is littered with corpses

The city burns. Days of explosions, murders, and mysterious events. The city swarms like a hive rustled. The police are in full patrol, the FBI are snooping into every shadow.

The mysterious individual known as Kristobal has cut a path of fire through the city. His righteous blade is going from one target to another. What he can't find, though, is his own place in the world.

A long hard road has curved before Janna on her way to the Olympics. To restore her leg she has been swept up in a madman's plot to find the fountain of youth and restore her injury. But what really awaits down the road?

The trucker known as June came to Portland to find the mysterious truth about the Shadowside. Only to be pushed headfirst into a long dangerous series of events involving demons, ghosts, and her spirit truck on a highway to hell.

The fast talking Jackie has pushed and prodded to get answers for who stole his family relics. Only his behavior has gotten himself, as well, now in the Shadowside. His bottles await somewhere, but it's up to fate to see if he finds them before getting himself killed.

Our fine street artist Jayquon has tagged along with the events, trying to avoid conflict as he searches for his purpose in the struggle against The Game. Now stuck with Jackie in the Shadowside, he's going to come closer to understanding what Lupe Fiasco was really talking about.

Others in the city are encountering their own strange events. And with all of that, we present you Season 2 of ShadowCrimes.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

The Frankson building is a massive structure in downtown. Six stories tall, 9300 square feet at base, a large building compared to the majority of Portland. On the route, Kristobal sees a police patrol car down every other street. They're all over the place. A law helicopter goes by overhead. No one sees him.

They're all looking for roving bands of criminals in the streets. Not a flying biker with a sword.

The Frankson building is not locked, the front door is open. The first four floors are sublet to various financial companies. No one's in and the place is dark down there. The top third is where Frankson Foundation operates primarily. The top floor has an office lit, someone's up there.

The city behind Kristobal is quiet. Where ever the criminals are, they've heeded the call. His explosive actions have cleared the streets out. It looks like a curfew is in effect as he sees only one civilian car out on the road. Whether it's a police order or just fear, everyone's staying inside.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Outside the burned down building, Portland is a quiet city. Jackie and Jay both get a strange Jack the Ripper feel from dark foggy cobblestone alleys and an empty Victorian town. In the distance, Lupe Fiasco is rapping over a beat. It's coming from a block away.

The man who's burlap sack has been removed eyes the both of them. "Jerry. I know you." he nods to Jackie. "Everyone's heard of you now. I don't know you." he looks to Jay. "Either way, if you aren't shittin' your pants I would. I think this is Grimland."

He looks out the door. "Looks different. Grim's tower isn't in the center of the city. That's strange, it's suppose to be-"

As he's looking out, a metallic foot descends. It's like a spider leg as it clinks into the stone. Jerry freezes, hiding out of sight. Other metal spider legs land and lift as whatever is up there carries away down the street. It looks like four metal legs stretching up thirty feet, carrying something like Doc Ock along.

Jerry looks at the two of them, whispering. "You should have let the fucker kill me."

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Tom sighs. "I'm sorry. It's hard to find spirits who are both rationale enough to communicate with and willing to trade favors. She was suppose to make sure you were safe and not eaten. Not seduce you. I'm sorry." he looks up at the roof. "Least things turned out. And if you locked your door before going in that bathroom, well, your real door is still locked. But don't worry if anyone steals a thing, I can wire you a million dollars after you get us there safely."

The road is uneventful. It's countryside and trees here. But things are different than normal. As Janna and Junebug watch the road and let their minds wander, they find that their roaming thoughts start to materialize.

Junebug remembers a roadside stop her parents once took her to on a roadtrip across the US. How it was a brief, warm experience to see Texas and it's beauty instead of highways. And there, as she thinks about it, the very same pitstop is on the side of the road. That direction is now Texas.

Janna is thinking about Sochi and how so many athletes right now are fighting their way through snow to do things she cannot. She thinks about if her life had been different, if she'd decided to snowboard or ski. Would it be different? And as she gets lost in that tiny voice in her head calling itself subconscious, she realize the other side of the road is now winter snow mountain.

North is snowy Russia, and South is blistering desert Texas. As their wandering minds come to realize this, they both focus on what's happening and it fades like an illusion. Like something out of the corner of their eyes, it only exists when they're not paying attention and disappears when they focus.

Tom looks both directions. "Both of you have pretty determined willpowers. Be careful. Like Ghostbusters, don't think about your time as a kid eating marshmellows." He pulls out a nutrition bar from his coat pocket and starts to eat it. He pauses. "Oh, my manners, is it ok if I eat in your spirit fetish truck? I don't want to get any crumbs in your soul."

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Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

{"If we could break down those walls..."}

Jay takes in the change of venue with surprising calm, shooting Jerry a polite "Fuck you too" and a nod at the foreshortened introduction. Even the massive horror doesn't phase him--after all, this is all a dream, and the thing just went on past them anyway. {That song, though--this fuckin' music in my head...}

{"... 'cause we out here... and we miss you..."}

It gets to him.

"Look, man, I been on this shit fo' a minute," he says, turning back to Jackie. "It--it's like this!" The kid points frantically toward the burnt-out property. "See this shit? It ain't real, man--but it is, too! In, like, this weird, kinda' fucked-up way, niggas is promotin' they fears through fearin' itself. Like, if I think the boogeyman be real, he there in your mind's eye--right?" Jay makes quick, erratic chopping motions with his hands, and his explanation speeds up.

{"... 'cause we down here..."}

"So niggas in this city be all up on they drugs and violence and shit, right? And death and ghosts be at the top, right? So maybe niggas be thirsty and they hungry for the game they playin'--and maybe they even start makin' up some of the rules--unconsciously-like, you feel me? And then, if niggas believe hard enough in they game, shit gets upgraded to 'Game' with a capital 'G'--like God--and that shit be the Grim ya'll niggas hypin'." He heaves an exasperated sigh. "Fo' real: now the Game be makin' up his own rules, wi' the masked dude playin' his chess piece or some shit, and niggas be playin' right into his hand, aight? Thing is, what don't kill him make him stronga, dawg--stronga!"

