Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Generalist – Taboo 3: Misfits and Mayhem Round 2

Round 2

Dash tapped his humongous fingers against the cold stone of the rooftop above the Shop, awaiting the latest reports from his forward scouts. The fastest of the Motorhead gargoyles, they had immediately stepped up without hesitation the moment Captain and Dash (who had taken on the position of 'Warlord Supreme') had requested for volunteers. Taking the day to rest and recuperate, Dash had immediately called forth his council in order to dictate strategy, acquire and share blueprints for each building on the entire street (a feat made easier by Controls' free access to the planning database for the city of Los Angeles, such access only partially of questionable legality) and prepare to receive the final response the Valken House dictated: should the first two groups fail, then release the entire horde of the Assassin Corps of the House. There was no kill like overkill, and if a target existed that was strong enough to deter a mage-assassin in their prime then the only goal the Valken had left was to completely eradicate that target.

Dash grinned, knowing that Jeromes' desperation had also dictated this move as well.

Night had fallen, and with it came a darkness much more solid than nature intended. Dash whistled, impressed by the show of power - they had effectively cordoned off a couple of miles in all directions, not a small feat considering the Shop's position and the power nascent power of the Nexus Point. He hadn't thought the Valken assassins had it in them to be this patient, taking the day to acclimate to the incredible rush of energy.

Not that simple acclimation would do much if they couldn't claim it. Anyone could synchronize with a form of energy, even that energy's source. Thankfully they couldn't USE that energy without a proper claim, and even powered down the Shop and C.O.N.Troll was too strong for them.

He grinned. This only meant that this night there would be blood. Blood, bone, and death. Enough fighting for everyone to gorge themselves stuffed, especially himself.

He cackled to himself with glee, I can hardly wait!

The moon, full up above, shimmered and he smelled the workings of a Greater Magic as the mage-assassins applied a two-fold combined spell: glowing bright and viciously crimson on the surface of the moon the crest of the Valken house baled towards the prepared battlefield, a two-headed eagle on a black standard, the barrier spell effectively twisting normal reality into a facsimile of a pocket dimension. The mage-assassins, even with a full compliment of thirteen and more, were unable to completely cut them from base reality due to the nature of the Nexus Point itself, an ever-present and flowing anchor, but the barrier was more than able to ensure no citizens or bystanders would be caught in the middle of the battle.

Dagger, standing at his side, whistled before speaking in her grating voice, "Nice. Now the normals won't wake up in the middle of a warzone. All the damage we do'll probably be reverted too, with this much magic pumped into the place."

Dash grinned, "Not that much though. More than likely the Vat's'll have a field day cleaning the place up tomorrow, ensuring the Pact is kept. You're right though, 's a pretty complicated work, more than enough of a knock on the door. Why don't you answer 'em in kind, Dagger?"

Dagger barked a laugh, placing one clawed foot upon the parapet, her wings unfolding to reveal the missile launcher she had been hiding there, "With pleasure, boyo!"

With that she set the launcher on her beefy shoulder, her wing and powerfully-formed back muscles adjusting for her sight as she aimed and fired towards the street at the edge of the barrier, the resultant explosion destroying the mage-assassins making their way towards the Shop as well as throwing the rest into disarray.

Dash threw his head back into a vicious howl, answered by the thunderous growls of ground troops as the Motorhead mobilized, riding either powerfully customized motorcycles or the dog-like steeds of their ilk, holding onto the horns like ape-hanger handlebars as they galloped on all fours.

To either side of the Shop they sped down the main street, many weaving and dodging as the mage-assassins began to open fire with various Combat-based spells, their own formations applying their strategies as enhancements and defenses were cast, their own forward troops preparing to receive the howling mass of enraged, snarling Gargoyle-bikers.

