home. So, with the meeting adjourned for the time being, Rick didn't bother wasting any time heading for his room first off.

Almost at a run, he quickly reached his room within the Draconis complex, and started loading his backpack with notebooks, writing utensils, and encyclopaedias. He wasn't sure what he was exactly going to run into down there, so he left the books with the more common knowledge Mythics, preferring to have a book that could explain something he had never seen before. His own knowledge would be able to get him by in most situations, but this was a chance to learn more about the mythological beings and not a run and gun mission. Rick stepped out of his room, his backpack giving a fair weight but nothing that would slow him down, and was almost on his way to the Undercity gates when he realized he still had to hit the armoury for a pistol. He grumbled to himself as he switched paths and started heading towards the 'self protection' section of the complex. He understood the logic behind bringing a weapon, but that didn't mean he had to like it.

A short while later and he was standing in front of the metal gate with the armourer looking through pistols that all looked the same to Rick. The man sorted through some of them, before picking one and sliding it across the table with a couple of clips and a waist holster. "A Colt 45. standard issue pistol for recruits. Packs a bit more of a punch then the 9mm the cops carry around, which is what you're going to need against anything down there."

"Thanks." Rick stated, but before he could grab the gear and turn to leave, the armourer called after him.

"Hey, what style of martial arts are they getting you to train in?" Rick stopped for a second, failing to see how the question was relevant to him getting a gun.

"Uhhh...Ju Jitsu, why?" The man pointed a finger at him and turned towards the back end of the armoury for a second. A minute later, he came out with to pairs of braces that looked like they had blades or hooks where the knuckles were supposed to go.

"We quickly learned that all martial arts styles had to be able to incorporate a weapon regardless of their methodology. Ju Jitsu was one of the harder ones, being made specifically for unarmed hand to hand combat. However, the techies down below came up with a dual weapon apparatus that allows the user to incorporate just his fists rather than an actual weapon." The man looked up at him. "I'm going to go out on a limb and say you do something nimble...gymnastics? Ballet?" Rick stared at him for a second, the man shrugged. "Hey, no one's judging if you d-"

"Parkour." The man looked up.

"Ah, even better than ballet. Those guys are usually wimps."

"What happened to the 'no judging' thing?" Rick asked.

"Well that was before I knew you weren't a ballerina. Anyways..." The man slid it across. From the looks of it, the braces went up to his elbows but still allowed for his arm to be moved laterally. "It uses a small switch in the palm of the hand to extend the hooks, which can serve as a weapon in combat, or in your case, a climbing utensil when you need to get somewhere fast."

"Huh." Rick stated as he gave them a once over. He rolled up his sleeves on his black shirt and quickly managed to attach them with little trouble. He tightened them to the point where he felt like nothing short of a knife was going to rip them off, and gave them a once over again. With a quick flick of his fingers to his palm, the blades slid up the mechanism and added another six inches Rick's arm length. "That could come in handy." Rick stated as the armourer gave a smile.

"That's what the other guys said as well, now you better get going, I'm sure your boss is waiting for you." Rick looked up at the clock on the wall and nearly had a heart attack, he was going to be late unless he booked it. He quickly thanked the armourer for his help and grabbed the pistol and it's accessories as he ran. He managed to get to an elevator, and the trip was long enough for him to get the waist holster on and hidden underneath his shirt with the clips in his pockets. Before long, he was standing with the others with barely any time to spare before they went into the Undercity. Rick didn't bother apologizing for his near lateness, not wanting to give Cameron another excuse to razz him for anything. With nothing else being said or done, they quickly went into the Mythic's home.

It wasn't long before Joe had led them through a section of the Undercity and stood in front of a house. The door was huge, and Rick tensed his fingers around the switch on his palms just in case. When he saw what answered the door, he was confused as to what to do. He was positive it was a Wulver they were looking at, but he also knew that they were only hostile if bothered. Were they bothering him? As the creature picked up Joe and spread his arms around the man, Rick relaxed. Had the creature wanted to kill him, it would have charged him and buried it's face into his neck like an actual wolf. Instead, Joe started talking to it and 'Billy' returned the comments. It had never said anything in the texts about Wulver being able to talk, but then again, who ever really met a Wulver and tried talking to one.

As Joe continued to talk, Rick simply turned towards the rest of the Undercity once again taking in it's many sights. A gathering of Centaurs was galloping around everywhere, fairies of every type floated throughout the area, and even a massive Cyclops trudged through the crowd of ever increasing varieties of Mythics. His mind was so drawn to the spectacle that when Catherine asked what he was planning to talk to first, he didn't fully register her. "Hmm?" He asked before realizing what she said. "Oh...I don't know...there's so many of them." As Joe started to lead the group elsewhere, Rick peeled off in another direction. His curiosity about Mythic nature was getting the better of him rather than common sense as he somehow found himself in the midst of a group of mismatched Mythics.

Most simply ignored him as he made his way through the crowd, while a few gave him stares of disdain. A golem made of rock, easily two stories tall, made it's way through the crowded section of the city, and Rick had to hurry in order to make sure he wasn't crushed. Once he was through the surge of creatures, he found himself in a more residential area. He could wander door to door, see who lived where, but he had a better idea in mind. Each of the buildings varied in height, and after finding a decent climbing spot, prepped himself for a bit of exercise. He made sure his backpack was secured, and gave the wall a once over. There was a slight bulge a few feet up, he would then have to shimmy around to the front of the house and grab the window ledge, and from there he would be able to reach the roof. He really hoped no one was looking out the window at the time that was doing this, or that any of the creatures felt he was over stepping his bounds. He needed to get a better vantage point though, and seeing as the other buildings had a surprising lack of climbable points on the exteriors, this was his only option. So, with a slight intake of air, Rick ran up the wall and dug his fingers into the small section on the wall. A short shimmy later, and he was in front of the house.

He climbed up to the window, and gave a slight peek inside. Luckily, no one appeared to be home so he climbed the window and felt his hand grab purchase on the roof of the building. He pulled himself onto the roof of the building and stood looking around. His breathing was heavier than normal, but not panting. The backpack had weighed him down somewhat, seeing as he was usually not carrying anything when he did this sort of thing. He walked to the back of the building, and was able to see a fair distance into the horizon. The weird feeling of being underground never quite lost it's hold over Rick as he kept looking up to see a sun somewhere only to be met with solid rock. Despite the obvious lack of natural light; electric lamps and florescent lighting was everywhere in the Undercity, allowing for an incredible view of the entire place. Richard couldn't see just how far the city stretched, but he knew that it went on for miles and wouldn't be surprised if half the country had Mythics just underfoot.

