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Aetas Adumbratim
Under the cover of darkness, Damien waded through the crowds of Moscow in silent anonymity. His business done with the Ascendnacy, Damien sought the pleasures of the night. For so long he had been fighting, he almost forgot how to enjoy himself.

The streets were full of men and women who slunk through the shadows like fugitives. Not so with Damien, he strode without concern or regard for the souls that passed by. What business was it of theirs, to judge a man or woman for their choice in pleasures? The lamb did not scorn the lion for hunting its prey.

The line of thinking was swept aside for more pleasant thoughts. He had begun to accept the innate foolishness of humanity. Perhaps in time they would learn. For the time being, Damien was content to do as he pleased.

"My, my, you are handsome, aren't you?"
a young woman's voice curled up in his ear. Husky and suggestive, the woman reinforced her statement with her hands boldly groping at his belt while her necklace dug into the skin of his neck.

Damien smiled, but inside his mood soured. The whore stunk of alcohol and stale perfume, her pock-marked face covered with a lather of ill-suited cosmetics that made her look more like a clown than temptress. He did not begrudge her because of her trade, but he did disdain those who performed it so poorly.

"Not now, sweet. Perhaps another time,"
he replied laconically, idly removing her hands from his pants with gentle care. She pouted at him, but the look in his eye told her not to press the matter further.

"Fine, be that way."

She pushed herself away with sharp nails digging into his chest. Damien grunted as she smiled at him with vicious pleasure. He frowned as he pressed a hand to his breast.



The world around him began to fade at an alarmingly rapid pace. Damien had no time to even call out to those around him before his legs grew weak and he stumbled.

Vaguely, he heard the woman's voice somewhere in the distance. It echoed in his head. "Now, now. Don't worry."

The seductive charm had been replaced with cool confidence. More, he recognised the familiar Maine accent. "Everything will be fine, Mr. Oakland. You are in good hands."

As his legs struggled to remain upright, he felt arms grasp under his armpits to shoulder the weight. The woman - whoever the hell she was - was carrying him!

Rage boiled like a distant thundercloud, but it slipped away like rain off a window pane. The lure of sweet oblivion was far too strong. Soon it overwhelmed him, dragging him into the depths of unconsciousness.

Edited by Damien, Aug 24 2016, 08:44 AM.
Tony forwarded a message from Dr. Oborev, the power user from the Guardian. Together the two of them kept an eye on the hospitals, watching for patients who suddenly disappeared or manifested signs of the Sickness. Rather than ferreting them down a river to the kingdom of certain death, Oborev sent them to Tony. It meant Tony's place was a revolving door of Users learning the trade. Elias had never been involved much, not until today.

He only realized where Tony's directions was leading them after they arrived. The streets glowed neon, and the black pavement was slicked with the light of endless screens. Holo-images walked the side walks alongside actual street-walkers. Men, women, trans and sans-they were all represented in the red light district. Here, nobody would believe that the black clad, eyeliner darkened Elias was once the Mormon kid from Kenab, Utah. He smirked at the irony and took his time brushing groping hands away from his sleeve.

Asha probably didn't have this in mind when he suggested they take a walk. Odd how a den of sin like this was within walking distance of the jewel of the central dominance, the Kremlin.

He checked the map on his Uncle's wallet at a cross street and pointed to the left. "the person we are looking for should be a block down there."
He showed Asha the picture that Oborev forwarded. It was a woman of middle years, slightly overweight, with a wide chin and dull eyes. She was another doctor like Oborev. "Almost all the patients that have gone missing lately were treated by her. Keep an eye out."

They strolled down the side walk, Elias leading, and checking the bug locator on the suspicious doctor's own Wallet. If it was right, she would be on the street in front of them. But Elias paused and looked around. The only woman he saw was a hooker yanking at a man's waist.

The app must be wrong. He frowned and turned to retrace their steps when a strange movement caught his eye.

The hooker was dragging a guy away. Together with a big guy in a hooded sweater, they had their sleeping victim by the arms.

"That's her."

Elias gaped in shock. Beneath layers of poorly done makeup, he recognized the face. Damn he did eyeliner better than that.

He brushed Asha back with a sweep of one arm to keep her behind him and he stepped forward, seizing the power as he did.

