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Ledger

"Preach your morals and justice all you want, you're just as bad as me in your own way."

0 · 107 views · located in Las Flores

a character in “Blurry Lines: Establishing Them”, as played by Perfidy

Description

Ledger
My list is one that you will not have time to regret being on.

Name
Maatika Sahimi

Role
Villain

Age
Visual Age: 25
Factual Age: 25

Appearance
Hair: Thick, Black, Braided
Facial Hair: None
Eyes: Dark Brown
Build: Tall and well-muscled
Skin Tone: Dark Brown
Height: 5'10”
Weight: 155 lbs.
Voice: Somewhat deep with a bit of a rasp
Handed: Right
Body Markings: A bridge piercing and several earrings. Maatika also has approximately two-thousand miniscule and perfectly parallel words inked in white that cover her feet up to the ankle, as well as her hands up to the wrist. These tattooed words are too small to see without the assistance of a magnification tool.
Scar Tissue: A couple childhood burns on the left arm.
Unique Body Features: None of note.

[Some people are good at hiding their emotions, cultivating an air of mystery about themselves. Others are skilled in the art of body language and can make the slightest change in stance significant. Maatika embodies most of these traits, and is a difficult read at the best of times. If someone has a good idea of what is going through Monty's head it is either because she wants them to, or because she no longer fears what they can do with that information.

Being raised in a factory community does not leave one with the luxury (or option) of frailty. Maatika, while not boasting the bullish frames of her father and other siblings, is well-built. She sports wide shoulders and hips, with musculature borne of hard work and maintained by routine. Maatika has a special disdain for people who use her childhood monicker, “Thunder Thighs”.

Arrogance is a word that comes to mind when observing Maatika's mannerisms. The woman bears herself in a way that makes it seem she has not a care in the world. No fear. A constant, condescending stare is her default expression. It will make the perceptive think twice about whether or not they are seeing a woman with too little restraint, or merely a practiced facade.

As for wear, Maatika spares no expense. Her closet is filled to bursting with lavish suits, dresses, scarves and accessories from varying locales. Her main preference for everyday attire is a blue-black suit with several silver adornments, as well as black designer gloves and shoes. Maatika keeps her hair in a functional, but fashionable do and has a love of dark, dusky makeup.

On a side-note, Maatika has two false-molars with a cyanide pills stored within.]

Sexuality
Bisexual

Personality
Motivation: Causing as much damage to the world as possible. Maatika has several plots in the making and carries on this way just to see how far she can get.
Fears: Maatika fears being overwhelmed more than anything else. Some unstoppable force that she can do literally nothing to combat.
Goals: To indulge in as much as she can before death. Given her unique abilities, that is quite a bit of ground to cover.
Positive Traits: Inquisitive+Affectionate+Protective
Negative Traits: Jealous-Vindictive-Uncompromising

[Anarchist is too extreme, willful too simple, and chaotic is just plain rude. At least, that is what Maatika would tell someone.

In truth, Maatika is just confident. Having your own chunk of immortality can do that to people. Sometimes she wonders if knowledge of the nature of her powers has stunted her growth in regards to emotional capacity. Most of the time, she does not care. Whatever the case may be, Maatika has grown into a woman who is simultaneously accepting of many walks of life as well as unwilling to see the other side of an argument.

Maatika has a love for new experiences of almost any kind. Foods, sports, drugs...it matters very little to her, as long as she enjoys it. Oddly enough, Ledger lacks an addictive faucet to her personality. Quite the opposite, actually, as Maatika invariably becomes bored with anything even approaching a set routine. She will go through the hassle of breaking apart something in her life that was working just fine simply to see the aftermath.

Due to the nature of her ability, Maatika is brilliant in an unconventional way. She was raised in an environment in which basic education was not a necessity, and has grown up not knowing as much as most people in the U.S. should know by high school. As she gained a better understanding of her power, however, Maatika gained knowledge at an exponential rate. Maatika is for all intents and purposes a mathematical prodigy. Her spatial awareness is incredible; outcomes, routes, planning seven moves ahead in a few seconds. Monty may not know who Caesar was, but she can outmaneuver most pieces on the board.

As far as her emotional capacity is concerned, Maatika holds very little value for human life. Taking a life comes as naturally as breathing. To her, it feels more like another action than anything else. Maatika takes no special pleasure in snuffing out lives or saving them; Monty enjoys winning no matter the cost. In fact, the costlier the win, the sweeter.

Lovers and friends are an entirely different matter, if not for the reasons a good person would have. Maatika feels a sense of ownership over people that she is especially fond of. As such, they fall under her veil of protection. Any threat to them will be summarily handled in the most vicious, unnecessarily brutal fashion possible. That is not to say that these same people are exempt from her ire. In fact, one might argue that being loved by Maatika is worse that being her enemy. Not that anyone would know that, of course.

The one thing that anyone dealing with Maatika will eventually learn is that she is not in it for the money. Not the glory. Not the power. She just wants to watch the world burn, to watch people panic, to make others uncomfortable, and to see what happens next. The best way to get her attention is to value something. Anything, no matter how small. She will notice, and she will take it from you in as terrible a fashion as possible.]

Likes
•New Experiences
•New People
•Stifling Atmosphere
•Adrenaline
•Exerting her influence over others
•Public displays of adoration
•Public displays of humiliation

Dislikes
•Being spoken down to
•Being talked back to
•Unecessary work
•Being deceived
•Having anything taken from her

Relationships
Maatika comes from a family of seven, with two sisters and two brothers. As far as she knows, they are still alive and well back home. She has no current partner and her friends are more like business associates than anything else. She is her own best friend, a hundred times over.

With her keen interest in other metahumans, Maatika has begun "collecting" them. Her favorites are listed below:
•Sandra Liland: One of the few metahumans that Ledger has more than a passing interest in. Her power is remarkably strong, and the girl is ambitious. Ledger currently has Sandra keeping the trade districts in Amaranthine territory in check, but big things are in the making so that will change very soon.

•Mako Senshin: Ledger's current pet project employed as a sort of personal vigilante. She does good work, and Maatika has a genuine sense of fondness for the young woman.

