OoC: Since you told me I could start this whenever I wanted, that means now to me. Well, you know the deal, I think. So, let's get started. ^_^
BiC: "So, you're finally asking me to do something worthwhile?!" Zachary asked excitedly. This was definitely a first. The Aura Master had never done anything like this before. An actual mission that would test the red haired warrior's skills. It was about damn time. The ice innate jumped up and down with anticipation as the fencer began to explain.
"I need you to go to Rubato, where Cadenza is from, and find a man named Monroe Vossler. He's not very hard to miss. He's a miserable failure of a bounty hunter who wears all black and wields some very interesting weapons, not the least of which is a bright green energy sword. He's very strong, so I'll advise you use caution here. Also, he'll be calling for back up, probably, from a detective he knows from that world named Tracey de Carlo. While her battle power is very low, she's a smart little girl. Don't underestimate them. I'd rather not have to bury my squire next," Zorlo said seriously.
"You worry too much, Z," Zachary stated as he stood up and smiled. "So, why the sudden interest in having me deal with him?" the ice mage asked as he rested his left hand on the hilt of his sword.
The green haired man continued to write what he had been working on for a few days and didn't look up at Zachary as he spoke now. "He's created a noticeable disturbance in Rubato. I want this taken care of before Cadenza finds out and goes out to deal with things herself. She'll use measures I don't completely approve of. I know you'll deal with this properly."
Zachary nodded as he turned and began to take off. "I'll get this done in no time, Z. Don't worry." With those words, the ice elemental left and began to head off towards Rubato.
o=)---------Two Days Later, in Rubato----------(=o
It had taken two days, but Zachary had found the perfect place to set up camp. He'd managed to freeze out an entire cavern, which took a day to do, and then keep it cool enough in there where he felt comfortable, despite the damn heat of the desert. Although the bracer kept him at a very stable temperature, the ice innate still liked being surrounded by ice. It had a very relaxing feel to it.
However, that cave he had carved out of an old, massive rock wasn't what he found himself up to today. After some very intensive research, mostly involving stealing some of Zorlo's notes, the red haired warrior had found out where his teacher and associate, Cadenza, lived. The fencer had taken very good notes as to where and what was special about the area. As the ice elemental stood silently looking at the house, he held his note tightly in his hand.
The ice mage opened his right hand and focused magic into it, creating a shard of temperature resistant ice and pinning it through the note. With a powerful flux of magical force, Zachary shot the shard into the door, note attached still, and began to walk off. If luck held, one of Cadenza's sisters would get it and do as it asked. After all, the ice elemental did have a good point.
Zorlo's notes didn't only discuss very detailed things as what the red haired warrior had used to find the shadow mage's house, but also minor things, such as Tracey's relation to 'denza and her sisters. If Monroe was Tracey's ally, or vice versa, then the ice warrior felt no problem asking Cadenza's sister for help. After all, maybe one would actually help him. He'd know in a little bit.
Zachary pulled his cloak tightly around himself and started walking. The note asked the reader to meet him in some nice looking restaurant near the house for lunch where they could discuss the matter of Monroe and Tracey. Now it was up to fate to decide what happened next.
Monroe looked at the report in disbelief. The bounty known only as "The Avenger" had appeared in Rubato and had been spotted by no more then two people in a general area. The dark clad man groaned as he lay against the wall of a destroyed building. After all, that poor town had been caught in the crossfire. Well, that didn't matter right now. The bounty hunter rose and pulled out his cell phone from his jacket pocket and began to walk towards the nearby town of Agra.
Despite his wounds, both physical and emotional, the dark clad man searched through his contacts list for the only person in there he actually wanted to talk to. As the mercenary looked at Tracey's number, he hesitated to call her yet. Between the death of Johnny Bones, being replaced by trolls, and what had just happened, the dark figure wasn't sure if Tracey would answer.
As the former assassin pulled himself onwards, he sighed and pressed the send button. He'd talk to one of the few people he'd call a friend, peacefully, and try to talk her into meeting him in Agra. If she would, then they would move from there. But first, the wounded bounty hunter had to hope she answered.
OoC: I know, a little weak in the ending, but after all, this is after a thread that isn't up yet (But will be soon, I hope), so the ending is a bit unknown at the moment. Anyway, let's get started. *Is excited* ^_^
There was something sticking through the door. Their door. It looked like diamond. Arietta wondered how Algretta and her dad hadn't noticed it.
"Oi," she called out, poking the offending object and recoiling away from the coldness of it, "there's something here in the door, Pai! Something cold."
Her voice carried out through the parlor and to the rest of the house. It echoed through concealed passages, booby-trapped ducts, and empty fireplaces, but not in the ear of a single person. Arietta gave a despondent little look around, sighed, and glanced back at the shard. She was alone, she thought, so she might as well figure things out for herself.
And now that she thought about it, the shard looked undeniably like ice--she had seen it only a few times before in market freezers, but there was no mistaking that chilly feeling that sent shivers down your spine. But now the question was how in the gods' name had it lasted one minute in Rubato without being reduced to a puddle on the floor? Or, rather, a cloud of vapor. The desert was hot. You could easily fry an egg out there on the sands if your frying pan wasn't melted the instant you set it down. What was going on?
It occurred to the gypsy then that there was very likely to be something the ice was being used to pin to the door. She mentally thanked the gods for no one being around then--Algretta or Cadenza would have ridiculed her to no end for overlooking that kind of obvious detail--it was like overlooking that a policeman's gun "very likely" had bullets loaded, 'denza would say. The rude little twat. Where did she get off making fun of--ohh, keep on track, Arietta. You're supposed to be focusing on the shard and whatever's with it.
The woman turned the doorknob and flung the door open--a dangerous move from the other side. People who tried to the open the Madrigal's door from the outside often never opened anything again, save for their hearts to the mercy of the gods. Attached to the wood was a note scrawled in blue ink, flapping in the sandy breeze. Arietta ripped it off, and spent some minutes trying to yank out the ice shard from the door before giving up and running back inside for some warm water. Godsdamn, that ice was cold.
With shivering hands, she turned on the faucet and began skimming the note. It mentioned two particular characters Arietta had come to know and hate through Cadenza and her sister's recently-deceased boyfriend, and seemed to be from someone else the Dome teacher knew one way or another. The prospect of dealing with that dynamic duo of the law was appealing...
..and so Arietta dried off her hands, grabbed a cloak from a hook by the back door, and set out into the streets. She'd personally see if this meeting was worthwhile to the family.
