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Generated: Jun 16, 2019 5:46 PM
Post last updated: Jun 16, 2019 5:46 PM
if we don't kill each other then the side effects will
a new killer on the block
Permalink Eye

Tyrannissa has brought the Guillotine interesting rumors of a certain new villain in the sprawling area around the D.C. Exclusion Zone. One with style

Decima has been sent to find him, and is currently wandering around his last known location, her snake daemon Moira draped over her shoulders. She's in plain clothes, so no one's running and screaming. Yet.

She's memorized the boy's face, due to a shift courtesy of her friend, and Decima almost tastes the air in search of the feeling of his power.

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 - Well, if this is him, his power has enough finesse to change the shape of his face a little.  Lower cheekbones, bigger lips, and some distinctive scar tissue across one side of his face that wasn't in Tyrannissa's, ah, description.  But her sense of his power matches what she's heard - and if that black panther people saw was actually his daemon, then here it is lounging next to him.

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Well if that's not him she can always start a bit of mayhem.

She walks up, sits next to him, not quite sprawling.

"Oh, hello," she drawls, as Moira lifts his head and flicks his tongue out at the panther. "Lovely day, isn't it?"

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One of them's supposed to have a snake, right?

He doffs his hat and smiles, charmingly, declining as yet to show any signs of unusual stretchiness.  "I'd say so, yes."  He sounds perfectly ordinary, if possessed of a touch of old-fashioned formality, and charmed to have a stranger to make conversation with.  "I don't think I've seen your face before.  Do you live around here?"

Bast eyes the snake, implacably.

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"Oh. I'm new to the area. A bit of a wanderer at heart, you see."

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"Me too, as a matter of fact."  His face turns serious.  "Although I might not stay here very much longer.  I've heard some awful rumors.  - Ah, I don't mean to alarm," he says, flashing a genial grin.  "I'm just a shade paranoid."

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"Oh? What sorts? I do love gossip."

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"Not the pleasant sort, I'm afraid.  There's supposed to be a killer about."

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"Oh my. How frightening." She doesn't seem particularly frightened at all.

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Well gosh, if this is her she's tipping her hand early.  "Not an easy woman to faze, I take it?"

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Well if this isn't him she doesn't want to waste her time, does she?

"Oh, not at all. Nothing shocks me, it seems. What do they say about this killer?"

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"They say he's one of the ones with unnatural abilities.  Like the Guillotine - although I hadn't heard of him working with anyone else."

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"Is that so? You know, I heard an interesting thing, that where there's one killer there's often more. Rather like roaches."

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"Goodness.  Perhaps we really shouldn't stick around, then.  I hope you have some friends with whom you'll be safer."

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"Heh. Perhaps. Though I do find myself a bit bored lately."

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Hmm.  He was hoping she'd take the opportunity to offer to introduce him to the Guillotine.  Maybe she's still not totally sure?  Or wants an audition.

He chuckles.  "Is hanging around cities infested with serial killers a good way to stay entertained, in your experience?"

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"Pretty good. Always helps add an air of tension. A bit of chaos, perhaps."

Her daemon idly tracks someone passing a bit closer by than the usual flow, weaving his head like a snake contemplating a mouse.

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He laughs, like she told a joke, and follows the snake's gaze.  Goodness, he sure can turn his head.

"Well, it sounds like you came to the right place."  Amused smirk.  "I'm not sure I share your sense of fun, though.  I'd certainly want to get someplace safe before that stretchy fellow I've heard about showed up.  For instance."

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"Oh, my surroundings tend to be quite safe. For me, at least."

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"Well, I expect if he does show his face - " wink - "it will be quite an interesting meeting.  I am afraid I must depart before then, however."  He's not quite ready to be seen in public drastically altering his facial features - better to keep that trick up his sleeve, for now.  He stands.  "But with any luck, we'll see each other again soon."

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"Oh, certainly. I do so look forward to it."

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He doffs his hat again, and departs.  He's very good at disappearing into crowds, though Decima will be able to track the emanation of his power into a back alley.  After a time, he emerges once again into the main road, moving slowly through the crowd.

All's quiet, for a few moments.  Then, a susurration, not quite panicked just yet, as people recognize him or think they recognize him.  He stands still, shoulders loose, hands in his pockets, allowing a whispering crowd to form around him - "Is that him?" "What's he doing?" " - just standing there - "

He spreads his arms wide.  "That's right, folks, it's me."

Then his right arm shoots out to four times its previous length, fingers tangling and twining around a man's head, snaking down his throat, lifting him off the ground as he struggles.

Chaos.

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She sits and watches and itches to join in, but, no, this is an audition.

They can see later how well they mesh.

(Perhaps if a hero shows up? Oh, she does so hope a hero shows up.)

The woman sitting with her chin in her hand, grinning, eyes bright, probably stands out at least somewhat.

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Most of the crowd is necessarily going to be able to get away.  But he raises his other hand, and its fingers lengthen and snake through the air, looping around ankles and throats and, in one case, a sparrow daemon, causing a man to drop to the ground and wail.

Judging by the people whose throats he's constricting with his fingers, they're not limited by a finger's ordinary strength.

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(It's not clear to what extent his daemon is participating in this display, but she is focusing very intently on him.)

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She watches, amused, and feels the emergency services arriving just as the sirens start wailing. The cops here seem to have one hero on their roster, too. Beautiful.

And, oh, a projectile-enhancer. Interesting, and likely combines nicely with allies.

She stands up and idly moves away, positioning herself so she can keep watching without risking getting caught herself.

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Well, it had to happen sooner or later.  He'd been hoping for later, but you can't have everything.