•Alejandro Vasquez: The most recent obsession in a long line of oddities, Ledger has no idea what to do about Alejandro. Aside from hiring him for his less than savory services, Ledger has an insatiable need to find a way to kill Alejandro. For good. That, or find a way to replicate his power in her own, and then seal him in concrete. Ledger has not decided yet.


Power
The most accurate way to describe the powers manifested in Maatika would be to take a look at common pathogens. Maatika's cells are, for lack of a better word, a macro-virus. From the outside looking in, the power in action looks like immortality. Maatika dies, and she returns to life within a few days to reek bloody vengeance on those who killed her. Maatika has died a total of thirty-four times to date, although to the knowledge of everyone else she has merely survived grievous injuries..

In reality however, Maatika's ability is far more insidious. There are four stages to her powers: Infection, Dormancy, Activation, and Conversion.

•Infection: It begins with a touch. By keeping direct contact with another human being for a minimum of ten minutes, Maatika can direct enough of her cells into the target to begin. Any bodily tissue contact will do; a barber with Maatika's hair on his hands, holding hands on a date. Exchanging bodily fluids expedites the process immensely.

•Dormancy: The second stage begins when the cells have nestled into a safe spot in the brain of the infected. Maatika has a kind of remote access to these cells, and can tell where the infected is as long as they are within twenty miles of Maatika or another infected. Maatika can tell when one of these infected is stressed, wounded, or dying through a minor empathic link. After thirty days of incubation, Monty has the ability to read more deeply into the mind of the infected. She gains the ability to tell whether they are lying, telling the truth, happy or angry. It is with this remote access that Maatika causes the third phase of her power to function.

Activation: The rapid multiplication of the infected cells within a host body. These cells quickly devour and replace the brain cells of the host over the course of ten minutes. In essence this process kills the mind of the host. The end result in a near-perfect mental copy of Maatika herself in a new body. The new “Maatika” has basic knowledge of the important details that the host would remind themselves of or use often, things such as labor skills, the names of close friends and family, PIN numbers, and other daily trivialities. The new clone also has perfect muscle-memory. The deception is close enough to the original that the new “Maatika” could assume the life of the host without rousing suspicion too quickly. Thepart of this stage that allows Maatika to coordinate her organization so fluidly is her advanced remote communication. Mental clones have a hive-mind type intelligence that forms with the original Monty at first, and links with other clones as they age. After a development period of approximately one month, the clones can initiate two-way communications with one another.

Conversion: Here we come to the last, most integral phase of Maatika's power: Conversion. Upon brain-death, Maatika's body disintegrates into a fine powder and her mind overwrites that of the closest mental clone within range of her powers. While this kills the mind of the clone, the process allows the original Maatika to persist. And what is the goal of a disease if not to infect and adapt? Over the course of twenty-four hours, the cells within the infected host within range of Maatika at her time of death alter the new body to a point where it is a close clone of Maatika's original body. Some minor differences remain (eye color of the host, scars, etc.,) and fade within a week as Maatika's cells adjust. The final faucet of her power, one that screams of evolutionary madness, is that Maatika gains the strongest physical attribute, muscle-memories, and arithmetic abilities of the host. Whenever a more powerful attribute would be absorbed (a stronger immune system, more tightly corded muscle fibers, etc.) the older attribute is overwritten.

With that in mind, Maatika has killed dozens of physically superior clones in a confined room in order to absorb their attributes and become more imposing herself.

With each person she Activates, the first name of the person whose mind she erased is etched on her flesh in what appears to be white ink. The names are precisely one centimeter long each, no matter the amount of letters. They began appearing on the ends of Maatika's fingers and toes, and have worked their way up to her ankles and wrists as she collected more bodies to snatch. The nerves of the flesh covered by the names are completely dead. Upon Converting a new body, the names appear on the flesh of the new skin within eight hours.

Maatika is completely unaware, but when the names reach the base of her neck, she will experience true death. No Conversion process. It just ends. Due to the ravenous nature of her cells, Maatika requires roughly four times the normal caloric intake of a normal human. Also, only the original Maatika herself can spread the Infection. Two odd limitations that Maatika cannot seem to get around is that her Infection cannot be transmitted to individuals with powers of their own, or people who have yet to reach puberty.

Equipment
Maatika of course carries a smart phone, as well as two disposable phones at any given time. In her line of work, side-arms are a must. Maatika carries a .40 Smith & Wesson, and a heavy compact combat knife as her last resort. More often than not she allows the heavy lifting to be done by her underlings.

Strengths
•Adept in the use of small-arms weaponry.
•A wide variety of skills adopted from previous host bodies
•Very personable
•Supernatural arithmetic problem solving ability
•A large accumulation of wealth due to generous “donations”

Weaknesses
•Ridiculously sure of her ability to overcome any foe
•Obsessive, usually in regards to specific people
•Audio-visual hallucinations of bits of the lives of some host bodies
•Her power is near useless in isolated areas
•Must masquerade as a low-priority member of her own organization
•Older, more canny clones often rebel against Monty in a bid for freedom

Home
Maatika lives in one of the upscale tower buildings in the richest part of the city, along with a dozen Infected that act as members of their organization as well as guards.

History
Gray skies, gray walls, and the gray uniforms of the town guard form a knot in Maatika's psyche where her childhood should be. Adolescence was a blur of work, screaming, and the constant threat of starvation. Like most of the other children in the little town in Mali, Maatika was born into one of the hundreds of factory-worker families.

At the age of eight, Maatika was taken from her family along with several dozen other children. She would later learn that her family willingly gave her up for a relatively large two-year stipend. Along with the other kids, Maatika was taken to a strange school on the coast of Morocco. It was here that they were taught about specialty machines similar to those used in the assembly factories, and the English language was all but beaten into them.

Over the course of five years of schooling, the kids were shipped out to the U.S.. Maatika and her fellow “students” were a part of a low-key solution to the lack of skilled workers plaguing the U.S. private industry sector. In exchange for their mechanical expertise with the current generation of manufacturing machines, the children were given housing and citizenship, while those providing the children were paid exorbitant sums of money.

