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Dealing with devils
From Laying Low

For being tied to a wall with an iron chain and metal lock, Jaxen was in surprising good health--and he doesn't even swim. That is, if he ignored the splitting headache and tender ribs currently reminding him of how much he disliked getting the shit kicked out of him, then yeah, pretty good health. Pretty shocking, actually. Considering he was sure he was on the verge of death--last he could remember.

A bulb from a fluorescent lamp hummed and flickered in the center of this -- room -- he was in. The other bulb was burnt out, but taking a look around, he wasn’t particularly interested in seeing any more details of the place. The harsh light alone already drenched every surface with a sort of mildew-colored black and green cast. It was probably twenty steps to the wall opposite him, and another twenty to cross from left to right. The floor was cement, and nothing filled the open space. Not so much as a chair. Though, if he squinted, it seemed it sloped toward a dark, round disk at the center. A drain, probably. And he thought again of that constant dripping in the distance. The dampness to the place explained the mildew-like musk on the air.

For being in this sort of horror-flick gone terribly cheesy situation, Jaxen was almost as curious as he was alarmed. For this reason, he stretched to gather exactly how much freedom he had, but was careful to do so quietly in case anyone was around to hear his stirring.

His arms were held straight over his head high enough that his elbows were stretched dead straight and his wrists were gathered together in two shackles. First he went about feeling the metal as carefully as he could, twisting and curling his fingers along their edges, trying to feel for joints, hinges, locks -- pretty much anything he could to get an idea of how to break out.

Then he pulled his feet beneath him and made to stand. The chain itself rustled with the noise, and Jaxen froze half way up, heart pounding, and listened carefully for sounds of acknowledgement.

It was then he heard it. A quiet groan followed by a dry, throaty question. “Is someone there?”

His eyes went straight to her, and he couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed her before. She was similarly restrained as himself but in a corner across the room. Her chains scraped lightly across the cement and next a sunken face leaned forward into the light enough to make her out. Jaxen cringed.

She was sickly pale, with a gaunt face and scraggly, greasy hair. One side of her head was completely patched with the thick matting of dried blood. It was impossible to tell if she was ever once beautiful, or anything else about her really. Then she sunk back into shadow, and Jaxen breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t want to see any more of her.

“Yeah. Where are we?”
He asked, careful to not throw his voice too far. Whatever was out there, he wasn’t too interested in it coming back anytime soon.

“I don’t know.”
She answered so weak Jaxen strained to hear.

“Who are they?”
He asked, hoping this broad could give him something useful.

There was a long pause. Then finally, she answered, “monsters.”

Jax rolled his eyes, “awesome,”
he said flatly and went back to testing out the chain itself.

There was a rustling sound of an old time key shoved into a door knob. Jaxen’s jaw clenched with challenge. He recognized the man that came in. It was the very same one from the alley. He was pretty sure anyway.

The man wore a standard t-shirt and jeans, but with hard-soled boots covered with muck, giving Jaxen a small clue as to where they were. He had scraggly hair which he shoved behind his ears like he hadn’t had it cut in years, but at least it was clean. He probably didn’t earn a second glance from anyone in the red light district.

He came to stand in front of Jaxen, who quickly found he was too well restrained to kick any more usefully than a whiny infant throwing a tantrum, so he kept his cool and stared the sicko down. Across the way, he heard the girl withdraw like she wanted to sink into the wall behind her.

“Look, I’ll play ball.”
Jaxen started, but the man ignored him, peering upward to check the integrity of the restraints. “I can get my hands on a lot of cash. Anything you want. I am more than happy to deal my way out of here. No questions asked,”
he urged.

The man finally looked him in the eye, blinking briefly, like he were considering what Jaxen just said. Or maybe like he wasn’t quite up with his English. Instead, he smiled a hungry, amused smile and pulled an old swiss-army knife from his pocket. Jaxen swallowed nervously, and felt the tension drain somewhat when the man turned away, but then he walked to the woman, who started pleading incoherencies, and Jaxen frowned, deep and solemn.