He set down his backpack and quickly took out his notebook and pen. Within moments he was standing on the edge of the building taking notes of some of the living structures of the creatures. Noting how everything seemed to relate to one another, and how they seemed to get along for the most part despite having so many different species in one spot. Humans couldn't even get past one another having a different skin colour, let alone having another species move onto their turf. As he continued to work, he noticed that a breeze had somehow started up. He straightened the collar of his shirt quickly and went back to writing.

When the breeze started up again, this time with a stronger gust, Rick went to fix his collar once more only to smell something along the lines of decomposing garbage and rotten fish. He nearly gagged from the smell, and turned to see what the stench was. Instead, he came face to face with a single giant eye glaring down at him. Due to his position on the roof, he was exactly eye level with the Cyclops, who was obviously not happy for whatever reason. This couldn't have been his house, he was too large for it, so Rick couldn't deduce the problem. Instead, once more his curiosity came over his common sense and he walked closer to the giant creature. He stood on the edge of the building as the massive Cyclops continued to stare at him.

"Hello." Rick stated as he stared up at it.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:03 pm

Joe led the group in a rather circuitous route through the Under City, but stayed mostly out of the darkest of alleys or corners. It was evident that his aim was to cover as much ground as possible in their time below. The weird and wonderful, even fantastical architecture lined the streets that seemed to have grown more organically that from any sort of plan.

Joe pointed out the great claw marks in the roof and sides of the caverns where they could be seen in the dimmed lights, “As more and more Mythics were relocated down here, Giants, Troll and even greater demons would help dig new caverns. Stepping up onto a cobbled sidewalk to avoid barring the way of a Fae couple so beautiful it was nearly painful to look at them, Joe bowed his head in respect to the slender pair who did not deign to notice his presence. Once they were past them, Joe commented about the Under City. “Even I don’t know the fullest extent of these caverns.” The big ex-cop paused and thought, “Honestly, I doubt anyone does.”

Joe continued to walk the streets, byways and alleys with a straight back. If nothing else, he looked comfortable and at ease on the streets of the Under City. The truth was far different. Just as in any large population, the various denizens regarded ‘the authority’ with a mixture of distrust, caution, if not outright hatred. Only a very few of the smaller members of the Fae or lesser daemons nodded politely toward the group. Creatures with more power or less able to pass as human, in general, resented being kept in the Under City and little in the way of honest debate would ever sway them. In most cases, the elders or Chieftains or other self-appointed leaders kept a lid on the worst of the anger from boiling over.

Joe seemed to sense the edginess or perhaps it was the influence of his haunt. But, he found himself wiping the palms of his hands against his jeans every few blocks. Justine’s taunting laughter grew louder in his head with each footstep causing the sound to build to a throbbing roar, like being at a raucous crowd at a soccer tournament. Without realizing it, Joe found himself holding his breath waiting. Waiting for Justine to try something. But she didn’t. She only laughed, knowing how on edge he would be while in the Under City with her. He forced himself to calm his breathing. Far too many things down here could scent fear and they would come to feed on it.

They had gone nearly a half mile before Joe looked back to ensure his charges were still with him and he noted that Richard was MIA.

Sonuvabitch! He growled. He’d almost expected either Richard or Catherine would have wandered off all unawares. Why hadn’t he looked back sooner?

A tinkling and yet chilling laughter echoed in Joe’s head. “Because. You want them to be torn to pieces. Just like Ross.”

“Not now, damn it.” Joe retorted to his ghost. The group hadn’t gotten into the heart of the Under City yet, so the dangers weren’t quite as pronounced here. They were still bad enough though, if a Human was caught out alone. With a guiding hand on the small of Catherine’s back, he muttered to Cameron, “We have an AWOL scholar. Let’s see if we can find him before he gets himself into something he can’t get out of.” Joe really wanted to blame someone, but really couldn’t. But it didn’t mean he didn’t want to.

Retracing their steps made the trip back toward Billie’s home very long. But, they couldn’t simple cut a more direct path since Joe had no idea where Richard had separated from them. Behind them he heard sounds that ordinarily would have been nightmarish such as wolf-howls, ground rumbling foot falls or even the clip-clop of cloven hooves on the streets. But down here, it was simply the norm. Where had the kid gotten off to? Had he really gone to talk to some random Mythic that had crossed his path?

Just then they trio rounded a corner and spotted a large Cyclops, even larger than most Cyclops standing in the midst of a group of neat ginger bread-adorned homes. Something appeared to have the thing’s undivided and unhappy attention. “Oh shit…” Joe breathed.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:15 pm

Catherine quirked an eyebrow as Richard answered her question rather absent-mindedly. Honestly, she still didn’t see what was so fascinating about these creatures. They could be studied just like any other animal, only these “Mythics” were more shrouded in mystery and legends than the creatures people saw on a daily basis. Still, she couldn’t completely shake the nerves she felt as Joe led them deeper into the Under City and saw more bizarre Mythics…and evidence of ones she would rather not see.

She listened with half an ear while Joe explained how the Under City had expanded while eyeing the massive claw marks on the sides of the cavern with trepidation. “As more and more Mythics were relocated down here, Giants, Troll and even greater demons would help dig new caverns.” Catherine gulped. Greater demons? She certainly didn’t want to see any of those. Without even thinking about it, she made the sign of the cross over her chest like she had done in church all the time as a child.

The deeper they ventured – and the longer they went without something jumping out of the shadows to eat them – Catherine gradually started to look around more and take in the sights and sounds. Some of the Mythics, such as a regal Fae couple, were truly beautiful, while others were frightening or downright bizarre. She constantly kept one eye on Joe and stuck close to his side. If it weren’t for his calm, confident demeanor in the face of Mythics that would practically shoot death glares at them, she would have likely turned tail and run away screaming. She was also secretly grateful to have Cameron behind her bringing up the rear. She had noticed the size of his pistol when he moved in front of her back at Billie’s house and didn’t have to be an expert on guns to know that something of that size could seriously put the hurt on most Mythics.