So it was that the thirteen year old Maatika Sahimi, given the name Monty Sparks for “integration purposes”, spent her first two years in the U.S. in Illinois. Around her fifteen birthday, Maatika first manifested her power. One morning Maatika felt a strange and immediate connection with a girl that she bunked with, Thurani. Without thinking, she gave a mental nudge and Activated Thurani. A short while later, she was sitting with her mental double who was beside herself with the fact that she was in a foreign body. Knowing better than to inform her coworkers, Maatika and “Thurani” began to secretly explore the limits of her ablities.

Three years and several company scandals later, Maatika was in control of eighty-two Infected and a couple hundred thousand dollars richer.

As she grew older and gained a firmer grasp of her powers, Maatika began pushing to see how far she could take advantage of her abilities. The first step was a location. Las Flores was as good a place as any, bearing a strong resemblance to her home town with all of the gangs and corrupt law enforcement. Next, she had to set up a proxy. Another easy step, given her small group of mental clones. Maatika chose a remarkably average man, Gabriel, to lead her cell. She set him up to always wear a suit, gloves, and face mask. Then the game began.

Claiming territory, coercing smaller gangs to join them and wiping out those who refused. As expected, Maatika's proxy leader met his end. A rather grisly one, if memory serves. It was a trifle to grab another average Infected to put in the disguise and assume leadership. And so it went, with Gabriel the Deathless and his rapidly growing power base absorbing huge swathes of Las Flores.

Maatika's experimental delve into the world of organized crime turned out to be far more successful than anticipated. Far more bloody, too. With a casual disregard for their forces, Gabriel sent waves of disposable mental clones against larger and more powerful gangs in a gory gamut to seize them by force. Nearly all of them succeeded with the aid of more careful, heavily armed non-clone members supplementing the attacks. Over the course of seven years, Maatika burned through nearly a two-thousand Activated mental clones and earned their organization a reputation for bloodshed and raw power.

From then to now, Maatika's place in the gang has been that of a sort of secretary. To the rest of the organization, Maatika is Monty the Ledger. She inducts new members, hands out false identification and permits, and is the chief of the other bookworms that keep the organization running. While she is not treated particularly well by the rest of the gang, she is afforded a measure of respect. If anyone needs something, they have to go to Monty and her people for it.

Gabriel and his crew are one of the three largest criminal organizations in Las Flores currently. His group, the Amaranthine, have the drugs market cornered and specialize in retrieving people that have been abducted for ransom. By charging less than the proposed ransom, the Amaranthine rescue their target and return them safely to the client. Of course, about a third of these jobs are kidnappings set up by the Amaranthine themselves, but that is just business.

The situation is perfect as far as Maatika is concerned. She has wealth, protection, and a steadily increasing pool of power. Her next play is going to be big to top this though. Colossal...cataclysmic.

So begins...

Ledger's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mako Senshin Character Portrait: Ledger

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Navy and red streaked hair up in a ponytail, creme colored knee socks freshly pressed, Mako whirled around the tables at her after school job; the skirt of her brown, creme, and pink maid uniform swishing around her legs. She laughed at a joke made by one of her coworkers directed at the odd man that had come to visit the cafe nearly everyday who always requested the same meal but never actually ate anything aside from the cute decorations that came on top. Mako did not find it odd, she had all sorts of quirky customers request her; like Monty, who always ordered the same thing and never finished it.

Mako was having a grand time until closing. It was easy to forgot about her home life when she was busy making other people happy. It was in that moment the text message arrived from her missing usual. A frown adorned Mako's cherry red lips as she quickly texted her mother that she would be home late and told her boss she had to go. Mako went to the back room and folded her maid uniform into a neat pile before placing it in her locker and leaving out the back to get on her motorcycle. After nearly three days off, Monty had finally given her an assignment and by the looks of it, it was an easy one. Mako pulled down the top of her serafuku to protect it from flying off due to a gust of wind that came from under her bike. It was a pretty loud vehicle, but the sound of evening rush hour covered it up as the noise of revving engines and honking horns filled the air.

It didn't take long for Mako to find the address, an abandoned warehouse on the edge of Las Flores. The metal structure was rusting, the doors had been ripped off of their hinges and there was graffiti along the crumbling facade and concrete structure. It was oddly quiet in these parts and for the space of a second Mako wondered if there was actually anyone here. Her fingers twitched as she reached out and felt it, blood flow. Of course it could have been an animal but it felt too big to be anything that inhabited these parts. So Mako took a step forward, closed her eyes and drew a breath in. Her appearance slowly changed; Mako's navy serafuku changing into a futuristic battle outfit that had cost her parents quite a pretty penny. Not that they cared, if it had to do with their daughter then her parents always turned a blind eye.

She undid the straps on her guitar case and took out the final thing, her weapon of choice, what looked to be half of a scissor. This weapon had been forged by Mako's own two hands and she had quite a connection to the blade, the smooth red metal was the same color as the streak in her hair. Finally, Mako pressed a mask over her eyes and nose to make sure her secret identity stayed, well, secret.

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Blitz emerged, the alter ego that took over whenever she went on a crime fighting spree. This side was different, Blitz was ruthless and dangerous, she unleashed powers that the other half didn't even know she had. So when Blitz stepped into the dilapidated building, she wasn't surprised that at least one person screamed and tried to run. A twitch of her fingers, that's all it took for them to bend to her will. It wasn't telekinesis, you could tell by the way their skin seemed to bubble beneath her grip. The bodies of these scoundrels were physically unable to move. Blood bending, a scary and powerful ability that as far as Blitz knew, only she had.

"So, what do we have here? A thief and murderer walk into an abandon warehouse. It's like the beginning of a bad sitcom," Blitz spat as her heels clacked against the concrete floor. Someone behind her yelled and she ducked, weaving under his punches and knocking the money launderer out with the dull side of her blade. This was it? Monty had sent her here for some petty characters meeting in a shady place? They currently weren't even doing anything wrong.

"You know what's even worse than the fact that I came to clean up your mess? It's that you were so... Ignorant about it." According to her sources, these men wouldn't shut up about their money laundering scheme. Apparently it was getting too big, either that, or they were bragging far too much. Blitz didn't care, the only thing she cared about was sweeping the streets of these low lives. Her fingers twitched, but before she could put too much pressure on them, a bang rang through the air and caught her side. The being whirled around, her face remaining a mask of calm despite the pain and the fact that she wanted to burst out crying. Blitz wouldn't cry though, she refused to display emotions that were so primitive and pathetic. The hybrid whirled on her heels, her glare pinning down anyone who occupied the space. The only one behind her though, was the launderer. His arm was up, his gun raised. Apparently Blitz's focus had slipped enough and he had managed to grab his weapon.