Dagger turned, intent on joining the oncoming fray when a strange melody caught her attention. Dash blinked, his large green eyes questioning as she pulled out a cell phone, answering immediately, "Yeah? What do you want, ki-"

She stopped, surprise widening her eyes as she turned to Dash, "They're attacking the Garage! Dash, they somehow found the entrance to the Garage, 's why the Barrier's so freakin' huge! So they could fit the Jefferson street exit in the battlefield! They're in a standoff, bu they won't be able to hold for much lon-"

Dash rushed past her towards the stairwell, stopping to point at her and snarl, "You and Captain take care of things here. Remember to order the Bombers out the MOMENT an air strike is called!"

His attention shifted to the garage raid, cutting off her response as he hurried down the tower stairs, going over what he knew of the situation. In their attempt to attack from the inside-out, they had accidentally given up two important points of information. First, they were receiving information that was considered secret to only a few people, those the Shop had held incredibly close. Which led to the second point.

When he got his humongous hands around the treacherous snake who sold them out, he was going to do such wonderfully horrible things to them!

Dagger turned, binoculars in hand, and growled into her cell phone as she surveyed the battlefield, "No, NO! Sweep from the right godammit, stop - no, I said melee only! Tell the long range units to back the fuck off and get back here NOW!"

She blinked, recognizing an incoming number. Flipping the cell phone in her hand for a quick moment, she snatched the cell phone mid-air and grinned into it, "Hey, Cap. It's not goin' bad but it's not goin' good. And you said we couldn't turn the boys into a real army, huh?"

"Enough of that for now~!" Captain's voice snapped at her, his distress obvious, "I'm calling in the air strike. Give the order for hnngr!" She could hear the exertions of his melee as he swung on an incoming Combat specialist, the crunching of their bones and death gurgle loud even over her phone's reception, "The bombers!!"

She laughed wickedly, stomping on the parapet's edge with her foot, the various charms on the end of her cell phone tinkling along with the sound of boulders scraping together, "Alright, ALRIGHT! Consider it done, bwana," hanging up on him, she pressed two buttons and immiately connected with the leaders of each unit, relaying the order to all on their personal system, "Alright gents! Get ready for the pain, rock up and rock OUT!"

Turning, her black eyes shimmered with barely-repressed joy, her voice shivering as she growled, "Bring the fuckin' rain, kids."

Turning to watch the oncoming carnage shadows blanketed her as, overhead, nearly thirty flying gargoyles detached themselves from within the invisible bell tower, hurtling themselves forward with powerful strokes of their leathery, furred, and feathered wings. The children of the gargoyle race, they all had the ability to fly until they reached a certain age and weight - then their ability to fly were completely determined by what type of gargoyle they were. As members of the Sidhe, they weren't defined solely by their physical form but more and more of them were choosing to lose their ability to fly in order to take up the motorcycle as their favored method of transportation.

Armed with bandoliers of grenades, the squadrons of gargoyle children could be a fearsome sight indeed, though it was what was currently riding on their backs and thick necks that caught Dagger's attentions.

Grinning to herself, she chuckled aloud, "Well I'll be! Metropolitan stain, indeed~!"

Grease Monkey loved cards. He loved few things in this world, but cards rated as top priority to him, underneath only cars and loyalty. He shifted the thick, foul-smelling stogie from one side of his mouth to the other, keeping it clenched between his pristine teeth as he gazed, golden-eyed and languid, over the two cards he held in his hand.

"Look, if you don't play you won't get any extra puddin', m'hijo. Either play or fuck off with the rest of the drones."

Williams groaned into his hands again, having sets his cards down but having also placed a chip atop of them, symbolizing his intent to continue playing, "Mr. Monkey, how can-"

"Ees Grrrease, m'hijo. Or Greasy. Or GM. But ees no Man-keh," Greasy chuckled, tapping his stogie out into an ashtray before clenching it again between his teeth, hamming up his usual accent, "And if you don't want to play, fuckin' cash in yer chips then, cabróne. You got the button and I'll freakin' kill you if this is some weird kind of head game to psych me out. I know you ain't got pocket rockets or the nuts hand, or you'd act like it."

