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  #1    
Old February 1st, 2014 (03:12 PM). Edited February 7th, 2014 by Grif of Hearts.
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Grif of Hearts
Que sera sera~
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: System 32
Nature: Naive
Cross my HEART
Chapter One:
Few Die for Nothing
Halstana? I grew up near the Ivory Loch. I’ll take them there.
- Bernadette Westerveldt

OST: Owner of a Lonely Heart
OOC: And Hope to DIE

The Aestlander land barge was a pitiful machine. Constructed from rusted scrap metal and powered by the most pathetic engine that Bernie had ever seen, it was a cacophony of materials that simply shouldn’t function together. How it could move at all was beyond her. Yet it rumbled on against all expectations, stuttering and coughing as it carried the motley crew of Heart Stealers on their long trek across the Marble Wastes. Back and forth their journeys had gone, rolling across endless expanse of dry, dead earth to find the tiniest backwater town where they would do business. It had done this for days on end and despite any fathomable logic the barge had managed to last this long.

It had genuinely surprised Bernie. The clumsy beast had stopped feeling like a pointless piece of machinery and instead felt like a second home, if a bit of a weathered one. It powered through the wastes better than any newer contraption, eager to please its fleshy, organic pilots like an excitable puppy. Had Bernie just related the Aestlander to a puppy? Gosh, was she starting to get attached to the old thing? Bernie wasn’t sure if she found the idea comforting or revolting but, take it or leave it, it was her new home which she shared with the other Heart Stealers.

The Aestlander had been moving all night in an attempt to make up for lost time and now had Halstana in its sights, not before tearing through a large patch of rotting woodland which had left snow white branches caught in the wheels and wooden fragments lodged in the bodywork. The sound of splintering trees had treated the party to an early wake-up call just as the moon's second rise peaked up over the horizon, giving them enough time to ready themselves for the day ahead. Bernie groaned, leaning against the window and running a finger along a crack in the glass. Her eyes turned to Halstana which sat just off in the distance, only a couple of minutes away down the road they had torn out onto.

What a poor state it had fallen to.

What had once been her home had been reduced to something desolate and decrepit. Bernie remembered Halstana as a stunning locale where the skies were blue, the waters clear and the grass a lush, healthy green. Memories clouded this place though, ones that Bernie would much rather forget. To her Halstana had become a thick grey mess with few redeeming qualities that reminded her of everything she hated. There was nothing special about it, a series of ruined towers and shanty towns surrounding a murky black lake. It was grim, unappealing and all in all uninteresting.

The remaining crew of Heart Stealers, however, would see Halstana in a light unclouded by rotten memories; a sprawling lake town protected by forests and cliffs, almost untouched by the blight of the Darkness. Most of the Old World architecture stood strong and boats hung lazily on the vast waters of the lake. It was peaceful, immune to the trials out of the outside world. Unlike most settlements it didn’t even have a wall giving it an unusually welcoming quality that was uncommon in this age. As it grew closer and closer, their transport speeding down an old stretch of road littered with cracks and bumps, Bernie’s stomach churned.

The land barge passed by a welcome sign that stood beside the road, clearly an Old World creation. It was in good condition, the artwork and writing looking to have been repainted recently but the original name of the town had been removed and replaced. It now said “Welcome to Halstana”. Bernie was almost disappointed that they had cleaned up her brother’s attempts at vandalising the sign all those years ago even if she couldn’t remember a single word of what he had written there. Regardless it was one more thing that was different and so one more thing that Bernie did not like. Already Halstana felt like an entirely different beast and she hadn’t even set foot in it.




Rather than rumbling down the old roads of the town the Aestlander paused outside of the settlement, the lumbering vehicle turning off of the road and parking just beside it. The driver, an aging man with a short grey beard and a wrinkled brow by the name of Valen, turned his head back and peered down the length of the Aestlander. “Streets are too thin for me to drive much further. Sorry.”

Turning her head to him, Bernie smiled. “It’s more than good enough. Thanks for the lift, Valen.

“You’re welcome. Just remember that as much as I love ya’ I am actually getting paid for this.” He smirked and Bernie laughed.

Smiling back, Bernie pulled down the handle of the door leading from the barge and opened it, stepping out into the stretch of empty land outside of town. She breathed in the sharp morning air for the first time today, stretching her legs proper and jumping down onto the floor, her boots making prints in the dusty earth. Bernie stepped out a few paces, turning to face the Aestlander with her hands on her hips and waited for her comrades to join her.

Bernie watched as each one of them made their way out of the barge, slugging their equipment with them. A Heart Stealer rarely left their beds without a rifle in tow. Even Bernie had Argent fastened to the back of her belt, resting on her waist. They were a crew of varied talents although Bernie hadn’t the chance to learn all of them just yet. While she knew of Kallen’s bizarre talents with Thralls and the mysteriously keen eyes of the one who called himself “Delta”, Bernie didn’t quite know them as well as she’d hoped.

The group had been in each other’s presence for a few weeks now, having been put together as a team then. Bernie, however, felt like an invader. She had been reallocated to them just three days ago only because she knew the surrounding area like the back of her hand. Still, it had been seven years since she had last been here and Bernie wasn’t sure how much help she could possibly be. The town would have changed since then, a living organism never content with staying in one form. Now Bernie was the closest she had ever come to a position of leadership and the pressure was building, pushing down on her shoulders. They expected her to know about a settlement that was nothing like how she remembered. How long could Bernie cling to the loose title of team leader in a group she barely knew?

Burying those thoughts as deeply as she could, Bernadette stood before the rag-tag crew with one hand on her hip and the other hand falling lazily by her side. She smiled, an attempt to seem more open and comfortable with the party, but those with keener senses might’ve noticed the slight tremble that crept down her limbs and on one occasion made her shiver. She took in a deep breath as if it were her last, followed by second. Bernie hadn’t had the chance to tell them about the most recent development of the case, information she herself had only learned this very morning and had been saving for the mission reminder. Now they would know. Bernie spoke, clearing her throat.

Our mission today is here in Halstana. As you may recall, twelve associates of the Heart Stealers were found dead here in the last two weeks, each one dying of,” Bernie raised both her hands, using her forefingers and middle fingers to simulate quotation marks. “Mysterious circumstances. We’ve arranged a meeting with Halstana’s sheriff, one Sheryl O’Conner, to dig deeper and see what we can find out concerning the deaths. Recently though there’s been a development in the situation that may prove interesting. Sheriff O’Conner recently discovered a thirteenth body. While at first it was thought it was just another repeat an autopsy revealed that it, uh-”.

She was stuttering and she was starting to hate herself for it. Bernie paused, taking in another mouthful of cold air and tried to still the quiver on her lips. “They did an autopsy on the body… there was no sign of surgery but the victim was completely missing their heart.

I think we can all guess why it’s imperative that we implore further. It’s unique among all of the cases and O’Conner is convinced this isn’t something her staff know how to handle appropriately.

‘Oh, such big words, Bernie. That’ll impress ‘em’ she thought, teasing herself.

If you have any questions then ask as we walk. The faster we get there the better.

Of course, “there” was the Halstana morgue connected directly to the police station, headed by the aforementioned sheriff Sheryl O’Connor. Bernie had never met the woman in person, only exchanging a few brief messages over the Mythem Network, but she seemed pleasant enough to work with and genuinely concerned with the wellbeing of the city. Bernie was interested in meeting her proper. Despite her position in Halstana they were not scheduled to meet her at the police department though, instead at the town centre. Another relic from times gone by it had always been a popular meeting place even in Bernie’s childhood, marked with the largest fountain Bernie had ever seen. She wondered if it still stood.

While her mind wandered, Bernie hadn’t noticed her legs had started moving of their own accord, powering her towards Halstana. She turned her head, checking that her fellow Heart Stealers were in tow. Happy that they were she set her sights on the town, her eyes wandering across the towers that peaked along the skyline. Today was going to be a long day…
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  #2    
Old February 3rd, 2014 (05:54 PM).
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Skymin
part time demon hunter
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: AU
Age: 21
Nature: Quirky
Roran rí Teagh
Chapter One: Few Die for Nothing
Halstana was not a name that was unfamiliar to Roran's ears. In fact, he had heard of its name many times before he had been tasked on this mission. Books, stories and travellers had told him of its untainted 'beauty' and its glorious location. A lake town, surrounded by forests and cliffs untouched by the Darkness. Not yet at least. Roran scoffed when books and travellers commented that its locale meant that it was safe from any attack of any sorts, be it human or not. Safe? Hardly. When it came to the Darkness, nothing was safe. Nothing could be truely protected. Not until the world's slate was wiped clean of all of it.

The trip on the loud and rickety Aestlander had not been something Roran could look back on with a smile, but there certainly was character within this land barge. Roran had made the most of the time on the land barge, creating stratergies in his head, practising his use of Essence and sparring with Almira when she wasn't moaning and complaining. He had to be in the best possible shape, no matter how 'safe' of a place they were heading or how 'easy' of a mission they were given. The Darkness were ruthless and unforgiving, and Roran had no choice but to be the same.

There was a shout and Roran was on his feet, looking over the edge of the Aestlander to spot Halstana dangerously close in the distance. He frowned at the landscape, hardly the 'lucious greens' and the 'dazzling blues' the stories had told him, the town seemed to have a grey wash poured over it. Perhaps today was a bad day to view Halstana from a distance but no matter, Roran wasn't here to sightsee.

The barge stopped after its long trip, the driver (Valen as he had introduced himself as prior) letting them off to walk the rest of the way. Roran stepped off after his team leader, running his fingers through his hair and letting the lake winds do the rest. He was glad to be on solid ground and hoped that he would remain that way for some time. Not that he wanted to spend a whole lot of time in Holstana, but only that the Aestlander seemed to make his legs wobble when the ground beneath him was not jerky and unstable. The rest of their crew made their way out, Bernadette Westerveldt staring back at them with her hand on her hip. As soon as Almira had exited the Aestlander, Roran took his place next to her, leaning in close to her as to mutter something to her as Bernadette started to speak.

"She's nervous. Look at her eyes. And her mouth."

The brief was not much of new information, just odd tidbits which Roran was confirming for himself. Only the last part, the part about the missing heart, was something he hadn't heard before. Roran was about to comment that a missing heart could have meant that they replaced it with Essence, like he and Almira had done, but surely they would have mentioned that. Could they tell if what was stolen was a biological heart or an Essence one? That might be something that Roran wanted to mention later.

When Bernadette finished up, asking for questions and started to walk, Roran kept his mouth closed and let his feet do the talking, preferring to ask Bernadette personally later. He exchanged a look with Almira, hoping that she had some kind of idea as well of what might have happened. She had more of a ... creative mind then Roran could ever hope for.
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  #3    
Old February 3rd, 2014 (07:06 PM).
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<Challenger>
One lean, green, fighting machine
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: East Coast, USA (Represent!)
Age: 17
Gender: Male
Nature: Jolly
Genesis Hunter
Chapter One:
Few Die For Nothing

The road was long, dusty, and hot...Perfect weather for Genesis Hunter. The rickety, old Aestlander wasn't exactly a beautiful ship, but she got places better than most of those new-fangled contraptions that the world is droning on about. He personally don't see the use of making everything shiny and sleek...but you know...People kinda do that these days.