{"If we could build a ladder that tall..."}

The poor young man is practically hyperventilating. "You can't kill somethin' that feed off o' death, homie! You gotsa change it first--you gotsa get people believin' in somethin' different--some'n' betta! And where betta to start than in the nigga's home turf? We gotsa change the city befo' all the buildin's burn down--just like this!" Suddenly, he grabs onto Jackie's shoulders and starts shaking him violently. "Jacko, you gotsa! Gotsa! Gotsa! Gotsa!" His words devolve into incoherency as he stares with wild eyes into Jackie's face, searching for understanding. Then, turning his face to the side, calm and attentive again: "Hold up. Fo real? Who playin' that?"

The real song is fading out as Jayquon releases the Italian and sprints toward the source of the music.

["And I'll be... (the Coolest nigga, what... the Coolest nigga, what...)"]

(I like what you're doing with Jackie and the current convergence. Indeed, go nuts--just make sure my story isn't holding yours back.)

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silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

Combat: 
EY, HYA
Magic: 
NA
Influence: 
-- , --
Else: 
--, NB, NB

As June blinked away the desert heat of Texas and glanced back in the mirror, her eyes narrowed just slightly. "So wait," she said slowly. "We haven't left Portland, have we? I'm still dreaming." It had to be a hangover dream. Granted, this was a heck of a lot more vivid than a hangover usually entailed, but anything was possible. Maybe someone slipped her something before she went home and did the crazy ritual. Maybe she was passed out in bed, and the first rays of dawn would smack her in the face like a barge.

She contemplated trying to wake herself, to pull herself out of the dream, but the road was relaxing, and curiosity had her wondering about her three strange passengers. She sighed and leaned back into her seat. "I eat in here all the time," she said casually. "We might need to make sure we all have a place to sleep. No way in hell am I going to let either of you drive. I don't know you, and my policy is never to do shifts with someone I don't know. If this truck is my soul like you say it is, then that goes doubly so. So unless you want to sleep on the truck bed, we should get ourselves a camper or you're gonna have to pay for a hotel. No way are we getting to Florida in less than two days, and that's more than four times the legal limit."

(Feel free to use one of my "no" cards. I think I have one in the "Other" category.)

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

"Okay, okay. Jesus kid." Jackie takes a step back and holds his head in place. "I like the idea. Kind of a ground-up approach. Get the people away from Grim. Door to door grassroots shit. I think it's great. I'm just not sure how to do that sort of thing. The leaders in this town are all running around with their heads up their asses and you've got guys like this." Jackie slaps Jerry on the shoulder. "Listen to him talk, he can't wait to die. Like he's got nothing better to do."

"So I'm thinking to myself. No one really knows Grim in this town. So maybe I should be first. I'm thinking of finding that tower and ringing the bell. I've got a hunch he'll let me in. I'm going to go up and have a look around. If I come down, I'll probably be a ghost. I can work with that."

"And Jerry. I want you to tell me how you got into this mess. How did you start with Cuddy, and what did you think you were getting out of all this? Also, let me call some of my people. We'll find you a way out."

Jackie reaches out with his mind, the only real trick he ever learned. He sends out a beacon, a silent psychic shout, calling in some family.

(Let's use my magic card here for the summoning.)

"Wait, where'd the kid go?" Jackie hustles after him.

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

Kristobal considers. On one hand it is a blessing the building is bereft of occupants except for the one floor he is most interested in. On the other it would be foolish to suspect that Mr. Franklin would not be protected by hexagrams and other Thelema defenses if Mrs. Winters clearly was; simply flying in through a window then, is akin to tempting the Lord.

The Lord is still with Father Allen, it seems. Helping the weak. That man is now one of the few people in the world who know the reason why his gloved fist opens and closes on its own, while under stress.

Clearly the sensible plan is to stalk Mr. Franklin -maybe he plans to sleep in his office, or maybe he has a home to go to, and will leave to it sooner or later. Opening and closing his right fist is Kristobal's subtle tell to the stakes being raised. Standing on the rooftop of the building opposite, Kristobal knows it is only a matter of time before he is spotted by the helicopters overhead. His fist is comfortably open at the moment.

Pierre would have a sniper rifle and a scope. With a scope he could peer in through the windows and determine if Mr. Franklin is there. Kristobal wonders if Pierre did ever return to Toulouse. He was handy with explosives, too. Blowing up the building would be the preferred outcome. But not before he has had a chance to evaluate Mr. Franklin. Judgement. He keeps assuming Judgement. His fist closes. Maybe it is the Lord's Will. Father Allen said he, Kristobal, had been chosen specifically for this purpose. Wrath.

He could wait until Mr. Franklin came out, get in his car like he did with Spencer, talk about Wrath. Talk about possible replacements. Mr. Cuddy said the replacements would be much worse than his current lieutenants, much more merciless. Good. He will feel less conflicted about killing them, then. Less Judgement. Why, let Lucifer line up all his worst demons in a queue all the way from Gehenna to Portland; I'll get them all in time. I have time. Time. Has me.

He checks the rooftop door of the building he's currently standing on. It may have been left open, or he may have to break the lock in his hand. It surely leads to a rooftop staircase, which probably leads to a hallway, which probably has more doors to try open, or break. Breaking any or more locks may result in alarms -this would be fine if it happens. Kristobal only needs a phone, and didn't want to use Father Allen's. Father Allen must be kept separate and pure from the coming hell. Once indoors in an empty office, by the window, he can resume spying on the Frankson building, and furthermore, he can dial Mr. Franklin's phone number from the nearby desk phone:

"Vood evening, Mr. Franklin. I have made ein oath to kill all of Mr. Cuddy's associates, and zhis night your turn hast come. I must pass Judgement in ze name of ze Lord. Vhat have you to say zhat vould make ze Lord look favorably upon you?"