Williams frowned at the Ricketts twins, both of them suddenly incredibly engaged in the hands they were holding. While it wasn't a betrayal of trust inexactly, that little tidbit they had shared with Grease Monkey, all three of them taking to one another with a strange swiftness, had already cost him several hundred dollars since the game had started due to his inability to contain his excitement upon getting two Aces or the strongest hand possible for a given round. When they had first been unceremoniously dumped into the Garage, Williams was certain they'd be subjected to more boredom, the sting of being considered unable to protect himself and his unit still fresh in his heart.

Then the Ricketts twins had expressed sincere joy and love of The Roadbuster, the customized car built by Grease Monkey and Dash to Franks' specifications. The body was a hybrid of Aston Martin and Mustang, the inner workings customized from a Shelby GT 500 Super Snake origin to the current amazing specs the large twins drooled over. The paint job was expensive, fading from a pitch black coloration to a dark cherry red. What truly impressed them wasn't the tungsten-carbide roll cage and chassis or the carbon-fiber shell, but rather the Whammy Bar that had been installed at the front of the car, a mobile battering ram given to the Shop as a gift from the local Los Angeles Police Department.

"I'm also deeply, horribly, and maddeningly in love with her," Control sighed softly over the P.A. system.

Grease grunted, "I always knew that puto was a hoto. Guess the gay runs deep, huh?"

"No, gender is just useless when you're a brain in a brick," Control chuckled lightly.

Grease considered that before turning to the four young magi, "Hey, you kids like poker?" With that he produced table, chairs, and barked an order to the drones only to groan into his hands, remembering they weren't able to move without the energy regulated by the Brownies to keep them mobile daily.

Since then the four magi had come to learn a great deal about the various games of poker, especially Texas Hold 'Em. Greasy waxed and waned on the various stories and misdeeds of the two Shopkeepers and how they kept hurting "his baby," The Roadbuster through those adventures.

"Wait, wait," Magus Tourmaline adjusted her glasses, peering closer at Greasy over the table, "Isn't The Roadbuster Dashs' baby?"

Greasy grunted, flipping a card onto the table, "She's got two daddies, and I'm mostly her granpapa."
"Just like me~!" Control intoned.

Greasy grunted again, throwing his cards down disgustedly as Tourmaline raised the ante, "Yeah, she's got two daddies, though I'm more or less either her father or her grandfather, depending on if I have to brain that troll with one of my wrenches. Don't think I have any issues with that, the whole two daddies thing, though. When you've lived as long as I have, you come to not really care about gender or sexuality anymore. 'S all skin, mang."

As they played into the evening, Williams realized he could forget about the war that was surely raging up above as Greasy taught them basic techniques and quickly worked towards advanced psychological tactics, their own minds made sharp and quick due to the prerequisite magus training.

So it was a complete and total surprise when the shadows trembled and sprouted mage-assassins.

For a split-second both groups stood stock-still, staring at each other in shock when Greasy suddenly broke the still with a bellow, hurling the table overhead at the mage-assassins and driving them back as he stomped on a button on the ground, raising a wall of silver to cut off the rest of the garage.

"Don't worry kids, the automatic defenses will activate now that the system has been-" Greasy went silent and immediately scrambled for his favorite weapon, a gigantic monkey wrench bigger and thicker than he himself, remembering all too late that the automatic defenses were down.

Williams' eyes widened as two mage-assassins leapt onto the rising wall of blessed, normally enchanted silver, bracing their backs against the roof and using hands and feet to slow the wall's ascent. Several other magi behind them immediately began quick-lisped chants, magic circles rising from the ground to hover about their forms and throw multiple shadows against the concrete walls of the Garage. Williams roared a counter-spell, realizing all too late what they were doing: their spells activated, crackling bands of red-streaked blue magical energy coursing through the casters and slamming into the two on the wall, immediately transmuting them into metal statues, jamming the wall as their feet fused with it.