Genesis sat by the window, staring out at the bleak Marble Wastes. A God-forsaken place... Very few thoughts ran through the soldier's head, and that's just the way he likes it. Halstanta...A beautiful name...I think I might have to come back here and visit when this is all said and done. Hunter had heard very little of Halstanta in the past, but what he had heard labeled it as a green, lush garden of a town. Hopefully the man wouldn't be disappointed.

Genesis stared out the dirty glass window with a wistful stare, eyeing all of the travelers, landmarks, and landscapes. It must be great, not having to deal with all this...this...this ****. They all look so careless...They have no idea what their precious power source is doing to the world...It has to be stopped. He drained the bottle of water in his gloved hand and tossed the waste into the trashcan across the room. He wasn't quite sure where the rest of the Heart Stealers were during the voyage, and quite frankly he didn't care. All he needed were some Corrupts to demolish.

They were nearing the location. Hunter could tell. Excellent...The action starts soon. I'd hate to miss this! He made sure no one was around and let out a short, almost maniacal laugh. Of all the things Genesis had in his gear, sanity may, or may not, be among the items. I can wait to bash some Corrupted skulls in! The slender stick-of-a-man stood up and began to move towards the assembly area.

Genesis arrived midway through the captain...No...leader?...No...Screw it! Bernadette's speech. He already knew the majority of what she was saying, but it was always good to have a refresher course. Yes, yes. I know the drill...Don't break everything and be careful. We don't know the enemy here. Genesis had the uncanny ability to absolutely destroy things when he wasn't being careful. The gloves on his fist were wonderful tools and weapons, but they were dangerous beyond all belief in the hands HA! Pun! of the untrained. Thankfully, Genesis knew how to use them with minimal damage to the environment around them.

The crew began to move out. Hunter made sure that he was near the back of the procession. Solitude was one of the few things that the man appreciated, other than destroying Corrupts, tossing heavy things, and the few Heart Stealers that he could actually stand. We have quite a ragtag group here...I don't trust half of these guys... He eyed all of the various mercs and soldiers. He reached up and ruffled his light brown hair, feeling a bit uncomfortable around the larger group of people. It'll be a wonder if we all make it out alive.
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  #4    
Old February 4th, 2014 (02:02 PM). Edited February 6th, 2014 by Lord Sephear.
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Lord Sephear
Hello Ladies!
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Nevada...ugh
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed
Gerard, Kallen and Δ

Chapter One: Few Die for Nothing
Blink. Blink. Yawn. Yet more loud cranking and groaning from the Aestlandr assured Gerard couldn't give into his laziness and drift away again. He stretched, bumping his overly long legs into the edge of the cramped bunk and pushing his head into the wall. He stood up and started to walk out to the deck without paying any attention to anybody else in the nearby bunks. "So another day on this hunk of junk that seems to have given me Stockholm Syndrome, are we ever going to get to Halstana?" he muttered to himself.

Gerard's exit to the more open area of the tiny barge was interrupted, keeping him from actually going out and caring about who else was up and about. "You talk in your sleep." It was Kallen, playing on her phone in one of the bunks.

"Oh do I?" Gerard turned to the teenager and inquired. "What, pray tell, do I say?"

"You were eating a sandwich bigger than your head." Gerard immediately looked to where he was sleeping, and thankfully did not find a chewed pillow.

"I wish I could remember, sounds like a great dream. I can't say I notice what you do when you sleep, I'm too busy trying to sleep myself." His own sentence gave him pause. "Come to think of it, why did you notice I talk in my sleep? I hope I'm not too loud, I don't want anyone bothering me about my sleeping."

"Saying something out of place makes you easier to notice." Kallen's pointing out the obvious was only separated from a new subject in which she proved her point by her putting her phone away. "Delta's in the bathroom. Want to scare him when he comes out?"

"Can he even get scared? Sometimes he reminds me of a robot...I guess it's worth a try, something to scare off the boredom of this pygmy land-whale they call a barge. What do you have in mind?" He looked to Kallen for an answer, and her eyes started glowing blue.

Δ made sure that the bathroom was secure before he had hid himself away from the rest of the Heart Stealers. It seemed like the perfect place to hide; after all, who would suspect a bathroom break as a top secret call to the Gamayun Institute? He slipped out the thin pane of glass he called a phone, dialing his employer. “Δ, do you have anything to report?” a digital voice asked him.

Δ scanned the puny and surprisingly sanitary looking room once more just to be safe. “Yes sir, we are nearing Halstana to investigate a series of unusual deaths, personally I think there’s more than meets the eye here. I’ll keep an eye out, just in case there may be a lead to—” Δ paused at the sound of the door slightly shaking. He nudged the door a little and noticed no weight on the other side. Figuring it was just the wind, Δ continued. "I apologize, for a moment I thought someone was eavesdropping. As I was saying, though. If there's any signs of Σ, I will keep you informed." The digital voice did not respond, it merely hung up.

Δ slid the glass pane phone back into a pocket located on the inside of his suit jacket, proceeding to head towards the previously shaking door. He was met by a pitch-black humanoid, practically dripping ooze and matching his height. A thrall. Δ shouted a curse and ripped out his handgun, proceeding to unload several shots into the monstrosity. Only once it disappeared in a thick black mist did he stop pulling the trigger, realizing he had done more damage to the door than the creature. He heard giggling and snickering outside the now perforated exit.

"And here I was, thinking you were some kind of robot."

The crunching and uprooting of who knows how many rotted trees got Gerard to take a real look at the scenery. "Well look at that Kallen. Unless there was a scheduled stop in lakeside paradise I think we might be just about there." He called out to the girl, wondering if she wasn't too busy staring at something else to hear him. She was. She had her gaze firmly set on Halstana already as Bernie started to talk to the group. What she actually had going on in her head, Gerard didn't want to guess.

By now Δ's anger had faded away. Maybe it was the scenery, or perhaps it was just time in general that allowed him to regain his level-headedness. He would need it if his suspicions were correct, but it was too soon to be sure. He watched on as Bernie addressed the group, but when she mentioned that a new victim had their heart removed, furthering his theory that the culprit could be Σ. If anything, it sounded similar to a Promethean. The only part that sounded unusual was the fact that there were no signs of extraction or intrusion, which definitely presented a flaw to his idea. Δ shifted his attention to the other members, particularly to the two troublemakers from earlier.

Gerard watched the pleasant looking town he assumed to be Halstana drawing closer, he had been about to ask Kallen something but he stopped when it sounded like the Aestlander was coming to a stop of its own. His brow furrowed and his expression became serious, all of a sudden he didn't really feel like talking anymore. While Bernie spoke with Valen, the Aestlander's driver, Gerard hefted Esmerelda from where he'd left it at his feet and strapped the sheath tightly to his back before making sure Umbra and Lucis were secure. He then woke up a little girl named Ashley, a preteen who'd been left in Gerard's care by her aging uncle. When Bernie led them all off the barge he followed silently with his weapons and the girl in tow, still deep in thought as the latter looked at the scenery.

Kallen, in the meantime, followed along with her focus on the idea that Δ wouldn't have hesitated to shoot them full of holes if it was more than a thrall that caught him off-guard. Who was he talking to, anyway?
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  #5    
Old February 5th, 2014 (12:27 AM). Edited February 5th, 2014 by The Last Sentinel.
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The Last Sentinel
Beginning Tracker
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Journeying in an unknown land
Gender: Male
Nature: Docile
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Everette Berendt and Aaron Austin
Chapter One: Few Die for Nothing
“Are we actually gonna get something done?” -Everette Berendt
“Only if ya smile!” -Aaron Austin


“Halstana, huh?” Asked Everette rhetorically as he stared out the Aestlander’s cracked window. After the four years of service to the Heart Stealers, visiting places like this never seemed to get old, even if the pair had been there before. It was definitely one of the perks of being a part of group. There was adventure seemingly around every corner as long as you can deal with it. “Remember the last time we were here?” He smirked at the other man. It had already been three years since their last visit and to say the least, it wasn’t one anybody would tend to forget.

“How could I forget?!” Aaron said excitedly, his voice loud as usual. The last time they came to Halstana they were helping it maintain it’s good reputation of being untouched by Darkness. While they--thankfully--didn’t make it this far into town, he wouldn’t forget their almost-setting. “That was the most fun I’d had since The Academy!” As members of the Noble Battalion, they were guaranteed to encounter the onslaught of enemy attempts to tear down their great homes. Encounter them, not necessarily fight them. It seemed that most threats that came towards the Wall--Sliggs, Sliggoths, and the occasional lone Thrall--could be easily taken out by the archers and their powerful arrows or done away with by the entrance guards. From time to time there was a formidable foe, but being so fresh out of The Academy both Aaron and Everette were still considered rookies and left out of most (that is to say, all) of the fun stuff. The most exciting thing they got to participate in was whether or not to let a distressed peddler into the gates. Still, even that event died down quickly after the Thralls caught up. Remembering those days, Aaron didn’t regret joining the Heart Stealers. He’d never forget the feeling of excitement that stayed in him even long after he’d washed away the witch’s blood and Thrall ooze three years ago. “Think it’ll happen again?” Aaron asked with an ear-to-ear grin.

“I’m not sure yet to be honest,” he said thoughtfully. “Something big must’ve caused these deaths. Why else would they bring in this many Stealers? We’re not exactly signed up for kitchen duty.” He gave a small laugh at the thought. Two highly trained soldiers cooking meals for people? Not very probable.The conversation came to a halt as the landbarge stopped in its tracks just outside of the town. “Looks like it’s our queue to find out,” he said with a smile before taking the lead. This better be good, he thought to himself.

Outside of the barge, Aaron was all too happy at the sight of Halstana. The clear water and lush forests tempted him; the cliffs made him want to try out his own version of the extreme sports of the old days. There weren’t a lot of places like Halstana anymore. In their travels, they were lucky to see a few, but none as pretty or as prosperous as this one. It reminded him of seniors in Malekat who would tell stories about fresh breezes everywhere and plains which rolled like the oceans. If the older generation had seen places like Halstana (somewhere he was lucky enough to see a second time) then it wasn’t too long when sights like these were all too common. Did places like these still look pretty to the people who saw them every day? He thought no. Aaron had heard too many confessions of regret.

There wasn’t enough time in the world to take in all of Halstana, even less to explore it all. Bernadette, or Bernie, as Aaron was apt to call her, made his “take in time” even shorter by starting her briefing. And boy, was it interesting. He knew about the death of the Heart Stealers, that little information was exciting enough, but the extra mystery was enough to get Aaron grinning wider than he was when reminiscing old times. This was starting to sound like an adventure and he wanted to be in on it. Heck, the group already seemed to be moving.