After some time, Joe looked back to check on them and cursed. Catherine followed Joe’s gaze and noticed that Richard was gone. Her heart plummeted into her stomach. How long had he been missing? Had he gotten lost, or had something jumped out and attacked him when they weren’t looking? Joe placed a hand on Catherine’s back, as if to keep her from wandering away too, and said to Cameron, “We have an AWOL scholar. Let’s see if we can find him before he gets himself into something he can’t get out of.”

Catherine was a bundle of nerves as she followed Joe and Cameron back through the winding streets. She half-expected to hear a scream of pain or find Richard’s mangled, bloody corpse hanging from the jaws of a demon around every corner. The sounds of growling, footfalls, and hoof beats felt too close. Joe took them down a number of unfamiliar side streets, checking every nook and cranny for an overly curious – or overly dead – scholar. At one point, Catherine jumped at the sound of scraping claws, and it was way too close for comfort. She looked over her shoulder to see if they were being followed, saw nothing, bumped into a wall, turned back around…

…and Joe and Cameron were gone.

Panicking, Catherine quickly darted around the corner in the direction she guessed Joe and Cameron had gone. She wanted to shout their names but didn’t want to risk attracting unnecessary attention and painting herself as a target. “…Joe? Cameron?” she called hesitantly. When no one answered, she started running. She took one turn, then another and another. That oddly-shaped house looked familiar, so she started towards it, only to stumble into the middle of an open area filled with pixies, centaurs, Fae, and various other Mythics, some that looked at her suspiciously when she skidded to a halt. A cold sweat broke out on Catherine’s face as her eyes widened in horror.

She was hopelessly lost in the middle of Under City.

‘Don’t panic. You’re not dead yet. Just think,’ Catherine thought like a mantra as she tried to figure out a plan. Her right hand drifted toward the stun baton hidden under her sleeve, and she backed away slowly from the cluster of Mythics. She ducked behind the corner of the nearest house to regroup and assess her surroundings. Maybe one of the Mythics around here had seen her companions. After all, the point of coming here was to communicate with the locals. The issue was simply finding one that looked relatively harmless to try and strike up a conversation.

As Catherine looked out at the Mythics milling around the square, she realized that she would have to redefine her definition of “relatively harmless.” Every Mythic she saw had something that could quite easily end her existence – hooves, claws, teeth, or magic, in the case of the Fae. But then she caught a tiny glimmer of movement in the shadows by a house across the square. Whatever it was, it was small, not even a foot tall, and vaguely human-shaped. Well, that seemed as good of a starting point as any. Catherine moved quickly across the square, keeping to the periphery as much as possible, and peeked into the alley where she had seen the movement. A tiny gasping sound, almost like a squeak, caught her ears, and she followed the sound to see a brownie peeking around the corner at her. She breathed a sigh of relief. Brownies were completely harmless, aside from the mess they could wreak on one’s house if displeased.

The brownie gave a tiny gasp as he realized he had been spotted and started to shrink back behind the house. “W-wait! I’m not going to hurt you,” Catherine called softly, crouching down onto her knees to be more at eye level with the brownie. She wasn’t exactly tall for a human, but to this little guy, she probably looked like a giant. She felt something in her pocket press against her hip, and then she thanked the stars she had thought to bring the jar of honey. Brownies apparently went nuts for the stuff, according to her lessons and readings. “Oh hey, I bet you’re hungry.” She slowly pulled the jar of honey out of her pocket, opened it, and held it out at arm’s length. The brownie peeked around the corner a little more, sniffing the air curiously. “It’s good.” Catherine dipped her finger into the honey and licked it. “Mmmm…delicious!” She forced a smile and held out another fingerful of honey. “Here, have some.”

Curiosity finally won out over fear, and the little brownie crept closer and closer, until he could reach out a finger and take a dab of honey, quickly backpedaling just in case. He took a tentative lick of the honey and then immediately smiled and made a tiny, piping sound resembling an “Mmmmmmm!”

Catherine laughed softly despite herself. “See? Everything is fine. What’s your name?”

The brownie gave Catherine a confused look and pointed at himself. “Name? What that?” He spoke in a tiny, high-pitched voice almost like a whistle.

“You know, what…” She couldn’t exactly say “people,” since Mythics weren’t really people by her standards. “What…they call you?” She pointed at herself. “I’m Cat. Who are you?” She figured asking him to remember her full name would be too complicated, so she settled for Cameron’s nickname for her.

The brownie paused for a moment, tilted his head to the side, and then burst out giggling. His laugh tinkled like a tiny bell. “Hahahahahahaha! You not a kitty! Kitties covered in fur and whiskers and say meow! Pip think you funny!”

Catherine keyed into that last sentence. “Ah, so your name is Pip.”

“Pip” looked up and nodded emphatically, as if he suddenly understood what a name was. “Yes! Yes! Brothers and sisters call me Pip! But Pip still think you no cat, Miss Kitty.”

Catherine did a double take. Miss…Kitty? She made a mental note to never let Cameron anywhere near Pip, lest he pick up on yet another embarrassing nickname for her. Ah well, she figured she would roll with it for now. Pip seemed easily distracted, and she didn’t want to waste any of his mental clarity on trying to correct something as simple as her name. “I’m not a cat. I’m a human. Have you seen any other humans around here?” She offered him another finger of honey.

Pip nibbled at the honey thoughtfully. “Human? No. Never humans here. But you’re human. Okay. I are wrong.”

Catherine tried to resist her impatience. Maybe talking to a brownie was a bad idea. “Yes, I’m looking for three other humans. They’re all…bigger and taller than me.” She wanted to say, “Did you see the big guy, the angry Scot, and the nerdy scholar go by?” but figured that would just confuse Pip to no end. “I got lost and am trying to find them. They’re…Miss Kitty’s brothers.”

Pip’s eyes got really big in sympathy. “Oooooooh…Pip know what it like to lose brothers and sisters. Big folks get really angry. Step on Pip’s brothers and sisters if we not careful.” He took another lick of honey and had yet another mood swing. “Come! We go find Miss Kitty’s brothers!” Before Catherine could blink, he plucked the honey jar out of her hand, which was almost as big as he was, and nimbly vaulted up her wrist and elbow to settle comfortably on her shoulder with the jar in his lap. “Yes! We find them in no time! Pip know many secret hiding places!”

Catherine raised an eyebrow in bewilderment but sighed in defeat. Like it or not, she now had a hitchhiker. “Okay, Pip. You can have that entire jar of honey if you help me find my brothers.”