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-=[Live Forever]=-

Trapturtle's picture

Janna Harken

Combat: 
HYB
Magic: 
-- , NB
Influence: 
No, EY
Else: 
EY, HYB, --

It's weird, I don't know exactly where the fountain is, but for some reason I get the sense that we're headed in the right direction. I don't know, it's just a feeling I have.

{Is this truck really her soul? Shit, what happens to her if we get in an accident? It makes riding in here a little uncomfortable, like I'm trespassing in something private. I wonder what my soul would look like here? Tom's got his bird, June's got her truck, what do I have?}

Tom, is it alright to sleep in here? Going asleep in the world of dreams doesn't seem like such a great idea. Then again, you're the expert.

Whatever the case, it looks like we've got some time to kill. So what's your story?

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DarkMoonINC's picture

For Jay finding the sound is not a problem. Through alleyways, down streets, around corners. He zeroes in on the sound. When he gets to the source he comes across a park. Surrounded in decorated metal gates and filled with trees, the center of the park has a fountain and benches. Perched next to the fountain is some monstrosity, and around it a crowd of victorian people gather. What sticks out mostly is that all of the people in the crowd are of African descent. But dressed like 1800s rich white people.

Towering thirty feet into the sky are four metallic legs as thin as Jay's arms. At the top is a metal ring with a dome on it, held by the servo machines that maneuver the legs. Dangling out of the ring on cords is a man. He's strung up like a puppet, and he dances and sings.

As Jay gets close he realizes it's Lupe Fiasco dangling on strings up there. As he gets closer, he realizes it's not. It's some white man wearing Lupe Fiasco's skin like out of a serial killer movie. And in his throat sits a speaker that's playing Lupe Fiasco's music.

Many of the younger children in the crowd are dancing and celebrating but the older folks are shaking their heads in disapproval. They see Jay but they don't pay him much attention.

As Jayquon is hit by the entirety of the scene, he looks across the city and sees several more of these machines walking down city streets. Each carrying a dancing flesh puppet. He can spot 2Pac and Biggie, 50 Cent and 2 Chainz. Countless more. When one of the machines finds an audience it stops and starts playing the music of it's puppet.

=====

Following behind Jay, Jackie and Jerry (what's up with the J names) are pacing along. Jerry is in pretty good shape. "Not like I don't wanna be alive but- you gotta understand what this Grim asshole is like. He-" Jerry shakes his head. "I got drafted out of Memphis. Someone liked my talent laundering money and paid to relocate me. Set me up with a nice income and all the luxuries. Six months in he reveals himself to be a fellow name of McGillicutty. Tells me him and his boss own me now."

He shudders. "I ran. I got on a bus and drove to Ohio, throw them off. When I got there, two thugs in suits were waiting to drive me back. When we got back, they butchered my dog in front of me without a word. I ducked out a second time on a motorcycle I borrowed. Three days later I went to sleep in a hotel in San Diego, in the morning I woke up back in Portland with a picture of my niece and nephew stuck in the wall with a knife. Got the message. I keep my head low, they pay me well, and I survive."

He looks up and down the streets. "Boss always said there's some hell waiting on the other side for us in this place. I always figured he was being religious or what have you. This, though, this is fuckin' terrifying."

As they turn a corner they see the park and the machines. Dangling musicians and MCs from puppet walking devices. Jerry replies a predictable. "Sweet mother."

"Hello Jackie." a voice replies. On the corner, standing in the shade of a alcove, Are two people Jackie remembers. The second one nods "Long time."

The twins. A pair of murderous psychopathic women who preferred sharp bladed instruments to guns. They died in a police shootout when Jackie was barely out of Grade school. The two women finish each other's sentences and move like a single entity. "How's it been with the business? Bit rough we hear. Got a feeling you needed some help."

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DarkMoonINC's picture

"Well, look, what's the shortest route between two points?" Tom says. He pulls out a notepad and rips off scrap paper. "Here's A, here's B." he looks at them for a moment, then nods as if they know the answer. "That's right. Not a straight line, but-" he folds the paper in half, touching the spots. "folding space in half to make the two points occupy the same space."

He puts the paper back in a pocket. His coat has a lot of pockets with random things. "Now, we're not in the space age yet and I don't need memories of Event Horizon shaping this reality. So we're going with another way. The Buddhists believe that reality is an illusion. That's because outside of the four dimensions we know, space and time are nonexistent. What separates this point in time from that place over there is perception."

"Now, Hindu believe in Godhead, meaning that me and you and the rocks and trees are all part of one thing. In Tao they refer to the ten thousand things. If you've ever seen Hindu gods you notice they have eight arms. That's not because they have a lot of arms, most are just symbolic of the life portrayed by a human figure. With two human arms. The other arms are from... time. They believe that every moment sheds like a snakeskin behind you. You are not one person moving in time, but a centipede of after images. Hence the Hindu gods all leave after images of their arms in time."

"Now, all that said, our trip should be a lot quicker than travelling in reality. Because what we have to do is all focus on how Portland IS Florida. How you and I are already there. Even if it took us a week of travel, even if it took us miles and miles. Time and space only mean what you want them to." Tom looks at June. "We can pull over and rest if you want. Problem is... well, I don't know. This place works funny. You can't predict anything. But if you need rest, then you need rest. I can take us for a ways in my bus and then you can drive your truck when you wake up."

He turns to Janna. "Since your physical body has been pulled into the world of imagination, it still needs to rest. However, when you dream and sleep I have no idea where you go. Some people go deeper, like June was when we found her. Some people walk as ghosts outside their bodies. And I've heard cases where everything seemed fine until the dreamer's dreams changed reality around them. So dunno."

Then back to June. "Oh. The truck's not your soul, as in if it gets hurt your soul gets hurt. The truck is a projection of the one thing that means the most to you materialistically. A lot of people get spirit animals like a bad Cherokee superhero, or a Patronus. You get a truck. Well, and a bondage man."

"I can take us back into reality if need be. Normally, the city wouldn't let us leave by Shadowside. But the demon that runs the place has made a deal with me so I can get you two out. We can stop somewhere in reality if you wish and sleep, picking up tomorrow." He nods, then realizes what she asked. "I'll tell you my story after we figure out the sleeping arrangement. Make a good bedtime story."

