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The Multiverse

Setting

As you immerse yourself in the waters of Wing City Lake, you notice all sorts of indigenous aquatic life. But you'll probably have to go back to the beach eventually...
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Wing City Lake

As you immerse yourself in the waters of Wing City Lake, you notice all sorts of indigenous aquatic life. But you'll probably have to go back to the beach eventually...

Minimap

Wing City Lake is a part of Wing City.

7 Places in Wing City Lake:

39 Characters Here

Isaiah Raines [48] "Please, I could take him."
Teo Calypsi [32] A water spirit who has made his home in Wing City Lake.
Emeka Martin [23] Born to make great deeds: deeds he seeks to bring to life.
Nagara [14] A can of worms.
July [9] Still a fresh Nymph (half human, half fairy), yet moderately weathered experience in life.. full of mysticism and potential.
Devin Cryss [5] Well hello there...
Jaida Knowls [2] Necromancer extraordinaire.
Ironrot [1]
Proteus [1] "Prime directive not recognized... please restate clearly."

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Setting

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Character Portrait: Cole Maibara
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Nodding to her, he'd just look up to the sky for a minute. "Bah, Aschen..Taiou..I am not going to deal with these bastards any time soon. I've had the Taiou come into the bar and nearly destroy the place, with ME in it..I don't trust either side." He'd look to her sitting down, and nodded, sitting beside her now, looking out at the lake for now. "Y'know, it's been a long time since there's actually been peace here..This is the closest thing to peace I can think of. Sitting by, and just..relaxing. Right?"

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Character Portrait: Celia SarTara
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#, as written by Zarhara
"Yeah-" She said with a small smile then a look of pain over came her and tears welled in her eyes. She sensed something horrible was happening and a loss of a friend. She leaned over and buried her face on his shoulder.

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Character Portrait: Cole Maibara
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Cole blinked slightly, watching the look of pain and dread on her face...he wrapped his arm around her, trying to keep her comforted in the best way he could. He'd sense someone's aura had died down recently..he could tell something had happened. Obviously there was a bond between her and this person, if she could tell exactly who died. He couldn't tell who had fallen, but at the very least, he noticed they mattered to her in a way.

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Character Portrait: Celia SarTara Character Portrait: X279
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#, as written by Zarhara
Tara looked up at him, "I-I, something happened and I'm not sure what but I have this nagging feeling Terra isn't going to be safe for me much longer." She said with a small look of concern. "Chek is hurt I can feel it and the Senator- He's dead." Soemthing's wrong Cole." She said then she noticed something off in the distance of the lake. "Is that a person?" She said pointing.

On the sand was a teen maybe 17? He was curled up a duffle bag at his feet he looked starved.

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Character Portrait: Cole Maibara Character Portrait: Celia SarTara
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Sighing, he shook his head. "I'll keep you safe...don't worry.." He didn't know exactly how to reply, other than keeping her close, trying to make sure she at least felt safe in his arms. Looking up though, he saw the teen off in the distance, and standing up, looking back to Tara. "You going to follow along, or do you want to stay back as I check this out?" He didn't want to force her into this situation, so he'd rather ask to see if what she's going to do.

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Character Portrait: Celia SarTara
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#, as written by Zarhara
Wiping her eyes she got up. "Thanks" She said, "No I want to go." She followed him as they began to walk over. "He just looks hurt."

On the ground X lay there he was close to starvation he had managed to lose the SEC marines that had chased him from the city. Now it seemed he would never get his precious package into safe hands and Luke Sullen may win after all. Then he though he heard voices he was sun burned he had been lying there for 2 days. His mouth was dry.

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Character Portrait: Cole Maibara
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Nodding to her, he would walk over to the kid, a look of concern on his face as he tilted his head, looking down at him. Kneeling over, he'd look back to Tara, and speak up. "Hey, go get some water. He looks dehydrated. And some food if ya can..there should be some store nearby here." Saying this, he'd look around, trying to think of a way to help him out. Cole didn't know what else could help in this situation..he just hoped he could fix him up before it was too late.