Tracey's phone was ringing. The ringtone was the intro theme to a Sherlock Holmes movie--the other officers were staring, but they couldn't really claim to be surprised. The young detective hurried off to a corner of the lobby and answered on the very last ring.
If she had been somewhere quieter, she might have heard the wildly-thumping heartbeat of the man on the other end.
"H-hullo?" she said, in a voice much smaller and weaker than she had intended. She winced a little and waited for an answer.
To keep tabs on events in Rubato, you needed an informant with street smarts. You needed an informant who could be a professor in Street Smarts 104, with enough street cred to take out a mortgage loan on. Often, both before when Johnny was just a student she didn't trust, and now after when he had passed on, Cadenza had to take this job on herself. No one else at the Dome was left that was qualified enough. Avello was...simple. Too easily distracted. He did all right, but there could be better.
But today, the gypsy just didn't have time. And so, when she started to get that general sense of wrong, like a feeling low in her stomach that said that Things (and that was a capital "T" sort of "things"--meaning these were important, quite possibly 'denza-angering "things" that would have to be dealt with by a firm hand and an even firmer punch) were happening in Rubato that she had yet to be informed about, she had to send the dragon. Ye gods, he was simpler than a kindergarten homework assignment, but he'd have to do.
Avello nodded obediently at her orders, watching the empanada from lunch in her hand with considerably more focus than some part of his hindbrain where he was actually thinking non-food-related things thought was wise, and then flew off when dismissed. Normally, Cadenza would have known better than to wave food before his face when giving directions--but her mind was still too muddled by grief and other matters, and this just happened to be one of those days where little, seemingly-trivial events were adding up to form quite an interesting, strange little conclusion.
The desert winds blew passed the young warrior in the dark blue cloak. Most people didn't seem to notice him, and those that did took a nice, firm punch to the face to make sure they'd lose interest faster then Zachary lost interest in things Zorlo, or in some cases Cadenza, was saying. After all, in their own ways, the two were too pompous to have a nice discussion with. It wasn't like the ice mage disliked either of the two, it's just that they had their own annoying behaviors that wore on his nerves.
For example, the Aura Master hadn't given the Ice Elemental any missions until the one, yet he could babble on for hours with stories of the past. Although it took quite a while for him to learn how to, Zachary had mastered the ability to simply tune the fencer out. After all, the green haired man did have a bad habit of starting a story, going off on a random tangent, and then continuing from where he left off. All in all, that just pissed the red haired warrior off more then anything.
As for the gypsy, her cursed luck and dark magic never sat well with the ice warrior. She was too cold and bitter to be anything more then a pain in his ass, and sometimes he likened her to an evil version of Zorlo: Bad magic and a nature that seemed only self sufficing. However, despite that, he couldn't help but feel something... but that wasn't something he'd think about now. Bloody gypsy. Bloody fencer. Both took way too much of the firebrand's time and thoughts. Well, best to ignore them for now.
The ice innate opened the door to the meeting place, a rather, if little more then, slightly fancy restaurant that was well known for breads and wines. Zachary checked his reservation and was escorted into a back table where he sat down. He'd left a name for whoever, if anyone, came for him before he left. Luckily for that person, the meeting time wasn't for another half hour or so. However, for now, it was just a waiting game.
"Hi, Tracey... it's me..." Monroe said weakly as he continued along. His whole body hurt. Then again that was what happened to people that fought battles like he had just fought. The dark clad man swayed a bit, his body feeling heavier. In reality, all he wanted to do was to sleep at that moment, however, he refused to quit. He had to get to Agra.
"M-Monroe?!" she asked, seemingly nervously, yet with a sigh as well, it seemed.
"Yeah... it's me..." he told her as he pulled himself along. He knew he was close, it was just a little while longer before he would reach Agra. "I'm on my way to Agra now... can you please meet me there?!" he asked as his vision began to blur, but he could see buildings. Monroe pulled himself up against a wall and laid down. "I'm standing outside of... the town... somewhere... Where... should we meet?" he asked her as he felt consciousness fading. Need to hold on a bit longer.
Once he knew where to meet, he could rest. For now, he had to keep himself around. For now... ah hell... this wasn't gonna last much longer.
OoC: Excuse my rustiness. I feel like over half this post makes no sense. XP
A cool breeze blew by a vendor of sunglasses on Bazaar Street, sending old, brittle wind chimes tinkling with metallic melodies. Cool breezes were almost as rare as honest citizens in Rubato; the sweating man stopped a moment and closed his eyes to savor the cool sensation. When he opened them again, he noticed that he was one two-hundred zecca, designer pair short, without a single shifty-looking kid around to blame, and cursed between clenched teeth. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he sighed and considered moving his stall elsewhere, as he often did, but then he remembered how half of his stock came from, well...his dim-witted neighbor's stock...and thought better of it.
Like he said, honest citizens were in short supply.
The wind continued on down an alley with a purpose, tipping over police motorcycles and blowing away parking tickets with a strength far beyond what a natural "breeze" should have--and then it materialized in the form of two black, ankle-length boots on the pavement, landing with a gentle thud like a cardboard box being knocked over onto the cobblestones. The wind--that is, Arietta--ran a hand through her hair as it took solid form, slipped on the stolen sunglasses, and smiled. She had been able to use Harmony to borrow "Silhouette of Stealth"; that meant her sister or someone bonded to her was somewhere around. She wouldn't be going to this meeting entirely alone.
Her face now hidden by both a cloak and her sunglasses, she hurried back out onto the street, whereupon she was shocked to find how very green the world looked through the lenses, and tripped over one of her own bootlaces. She collided against something with a soft thump.
Arietta opened her eyes to see the lithe figure of Marcel Vargas leaning over her. In stark contrast to the boy's uncle, Marcel was actually clean. His hazel eyes twinkled at her as she dusted herself off and got up with the aid of his proffered hand.
"Where are you going dressed like that, Señorita?"
"Hush, Marcel--it's me!"
The boy squinted at the figure underneath all the fabric and oversized glasses. "Me...?"
Cadenza had always said that Marcel was more normal than his uncle--but then she would snicker, and mumble something about that not saying much. The boy was a good kid, rather close to the blacksmith (although luckily for him his uncle didn't have a hand in naming him--otherwise he might have been something like "Magnesium Vargas", as 'denza often also said), but like his uncle, he was a touch on the simple side when things didn't fall into his specialized realm.
For Marcel, like most nineteen year-old boys, his specialized field of interest was girls.
"Arietta Madrigal," the gypsy barked back, with as much bark as could be put into a whisper.