Pip nodded enthusiastically, and his tinny voice sounded in her ear. “Oh yes, yes! Pip show you way! Good Pip always helps!” Taking another mouthful of honey, he pointed to the left. “That way, Miss Kitty!”

Catherine had a sinking feeling Pip would get distracted before they made it one block, but she didn’t have much choice now. She started walking in the direction Pip pointed, trying to ignore the other Mythics filling the busy street. It made no sense, but somehow walking around with a brownie on her shoulder made Catherine feel slightly less like an oddity here in Under City. Then she remembered something Pip had said, about the “big folks” getting angry. “So, Pip, you say the big folks are angry? Why are they so angry?”

Pip spoke around another mouthful of honey, making licking and smacking noises with his lips. “Oh yes, everyone very angry these days. Friends now claw, kick, and growl at Pip when Pip tries to clean. No give gifts to Pip. Pip very sad and hungry. Brothers and sisters sad and hungry too.” He paused a moment to swallow. “But Miss Kitty very nice! Give Pip sweet treats! Pip be your friend forever!”

“Yes, yes, Pip is Miss Kitty’s friend now,” Catherine agreed hastily. “And Pip also agreed to help find Miss Kitty’s brothers.”

“Of course! Pip always helps!” He pointed down another side street. “Pip know shortcut!”

This exchange continued for about another half hour. Catherine would futilely try to keep Pip focused on finding her “brothers” while he would chatter away at her, answering her questions while constantly going off on random tangents. His sudden attachment to her was both endearing and annoying. She had no idea what to do with the little guy once she found the others…if she even found them at all. She had this sudden, horrifying thought that she would end up spending the rest of her life huddled in a two-foot tall house, surrounded by hordes of brownies like Pip, all chattering at her until her ears exploded and she died a slow, painful death.

A quick tug on her hair brought Catherine out of her melodramatic musings. She grimaced at the quick jolt of pain; Pip had quite a grip. “Wait, Miss Kitty! Pip see something!”

Before Catherine could ask, Pip hopped from her shoulder to her elbow to the ground, still carrying the honey jar, and took off down a narrow alley. “W-wait up, Pip!” Catherine called, running after him. She had a sinking feeling she wouldn’t find her team here, but she also didn’t want to lose track of the closest thing she had to a guide. She followed the nimble little brownie down a maze of alleys and narrow side streets until she wound up in a miniature version of a town square, ringed by houses a few feet tall. Her heart sank once again. She had stumbled upon a brownie village.

Pip was chattering away at a female brownie and waved at Catherine excitedly when he saw her. “Hurry, hurry, Miss Kitty! Meet Pip’s sister Lily!”

Catherine hesitantly walked over, afraid of what would happen if she had to deal with two scatterbrained brownies, but tried to smile pleasantly. “Hi, there. Nice to meet you.”

Lily giggled, her voice even higher than Pip’s. “Hehehehehehe! Pip right! You look too silly to be kitty!”

Pip tugged at Catherine’s pant leg. “Pip have many brothers and sisters! Pip ask them to help find Miss Kitty’s brothers!”

Lily immediately took on a sympathetic expression. “Oh no, Miss Kitty lose brothers?” When Catherine nodded, she clapped her hands together in decision. “Lily go fetch rest of family to help! We find! We find!”

Before Catherine could object, Lily dashed off, knocking on all the doors of the brownie houses and speaking rapidly to the residents. Within minutes, she was surrounded by several dozen brownies, all chattering at her at once. Pip silenced the crowd with a wave of his hands. “Brothers and sisters, this Miss Kitty! She magic, like goddess! She make sweet treats appear out of pocket and give to Pip!" He held up the half-eaten jar of honey like a trophy. "Pip so happy with new friend!”

The crowd of brownies cheered, much to Catherine’s dismay, and once again chattered at her, asking about her magical powers and “sweet treats” and then getting each other side-tracked with other subjects of conversation. “Wait, wait!” she exclaimed, waving her hands frantically. To her surprise, the brownies immediately quieted. She thought quickly, stammering at first. “Uh…I…have no magic left?” A few of the brownies gasped, and she quickly added. “I…used it all up to make Pip’s sweet treat, and I can’t use my magic again until I find my brothers.” It made no sense to her, but her logic apparently made perfect sense to the brownies. They started nodding and agreeing with each other.

“Yes, yes, Miss Kitty need brothers’ help.”

“We find! We find!”

“We go down this street! Ask pixies for help too!”

“Ooooh…pixies very shiny! Have pretty wings!”

“I wish I had wings!”

“I wish I had more sweet treats!”

Catherine sighed in hopeless defeat as the brownies once again descended into the madness of their scatterbrained conversations. ‘I’m never getting out of here with my sanity intact…’ she thought miserably, standing in the middle of the chattering throng. ‘I don’t even care that Cameron would heckle me for the rest of my life if he saw this. I just want them to find me…’
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Guilty Carrion on Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:46 am

“As more and more Mythics were relocated down here, Giants, Troll and even greater demons would help dig new caverns. Even I don’t know the fullest extent of these caverns. Honestly, I doubt anyone does.” Cameron found himself wondering if anyone was even listening to Joe’s explanations, before promptly reminding himself that his team was comprised of brownnoser’s who lived to please the man.

The Scot was more interested in the looks their little group was getting from the various species they passed. Most, if not all, were sending looks that could have murdered them thrice over if looks could kill, but Cameron could only grin in response. Which might not have been overly wise considering they were so deep in the city that he wasn’t even sure where to begin looking for the exit?

Cameron slowed to a stop when Joe turned and looked at them, an immediate reaction of anger and worry suddenly on his face. Cameron barely muttered a ‘what?’ before he noticed that Richard wasn’t beside him like he had been when they’d set out. Turning around, he stared down the way they’d come, or at least the way he thought they’d come, blinking once before chuckling darkly. “Nerdling broke the rules before me? I didn’t know he had it in him.”

“We have an AWOL scholar. Let’s see if we can find him before he gets himself into something he can’t get out of.” There was a hint of accusation hidden in Joe’s voice, and Cameron frowned as he fell into step beside the big man. Of course he was going to get blamed. No surprise there. Bloody yank.

As they retraced their steps, Cameron’s eyes glanced about quietly, searching for any sign of their missing nerd. It didn’t help that Richard wasn’t exactly big, and they were surrounded by creatures of every size and shape to mislead them. The further they went back, the more likely it seemed that Richard had simply vanished into the woodwork and wasn’t just going to magically appear before them, unharmed and perfectly okay.