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Character Portrait: Celia SarTara
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#, as written by Zarhara
Tara reached for her water bottle and handed it to Cole. "Use this." She said and then knelt over the boy letting her hands roam over his mid section they began to glow. After a few moments she stopped and then did one final thing she pressed he hand to his head looking into his memories. Then she fell over. What she learned and saw was almost too much to handle but even more so she sensed the same dark presence was involved in the death of her friends.

X would have groaned but he still could not speak. What ever Luke Sullen had done to him it had broken him.

Tara got up. "Cole is there somewhere we could take him? Do you have a place on Terra?" She asked I kinda lost my room at gambit's now that it's closed.

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Character Portrait: Cole Maibara
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Cole shook his head... "I lived in Gambit's as well, but I'm pretty sure I could find us a place elsewhere...Urgh..I know a few places that take people in." He'd think for a moment. "There's the Scarlet Devil Mansion, there's a few hotels around the place, and I've got a few friends who have places..I don't know where to go, though.." He'd take the water bottle, and if the kid didn't resist him, he'd help the kid drink..or at least, hoped he drank.

This was certainly a tough situation, it seemed....a calm and peaceful afternoon was going to have to wait with this going on.

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves
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It had been a quiet walk to the lake. It seemed that Martin hadn't slowed down even in his state, which worsened with every mile. "I wonder if he thinks you're going to kill him," said Robin, looking around. "Or if someone else was going to do it instead."

Martin was bleeding heavily. At one point he peeled back the bandages and found the lacerations red and swollen. He was slowing down, even if he was still going.

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves
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#, as written by Script
"Better than he deserves." Nairi growled, shaking his head. "What he was doing in that lab was horrific."

The lake was peaceful, by contrast to the mood. The water lapped calmly against the shore, and the wind gently teased the treetops of the nearby woods. "He's wounded, can't have gotten much further than this. Chances are he found himself a cave or some other shelter to patch up in." the werecat said, keeping his eyes peeled for any obvious tracks in the sand or mud as well as staying true to the trail of memories.

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves
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"Do we know if he was being forced?" asked Robin with an inquisitive shrug. "I mean, it's not like he was laughing about it. He had a little niece. You think Sarka might have been holding her random?"

These kinds of questions had been bugging Robin for a long time. How right was it for them to be doing what they did? Were they saving Wing City or just causing a bunch of ruckus? Were the police on this? There were creatures running around Wing City. Nothing strange, but... they were there to clean the city up, and that seemed like a big, dirty problem.

The footsteps turned to long smudges in the mud, moving towards the bank. Fingernail lines marked deep grooved in the soil, vanishing into the sandy bank. Some reeds were broken just off the bank in the water.

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves
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#, as written by Script
Nairi's grimace turned thoughtful for a moment. Back in the cage... the man had said something about his doings being evil, but necessary. At the time, Nairi had been ... less than himself. Being trapped didn't do wonders for his clearness of mind. "Hrmph. Will see." he muttered.

Then he paused again. "He's not alone." he stated, realising something was amiss with the memories. "Being dragged by .. something. Can't get a clear picture of it. Be careful."

Sensing danger, any surliness over their earlier disagreement vanished from Nairi's voice and was replaced with protective severity. He drew his sword, and advanced down towards the reeds cautiously. "Stay behind me." he instructed.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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#, as written by Teo
Some time earlier...

Emeka was on his last few threads of life. He was clinging as tightly as he could, but he could feel himself slipping away farther and farther with each step. He had slid his bandages to the side, and with a wrinkled, stony grimace, he observed the hot redness of his skin rising in infection. Eventually it would turn green and develop pustules. The infection would kill him if he didn't do something.

Glancing at the water, he had a thought. The water wasn't purified, but it would be cold this time of year. Enough to cool the inflamation just a bit.

He moved towards it, slothing with his back bent. His was a haggard mess. His breathing was deep and heavy, accompained by a groan. However, before he reached the grainy white sands of the beach, something caused him to pause.