"Ohhh," he said, in the tones of dawning recognition everywhere. "What're you doing dressed like that, Ari--"
"--not important, not important! Just...do me a favor, hm? Nip along to this address," she paused to slip him a wadded-up note from one of her cloak pockets, "and see who the person listed under that name there is. Give me all the description you can--and be on the lookout for," she paused again, glanced around conspiratorially, and then whispered, "...people."
"You know--cops, or bounty hunters, or...people who look like they're from the Dome. Especially people who look like they're from the Dome. Include any descriptions of those types too. Understand?"
Marcel nodded emptily. "I think so."
"Good, good. I'll come along and wait at the corner by the restaurant. In...an alley or something. Something inconspicuous. You report to me as soon as you can, and...try to make sure no one notices you either, okay?"
"Si Señorita," Marcel mumbled. Some girl was coming out of the police station down the street, and, well...he didn't have the guts to tell Arietta that the whole last part of her directions had been nothing but background noise to the love song playing in his head.
"S-sure," Tracey said, turning down the street. Her keen eyes caught a glimpse of a cloaked figure speaking to a young man back the other way towards where Rosa Lane crossed Bazaar Street, but the rasp of Monroe's breath on the receiver brought her mind back to the present. "You sound...tired. How are you?"
The man coughed as he tried to answer. The sound only made Tracey wince even more--how badly injured was he?
"Listen," she said, with a strength she was surprised she had found, "just get yourself to the 'Windy Gulch' tavern. It shouldn't be too far from where you are. Granted, cops don't do well around bars here...but, we're not going in anyhow, and...you sound like you need to stop and rest as soon as you can. I'll find myself a bike or something and get there soon, all right?" The last words were tinged with a hint of concern that Tracey was embarrassed to show--Monroe was a fighter, and...he wouldn't want her worrying over every little bruise, right? I can't help it, she sighed. He'd better be okay...
BiC: The Ice Elemental sat silently in the restaurant as he continued to wait in utter silence. The red haired warrior removed a document from a pocket and unfolded it, reading the details Zorlo had on Monroe thus far. The fencer was, for the most part, a highly reliable source of information, that was for certain. Zachary took in what documentation the fencer had made, namely on Monroe's weapons and tools.
This guy has some crazy stuff. A sword made of light energy to the point that it condenses into solid matter and loses all elemental affiliations. Aside from that, things called 'bullets' that can do many numbers of things, the least of which being explode! Zachary sat in awe as he noticed that, at the last line of the page, the Aura Master had began to write something that must have carried on to a new, more recent page the green haired man had written. It said something about what Monroe had become. Whatever it was, the ice innate had no interest.
Even so, the Elemental couldn't help but ponder the fact he was absorbed in his thoughts about what that line could have meant. Well, that didn't matter now anyway. Zachary's eyes raised as he noticed someone watching him and rose slightly from his seat, sitting back down and waving the figure over. Something told him it was either who he was looking for, or someone who knew something of him. Either way, said person needed to be spoken too.
o=)----------Where Monroe is---------(=o
Monroe stumbled a little, forcefully carrying his body onwards towards the 'Windy Gulch' that Tracey had mentioned. Just the name sounded bad, but still, the dark clad man had little choice. He felt every fiber of his body about to give out as he near literally pulled himself over to the alley way of the building and laid down. Pain swept him again and he laid his head down, going to sleep. He had, however, the memories of earlier return.
It was dark... I recall waking up in that town, but not being awake. I could see and hear and even so much smell what was going on. I watched as the dark god of chaos destroyed everything in the town. Death and pain ruled supreme as he moved his fell claws and swiped out many peoples. Even so, he attracted the attention of someone. This person, however, I didn't get too good a glimpse of, as he was shrouded in some kind of odd mist.
All I recall of him was he was... green... Anyway, this green thing battled with Set, and actually managed to defeat him. I can feel him... the dark god unsettled within me. I fear... I fear he will consume me. When I see Tracey... I need to... I need to...
Monroe felt shaking and his eyes shot open. It was Tracey de Carlo, the detective he had called earlier. Monroe smiled slightly as he looked at her, but then frowned. "Tracey... I have something I need to tell you... and you need to promise you won't laugh no matter how absurd it seems to you," he told her, looking up at the red haired girl. He'd tell her what happened, and ask her for help when his immediate problem was dealt with.
Marcel spotted the cloaked figure and saw him wave him over. He had a keen eye for noticing faces--or at least the general characteristics of them (pretty, female, etc.; the things he deemed important)--even when under cloaks, and well...he found himself sighing at the sight of this one. When Arietta spoke of this contact, he had been picturing some slick, mysterious, dark-haired beauty, dangerous and leading a life full of intrigue and excitement, to meet him there...not some twerp who stood out like a very red thumb in the crowd. He felt like a kid who had been expecting to get a shiny new bicycle on Christmas day...but only received some ratty old socks.
Cursing his luck, he brushed past the host and showed himself to the table where the cloaked young man awaited.
When the figure looked up at him, the words just flowed out of his mouth without thought, "My name is...uh, my name is..."
His mind woke up at the sound of his stuttering and realized it was probably going to have to do some work here. And now, thanks to this, it suddenly occurred to Marcel that it might not be the most well-advised idea to give out his name to someone he knew absolutely nothing about. Especially someone he knew absolutely nothing about and who had the potential to be someone who could use magic. He consulted his memory, full of old crushes and jumbled-up phone numbers, and tried to produce something along the lines of an alias he remembered Cadenza using before. The problem was, all those names were feminine. And Marcel had very little imagination for anything but courting girls.
"My name is...Mari...o."
The cloak figured stared. The stare seemed to ask: "Is that the lie you wanna settle on?"
The boy coughed, and squared his shoulders in an unconvincing attempt at confidence. "Yeah. Erm. Mario," he repeated. "I'm here because of your...uh...note. Right. So let's conduct business?"
Monroe looked...bad. Well... Tracey corrected, ...he never looks bad. But he looks hurt. And quite shaken up mentally.
The detective helped him up into a sitting position against a wooden beam that held up the roof of the Gulch's dusty porch, and then plunked herself down in front of him so that he wouldn't have to crane his neck the slightest bit to look at her. By force of habit, she fell into her usual "concerned and listening policewoman look"--eyes focused and mouth set into a sympathetic frown--but found it more genuine than any she had ever given to old housewives who were missing their good silverware, or a kid who'd had his shoes nicked. In this situation, she really cared. She had a personal connection, and that was...new.