His neck and spine twist erratically, pinpointing the direction that the sirens are coming from, and he heaves his victims around so they'll be between him and the cops when they arrive.

He rotates his head fully one hundred and eighty degrees and barks at his daemon, "Bast, get ready - "  Sharp, businesslike, none of the extravagant languor he displayed bantering with Decima.  Bast nods.

 

Soon, the cops arrive, police cars skidding to a stop, men with guns piling out of them and taking aim.  He maneuvers his hostages to give himself cover.  He drops his first victim, the one wrapped up in his entire hand, and the man slumps, unconscious or dead.

He still has the sparrow daemon entangled in one finger.  He breaks its wing, and the man on the ground vomits.  He whips it toward one of the cops, and the man whines pathetically and crawls after it.

Bast watches intently, attention flickering between Slimebones and the cops.  As one of them takes aim, Bast focuses -

An enhanced bullet impacts his chest and punches a hole clear through it, but there's no blood.  It looks rather like someone dropped a bowling ball in a vat of flesh-toned mud.

He flashes a winning smile at the cop who hit him, drops his hostages, and lopes, elastically, liquidly, into a maze of back alleys.  Bast follows and races ahead, a black blur.

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The cops are on his tail, the hero slowly making a few bullets selective - 

He gains distance, and Decima is leaning against a wall in an alley, still maskless, and she claps when she sees him.

"Quite entertaining indeed."

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"Are we done yet?" asks another person, who looks drawn into reality, colors not quite keeping perfectly to the confines of zir skin. Decima inclines her head, and the person's butterfly daemon flits between the three, colors bleeding from its body to whirl around them.

They're elsewhere.

"Your sense of style sucks," Tyrannissa tells Slimebones. "But Decima thinks you're funny, so."

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He chuckles.  "Can't please everyone, I suppose.  That's quite an impressive effect, by the way," he adds, gesturing toward zir.  "Is it an illusion?"

(Bast says nothing, just surveys her surroundings.)

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"It's my reality. My power is art."

Their surroundings are still an alleyway, but the details are different. Weathered brick rather than concrete, most noticeably. The murmur of sound is relaxed, typical for a city, less of the screaming.

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"Quite impressive," he says again, and turns to Decima.  "How did I do?"

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"Entertaining. I do like your style, and you handled the police with neither cowardice nor stupidity."

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"You flatter me.  Am I to meet the rest of the Guillotine, then?"

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"Maystadt had wanted to meet you, at least."

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"Is she around?  Where exactly are we?"

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"A hop away. Tyrannissa, if you would?"

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"Sure."

The world shifts around the butterfly again, until they're in a wooded area, in front of a house that looks like it's seen somewhat better days. The lights are on in the living room and kitchen. There's no neighbors visible or audible.

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"Is this the place?"  He conceals his glee.

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"Our current crashing ground, though we do usually stay pretty mobile."

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"Looks nice."  And he strolls toward the door.

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"Quite. Previous inhabitant certainly wasn't appreciating it enough."

The door opens into a short hallway adjacent to a sort of parlor, with a bay window overseeing the front yard. There's faint signs it's been redecorated - "Tyrannissa objecting to his interior design sense," Decima comments, "Had these horrible rooster decorations, it's much better now," (now being a fairly abstract theme, with knick-knacks that look like they'd be screaming if they had mouths, and paintings that look like very colorful blood splatters if you unfocus your eyes a bit) - and then the living room is where most of the people are, apparently, with an overstuffed couch and sinfully comfortable chairs, and pillows that look like more of Tyrannissa's design sense.

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"It is," Slimebones says.  "Lovely place.  May I?"  He gestures to an empty chair in the living room.

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"Go right ahead."

She sits down as well, Moira still draped over her shoulders, Tyrannissa perching one hip on the couch-arm next to Decima. Decima nods at some of the other people - one, a quiet man with little crystals braided into his hair, introduces himself in a soft voice as Kreus (his daemon is apparently hiding under the couch), and a woman who keeps tapping her fingers along her thigh, apparently unable to sit still, who half-snaps that she's Egni. She has a bird, evidently, a yellow canary that keeps hopping from her head to various perches nearby. There's no real indication to her power beyond maybe the name - she's in a plain purple tank-top and low-rise jeans, nothing thematic going on, not even a mask.

Permalink Eye

There are others.  A slender man in a black bodysuit and something like a hockey mask, holding a large steak knife with his bright yellow wasp daemon perched on the tip, says by way of introduction the word "Suture" without taking his eyes off his wasp.  A man whose skin looks to be made of mercury, with a fluffy housecat daemon, doesn't so much as spare him a glance -

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 - he's too busy staring adoringly at the woman in the chair next to him, the woman who must be Maystadt, the leader of the Guillotine, sitting in her chair like a throne with what looks to be a well-worn expression of equanimous severity on her face.

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She doesn't say anything to Slimebones when he enters, but confers under her breath for a moment with her strange, storklike daemon.

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"And, of course, last but certainly not least, our most noble leader, Maystadt. Welcome to our humble abode," Decima concludes, gesturing broadly with a showman's grin. "We will, of course, want to test how well you play with the team before any sort of major operation. Full power disclosure is not required, but helps with the whole not dying shtick."

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"I stretch," he says.  "In short, I can replace some or all of the mass of my body with a kind of - gel, I suppose, which I can deform but not meld.  I can't turn two fingers into a closed loop," he says, holding up one hand in an "ok" symbol, "but I can extend or withdraw them to almost any length."