The reeds rustled. There was a growl. It wasn't like a dog's, or a wolf's, or anything as low or natural. It was a high, vibrating cherrup. It kept going and going and going, higher and higher, until it rose into a scream. Emeka's eyes widened like saucers beneath his glasses. "No, you go away!" he hissed, stepping backwards, away from the reeds. "I made you. I created you! You answer to me! Get back!"

From the bushes came an utterly vile and rejectful creature. Surely the gods of man wouldn't have allowed a monstrocity so disgusting to live. To continue to ilve.

It had the face of a man. Or rather, just barely so. The mouth was drawn into a permanent gape, and flopped limply as though the lower jaw had been removed. The forehead melted over its eyes, from which Emeka could barely glimse, black and beady. None of the whites. So it could see. So it could see so well at night even with its face partially concealed.

"You were a mistake!" growled Emeka. "You were supposed to die in your cage and rot! Move!"

It lumbered toward him, not on hands and feet, no. Its long neck, like that of a snake's, attached to a glob of a body. A glob filled with holes that oozed a diseased, yellow liquid, bubbling and boiling. Carrying it were insectoid legs.Million of them. As it moved out of the bushes further, it revealed that it had more of those globulous sections of its body. Bubbling. Crawling. Screaming.

There was no way for Emeka to run. The creature was so quick. They'd designed it that way.

He had designed it that way.

"God damn."

He'd found himself clamped in the jaws of the creatue before he could even try and make his escape. Not the human jaws- those were no longer there. He'd removed them. He remembered removing them from the man, still alive, on the operating table. He remembered what he'd replaced them with. Those mandibles that slithered out from the back of his throat, strong enough to crack a human skull.

Those same mandibles wrapped around his head, clamping his mouth shut, as it dragged him into the reeds.

As Emeka had staggered towards the lake, the waters had begun to stir. Ripples emanated outwards from a point just off the shore, and had he not shortly been distracted by the sudden assault of the oozing centipede-creature, he might have noticed the surface bulge, and the shape of a face begin to form.

When the creature had revealed itself, the face had splashed back into the water. Teo had been aware of the creature since it arrived - the lake was his domain, and all those who came to it were within his 'sight', as it were. But up until this point, it had not given him cause to eject it. Of course, it was unpleasant, but it had done no more harm than any other predator.

He had been unfortunately too late to warn this man off, however. Now he felt he had to intervene. As the creature clamped down on Emeka, he might have noticed a strange flow of water from the sands reaching his foot and rushing up his body. It climbed up his form until it reached his head, gathering there within the mandibles of the creature. And then, it sprayed outwards. A forceful jet of water directed itself into the thing's throat, causing it to drop Emeka to the ground. Before he hit the floor, more tendrils of water caught him, laying him gently to the sands.

Between him and the centipede, the air sparkled with droplets of water that swiftly began to converge on one another, steadily coalescing into the shape of a humanoid figure. When their glimmering light faded, there stood what appeared to be a young boy in his teens, blue-haired and pale-skinned. He seemed almost translucent in places, and was clad solely in shimmering currents of opaque water.

Teo stared the creature down without fear, before casting a cheerful smile over his shoulder to Emeka. "Do not be afraid!" he called, voice soothingly ethereal, "You won't come to harm on my shores, traveller."

He then turned his attention back to the centipede. "Get lost!" he demanded, water rising from the lake to swirl towards him, "Or I'll eject you myself!"

Emeka cringed into the ground as he gazed up at the figure standing in front of him. His hands pressed against the ground to sit him up, but he wasn't getting up.

He had spent so much time inside that damned labyrinth by himself, often sending his niece somewhere else so she wouldn't get tied up in everything. The only people he had dealt with were Sarka and her monsters, which came by and gave him the materials he needed to continue his work. They weren't friendly. They weren't good people. And the second he did encounter two kids who didn't intend to force him to do the devil's work, he had to hurt them. And then they'd resolved to kill him.

This must have been the first time in months that he'd met someone trying to help him.

The creature rose up on its half a million hind legs and screeched at the boy, confused and hostile. It darted forward, spilling its fluids all around, striking as quickly as a snake.