Rounding a corner, he titled his head back to gaze up at the towering form of a Cyclops, his eyes half-lidded with annoyance. Joe’s quiet swear confirmed the suspicion that crept up on Cameron, who sighed heavily. “The nerdling does Parkour, and we find a one-eyed freak looking at a rooftop…what’re the odds, eh, Cat?” He waited a beat for a response, before chuckling as he turned. “What, you too afraid to tal-” He stopped abruptly, looking about for the meek woman. She was no where to be found, earning an incredulous look at nothing from Cameron. “You’re fucking kidding me. Seriously?”

He turned halfway to Joe. “Cat’s gone.” With a quick glance upwards at the towering mythic, Cameron chuckled. “That thing is a little out of my pay grade…I’m gonna go look for Cat. Have fun…doing whatever you plan to do with that thing.”


"Try to stay out of openly pissing off the locals, alright? Get back to the door out ASAP." Cameron nodded, heading the direction they’d come from, again, eyes peeled and searching for a cowering frame that looked vaguely familiar.

Weaving into the crowded streets, he fond himself pausing every so often to check the various nooks and crannies that he reasoned she could have hidden in. Most were nothing more than empty holes, although he did end up jamming his head into the odd ‘home’ of some curious mythic, which promptly lead to a hasty retreat in the opposite direction. Suffice to say, it didn’t take long for Cameron to get himself completely turned around.

With a heaving sigh, he slouched onto a bench, rubbing his forehead with his fingers. Perfect. He’d figured Cat would have, intelligently, stayed put when she got separated, making her easy to find, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Or maybe she had and he’d taken the wrong street, or a wrong corner, or a wrong something or other in this confusing mess they called a ‘city’. With any luck, Joe would be able to locate Richard and track down Cat. Leaning back on the bench, he lulled his head back, gazing up at the ‘sky’, which was little more than stone. How could they tolerate looking at that all day anyway? He’d go stir crazy knowing the real sky was just on the other side of their rock barrier.

There was a slight shuffling of feet near him, and Cameron’s eyes snapped to the source, hand already reaching into his jacket for the Ankou when he found the source in a pair of gentle golden eyes watching him curiously. He blinked once, before tilting his head in slight confusion at their owner. An elegantly tall woman stood a foot or two away from the bench, her face framed by black tresses that seemed to shimmer in the dim light of the cavern, rolling well past her pale shoulders, almost to the small of her back. Dressed in a silken robe that hung gently from her supple frame, the stranger looked…human. Disturbingly so.

“Hello.” She chimed her voice soft yet rich in a way that ensnared his attention almost instantly. After a moment of quiet observation, he rose from his seat, noting the woman was almost as tall as he was as he offered his hand to her in greeting.

“Hi.” In comparison to her gentle tones, his seemed almost savage, rough and unrefined to the ear, but she only smiled wider, demurely placing her hand in his own in a manner that reminded him of nobles and knights and all those fancy flourishes in those stupid movies Jackie loved to watch. After a moment, she laughed at his inaction, pulling her hand back to her side and offering an elegant smile.

“Little doubt. You are a human, aren’t you? A Hetja, yes?” He instinctively tensed, eyes narrowing on the woman as she simply smiled wider at his reaction. “I knew it! You have the look of a prize fighter, not a lost little dog.” She stepped closer, and he inhaled sharply, noting the pleasant fragrance of jasmine that clung to the woman, as she entwined her arm with his and tugged on it slightly. “Come, we should get you inside. These streets are not always welcoming of the Hetja.”

Fortunately, his bulk meant she wasn’t going to be pulling him anywhere, and Cameron fixed the woman with an untrusting gaze that she seemed to ignore, smiling infectiously up at him. “Not that I don’t appreciate the help, Ma’am, but I’d prefer to know your name, and what you are before I let you take me anywhere.” Her slender eyebrow arched, and he offered a slight grin. “I’d rather not be a meal for someone, beautiful or not.”

“Mmm…I suppose that is fair, Hetja, if you will share your name with me as well.” At his nod, she smiled, tapping her fingers against the sleeve of his jacket. “My name is Kalliope, and I am a Siren. You, young Hetja?”

“Cameron.” She tugged on his arm as he spoke, and against his better judgement, he began to move along with the siren. “A Siren? Don’t they drag men to their deaths in the sea? I‘m not really one for drowning…” She shook her head gently, unphased by his question as she pressed tight to his side.

“Cameron. A strong name.” She reached up, touching his nose for a moment and drawing a slightly confused look from the musician, giggling lightly at his expression. “It suits you, Hetja.” After a few silent moments and the passing glances of other Mythics, she spoke again. “Our reputation is ill earned, Cameron. Legend does not always mean truth, and sailors are notoriously fickle in their tales.” With that statement, which made more questions than it answered, she tugged him around another corner, provoking the more pressing matters to the forefront of his mind.

“Where exactly are you dragging me, Kalliope?” She smiled unseen at the use of her name, as he looked to the Mythics around them, who seemed more unaware of his presence now that the siren had attached to him. “I’m supposed to be finding someone, not playing escort.”

“I am escorting you, young Hetja, do not forget.” She mock-scolded, rounding another corner into a much more lively section of the Undercity. The buildings around them lacked the ramshackle feel of the previous streets and the raucous noise from inside sounded all to familiar to the Scotsman. These were pubs. Taverns. Watering Holes. It explained why everything felt so much more tight, the thick crowds of Mythics pressing in all around as they shuffled between locations and laughed in boisterous conversation with each other. It reminded him of Edinburgh above, only with freaky things instead of regular people.

“How is getting blitzed gonna help me fin-” She tapped his shoulder sharply, gesturing towards one of the establishments on the length of the thoroughfare. The sign was hung in soft neon light, eye-catching but not so intense as to hurt the eyes, and he took a brief moment to examine it. ‘The Anthemusa’. He tilted his head in confusion, not really understanding the name, but Kalliope gave him no time to ponder it, approaching the door with a slight skip in her step. The door was blocked by a tall figure, taller than even Joe, and his form was cut seemingly from stone itself, but the soft expression he wore didn’t really intimidate much.

“Zach!” She cooed, earning a hearty smile from the seemingly gentle giant, who quickly looked to Cameron with a curious look. Kalliope wasted little time introducing him. “This is Cameron, Zach. He’s a Hetja.” She gestured up at the bouncer. “This is Zacharias, but everyone just calls him Zach.” The figured nodded, still silent while Cameron gave a two finger salute in greeting.