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"I can suppress powers. Temporarily, and if they sent every hero in the states after me I'd be overwhelmed. Moira here," her snake lifts his head, "Is venomous. With a few different applications - we usually use the paralysis or a deadly venom. Tyrannissa can strengthen powers, rather like if you'd taken one of the relevant drugs, though it makes you look rather artistic for the duration. Zir daemon, Dolores, can teleport people."

Egni introduces herself as "Pyrokinesis, though don't expect any light shows. I prefer boiling blood."

While Kreus is a soft, "Crystallization."

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"Quicksilver," Maystadt says, gesturing to the man at her side, "is made of metal, with all that implies.  Suture is my healer.  I assume control of others' peripheral nervous systems, as I believe is public knowledge."

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"Yes, that sounds familiar.  A fascinating array."  He turns toward Decima.  "I'm impressed you and Moira can bear to make use of your daemon's ability at all."

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"Oh, we're not bothered at all. Don't you think there's a certain intimacy, in death? You never know someone quite as well as when that fear enters their eyes, and, well, that's all we need, isn't it?"

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"That's a fascinating perspective on killing!" he says earnestly.  "I don't think I've ever thought of it that way."

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"We each have our own ideals, I've found. But it's certainly interesting, all the reasons."

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"Is that why you do it, then, that intimacy?"

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"Somewhat. But more - death is special. The perfect zenith. If I could be but one thing, it would be that from which all things emerge, and to which they all return."

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"That's beautiful.  I'm afraid my own reasons are comparatively pedestrian."

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"I'll admit to being a bit of a poet. Do you mind sharing?"

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He muses.  “For a long time, it was for the challenge.  It’s difficult to get away with, if you’re maintaining a civilian identity.  And there’s just something about choosing not to be a good person that feels very liberating.  Well, you must know, of course.”

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"The challenge is very enjoyable. I don't really engage with concepts like 'good' and 'evil', I don't think, beyond 'playing the villain' being an amusing pastime. You should try having a philosophy debate with Tyrannissa sometime, though, ze has a delightful view."

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"I," ze says, "Have a correct view." (Ze has shifted into a washed out appearance, hair blurring with galaxies).

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"Sounds like a longstanding disagreement.  I'd love to hear about it."

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"Maybe you two should have that philosophy debate, then. Later, perhaps."

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"Perhaps."  He turns toward Maystadt.  "If you don't mind me asking - your name always sounded familiar, but I could never place it...?"

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"I am named after the man who proposed the process of intercision."

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He snaps his fingers.  "Of course.  What about everyone else?  Well, some of them are obvious."

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"Well, the obvious meaning - to decimate - but Decima is also the Roman name of the Fate who measures the thread of life. The Fates are also where I got Moira's name; he's a bitis atropos, too, which is named after the Fate who ends life."

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"Fire. Egni sounds better than Ignis," Egni says.

Kreus, then, shrugs and says, "I'm a bit of a word geek I guess? Kreus is a really old word for ice, is where we get 'crystal.'"

Tyrannissa nods and says, "Tyrannissa means Tyrant. In Middle Latin, but prettier. I got it from a poem:

"When, with flame all around him aspirant,

"Stood flushed, as a harp player stands,

"The implacable beautiful tyrant,

"Rose-crowned, having death in his hands;

"And a sound as the sound of loud water

"Smote far through the flight of the fires,

"And mixed with the lightning of slaughter,

"A thunder of lyres."

"There's a lot of verses. I know them all."

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"Implacable beautiful tyrant," he repeats, tasting the words on his tongue.  "I can see why you like that."

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Ze seems satisfied with that response.

"It is a good poem."

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"I shall have to read the whole thing one day."

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Tyrannissa nods.

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"After dinner we should demonstrate our abilities in more detail, and find a room for our new member."

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"Assuming you intend to stay with us?" her daemon adds.

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"Oh, I think so."

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"Sounds quite lovely."

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"I hope so."

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Maystadt leans toward Quicksilver and murmurs, "Start dinner."  Quicksilver nods and practically jumps out of his chair, heading toward the kitchen.

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"I'm also generally curious about some of your history. How you got started, experience you have, if you've ever been part of a team..."

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"How I got started," he says, with a flourish in his voice.  "Well.  I don't know if anyone here has ever tried to be a good person, but if you have, you probably know it's not pleasant.  I don't know how everyone else can stand doing it all their lives.  I tried, for a long time, but I couldn't do it.  So many things you must not do, constantly pressing on the surface of your mind like branding irons.  But until my abilities first manifested - " he holds up a finger illustratively, and curls it backward into a tight spiral like a chameleon's tail, "I didn't feel I could do anything about it.  When they did, I was faced with my first real choice, whether to be virtuous or happy, and I decided I was tired of being virtuous."  He unrolls his finger and puts his hand down.  "Since then I've been a wanderer, which is not always easy, but it's fulfilling.  To survive living a life like mine, you need to learn to steal and threaten and hide and kill, and I think I've become fairly skilled at each.  I've pilfered food and money by stealth and by force, I've assassinated civilians, I've killed and defended myself in battle - both with ordinary people and, once or twice, small-time superheroes.  But to answer your final question, this is the first time anyone else has caught my eye, and will be the first time I've tried working alongside anyone else."  He smiles conspiratorially and leans in: "I did once consider trying to live a double life as a superhero, but I don't think I could've made it last."

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"Can't say I've ever tried this 'good person' thing! My mother tried to have me exorcised when I was small, apparently. I've been utterly horrid my whole life."

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Slimebones laughs delightedly.  "I'm glad it didn't take!"

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"Inspiring that sort of deep horror in someone is dreadfully fun, though I'd be quite disappointed if an exorcism did work. I am so thoroughly myself, I should hate to think such a little thing could influence my behavior."