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DarkMoonINC's picture

In the office across from Kristobal, lit well, open behind drawn curtains, a large empty office looms. When he dials, the phone over there rings. From a side door a man in a suit enters, his short ear length blond hair neatly trimmed and square glasses reflecting serious eyes. He looks at the caller ID and then turns slowly and looks at the building across the street. He picks up the reciever.

"Hello?"

Kristobal speaks to him, and the man nods.

"Very interesting. I'd called in a favor to have you killed in the name of business, someone private, someone even Cuddy couldn't bribe. But that's neither here nor there. You're looking for justification beyond me stopping you."

He sits down at the office table, looking at the door he entered from. "You seem to have done your homework rather effectively. Which means you know Thelema has no desire for favors of any Lords but themselves. As for my ties to working with Mister McGillicutty, you should know by now that no one works with him willingly. We do so against our best wishes, to preserve those things we love. Yet, here I am, having worked with him willingly. Even before he blackmailed me."

"I hear you got Winters out. I do not suppose I will find the same exit strategy. Even if I could escape, the profit was just too much. Which registers as avarice in your God's eyes. So no safety for me there. I suppose you're going to kill me now. Ironic, too, being how religious you are and all. Which- well, you'll find out. Just remember: I didn't know."

He mumbles to himself "Figure that one out soon." He leans back in his office chair, calm, placing the phone on the desk and changing it to speakerphone. He rests both hands on the wood in front of him and stares at the phone.

"Enough small talk I suppose. I'm a ruthless banker who has people murdered. So I don't rank highly on your judgement table. What ever is it you plan to do? Blow up my building? Crash a helicopter into it? Storm in and pull me apart with your hands?"

He closes his eyes and starts doing breathing exercises.

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

Kristobal merely stares through the window in silence -nothing more to say. He has been given the guidance he asked for, and he's thankful.

He looks up to the dark clouds above and imagines.... he imagines a host of angels circling around the Frankson Building. If only. They would circle 7 times around it, and then on the seventh they would all give a great shout! The walls of Jericho would then come tumbling down! If only.

Alas, it is just him. More glory to God, then, for he remembers what Blueberry taught him. The ability to open portals into Limbo -easily accomplished if re-purposing already-existing doors or windows. Not so easy for open ended spaces, like bridges. But he remembers, and she said... she said it was also possible, albeit difficult, to simply fabricate an entrance where there was none. Perhaps this is what the Lord accomplished in Numbers 26:10. Kristobal has Faith.

And this is what he attempts now.

He reaches out with his hand and opens a portal to Hell. Not a symbolic hell either, but the actual catholic version of it, the one in which he strongly believes, the one that is full of actual fire and brimstone. But this portal is not a door -that would have a been easy. It's not a bridge. It's a maw on the ground itself which opens, a chasm to swallow the building from its foundation. It doesn't need to be as wide as the entire building. It merely needs to be wide enough to cause its collapse into it -when suddenly enough of the rocky foundation the building is sitting on becomes replaced with... sulfur-smelling air. Fall through. (Fe Nwa Bo, HYA)

Kristobal doesn't hang up the phone. He wants to hear it -to the very last second until the line goes dead, and through the window he wants to see it in case Mr. Franklin can somehow jump out while the building crumbles, for he would reach with the Lord's Hand and stuff him back inside the Fourth Circle where he belongs. (Wind's Hand if necessary)

According to Blueberry, portals such this will stay open for a few minutes until closed. More than time enough to watch. It is the first condemnation that feels wholly deserved and well earned. He will remember Mr. Franklin's words about... 'not knowing'. But the city will too remember the night when a building was swallowed into Hell.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

silverdrake3's picture

June Pawlitzki (aka: Junebug)

Combat: 
EY, HYA
Magic: 
NA
Influence: 
-- , --
Else: 
--, NB, NB

"So, wait a minute." June tapped her thumb against the steering wheel, like a professor with a pen. The wheels were turning, and a small smile blossomed. "You're saying we can just skip over things, right? If what happened at the side of the road's any indication, maybe if we think about the same thing we'll end up there, right?"

June didn't know shit about buddhism or metaphysics or anything like that, but what she did know was shortcuts. She glanced at the girl in the passenger seat. "Tell ya what, you know what the place might look like? Describe it, I'll try to make us an exit." She smiled cockily. It had worked before on the crumbling road, maybe she could do it again.

The engine growled in anticipation, a couple of lights on the dash flickering orange and green. June didn't seem to notice.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

The ground below Frankson Foundation trembles and buckles. There is a high whine of gas releasing and suddenly the screams of hell itself echo out into the city. People from miles away will report this the next day. Hell itself is being opened. Kristobal can see it now, as he opens the realms beyond, that on the edge of the desk Franklin has a brown wrapped package. The same one Winters had been sent, with likely the same message.

The building buckles at foundations and starts to collapse upon itself. Below, the edges of the building are melting as concrete is turns to sulfur and molten stone. The screaming of tortured souls wail high from every brief crack. The door across from Franklin opens and McGillicutty walks in faceless without the mask in the box. He is saying something to Franklin but Franklin ignores him.

Franklin continues to breath, keeping his eyes closed, as the building sinks into the ground. The window between him and Kristobal cracks, shatters. Large slices of glass fall to the street below. And Franklin is rustled in his seat. He stays as still as possible, riding the desk like a captain following his ship to the ocean floor.

The building has lowered five feet and is increasing speed. From corners around it, plumes of flame errupt. A black crispy long demon crawls from the hole and looks around, fleeing into local businesses. During the event, three other demons escape, one more across the street and two more up into the air. The screams now are a symphony of suffering. Franklin holds onto his desk, eyes closed, as the floor in his office snaps and he plummets down into the lower floors. At the last moment, the McGillicutty puppet puffs out of existence, letting the building fall without it. Within moments the entire building has collapsed and sits only a few feet high from street level.