“Pleasure.” Zach didn’t reply, simply stepping out of their way and pulling the door open as Kalliope tugged him inside insistently. As he crossed the threshold, Cameron found himself immediately set upon by a veritable wind of gentle scents and soft colours, much like the lavender around Kalliope, but so much more difficult to place. The inside of the building was dimly light by various candles of varying sizes and placements, and much of the room was divided into booths with long drapes that hung around them like a veil, obscuring the occupants from sight. It took only a moment for Cameron’s mind to register. “This…is not a pub.”

“Not in the traditional human sense, no.” Kalliope responded with a happy chirp, finally releasing his arm as she weaved through the few standing patrons towards the barely visible bar at the other side of the building. After a moment of watching her go, the musician frowned silently and started after her, pushing his way past a pair of Satyrs and stepping down a small series of steps to a lower area dominated by a large stage beside the small but well stocked bar. Upon one of the stools, he spied the siren, speaking with another woman who looked almost identical to her, save for her hair of soft blonde that was rolled into thick full curls, presumably another Siren.

As he made his way by a few open tables, he spotted another woman of similar looks speaking with a Mythic he couldn’t place from his basic introduction, but the woman upon his other arm drew Cameron’s gaze more. While she had the same elegant features of the sirens, her skin had a more earthen tone, and thin gill-like ridges marked her neck in a strange pattern. Her skin seemed to shine with a slight sheen of moisture, and as his eyes followed her outline, it quickly became apparent why.

Where the Sirens long slender legs might be, a brilliantly coloured scaled tail perched elegantly on a small curved seat obviously designed with her…form in mind. The scales shone in a myriad of colours that changed with every angle of the light, and it was nearly hypnotic the way they seemed to pulse and change with every blink of his eyes. Ocean blue eyes caught his observing hazel, and the raven haired beauty winked playfully at him, causing him to quickly divert his gaze from what he could only label as a Mermaid.

Gentle fingers brushed his spine, and Cameron shivered, turning to meet the source and finding another curious creature well within his personal space. Sirens apparently lacked the basic respect for distance that humans had, not that he was overly complaining about women wanting to be close. Soft white feathers caught his gaze, and he blinked once as the woman traced a slender finger down the center of his chest.

Hair soft white, and her eyes were a similar shade of brilliant ivory that matched the porcelain white of her skin perfectly, it would have been difficult to look away from her face if he hadn’t noticed the feathers adorning the length of her arms. Where the limb looked completely normal upon first glance, it was possible to barely discern the faint break in feathers where it could extend further, likely into what he assumed was a wing. She wore little more than a simple wrap for her chest, and it became apparent why when his eyes dared to drift lower.

Her hips, while shapely and definitely eye catching, blended almost seamlessly into a pair of more bird-like limbs, covered in the same soft white plumage of her arms. Her lower legs were more akin to bird-feet, multi-toed and spread into a stance that supported her with ease. Part of him was disturbed that she wasn’t repulsive to him, while the rest was more focused on not looking blatant in his staring. Judging by the happy coo of the woman, he was failing rather miserably.

Before the Mythic could press on him though, he found himself roughly tugged away by another of the towering men like Zach outside. The figure was surprisingly gentle in his man-handling, even as Cameron grunted a swear at the treatment, practically dropping him in the stool next to Kalliope before retreating off to whence he came.

“Enjoying the sights, Cameron?” She teased melodically, earning a slightly irritated glare from the musician. “Mmm…don’t answer that.” With a playful wink, she gestured to the blond siren behind the bar. “This is my aunt, Galene. I have relayed your situation to her.”

He glanced to Galene, nodding in greeting. “Pleasure...not to be rude, but how exactly can you help?” The two exchanged a glance, softly laughing at some unsaid joke, which simply drove Cameron’s mood even further into the deep end of irritation. “Am I missing something..?”

“I’ll be calling the other Hetja, Cameron.” Galene replied; her voice a deeper, smoother sound than Kalliope’s soft and airy. The music lover in him wondered silently just how well their voices could sound in song, but the threat of a Siren song kept him from voicing that particular desire. “Your leader will likely be easy to reach with you and another scattered about the city.”

“I didn’t think you’d have my number.”

Kalliope giggled as Galene turned and started towards the small phone built into the bar. “Mmm. Not everyone down here despises your kind, Cameron. I for one am most grateful for the Hetja’s assistance.” Kalliope nodded in agreement, and he offered a slight, but honest, smile.

“Well, seems I lucked out when you found me. Hopefully Cat runs into someone as helpful.” Kalliope’s smile widened as Galene stepped out of view with the phone. He glanced about the building, noticing several of the tall silent men placed throughout the main area, and he motioned to one while leaning towards Kalliope. “I’ll bite…what exactly are those guys? They look like ordinary people to me.”

“They are sirens. Men, such as yourself.” Cameron blinked in surprise.

“There are dude sirens? I thought you were all female.” She laughed at his surprise, shaking her head while sipping lightly at the small drink she held.

“Today is just full of surprises, hm? They are large, but are not blessed with the gift of song like women. In fact, they are completely incapable of speech. Mute, I believe you call it.” He nodded silently, slowly turning back to the siren. It was then he caught the devious expression on her face, and he paled slightly. “You…need something?”

She nodded happily, tilting her head to eye him curiously. “Nothing is ever free, is it? I helped you; it’s only fair you help me in return. And I have a very simple thing you can do…”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by quakernuts on Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:43 pm

Rick had stood there for what seemed like hours having a two eyed stare down with a one eyed monster. It felt awkward, slightly scary, and incredibly exhilarating at the same time. Here he was, face to face with something that wasn't even supposed to physically exist. If it wasn't for the fact that the creature seemed to be pissed for one reason or another, he would have probably succumbed to a nerd spasm the moment this thing decided to single him out. They stood there, both equally still and neither blinking. Rick started to wonder if the thing could even comprehend speech, seeing as this particular breed of Mythic was never meant to have been on the smart side of things.