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"That's an interesting sentiment.  I don't think I ever considered how much myself I am.  I certainly wouldn't want to be changed back to the person I used to be, but more because he was just so unhappy than anything else."

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"It's not something most people think about, it seems."

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Slimebones makes further pleasant conversation with his fellow serial murderers as the evening proceeds.

The next day, it's time to demonstrate powers in greater detail.

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Decima can shut down powers hard, but only a handful of people at a time - two or three while she's being distracted, potentially as many as four or five if she's standing still and concentrating purely on that - and running away from her is plenty effective. Her exact range varies (and she's downplaying it), but 'a couple hundred feet' gets him out of 'easy' range pretty quickly.

Egni can do lightshows. Egni effectively only does that for intimidation. She can heat things up directly, and demonstrates the ability to melt things.

Kreus can cause crystals, easily if he's touching something, more difficultly at a distance, and his daemon propagates them faster than he can spread them on his own.

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Tyrannissa is terrifyingly effective at enhancing people's powers. Being enhanced feels strange, like staring down a steep slope into the abyss with unsure footing.

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Suture demonstrates his ability to heal by cutting open his own palm and willing it shut in about half a second. He doesn't do the same to anyone else, but he informs Slimebones that his range is a few yards, whether from him or his daemon. (They're not separated, but they can get enough distance to noticeably enhance his healing range.)

Quicksilver allows himself to be punched, stabbed, shot, and attacked briefly by Egni's flames; it is precisely as effective as doing so to a metal statue.

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Slimebones demonstrates and exposits: he can extend his arms and legs, fingers and toes, into tentacles twenty to thirty feet long, and move them as if they were boneless. He can also make the fleshy substance he replaces his body with more or less dense, and collect mass in particular body parts without changing their shape or size; this lets him remain balanced while lifting heavy objects with long arms or fingers, as he did during his audition.

He doesn't go into very much detail about exactly how he can make a single finger strong enough to lift a human being - "I don't fully understand it myself! But I think of it as creating something like new muscle fibers, except made out of the same undistinguished substance as the rest of me, that run from the extremity in question to wherever I collect my extra mass."

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Maystadt does not demonstrate her abilities. The stories of what she does to crowds of people are already widespread.

If her daemon can do the same, she does not deign to mention it.

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"Unfortunately we don't all have the best synergy. Do you have any ideas for how you could work with us, both offensively and defensively?"

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He strokes his chin contemplatively.  "I imagine Maystadt can handle most non-powered opposition.  I'm not quite as difficult to kill as Quicksilver, I don't think, but in my morphable form I can take a fair amount of abuse.  Many of us, it seems like, are capable of wreaking havoc excellently, but just as vulnerable as an unpowered human to guns or opposing powers.  My advantage probably lies in protecting my teammates from harm, absorbing damage and presenting a more pressing target to heroes who would otherwise carry out surgical strikes against, say, Decima or Kreus."

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"That's pretty much my role too," Quicksilver says brightly.  "It'll be good to have someone else like that on the team, I can feel a bit overstretched sometimes once Maystadt starts running out of hostages."

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"Good luck keeping Decima from challenging the nearest martial type to a knife fight," Egni says, snorting.

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"Well, I suppose that is her prerogative."

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"It's so much more enjoyable than simply resting on our luck in powers."

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"Perhaps I'll try it, if I get bored of indestructibility."

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"I'd hate being indestructible. No challenge whatsoever."

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"There's challenge, and then there's challenge," Slimebones says.  "I don't want to be handed my victories on a silver platter, but I do like the insurance."

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"Reasonable. I prefer the thrill, and quickly grew tired of easy fights."

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"Well, I can certainly understand taking drastic steps to relieve boredom."

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"I think that motivates many of us more than we like to admit."

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He laughs.

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Soon, they all filter back inside.

Maystadt gathers the better part of the team to come with her on an errand - "Nothing exciting," Quicksilver says chattily, "just a shopping trip, we're only there to lurk out of sight in case someone somehow recognizes Suture out of his costume and things go sour" - but leaves Slimebones behind.  A few others, including Decima, are instructed to stay behind as well to keep an eye on him.

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She returns to her ongoing task of pilfering the house for interesting books, boxing some up for Tyrannissa to put wherever she stores things.

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Slimebones retreats upstairs with Bast, luxuriating in the room that the others picked out for him.  It's small, and bare, but the bed is comfortable.

Hmm.  No, luxuriating gets boring after a few minutes.  But this is a big house with lots of interesting people living in it, and they probably have interesting things squirreled away in their rooms, too.  He doesn't even have to say anything to Bast, they just share a look and set off.

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They've both already noted down the creakiest floorboards, and they know how to walk slowly and lightly to minimize sound.  They've spent enough time not being overtly sketchy, they both suspect, that they've got at least a few minutes of no one having seen them before anyone gets suspicious.

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Maystadt's room would probably be the most interesting.  It's locked, but that's not much of an obstacle; he can form fleshen pseudopods far finer than the width of his fingers, and he knows how to pick a lock.

It's a bit disappointing, actually.  It's poorly lit and almost as empty of interesting furnishings as his own room.  There is a single bookshelf, with a few well-worn volumes about Doctor Maystadt and similarly unsavory historical figures on it.  On the wall behind her bed there's a setting board with a single inexpertly pinned cockroach.  Her bedside table contains a few newspaper clippings, which look to be of her own and the Guillotine's first exploits.

He'd been hoping for a diary, he'd be fascinated to learn what kind of diary a person like Maystadt kept, but apparently the answer is "none".  Oh well.