He wove crackles of energy and pops of light exploded above their heads. The doctor and her assistant screamed and threw their arms over their heads, ducking low to the ground. But brooms of air swept their feet out from beneath them. They crashed to the ground, wincing upon impact. Finally, they were thrown from the victim, slumped helplessly upon the sidewalk, the shirt fallen open, and dotting the muscular chest beneath were bloody injection marks.

Elias strode to the female dressed a hooker. He towered over her, face drenched with electronic, ghostly light.

"We need to talk."

Her assistant scrambled to his feet and ran for the nearest alley, but Elias let him go. He had the one he wanted.
The range of Asha's sense picked up their surroundings long before the spring of neon lights advertised it clearly. Darkness cloaked little from her ability, and this part of Moscow had a unique feel. "Take a sentient to the red light district. Real smooth."
She jabbed Elias playfully in the ribs, but seemed more amused than distressed. She doubted he had known where they were headed when they'd left.

She was curious even as the leaking sensations behind blackened windows made her vaguely uncomfortable. Awkward as it could be, the voyeuristic sensation of others having sex was not unusual for her, just something to try and ignore (Aria's neighbours were at it all the time, when they weren't fighting). And boredom here was also prevalent, joined in places by a squeeze of desperation. Eyes and senses disagreed. Windows displayed human wares; the silky bare of flesh, pouted lips, a crooked finger. But little true desire emanated from those offering themselves; almost all the tingling lust came from the patrons. Still, it was the eye contact that made her blush and look away, even from the holos. Her unique perspective and the unconscious reaction of her body left her feeling vulnerable.

She didn't hold on to Elias as she had in the Red Square, but neither did she trail far from his shadow. Self-consciously, she yanked the sleeves of her sweater down over her hands, shielding herself from uninvited touch as she glanced at the picture he offered. But it was his explanation that pricked her attention. Her mouth opened to speak the question Atharim? before she thought better of speaking the word aloud. Instead she looked away, frowning, which was when her senses caught on the jagged edge of something ahead.

She was watching the couple rather than the screen of Elias' wallet, so she saw the man stagger and fall in the same moment she unpicked the disingenuous emotions of the street-worker. Elias pushed her back and promptly blinked out. Fear assailed her, followed by a wince of pain. Her own alarm swirled within. Maybe some of the fear was her own too. She didn't like the violence.

As Elias stalked down the woman he had flung like a rag-doll, Asha knelt by the man collapsed on the ground. People never stopped feeling, even whilst asleep, but unconsciousness was different. Flatter. Emptier. But not as finite as death. He was beautiful, even out cold as he was. Blood striped his chest. She had nothing to wipe it with and the wounds did not look deep. Neither did she want to touch a stranger, even an unconscious one, but it railed against her nature to do nothing. So she spoke to him, a whisper really. She supposed he couldn't hear, but it made her feel better at least. "Hey. You're okay now. Someone drugged you, but she's gone now. We'll take care of you, don't worry."
"Hey. You're okay now. Someone drugged you, but she's gone now. We'll take care of you, don't worry."

Damien groaned at the unnecessarily loud voice barking into his ear. Why was someone disturbing him while he slept? They would regret -

The puddles in his mind began to evaporate slowly. His senses recovered and his thoughts cleared. Wait. No. He was not sleeping.


Yes. Someone had done this to him.

That wretched whore!

Damien tried to rise but his body did not comply. All he achieved was struggling like a turtle stuck upside-down.

Damn woman! She would pay for her foolishness. Of that, he would make sure.

Confined as he was, he could do nothing about it. So he opened his eyes, blinking at the sudden brightness. Anger clouded his features until he focused on the face that hovered above his.

A scowl turned into a lazy smile, showing brilliant white teeth. "I am glad to be in your care, young lady. I would greet you properly, but as you can see, it seems I am indisposed,"
he laughed, a booming, rich sound.

Well, things seemed to have turned out quite pleasantly.
Anger flayed the skin from her bones, so sudden and volatile that the hands draped in her sleeves jammed into fists in her lap. Asha recoiled, afraid, until it became apparent that the stranger was paralysed. Still, she was careful to keep a sensible distance; she didn't know how long the drug would last. She hadn't even expected him to react to the words.