“Hear that, Vie?” Aaron asked, not even attempting to hold down his excitement. “Maybe we can have the chest dusted for fingerprints!” He said, nudging Everette with his elbow.

“Still with that Vie thing?” Everette asked with a look. In all honesty, it’s not like he disliked the name. It’s just wasn’t something Aaron said in public. “From the looks of it,” he continued, not giving his partner the time to respond, “we may have to. Do you think that would actually work though? The removal wasn’t done through traditional means. There may not be prints to find.”

“Could it have been something to do with the Essence? It seems like the only possible way. The biggest question is how could thirteen Heart Stealers be disposed of so easily? No one even knew the thirteenth member existed ‘til they found his body.”

“Well I reckon they had some practice, don’t ya think?” Aaron answered with nod. “Think about it! All we do is fight the Darkness and all they do is fight us! Someone’s gotta be an expert by now, ya’know?” Aaron waved his hand in the air dismissively. “Besides! Who cares anyways? Imagine finding this guy! Now won’t that be a story to tell?”

“It depends on what could happen though.” It wasn’t like Everette was worried about what could happen. He was fully confident with his and Aaron’s skills, it was the others’ he was worried. “Either way, we’re here to get to the bottom of this. At least focus a little if you can. I’ve told you a million times it’s not about the stories and the jokes.”

“When have I ever been ‘unfocused’?” Aaron asked, bringing his hands up and making air quotes around unfocused. “And what do you mean it’s not about the stories and jokes? No one will believe you without a good story! And what’s the point of livin’ if you can’t have any fun?” Aaron walked along with Everette silently, displaying his guard dog focus that his friend had the gall to imply didn’t exist. They didn’t make it ten steps before he jumped in front of Everette, hands open and grin wide. He looked like he just had a ground-breaking realization. “Okay, get this!” He began, walking backwards as he talked. “We’re solving a mystery, right? So what does that make us? Sherlock and Watson? Bonnie and Clyde? Chip and Dale?”

The older Stealer sighed as he looked at his backwards-moving friend. “You’re only proving my point with this” he pointed out as they kept pace with the rest of the group. “Anyways, Bonnie and Clyde were criminals, not detectives. Also, if we’re talking about detectives, I’m pretty positive that you’d be more of the Scooby-Doo type. I’d probably say I fit the Freddy-type. Don’t ya think?”

“Freddy? Flintstone?”

“Just… Just keep walking Austin.”
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  #6    
Old February 8th, 2014 (02:29 PM). Edited February 10th, 2014 by Geras32.
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Geras32
Slightly less of a noob
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Age: 18
Gender: Male
Nature: Serious
Meredith Taylor
Chapter one: Few Die For Nothing

Ugh, I’m so nervous I feel like I’m going to die. Meredith sat under a blanket on her cot staring at her phone. She wore her bracelets because otherwise that stupid mist would escape the confines of the blanket and make her very noticeable, and she didn’t want to be noticed. At least not by these Heart Stealers. They were all skilled and experienced killing machines who probably relished the chance to chop some Thrall heads or something, maybe zap them with lightning. For the most part she’d managed to avoid contact with them since she was put on their team, but yesterday she’d made the mistake of looking one in the eye and it sent chills down her spine.

Why was she even on the same mission as them when she hadn’t even seen any creatures of the darkness up close? Sure she’d seen pictures and heard stories, but Maas’ walls were strong enough to spare her from actually encountering any of them, and she was pretty sure the occasional Sligg she saw outside the window didn't count. Ah, Maas. She missed her home, her peaceful life. It was a different world where hard work led to a nice, comfortable, and most importantly, safe life. Here working harder only meant faster corruption or death. Unfortunately, it was the only option if she wanted to stay in the Stealers’ good books. Upsetting them sounded like a very, very bad idea.

The Aestlander jumped and shook constantly, making it hard for her to properly scroll down the page on her phone. She groaned, as she was having enough trouble already trying to figure out ionic bonds. Why did her Essence have to be so complicated? It took weeks upon weeks to just figure out how to make almost-steel. She was told understanding chemistry would help her master other materials faster but it was just too hard. Why couldn’t she just have something simple like firebreathing or flying? That would be cool.

Frustrated, she closed the page on bonds and opened her notes on anatomy. She felt it was more interesting and was enchanted by the thought of all the things she might be able to do if she learned enough. Maybe her abilities could have healing applications, or make extra limbs. Having more arms would certainly be useful. Ooh, what if she could make wings? Unfortunately, there was a good deal of chemistry involved in it too so she couldn’t practice anything yet, but she figured she could learn that later and then put it all together.

There wasn’t much time to get any more studying done though because the Aestlander came to a sudden stop. Oh no, we’re here aren’t we? Indeed they were. Meredith slowly lifted her blanket to see that all the other Stealers were heading for the land barge’s exit. They were of all different shapes and sizes, they all kinda scared her. Reluctantly, she followed them, trailing behind the rest. If any saw her they'd know immediately that she was incredibly nervous, so she dissipated her bracelets, restoring the mist around her to hide herself. Once she was out of the blanket she would be noticed anyway, cloud or not. Realizing how combat ready everyone else looked, she thought about trying to conjure a weapon of her own, but not only would it take too long, but the cloud would become smaller and she couldn’t make anything exactly impressive and whatever she made might not even work. Instead she just went back to get her 9mm. At least it was something.

Everyone else was already standing in together in front of the girl called Bernadette, who was new and apparently their leader for the mission. She wasn’t much older than Meredith herself, but was still able to take charge like that. It should have been inspiring. For a moment Meredith pictured herself in Bernadette’s shoes. Her palms would be sweaty, her legs shaking, maybe a stutter. It would be because of the work, not because of the leadership. Any shortcomings on her part would stand out that much more though. She noticed that her palms were sweaty right now, actually. For once she was thankful for her Essence cloud.

The briefing was stuff Meredith already knew, and she expected there to be a catch to it. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to think of it. All there was left to do now was follow along. It was at this time that Meredith finally decided to actually look at Halstana. The blackish water reminded her of her own water from the mist cloud. It was actually a beautiful city. Of course, she wasn’t sure she wanted to live in a city without walls, but it was pretty nonetheless. Seeing new places was probably going to be one of the better perks of this job.
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Old February 11th, 2014 (11:04 AM). Edited February 28th, 2014 by Grif of Hearts.
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Grif of Hearts
Que sera sera~
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: System 32
Nature: Naive
Bernadette Westerveldt
& Kallen Brandt

Chapter One:
Few Die for Nothing

Guided by the soft glow of the street lights, casting the town of Halstana in a state of pleasant twilight, Bernadette led the party into the lake town and then through its many streets and alleys with a sense of direction that surprised even her. It had been years since she had been in Halstana. It should be an endless maze of unfamiliar roads and strange buildings. However, despite her expectations everything was exactly where it should be. Other than the unnatural state of darkness that lingered over Halstana, something which not only affected them but also the entire Risa Eist, the town was almost identical to how she remembered it. Every shop, home, empty cobblestone street and lamppost was rooted firmly to the ground where Bernie had left it. It put a smile on her face and brought her some comfort, if only briefly.

They swiftly made their way to the town centre. A few of the more enthusiastic town dwellers had dragged themselves out of bed and begun their daily business but for the most part it was quiet and empty. The party of Heart Stealers had quite easily doubled the number of people about by simply stepping towards the centre of the open plaza. A few shops stood around selling various bits and pieces including a café and a butchers shop but as far as their goal was concerned? Little of it seemed of interest. A large fountain stood in the centre of the plaza, shooting a small stream of water into the sky which splashed back into the shallow pool of water below. As far as Bernie knew that fountain was as old as the town itself.

Bernie was more concerned with the location of O’Connor though, a woman who Bernie couldn’t see amongst the small trickle of people. She stood on the tips of her toes, peering around, but as empty as the plaza was she couldn't see a thing. Granted, Bernie hadn’t a clue what O’Connor even looked like. She expected a wide brimmed hat, spurs and a horse but she knew that would be too cliché to be true. Pulling back the sleeve of her jacket she glanced at her watch, surprised to find that they were actually early for their meeting. So Bernie, after running a slender finger along the hip-high wall of the fountain to test if it was wet, sat herself down on it as comfortably as she could and waited patiently.

She soon found herself sitting next to Kallen, who had placed herself on the stone wall as well for a rest. Bernie turned and smiled briefly, if awkwardly, before she went back to twiddling her thumbs and sighing heavily, quite unsure how to initiate anything with her fellow Heart Stealer. Had her leadership role really reduced her to such a social wreck?

"Are you alright?" Kallen asked her, startling her out of her stupor.

Bernie glanced up from staring at her hands and contemplated whether or not to be entirely honest with the girl beside her. She decided against it. "... Yeah. Yes, I'm fine, thanks," she replied.

"If there's something wrong, you can tell me."

"Trust me. It's nothing too serious. I'm just not all that used to telling people what we're supposed to be doing, that’s all. It'll pass." Once again she smiled. Kallen could still tell the girl felt uneasy, though, even if she tried to hide it. ‘I hope,’ she thought, rather glad they hadn’t a single telepath in the party.

The two sunk back into silence soon after, lasting a few awkward moments that Bernadette rather hadn’t happened. She toyed with one of her harpoons for a while, running the sharp edge under her nails to clean them, before setting it back down in its clip. Bernie struggled to find something to occupy her time, whether it be talking with Kallen or not, instead putting her efforts into trying to lean backwards over the fountain without falling into the shallow pool behind her. Bernie checked her watch again and again, seeing that only a couple of minutes passed by each time. She cleared her throat, swallowing her anxiety and finally speaking again. "Hey, Kallen?"

"What is it?" Kallen turned to her with a smile on her face.

"I was just wondering a few things. You don't seem like the usual kind of person to get wrapped up with the Heart Stealers. Most of us here don't seem to fit the cut that well either, I'll give you that, but if I had met you in any other situation I would have never guessed you were involved with us. Sorry if I'm prying but I have a feeling there's some story to that. I was wondering if you’d mind telling it?"

Kallen didn't respond at first, instead lifting a rifle off her back, like saying "I'll show you." A dial protruded from the wooden stock and three small, circular glasses popped up on the barrel, acting like a scope. Holding the trigger in her right hand, Kallen measured her opposite arm along the barrel and the gun started to shift. It split itself in two, rolling over Kallen's arms and hovering less than an inch off her skin. Metal panels slid out from the gun, covering her arms and shoulders entirely in a floating, fractured shell of metal. A pair of washboard-faced engines broke out of the metal on her shoulders, looking like a jetpack and covering half of Kallen's back. Another, much smaller version formed from the armor on each of Kallen's wrists, and the gun's barrel reappeared on her right hand, scope and all.