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Quicksilver's room is brighter, more comfortable: a desk and chair, a comfier-looking bed, more pillows, a scratching post for his daemon.  Slimebones is surprised he can discern levels of pillow comfort under that metal skin.  His own bedside table also has newspaper clippings about Maystadt, but a lot more of them, and with a greater focus on her in particular rather than the Guillotine as a whole.  His own collection of books isn't interesting, except in that they're bookmarked with even more clippings.

He doesn't have a diary either, but Slimebones does find a small sketchbook on his desk, which he pages through.  Rather than drawings, it's full of calligraphy: elaborate renderings of Maystadt's name.

About halfway through the Maystadts become interspersed with instances of the name Yvonne Sharpe.

Well.  It's not a name Slimebones recognizes, but that might still be useful.  Assuming that is Maystadt's name, and not some competitor for Quicksilver's affection.

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Hmm.  What's in Decima's room?

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Apparently shared with Tyrannissa, going by the amount of abstract art present. And the two beds, one of which is an art piece itself. There's also numerous books crowding the room, many of them very old, and a few more journal-looking on the cluttered desk. It smells like a library, and like ink, and like paint.

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Goodness, this certainly is Tyrannissa's room.  Maybe this was the sort of thing Decima was talking about, when she talked about people being so much themselves.

Slimebones pads quietly toward the desk, picks up and leafs through one of the journals(?).

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Full of calligraphy, mostly assorted poems, often with little illustrations. Emily Dickenson, Sylvia Plath, E.E. Cummings, and more that he doesn't recognize. 'Life, death, and the meaning of existence' is a common theme, though there's a few odes to nature, and a few odder narratives (Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market," A.E. Houseman's "Her Strong Enchantments Failing," Lord Byron's "Darkness," and Claude McKay's "Outcast" are some of the more illustrated ones).

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He's never been one for poetry, but anything of somebody else's is an interesting read.  He glances briefly at a random page in each other journal-like volume, expecting more of the same, then turns to survey the room again.

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Decima is standing behind him.

"Having fun?" she asks.

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"Well, isn't this dreadfully embarrassing."

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"Just a little bit. Be glad I'm not Egni."

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"This would be ending differently, I take it?"  He and Bast make to leave the room.

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"I suspect we'd be cleaning one of the two of you out of the floorboards."

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"I'm flattered you think I'd stand a chance.  Apparently I'm not as stealthy as I thought."

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"Sound carries through the floor exceptionally well. Old houses, you know."

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Hmm.  He has ever been snooping around the second floor of a building before.  Maybe not one quite this old, but nonetheless, he did not notice any sound traveling exceptionally well to his ears.

"If I'm ever involved in any second-story work, I'll be sure to keep that in mind.  And my sincerest apologies, once again."

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"Oh, I'm not particularly bothered. And I'd like to see you succeed."

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"Well, I'm glad you're the one who caught me, then."

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"Indeed." She'll firmly shut the door behind them as they leave. "What do you do to amuse yourself, other than snoop?"

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"Oh, I'm afraid I'm rather boring when I'm not causing trouble.  Incidentally, where exactly are we?  Perhaps I'll go into town and snoop on civilians instead."

Permalink Eye

"North of the exclusion zone - we're in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nearest place that's more than a few buildings is Robeson Township. You want something with an actual population, you'll likely have to go all the way into Reading. We're doing our shopping somewhere else entirely - Tyrannissa's daemon's power is convenient like that - but I understand if you don't trust it yet."

Permalink Eye

He'd been wondering if they were going to keep him in the dark about their actual location for a time, as a deterrent against running away.  Thankfully, not.  "I trust it enough to ride it here, certainly.  And I wouldn't want to cause too much trouble in such a quiet place, and draw attention to our hideout.  What do you do for leisure?"

Permalink Eye

"I read, mostly, or train. I like keeping my physical skills sharp, and 'fancy knife throwing' is a fun party trick."

Permalink Eye

"That sounds prudent and entertaining.  Do we have any guns?"

Permalink Eye

"A collection, both that we brought with us and that we found here."

Permalink Eye

"Let's take a look, shall we?"

Permalink Eye

"That sounds quite likely to be entertaining."

The guns are in a converted garage - Decima comments they have more stashed wherever Tyrannissa puts assorted things, but those obviously aren't currently accessible. The previous owner seems to have been quite the collector - there's a variety of hunting guns (ranging from a low-caliber 'varmint' gun to a high-caliber 'the fuck are you planning to shoot with that' gun), several antique guns, some high-capacity semi-automatics, and a few handguns. 

Permalink Eye

"Do any of these antiques still work?  I suppose the accuracy will probably suffer even if they do..."

Permalink Eye

"I haven't thoroughly tested all of them, but they look in good condition overall. Finding ammunition, on the other hand, might be a bother."

Permalink Eye

"Point."  So he takes the shiniest handgun he can find instead, testing its weight in his hands.

Permalink Eye

It's a solid, reliable piece, as far as he can tell. The caliber's 10mm - good and affordable, intended for self-defense or medium (up to deer-sized) game. 

Permalink Eye

"One must look the part," he says as he puts on a holster.  "What's your poison?  Or do you prefer knives?"

Permalink Eye

"Quite. I'm a bit classically minded, really."

Permalink Eye

"I can respect that."

Outside, to practice?

Permalink Eye

Outside!

There's old, beaten up targets, and apparently someone decided the worst of the old furnishings and decorations make good targets, too, because there's a few bits of rooster paraphernalia off to the side, and signs of plenty having been broken.

Permalink Eye

He takes aim at a rooster.  Bang.

Permalink Eye

The rooster breaks, though some of it's still intact near the feet.