Then his eyes opened. He had a voice like velvet.

"Indisposed is probably for the best, for the moment."
She offered an uncertain smile, acutely aware of where in Moscow they were, and tried to remember exactly what she had said. The words had just been soothing inanities, the way you might comfort a child, and she was certainly not dressed like she belonged here, but his smile had a languorous cast, and - in her panic - her senses were all blurring into her peripheral. A blush warmed her cheeks. She did not want to be mistaken for a prostitute.

She glanced up to find Elias, biting her lip, not sure that any interrogation he had in mind was something she wanted to witness either.
Once the doctor's accomplice sprinted away, Elias was left to guard the good doctor herself.

Asha had the man she attacked in her care, but Elias moved to keep him in his line of sight while he hauled the woman to her feet.

"Don't try to run away either. You'll only trip up again."

Tendrils of light nudged her shoulder. She stumbled but didn't fall.

Hauling her by the wrist, he brought her around to Asha. He glanced briefly at the guy on the ground. A single look at his face and that silky blonde hair, Elias hated him on the spot. Maybe the guy would pass out again.

"Patients at the hospital not doing it for you anymore, Doctor? What are you? Atharim? One of them?"

PPC: Amanda Jackson

Her eyes widened as something knocked her down. She had heard of the kind of crazy magic shit that was going down these days, but she never expected this.

Everything was going so well! They weren't supposed to be conscious !

Those freaky bastards better give me a pay rise after this...

Mandy looked up at the Emo Wizard, her whole body shaking. "H-hey! I- I didn't hurt anyone! I was just doing as I was told. Good money. Just take blood samples they said. What's the harm in that?"

She wanted to crawl forward, men liked it when women begged, right? But she could not move. "I don't know anything about any Atharim! I swear. Please, don't hurt me. I was just doing my job!"

A genius idea popped into her head. "If promise not to hurt me, I'll take you to the place where I get my orders! Maybe you'l see him."

[OOC: Sorry for absence. Hope this gets things moving again.]
So much for the Hippocratic Oath.

Elias was fully aware of the two sets of eyes watching the exchange with the Doctor, but he didn't turn to regard either. Asha was a free woman, and was likely to abandon him at some point in the future anyway, especially if things progressed further along the weird shit-o-meter. The man probably needed an actual Doctor, by the look of him. Unless he always looked like he had a stick up the ass.

The doctor's offer was a tempting bargain. She was clearly too rattled to be someone of importance anyway. Elias sought someone with answers, someone with power. Not this wretch.

"Very well. I accept your deal. Take us to the one that pulls your strings, and I'll let you go."

He let his gaze fall to the man on the ground, jaw clenched, "You should go to the hospital. Don't want that pretty head of yours to be injured indefinitely."
Asha recoiled as Elias yanked the woman closer, reluctant to remain too close to either of the two strangers. Fear cast an uncertain cloud over her expression, and she folded her arms around herself, wrapping them close over her stomach. Her eyes narrowed as the woman's emotions washed through her. "No harm? You were dragging his body away!"

She was wormy and wriggly, this woman, with sticky feelers searching out the best way to adapt herself to the situation. Self-preservation outdistanced all other sentiment, even the sickly coil of fear shuddering the woman's skin. Elias accepted the offer without hesitation, but Asha sensed a trap. It tightened in her gut uneasily. Who was 'him'?

"He can't move, El. We can't just leave him here. And you're not going anywhere with her on your own. I don't trust her."
He looked out for her when he didn't have to, more than once. Asha was accustom to vigilante justice, and it did not cross her mind to suggest calling the police. But Elias was not her uncle. He might move bookcases with a flick of his mind, and twist people like marionettes jerking on string, but he was still just a boy no older than she was. She wouldn't let him go alone, but she wouldn't leave a man paralysed in the street either.
Elias frowned. Asha couldn't exactly stop him leaving with the assailant, but he wasn't exactly keen to leave her behind either. Definitely not in the Red Light District.

He stuck a thumb out at the golden child weak on the ground.

"Alright. Then we call him an ambulance and walk away when we hear the sirens."

They should leave the guy behind completely. It wasn't as though the street was completely barren. Elias could also drag him into a shop and leave him with the employees until medical help arrived, but he had a feeling Asha wouldn't approve.

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