Williams groaned, realizing the futility of his reaction as he continued to chant, stuck in mid-cast as he sought to re-divert the energies into a new spell. Behind him the Ricketts twins finally reacted true to form, a magical circle encircling the both of them as they began their own spell.

Grease Monkey surged forward as Williams fell to his knees, the color of his magic circle transforming from a vibrant green into a darker blue as he found what he was looking for. Something within him clicked, revved, and began to run at full bore as he switched from his original counter-spell, a simple concussive wave of magical energy, to a higher spell form.

Bellowing in an unrecognizable language, Greasy slammed the flat of his humongous wrench against the wall, the Royal Impact technique sending shockwaves of kinetic force throughout the wall. Grinning at first, he frowned and backed up as he realized his attack only weakened the concrete at the ceiling and floor around the wall. Certain the mage-assassins would notice as well he slammed his wrench into the ground, breathing hard and hot on his hands, gathering up golden-red chi energy from within.

Several mage-assassins scaled the wall, leaping up to grab the edge and haul themselves over, only for one to widen her eyes and let go, dropping down and narrowly dodging a spiky sphere of energy. Grunting, the mage-assassin found herself pinned to the ground as it exploded, raining magically-empowered sticky shrapnel down the length of the wall, pinning and choking her two less-than-fortunate compatriots against the wall on the other side. The Ricketts twins shared a grin, preparing their next combined spell, this one without a magic circle, their hands close to each other to allow their magical energies to mingle with practiced ease.

Thankful for the reprieve, Williams panted as he finally unleashed his new spell, still surprised with his previous energy shifting. Spontaneously changing a spell mid-cast was something he had only heard of, and it nearly offended him with how easy it had been the moment he spotted the energy patterns themselves, tweaking and twisting them into a new spell as he had done. Biting his own tongue, he dragged his hand through the air, his clawed fingers rending the air with five lines of energy, before slashing his other hand out horizontally, creating a grid. Slamming his palm into it, he sent the new shield hurtling towards the wall, the silver dispersing much of the energy but the hole made between the once-living statues had been effectively plugged up by the Incineration Web spell. Seeing what he had done, the Ricketts twins powered their combined spell down, choosing to save their mana for actual combat.

Williams slumped down to the floor and leaned back on his hands, panting aloud as the elder Ricketts (at least he thought he was the elder one) turned to him and rumbled in a low, slow voice, "Twist?"

Williams nodded, his body beginning to feel the strain placed upon it by the new ability he had learned. As the older twin came over to gently pat his head, the younger one looked around, Grease Monkey's exertions growing louder with each breath as he continued to breathe golden-red chi energy onto his hands. The younger Ricketts looked at him for a moment before turning back to his brother and friend, asking in a near-whisper, "Tourmaline?"

As if summoned by her name the small woman bounced back into the Garage proper, the office lights behind her shutting off dutifully, "I called Sir Dash! He'll come save us, you'll see~!"

Greasy turned and slammed both hands into the door of The Roadbuster, roaring with earth-shaking power as a dome of unfamiliar energy cascaded about the car. Leaning against the dome as it solidified, Greasy chuckled and turned to the surprised magi, "There. Those bastardos'll never touch our The Roadbuster now! Rest while you can, kids, and-" Greasy's head spun as the silver wall began to melt, the assassins on the other side making a strange susurrus. Grease Monkey backed up in front of the young magi, taking his giant wrench in hand with a hearty grin, "Well, looks like THAT bought us a minute at most. Who's ready for a rumble?"

Magus Tourmaline bit her bottom lip, her hands wringing together as she made ready her own defensive-based spells. The Ricketts twin drew close to one another, preparing their own enhancements, intent on melee combat, not willing nor wanting to face so many targets in a long range battle.