"Do you know what I do to people like you?" She whirled on him, marching up and watching as his body slowly lifted from the ground. Blood poured from his eye sockets from the pressure in his head. "I pop people like you like balloons without so much as lifting a finger." He wouldn't be the first, Blitz had, had to pop villains before who refused to obey or were too evil to let live.

With a trembling figure, the gangster gave her a thumbs up, a sign of submission. A simple nod was all it took and his body began to drift downwards. Pulling someone up by their blood was not an easy feat and Blitz was tired, her own blood was being lost so the vigilante made the decision to wrap things up. The tune to happy birthday played in her head as she waited for the police to arrive. There was plenty of evidence to put these guys in jail for a long time, but Las Flores's criminal justice system was messed up. Blitz would probably see them on the streets again in about a month.

She returned her scissor blade to her case and allowed her scanty uniform to change once more to a navy serafuku. Mako sent a quick message to Monty in order to confirm that the deed was done and started on her way home when pain shot through her side and she remembered the gun wound. "Happy birthday to me," Mako muttered as dark, sticky blood ran down her skirt and stuck to her skin. Hospital? No, too dangerous. If she went home like this then her mother would have a fit, but only because she would drip on the expensive Persian carpet. Who could she call on in her time of need?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rioned Tuduarge Character Portrait: Zephyr Character Portrait: Afterglow Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Sandra Liland Character Portrait: Ledger Character Portrait: Melrose

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#, as written by Perfidy
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Central Downtown Las Flores || Eastyard Boarding School || Late Afternoon




Droplets covered a a leaf curled a inches from Aranza. A leaf among many others that was only just settling from the unnatural gale that had made a storm of the private gardens only moments earlier. Aranza suppressed a small shudder of pleasure as she allowed the camera to fall against her stomach, tugging at the strap that secured it to her neck. Seven! I got seven this time.

The girl, young and heavyset, sporting overly large glasses and a busted lip, stood in the middle of the foliage as opposed to the path. Her eyes alternated between the camera screen and the spot in the air that Owen had just vacated. Without meaning to, she muttered a couple awed expletives in Spanish. She really had to tune out her mother's tirades.

Aranza flipped through the images on the digital camera, stills of a young man she went to school with. Standing in the garden, suddenly amidst a prismatic maelstrom, floating dozens of feet above the ground, and finally being consumed by a swarm of small bits of folded paper before taking off. When first being assigned to the task, Aranza was not particularly pleased. The school was a horrible place to seek out any non-expendable personnel. Students with any interest in crime were brash at best and completely unusable sociopaths at worst. The few metahumans that did turn up were usually caught misusing their powers and reported to the authorities immediately. Those that actually came back to school were placed under heavy watch, and had a beaten cast to their eyes that Aranza did not think would be of use to her. Owen was the exception.

“Owen.” she whispered. The look in the eyes of the young woman could only be described as enchanted. His habits, while not particularly noteworthy at first, were noticeable. It was sheer luck that Aranza was held back after classes one day by her peers for some “tough love” that she found herself leaving shortly after Owen. Out of sheer curiosity, Aranza followed the boy only to lose him in the garden. Her curiosity piqued, Aranza spent the next several weeks waiting for him to leave late again. This time she followed more closely. The reward for her diligence was seeing Owen take off into the sky. Aranza took to trying to catch him on film.

In the following months Aranza had compiled over two-hundred photos of Owen in various states of flight. Although she had already reported his existence to Monty, the mental clone felt a certain peace while watching him. As she dusted the dirt and flowers from herself, courtesy of her hiding spot amid the taller plants, a delicious though struck Aranza:

Will I be there to capture the moment he finally falls to the ground?



Uptown Las Flores || Amaranthine Base || Early Morning




“You know the drill, Ledger: no phones.” Monty fixed the guard with a sour look.

“I am well aware, thank you.” with the petulance of someone that thought they were deserving of far better than the lot they were dealt in life, Monty handed over her phone. Both guards stepped forward with a metal detector and magnetic scanner respectively. After a few annoyingly slow passes, the all clear was given and Monty was allowed to pass in to a hundred-foot corridor that led in to the next room.

A large desk of lacquered black wood dominated the center of the otherwise featureless room. An assortment of hardcopy files were stacked on both sides of the desk, some already sorted and the others awaiting inspection. Hands folded and masked face staring ahead, Gabriel sat patiently in anticipation of Monty's latest information. An empty gesture, given the nature of their bond. It was still necessary to maintain the appearance of “lowly bookkeeper” reporting to the “paranoid enigmatic mafia lord”.

Monty took a few steps forward and leaned her backside against the edge of the desk, turning to regard the masked man with a smile.

So, Gabriel, how are things? Her mental voice was dripping with sarcasm.

The mask is itchy. Gabriel's response was curt without being rude. Monty frowned. This particular clone had assumed the role of Gabriel over a year ago and had grown increasingly taciturn with the relative isolation the role entailed. Knowing that he was in essence herself in the same position, Monty could not help but feel the faintest pang of sympathy. Very faint.

Well, I have news that you should bring to the next gathering. Monty began counting off the most recent developments on her fingers. We have located seven new metahumans who are interested in joining the Amaranthine. They shall remain nameless until properly inducted. Greystar has yet to find a counteragent to the two latest drugs on the market, meaning we can keep a few of our remaining non-compliant backers under our thumb for the moment before those bastards buy their way free of us.

The raised fingers slowly curled in to a fist as Monty had to take a brief moment to collect herself after that one. Greystar was becoming an increasingly difficult to dislodge thorn in her side. A substantial chunk of the Amaranthine's legal profit was the donated funding of a couple dozen of the wealthiest business families in Las Flores. The Amaranthine secured these payments by keeping the stupid children of the families doped up on the most dangerous drugs that could be secured, drugs that required constant dosage lest serious health risks pop up. Greystar had already provided “cures” to three of these families, and Monty would bet her left arm that they were working on others.

As I was saying. The last order of business for you to go over next meeting would be that of the MYTHIC. They have been stepping on our toes as of late, and somehow got their suppliers to to get them access to chrace a week before our own was ready for distribution.