And like that, it's over for the entire event. The officials will show, perhaps, a sinkhole or other event. The foundation melted and collapsed in itself. But that won't explain the singed and burnt layers forensics will find during cleanup. And it won't stifle the dozens of calls to 911 happening across the city that swear a gate to hell opened. Biggles radio show is receiving it's share of panicked listeners, as well as Coast to Coast AM.

In the distance the sirens wail.

And that's when Kristobal notices them. Six or seven people have snuck upon him, slowly edging into the office where he's made the call. He glimpses one to his right, and as he looks and sees who they are he can see the other five. Unnaturally quiet. All clenched in white robes similar to ones made popular by culture. Then he recognizes them.

Malleus assassins. One of them holds holy water up against him. The rest are pulling blessed swords. They look prepared to attack him from all directions. The leader at the back holds a hand up to stop them, looking curious at their target. A white haired older man, someone named Father Benson.

"Kristobal?" he states. The other assassins lower weapons and wait on Benson.

This is the irony that Franklin spoke of, the "I didn't know who you were when I called in someone to kill you." quote. Franklin called in Malleus to kill Kristobal.

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DarkMoonINC's picture

Tom nods to her, searching his pockets for a bottle of water. "We all have to imagine real hard what Florida smells like. How damp the air is, how hot the sunshine. The sound of frogs and mosquitos. The sight of old people and psychopaths with guns. The wonder of their legal system. The- actually, we can try and track down that Zimmerman guy and beat him to death. But all seriousness, if we all imagine Florida very vividly it can appear around us."

"And I tell you all the gobbledygook about religions from the East because those folks were travelling through the Shadowside to reach all corners of the earth four thousand years ago. Journey to the West reads entirely different if you factor in the Shadowside." he sips his water. "We're looking for Florida. That's it. Either of you ever been there? Not the tourists spots, either. Just the endless Everglades. The taste, the smell, the touch. Imagine the swamps and mountains and beaches."

Outside it's starting to rain.

Tom looks around at the landscape. "I think we should stop before that, though. You're a bit sleepy, and I don't know what dangers there are of having some one pass out from exhaustion while trying to shape this world. You got a spirit partner above, the bonded man, and he will give you added strength. Still, not smart to push oneself too hard."

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

"Evening ladies, nice night for a stroll, eh? This here's my buddy Jerry. We're going to watch after him. There's a kid around here somewhere too. Black kid in a hoodie. Went running off. Can't let him get into trouble out here."

"Now Jerry, listen up. Your family is probably already dead. All carved up and spoonfed to a drunk monster. We have a chance to wrap this business up, make sure no one else gets caught in this shit. Those guys waiting for you at the bus stop, they probably had the same threats hanging on them. Its a web of smoke with everyone holding a knife on everyone else. We have to start clearing the air, breaking up the web."

"Tell these ladies where your family lives. My cousin, Ralph, will knock on some doors. We'll see who comes to collect your people, else we'll clean up the mess if they've already come. We get names, numbers, addresses. Anything will help us piece this shit together."

"In the meantime, I'll stick around this neighborhood. I think I might find something I can work with out here. Ladies, can you help me fit into something more appropriate? I don't want to stand out more than I need to."

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The women watch Jackie and shake their heads in unison. "We need those bottles Jackie. We need them back."

Jerry chimes in "My people are in Tennessee. You want names and numbers, sure. But I don't know what good that'll do us until we get out of this place. If I die, my family goes free. They're only in danger while I'm alive."

The ladies look at him, then each other. "Well that's another problem we needed to talk to Jackie about. But later. We need to find your young friend."

One of them moves into a building and returns with a fine suit. She helps Jackie with it. "Jackie..." she whispers to him. "We've got a bigger issue. I don't want to make you feel terrible but...this city is a trap. A giant sand trap. Us spirits can't leave."

The other twin is talking to Jerry, taking down information, watching Jackie and her sister.

"A few of us have been here for a while. But when you started calling in all your family... a lot of us are stuck in this place now." the twin helps him finish dressing. "But that's not our big concern. We need to find that kid and keep him from dying here."

The first one pulls a knife, and nearly stabs it into Jerry's throat when her sister shoots her a dirty look. The knife bearing twin stops, pricking only a bit of blood from the man's throat, and sheaths her knife. "Sorry. Habit." and with that turns and walks to look for Jay.

The twin with Jackie shakes her head. "Being dead hasn't been easy on any of us. Killing other spirits doesn't work well, like Valhalla and all. But living people here, they bleed real nice." she looks at Jackie. "What you want now, Jackie boy?"

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

"The bottles, the bottles. Find the bottles. What do you think I've been doing, you dizzy broad? Everytime I chase down a lead, I find some schmuck blowing his own brains out, leaving dead ends like pigeon shit on a new car."

"The problem here is systemic. You say look for the bottles and I hear, 'Go find that one Chee-To in the septic tank.' I've got to drain the whole thing first. We work Grim's network and the bottles will follow. Some lunatic is already sitting on the stockpile with a hammer, waiting for me to come calling. If we do some legwork first, we'll be better prepared to handle the inevitable."

"And I do mean inevitable. The magic cocksucker in the tower, he doens't play subtle. He wouldn't steal a bomb and save it. He's already set a timer somewhere. It's already going off."

"So fuck you. I'm in charge. You got a problem, take it up with Nonna. Get Ralphie some gas money and send him to Memphis. Find me the kid, point me toward the tower, and don't kill anyone unless I say so. Capiche?"

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

Kristobal feels vastly more pity for the three escaped demons than for Mr. Franklin, as the self-described 'ruthless banker who had people murdered' rides his crumbling tower of greed right into Lucifer's own backyard. He was bound to end up there sooner or later Kristobal believes, as all the Wicked are, and shall murder -nor profit from murder- no more. The poor demons on the other hand -sad beasts who can't defy the design of their creation- are soon to learn, like countless others, that no one escapes Hell -nor Limbo for that matter- without becoming a visiting mortal's Companion Saint first, and that the binding must take place inside the spirit realm. What disappointment, he imagines, as the world they so badly crave remains impervious to their desperate state of fleshlessness. Is this what the first Sons of God felt, in Genesis 6, when they descended from Heaven and created the first Hierogamy, the Nephilim? That too, failed. He identifies with them, more than with the agonized cries that emerge from the Pit.