He knelt to the girl and grabbed at her greasy hair and held her head still. The rest was blocked from his view, both by shadow and by his menacing shape, but her kicking and squealing was obvious. He yelled, “Hey! Stop!”
And to his amazement, a moment later, the man stopped, and turned around. That sickly greenish-yellow light drenching him. The girl was sobbing in the distance, too exhausted to do much more than simper and groan.

“Just stay away from her!”
Jaxen ordered, then he realized the glisten on that rusted old knife in the man’s one hand and a chunk of something else in his other. The man folded the knife against his thigh and slipped it back in his pocket, smiled, then suckled on the fleshy bend of a ear, bloody in clear demonstration for his next meal to observe. An earring still dangled from the lobe.

“The ears are my favorite part.”
He said, chewing, then left.

Jax sank against the wall behind him, jaw dropped open in utter shock. Fuck me.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Aug 1 2013, 01:44 PM.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
The worst part about being tied up? Besides all the blood draining out of your arms until your hands going numb. Was the inability to jam his fingers in his ears to drown out the sounds of that chick's soul-sucking whimpers. Just put him out of his misery.

They hadn't spoken again since psycho-zombie left. But mostly because Jaxen changed his mind every time he brought himself to say something. Would she even be able to hear? He really didn't want to know the answer to that. So he passed the time doing the only thing he knew how, working at busting out of here.

Jaxen was no escape artist, but he was fully invested in becoming an expert in as short amount of time as possible. His hands were bound together at the wrists by the snug bite of chain links fastened with a pin and bolt. No key or lock was necessary. There was nothing to pick either. So even if he could manage access to his kit, this was no pick and wrench operation. He quite literally couldn't reach the pin.

It wasn't long before his hands were practically numb, and he squeezed his eyes shut to block out the pain. He just wasn't the kind of guy well suited to captivity. Political refugees ready to die for a cause, sure. Tree-hugging idiots shackling themselves to actual trees, perfect. Apparently there were some men in the world just born to the task.

Jaxen was not one of them.

His fingers were white and the burn reached past his elbows now. His biceps were throbbing. Pins and needles were trickling past his shoulders. Much longer and he'd lose all sensation in his hands. His hands.

Yeah. That wasn't going to happen.

A fire grew in his gut. He had to do something besides sit around and wait to get things sliced off. At least if they went for fingers first, they'd already be numb.

He stood to his toes for an extra bit of height. Enough to get a grip on the chain above where it was linked around his wrists like he were going to climb a rope. If it weren't for his eyes telling him so, it'd be hard to convince his head he was actually hanging on. He was vaguely aware of the links slicing up his wrists from the awkward positioning.

He turned to face the wall and jumped, landing with his feet braced against the brick. From there, he took a breath, and kicked away from the wall into a pike at the hip and inverted as he pulled through. Straight armed and inverted, the chain gently swung back and forth. He grit his teeth and reclaimed his stability enough to slowly lower back into a piked hold, no longer inverted, but instead hips bent and legs parallel to the floor.

The second his heart rose above the level of his arms, sweet red nectar of life pulsed and pressure came off his shoulders. He was going to kiss his bouldering coach next he saw her for daring him to work up a level in inverts, but despite Jaxen's reputable ability with scaling the unscalable, he dropped from the position less than a minute later, panting from the exertion.

A few hours or whatever later, the lock turned once more and psycho-zombie was back. This time with two throwaway cups, both with straws. Jaxen was leaning against the wall, feet crossed nonchalantly at the ankle having repeated his little trick a few minutes beforehand. He watched with more interest than his posture implied while the guy knelt by his female chew toy. There was incoherent moaning and rustling of the chain from the other side of the room, but thankfully no horrid sounds of mutilation followed.

Then Jaxen understood. He came over to and studied the security of his next chew toy, and smiled at the faint color to Jaxen's hands. Jaxen stared, hard and defiant, not caring at all to even bother looking for humanity behind this sicko's eyes.