Decima starts idly practicing trick knife throws - she's good, but 'talented professional' good, not anything supernatural.

Permalink Eye

Slimebones will applaud lightly for particularly spectacular throws.

Permalink Eye

She bows with a fancy flourish, like a stage magician.

Permalink Eye

He doesn't do anything too spectacularly stupid with his handgun, but he's clearly enjoying himself.

Permalink Eye

Practicing is fun!

"We'll have to arrange an outing where we can use our skills properly," she says. "Perhaps a small target, enough for me to shut down any significant powers, and see who's the better marksman."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, that sounds like great fun.  Will we have to keep it secret from Maystadt?"

Permalink Eye

"Hopefully not, as long as she isn't in too much of a wet blanket mood. There's nothing stopping us from ranging outside of our normal stomping grounds, anyways."

Permalink Eye

"Then it's a date."

Permalink Eye

"I look forward to it."

Permalink Eye

Practice proceeds; and without letting it show on his face, Slimebones thinks.  He can't quite figure out who's playing who here, and it's great fun, but at some point soon he should try to get something solid on somebody in order to shore up an alliance.  "Coworkers" doesn't strike him as a terribly safe relationship in this kind of organization.  Especially since, if Decima detected him moving around upstairs, she might also know he was spying on Maystadt, so she has something on him - he can't imagine Maystadt being as forgiving as Decima was. And Maystadt's face is too well-known for her to be maintaining a civilian identity, so his knowing Maystadt's legal name might not give him much leverage over her, if Decima decides to turn against him.

(He may be in a bad position, but this is still much more fun than playing this game against ordinary people.)

Soon enough, their impromptu practice session wraps up.  "I believe this belongs to the house" he says, gesturing with the pistol.

Permalink Eye

"That's probably the best place to stash it for now," she agrees. "Though if you want to keep it and would rather not risk losing it if we're attacked, I doubt anyone will mind you keeping it with you."

(Mind games can be terribly amusing, she'll agree. She's contemplating which of her 'secrets' to turn over, or let him think she's turned over, to make him think he has enough leverage over her to be comfortable. She's already strongly hinted at one.)

Permalink Eye

"I think I shall, if I am permitted," he grins.

And then, back to the house, to lurk around more public rooms, and maybe grab a book to skim through.

Permalink Eye

She'll go back to lurking creepily elsewhere.

(The books are a mixture of 'the old inhabitants had it, neither Decima nor Tyrant bothered stealing them', which are mostly fairly bland though there's a few Decima simply already has multiple of, to 'books brought along, by not-Decima because those are in her room.')

Permalink Eye

It's a few restless days before he and Decima get a chance to get out of the house.

Permalink Eye

Decima makes a list of potential targets, and somewhat jokingly suggests picking by throwing a dart at a map, blindfolded. (She's filtered primarily for 'Tyrant can teleport us close enough and it meets criteria'.)

Permalink Eye

"Will we be acting openly or discreetly, do you think, on this outing?"

Permalink Eye

"Unfortunately Maystadt tends to like to keep our membership a question, and might not want to reveal you so soon, and doesn't think fake mustaches are a sufficient disguise. But if you're willing to work semi-discreetly, there is this one investigator I've been trying to tweak the nose of..."

She can't help it. Jun Park is adorable when angry and an amazingly clever fighter.

Permalink Eye

"More than willing.  The press knows my face, but it doesn't know that I can tweak it - " he causes a mass of what looks like scar tissue to erupt down from his forehead across his left eye - "so I can give myself some distinctive feature that the serial killer Slimebones does not have, and no one will look twice, even with Bast in plain sight.  - well, they will, but not for that reason."

Permalink Eye

"Misdirection sounds quite fun. I might even use my normal face - I usually have Tyranissa boost me first. Gives things a flair."

Permalink Eye

"I look forward to seeing that.  Though not today, I think.  So where is this nemesis of yours based?"

Permalink Eye

"One of the old areas near the exclusion zone, but outside of the usual swarm targets. Williamsburg, in Virginia - it's closeish to Richmond."

Permalink Eye

"I don't believe I've been out that way.  Well.  I have my gun, you have your knives?  Anything else?"  He's grabbed one of Maystadt's surplus of burner cellphones, in case they somehow get split up and need to stay in contact.

Permalink Eye

"Contacting Tyrant for a lift, but other than that, not particularly. I've already raided my funds - I have a few types of currency usually accepted around there."

Permalink Eye

"Excellent.  Shall we go find Tyrant, then?"

Permalink Eye

"Let's."

Permalink Eye

Fortunately, Tyrant is easily found, and doesn't mind transporting them - or waiting in the wings to provide either emergency support or a ride home.

Ze's gotten distracted by some art project, so doesn't demand to be brought along, and even jokes about shifting into a normal shape to see if the nearby library has any good art books.

Permalink Eye

"As you like, of course."

He turns to Decima.  "Well, it's your party.  Lead the way."

Permalink Eye

"My pleasure." A nod to Tyrant, and they're skipped a step, then deposited out of sight, in a wide alleyway near the road. The buildings here are lower than most cities, more spread out. 

Permalink Eye

"I'll keep an eye on you both," Tyrant says, before shifting to look like a normal human man - utterly indistinct in features - "Try not to start trouble right behind me." And ze'll slip out and away.

Permalink Eye

False scar tissue ripples into existence across his face.  "Where to first?"

Permalink Eye

"Hm. Usually I like causing chaos, but today... I'm thinking we start slower. Near the edges. Let people build up fear."

Permalink Eye

"Two civilians on vacation, occasionally dropping ominous hints, perhaps a body is found in a few hours...?"

Permalink Eye

"If you feel like spending the time, yes."