Kristobal couldn't and doesn't know that Franklin was merely a front, that the real power was Iuliv. And so, in his mind, the Lord's work has been accomplished -to the sound of sirens as usual since 70 years ago- and he turns to face the night. That's when he sees his brethren.

So many emotions -and such meager display of them as he merely stands in place, motionless. They live! The Lord's Chosen live, after all these years, and they still operate, too! But how did they find him? They had to be waiting near by, this means-

...

...!!!

The thought that comes next is like the lash of a whip across Kristobal's mind. This is who Franklin meant, when he said he had 'called in a favor'! But they wear the Cross!! His fist tightens and makes the leather squeak! Are the Chosen Ones mere assassins for hire, now?! After all these years, they've lowered themselves to mercenaries?! Thoughts burn inside Kristobal's mind, thoughts of grabbing the leader by the neck and flying through the windows and up, far up towards the clouds, away from his soldiers, and then letting go and falling together -falling together face to face so he can hear a confession before hitting the ground together, so he can hear why the Cross now consorts with the Wicked!! He felt this same rage when he saw the cross of Father Allen inside the Robinson Estate... and he can always get another helmet later...

But thankfully two words stop these thoughts from turning into action, and just in time. Two words. The first word is 'Bribe'. Franklin's voice echoes in his head: 'someone even Cuddy couldn't bribe'. Someone unlike all other lieutenants of Evil, then, who are bribed by either greed or fear? Being immune to bribery means conviction. Conviction means Faith. And Faith means...

'Kristobal'... is the second word, as spoken by Benson.

"You have grown up, Benson. [Kristobal says] Have you kept your promise, to hold ze Laws of Gott above ze Laws of Mann?"

Kristobal opens his jacket, slowly and methodically. Before the eyes of all who are watching, he opens the Portland map, sets it on the table, and with his red pen writes "Dei Iudicium" in that beautiful calligraphic style of his on the location of the Frankson Building. The map is covered with red marks like this -the Robinson Estate, the Rosemount Reality, the 17 drug houses...

"I have."

Kristobal takes off his right black leather glove, revealing the true nature of his hand underneath and offers it to Benson for a handshake. It's more than a greeting and more than a proof it is really him: Kristobal remembers that Benson, just like Father Allen and so many other young ones at the time, had the Gift of Soul Scrying on touch. It will explain more than a thousand words -Kristobal is not very good with words.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

The kid in question is busying himself with excessive findability. You see, the scene before him is an image seemingly plucked from his darkest nightmares--but that makes it more relatable than frightening. It's like, if you knew there was a landmine in a roadway, and you did everything you could to keep people from stepping on it, you wouldn't be surprised to see somebody blow up if you were ignored. In fact, this is better than that; now, he's got a chance to prevent more people from entering the minefield.

{I wonda if the police be watchin' this shit}. But, on second thought: {Betta believe they ain't, and they won't be--right?}

But these considerations are secondary to the piece taking shape in front of him, absorbing his concentration. It's going to be a complex one--lots of space, a veritable rainbow of colors, and the uneven surface of the "canvas'" austere Victorian siding--but this won't be the first time Jayquon has pushed his improvisational skills to their limits. And, hell, it won't even be that hard to get this message across.

{Hell's right}, he thinks, adding some flames to the caricature of dead Portland to emphasize its underworldly qualities, plus a little sketch of one of the walking musical monstrosities. It's cowering away from the white hand extending down to the city from a set of beautiful apartment buildings in the clouds, a hand that has a hole in the middle of it. The most time-intensive part of the design is the gangster with blood on his (skeletal) right arm walking forward, with the front half of him transforming into a white-robed figure with a beatific expression as he steps onto the pure outstretched fingers of the hand of God. Time-consuming indeed. Fortunately, Jay's used to working on a time crunch.

The finishing touch on the piece is the water, labeled "PEACE." It runs out from a river in the clouds and down onto the fiery city below, toppling a dark tower with its main flow and sprinkling the joyous people (patterned after the figures before him) with the resulting spray, extinguishing the flames.

(From EE: HYA. If I need more than one card, the other HYA for the second.)

{You just gotsa believe, right?} he ponders, scrutinizing his handiwork as sweat runs down his arms and into the sleeves of his hoodie. The mural, possibly blasphemous in this place, confers a small taste of the joy of freedom upon the young man. {You just gotsa believe, and you can make it happen.}

Then, turning to face the nightmarish construct, he walks over between the onlookers, spits on its nearest leg, and shouts up to it: "Leave us niggas alone! You ain't fool nobody to think you Lupe--you just a figment o' imagination, just a fiasco, bitch! Get the fuck out!"

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Trapturtle's picture

Janna Harken

Combat: 
HYB
Magic: 
-- , NB
Influence: 
No, EY
Else: 
EY, HYB, --

It's that easy? Just imagine us in Florida and we'll be there? That doesn't sound too hard. Lets give this a shot.

[Janna closes her eyes and puts her hands over her ears, blocking out the world around her. Blocking out everything that would distract her from her goal.]

{Think back to that time my parents took me there on vacation. I must have been around ten years old. The heat and the humidity, that's what I remember. More than anything else.}

[She pictures herself standing alone in a massive swamp. She never visited the everglades, but that's how she pictures it. In front of her is a massive fountain made of gold. Janna can smell the swamp, hear the mosquito's buzz around her ears.]

{I will make this real. THIS IS MY REALITY.}

(Spending by HYB in Magic.)

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The twins merge back in line and shake their heads. They're moving towards where Jay ran. "Kid's on his way, this way. Look, we got a bad feelin bout him. He's an artist." "I seen the type." "We both have, different times." They both nod. "Got the world of imagination pouring out of him right now." "Yeah, showstopper er- starter." "Showstarter. Before you came this was all Portland. Downtown that scary tower loomed above."