"You're feeling better now."
The man said, alluding to the more pathetic, post-vomiting state in which he'd been abducted earlier. "Yes--"
he went on to utter, eyes drawn upward along Jaxen's arms as though appraising his choice of steak. "--and stronger than you look,"
he said quietly to himself. Jaxen shivered when he ran a palm along the side of his ribs, licking his lips.

Jaxen jerked away to break the man's trance. It worked. Hungry-lips looked him in the eye. "I know I'd make grade A barbecue, but I can deal here. You don't want cash. I get it. You're just another guy who likes his steak rare."
Jaxen shrugged, "very rare."

"I could make your life a lot easier. Let me go and I'll send down regular boxed lunches as often as you need. Like take out. Just place your order and I'll make it happen. Whatever."
Jax blinked, nodding. Urging the guy to agree. It was a good deal after all.

The man withdrew his palm from the side of Jaxen's ribs and brought up the cup, placing the straw near the corner of Jax's mouth. "Drink,"
he said coolly. "You need to stay strong. Its a vitamin shake. I hope you like chocolate."

Jax blinked, then sighed and drank. It was actually pretty good.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
He fell in and out of sleep, slumped on the ground, head limp against the wall.

It started as a prickle. Like sensing a fly buzzing by his head only he was too drowsy to smack it away. Then, a cramp in his shoulders seized every muscle in his neck and jolts of electricity shot up and down his arms.

It was hard to ignore that.

He jerked awake every time it happened, eyes watered with pain and disgust. When his vision cleared he would stand and try to haul himself up the chain again to drain blood back in his arms.

Over and over. A carousel of summertime fun.

Sicko returned a couple times, but Jaxen was getting better and better at tuning out the screams. Or maybe earless was finally dying. Who knew? On these trips more smoothies showed up, and Jax hungrily gulped them down. He asked for water once, and on the next visit, they brought a bottle. Despite the lukewarm, chocolaty slush of vitamins they were giving him, his throat greedily soaked up the thin liquid. He chugged every last drop.

Later, he urinated all over himself. He stopped asking for water after that.

He tried reaching for the pin that bolted his chains together. Yeah that wasn't going to happen. He tried scraping his wrists down to the bone to squeeze out of the restraints. He ran his forearms bloody with attempts. Finally, he was back at where he started. Leaning against the wall. Only now, he passed the time by talking out loud.

"---I thought he was going to punch me, but the asshole gave me the cigar anyway! It really wasn't a bad cigar. I could go for one right now, actually. We stand around tolerating one another a while more, then I go to take off, and swiped that fucking zippo right out from under his goddamn nose. I can only imagine the fucked up look on his face when he realized it was missing. I still have it. Right here in my--"

Jax went dead silent. He had a lighter in his pocket. A lighter. His mind swirled with ideas, he dismissed each one almost swiftly as they were summoned, but he had something.

A newfound surge of strength fueled his concentration. He pushed up, braced his feet on the wall and pulled himself inverted once more, but rather than lower back into the arm-saving pike, he jerked, folded and unfolded his hips to wedge the zippo from his front pocket. About the time his grip was sure to give way, gravity took over and the glorious glimmer of silver fell to the floor.

"Thank you Mister White,"
he dropped back down and uttered, panting and thrilled. Then, carefully, he wedged it between his feet like a tennis ball and chucked it upward.

Epic fail. Not only did he not catch it, but it landed almost out of reach of his feet to scrape it back over to try again.

The chain rattled louder than he'd intended, but on the third try, he caught it overhead. He had no idea what he was going to do with it now, but there had to be something productive a man could accomplish with fire in his hands.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Aug 7 2013, 07:49 PM.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
By the time Sicko was back, Jax's wrists were slicked with fresh blood having struggled violently against the links. Of course, Sicko grabbed a chewy powerbar on the way over -- earless made for good, lean protein apparently -- before making his way to Jaxen.