Gabriel twitched slightly at the mention of the newest psychoactive drug to hit Las Flores, chrace. Monty felt his longing. None of the mental clones had yet tasted of chrace, so the sensation could not be shared by their neural network. A new pleasure, a new sensation. Pushing away the intrusive impulse, Gabriel nodded. If that is all...?

“I'll see myself out.”

As Monty strode through the corridor and exited the subterranean office to retrieve her things from the guards, she stiffened. One of her older clones, a bankteller, was staring down an extremely familiar power-user that had just finished disintegrating a glass panel and was now facing a Greystar operative. Monty clenched her fists so hard that she thought she would draw blood. The guards simply thought she was annoyed by the leisurely pace at which they returned her belongings.

Keep observing. I would like to know if I lose a potential asset.



The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




Things are not going well for the Amaranthine, Monty reflected. Accompanied by a lanky man of afghan descent–Ismail, another mental clone–she went about the rest of her day knocking off appointments from her list. Potential recruits, payments, shipments, and loans were all handled by Monty. She had to keep up the appearance of a busy little bee for the Amaranthine. Liking the micromanagement that the disguise entailed was a perk that the dark woman had not foreseen.

Near the end of her list, Monty found that she was supposed to pay Sandra Liland today. A frown tugged at the corners of her mouth as Monty crossed the task off of the list. Sandra proved to be a far shorter lived experiment than Monty would have liked. Even if she did survive the encounter with Greystar, Sandra would be incarcerated or put under surveillance for the rest of her days. In any case, Monty would not be visiting her any more unless some miracle made the girl worth running the risk.

The last of her appointments for the day was looking into a potential recruit. Spotted a few weeks ago by one of the other gang members, the lanky little boy could purportedly create electromagnetic disturbances over a wide area. Perfect for knocking out cameras, lights, and electronic grids for quick raids. The boy, Kyle Gregson, was contacted shortly after his discovery and offered a job. Today they were to meet in a park in the lower side of town.

As she and Ismail entered the park, Monty fell back into her thoughts. Her power was crumbling as surely and inexorably as the sea wears away at the face of a cliff. The Amaranthine was growing, surely, even richer than it had ever been before. Not quickly enough, though.

The most obvious threat was of course, Greystar. If they could do here what they had done already in Europe, then this was all for naught. The only thing keeping them from overrunning the country with metahuman restrictions were a few flimsy civil-rights laws. In the meantime, the organization was making examples out of power-abusers and criminal organizations. That would be fine if they were not succeeding. Slowly, very slowly, Greystar was earning the approval of the people.

Then there was the matter of those three. The mental clones who were too smart for their own good, and in possession of bodies belonging to people influential enough to abuse their power. One had started a gang of his own, and the other two were threatening to reveal Monty for what she was unless they were afforded new positions of power.

Melrose and the Gridghost were the least of her major concerns. The new kid on the block, Melrose and her MYTHIC were causing problems all across the board. Monty felt in her bones that a demonstration would be needed to put them in their place. The Gridghost was another matter entirely. The only thing she knew of them was that they were watching almost everything in the city, courtesy of what glimpses of the strange program the ghost used that her people could catch. Which is to say, mere wisps of a presence. The only reason Gridghost was not higher on her list of concerns was the method in which Monty preferred to keep her real information to herself: Telepathy. Everything that needed to be said was being communicated in a way that the ghost would not catch anyway. Unless they could read minds. In that case, Monty was doomed anyway and would roll with the punches as they came.

“Ledger,” Ismail's thickly accented English broke Monty from her stupor. He was pointing at a wispy young man in a wheelchair up ahead. He was playing a morose tune on the violin. Ledger perked up in interest almost instantly. “Is that him?”

“I believe so. Thank you, Ismail. Go wait by the gate.” Ismail nodded once and gave the boy ahead one last glance before returning to the entrance. Short dark hair, white, skinny, and small. He matched the description to a tee. Monty strode up to September, her heels clacking on the pavement and golden bangles clinking with every step. She stood in front of the open violin case, taking in the scene with unhidden curiosity.

“Hello. I believe you desired to meet me.” Monty fixed September with a warm smile, glancing to the sides to make sure that no one was near enough to hear them. “We have been observing you for a while. So is that how you do it? The violin transmits your abilities? An odd way to use a power, but I've seen less convenient methods.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mako Senshin Character Portrait: Miasma Character Portrait: Ledger

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It wasn't a nice thing to have blood running down your leg. In fact, the feeling was quite uncomfortable which was ironic considering her powers. Mako was stuck in traffic because a bank robbery was holding everyone up, she wondered if she should help out in taking down whoever was attempting the theft but the thorn in her side told her otherwise. An impatient growl escaped the girl's parted mouth and she bit down on her lip as a wave of nausea hit her stomach. "Dammit Monty, why won't you pick up your phone?" She mumbled, checking the cellular device for the fifth time since she had hit road block.

Mako took a whirl at the buildings surrounding the blockade, she didn't know this part of Las Flores that well, but maybe if she found a cafe or something she could clean up enough to return home and stitch the wound herself? It was decided then, Mako led her motorcycle off the main road and into an alleyway, searching for some sort of dive that had most likely seen bloody customers. The vigilante was choosy but eventually she settled on a clean looking place that a bunch of people in masks were exiting. "Welcome to Cafe Mystigue, how can I help you?" A bell on the door rang as she entered and as she looked around, Mako realized she had chosen perfectly.

"Don't mean to be a bother, but I'm only here to use the restroom. Mind pointing it out to me?" The female asked and as an after thought added "If the restroom is for customers only then I'll have a water." However, before the girl could reply, Mako spotted a large sign that read BATHROOM and wove her way gracefully around the tables, pushing through the entrance and grabbing an armload of paper towels from one of the stalls before making her way over to the sinks and trying to scrub her legs clean. It was almost as painful as the wound itself and the brown paper towels were rough against her skin. By the time she was done Mako couldn't tell if the blood had stained her skin or if she the striping was from rubbing her epidermis raw.