Just as it seemed that the both of them were going to stay that way forever, the Cyclops gave a giant huff. One large enough to send Rick stumbling backwards a few steps. Once he had regained his balance, he looked up to see a massive hand just a split second before it grabbed him and lifted him off the roof. Ah fuck. Was all Richard could think as he watched the ground get farther and farther away from him. Before long though, the Cyclops knelt down, and dropped him roughly onto the ground a few feet above it. Rick fell, and instinctively went into a roll to avoid any damage from his short fall. Once he was standing straight up again, he looked ahead to see Joe standing there with an incredibly cross look on his face. Rick gritted his teeth and looked away from the man for a split second. When he looked back, he attempted to give an explanation.

"See, I know how this looks but I was ju-" Before he could finish his explanation, there was another huff behind him, and he turned around to see the Cyclops on his hands and knees a mere foot away from him. It gave a giant but short yell at Rick, causing him to bring his arms to his face and plant himself in the ground in order to not be blown over. Once the Cyclops was done, it stood up, and walked off without any further need to give attention to Richard. Rick simply stared at the Mythic, confused by it's nature and intrigued that they weren't exactly how he thought they might be. His mind quickly returned to the fact that Joe was standing right behind him, most likely wanting to get him fired for what he just did and he whirled around ready to continue his explanation.

"See, there was...a hit of curiosity and...well...I ran with it. Yeah, there's no real way to explain this..." Rick stated as his face contorted into someone who was obviously feeling the guilt of the situation. Much akin to a small boy who had been caught stealing candy or doing something they shouldn't have been doing. Joe simply stared at him, every fibre of his being tensed up to the point of seeming like the man might physically explode. Rick had no doubt in his mind that that was what was happening within the man's head. He expected a huge lecture, or some sort of reprimand, but for the moment, Joe seemed fine with expressing his displeasure in one word.

"FUCK!" Michaelson yelled before lowering his weapon completely and turning away from Richard. Rick kind of stood there, not really sure what to do or say in this situation. He was obviously in the wrong, and no amount of explaining or pleading was going to change that fact. However, when he finally got over the fact that he might be fired, he noticed that both Cameron and Catherine were gone. Joe was still looking away from him when Rick started to walk closer.

"Umm...where are Catherine and Cameron?" Joe didn't look at him for a moment, before finally turning to face him.

"That's a good question Richard. While we got turned around looking for you, Catherine got lost, and my guess is that Cameron got lost while looking for Catherine who was looking for you. Are you getting my point, or do I need to spell it out for you?" Joe said, his tone was hostile and for good reason. Rick didn't look away, but nodded and didn't say another word. Joe stared at him hard for a moment, before lowering his voice slightly. "Never again Richard. Am I clear?"

"Yes sir." Rick stated as Joe stared at him long enough to confirm that Rick understood just what he meant by his statement, before turning and heading off into a seemingly random direction.

"Good. Now to find the other two." And with that, it got awkwardly quiet as Joe was silently fuming and Rick was doing his best to go unnoticed even though it was only the two of them. Well, I'm off to a great start Rick thought to himself as he jogged to catch up to the man and find out where the other two had disappeared off to. In the back of his mind, he secretly wished it was worse trouble then him.
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:20 pm

The Cyclops dumped Richard unceremoniously at Joe’s feet, roared loud enough to bowl them both over and then stomped off in a huff. Richard recovered quickly and stammered through an attempt at explaining why he had gotten separated from the rest of them.

Joe untensed suddenly with a sharp curse, “FUCK!” He shouted as he put up his gun, barely loosing his fingers from around the butt of the pistol. He stared at the small scholar when Richard asked where Catherine and Cameron had gotten off to. "That's a good question Richard. While we got turned around looking for you, Catherine got lost, and my guess is that Cameron got lost while looking for Catherine who was looking for you. Are you getting my point, or do I need to spell it out for you?" Joe asked in a soft but hostile tone. When Richard only nodded in response, Joe stared at him hard for a moment, and lowered his voice even more. "Never again Richard. Am I clear?"

After Richard agreed, Joe turned and muttered, “Now to find the other two.” Joe led Richard through several streets and byways, but no evidence of either Catherine or Cameron could be found. There was no gathered crowd or an unusual gathering that might indicate an intruder in the midst. “Where the hell did they get off to?” Joe muttered growing more and more worried with each passing minute.

A dry, cold peal of laughter sounded in Joe’s head. Already, Joe? Even I didn’t think you’d sacrifice these babes so quickly. You know they’ll be dead if you don’t find them, don’t you? You knew that when you brought them down here, didn’t you?” More laughter filled Joe’s head, the strength of Justine’s presence was so disorienting here in the Under City that Joe had to stop sharply and reach out a hand to support himself against the overwhelming wave of dizziness.

Joe squeezed his eyes shut trying to fight off the influence of Justine’s invasion of his mind. “Shut up.” Joe gritted out. “Shut up!” His voice rose in desperate anger. His entire body quivered in an effort to force Justine away. She was so strong down here and it took every ounce of strength he had to force the ghost into the recesses of his mind. When he finally felt Justine recede with sullen, dangerous laughter, Joe straightened away from the wall he’d been leaning on and shot a glance toward Richard. He had to find Catherine and Cameron first. He’d worry about Richard once they were back in the headquarters.

“We’ll never find them this way.” He rasped from a dry throat. Dipping a hand into his pocket, Joe pulled out a rough piece of chalk. Crouching to the cobbled sidewalk, Joe drew most of a circle around him then handed the chalk to Richard. “When I tell you, close that circle and don’t cross it.” He stopped, “Can you manage that?” He asked sourly.

He didn’t wait for an answer before retrieving a small piece of candy from his pocket, though he didn’t unwrap it right away. Joe glanced at Richard to ensure he was ready and warned, “Don’t ever try this on your own. Got it?” With that cryptic warning, Joe closed his eyes just a moment and then when he opened them again, he called out gently, “Zip. I summon thee. Zip, I summon thee. Thrice I say it and done, Zip I summon thee.” For a time, nothing happened, but Joe remained still, waiting. While they watched a tiny nimbus of purple wobbled through the dim air and headed right for Joe. It paused briefly just outside the partially completed circle as if suspicious before it floated forward and resolved into the shape of a pixie male dressed in cast off garbage shaped into clothes and armor. His light hair looked as fine as dandelion fluff and his gossamer wings beat fast as he hovered mere inches from Joe’s face.

“Hello Big. Why you call me?” asked the faerie suspiciously.

Joe didn’t look at Richard, he merely said, “I apologize, Zip.” Joe paused and instructed, “Close the circle, Richard.” When Richard closed the circle, there was an audible ‘pop’ heard as a magical barrier snapped into place.