Permalink Eye

"Or however long you want to spend building suspense," he amends.

Permalink Eye

"I think a few hours' delay works. I admit, I'm tempted to leave the bodies such that they form an image if viewed on a map - like one of those little connect-the-dots."

Permalink Eye

" - there's an idea."  He strokes his chin pensively.  "I don't think the Guillotine has ever done anything like that before.  We don't have a symbol, do we?  Although it may be better not to make the connection obvious, even if we can."

Permalink Eye

"We don't! It's a pity."

Permalink Eye

"Hmm.  Perhaps a pentagram, or - which one is this one, do you know?"  He traces the shape of a unicersal hexagram in the air with one finger.  "To suggest occultist activity, if we want to draw attention away from ourselves.  But those are a bit obvious, admittedly..."

Permalink Eye

"One issue, yes. They do have the advantage of being easy to make - an upside down pentagram would require only ten bodies. Perhaps the necronomicon seal, or one of those lovecraftian ones - Nodens and Nyarlathotep both have interesting symbols."

Permalink Eye

"We could do it in five, if we trust the police to connect the dots in the order that the crimes were committed.  But reproducing the necronomicon's seal sounds like an interesting challenge."

Permalink Eye

"I do love challenges, and this city is plenty big, I believe."

Permalink Eye

"Well.  We should acquire a map, unless you already have one.  Though for a project this ambitious I'm almost tempted to regroup and plan a bit more, before executing the actual murders."

Permalink Eye

"Hm. There's nothing saying we need a single day, except for the challenge. We could scout today, at a minimum. Identify likely places and targets?"

Permalink Eye

"Sounds like a plan."  And off they go.

Permalink Eye

A map's easy to find, and Decima draws little skulls at the best places to leave - or make - bodies while sitting under a particularly lovely tree in a less trafficked park.

Permalink Eye

Slimebones leans over her shoulder, makes suggestions, laughs along.

Permalink Eye

Accurately mapping a complicated seal onto a street grid is surprisingly difficult! Luckily the roofs around here are suitable for leaving bodies on for the most part. Perhaps they can even leave some inside buildings.

Permalink Eye

"See, I was assuming they'd all go inside buildings, but on the roofs is interesting."

Permalink Eye

"Variety is the spice of life and death."

Permalink Eye

He laughs delightedly.

Planning continues, and eventually concludes.

Permalink Eye

They even have time for a murder or several, to start them off - and then the question becomes do they want to build this up over days, or do a spree?

Permalink Eye

"I always like seeing my handiwork on the news.  What say we wait a few days?"

Permalink Eye

"To start, or between each murder - that will take quite a while if we wait for each. But that build-up of fear is quite the tempting target."

Permalink Eye

"Maybe not between each.  A few pilot attempts, as a warmup, you know; and if in a few days they haven't sniffed us out we can start doubling down."

Permalink Eye

"A slow start to get their attention, and then a sprint to alarm them. Sounds fun."

Permalink Eye

"Precisely.  Hmm... Do you think Tyrannissa would be willing to help us move the bodies?  Transporting them with - adequate discretion - could be tricky, otherwise."

Permalink Eye

"Ze likely will. This sort of art's likely to interest zem, too, so we might have help beyond a ride."

Permalink Eye

"My ambition seems to be running away with me," Slimebones says.  "Perhaps you should contact zem; I don't think ze likes me very much."  He sounds completely unbothered by it.

Permalink Eye

"Tyrant's a bit odd about showing affection legibly; ze likes you plenty."

Permalink Eye

...huh.

"Well, I'm quite gratified."

Permalink Eye

Small smile, and - "I think we should start with this point. It'll be a challenge, it's fairly public, but a body here should make the news quickly."

Permalink Eye

"I'm amenable.  Shall I dial Tyrannissa, then?"

Permalink Eye

"That would be quite lovely."

Permalink Eye

He dials Tyrannissa's burner phone.

Permalink Eye

Ze seems distracted, but is amenable to coming to act as transport (which ze can apparently do even with zir head buried in a book on art nouveau).

Permalink Eye

"Any interesting targets in mind, or do you just want to wait for nightfall and pick a house?"

Permalink Eye

"Hm. I haven't seen anyone that jumps out at me, unfortunately... So I suppose pick a house it is."

Permalink Eye

"How about something nearby?  This looks promising..."

Soon enough, nightfall arrives.

Permalink Eye

Their target isn't anyone exceptional - but their bed is perfectly placed for the ritual. There's multiple people in the house - roommates, apparently - but Decima's inclined to only kill the one in that particular room. For the challenge, mostly. Killing an entire household is thoroughly possible; killing someone without alerting their house-mates is quite a bit harder.

Permalink Eye

"Well, no promises if things start going south."

Permalink Eye

"Of course. I was just thinking for goals."

Permalink Eye

He nods.  "I'll let you have the first one, since you have the knives."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, thank you, that's quite sweet." She turns to survey the house, then, once it seems their target has retired to bed, slinks up to the space under the window. She could pick the locks and go in through the door, but that's always so boring, and climbing up the outside to shimmy open a window is far more entertaining.

Their target's awake when she arrives, but facing away, which means Decima can ever so gently slide the window up, let Moira in to find the man's daemon - a calico cat, sleeping under the bed - and pad over behind him.

She'd prefer to paralyze him. Let him fear for a long, long time as she paints the room in his blood. But that's just about one of her signatures at this point, and this is a long game she's playing. She can play with later prey.

(It'd be best if she could kill him without a mark, but, well, a knife across his throat suffices just as well. He gurgles a bit and collapses, and his daemon startles then fades.)