She threw out the paper towels and ripped off some toilet paper, gingerly dabbing at the bullet mark. It would definitely scar and she hated that it was in the part of her serafuku that was exposed. Hopefully when she went to her shift at the maid cafe no one would notice. Finally, the female exited the bathroom and went to sit in a seat in the cafe. It wasn't that late yet and it's not like anyone was home to greet her. Without realizing it, Mako began to hum happy birthday once more and wondered if she should order something sweet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Ledger

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The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




September gently removed the violin from its place beneath her chin, laying it across her lap and studiously ignoring the fact that her fingers were shaking. Suck a light object, and yet it was still almost too much to lift for any length of time unaided. How she despised her own body. It was worse than any cage she could be locked into, because there was no hope of escape. Not unless she wanted to die—and for all of her flaws, she was not suicidal. Not yet.

It came to her attention that she was not alone. A woman approached—tall, well-built, coiled muscle and a healthy, vital strength evident in her every movement. Her body was no prison, and that was evident enough just from watching her move. The predatory grace leaked out of her as though there were simply too much of it to be entirely contained in civil manner, despite the suit and the smile. September wondered how many people this powerful person met who missed that. She also wondered why such a person was apparently intent on speaking to her. The expression on the woman’s face was oddly readable—September more often ran into people like she was; people who wore their implacable masks like some kind of armor. But some people did not need the protection.

The words were certainly unexpected, but September did not immediately trap herself by answering. Part of it was perhaps alarming at first pass—the being watched, the open question about her power. Synapse was nothing more than a persona on the internet, a debunking force on the occasional forum, who wielded logic as her only weapon. Beyond that, she was nothing, nobody, and her abilities did not see public display. Even if she were watched, there should be no way to know she had any—and to assume that she needed an instrument to transmit them was to make a category mistake. No… her secret wasn’t out just yet, she thought. Perhaps, however, it would serve her well to make sure…

The lightest of telepathic fingers brushed over the surface of Monty’s mind, and the result was instantaneous. September was flooded with more information than she’d ever received in such a manner, largely dominated by the impression of a web, something vast and interconnected, though where each of the strands terminated, she could not say. It was like looking into many minds instead of one, but there was interference, like static or telescopic distance. It was hard to pin anything down, however, because of much more present import were the figures—ghostly, greying, faintly-hostile, that flanked the woman on either side. They seemed to be intently focused on her, orbiting her like planets orbit a star, drawn in by some strange gravatic force that September did not yet understand. She refused on principle to believe that she could not, but without more information, it was as mysterious to her as whatever else she’d seen.

She had little doubt that were she nothing but a telepath, her mind would have been overloaded by contact with this… network, this… interface. But like one supercomputer receiving raw data from another, she processed, and though she could give no meaning to the figures, draw no line of best fit between data points, the information was present all the same.

And it happened in the blink of an eye. Quite literally, for September blinked her childlike eyes up at the enigma in front of her and tilted her head to the side. “I believe,” she said slowly, her voice less ambiguously feminine than her appearance, “that you must have mistaken me for someone else. I was expecting no company in particular today.” Her eyes flickered just briefly over one of the woman’s shoulders, because something had changed there. The grey-ghost that lingered still was no longer solely focused on his star.

He was looking right at September.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mako Senshin Character Portrait: Miasma Character Portrait: Afterglow Character Portrait: Synapse Character Portrait: Sandra Liland Character Portrait: Ledger

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#, as written by Perfidy
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The West End || Glades Park || Late Afternoon




Well that was interesting. It was a rare occurrence indeed when they made themselves any more noticeable than a peripheral blur. Whatever this boy was, the indistinct apparitions that clouded the edges of Maatika's mind were interested to know. So much so that for a few moments they held off on their eternal quest to drive Monty to insanity and revealed themselves, crowding the young man in an eerily silent semicircle of static figures.

Monty was careful to maintain eye contact, but allowed her smile to dim somewhat as if a little disappointed; she was, but it was good to let others know too. The phantoms slunk back in to the recesses of Monty's mind just as quickly as they had come. All except one. Monty could feel the pinpoints that served as its eyes boring into the her back like hot pokers. His name rushed to the fore of her mind unbidden: Nathaniel Nelson. An office worker. Two kids, although they spend most of the time with his ex-wife. Recreational drug user.

In the following seconds she realized why his attention stood out so vividly among the dozens that held her in constant regard: it was fading.

It took a great amount of effort not to spin around and stare the phantom dead in the eye. Monty instead rubbed her arm uncomfortably, as if the situation was suddenly awkward beyond belief. Reasonable enough, considering September's clarification. Reasonable enough, considering the last glimpse she caught of the shade that was Nathaniel was that of him stepping past her to stand in front of September. The link binding the phantom to her psyche snapped with a sensation akin to having a thread yanked from one's garment.

“Oh.” her voice came out more subdued than Monty intended, bleeding more emotion than she would like. She affected a half-hearted smirk. “I see, my apologies. I must have been mistaken.”

Monty took a quick step toward September but was sure to keep an amount of space between them that one would consider polite. A blue and black business card was withdrawn from her obviously expensive handbag, and gently placed it on September's knee. Her hands shook ever so slightly from a sudden rush of adrenaline, a crude mirror of September's infirmity. Monty nodded once and smiled again. “If you ever have some free time, I would enjoy hearing about you regardless. Collecting stories is something of a hobby of mine, and you look like you have a tale to tell. Call me any time.”

The card was fairly minimalist in design. Ledger's Bookkeeping, Accounting Services and Job Placement.

Another curt nod. The clicking of heels against pavement retreated as Monty made her way out of the park. At the gate, she found Ismail waiting by the gate with a scrawny youth sporting a mop of unruly black hair. Ledger scowled and held up a hand as Ismail opened his mouth and silenced the apology she knew was coming. This time she was more direct.

“Kyle Gregson?” she asked.

“Yep.”

“Walk with me.” as they began moving towards the black car in the parking lot, Ledger could not suppress the urge to scratch at her wrist. The leather glove made the effort clumsy at best, and she had to slide it down a little to attack the offending itch. What she saw set her heart to racing. One of the minute names inked into her flesh squirmed and dug at Monty's skin as it slowly burned away, leaving the smallest of gaps in the list.

She did not need to guess which name had been erased. Or where it had gone, either.