"You had...something you needed to tell me?" she asked. As she waited for him to summon up the breath to speak, she found herself digging around worriedly in her bag for a canteen of water to cure that raspy throat.
Zachary raised an eyebrow to this Mario person that had so bravely, and foolishly, approached him. Just like that woman. Sending someone to do her dirty work. What a crock of... Zachary paused, recalling the fact he was thinking more of Cadenza than this person he was supposed to meet here. It was better not to get mad here and start recklessly destroying things. Anyway, this kid was a messenger, not the princess, if you would.
The Ice Elemental crossed his arms and smiled under his hood, looking up a bit so that his dark blue eyes pierced into the boy's eyes. A sudden rush of air erupted from around Zachary as dark blue energy covered the ice mage for a moment, and only a moment, before he reduced his power output. A little show of force would send this idiot screaming and running out of the restaurant. At first glance, it didn't seem to have worked, but upon further inspection, the ice innate guessed he had just scared the boy to a point where his body physically didn't respond.
Pity. They always send the weak ones. Between the idiot bounty hunter trouncing around and causing all kinds of trouble and whoever got that note's refusal to aid me. The red haired swordsman groaned and Mario took a step backwards, afraid of what the innate seemed to be getting ready to do. The ice warrior raised his eyebrow to the person and smiled and laughed darkly.
More then anything, Zachary was just playing along with the image of demon he guessed he had given off from the release of magical power until it took a physical shape. Unlike Zorlo's aura, which had a calming, relaxing feeling, Zachary's magical essence was cold, almost to the point of being malicious, although he was neither. In fact, the ice warrior had always been told he was a hot head and firebrand. Even so, this kind of thing helped a lot when trying to force a desired effect.
The Ice Elemental turned from Mario and walked back to his seat, stopping before he sat down to leave the poor man with these words: "Begone! I know you aren't the person I'm looking for. You're just a stooge she sent to find stuff out about me. Go tell her what you've seen and tell her if she wants to take up my offer to come herself. How's that sound?" Zachary asked, turning his head ever so slightly to the boy, just enough to allow a dark blue eye to meet the boy's stare.
Monroe's eyes opened slowly. Pain washed over the bounty hunter's body again, but he pushed it away and smiled, as best he could. The closest person to him. An angel. A goddess. The Venus to his Adonis. So long as he didn't wind up turned into a flower, he felt his content, almost happy, feeling return as he forced himself to sit up straight and elected he had to tell her one thing... possibly another.
"Well..." he said, his body shaking from the intense pain he was in, even though it was lessening. Sleeping really did help his body to speed up recovery. "First... I need to tell you something I've never told anyone." He paused, looking at the ground in shame. This moment seemed rather fated, but he had to tell her what was going on. "My body is a kind of house to a god from my world named Set, the Egyptian God of Chaos. His powers are truly evil and he seeks to bring chaos upon existence."
Monroe pointed towards the destroyed town with a dark, grim look on his face and explained himself further. "You see, it was Set that destroyed that town. Some guy came and overcame the god and is forcing Set to recover. After we stop the "Avenger" from rampaging through this land, I was wondering if you would help me find something in this world. There is a temple in this world that I can separate myself from Set, and finally bring an end to this. Please... you're my only hope," he told her, tears streaming down his face as he looked down, unable to even look at her any longer.
"And... and... I..." he paused. No matter how he tried, he couldn't bring himself to say the next part. "I lo-..." Monroe stood up suddenly and wiped the tears from his eyes and smiled at her. "Let's get going, okay?" he asked her with a smile.
Witnesses would later say that a whirlwind of napkins, squealing in Rubatoian about some demon, rushed out of the restaurant and upended two dozen dessert carts before blowing away into the street. Some claimed that this whirlwind planted a kiss on half the waitresses before it reached the doors.
Marcel burst out onto the street, cupped his hands around his mouth, and screamed: "Arieeeeeeetaaaaaaahhh!"
A swirling orb of wind smacked him across the face when he shut his mouth. Various waitresses watching from the windows of the restaurant cheered.
Marcel whimpered and rubbed his stricken cheek. "What was that for?" he cried to some figure beyond the waitresses' line-of-sight. The whole lot of them mumbled enraged answers to the boy's question.
"You shouldn't have yelled my name like that, you dolt! I told you to be inconspicuous! Didn't you listen at all?"
There was a general murmur along the lines of, "Nosorryit'llneverhappenagain."
"It better not," Arietta snapped. She grabbed Marcel by the collar and shoved him back out of the waitresses' vision, and then strode out before the big windows herself, cloak pulled over her head. The giggles in the restaurant stopped.
Smiling to herself, Arietta Madrigal opened the door and walked inside.
Bloody hell, some part of Tracey wanted to yell. Lo?--those two little letters were the most misleading letters in the world! Everyone wanted to think they led to just one statement, especially when spoken with that much emotion (no one chokes on "Honey, I lost the car keys in the sofa"), but the thing was, you never knew. Or, in Tracey's case, you never suspected. You never made assumptions without facts to back them up. And the facts in this situation said that she really hadn't the faintest idea of what stage in a relationship someone would say...that.
The girl had to bite her tongue to keep herself from blurting anything out as Monroe continued walking and talking. At some point, she realized that he wanted more than a just a nod to agree to what he was telling her, and she paused to concentrate on what he'd said before calmly saying, "I...want to help however I can." How much that actually meant, she didn't know--they were talking about a god here, and well...she was just an average human who was just a touch brighter in the mental department. She still couldn't wrap her mind around the mystical and the magical and all, even after her encounters with the Madrigals and people from the Dome. What could she do?
As Monroe turned onto other street, Tracey surveyed the neighborhood they were entering and felt the need to ask, "Where exactly are we going?"
The winds rushed into the building and Zachary smiled as he noticed the figure entering and crossed his arms as he waved the entering figure in. The ice innate waved the girl towards him and headed over to his table and sat down, beckoning the woman to come. She seemed quite reluctant at first, but eventually moved next to the seat, but didn't sit down. Zachary shrugged and merely smiled beneath his hood.
"I suppose you're the one I was actually waiting for. You must have thought I was pretty stupid to send some stooge to come speak to me. What in the world do you think I am? An idiot or something."
"There was always that possibility," the woman responded as she looked at the ice mage.
"Even if I didn't know that woman had only sisters, I would have known that guy wasn't who I was looking for at a glance. He looks nothing like that person. Anyway, the fact I have a very well informed source, you couldn't outsmart me with any of those lame tactics."
"Oh? And how did you know?" the woman asked, seemingly looking at the ice innate under her hood.