They turn a corner looking for them. Jerry is hesitantly following. The twins look back at Jackie. "Moment your friend appeared this whole place became a Christmas Carol." "Fucking festive." "Charles Dickens on every corner. And everyone's turning... well..."

As they run he realizes one of the twins is African American now. She looks mostly the same, with a slight geneology shift. They nod to one another. "You should look in the mirror, though." "Point is that we can't find the tower until we figure how to stop this kid." "He's an adult, he looked like an adult." "AAhhh he's a kid, Jackie's a kid, everyone's a kid but us." "Fair enough."

They come to the park, looking over the sight. "Sweet mother of-" "the whore of Bablyon." "Jackie, I ain't never seen a spider marionette thing like that before." Towering in the park is a musician being puppeted on strings by the four legged machine. It suspends 30 feet in the air like a razor metal jellyfish. The crowd, all dark skinned, watching the performance and most of them enjoying it. Music plays from the man's cybernetic throat.

"What now Jackie?" the twins stop, turning to him. A dozen feet away, Jerry is clenched next to a bush, hiding, watching the park's terrifying scene.

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Benson glances to his men whom all lower their guard. He shakes Kristobal's hand hesitantly.

"God's laws are always above man's. We just make the distinction." he laughs, sitting down in a chair. "Watch the street. The building across." he says to the others, and all but two disappear back in the shadows they came from. He looks Kristobal up and down.

"Thelema and us have been enemies who work together. We've never been able to eradicate their devilry but like Malleus itself, we treat them like a weapon to crush evil. This city is the devil's, we've lost it decades ago. No one has been able to cleanse the corruption until the Pope declared it a waste of attention. Let the heathens have their Sodom and Gomorrah. We're fighting bigger wars."

"We were told by a source in their ranks that the devil himself spawned a foul demon that walked the streets in the shape of a man. Untrusting of such things, we were persuaded by the accountable destruction and death toll. Evil was burning people alive, hanging them from lamp posts headless, and butchering children. So we came to find the demon. Our contact told us the beast would blow up or attack the building across the street."

He removes a bag with carrots in it and begins to eat. "So then hell itself opened up and swallowed the place whole. Here we thought what malevolent evil. Satan himself is here to assault God's green earth." he lets out a deep throaty chuckle, bits of carrot spraying. "And then I saw you. You're under a piece of foam and leather instead of a crusader great helm and full plate. Or that bomber jacket someone made you." he laughs softly here. "I knew what we were up against. Even if we could take you down it'd cost us all dearly."

As he looks at their uniforms the memory returns to him. Hades Dagger, a specialist assassin group in Malleus. They enter, eliminate, and disappear. Using everything at their disposal to remove things or people. Last he heard through a contact they were tied up with so much work in the Middle East since the late 90s.

"So is this a you turned and decided to work for the devil?" a smirk. "Or is this just your one warrior crusade against evil? Vigilante, pulling the roots of evil by hand? You were always a do it yourself man. Thinking you can uproot the ancient demons here?"

His men watch from office windows, the street and it's sights and sounds. Sirens and lights. Firecrews looking at the building in confused stupor. Police clueless. No one even glances once at the building Kristobal and the assassins are in.

One of the other priests shoots him a glance. Benson finishes his carrots, saying "Mother Jupiter is not going to be pleased." The other priest assassin nods and adds "Not like Thelema's lied to us before."

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Here Jayquon finds the most interesting thing in this place. (EE HYA taken).

He pulls his tools and moves to make art, but he doesn't need it. As he focuses and sees the art piece pulled into this place. The art slowly comes from his hands by pure willpower. It starts to leave him exhausted, slightly, but he pulls it across.

The piece is beautiful. Even better than his normal skills in reality. He's just caused art to exist by willpower. Not only that, but it feels alive. Like the burning flames start to crackle, and the hand pulses. The clouds ripple.

He turns and yells at the metal walking machine. It whines like a stuck pig, cords snapping as the Lupe puppet drops and falls at Jay. The man slams into the stone ground, splattering like a stepped ketchup packet. The machine gallops off like a terrified pet, only to slowly disintegrate as it hits the end of the block. Jay just hated it out of existence.

One of the men next to him lifts the Lupe face off, grimacing at the white man underneath. The crowd glances at Jay and then disperses about their business.

The splattered man next to him is one of the Cuddy men that he saw at the house explosion. He's been dressed up with a rubbery life like Lupe skin that is made of real flesh but it's not really Lupe. Close enough to fool him from far up. Behind Jay the two twins arrive, Jackie and the burlap man Jerry behind them.

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"I'll add in. You too June." Tom smiles, closing his eyes. "We're in the- oh, no, no Janna. Not the everglades!"

He bolts open his eyes but it's too late. The area around them transforms into a massive Florida swampland. (HY taken... B) June has to jerk the wheel as they ramp off a grassy hill and into swamp water. The truck is in liquid up to the feet of the door.

Tom laughs, opening the door and climbing back around the truck onto the rear. "Well. You did good. Got us to Florida." He looks around, hopping off the rear of the truck and onto the dirt hill sticking up out of reedy waters. "Just... not many roads in the everglades."

He shrugs. "No matter. We're not in Kansas Dorthy and Toto." he looks between them. "No that's sexist. Dorothy and Glinda? No, but which one of you is- you get my point. This is not a setback."

In the distance the sky is darkening. As well, something moves from that direction.

"I have no idea what Florida's like in this place. Or if we're really in Florida. All I know is this is close enough. So now we have to figure..." he looks around. "Need to rest for the night and stage our next move."

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MrSmug's picture

Giacomo 'Jackie' Notelli

Combat: 
-- , --
Magic: 
EYB
Influence: 
HYB, --, NY
Else: 
HYB, --

"Would you look at that. Did you do that, Jay?"

Jackie saunters over and peers down at the mess.

"Gotta admit. This is new. Hmm. Hey Jerry, this coulda been you dangling here."