Cafe Mystigue || Central Town || Early Evening




The one bright spot of her day was completely overshadowed by the torrent of news Ledger was receiving via calls and messages from her clones across the city. The bank debacle had gone critical. Something, presumably the Greystar, had completely wrecked several square miles of electrical equipment, wiring, and telecom signals in the Commercial District. Ledger resisted the urge to call Sandra. In all likelihood, the girl was dead or subdued if a Greystar could pull that kind of power out for a single bust.

As it was, Monty rode quietly in the back of a sparkling polished black Ford Fusion driven by Ismail. Ismail had a particular love of vehicles, a trait presumably inherited by the original occupant of the clone's body. They had dropped off Kyle a few minutes ago and were on their way to secure one of Monty's investments.

The car pulled to a stop in front of an unremarkable squat building with a too-bright sign. Monty signaled for Ismail to keep the engine running as she stepped out of the car and into the cafe. Mystigue. Monty had to keep herself from sneering at the pretentious name. It was a glorified coffee shop, not a bloody art show.

Cheap coffee and artificial sugar assaulted her nostrils as soon as she entered. Thankfully, the reason for her arrival was in plain sight. Monty caught the tail end of some explanation of offering first aid as she strode up to the booth Mako was seated at.

“That will not be necessary...” Monty appeared to consider the right word to use to address Selene before offering a wan smile, “Miss. I will be escorting my charge here to receive proper treatment.”

One quick look was all Monty needed to see that Mako's latest hunt had gone awry. What little skin she could see between the fabric of the girl's clothing was an angry red and even inflamed in some places. Monty scowled and unbuttoned her jacket to drape it over Mako; the blood loss would be making her cold about now, and it would help keep her inconspicuous. She proceeded and place a gentle hand on Mako's cheek and bring her in for a warm embrace.

“Mako, I'm so sorry. I've received so many calls and texts today you were almost lost amid the din.” Monty pulled back and smiled in a self-depricating manner. “Almost. Come, Ismail has the car waiting outside. Let's go get you cleaned up.”

Monty shot Selene a quick nod of gratitude before leading Mako off toward the exit. Internally, she sighed. Kids.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mako Senshin Character Portrait: Miasma Character Portrait: Ledger

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She was shaking, her whole being shivering from blood loss. It was entirely Mako's fault, if she hadn't been so damn cocky then she would have seen the bullet coming. As Mako sat on her hands, wallowing in what could have been mistaken for guilt, a light shone through the darkness. A girl, the waitress that she had seen when she had entered this little dive, slid into the seat across from her, offering Mako aid in the form of a medical kit that could probably save an army. "Thank you," her voice was barely above a whisper when someone else entered the cafe and waltzed over to them.

A trench coat was suddenly draped over Mako's shoulders, a dark skinned hand guiding her's away from the kit. Mako followed the hand up to the face, surprise adorning her features as her blue optics settled on Monty. “That will not be necessary...” Monty said in a tone that commanded attention. The female in the booth questioned why, there was no way she could go to a hospital, unless Monty wanted to see Mako rot in jail for the rest of her time? Which by the looks of it, wouldn't be long. Did the woman suddenly own a hospital?

She rose to her feet, sneakers squeaking on tiled floor as Monty brought her into a hug. It was warm, her body craved the heat. “Mako, I'm so sorry. I've received so many calls and texts today you were almost lost amid the din.” She bobbed her head up and down in a quick nod, understanding. People had important things to take care of, one person could not always subsist the center of attention. "S'okay" She muttered, the rubbing her hands together in order to keep them warm. “Almost. Come, Ismail has the car waiting outside. Let's go get you cleaned up.”

She was glad to sit down in the back of the Ford Fusion, the shaking was not as bad as before, but her side ached and she feared infection if the wound was not properly cared for. Mako had seen bad wounds, she had seen arms and legs amputated because cuts were not properly taken care of. A shiver ran up her spine, but this time it was not from the cold.

"Sorry for being so much trouble," Mako said, trying to keep the conversation light. Her head swam, her vision growing dark at the edges. Mako prayed that she wouldn't pass out or get blood on or in the fancy vehicle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mako Senshin Character Portrait: Ledger Character Portrait: Radar

0.00 INK

#, as written by Lialore
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“Please” he’d moaned, his tone laced with pain. Red circled his eyes, dribbled down his cheeks, patched his nostrils and streaked down his neck from the insides of his ears. “I’m telling the truth.”

The officer was crouched, elbows on knees and gun in hand. He was face to face with this so-called victim who was stained with his own blood, for once. Though, when his own crimes were tallied they were far greater than those of his attacker. He believed him; of course. There really was no other explanation that he could see and these low-lives had called the emergency services in desperation as they found themselves deafened and blinded until their blood pressure had declined some, but by then it was too late. Saving their reputation hadn’t been as important as saving their lives. Besides, she’d already been detected by their special Radar. The police had arrived at the abandoned warehouse in a roar of sirens, along with medical help who they’d ordered to keep at a distance until they’d dealt with the three delinquents. This apparent force of justice was clearly corrupt – they held back the help that the men needed, the paramedics were to stay inside their van whilst the officer questioned them at gunpoint, after a kicking and taunting.

“The truth?” The officer jeered, pushing his face closer to the big-time launderer who shied away some, pressing his lips together in case a whimper escaped. “You expect us to believe a little girl with nout’ but some craft materials fucked you up this badly?” A chorus of somewhat nervous snickers from his team members echoed through the hollow structure which was their shoddy arena. The concrete floor was splattered with blood. The leading officer lurched to his full height and took a step backwards, placing himself directly in a sticky puddle of the stuff. He bore down on the ‘victim’; he was at least the officer’s personal victim. “And you tried to shoot her? Missed a bit, didn’t you?”

“I told you she had a power. S-she made my insides. It…”

“He’s telling the truth man” one of the others spoke up, his handcuffs rattling as he tried to shuffle forwards to plead their case. He didn’t understand that they were simply being used for sport. “We weren’t doing anything, man, she just turned up and… she had this power.” He licked his lips nervously. “You need to get her, yo. You don’t know who else she’s gonna…”

A single shot was fired into the air up above. The sound made them all start and the metallic ringing had everyone cringing. Silence fell. The three victimised criminals were all looking at the floor, yet even the other officers seemed sheepish as their higher lowered his gun, his expression one of agitation.