"Notes from a person I'm the assistant of. His notes are highly detailed, and I knew exactly where to find what I was looking for. So, are you going to sit down and discuss business, or are you going to stand there all day and patronize me?" Zachary folded his hands over each other and smiled. "Shall we begin?"
Monroe smirked at her as he removed a map from his jacket. "We're going to find someone I need to capture. Another bounty code named "the Avenger", who's an associate of "Green Hair" Zorlo. When I woke up after that fight, I found this map laying on me and it depicts where we're going," Monroe stated as he handed the map to Tracey. "Do you know where that is?" Monroe asked as he pointed at a marking depicting where Zachary's base was. "We're likely to find him there," Monroe said with a confident smile.
The bounty hunter stopped and looked at Tracey, smiling. "Anyway, the other reason I asked you to help me is because you're the best back up I could ask for in this little adventure. If you don't want to go, I'd understand. So I'll ask you one last time: You're sure you want to help me capture this kid, right?" Monroe asked as he smiled at her again, looking down after her with the warmest smile he had ever been seen with to that day.
OoC: I've got some terrible Writer's Block lately...like I have ideas, but they disappear when I sit down to write, or I just can't articulate them. Sorry that this particular post is just another churned out to move things along, but...at least things are moving along? <____<;; It gets a little better in the second half.
What was it that Vivace used to say? Go with the flow of things--let the other person think they're in control for a little while. And that was supposed to give you some sort of advantage, wasn't it? They thought they had control, but they needed you more than you needed them, and you could always just walk out, right? Arietta crossed her arms, sighed, and sat down. She'd give this a try.
"You called this meeting..." she said smoothly as she waved over a waiter and plucked the glass of wine he was carrying to another customer out of his hands. The man blinked once, twice, and was about to say something when he realized that the gypsy had already taken a sip--and so grumbling and defeated, he hurried off to the kitchen before he could feel his tip money starting to drop down into the negatives. Arietta could see the cloaked figure's head turn to follow the waiter's movements for a second, thought she heard a stifled laugh, and smiled. "...So you should start," she finished, just loudly enough to catch his attention again.
Her green sunglasses gleamed in the lamplight as she flashed the young man another enigmatic smile and waited for him to speak.
God, that smile made her melt inside. She felt like a little pad of butter on a warm, fluffy biscuit...with...with a bead of sunshine beaming down on her, and well...how could anyone say no?
"Of course I want to help," Tracey answered, glancing up from the map to return the smile. Behind that smile, however, was a little part of the detective's brain that was more than just a little confused. The marking, shaped like a small blue snowflake, looked about as out of place as a snowman in hell where it was--and it basically was in hell, all things considered. If this map was right, then this base they were heading towards was located in the heart of the Ceguera que Quema (as an old police partner once translated for her, the "Blindness that Burns") Desert--the hottest desert in all of Rubato, next to the Pé del Fuego. Stories came back of bandits who'd escaped from the cops in the golden sands of the desert, only to have their bleached bones found cooked and, some said, nearly evaporated by search parties and vultures the next day, as much as that defied facts about decaying. It was a place where even science was dried out, confused, and suffering from a near-heatstroke in a matter of hours.
Of course, there were also the stories of ancient limestone caverns being found under the sands in the Ceguera que Quema, left over from eons ago when the deserts of Rubato were oceans and the tides teemed with coral and other marine life. The oceans were said to have dried up over time, and remains had hardened over centuries to form these old caves, some of which got down so far as below freezing during the day because they got little to no sunlight through the heavy blankets of sand piled over top of them. Was it possible that "The Avenger" had found one of these caverns and made it his base of operations? Well...it was hard to believe, but things certainly seemed that way.
"This marking is near the center of the desert just east of here," Tracey finally announced, folding the map up. "It's going to be really really hot, so...we better get some supplies and make sure someone who can rescue us knows where we've gone before we head out. I can send word back to one of the police captains, if you'd like."
The detective was so absorbed in the conversation and in her own mental preparations for the trek that she completely missed hearing the flap of dragon wings somewhere overhead. By the time she blinked again, the reptilian figure was gone again, hidden somewhere in the maze that was the streets of Agra.
OoC: Don't worry. I'm lethargic. Guess I'll use this to try to spring board myself into getting at least a few replies done.
Zachary adjusted his glasses and smirked at the odd woman as he leaned back in his chair. Clever, just like Cadenza. Odds are, if the ice innate hadn't dealt with people like Zorlo and Cadenza, he wouldn't know the deals that people had to make in order to attain useful associates, but thanks to them, the firebrand now had a few sly tactics. Still, he was dealing with a Madrigal. They were always less than easy people to deal with, mostly since they were all street smart criminals, as it seemed. Still, this dealing would be done soon.
The ice warrior tapped his fingers against the table, slight puffs of blue steam rising from the table where his fingers touched the table. Now then, if he knew anything about negotiating, he was in good standing. She wanted to hear his proposal now, which meant that things would be easy sailing, right? Well, if Zachary had been any kind of diplomat, like Zorlo was, he would have known he was moving into a bad position. Those who were winning were those who had the most to gain and the most to lose. In this case, he had neither.
"Well, simply enough, I'd like to ask your help in dealing with a man named Monroe Vossler. I have reliable information that tells me he is somewhere in this Rubato place. Since you've lived here your whole life, if my sources are correct, than you should know best where to find him. However, we have an edge, he's looking for me also, so if and when he comes to where I'm hiding out, I can ambush him. My information also says he has the help of someone... Tray d. something or other."
Zachary though a diplomat he was not, he was a relatively skilled tactician. He had already planned out everything he was going to do in advance with setup for an ambush. Whether it worked or not, hell if he knew, but having a plan was better than running blind. Mostly when you were fighting on your own turf. "I have a plan to ambush them and kill them both. I know that you probably want to deal with the bounty hunter's associate, but keep in mind that if you don't help me, he has the chance of helping that detective girl to bring your family aside from Cadenza and your father to jail."
The Ice Elemental folded his hands. "Normally, I don't like make threats like that, but I'm telling the truth. Cadenza might be able to beat Vossler easily, but he's super human. It's hard to say if anyone else magically endowed in your family could handle him." Zachary chuckled as he looked down and away. "I... just really need help. Will you please help me?" he asked her, lowering his glasses of ice slightly and smiling with a desperately needing look in his eyes. "If we are to ambush them, we need to get back quickly, so please, if you are willing to help me, we need to get going so we can make it to where I'm living to plan," he told her, cheering up a small bit and a confident look climbing over his face.