Williams slowly got to his feet, dusting off his pants, "Well. We may not have the resources of the Nexus Point to draw from, but we ARE students of the Order, and this is my unit. Far be it from me, nor the rest of us, to not put in a good showing, especially if we're to prove our worth and win an internship here at the Shop!"

Greasy blinked, turning to Williams and completely ignoring the melting wall as the assassins, visible now, suddenly backed up before the rush of the drones who sprang to life and rushed towards the would-be assailants to slam into them bodily, "Wait, what?"

"'Tis a metropolitan stain ye suffer from...and so, apparently, do we," The Tallest, cane in hand, limped out of the wall towards the astonished group of defenders as Brownies of the Windswept Clan rushed hither and thither without warning, adjusting and readjusting energy forms, reactivating drones and calling forth the minor Fae once again.

"What the...WHAT?!" Williams blinked as the Ricketts whooped with joy, Tourmaline sighing with a smile as the Tallest whapped Williams' knee.

"The Shop is our home. Nae, nae one...NAE one shall take it from us-OOF!" The Tallest began to wax vehemently as Greasy laughed and scooped him up into a huge, one-armed bearhug, "LAY OFF OF ME, YON LACKEY! LAYABOUT, SHIFTLESS RAGAMUFFIN!"

"HA HA, love ya too, pequeño~!" Greasy suddenly opened up his arm, gazing about quickly and assessing the situation, "So you guys gonna fight with us after all, huh?"

Hirsute Tallest dusted himself off after landing with a disgruntled grunt, pointing at the assassins even as they found themselves enmeshed within a battle with the drones, their lethal strikes bouncing off of the lifeless creatures who merely wobbled before veering off to another target, causing further chaos, "We of the Windswept Clan are loathe to be outdone by our comrades. Should yon Motorhead claim the spoils of war, our position here would be set further back than we could afford! The Shop is our home, and there is nae Brownie alive who would not defend what is rightfully theirs! We are of the Sidhe, Seelie and Unseelie alike! They shall rue this day, those that are fortunate to survive!!"

The tiny Fae creatures turned and raised their various makeshift weapons in unified salute, roaring a battle cry before charging forward to attack the mage-assassins, many of whom began to employ Alchemical countermeasures, mixing and hurling potions after recognizing the drones for what they were: spirit-golems under the will of the Shop, powered by the energies found here.

Williams turned and immediately ordered, "Tourmy! Give us a Mage Shield, something that can handle kinetic force and concussive waves! Ricketts, gimme smashes, lots of 'em!"

Turning to join the fray, the small band of defenders gasped as a section of the wall exploded, Dash walking through the rubble with the Troll Poles behind him still smoking. Smiling maniacally, the troll reached to the side without looking and roared, "Shoot the LIGHTS!"

With a flick of his finger the overhead lighting of the Garage turned off, plunging the entire battlefield into pitch black darkness.

Without having to be told, Williams' unit huddled together, employing their spells towards where they last saw the attackers. The drones, unfeeling and unthinking golems, could withstand just about anything thrown their way before falling to the ground, only to be revived and fixed by the Brownies. As Fae, they were equally made of hardier stuff than most other Sidhe, making up for their paltry individual strength by attacking en masse. Though there were only a relative few in the Garage, they immediately made their presence felt by attacking the feet and ankles of the larger mage-assassins, working on the drones whenever they came across them.

And, with a bellow of maddened battlelust came the Troll, brachiating towards the attackers, his outline shining red in the darkness as he activated his Ki Shield.

For he, most of all, was the one trusted to survive their magical onslaught, the entire team sure the creature could survive a direct nuclear warhead to the face.

All was darkness for a moment, until Dash's other senses kicked in, filling in where his eyes failed. Smell and sound created a form of dark vision that allowed him to pick his targets aside from the others. The Brownies, as always, smelled of earth and freshly-cut grass; the drones smelled of crackling ozone, packed and condensed.