“Load ‘em up” He ordered. They had enough on these bastards to keep them in for years, but he knew better, they’d be out soon enough; through bribery, most likely. And so, they were carted out of the warehouse towards the police vehicles, not bothering to object to the unruly force which would ignore their sufferings and instead take advantage of the situation. The vigilante they’d described would be caught sooner or later, maybe she’d get her spot in the light, on the news, as she was lining up to be lynched - but these men had bigger prices on their heads. And that’s what they cared about.


- - - - - - - - - - * - - - - - - - - - -



Mica had been watching his partner devour his burger with a sort of intrigued disgust. He chomped along, grease shining on his pudgy lips, onions and sauce escaping down his neck and setting up on the front of his uniform. The noise he made was like some sort of ravenous, snotty pig that had just been tossed last weeks left-overs, its snout snuffling in glee. It was so obscene to Mica that he’d left his food in the bag and watched instead, not even attempting to hide his horror.

“Could you not…”
“What?” Bux, his partner barked with a grin which only made Mica want to cringe as there was cheese holding on to his teeth. Bux found the kids obsessive little tendencies hilarious.
“You’re fucking disgusting.”
“You got it.” He replied cheerily.

They were sat in the parking lot of some rundown shopping complex listening to the radio and waiting to be called upon. Sure, there were things happening: the police line reported a bank robbery, some street fighting down south, too-obvious dealing downtown, and some other small-scale disturbances across Las Flores. But Bux and Mica were a special, tiny branch of the force. Bux may have been a half-decent officer in his youth but now he was 50, balding and fat. He could still drive like a champ, though. Mica, on the other hand, was shiny and new. He might have been useless when it came to enforcing the law, but he had something else to offer…

“Buxton. Joyland. You reading?” the voice blared through the communication device built into the dashboard of their pseudo police vehicle. A navy, inconspicuous thing of moderate quality.
“Like a bookworm” Bux replied through a mouthful of burger.
The voice on the other end seemed to hesitate, as if they were about to ask why he sounded so muffled. Instead, it continued; “Alright. Vigilante attack, Mica?”
Mica shifted into a more upright position in the passenger seat, his interest finally stimulated.
“Direction?”


- - - - - - - - - - * - - - - - - - - - -



They bombed the way that’d been indicated. Bux had stowed his half-eaten burger on the back seats and had made a half-hearted attempt to clean himself up before doing what he did best; driving like a maniac. That was, until Mica caught the trail they were looking for.

The city outskirts rushed by on the other side of the window pane which he stared through, quite unseeing. Mica was concentrating. They’d been told they’d have time to catch up in time. She was wounded; shot. And this was so new and shiny and so definitely not useless: as they sped through the city Mica was able to detect anyone, anyone who had a power. They flittered into his perception, invisible dots on his invisible radius – an invisible Radar system. It’s difficult to explain, a sixth sense of sorts, something which came naturally to him. If he wanted to, Mica could pinpoint most of the powered people in the city on a criss-cross journey of the entire city. But, to the police, that was hypocritical, beyond even their immorality. The dots came and went, most of them stationary, none of them likely to be the vigilante who’d attacked the criminals in the warehouse.

Bux drove them (more carefully, now there was more traffic) along the route suggested, a road which led more or less directly from the quieter area of abandoned warehouses towards the city centre. Still concentrating. He could detect nothing here. And then, suddenly, there it was. A dot; in the best way he could describe it. It was moving reasonably fast into town, whoever it was had a vehicle of some kind. A getaway.

Mica ordered Bux about, giving him directions until they were close enough that he could pinpoint the person he was detecting by sight. As they moved into the more cramped, populated areas, the dots were more frequent. But Mica kept his focus on the one he’d snatched hold of when travelling from the crime scene; the one they’d been ordered to trail, but not harm. There she was, stuck in the same swell of traffic as them. Female, small, he wasn’t close enough to catch many more details but intuition told him that this was the one.

“Follow” Mica said, his tone showing a sudden authority. It was obvious he was in charge. “But keep your distance, don’t let her see. She might lead us to a base of some sorts.” Bux obliged, well. They turned down a road just in time to see the little biker disappear around the corner into an alley. Not that they needed such tangible knowledge. Mica had a good hold of her on his Radar. Bux edged the car to a halt on the opposite side of the road, giving them a view across the tarmac and down the alley.

Craning his neck, Mica was able to see upon a gaudy sign: ‘Café Mystigue’. And inside… he was quite shocked to detect quite a cluster of his dots. His eyes narrowed, face almost pressed against the glass of the window, which was luckily tinted, hiding his intense calculating from and outside watchers.

“Going in?” Bux asked.
“No. Wait.”
“We could be here for a while.”
“I don’t think so. She’s hurt. If she can get proper treatment in there then it could be a base. Or at least dodgy enough to raise suspicion. Especially if they don’t call an ambulance. And you know how they love a good raid.”
Bux frowned at Mica’s referral to the force as ‘they’. He was sometimes disconcerted by the way the kid talked about his own in such a mocking way. He tended to shrug it off and assure himself that it was Mica’s strange humour.

They didn’t have to wait long. A swanky Ford stopped close to the entrance. They both noted this, admiring the car as they did so. The woman who had stepped out soon returned, and sure enough, with her was the little biker they’d tailed from the warehouse. Mica scalded himself for thinking about her so fondly. She’d nearly killed those men. But hell, why should he care? In fact, he found it quite amusing, so amusing that he snickered. That earned him a disapproving look from Bux. He wasn’t surprised to see that the tall, dark-skinned woman who accompanied her also produced a dot in his mind. His lips screwed up thoughtfully as they climbed back into the car. Vigilantes, he thought. Obviously.

“After them?” Bux wondered.
“No. They’ve got powers. Don’t want to be barbequed, do you? Report their car to highers. Doubt they’ll do anything though, pretty sure they just sent us on this chase to make sure we’re not falling asleep on the job. This place is… odd, though.”
The old officer rubbed his wobbly chin.
“You really don’t strain yourself, do you?”
When the Ford had pulled away, Mica flashed Bux a dry smile and opened the door, stepping out to light up. As he smoked, he surveyed the Café.

“Fancy a coffee?”