Monroe reached into his pockets and removed a pair of pills that were slightly light blue in color and filled with an odd either liquid or gelatin from which the capsule was made. Monroe tossed the pills up and down and smiled. After all, he'd been working for several days on these since he knew he'd be in inhospitable, nearly unlivable areas again eventually. An idea he picked up after being through a desert the first time.
Monroe threw the pills up and swiped them out of the sky in a fluid move and held the two pills out to Tracey, smirking as he began to explain what they were. "This is something I've been working on of late. It's something that, essentially, is a defense against harsh, warm climates. These pills release a special kind of chemical that reacts to intense heat and cold that adapts the body to them to slow the dehydration of the body."
Monroe started at the dark blue pills again and smiled. "Also, if you're in too cold an area, it also releases a second chemical that slows the body's cooling, making it nearly impossible to freeze to death. They last for about twelve hours, so we just take these, and get going," Monroe stated as he popped one into his mouth and handed Tracey the other. "Shall we?" he asked her. "After all, we have a cavern to find."
Arietta couldn't help but laugh inside at the conspiratorial, self-assured little smile the boy shot her--he'd gotten every cue for this deal-making thing down, right to the granting of a glimpse of the eyes behind his glasses and the textbook "trusting look". She found herself smiling back and thinking amusedly, Who does this chico think he is?
All amusement aside however, there was a deal sitting here on the table to accept. This was, normally, the time when Vivace would step in and take care of things, as Arietta sat back holding the money purse and Algretta treated whoever they were doing business with to a look so cold it could have formed icicles in a sauna. But now, it was up to her to think.
Things had been just fine in Rubato, she reflected, before this Tracey de Carlo girl came along. The criminals committed crime, and the fuzz concentrated on, well..."fuzz", if you will; the light, fluffy little cases that made for good newspaper stories, like finding lost kittens and such. Whenever one of them even so much as tried to tackle something bigger, they, well...fuzzed things up, quite honestly. They had a way of making a confused situation even worse. You'd hear things about a plainclothes cop mistaking another plainclothes cop for the malefactor and carting him away, while another officer sees this all and then takes quick action with his gun, having mistaken them both for crooks. "Buffoonery," Cadenza would call it, and then chuckle at the word. The criminals had run Rubato.
Then "Red" emerged onto the scene. She was a little off, sort of quirky, and talked in a funny accent, but she had a strong sense of justice and a quick, alert mind with a gift for details. She made connections faster than a telephone operator--and she began to piece together all the troubles plaguing the country instantly upon her arrival. It was clear to her that someone, behind all these crimes, was running the show. They might not be connected to every petty theft--but on the whole, they were the Godfather to this mob. And she became determined to revive the law of the land--which, of course, meant trouble for most of Rubato.
This trouble even crept up to the very top...to the Madrigals. Cadenza and their father might have been out of the police's reach, but de Carlo was still a tenacious little bee buzzing around the rest of their heads, and she needed to be swatted.
Her Monroe only added more conflict to the mix. The decision Arietta had to make was clear.
The gypsy extended a hand across the table and smiled. "Kiss my hand," she ordered, and when the boy blanched, she added, hiding her amusement, "Calma, don't wet yourself now--this is how one seals a deal with a lady in Rubato."
Tracey accepted the pill a shade circumspectly. Anything that altered her body chemistry at all was always put to a thorough investigation first; after years of solving crimes, you'd be surprised to learn how much one little milligram of a substance could affect you. The brain was sensitive to chemistry; everything you changed with a pill happened there primarily, and messed with glands and neurons in some way. The detective would often rather tough out a cold than take her chances on any of the drugs in Rubato.
This case was different though, she realized. This was something far more advanced beyond anything she had ever seen...it made this country seem incredibly backward in comparison. And plus--this pill had come from Monroe. That was assurance enough that it'd be fine.
She swallowed the capsule, coughing once it had gotten down and wishing she had taken water with it. She thought she heard Monroe laugh a little at her antics--the inspection of the pill like it were a piece of evidence, the goofy face she must've made when she tried gulping it down. These were the kinds of things that earned her weird looks from townspeople in Rubato--but he liked these silly things about her. That made her feel warmer than even the sunshine gleaming down on her back.
"This is some awfully sophisticated science," the detective said, starting to walk as her way of showing Monroe she was ready to go, "how did you find the materials to make those pills?"
OoC: There's a hint for Monroe to mention our technology-based upgrade plans for a later RP. ;]
Zachary looked at her hand and smirked under his cloak, swishing it to the side and crossing his arms, trying to appear tough. "Well, I could, in essence, do that, but I'm not quite the noble knight that my boss is. Unlike Z or that idiot Hunter, I'm no man to bow to another person without just cause." Zachary, if nothing else, knew that he had to avoid being the subject to any person. That included Zorlo. That was why Zachary had termed the coin 'boss' for the Aura Master.
The Ice Elemental, despite being a little forceful, grasped the woman's hand and raised it to his lips, kissing her hand and smiling. The ice innate stepped back and moved towards the exit. "Since we have common enemies, let us get moving. We don't have time to stand around and be normal, as it's called. Let's get back to my base and ambush the idiot and that little girl. How's that sound?" the firebrand asked as he turned towards her and smiled.
"By the way," the red haired youth stated as he pulled back his hood and smiled at her. "Name's Zachary Leos, assistant to Zorlo, the Aura Master and Fencer of Tasogare. And God dammit! I need him to shorten that name," the ice mage stated as he pulled back up his hood. "Just thought you'd like to know," he told her as he started walking.
Monroe smiled as he thought about it. "That one? It's something that I was working on, since I find myself traveling through deserts a lot, it seems. Every time I do, I think about the fact I could die and be a completely pruned body. So, to deal with that," he told her, running a finger over his skin, "this pill releases a special kind of enzyme, that, like I said, slows the process of dehydration greatly. It saves all kinds of time and money on things like water. Anyway, this isn't the least of things I've come across."
The bounty hunter drew his photon sword and spun the handle around. "I know I've shown this to you before, but it's called a photon sword. The blade is made of mass of high density particles, making the blade capable of cutting through anything that's short of titanium. Aside from that, I have this," Monroe stated as he showed her the EMSG.
"This small box is called an Electromagnetic Shield Generator. Pretty much, it produces a magnetic force around me that diverts metallic projectiles from a distance of three feet or greater. However, it doesn't work well against close range weapons, its still handy in a gun fight," Monroe stated as he placed the box back on his belt. "If you like, I could bring you to a friend of mine who's a genius who creates weapons. If you'd like, I'm sure he could whip up some real nice stuff to help make you stronger so you can fight with people like me and Cadenza. What do you say?" Monroe asked as he started walking.