Jax attempted to hide the Zippo behind his hands, but as soon as the man's beady little eyes were drawn up by the vivid temptation, Jax knew the lure was flashing bright and shiny in muddy waters.

"What's this?"
He said behind a mouthful of Earless. He collected a dollop of coagulated blood stuck on Jaxen's forearm and licked it off his finger like a little kid sneaking a taste of frosting. And thoroughly enjoying it.

Jaxen shuddered and withdrew in disgust, careful to keep up the act, but he was dying to make a comment or two. The situation was just rife with punchline potential.

The device worked though. Sicko noticed the Zippo Jaxen was trying to hide.

"The thing about us rich guys is we always carry panic buttons."
Jaxen kept his voice weak. Like he were admitting to something under pressure. "Mine happens to be in this handy dandy zippo. So now all we need to do is wait for the cavalry. And, uh, since we're waiting, you don't have a smoke on you?"

Sicko's jaw tightened angrily, but it was the flicker of fear which filled Jaxen with satisfaction. Then the man made his fatal error Jax was counting on.

Jaxen wasn't the tallest guy in the world, but he had a few inches on Sicko. Which meant the man had to lower Jaxen's chains to snatch it away from his strung up hands. Destroying the source of signal transmission would be top priority. To get at it, loosening an exhausted, bleeding victim seemed like a gamble worth taking.

Sicko hurried to throw a lever and the newfound slack in the chain suddenly dropped Jaxen's arms. The accompanying groan of relief was definitely not faked. But Sicko hurried back to reclaim the lighter. And there wasn't time to acknowledge it. Jaxen was ready; he dropped the lighter.

From a wounded, crouched position, he rounded on Sicko as soon as he was back in reach. The man flinched, suddenly realizing the trick, but it was too late. Jax threw his arms and the heavy chains biting into his wrists collided with Sicko's temple. He crumpled unconscious. At least for a few moments.

Jax spit under his breath. But still high on adrenaline, he pulled the now-reachable pin and bolt and the chains fell from his wrists completely. He briefly rubbed his arms and flexed his elbows, but immediately snatched up the zippo once more and shoved it in a pocket. Ready to get out of here.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Aug 15 2013, 12:49 PM.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
continued from Shhh..We are hunting Wabbits... eh, Rougarous

Aria watched as Mr. White did his thing. Quiet was good as was he. The door opened into a small hallway about two arm lengths wide. Not a good place to fight with swords, Aria slipped the left handed sword into it's sheath on her back and drew a gun from her waist. It wasn't ideal, but she wasn't going let go of both swords. The grip on the hilt reminded her that she had to stay focused. The gun didn't offer Aria the same amount of comfort. The three slipped into the hallway. There were too many directions to the amount of people the had. Aria let the others go first, her sword at her side and her firearm ready to fire if necessary.

Mr. White gave the all clear and the three moved into the narrow hallway. Aria took up the rear. It had become second nature to her, her job was to find them in most cases and they'd send her on home once it was confirmed. This time, it was different, she was her own handler. But the scent of fear permated the air. The poor soul who felt like that was on their last legs. The damage was done and there would be little more to do than try to go on. But rougarou were cannibals, they liked to eat fresh, there was no telling what lay in the room beyond the next door.

Aria started to signal a command into the land warriors, but a sudden noise from the corner brought all their attention to the length of the hallway. A man covered in the grime of the underbelly leered at them. He looked famished.

(ooc Rune: all your's. Michael can save Aria from one from behind. Hood's gonna head in in to Jax to get his lighter back lol.)

Edited by Aria, Aug 15 2013, 02:26 PM.
"A 20 year bottle of scotch?" Rune rounded on Hood in disbelief. "How old are you??" She stared him down, seriously wanting an answer, but eventually flipped Aria a sneaky smile and brow-lifting look while grandpa got to work on the door laser-cutter thing. Which was pretty kickass, but Rune wasn't about to tell Hood that.