"My parents are researchers, but I can't sit still in a lab. I came out and helped by fighting instead. So, what about you?"

Bernie responded in kind, her hand reaching to her belt and unclipping Argent, pulling it around in front of her and holding the vaguely rectangular shape with both hands. With a slip of her finger she hit a small switch causing the weapon to extend, rose coloured panels with a brilliant silver trim sliding out from the main body and forming a long rifle about the length of Bernie's own leg. It hummed gently, small lights across the weapon flickering to life. She brought the cylindrical clip up to the side of Argent, pushing it into place with a sharp click. The moment she did so the tip of a sharp spear jutted out from the barrel of the weapon, small blades lining the head to make it resemble a harpoon. Bernie ran her finger along it, nearly breaking skin in the process.

Didn’t build it myself, unfortunately, but Argent’s still my baby,” replied Bernadette, petting the rifle affectionately. “I lived with my brother for as long as I can remember. He always wanted to join the Scarlet Guard when he grew up but then we lost him. I suppose I joined in his place. I spent six years with them and one day I just upped sticks and left. Unfortunately six years with the Guard doesn’t leave you with many skills that don’t involve killing Thralls. The Heart Stealers were my only real choice from there.” The two Heart Stealers disabled their weapons moments later, civilians passing by giving the two armed girls odd looks. They laughed.

"That's a way better reason than mine."

"I joined when they offered to pay me," a voice interrupted. A figure stood before the two of them, holding out a hand with a smirk twisted across her thin lips. "O'Conner, at your service," she added, pulling off her sunglasses with her free hand and slipping them into her pocket.

"You win," Kallen giggled.

Bernie took the sheriff’s hand, allowing herself to be pulled up from her perch and then shaking the limb in front of her with great enthusiasm. “A pleasure to finally meet you.

“And you,” the sheriff replied, her hand slipping from Bernie’s vice-like grip and falling back to her side.

O’Connor was a tall woman at 5’10, thick black hair spilling down half of that length and armed with a pair of deceptively elegant golden eyes that peered out from behind stray locks. A messy scar ran down her cheek, marring the otherwise clear olive skin. As Heart Stealers though, most of the party would have noticed the metal bands which spun around her limbs and waist and chest, connected by pistons and wires which all led back to the mechanical “spine” which ran along her own. With the machination fully active and purring softly, O’Connor looked far more imposing than she ever could of without it. She clearly spared no expense in her work. An exo-skeleton was, even at its most basic, difficult to maintain. She had a look of confidence about her reserved for those in a position of great authority, augmented by her rugged apparel and the rather large knife fastened to her leather boot. Bernie hadn’t expected anything less from a sheriff.

“This all of you?”

Bernie nodded.

“Well then, let’s get moving. Crimes ain’t gonna solve themselves.”

O’Connor led them through the streets once more, dragging the party onwards with far more presence and determination than Bernie could muster. She almost felt jealous of the woman, striding through the streets as if she owned them. Considering she embodied the law of this town in many ways she did. Bernie was almost jealous of how easily she led the group, pointing out the occasional house on the way to the morgue that had been the site of some of the recent murders.

“So, what d’ya need to know? Thirteen deaths over the last thirteen days, each one a Heart Stealer either stationed here on business or a benefactor living here permanently. Low level types that won’t draw much attention so far. Each one just seemed to die too, their entire body just stopping. Excluding the one we found earlier this morning we haven’t been able to determine a cause of death.”

“We really have no idea how these people are dying. We don’t have a link between the deaths, we don’t have a cause and we don’t have any suspects.” O’Connor shrugged. “Good luck.”
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Old February 12th, 2014 (03:29 PM).
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Lord Sephear
Hello Ladies!
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Nevada...ugh
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed

Gerard Karrol and Ashley Cross



Walking through the pleasant waterfront town felt fairly surreal for Gerard, maybe he was a pessimist but he just had a hard time grasping that any place could feel so...untouched by the rest of the world they now lived in. He followed Bernie as silently as he'd been, besides all the other nonsense scenarios and questions on the people who were killed ran through his head incessantly.

He was so deep in thought he momentarily forgot about the bundle of energy he had over his back; he patted Ashley on her head to get her attention. "How are you feeling, sleepy head?"

The little girl couldn't muster much. She half-heartedly mumbled something about fire-breathing butterflies, and she'd gone back to sleep.

Gerard kept walking with the assurance that he didn't have to worry about the little girl just then and took a better look around them. The people of Halstana all in all seemed like they knew a thing or two about surviving, almost everything was well put together and the bystanders who stopped to stare at the Heart Stealers seemed curious instead of scared. He got the feeling that they were only noticed at all because an entire procession of heavily armed people that aren't any official force stick out anywhere.

He was glad when they stopped, hopefully it meant they were close to their destination. When everyone stopped Bernie sat down on a fairly big fountain and started to look pretty worried. Gerard almost went over, he was no bright ray of sunshine but Ashley would definitely cheer just about anyone up, but he need not bother.

Not much worried rumination went on before Kallen sat down with Bernie and they started to talk. He couldn't hold in a small smile at how much she seemed to perk up just at having anyone to talk to. Good, saves me the trouble, she's got it covered. He was still trying to convince himself he didn't care about anyone's feelings, but it could be worse, at least he wasn't picking fights.

He didn't wander off while they all waited like some of the other Heart Stealers may have, he just stared at the sky until the conversation at the fountain was interrupted and it finally sounded like it was time to get going. When he adjusted himself to watch O'Connor's introduction he was surprised to see such a striking woman was the tough sheriff of Halstana. Her equipment, however, from the powerful and versatile exoskeleton to the large knife and her rough style of dress it was clear she was up to her job.

Thankfully the Sheriff didn't waste much time with idle chit chat, Gerard straightened his back and made sure Ashley was secure on his back before following. O'Connor led them through the streets quickly and efficiently, pointing out a few scenes of some of the murderers and such on the way. When the Sheriff gave them what little information there was Gerard shrugged, right after she said "Good luck" something struck him, and he decided to ask the whole group of Heart Stealers at once.

"So which one of us should be the first one looking at the bodies? Because to be honest right now I feel like a piece of brainless muscle, I'm no idiot, but I'm not particularly scientifically minded either."

"It's not like we're short of bodies. You won't be crowding around one, I can promise you that," replied O'Connor. "Honestly if it were up to me I'd bring in some specialists but apparently this is the job for a group of mismatched Heart Stealers. I can't complain. I'm not sure what they teach you die hards but scouts like you seem to know trouble like that back of your hands. This should be your element."

"Yeah I suppose we'll make due. There must be some good reason we got called in." He shrugged and decided to just wait till they went in to look at the bodies, he didn't have any other questions that wouldn't probably just sound stupid when he finally asked.
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Old February 13th, 2014 (03:02 PM).
Classical Insect
Fight 'til you win.
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Nature: Timid
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Almira Koury
Chapter One: Fash--What is she wearing?!
Sunlight brought back memories of Carth, of happiness, and there wasn't sunlight to be found on Aestlander. Afraid that the dust and dirt mixture that caked everything from the seats, to the cots would ruin her dress Almira almost stood up the entire time. Almira was honestly too busy complaining about this and that (mainly how her all clothes hadn't fit in her sack) to acknowledge the presence of others. "Halstana is beautiful," was all she ever heard, did they want to know what was beautiful, the vintage name brand dresses from the Old World that were releasing today! Yet here Almira was on a disgusting metal death trap doing some god awful mission.

It wasn't that Almira had something against doing missions for the Heart Stealers, defeating the Darkness always brought a pep to her step. Missing out on a once in a life chance, which has happened repeatedly, was what really set her off. If she could blame one person in particular, who would that be? Rory, Rory, and RORY. He always insisted that they go on the next mission and the next and the next, like, it was going to be "the one." The one to defeat the Darkness once and for all that is. It never was, the Darkness is too strong, too widespread, there wasn't enough Heart Stealers. Those excuses (that was a word Rory used a lot) didn't work on him; he was much too serious.

At last they had left the death machine and ventured outside where everyone but Almira seemed a little off put about anyone outside their group inside the entire group. She took her spot at Rory side, they were hardly ever separated, this led to people more than not assuming they were a couple. Sometimes Almira would go along with it, pretending they were newly married, an older lady gave her a pair of earring as a wedding gift, tacky earrings but it was thoughtful.

Rory was consistently the first out of the two of them to assess the situation in a more solemn manner, "She's nervous. Look at her eyes. And her mouth."

Almira's hand covered her own mouth, but not for the reasons Rory had mentioned, "Look at her clothes!" The assemble was just so... bland! The words that came out of the girl's mouth hadn't been strong enough to pierce Almira's shock. She never paid much attention anyhow that was what Rory was for. Most of the Heart Stealers were suffering from the same travesty, boring wardrobes, nothing that was flashy.

Almira looked down at her own choice, thinking back this morning when she had decided on it. Her dress was purple, well, technically the color was cobalt violet deep. Different from most dresses the material started further up her neck and extended down and across her shoulders, almost like shoulder pads. Seeing as there was then a fashionable gap beneath both of them, which showed some skin, but the material had continued on from the neck downward. The top half of it was sequined while the bottom half gave off more of a metallic vibe. The two halves were split by a giant ribbon that fell right above just above her hips. The whole thing ended right above her knees (she left the train of the dress off this time), and looked absolutely flawless. Her most prized possession hung around her neck, five stars made from different stones, all a light gold but the shades varied just a little from stone to stone. She wore boots, as Rory had said heels today, just regular black boots... that were covered in glittered.

One of the others did however catch her eye, his taste for clothing was far superior to those around him, especially the guy he was talking to. She had to get to know him, anyone who had those kind of taste in this group was bound to a good time. Looping her arm into Rory's (it was an easier way to drag him along) Almira headed toward the guy without alerting Rory to what she planned to do. She heard them speaking of flints and stones before she began to speak.

"This is Rory, I'm Almira, I love this design," Almira said as she gave the man's clothes another once over before putting out her hand, though not in a way that he was supposed to shake it, more like a princess waiting for the right person to kiss it.
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Old February 18th, 2014 (10:50 PM).
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Kikpanther
Not a beginner that's for sure
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Louisiana
Gender: Female
Nature: Calm
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AREA 4

Chapter 1: Few Die for Fashion (What a Shame)


"Thank you, I thought of it myself!" Aaron chimed in, gleefully slipping in front of Everette and taking Almira's hand. "Don't mind this guy," he said through his teeth, gesturing to Everette--who was already shaking his head--as discretely as possible. "I've been trying to coach him for years but it just won't get through his head." Aaron shrugged his shoulders and shook his head in disappointment, still shaking Almira's hand all the while. "You look pretty schnazzy yourself," he commented, putting his other hand casually into his pocket.