The mage-assassins reeked of fear, their confidence dashed by the surprise arrival of the Shop denizens.

And so he gloried, reveling in bloodshed as he reached the first of the Valken assassins, picking the man up by the head and dashing his skull against the ground with a quick, sure force.

Thirty of the assassins had breached the garage.

Dash roared with wicked laughter as spells erupted around him, and he could see the entire battlefield within those few precious seconds.

Behind him Grease Monkey formed a living shield in front of the younger magi behind him, protecting them from what spells were hurled their way with his enchanted wrench. Glowing golden with the strange, eldritch energies within him, Greasy's jaws uttered a single, long battle cry as he batted away fireballs and redirected bolts of energy that came their way. Behind him Tourmaline screamed, hulking down, focusing only on getting a usable Mage Shield up in front of them. The Ricketts, focusing only on their favored specialty, lobbed spell after spell into the melee alongside Williams, who knelt down and charged a spell of his own, his incantations growing to a fevered pitch as a magic circle erupted around him, signaling a high-powered Greater Work.

The Mage-Assassins hadn't a chance.

One fell to their knees, shivering as the Brownies hacked and filleted at them, ignoring the brutal flames as the assassin immolated himself with a death-triggered spell. Falling face-first, the young man kicked once then lay still as the Fae creatures swarmed away from the body to find a new target. Several drones, once again under the control of Control itself, brutally smashed into two other assassins, crushing and pressing them to death even as they wriggled to get their hands free.

Those that didn't fall or focus on the attacks from Williams' unit immediately fell to the brutal force of the Troll.

Almost in slow motion, as delicate as any dancer, Dash spun and lashed out with a fist here, a foot there, felling two with his claws alone. Feeling orbs of ice slam against his kinetic aura at close range he spun about and wrapped his humongous hands around the upper torso of another magi, ignoring the blows and spells landing on his powerful back as he focused only on the sublime feeling of murdering the assassin in his grip, his thumbs crossing to choke and crush the life out him.


Lost in his battle craze, Dash hurled the corpse aside and immediately grabbed another assassin, spinning around and grinding their face against what was left of the melted wall, the darkness dispelled for another blinding second as their feet hit the Incineration Web spell that was still active overhead, turning into a fine mist from the ankles down.

Spinning into a simple horse stance without thought he brought his arm up into an inside-block, more sensing then seeing the spell-empowered punch that had been thrown at him. Moving with perfectly practiced grace, violence singing through his veins like liquid fire, Dash moved into the man's guard, gripping the man's elbow and slamming his own armored forearm into the man's face. Drawing the spike at his elbow in slightly, his smile stretched the boundaries of his face as he slammed the shortened point into the man's ear, deafening him and drawing a bloody scream to mingle with the rest that peppered the air.

Spinning, ducking and drawing the man's arm overhead, Dash yanked and felt the satisfyingly tactile sensation of the mages' shoulder wrenching from it's socket with an audible popping noise. Crushing the man's elbow in his gigantic grip, he dipped down once more and scooped the man's leg out from under him, rising up to his feet and hammer-striking the man back to the ground with a downward blow.

Dash panted as he gazed about, his senses incited by the free-flowing blood splattering the ground, the smell of ozone and charred earth, the sounds of broken flesh and bodies strewn about nearly tipping him over the edge as the monster within him glutted on the carnage, the violence.

Taking a moment and realizing that the battle was over almost as soon as it had begun, Dash took two steps back, the fired bolts dying down as the Ricketts twins, lost in their own battle lust, realized the fight had ended.

Controls' voice rang clear as she stated simply, "All targets eliminated. The Garage is clear. Please cover your eyes "

Almost as one the young magi, Grease Monkey, and Dash all howled a battle cry, their voices mingling for a single, glorious moment. The lights came on and almost immediately Williams unit stumbled about and groaned, holding onto their eyes.