"Let's talk while we walk towards where we're headed, all right?" he asked her, smiling again. "Hopefully, it won't take long," the bounty hunter told the detective as he began to walk.
Arietta laughed--Zach obviously wanted to be taken seriously, but there was a boyishness and a hint of uncertainty to him that made that hard. She just found herself smiling in amusement when he spoke. "You bow to no person, but you introduce yourself as someone's assistant and use their full bloody title?" she said, a teasing edge to her voice.
When she saw him about to get worked up about this, she laughed again. It seemed to put him at ease. "Only joking," she assured him. She reached up and took down her own hood and sunglasses, to meet him eye-for-an-eye. "My name's Arietta. You know the rest of it. Now that introductions are done with, let's get moving a bit faster to your base, yes?"
"Fight people like Cadenza?" the idea sounded absurd when she said it aloud... but when Monroe had mentioned it, Tracey could almost picture herself holding her own in a fight alongside him. Would it really be possible? She could fight crime on a whole-new level...
"What sort of things could he make, do you think? Would there just be guns and such, or... could he get more creative?" The whole idea intrigued the sleuth. She found herself walking with a bit of a spring in her step as she followed after Monroe.
Zachary walked a bit ahead after seeing her and smiled. She's kind of cute. Z's too objective in his writings. He should say when girls are pretty or not... the ice innate thought to himself as he shook that thought from his head and walked a bit faster than normal. "Arietta, eh? Can't say I expected you to tell me your name so easily. After all, from what Z's notes said, you, like Cadenza, are very secretive. I must say... thanks," he told her. "It's not everyday I come across a pretty girl that actually wishes to aid me."
With that thought, the firebrand went quiet. Memories of Lament rushed back, and he felt a bit sad. The red haired youth pushed back tears he felt forming and formed his more important resolve. Battle was near and the two had to move quickly.
The ice mage looked to his side and noticed the air mage was already next to him. The ice warrior knew that he wasn't slow, so how this girl could move so fast must have meant Cadenza was worlds faster. Maybe. Zachary never knew, maybe Arietta was stronger than Cadenza. Then again, he also doubted it. Few people were stronger than Zorlo, at least that Zach knew. "Anyway... we'll be there soon."
As their feet shuffled beneath them, the two were nearly upon the ice filled caverns. The mages entered into the ice filled caverns and Arietta looked around, obviously surprised that such a thing was possible in the desert. "It took me a few days to do this. Condensing enough magic to fully freeze this damn place and keep it that way left me sleeping suddenly beyond my knowledge. Anyway," the ice innate said as the two entered a large, circular room with a chair on the far side, against the wall, "Sit down and relax. They'll be here soon. I'm sure of it," the ice mage said as he molded ice on the floor into a chair suddenly. "Anything you need, that I can provide, please ask."
Meanwhile, elsewhere, two others were walking towards the caverns. Monroe was almost sure that Zachary probably left some kind of calling card. After all, he was the kind of obnoxious prick that liked to tell people "I'm here, now come and get me!" As they continued walking, the modern fencer thought about the woman's question and formed an answer as best he could. In fact, he felt quite happy about his answer. Content, anyway.
"For one, he could make you some armor of a kind of machine called a nanomachine that can produce, in rapid speed, an armor that can enhance your natural abilities by several times, along with things like visors and goggles for night vision and inferred and stuff like that. Aside from that, he could make modified guns to fire things like you'd imagine in sci-fi movies. Something like a plasma or photon firing gun. Aside from that, any other kind of weapons you could want would probably get something interesting."
"What about a taser or a truncheon?" she asked, looking at him with a kind of glee he hadn't seen in a while.
"I'm sure he could make modified versions of those things." At that moment, a thought sparked to Monroe. A taser like weapon that fired lightning bolts. It'd be something very interesting to see in action, and worth testing out, at least. "I've got some ideas, but I'll run them by you later. Anyway... we're here," Monroe stated as he looked at the outside of the ice lined cave. "This... is going to be interesting."
From ceiling to floor, the room was like something out of one of the ice hotels in places like "Norway" and "Sweden" that Cadenza came home with stories about. Arietta had always tried to picture those places, but couldn't even in her imagination fathom a greater amount of ice than it would take to fill a small freezer's ice-tray.
...This can't be Rubato, she thought as she wandered in. It's almost as unlikely as finding some little, law-abiding neighborhood in Rubato--if not more.
The gypsy walked around, barely aware of her steps, taking in the room with a disbelieving sort of awe. She must've slipped about four or five times on the way to the chair Zach had pointed out--she found that she was immensely grateful whenever she came upon a part of the cave floor he hadn't frozen. Fumbling for purchase, she finally lowered herself into the surprisingly comfortable, albeit cold, seat, and tried to put on a dignified face. Zach was trying his best not to laugh back on the other side of the room.
"I'm fine, thanks," she eventually announced. "I'm just eager for those two to get their arses here..."
Tracey looked up at the cave, and blinked. Something like this had been here in the desert for who knows how long, and she hadn't noticed? That was a definite blow to her observational skills...
She realized that she wasn't really sure what part she would play here. Presumably something to do with acting against this "Avenger" character...but using what? Her pistol? Her brains? Something told her this was going to be a tricky situation, but for Monroe's sake, all she said was: "...I'm ready."
Zachary found himself smiling and laughing at the slipping of the woman, containing himself with chuckles and inward laughter. He hadn't laughed, or felt happy for that matter, in some time. For a long time, his only focuses had been fighting, and battle, and defeating someone for some reasons. This, although inopportune as it was, had a refreshing feeling to him. Although he knew this woman was Cadenza's sister, and she was definitely older than he was, although she didn't look all that old, he couldn't help but think she was cute and refreshing.
The Ice Elemental knelt down and placed his hand on the ground, disbursing the ice about the cave form the floor to the walls. "If you're going to fight at your best, we need you to be able to move. Since I'm sure you, like Zorlo and your sister, are a speed type warrior, I'm sure you require the ability to move around." The woman seemed a bit shocked by what Zachary said, but didn't really comment. "Anyway, they'll be here soon," he told her, casting her a smile, probably one she didn't expect.
"How... do you know?" Arietta asked him as she raised a slight eyebrow at him.