Since the camera was disabled while the door was opened, Rune took it upon herself to be the person with the line of sight out into the passage way while Hood opened it inch by painful inch. He took so long about it that Rune was on the verge of throwing her hands up in the air and just kicking it the rest of the way open and barreling out into whatever was out there. About then, he gave the signal and the three of them finally proceeded.

Rune proceeded at the ready. The hallway was cleared quickly, but she kept her eyes and ears open, and continued opposite Hood in a straight line forward. A part of her was aware of Hood and Aria's position, but she was tightly focused on the clearance ahead and every door. If this was a bathhouse, she had no idea how to anticipate its layout. Its not like she went shared mani/pedi spa-time with Uncle Seth. Rune was lucky to get dollar-store nail polish.

She'd also never been taught the traditional army grunt stances. So likely Hood was going to rip her a new one when he realized she was keeping to a square-posture despite the advantage of holding a wider window of engagement. The butt of the SMG sat square against her shoulder, and she also deviated by wrapping a thumb of her off-arm around the top rather than supporting the mass of the gun directly under the action. She was a girl after all. It was easier to control drift that way. Though at this range, a voice in the back of her head wondered how much accuracy really mattered. Still, every step forward was careful and calculated, but her feet were parallel and her shoulders were square to the target ahead. As such, when the first unknown landed in her sights, she was ready to take offensive action, leaned forward slightly for stability.

"Don't move!" She ordered. Despite the man's appearance, Rune refused to make a judgement about his character. He could be a rougarou or he could be a victim. With the muffled scent in the air, for all Rune knew, he could be either. Then of course, he snarled and bolted down a side-hall. And the cat and mouse game began.

She took off, following.
"Don't move!"

Michael froze above the hole cut out of the bathhouse floor. It was a woman's voice. The monster said there were no females. Did that mean someone else had come to rescue Katalina? The Enforcement? Or did the monster lie?

Whatever it was, he would soon find out. He dropped down into a dark room - it was further than he expected, but not enough to do any damage.

He heard two sets of footsteps dashing down the tunnels. It may work out for him if the monsters were distracted, he could sneak in and rescue Katalina without having to resort to violence.

Edging forward carefully, he spied a woman in the next room and froze. She held a blade in her right hand, a gun in her left. Curious. The tactical possibilities running through his head.

He decided he would not approach. He had been far too reckless, he needed time to think before he did something dangerous again.

A sound from the dark corner of the room alerted him to the presence before he saw it. It moved towards the woman like a predator hunting prey. Michael had no doubt - this was a monster. It was hunting for food.

He hesitated, unwilling to kill the thing. What might happen? Would he loose control again? He could end up killing the woman along with the monster.

It was too late. He could not call out, the thing would reach her before she had the chance to turn and defend herself.

He did the only thing he could think of. He wove tendrils of Air and slammed the creature into the wall with a resounding metal thud. With the creature restrained and unconscious, he remembered what he was doing and cursed himself for his carelessness.

He was a man in a coat - a civiilian for all intents and purposes - without a weapon wandering the depths of the Undercity alone. How could he explain what had just happened? It was likely impossible.

Striding forward to check if the woman had sustained any injuries, he hoped she was just grateful not to be dead to question what had just happened.

"Are you ok?"

Edited by Michael Vellas, Aug 16 2013, 08:40 AM.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
Somehow, he wasn't the least bit surprised that Rune bolted after the first thing she saw, but he also had little doubt she could take care of herself. He signaled for Aria to take up the rear; they hadn't cleared any of the rooms or doors yet, and after confirming she was okay with rear guard, he started after Rune at a much more controlled pace.

He would have to show the kid a thing or two once this was all over; she had a good grasp on working in pairs, but her movements and drills were off. Her stance failed to maximize the protection offered by her body armour, and while her grip on the weapon wasn't a big issue considering the close quarters they were working in, it still wasn't ideal.