Grease Monkey laughed and slapped Williams on the back hard enough to stagger the younger man, "HAH! Ya gotta keep yer eyes closed and adjust, cabróne!! See whatchoo get? That's a learning experience, mang!"

Williams coughed into his fist and looked about, frowning at the gore on the ground, "Wait, weren't there more Brownies?"

Hirsute Tallest, cackling gleefully and dancing a jig, looked up and nodded, "Aye, there be more of us. Above ground we hath joined the battle~! This be just a token of our forces, the rest be out and about doing the good work for the Shop."

Dash grinned as Grease Monkey strode towards his office, beginning the procedures that would open up the Garage once again, "Well then, let's get to it! We got a war to wrap up, and celebrations to gets ta!," turning to his co-mechanic Dash nodded, "Greasy, we got green light?"

Greasy held a finger up for a moment, both fingers flying at his keyboard as he disengaged various systems before closing the laptop, "That wall ees going to have to be torn out, and the ground y ceiling is going to need to be fixed, but everythin's A-okay, hombre!"

Dash waved them towards the exit door, stairs leading up to the basement and first level, "Drones and Greasy, stay here! Everyone else, git up there and do some DAMAGE!"

Snatching at Williams elbow, holding him back to allow everyone else past, Dash leaned in and whispered into Williams ear. His green eyes widening, Williams looked to the troll as Dash nodded and gave a mega-thumbs up.

"Welcome to the shop, Errand Monkey. We'll induct your unit later on, but for now you're my personal slave...uh, intern," Dash clapped the young man on his slim shoulder, nearly driving him to the floor as he chuckled, "You guys've earned it!"

Still unable to fully comprehend the new world of power he had been introduced to, Williams closed his eyes and smiled, nodding to his new mentor as the Troll left. Taking a moment, Williams felt the sudden shift within him as he synchronized with the Nexus Point, the rush of ley line energy tantalizingly close, tempting him to drink deeper.

Grinning to himself, he murmured "Later," then turned to help Grease Monkey clean the garage up.

Dash hurtled himself up the stairs, as always ignoring the elevator doors and secretly glad no one even noticed them when he pointed out the stairs to them instead.

That Williams was trustworthy was proven to him beyond a shadow of a doubt. Though he lacked fine-tuning in everyday situations, Dash's sense of others in the middle of combat was beyond reproach, and he knew the young man would be a good addition to the Shop's workforce.

Besides, free slave labor is free, bro! Dash chuckled to himself as he rounded the corner sharply, striding up the stairs with a confident gait, That's what I'm gonna tell Frank! He's a tutor, and hey - I might even get in on the Order bidness m'self. HAH, a troll magicker! Ain't that an idea?

And there, right as he figured they'd be, a mage-assassin stood in the stairwell. This one wore the customary soft, black tunic, leggings, and shoes of their station (he noted with a lecherous grin it was also vaguely female-shaped, nicely thick-hipped with a middling bust), but this one also wore a mask of silver and a black cowl. The mask was of a snarling, somewhat masculine human, though it was hard to tell simply by how exaggerated the snarl was.

He sniffed the air, smelling heavy magics and figured the mask was an enchanted Artifact as well. Chuckling, he also scented something familiar.

"Figured it was you," he grinned toothily, knowing that even an assassin as good as this one would be somewhat cowed by it, "'S why I put the little present on your person. Go ahead and check it."

The assassin slipped a hand into the hem of her tunic, withdrawing one of the stones that Frank employed regularly in his work. Letting it slip to the floor, she resumed her easy, relaxed stance, watching him closely as he picked it up with a chuckle.

"Y'see, it's harder to put stuff ON a person than it is to take it from them, especially with fingers as big as mine," he barked a laugh, "But when you get close to yer enemies, it becomes easy. Well, I won't ask why - that part's obvious. Yer REALLY brainwashed.

Reckon if I knock you around hard enough, it'll rattle that washin' out, yeh?"