Decima exits the same way she came in, easing the window closed behind her, and climbing easily to the ground.

Permalink Eye

He pantomimes applause.

Permalink Eye

Once they've retreated a bit to meet up with Tyrant: "Going so quickly is a bit boring, but I figure we can escalate with each one. Build the tension, some."

Permalink Eye

"Indeed.  Do we have a second target for the night?"

Permalink Eye

"I wouldn't deny you a chance at some fun. Opposite side of the design, perhaps - do we want to move a body this time, or leave it in place?"

Permalink Eye

"I think you get more than I do out of challenging yourself, to be honest.  If it were me, I'd make it as easy as possible.  Teleport in, quick knife to the neck, teleport out.  Assuming I'm not overstretching your daemon's abilities, in this hypothetical," he adds to Tyrannissa.

Permalink Eye

"We don't teleport as fast as Decima likes to go, but it's not very tiring, no."

Permalink Eye

"Well then.  If it's my turn," he says, producing a switchblade, "I suggest we be expedient."

Permalink Eye

Tyrannissa nods, then moves all three of them across town and to a vantage point overlooking their next target. "Where do you want to appear?" ze asks, glancing at what can be seen in the window. "My teleport is slow, so they might see us before you can act, if we are in their sight."

Permalink Eye

"Perhaps in a closet, then, if you can select a target with that much fineness."

Permalink Eye

"I wouldn't be able to fit both of us. But... The hallway outside their door should be empty."

Permalink Eye

"After you, then.  As it were."

Permalink Eye

Ze nods - 

And the world spins into colors, then unravels into an unremarkable hallway, thin carpet beneath their feet, walls mostly clean except for a few water stains near the ceiling.

There's a few doors off of it, but Tyrannissa gestures to a particular one. White painted wood, unassuming.

Permalink Eye

He and Bast both can move very quietly.  No putting on a show today: his movements, his demeanor, are optimized for stealth and efficiency.  Gently, gently, turning the doorknob and easing the door open, cautious of creaking hinges.

Permalink Eye

There's a woman, reading on her desktop computer, headphones over her ears and gaze currently turned away from him.

Permalink Eye

Bast peers around silently, looking for her daemon.

Permalink Eye

A fennec fox has one ear poking out of a nest of blankets near her feet. 

Permalink Eye

There is a knife at the woman's throat, now, and a paw pressing down on the fox's blankets.  Both are told, quietly, not to scream.

Permalink Eye

She freezes, eeps, and the fox squirms then goes still. "Who - who are - who are you?" she asks, voice shaking and not loud but rising in pitch in a way that might be uncharitably misinterpreted.

Permalink Eye

"My name is Thomas," he says, and he slits her throat.

Permalink Eye

She gurgles, tries to scream but can't - 

And collapses, blood spurting from her carotid and painting the walls and soaking the floor.

Her fox has enough time to start a shrill alarm before dissolving.

Permalink Eye

Tyrannissa steps into the room.

Permalink Eye

"Time to go, I think," he says, contorting his face into unsettling unrecognizability in case someone else follows.

Permalink Eye

"Yes."

And the world dissolves again, depositing them back next to Decima.

Permalink Eye

"Have fun?" she asks.

Permalink Eye

"The fun part comes in a few weeks, when the whole continent is hysterical."

Permalink Eye

"Oh, that'll be delightful! Though it might take some time to filter all the way through the networks. But I suppose if we make enough of a splash..."

Permalink Eye

"My thoughts exactly."

Permalink Eye

"Do you want to move the body to the roof, or leave it?"

Permalink Eye

"It may be unwise to try to re-enter.  The dead woman's daemon managed to sound the alarm, unfortunately."

Permalink Eye

"Pity. Should we be moving on, then? I do believe we are done for the night..."

Permalink Eye

"Yes, let's."

Permalink Eye

Dolores, having finished resting (mostly), takes off, and flits them back to just out of sight of the current hideout. 

Permalink Eye

He smiles.  "A good day's work."

Permalink Eye

"I had quite a bit of fun, even if a good bit of that's anticipation."

Permalink Eye

"Me too.  I'll be honest, I never imagined how pleasant doing this sort of thing with somebody else would be."

Permalink Eye

"It's the best part about a team! Both adding a social aspect and new tricks when our powers combine well."

Permalink Eye

"Indeed."

Permalink Eye

She'll head back in with a few simple parting words.

The next morning, something quite interesting has made the news.

Permalink Eye

"...reports from Williamsburg of two murders in one night, committed with no apparent witnesses.  At midnight last night, a woman was discovered by her husband, killed in her own bedroom; and this morning a second victim was found on the roof of his house.  Police have not released the names of the victims, but say that there is no apparent connection between them, and that they do not suspect the families of the victims of any foul play at this time.  Neighbors are shaken, and have expressed worry about the possibility of a superpowered serial killer in their midst..."

Permalink Eye

"Fun! Still a mere possibility..."

Permalink Eye

"That's how it always starts."

Permalink Eye

"I wonder how long it'll take them to start connecting dots."

Permalink Eye

"That probably depends on our next moves.  Speaking of which, do you still have that map?"

Permalink Eye

"Yes, let me get it..." She does so.

Permalink Eye

He'll spend some time poring over it with her, planning the order in which to kill their next victims.

Permalink Eye

They should try to make the final form as non-obvious as possible - while it's inevitable their last movements will be predicted, it's more exciting to stave that off.

Permalink Eye

And more strategic!  He'll help plot out the best order in which to kill their next victims.

Permalink Eye

She has some experience with this, and knows the head detective in the area very well, too, which certainly helps.

But, well, they can hardly spend their lives just planning.