The faerie zoomed around the confines of the circle, wings beating furiously and throwing his shoulder against the invisible barrier. “OOooh! I hates Bigs! They all bad, they all uses us!”

Joe’s face looked pained at the accusation, “I’m sorry Zip. But, I needed your help.” He stated softly. He opened his palm to show the faerie the wrapped piece of candy. “I just wanted to be sure you’d listen to me. I won’t force you to help me and I’ll give you the candy either way. But, please. Will you at least hear me out?”

The faerie buzzed around the candy, afraid to land in Joe’s opened palm, but with clear avarice in its sparkling gem-like eyes. “Zip doesn’t trust the Bigs. They tricks us,” It hovered over the candy again, “Bigs gives Zip the candy now?” Zip’s voice was high and piping, but as musically pure as a bell.

“No, Zip. You have to answer my question first.” Joe closed his fist slowly over the candy so he didn’t startle the faerie. “Two more bigs are here in the Under City. They are my friends and they are lost. I’m asking you to help me find them. Will you help me?”

Zip flittered back as Joe close his fist, his face clearly angry and he never looked away from the prize hidden beneath Joe’s closed fingers. “Bigs lost? You gives Zip the candy if Zip says no?”

Joe nodded his affirmative. “You and every other faerie in earshot. But, if you help me, you get it all for yourself, Zip. I give you my word.”
That made Zip look up into Joe’s face. “Your word, Big? Your oath you won’t trap Zip?”

Joe nodded. “My oath, Zip.

Zip grinned, “Done and done, Big. Zip will help you find the female.”

Joe blinked, he hadn’t told Zip who was missing yet, but the little faerie already appeared to know where Catherine was. But, a deal was a deal. “I thank you for your gracious offer.” Joe answered solemnly. Joe turned his head very slightly to look at Richard, “Break the circle Richard.”

The instant the circle was broken, Zip streaked away in a shower of purple sparks and just for a moment, Joe wondered if he’d been wrong to let the faerie out of the circle. But, just as the thought passed through Joe’s head, he and Richard were dive-bombed by an excited Zip. “You slow, Big.” The little faerie admonished them. “Follow me, Big! I show you the way.” And he was gone again.

Only by practically squinting could Joe hope to track the nimbus of purple against the dimly lit cavern roof. “Stick close.” Joe warned Richard. He then took off at a jog trying to keep the faerie in sight. They were led by what could best be described as the longest possible route possible to the faerie’s goal. Joe groaned, hoping that Zip didn’t get distracted to the point of forgetting what he was supposed to be doing.

After was seemed an age, Zip whipped around a final corner and there was Catherine. She looked a little frazzled, but none the worse for wear. Before Joe could say anything, Zip buzzed directly in front of Joe’s nose. “Big! Don’t forget! You promised Zip his very own candy!” The little faerie fairly quivered in anticipation.

Joe had time to draw a sigh of relief to see Catherine and glanced to Zip who was so close, he had to cross his eyes to see the little faerie. “You’re right, Zip. I am very grateful for your assistance.” He slipped his hand into his pocket and solemnly unwrapped the piece of candy before offering it to Zip.

The faerie swooped down to the candy and took it away again so swiftly, the movement was impossible to follow. Joe smiled gently and then turned his eyes back to Catherine as he approached her, “There you are.” He looked her over, “Are you alright?”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

Post by Silvan Arrow on Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:46 pm

After listening to the endless brownie chattering until Catherine’s ears rang, a few of the pint-sized Mythics actually took off to commence the search for “Miss Kitty’s brothers.” One by one, more brownies followed their lead, disappearing into cracks in the wall, alleyways, brownie-sized tunnels in the walls, and the narrow gaps between buildings until only about a dozen remained. Among them was Pip, who happily hopped back onto Catherine’s shoulder with his nearly empty jar of honey. “You no worry, Miss Kitty! We find brothers in no time!”

Catherine managed a weak smile. “Yeah, no worries,” she repeated, both physically and mentally exhausted. She carefully lowered herself to the ground, mindful of the awkward weight on her shoulder, and sat with her knees tucked against her chest while the brownies gathered closer. If she were stuck here for now, then she might as well try to gather some more information. “Pip says the big folks have been angry. Is that true?”

The brownies all sighed sadly. “Yes. Big folks very angry. We no know why.”

“They claw and bite at us!”

“They try to eat us!”

“Big folks no give gifts. We very hungry.”

“Miss Kitty is big folk who gives gifts!”

“We love Miss Kitty!”

And just like that, the conversation turned from a recollection of the tension in Under City to another round of the brownies dancing and chattering at Catherine about her goddess-like powers and sweet treats. She just groaned and dropped her forehead against her knees in despair.

That was how Joe found her seconds later. Pip tugged on her hair and pointed. “Miss Kitty! Look!” Catherine looked in the direction Pip indicated and nearly wept in relief. Joe and Richard stood nearby, accompanied by a purple faerie.

‘Oh, thank heavens!’ Catherine thought as she scrambled to her feet, nearly unseating Pip in the process.

The group of brownies cheered, and Lily suddenly dashed out from a tunnel not much bigger than a mouse hole, grinning from ear to ear. “See? We told you pixies would help!” She turned to the winged Mythic and waved. “Lily thanks Zip! Zip good friend!”

Joe gave Zip a piece of candy, probably as an offering of some kind, and then he vanished in a streak of glittering light. “There you are,” Joe said as he approached, quickly checking her for any signs of injury. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Catherine replied, trying to maintain her professional composure but failing miserably. Now that she was safe, she just wanted to get out of here. “I…uh…made some new friends,” she added, nodding to the brownie on her shoulder.

“My name Pip!” he chattered on cue. “Pip is so happy that we find Miss Kitty’s brothers! Miss Kitty so kind and give Pip sweet treats! Pip be your friend forever!”

Pip slurped on some more honey, and an apologetic look took over Catherine’s face as her words tumbled out. “I’m so sorry for the trouble. I didn’t mean to wander. I turned around for one second because I thought I heard something, and then you all were gone. I promise it won’t happen again.”

Then an awful sinking feeling settled into the pit of Catherine’s stomach as she looked over the group and realized they were still missing someone. She had expected him to walk around the corner at any second, grumbling and muttering curses for having to save her sorry posterior, but he had yet to make an appearance. “Joe…where’s Cameron?”
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Re: From the Mists of Legends

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