Yelling a battle cry, the woman leapt at Dash, catching him with a drop-kick directly to the chest. Sizing her up by taking the kick directly to the chest he grunted, impressed with her physical strength. Rubbing at his pecs under his combat vest, he grumbled, "That hurt!" then roared and delivered his own series of attacks, lashing at her with his rubbery-armed length, his claws narrowly grazing her several times only to be dodged at the last second. Sinking his fingers into the stone-and-concrete walls to either side, he used them to keep his balance as he lifted his legs and lashed out at her with a series of powerful, clawed kicks, the sides of his feet and back of the heels razor-sharp due to his armored scales.

Under pressure, the assassin blocked the kicks by moving in closer and striking at his ankles, the ridge of her gloved hands catching him in the fleshy parts but doing no damage, his strength greater than what she was prepared for. Reaching into her tunic, she gasped as he cut her action off by wrapping his legs around her head, letting go of the wall and driving her to the ground, pinned to the floor by his crotch.

Chuckling, he reached down and twined the edges of his fingers around her neck, careful as he yanked her out and dragged her against the stairs, tearing her tunic up as well as her back. Ignoring her screams of pain (unlike Frank, he did know the difference between a fight and a S&M session), he slammed her against the wall and hrmphed.

"SO! We done here? We gonna do this the easy way or the even easier way? 'Cuz-"

The assassin, lightning-quick, immediately pelted him in the face with a bag of dust. His eyes tearing up, Dash backed up and let go of the assassin, clutching at his throat as he gagged.


Dash staggered, falling to his knees and trying to pant, his breath coming in shorter and shorter as his system shut down. He gazed up as the assassin stood over him, watching him through the darkened eyeslits of the mask as he passed out.


Williams groaned, heading up the stairs to the basement level of the Shop, intent on the prisoner cells-cum-guest rooms, still smarting from the subtle reminder from Monkey that he was supposed to leave the garage.

"The hell you lookin' so happy for, cabrón?! Didn't Dash say get back upstairs? GET THE HELL OUTTA MAH GARAGE, YA DAYDREAMIN' HIJO DE PUTA! Me cago en la madre que te parió, QUE TE JODAN!"

What followed were even more words that Williams was fairly certain were all cursing. Shaking his head, he put the image out of his mind, passing by a strange smell in the stairwell before making his way to the basement level.

Williams frowned as he headed down the long hallway leading to the prison cells, his senses telling him something was wrong before he spied the opened door. Frowning harder he ran back upstairs, wanting to get this information to Dash as soon as possible.

So it was with nothing less than absolute shock when he came across the silver-masked assassin struggling with Dash's unconscious bulk, trying to drag him out the door leading to the Welcome Room only to find him too heavy the closer to the door he got. Spotting the mask, he bit back a gasp.

Though he was only a novice magus-assassin, Williams was more than well-read enough to spot the signs of a High Murder, one of the leader-elite of the Valken assassins. Two days ago, he would have stayed hidden in the shadows, unwilling to test his mettle against one of their ilk. Armed as he was with the power of the Nexus Point, fully synchronized with the energy source, he felt more than willing to come to the rescue of his mentor.

"H-HEY!" Williams shouted, a spell beginning to form around his clawed hands as he rushed towards them. Looking around, the assassin spotted him and flicked a wrist, halting him a foot away from their position with a swiftly-conjured Mage Shield, one far more physical than any he had ever encountered. Even worse, the Shield wasn't anchored to any surface but, rather, floated in mid-air and popping right in front of him, catching him in the midsection as his own velocity slammed him into it.

Doubling over, Williams felt one of his nails catch at the edge of the mask as he flailed around the shield, the breath completely knocked out of him. A small, feminine gasp came from the High Murder as he crumpled to a heap onto the floor, her mask rolling on the floor.

Looking up, his eyes crossing slightly, Williams reached out at her and groaned, "YOU! N-d...don't..." before passing out completely, darkness overtaking him.

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