"Just stop," Everette interrupted, his eyes resting on his friend's still-shaking hand. "Sorry about him. He gets a little...Caught in the moment. He goes by Austin, although some people tend to give him nicknames of their own."

"This is Vie!" Aaron gestured to his friend again, this time with a grin. "People tend to call him Vie. I--" He stopped in the middle of his words, got a confused look, and looked over at his friend. "What am I supposed to be stopping?"

"Shaking her hand." He answered with a smirk. "And it's Everette by the way, Everette Berendt. Anyways, now that we have that figured out, it's nice to meet you two."

"Roran." Roran corrected Almira, after he finally could get a word in. "My name is Roran. Roran rí Teagh. It's a pleasure to meet you as well. I apologize that we couldn't get to properly meet earlier."

"Nice to meet you, Rory!" Aaron finally pulled his hand from Almira's and took Roran's. Roran gave a groan, but didn't press on the matter. "And don't worry about any of that! I'm patient!"

"Thanks," Almira said, replying to the compliment and responded with a giggle to the hand shaking bit. After Almira was given her hand back she gave Aaron more than the slight glance she had done before. Aaron was clearly the one with the better personality, but Everette, or Vie, or whatever he was called had the stunning clothing. How could she compare the two and come out with a victor? She wasn't sure which one to pay attention to more so she split her attention equally between the two gentlemen, "You see I was supposed to go to this grand vintage fashion show, buy a few dresses that had been saved from the Old World." If there was a knack that Almira could claim it was always bringing the conversation back to her.

Paying no attention to the fact that Rory had introduced himself to Roran was another knack. "Rory, here," Almira threw a look his way then continued, "decided we should be here, what about you two?"

"Well, we actually had just finished another mission before this one and to say the least, it hadn't gone over so well. We were supposed to be looking for a new team but then this offer came up." With a small gesture towards his younger partner (who happened to still be shaking Roran's hand), Everette continued. "As he likes to put it, we came for the excitement and to a slightly lesser extent, Halstana's Signature Candy Shoppe." With a smile at the thought, Everette focused his gaze more on Almira then he had before.

"You know, you don't really look like the kind of girl who would be dragged to someplace like this," he said to the attractive woman. "You seem to have more fight in you than that. Why not drag him to the show?"

"I did not drag her here." Roran turned to her, frowning at Almira, pulling out of Aaron's grip. "You wanted to see Halstana!"

"I do love the flattery," Almira tucked a loose strain of hair behind her ear. Everette was being so... nice. Boys were her ultimate weakness, well, and of course a stunning, avant garde dress. Nice boys, mean boys, tall boys, and especially rich boys. Ignoring Rory's thrown in comments she spoke again, "But, Rory gets a little cranky when things don't go his way, so I decided to be nice and go on this mission, which to be honest I have no clue what we're doing."

"I'm not sure anybody really does to be honest," he said before looking at the rest of the Heart Stealers. "Everyone's been so distrustful in this group. It's like they aren't a team, so any thought of information passing through to the next person just seems crazy." Almira nodded in agreement, quite frankly she had stopped paying attention after his first sentence when she saw how handsome he was.

"I think we're doing some sleuther stuff, if you ask me." Aaron's eyes shifted from left to right as if to scan the area and he leaned in, bringing up his hand to shield his mouth from any wandering eyes. "You know, dusting for prints, searching for clues, interrogating suspects," he began with a lowered voice, "Real top-notch Inspector Gadget stuff." Aaron lowered his hand and nodded knowingly. "I think it's going to be pretty fun," he said out loud this time, grinning.

"Really?" Almira faked a yawn, "how boring." The only type of missions she really wanted to go on was ones were they actually fought the Darkness instead of figuring out how the Darkness was attacking sanctuaries. That's the sole reason why she had Essence implanted inside her, investigating was best left to lackies not high-ranking members or seasoned veterans Heart Stealers. "I was really hoping to use these," she drew her weaponry that was held in place on her back with lightning fast reflexes yet the way in which she did it was extremely flamboyant. The blades were gold instead of the usual silver and had swirls of metal down the hilt. She put the rapiers away and somehow just noticed Aaron's rather tall weapon that looked quite deadly.

"Cooooool, what is that?" Almira pointed at the weapon, she was the last person to be any type of weapon's expert as that was more of Rory's field.

Excitement lit up in Aaron's eyes when Almira showed her weapon. It was indeed a beautifully crafted weapon and with her skill (which he was sure she had by the way she pulled out his weapon (you know, other than the whole Heart Stealers thing)) it would not prove to be only graceful, but deadly as well. He could already imagine the excitement in a battle with or along side her. Thinking about hers made him more than happy to show his.

Aaron reached behind him and pulled out his weapon, holding it firmly in front of him. "It's a polearm!" He answered cheerfully. "It's not so unique, but," he smiled fondly, "it is one of a kind." He gave it an appreciative look before perking up again. "And look! It can do this!" Aaron pressed a small button in the center of the staff and in a blink both bladed ends of his weapon extended out, ready for use. He twirled the tall weapon in his hand for a bit of fun and when he stopped the well-polished, silver blades shined in the sunlight. It was true, what he said. Other than its make and sleek design, Aaron's weapon didn't stand out much from any other. Its most unique features were twin eagles engraved in gold on each blade. At the joint between the pole and one of the blades a deep red sash was attached to the weapon. Though stained from battle, the crest of Malekat could still be seen.

"This mission won't be close to boring! Can't you see it now? Once we're done being Private I's, we'll find the bad guy and have the best fight since forever! If he's done this well then maybe he's got something fun for us, ya'know?" Aarons grin was big, it was obvious he enjoyed the prospect of fighting. "With Vie's tonfa's, your blades, my polearm, and Rory's uh... Weapon we'll have the time of our lives!" Aaron paused. "What do you have anyways, Rory?" Aaron asked, retracting the ends of his staff and replacing it to its spot on his back.

"Roran." He corrected him, but pulled his sword from its sheath. The blade had spines that traveled from the hilt to the tip. It was a faded red with writing down the sword (or perhaps just scribbles that looked cool). The sword had a certain age towards it, but that didn't make it any less powerful. On his back, Roran pulled off his shield with his family crest blazed across it. Though he wasn't a big shield user, it was there for emergencies. "A sword and shield. Nothing too exciting." He let them have a good look before putting them back where they came from.

"Very nice," Everette remarked as he watched everyone else show off their elegant weapons (something he enjoyed watching). "I would show you guys too, but it looks like its time to move on." Continuing, he gestured towards the rest of the Heart Stealers. "It looks like the Sheriff finally showed up."

"Huh?" Aaron looked behind him where his friend gestured and nearly jumped at the sight of O'Connor. Eyes wide he clamped his hand onto Everette's wrist. "We have to go. Now." It was almost too late. If they didn't leave at that moment they would never make it to the candy store in time! "Come on!" Aaron took off towards the candy store, slowed down by Everette's weight, but not at all reluctant to drag him along. He was rarely ever this determined.

Everette was barely able to get out of his friend's grasp before being brought into the Candy Shoppe. "Almira! We'll be right behind you guys," he called, "watch out for us! Or at least me!"

A puzzled look was on Almira's face as she watched Eve being dragged away by Aaron. She responded to Eve's parting statement with a friendly wave and smile, "Uh, goodbye! See you soon?" Roran added his own goodbyes, turning back to Almira. She wasn't sure where they were going, most likely because at that point in the conversation Almira had stopped paying attention. Once more she linked arms with Rory and pulled them in closer to hear the Sheriff's announcement.
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Old March 1st, 2014 (08:21 PM).
Grif of Hearts's Avatar
Grif of Hearts
Que sera sera~
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: System 32
Nature: Naive
Bernadette Westerveldt
Chapter One:
Few Die for Nothing
For a place in which dead bodies were stored, preserved and autopsied, Halstana’s morgue was not particularly interesting. A small, square building made of black glass panes and grey concrete with only two floors, nestled between a pair of other buildings which dwarfed the morgue in size. Despite what Bernie had expected it came with no stench of death, no sense of terror and, despite being completely unmarked with nothing to distinguish it from a small office block, it even lacked the air of mystery which Bernie considered to be the bare minimum. Old stories had spoiled her, she thought, disappointed by absence of a thespian performance.

She turned her head to O’Connor and then back to the building. The Sheriff raised an eyebrow, moving towards the entrance and pushing open the door. She held it there with her foot, watching Bernie as the other woman kept her eyes firmly on the exterior of the building, analysing it like a hawk. “It’s not going to get up and walk away unless you say the magic words too,” she gibed, a wide smile across her face.

Is this the place?” asked Bernie, ignoring the comment. The Sheriff nodded, turned and headed inside, leading the group into the morgue. Bernie followed soon after, toes close to the older woman’s heels.

The interior of the building looked a little more typical than the outside, something which Bernie was glad of. A small lobby with white and grey surfaces, two doors leading off from the main room and into other parts of the building, and a small desk nestled in the corner of the lobby. There was a tiny potted plant in the other corner that had wilted and turned brown, an irony that Bernadette wasn’t entirely sure she appreciated.

A man sat behind the desk wearing a white coat and with thick framed glasses resting on the ridge of his nose. His hair was short and black but had started to thin, the beginnings of a bald spot forming at his hair’s whorl. He tapped away at the keyboard of a small computer, only pausing to scribble a few notes on the paper pad beside him with an old biro pen. He barely even noticed the group when they arrived, greeting the sheriff with the slightest nod but taking a few moments to acknowledge that she had company. It quickly twisted into a scowl when the group of Heart Stealers in her tow flooded into the room, clearly uncomfortable with such a horde of people invading what he considered to be his personal space.

“Relax, Al. They’re the Heart Stealers we’ve been expecting,” said O’Connor.

“A bunch of kids, you mean? You just as well as I do that we need to bring in professiona-”

“And I’ve gotten word that these folks can take care of it. I don’t recommend telling a group of well trained, heavily armed Darkness-hunters what they can and can’t do, Al. Not if you value your limbs.” Once again, O’Connor grinned. It seemed to be done more out of spite than amusement this time. “Be a doll and take us there, would you?”

Al was clearly not pleased with the exchange, shooting O’Connor a look designed to kill a man. He never spoke a word in response but still let out an audible (and very irritable) sigh. Al returned to his computer, punching in a few keys and mouse clicks before he delved into his pocket, pulling out a ring of keys. He moved over towards the door to the party’s left and unlocked it, pushing the door open with a soft creak, revealing a new room which curved off to the right. He walked onwards, leading the group off into the complex. Al never said a word.

Tipping her hat to Al as thanks, O’Connor and the group followed suit. “Al’s the head pathologist and diener here. If you didn’t guess he’s not too happy to have strangers poking around his stuff. He’s an ass but he’s harmless, really,” whispered the sheriff to the rest of the group, just out of Al’s earshot.

It doesn’t show,’ thought Bernie.