Wind blew slightly in the cavern. "I'm amazed you didn't sense it first. There's a distortion in the winds entering the cavern. A slight one, but one nonetheless. Then again, the cold might be disrupting your powers a little bit. Of that, I'm sorry," he told her as steps began to echo down the cavern walls towards the large room. "Now we can hear them."
Before Zach really knew what was going on, he found Arietta standing behind a spire of ice, watching his back, in a way, from the side lines. Zachary shrugged and smiled. It felt better to think you had backup then to know you're alone, he figured.
Suddenly, two figures emerged from the cavern hall, one the mercenary, and the other a red haired woman. "Is this him, Monroe?" she asked him. This red haired woman was different than the last one that Zachary had fought with while Monroe was around. The last one was taller and used chains. This one was small and fragile.
Monroe nodded as he looked at Zachary. "Zach, you're done. Give up! WIthout Z around, you can't defeat me!"
"You brought another red haired woman with you, huh? Then again, this one doesn't look that strong. Her name is Tracey, isn't it? Z's notes talked about you a bit. Anyway, I'd leave, unless you want to die."
"Other red haired woman?" Tracey asked as she raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "And I promised Monroe I'd help him, so I'm not leaving."
"First of all," Monroe stated firmly at the thought of Jezebel, "that woman and I were not allies. She was as much my enemy as you were. And as I recall it, I defeated you. After I beat her," Monroe said, trying to make himself sound tougher.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. We may have had to work together because Z needed help, but that doesn't make us allies. It never did, and it never will. And the only reason you beat me last time is my powers hadn't fully recovered from my fight with Kaien. If you think I'll be beaten this time, you're mistaken," Zachary said as he drew Mobius from its sheath and held the flat part facing him. "Welcome to your execution!" the ice mage stated firmly.
"We'll see. Tracey, be careful. He's tougher than he looks. I'll take the front, you support, okay?" he asked her, smiling. Quickly, the bounty hunter flipped the handle of his photon sword up from his belt and turned it on, rushing towards Zach. Power erupted where their blades collided, but the two both looked confident. Now was the time to see who was truly stronger at their best.
Blades clanged and green energy flashed in the cavern. Arietta watched it all from behind an ice spire, feeling the goosebumps trickle up her arms from the cold, and trying to shrug that sensation off as she took a closer look at the redhead standing beyond the swordfight. The swordfight she might have to intervene in later, she realized. But now was not that time.
She was still freezing--but Cadenza would never let her live it down if she'd done nothing just because of a little chill. Would say she was about as useful as a wet dust rag, and had about the same brains of one too. So the gypsy steeled herself, focused again on the girl by the room's entrance--no, not just a girl, the cop who'd been harassing her family like a bee buzzing around their heads--the one standing there without much defense. She swirled the wind, balling it up in her hands like you might form a snowball, pulling in the wisps of cold air. Magical energy flowed out into the orb, making it glow a faint, luminescent green. For all the cop's powers of observation, she couldn't notice this--she wasn't even aware of the other woman's presence. Arietta was like an archer stealthily concealed in a bush--and she was about to let go.
The blast of wind sailed through the cavern.
It was stronger than Arietta had even realized. Like a source of magic was somewhere near, affecting her. If you were listening for it, sort of expecting it, maybe you could have heard what sounded like dragon talons landing outside the cavern--but only if you were used to the sound of hundreds of pounds of lizard following you around. Otherwise, it just sounded like a far-off boulder. But whatever the cause, the wind shot through the fighting young men and drilled into the redhead's slender little frame, knocking her bodily into a wall of solid ice. It was like colliding with a glacier--the girl had no chance. She was concussed the moment she struck the cave wall, and she crumpled over, laying limp against its icy surface. Had she been awake, she might have seen the gypsy sidling over to her with the handful of throwing knives and a look that implied she wasn't hesitant to use them.
OoC: Pretty blah, but it moves things along. <__<;;
In a way, this trap was the most awful thing that could have happened. As the buzz of Monroe's photon sword pressed against Zachary's blade of magical ice, the bounty hunter heard the sound of Tracey hitting the wall. They'd been set up. It hadn't even been like Zachary needed the help to defeat her, but he had called on this olive skinned woman with only the desire to have absolute victory. Still, the fighter didn't get deterred as the blade cracked and magic shattered the photon blade, causing the photon cartridge to explode and the mercenary to be blown into the wall next to Tracey.
It was annoying, knowing that both he and Tracey were outmatched. It was probably worse knowing that it was likely they'd both die here. The worst thing, however, is that the dark clad man didn't even to think that he was walking into a trap. The woman brandishing the knives seemed intent on killing Tracey. That wasn't about to happen. Not while Monroe still had the power to move.
It was fast. Probably quicker than Zach or this woman could see, but the dark clad man took the knives in the back, wincing with each blade that stabbed into his back. Felt like two... maybe four... he wasn't sure any longer. There was no pain. There was only desire. Monroe forced himself to stand and turned quickly, his fist striking into the woman's chest with force equaling the force of a speeding car slamming on its breaks. The gypsy, as he now knew or guessed she was, soared backwards. Her body hit the flat of Zachary's sword and pushed the red haired youth off his feet onto his back with the Madrigal on top of him.
Zachary, against his logical sense as he knew it, felt himself blush. "Um... sorry," he said, showing her a shaking smile as he slid out from under her and stood up. "Anyway... we should..." Zachary paused as he looked over to Monroe.
Tears dripped from Monroe's eyes onto Tracey's face as he opened the handle of his sword and slipped another photon cartridge into his weapon. "Tracey... I'll protect you... because..." he paused, choking a bit as he watched her unconscious, "because..." The world was quiet for a moment as he spoke the words he felt locked inside of him. They had to be free. If they were both to die, then she needed to know.
Tracey's face was turning blue from lying against the ice, but at that moment, that was all that was helping keep any possible swelling down. If she could've written a memoir of this moment, she would have said something about this being like she had fallen a very long way through a trapdoor and couldn't get up--her world was dark, murky, and silent.
Across from her, Arietta Madrigal was getting up with a grimace on her face and another orb of wind magic in her hand. She meant business, as clichéd as she knew that sounded. There was no time for these heartfelt confessions of love or whatever the hell was going on here--save that for later, please.
The orb of wind, mainly because of the element of surprise, knocked Monroe away from his unconscious girlfriend, and down onto his knees. His reflexes were too quick for the metal boomerang that followed, and it sliced through where his head was a second ago only to rebound back empty-handed.
Glaring and prepping for another throw, Arietta wanted to ask how on earth he'd learned to punch like that, but decided not to give him an opening for some angry or witty retort. His eyes were blazing through his fading tears.