Looking around, checking for changes in the scenery or perhaps new faces skulking around corners."

"So kid. What else ya got?"

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Forge's picture

Kristobal

Combat: 
EY, NY, EY
Magic: 
NYA , EY
Influence: 
HYA
Else: 
N, --

Kristobal sheathes his hand back inside the leather glove. Indeed, what happened to that bomber jacket? Was it burned? In acid? Vague memories. As for his full plate armor -he absolutely has no idea anymore. Perhaps he wore it until his Master told him to take it off, for it was starting to look anachronistic? Who was his Master? He looks at Benson. He was barely a teenager then, an Acolyte in support of great Knights out to vanquish great Evil. The world is not as simple anymore.

"Abyssus Abyssum Invocat [he says, as he turns his back to the group and looks out the window at the still smoldering remains of the Frankson building. That had always been his catchphrase]. Zis city is not ze only thing ze Church has given up fur Lost. Und Lost things tend to find one anozer."

Time moves in a different scale for Kristobal. What would have been a reasonable pause in conversation for regular people, turns into a minute-long silence.

"A demon named Grim lives in ze heart of zis city, in Limbo [he finally says]. He hast made ze city a prison from vhich ordinary spirits cannot escape. [Kristobal turns to face the map again, and beckons Benson to come closer, and look -just as if they were generals in the dimly-lit war room planning an invasion.] His earthly emissary is a puppet knovn as Mr. Cuddy. Mr. Cuddy had a Master-at-Arms named Mr. Spencer. The Lord sav fit to spare Mr. Spencer's life, and he ist out of ze stage. Accelletrix had a man named Felix providing weaponry to the various warring tribes -ze Lord took his life vhen I struck at a gathering of Mr. Cuddy's lieutenants, as well as most of Mr. Cuddy's soldiers [he taps on the Robinson Estate house]. Mr. Cuddy secures ze loyalty of his lieutenants zrough blackmail of family members. He holds hostage ze child of a local police leader [he taps on the Huffor house] vho hast gone missing since mein intervention. He also holds hostage ze child of a Thelemite broker [he taps on the Rosemount Reality building] vho hast also fled the stage after I fed her stronghold to ze flames. Ze Thelemite across the street profited from ze many murders and evil in ze city -but he shall no more. Ze vanton murders in ze city you have heard of are ze retaliation of Somosa tribes against Gypsy tribes [he taps at the two respective places in the map] for ze Gypsy tribes aided me in destroying ze many strongholds Somosa vas using to transact zeir poison. Somosa hast also destroyed ze remaining soldiers of Mr. Cuddy."

This is not all there is to say, but it shall be enough, and it's taxing for Kristobal to speak quite so much.

"Vater Allen [he taps on the church] hast been putting his mortal flesh in peril to aid ze veak in zis city fur many years. His path is one of martyrdom [was there a hint in reproach there, in the fact that in Kristobal's eyes Allen dared to do what the Church did not?]. You may garrison at ze Lord's Church zere, if you can guarantee his safety."

"Tomorrow I vill send to ze Lord ze soul of Treymore ze Fist [he taps on the map], one of two leaders of ze Somosa tribes, und responsible fur ze murders zat summoned you, und many ozer murders. If you claim to put Gott's Law above Mann's, you vill storm his stronghold vith me. I descend from Limbo at ze Vitching Hour."

That's it. After 40 years, Kristobal leaves many topics unsaid. The topic of his leaving, the topic of God's leaving, the topic of... what the hell has happened to this earth in the past four decades, but no: all the old Knight will talk about, is plans of war for the very short term and the present. It's all he was built for.

Kristobal carefully re-folds and stores his map, as he waits to hear Benson's decision regarding attacking Treymore tomorrow. The "Witching Hour" is 3:33 AM, giving the "evil lieutenants" a whole day of sunlight to consider the developments at the Frankson building, and perhaps, estimate their survival chances and repent. Soon, the sight of the dying flames across the street catches Kristobal's eye again.

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-=[Live Forever]=-

DarkMoonINC's picture

Jerry can only nod silently to himself, and watches.

At this point Jay notices that Jackie, one of the twins, and Jerry are all African American versions of themselves. As he notices it, the other twin is suddenly dark skinned as well.

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Benson nods knowingly to Kristobal. "I will have to inform my superiors."

"Thank you for the intel. We will use it well." He stands nodding to his men, who turn to leave. "We will converge on your location tomorrow. To find and destroy this man. You know, I think this is God's will for you to be here. No mortal has stood against this Grim demon. We call it Oizys. But whatever it's name, any who enter Limbo here do not return home. You, however, do not have mortal concerns as we. If we die aiding you but destroy the evil here, our work will be honored."

"Allen we know of. The man has cast himself against a raging flood." and he just grunts after that, checking himself to make sure he has everything. "We'll go speak with him now."

Before he exits, he stops to look at Kristobal. "I believe we shall inform our superiors of you after the fall of this Treymore."

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Yuanakil's picture

Jayquon

Combat: 
EYA
Magic: 
HYB, NYA, NYB
Influence: 
NYB
Else: 
HYA, NYB, --

Jay takes the cogito ergo ars in stride, right alongside the race-changing former Italians. It feels right, so he thinks it's right, so it is right, so it is. {"All black everything."}

He shakes his head at Jackie. "I ain't do it--just is, man," he says, gesturing to his vibrant art(/will)work. "Just is. But as far as what else I got..." He trails off, turning to face the dispersing crowds and closing his eyes.

{Easy--should be easy. Don't need no wall, no tools neither--just think about it, and it is.}

So, eyes shut tight, he sarts to concentrate really hard. He imagines the city around him; he imagines it changing, becoming a better place--a place where the people rise up against the machines and the Game/Grim and tear down the tower of oppression. He thinks about a world with no slavery, neither to the Game nor to the Streets, where there is no desire to chase the Cool. He imagines a heaven with no misery, that accepts all sinners unconditionally. He holds these thoughts in his head, imagining how his hands would paint them upon the streets and sky alike.

Then Jayquon opens his eyes.

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