They made their way into a long hallway with several doors turning off from it, each of them unlabelled and each of them locked. Al led them further, carrying on until they came to a large glass window with a door next to it. Like the door before it this one was locked, an obstacle which Al also had a solution to. He produced the same set of keys from his pocket and, after fumbling around with them for a moment, unlocked it and led the group in.

Inside storage units lined the walls to the left and the right, about fifteen of them on either side. Small metal doors covered them, five across and three high, all of which were locked. Each one was tagged with a piece of paper. While most of these pieces of paper were blank, thirteen of them had details of the contents of the storage units inside. Names, dates of birth and death, and genders. A fourth category existed, “cause of death”, although on each one these were left blank. There were several metal counters settled in the centre of the room, each one equipped with medical tools to perform whatever kind of experiments took their fancy. There was a sharp chill in the air, just below five degrees Celsius, with the soft sounds of air cooling systems humming in the background.

Al was the first to step inside although he simply stood by the door, holding it open and allowing the others inside. O’Connor walked in after him, keeping her eyes firmly locked on the units to her right. She scanned them quickly, looking for a name written down on one of the tags, and when she found it she proclaimed so with an “Ah ha!”

Unlocking the door to the storage unit, O’Connor opened it and beckoned the group over. “Aamar Long,” she explained. “Thirty eight years old, information specialist for the Heart Stealers. Focused on recording the movements of the Darkness until his untimely death, trying to find any kind of pattern. Long was the victim we found with no heart,” she continued to the group, pulling out a tray which slid half way out of the storage unit.

Atop it rested a white cloth covering a vaguely humanoid shape, now easy for the group to see. It lay still. O’Connor pulled back the sheet slowly to the man’s waist, revealing the snow-white figure that lay beneath. Long had been dead for four hours and only preserved for three but storage had frosted his flesh quickly, leaving his skin pale and his flesh incredibly cold to the touch. Long looked as if he had been here for over a week.

He was a tall man, medium length black hair falling from his head and a pair of deep brown eyes staring outwards, empty and lifeless. However his appearance was not what concerned Bernie who had since crept up to look for herself. What was once a large gash ran along his chest, since sewn up neatly and tightly but the reddy-brown smudges of dried blood made it incredibly easy to see. It was the last remnants of the autopsy, proving that the man was indeed missing his heart completely.

“Anything else catching your eye?” asked O’Connor, looking to Bernie in some vain hope that she might be able to pick up something that her and Al had missed.

Bernie felt at a loss though. Dead bodies were not her speciality and she hadn’t a clue what she was supposed to be looking for.

That was when the body of Aamar Long began to spasm.

The corpse began to shudder, limbs failing and mouth moving, although no words pushed passed Long’s lips. O’Connor, instinctively, tried to hold the corpse down, although its movements were strong and she struggled to stop it. The body of Long continued to move, the chilled body rattling against the unstable metal platform it rested upon. Bernie attempted to help, trying to hold down the body’s arm, but it still moved its legs and its face twitched uncontrollably.

Long stopped moving just as quickly as he started, returning to his state of rigor mortis. O’Connor released pressure from the man’s arm, taking a step backwards. Her voice caught in her throat.

What the hell was that?” yelled Bernie, filling in for the Sheriff.

The sheriff had no answers. “Long had no heart. He was dead!”

She moved back to the body, examining it for further clues. O’Connor checked for wounds along the chest, ribs, back, and neck but she found nothing. The head showed no signs of trauma, the body was untouched, previous blood and stomach samples had shown no signs of toxins, and even the most delicate of essence readers showed up completely negative. Long was definitely dead.

When O’Connor went to check the deceased Heart Stealer’s pulse on his neck she felt something rake across her own, razor sharp blades like knives digging into flesh and slicing through cartilage. O’Connor gasped, or at least tried to, but instead her breath turned to choking as blood began to trickle down her throat. She fell backwards, landing on her back with a hand desperately clutching her fresh wound. The sheriff coughed and spluttered, struggling to breathe, but she felt as if it only made her condition worse. Yet she continued to hack up blood, wheezing and gasping for breath.

From the platform where Long once lay, O’Connor could see the glint of a midnight black limb held straight up, fingertips soaked red where they had left a gash across her neck. It was connected to the body of what she had once thought to be the corpse of Aamar Long but was now shrouded in a thick black fog, fingers tipped with sharp scythe-like claws, and a pale blue light seeping from the arm’s veins. It was twisted, fingers broken and thick tendrils of black seeping from the limb, but it was a lethal weapon sharpened and honed to a point. Long turned his head towards O’Connor, his lips warping into a grin before his entire body was enveloped by darkness.

Then Long tried to stand.
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  #12    
Old March 10th, 2014 (06:29 PM).
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Lord Sephear
Hello Ladies!
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Nevada...ugh
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed

A Fisherwoman, Captain Falcon, a dude with weird eyes and a Triangle.
And a partridge in a pear treeeeee~



In what seemed like an instant the group autopsy turned into chaos. The corpse that had been Aamar Long transitioned into a thrall right before their eyes and cut down O'Connor faster than anyone could react. Gerard would have been on the Thrall as fast as he could cleave Esmerelda through it, but before he could even draw his blade he caught a glimpse of some sort of weapon in his peripheral vision. It was Delta’s pistol being whipped out of its holster, and within the same motion of the weapon being drawn, a shot was fired. The thrall dropped dead instantly, a bullet placed squarely between the eyes.

Gerard unsheathed Esmerelda and pulled a small vial out of a pouch. As unpleasant as this is I hope it works on something of this scale... Gerard gritted his teeth and drew Esmerelda across his wrist hard and fast before holding the cut open with two fingers and guiding the blood into the vial. "Somebody hold the sheriff still for me!"

Bernie was the first to respond to his beckon although even she was sickened by the swift turn of events. Settling her breath she pushed through the small crowd of Heart Stealers and collapsed beside the sheriff, falling to her knees and following Gerard's instructions as best she could. She moved O'Connor's hands away from the wound, replacing them with her own. Crimson fluid slipped through her fingers but it was a far better seal than the sheriff was managing by herself. "What now?" yelled Bernie, her limbs shaking and every word trembling from her lips.

Sheriff O'Connor shot both of them a look, eyes wide with fear although unable to voice it. She tried to breath as best she could, occasionally managed to swallow down a breath before she coughed and spluttered again. O'Connor's hand clasped around Bernie's wrist, helping her hold it in place.

"Now for the weird part, I don't completely understand it but here goes," Gerard replied, not really any less nervous than Bernie despite how little it showed. "O'Connor, if you can still think clearly I need you to drink this, it's not exactly orthodox but it's the only thing I can think of that might help something like this right now." He held the vial above her face, hoping both that it would work and that she would listen.

The small vial of scarlet liquid was tipped down her throat, her lips parted just enough to allow it. O'Connor barely noticed it, the metallic tang of her own blood already overwhelming her taste buds. She did her best to swallow what she could, a mix of Gerard's blood and her own.

At first, panic set in. All Gerard's blood seemed to achieve was to sicken her. It did nothing to stop the bleeding and the longer she sat the worse her condition became. Struggling to breath, O'Connor's vision began to blur and her muscles quickly began to tire, her skin turned as white snow. O'Connor hacked again, spitting blood, and in one vain attempt she tried to gulp in another mouthful of air.

She succeeded.

Just one breath was enough. O'Connor took in a second breath, deeper this time, finding the blood had drained from her throat and no longer held back the taste of the sweet air. Bernie, who still had her hands clamped over the older's woman's neck, felt the bleeding stop and watched in both amazement and delight as the sheriff finally managed to breathe again. Smiling, Bernie slowly pulled her hands away from the wound. It had sealed, a messy repair of deep scabs and torn flesh, but at least it was no longer bleeding. When O'Connor let out another heavy cough the wound started to trickle blood again, but Bernie managed to hold the fresh tear closed while it clotted naturally.

"It worked..." muttered Bernie, still inspecting the older woman's wound. "Whatever you did. It actually worked!"

"Glad I could actually be useful." Gerard added with a sigh of relief.

Her delight was brought to a swift end though as Gerard and Bernie noticed the banging sounds coming from the rest of the room. The sounds were traced to the cold storage chambers, the place where the corpses were stored. Once Gerard and Bernie's attention were drawn to the noise, they realized that the chambers were starting to shake. A heavy thud, thud, thud, coming from each of the storage units, slowly growing faster and more violent. A deep, guttural scream was let out from within the storage unit, followed by another. The lock on one of the units creaked and snapped, the door slowly opening as the being within forced it open. Kallen moved to hold it shut, as did Delta as a second lock snapped and its door swung open, trying to keep in whatever was trying to break out. It was not enough though, the other ten units breaking open and revealing thick, ooze-covered humanoids within, rising from their tables and almost throwing themselves out of their confinement, quickly climbing to their feet and swarming the group of Heart Stealers.
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  #13    
Old March 12th, 2014 (12:31 PM). Edited March 12th, 2014 by Nakuzami.
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Nakuzami
The Savior
Community Supporter
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Luxerion
Age: 16
Gender: Female
Nature: Jolly
♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡❦♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡
Ophelia Olette Young
The Technosiren


Ian James Clorman
The Ice Wraith


"Few Die With Knowledge or Beauty Like Ours"
Halstana



Ophelia had been following the group silently for most of the trip to the morgue, and Ian had been following her in a similar manner. At first Halstana seemed to be a boringly quiet place, which was a lovely change of pace, but it soon erupted into the dark madness that Ophelia and Ian were used to.

Once they had entered the Halstana morgue, Sheriff O'Connor had explained what little they knew about the thirteen murders. A few moments later, her throat had been slit open and a thrall had been created. The trip was going to be exciting after all!

Ophelia had immediately tensed when the thrall awoke, but she didn't react and attack the thrall. Her scientific interest had been piqued, so she had opted to observe the thrall for a moment. Sadly, it was almost immediately dispatched by another Heartstealer, Delta. Right after that, yet another Hearstealer by the name of Gerard healed the Sheriff with some sort of blood voodoo.

Ophelia sighed. Dead people turning into thralls. Was that a thing? And how could something without a heart have its heart controlled by darkness? She wasn't sure. Despite all the years fighting and studying creatures of the darkness, she still knew relatively little about them. She no doubt had more knowledge than many other Heartstealers, but she still didn't have all of the answers.

And she hated not having all of the answers.

She started to take a step forward, about to state her wishes to examine the body, when suddenly the room was filled with the sounds of the dead rising. Ophelia blinked. "What is this, the zombie apocalypse?" she asked as thralls began to break free from their places within the morgue.

She reached into her tool belt and pulled out a small green rod. She pressed her finger to a trigger on its side and it quickly expanded into a large staff, crackling with electricity as it did so. "C'mon Ian, let's get rid of these things," she said, sounding more bored than worried. She waited a moment for Ian to respond, and when he didn't sure turned to look at him. "Is now really the time for that?"