Rune's quarry led her on a merry chase, and Hood followed at a short distance; should anything come leaping out of any of the doors or halls she passed, it would be between Hood and Rune.

It was as he followed Rune that he heard a commotion down a side corridor. "Candy. Watch your back checking secondaries."
He realized then that Aria had fallen behind; a few more practiced movements of his eyes and blinks, and he activated an IFF program; a turn of his head to sweep his gaze across the way he came, and a green triangle indicated Aria was still a ways behind them, and more importantly, still alive.

He advanced down the corridor until coming to an open doorway, from which he could hear rattling chains and breathing. He rounded the corner with his SMG tucked tight and at the ready, only to find the idiot that he had met the other night at the Baccarat rubbing sore wrists. So not only had he given a team of Atharim the slip, he had also ended up as the next menu item for the very Rougarou he had been chartered to hunt down.

"Small fucking world. I want my lighter back."
He lowered the weapon marginally and stepped into the room, eyeing Sicko who was starting to stir. There was another figure laying against the wall nearby; likely the monsters' current dinner option.
Mr. White went off after Rune and Aria was to follow. Blind following was bad. Eager is good, but it can get you killed. Aria was fine bringing up the rear. She was not a commando and was only mildly surprised she didn't get stuck in the middle.

Aria started to walking in the direction they had but in an instant the world changed. Aria picked up hunger from the area, it felt like it came from every place at once. Aria stopped to get her bearings. They were headed after one, but Aria could only think that there were more about than just that one. They were hunting a pack of rougarou after all. Where were the rest.

Thud. Aria spun around to find a rougarou pinned to the wall with nothing that she could see visibly. It was limp from the concussive force of whatever had thrown it up against the wall. Aria started to check the monster. She could see nothing and then from the shadows a man strides out. "Are you ok?"

She raised her sword before he got any closer. "I'm fine." Aria couldn't feel anything from him. It was like his emotions slipped around him never catching hold. "You did this." It wasn't a question, she knew this could only be one thing. Something she had only read about. The Vatican archives were full of people with strange abilities. Some like herself, others more interesting. Aria thought of those so called magic users to be fairy tale. But when you live a life hunting so called fairy tales you start to believe anything. "Thanks."

Aria looked down the hall to where her group had ventured. She sighed and turned back to him. "You probably want to let him go before they come back looking for me." She watched as the monster fell to the floor like sack of potatoes.

Aria lowered her sword, he seemed safe enough. There was no fire in his eyes. But she never took his eyes off of him. Could he be trusted? But more importantly what was he doing here?

The dilemma at hand, take him with her or leave him here to fend for himself. He clearly had matters in hand. She sighed, she couldn't leave a civilian no matter how prepared he might be. "What are you doing here? It's not safe."

As Aria waited for his answer she put the sword away but kept the gun out. It was easier to hold while working. Aria took the butt of her gun and smashed the rougarou in the back of the head, to at least give the appearance that he was knocked out somehow. They had their monster but right now Aria had no way to restrain him. She tore a strip from her shirt. It was sad to lose such a nice shirt but it was better than nothing. She tied it's hands behind it's back and looked up at her channeling savior. "Well, what are you doing here?"
Jaxen shifted from Sicko to the figure moving in. It took him half a second longer than usual -- it had been a rough couple of days after all -- to realize who he was.

He finally blinked in recognition and immediately grinned. "You magnificent bastard!"

Sicko started to stir, and Jaxen made swift work of kicking him in the head, though the blow was hardly fatal, and made toward the door, absently rubbing his wrists while he stride forward. He casually glanced at the lump in one corner on the way, but made no effort to check on her. "No idea what you're talking about,"
he answered matter-of-factly while awash in immense satisfaction. Wonder how long it took him to notice it was missing? "Missing something?"
But he looked Hood up and down and gestured at his get-up.

"You don't mind ridding the world of one waste of space?"
he asked, and kicked a thumb back behind him. Jax wouldn't mind that pleasure himself, but really could care less. So long as someone put a bullet in his brain.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +

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