"Honey, there's always time to admire oneself in the mirror," he responded as he adjusted his hair, paying no attention to the creatures beginning to surround them.

Ophelia raised an eyebrow. She was used to this, but Ian's behavior still confused her. "If you don't protect your face, there won't be much left to look at in a few moments," she warned.

Ian sighed, pocketing his mirror. "Whatever you say." He pulled out his own sword, not bothering to activate his armor or shield.

The two stood back-to-back, calmly watching the ten thralls that had emerged from within the storage units. Normally ten thralls in such close quarters would be a decent threat, but the Heartstealers had just as many on their side. "Fire and ice on three?" Ophelia asked Ian.

"Sounds good," Ian responded, lowering himself into a more battle-ready stance. "One . . ."

"Two . . ."

"Three!" Ian raised his left hand and loosed a blast of frigid air that enveloped and froze the thrall directly in front of him. At the same moment, Ophelia raised her pistol and shot a fireball at the thrall closest to herself. They then both launched themselves forward, Ian slashing at the frozen thrall with his sword and Ophelia slamming her staff into the thrall that she had just sent on fire, sending a powerful current of electricity through it.

The frozen thrall had been cut and half and then shattered by Ian's blow, and the flaming thrall had dropped to the floor, dead.

"That wasn't even a warm-up," Ophelia stated, sounding a little disappointed.

"There's still eight more, plus the two still locked up, you know," Ian reminded her.

"I know, but I think the others deserve a little fun too." Ophelia paused, thinking. "Granted, that wasn't fun, but still."

The two turned to the other Heartstealers, observing how their own conflicts were going.
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  #14    
Old March 27th, 2014 (10:44 AM).
Lord Sephear's Avatar
Lord Sephear
Hello Ladies!
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Nevada...ugh
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed

Chapter One: Cleanup Duty

Despite the efforts made by the Heart Stealers the thralls never ceased in their attack, clawing and biting any that they could cling on to. Fear had never stopped them before and, even if the Heart Stealers had a clear advantage, it wouldn’t stop them here. Bernie wasn’t sure why she had hoped it would keep the thralls back or even why the thought had crossed her mind in the first place but she quickly shook the idea from her mind. Maybe it was a vain wish that she could get more time to tend to O’Connor’s wounds or maybe it was the bizarre instances in which this attack had taken place… After all, one of these thralls had stood up and it didn’t even have a heart, something that shouldn't be possible and shook the very foundations of what we knew about the Dark Presence. This attack was, by its very nature, bizarre and completely impossible. That didn't make these thralls much tougher though as Delta had swiftly killed it, planting a single bullet between its eyes.

The thrall's body crashed back down afterwards, falling off of the metal counter and onto the floor with a squelch, leaking a turquoise liquid from its wound. Blood, or whatever had replaced it in the thralls.

And yet all of this was definitely happening. Bernie could see it unravel before her very eyes. Ophelia and Ian had joined the fighting too, utilising the extremes of heat and cold to slay the creatures of darkness that threatened (and at the end of it all, Ian's hair was still in perfect condition) This proved that, at the very least, these Heart Stealers knew enough to keep themselves safe from the most basic threats.

But their efforts alone would not be enough. Bernie drew her own weapon, her hand falling to her hips and unclipping the metal device from her belt. She held it and, copying the actions that she had performed to Kallen perfectly not fifteen minutes prior, brought Argent up to eye height and waited for the components of the rifle to click into place. Her hand moved to her belt again, gripping a harpoon clip and snapping it into place along the side of the rifle as the contraption took shape, now fully functioning. Bernie aimed Argent carefully, looking for a thrall that was not too close to her allies for fear of hitting them accidentally. She located one, peered down the iron sights of Argent, and squeezed the trigger tightly.

With a shattering amount of recoil the barrel exploded with essence, propelling a huge spear through the air at an incredible speed, the projectile spinning as it flew. It grazed past the neck of a thrall that stumbled backwards into Bernie's field of view, cutting the creature but thankfully letting the harpoon carry on its course towards her true target. The harpoon pierced straight through the chest of the furthest thrall, striking with enough force that it carried with monster back with it. The thrall flew backwards, pinned against the wall as the spear-head lodged itself into the concrete. The thrall's feet couldn't touch the ground and, while it struggled for a little while to free itself, the wounds proved too much for it to bear. It fell silent.

It was good that guns at least seemed to be enough to kill the thralls because Gerard just wasn't comfortable with leaving Bernie and O'Connor to hack them to pieces. Sentimentality aside he'd be damned if he'd let a bit of carelessness leave a chance for a thrall to finish off the wounded sheriff and render his efforts pointless. One swift motion with each hand drew Umbra and Lucis to bare on one of the thralls heading towards their little triage zone. Essence pooled in the air at the end of Lucis' barrel and was sucked in before a shot rang out and the thrall crashed to the ground. Gerard grinned at the large hole the shot had torn in the thrall's knee and used it's newfound stillness to fire another essence-charged shot through it's head.

It figures the first scrap of this mission would happen somewhere too cramped for me to really let loose, stupid Dark Presence and endless slew of enigmatic surprises... He wiped the new scowl off of his face to smile at Bernie. "Nice shot, I gotta admit it's a real sight to see Argent in action."

Bernie glanced at Gerard, the corner of her lips curling up into a smirk. She was surprised that her skills were getting compliments but she was certainly not going to turn them down. "My baby never disappoints," she said, feeling the soft click of Argent as a second harpoon was loaded into the firing chamber. "You're not too bad yourself."

She fired a second shot, or at least tried to. Bernie's arm jerked to the side at the last moment and threw her aim completely off. The harpoon went wide, spiralling off to her left, grinding against a wall and eventually clattering against the cold floor of the morgue. Bernie cursed, pushing herself up into a standing position as another harpoon was loaded into the weapon. The harpoon still looked intact though, meaning it was still usable, but she would kick herself for such a terrible shot when this was over.

The shot redeemed itself somewhat when a thrall, stumbling almost aimlessly around the room, stepped on the projectile and slipped over on it, its face colliding with the morgue wall.

Kallen, her gun covering her arms as a pair of rocket-powered gloves for the second time that day, had backed away from the chamber she was keeping shut once others had started killing. As the thrall inside reared its ugly head, it met Kallen face to fist, dying as quickly as the others did. She turned on the momentum, grabbing and throwing a second thrall toward the rest of the group.

With such a juicy target sailing right to them Gerard almost felt as if his prayers had been answered. He unsheathed Esmerelda with a sound more pure and comforting that any cherubim for him and caught the thrall on the blade's tip, easily impaling it and slamming it into the floor. "Aww how sweet of you to deliver one to me like that! And here I was moping and thinking Esmerelda wouldn't see any action today." His expression darkened a bit before he pulled forward on Esmerelda, splitting the thrall from it's chest to it's head.

Delta watched on as his comrades disposed of a portion of the thrall horde, though the rumbling of the thrall in the chamber behind him was quickly grabbing his attention. A quick flick of the wrist had Delta draw his knife and slam it into the rumbling chamber. The knife quivered for a few moments, but quickly stilled. Delta turned his attention to the remaining thralls, all while removing and sheathing his knife.

Three thralls approached Delta, but he was unphased. As they neared him in an oddly organized semi-circular formation, he readied his pistol. Delta’s finger slowly gripped the trigger, enveloping it in his gentle caress as if it were a woman. He threw his arm in a large arcing motion, firmly squeezing the trigger. A single shot echoed from the handgun’s barrel, bending as it flew. Each thrall dropped in quick succession as the single bullet curved in a matching arc as their formation. Delta looked at his allies, pistol-whipping a thrall that had managed to continue its attack on him. "Anyone wanna mop up those two?"
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  #15    
Old April 6th, 2014 (12:15 PM).
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Grif of Hearts
Que sera sera~
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: System 32
Nature: Naive
Bernadette Westerveldt
Chapter One:
Few Die for Nothing
Not one to leave her teammate waiting, Bernie responded to Delta’s question before he had even asked it. Her hand released Argent, dropping the rifle to the floor with the typical clatter of metal against metal, and her hands moved quickly to her belt and unfastened an entire magazine of harpoons in the blink of an eye. Her hands fiddled with the container, drawing a single harpoon from the magazine before clipping the cylinder back to her belt as quickly as she removed it. The harpoon itself was two feet long, more like a shortspear than a projectile, and that was exactly how Bernie liked it. She held it tightly in a reverse grip and slowly made her way towards the two remaining thralls. The heels of her boots clapped against the ground as she moved closer, echoed by the heavier and clumsier footsteps of the thralls.

The thrall moaned and groaned as it stumbled closer. It paused only to look for something to use as a weapon. It scrambled for one of Bernie’s old harpoons, holding it clumsily in one hand. It lost it when Bernie pulled her own hand back and threw her harpoon like a dart, piercing through the thrall’s arm and forcing it to drop its own weapon. While it tried to pull the projectile from its arm it struggled and ultimately abandoned the idea, instead baring its teeth and claws, readying to strike. It lunged forwards just a moment after, throwing itself at Bernadette.

Whenever Bernadette heard stories of the undead, mythological creatures that were corpses brought back from the dead, she couldn’t help but be reminded of thralls. As vicious as they were brainless. These thralls though were almost the opposite; thralls that reminded her of the living dead. Any connection to the undead genuinely unsettled Bernie and she was glad to see that it had been put down. Thralls, as disturbed as they were, needed a living human host in order to function. On their own thralls did not scare Bernie but, as little as she liked to admit it, the idea of a walking corpse did.

What made it was worse was that, even if Amar Long’s thrall had been killed as quickly as any other thrall, Bernadette had no idea what it might have been capable of if it had managed to fight back. Even the other thralls that had had been declared dead had their hearts intact. Thralls needed a heart just as ordinary human beings did and yet somehow this one didn’t. Everything about these thralls was just wrong. Amar Long shouldn’t have moved at all.

Bernie glanced back to O’Connor to check if she were okay. By now, O’Connor had pulled herself back up onto her feet, resting her back against the wall. Her hand rubbed the wounded part of her neck, which was the majority, her face screwing up in pain every time she did so. Still, she seemed to have healed surprisingly well, and Bernie breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the sheriff was in good health. Bernadette was amazed by how quickly her flesh had knitted itself back together, left as little more than scar tissue and scabbing. Whatever Gerard had done it had probably saved the sheriff’s life.

In her quiet contemplation, Bernie took a fist to the face the moment she turned back to face the thrall. Shrouded in darkness and as tough as iron, Bernadette recoiled as it struck her. She spat, turning her head back to the thrall with a devilish grin. “I’ve had worse hits from a sligg,” teased the Heart Stealer.

Bernadette reacted before the thrall could move again. Her right foot pulled up, knee close to her chest, only to be thrust outwards with great force. The sharp heel of her boot shot at an upwards angle and collided with the creature’s jaw. The results were immediately noticeable. There was a sharp and almost sickening crack as its bones broke, the thrall’s jaw now hanging loosely from its skull, but that wasn’t enough to stop it. The same leg pulled back and thrust out again, never touching the floor, this time crashing into the thrall’s chest and forcing it backwards. Still it came at her, lunging once more. Bernie ducked, sliding underneath the creature’s arms and grasping the harpoon that was lodged in its arm. She pulled it out with a single tug and held it just as she had the first time. Bernie grabbed the thrall by the neck with only one hand and plunged the harpoon into the back of its skull, pulling it back out and letting the creature collapse on the floor.

The second thrall attacked shortly after. Bernadette responded just in time and ducked out of the way of its strike with only a slight tear on her jacket to show for her luck. It was still close enough to surprise the woman. Her arm which held the harpoon thrusted backwards quickly and the sharp head of the object pierced through the thrall’s rib cage, shattering its heart with a single blow. The thrall struggled and the faint blue glow in its chest faded quickly. Its claws slashed through the air in desperation, trying to land another attack before it succumbed to its injuries, but when the young Heart Stealer turned on her heel to finish it the thrall was already on the ground, barely moving. She lifted her foot and brought it down, crushing the thrall’s skull with her boot with a sickening crack. Bernie pushed the thrall over onto its back and pulled the harpoon out from its chest, now coated in bluish blood.

All fell silent for the first time since they had arrived. ““Is everyone alright?” Bernie asked, glancing around the room. Everyone looked perfectly sound; even O’Connor was up and moving, grasping Argent off of the ground and handing it to Bernie along with the pair of loose harpoons that had Bernie had shot wild a few moments earlier.

"Well, that was pretty sexy." Gerard let out with a chuckle while Bernie's adrenaline rush finally slowed down. One of his favorite things about being in the Heart Stealers was seeing women who could kick ass. It was almost depressing how heavily cemented typical gender roles were in the sheltered cities, it was nice to be part of a group that switched it up.

Bernie almost threw back a sarcastic quip but the words caught in her throat when she realised the group was missing one individual. Quickly, Bernadette scanned the room. She looked and looked again but she couldn’t see them. For a moment she feared that the thralls had gotten them but, even among the wrecked state the Heart Stealers had left the room in, Bernie could tell he wasn’t among the bodies.

“Where’s Al?” asked O’Connor, finally voicing one of many questions that Bernie had come up with since their arrival.

The sheriff moved to check through the bodies, grimacing, but Bernie stopped her. “He’s not there,” she said. “The last time I saw him was before you were attacked. Maybe he panicked and ran out?

“Always was a wuss,[/COLOR]” the sheriff joked. Her voice sounded a little raspier than it had done previously and Bernie noticed she winced as she spoke. Clearly she still needed time to heal.

Should we move the bodies or-

O’Connor interrupted. “Leave ‘em. The staff’ll clean up this mess once we’re done. I doubt the bodies’ll be of much use in the investigation now anyway, especially after you lot littered them with bullet holes.”

Bernie could have sworn she had just seen the slightest smile creep up on O’Connor’s face although she hid it well. The young Heart Stealer nodded, pulling a half empty magazine from her belt and sliding the expended harpoons back into it. Thankfully all of them were in pristine condition which meant she didn’t need to replace a single one. Happily she placed Argent and the magazine back onto her belt and walked towards the door of the morgue, a slight spring in her step. As fragile as those thralls were the whole event had given her an uncomfortable feeling and she was overjoyed to finally be allowed out of the morgue.

But when Bernadette turned the handle of the only door out of the room it wouldn’t budge. She tried harder, putting some of her weight into it, but it still wouldn’t move an inch. Her thoughts turn to panic and confusion, trying to force the door open. Nothing happened. “I think it’s locked,” Bernie complained, trying again but to no avail. She pulled Argent back out, raising it and firing it roughly where the lock would be. The harpoon didn’t even dent the metal, instead just leaving a large crack along the head of the projectile. That had ruined it.

Gerard hefted Esmerelda when Argent's harpoons proved innefective on the door, there was no way the door would be hard enough to crack the viridian blade. But he was interrupted by someone with a much better idea.

O’Connor brought her presence to light again, clearing her throat and gently pushing Bernie out of the way of the door. Bernie could hear a slight ticking coming from the woman, followed by a series of colourful lights that flickered across O’Connor’s exposed mechanical exoskeleton. As moments passed it began to cackle with energy, pistons moving as more lights flared up across it. It sounded almost like a jet engine whirring to life, ready to take off. O’Connor tested her mechanical exoskeleton before she did anything else, flexing her fingers and the mechanical components of her gauntlet that moved with her. When she tried to open the door herself, O’Connor snapped the handle cleanly off and looked as if she hadn’t put any effort into it at all. She laughed, tossing it to the floor and taking a stance that made her look more prepared to do battle than break them out of a morgue.

The entire door flew off only seconds later, torn completely off of its hinges. It slammed into the wall on the other side of the hallway with a great crash, loud enough to wake the dead if they hadn’t already been woken and littered with rockets, harpoons, and blades. O’Connor pulled her fist back, gently brushing the recently dented knuckle-guard with her other hand. That’ll buff right out, the sheriff thought, as her hands moved back down to rest on her hips.

“It’s not just for show,” she joked, looking over her shoulder.

O’Connor would have continued to joke about her equipment if her concentration hadn’t been broken by a loud, guttural scream from off in the distance. The lights in the complex flickered off, accompanied by a second scream from what sounded to be a different voice. The second call did not sound like one of fear though, instead filled with malice. It wasn’t a scream so much as a laugh. When the lights turned back on, O’Connor had already started to run, sprinting down the hallway as fast as humanly possible towards the source of the noise, pushed even further by the sheer power of her mechanical exoskeleton.

“That sounded like the pathologist,” Bernie gasped, following in O’Connor’s footsteps as fast as she possibly could.

"Dammit!" Gerard spit out, among other curses when O'Connor was so quick to go down the hallway ahead of them. He couldn't keep up with an exoskeleton like O'Connor's but the frustrated Heart Stealer did manage to work his longer legs hard enough to get ahead of Bernie. "If somebody's going to charge headfirst into what might be another set of waiting lethal claws it should really be me. I can't blame the Sheriff, that's why she's the Sheriff but please stay behind me for my own piece of mind, if this is a trap you'll see why." It was only then that it occurred to Gerard that his actual abilities apparently weren't on his dossier, they made it seem like he was just some psychotic swordsman.
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Old April 18th, 2014 (10:20 PM).
Geras32's Avatar
Geras32
Slightly less of a noob
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Age: 18
Gender: Male
Nature: Serious
Meredith Taylor

The sounds of battle raged around her as Meredith tried to make sense of the situation. The sheriff, protector of the city, had been killed almost instantly. Dead bodies were coming back to life and attacking them. And Meredith seemed to be the only one even slightly rattled by the whole thing. Yup, they’re all totally crazy… Meredith’s eyes darted from thrall to falling thrall, figuring that the other Heart Stealers had everything perfectly under control without her. At least, until she heard the awful clattering sound of a shaking chamber near her. It wasn’t too close to her, but close enough to put her on edge.

No need to worry, one of the dozen or so super-soldiers in the room would get it, right? However, the chamber continued to rumble uninhibited. Meredith would swear she could feel her heart beating faster if she still had one. Come on, what are you people waiting for! Kill it! It didn’t matter that there was a roomful of other thralls that needed slaying, it was this one that concerned her. She couldn’t risk that thing getting out any longer. If it had gone unattended for that long, who knew how much longer they’d leave it. It had probably only been that way for a few seconds, but for Meredith it felt like hours listening to that incessant, threatening rattle.

The cloud around Meredith began to shrink as a portion of it shifted and accumulated between her hands. She didn’t care about being noticed anymore, she just wanted that one thrall dead. Her mind ran through the process of building her construct piece by piece, but it was difficult trying to focus with the damn rattling in her ears, much less the gunshots and thudding bodies. Yet by some miracle, Meredith managed to successfully form a small, loaded pistol in her hands. Not wasting any time, she pointed it straight to the yet-unopened chamber and took a deep breath before firing. Click. Nothing happened. Damn it, did I mess up the powder in the bullet again?

Meredith grit her teeth and took a few steps back from the chamber. She furiously began to slam her palm into the bottom of her gun, more times than necessary, as she repeated tap, rack, bang, as she was taught in the hopes that maybe it was just that one bullet that had gone wrong. However, just as she moved to rack the slide, a knife flew into the chamber. The rattling slowed as the knife quivered, and finally it stopped moving. Meredith found herself staring at the knife, frozen with her hand tightly on the pistol slide and a drop of sweat rolling down her forehead.

The rest of the thralls promptly fell, one after another, until the fighting was over. At the end of it, everyone was completely fine. Even the sheriff, who’d had her throat torn out just minutes earlier, was just peachy. Meredith looked down at her dinky little pistol, then looked around her at a harpoon rifle, blaster gauntlet things, and various other exotic weapons. Why do I even try, she told herself as she remembered her thoughts at the beginning of the short battle. She was glad there was probably some of her cloud still covering her (as the pistol never used the whole thing anymore) because she probably looked pathetic right then. A sigh threatened to escape her lips, but she didn’t want to sound pathetic too.

She began to wonder why she was even still with the Heart Stealers. She could hide her cloud already. That should mean that she could get back to work back home in Maas, right? No, the cloud was still growing. She would eventually run out of arm to keep putting bracelets, not even considering all the weight that would be. She’d tried making a big block out of her essence and leaving it somewhere, but it just came back after a while. The worst part then would be not being able to know when it came back because she couldn’t see the damn thing. She would have to stay with the Stealers until she figured out a better way to hide the cloud or until she figured out how to stop it from growing.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a snapping sound, followed by a loud crash. It would appear that someone had ripped the door clean off its hinges. Meredith figured she should just learn to expect these sorts of things. She moved to rejoin them as they left, since she was still officially a part of the team. Besides, she just had to stick around until she was ready to leave, right? It wasn’t like anyone was forcing her to kill anything. Yet. She shuddered at the thought, and distracted herself by turning her attention back to the pitch-black gun in her hands. She noticed that she never did rack the gun, so she pulled back the slide and out popped a black bullet. Before it even hit the ground, it dissolved into the cloud from whence it came.

Suddenly, a loud noise echoed through the hallway from farther ahead. It was a weird, unnerving sound that was somewhere between a scream and a laugh. The others took off running towards it, quickly outrunning Meredith. Maybe somehow she could have kept pace, but she didn’t really see the point in her rushing with what little she had to contribute anyway. It was good to not be stressing herself out about everything like earlier, despite her dire situation. Well, was it actually dire with people like the Stealers around? Nah, probably not. She let them go ahead as she went on. Maybe if she did badly enough they would even ban her from missions. That would be something.
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