It was met with a cascade of water, barrelling into it with force enough to propel it entirely off the ground and several meters down the beach. Teo gathered more water from the lake, and again, sent it lashing out at the creature, not giving it any respite. He moved like a dancer, flowing with effortless motion reminiscent of a current of water himself. Each gesture blended seamlessly with the next, in tandem with the motion of the water.

"Kill the beast!" cried Emeka. "It's an abomination. It's unnatural!"

The creature slid in the sand, but didn't fall over. For such a wonky animal, it had surprisingly exceptional balance. It dropped to the ground and sped in a serpentine maneuver toward Teo, observing and dodging the lashes in a manner that hinted an intelligence beyond that of a simple animal, even if it couldn't be reasoned with. Once, twice it was struck, but it was hardy. A creature covered in its own stomach acids had to be.

Trying to get close enough to Teo, it opened its mandables and inflated its elastic throat like a croaking frog, filling a sack with venom that came spewing towards Teo and Emeka.

Reacting quickly, Teo brought his hands up in a swift gesture. The water swirling around him rose like a barrier and abruptly solidified into ice, blocking the venom off. He then swept his arms forwards, and the wall of ice liquified once more, rushing forwards to slam into the creature, splashing around it in a wave to once again push it off the ground. In the next moment, it was ice again, encasing part of the creature's body in a frozen tomb, suspending it in the air.

It thrashed unhappily, every leg spastically twitching as it tried to break free. Emeka grit his teeth.

"It was a man," he rasped at the boy. "Turned into a monster. It needs to die."

Ignoring Emeka for the moment, Teo walked forwards towards the immobile creature. His eyes were sad as he gazed upon its struggles, floating up through the air to come level with its face. "I'm sorry," he said to it, voice sorrowful, "All you know is pain, and hatred. You're blinded by it, you've lost who you used to be."

Sparkling water rose up from the lake to gather around the hovering spirit, and then snaked outwards to the writhing creature. Where the water touched, a soothing and numbing sensation spread through its body, until it was entirely coated in glimmering light. "The person you once were, they're in there somewhere. You know what you've become. I'm sorry that it has to be this way, but I think that it's what you want."

The human centipede glared at Teo from beneath its heavy brow, mandibles clacking at him... thoughtfully. It peered past the boy at the scientist behind him. It looked at Teo once again, and motioned toward Emeka with a low, hateful moan.

Emeka beat the ground with his fist. "Quickly end it! Please. Please!"

"I do this for who you were before," Teo said quietly. He moved forwards as a tendril of water snaked outwards and into the creature's mouth, shooting down its throat until it reached its chest. The water spirit gently cradled its head, and the water burst outwards. Spikes of ice pierced the creature's heart. He held it until it died, before gently lowering himself back down to the ground.

He turned to face Emeka, eyeing the man with distrust. "You said that you created it. You, then, are the one that turned it from man into monster?"

Something of a sigh escaped Emeka as the beast slumped over in death. He rested his head in his hands and slumped forward.

"I... I've done many things," he admitted, a weight in his voice of all the horrific things that had transpired in the last few months. "I hardly had a choice. You... you have to understand. I'm not a bad person!"

That's what he kept telling himself. Night and day. For the longest time.

Teo made his way over to where Emeka was slumped, kneeling down and placing a hand gently on the man's shoulder. "There will be time to talk about those things later," he said, "But you're injured. Let me help."

As he had done with the creature, Teo directed a gentle wash of water towards Emeka's injuries, to soothe and numb them. Where the water passed, after a few moments, it cleansed the infections that had been festering in the wounds.

"You should rest. You're safe here. Your body needs time to recover." he said, smiling. "I'll take you somewhere sheltered."

Water flowed out from the lake again to gather beneath Emeka, cradling him upon it and lifting him to follow Teo as the spirit drifted across the water's edge towards a small alcove in the lake's bank, where he laid him down upon a patch of moss.

Emeka looked around confusedly, then lifted his gaze to Teo. He lifted the bandages and frowned.

"Why?" he asked the spirit. "Why do this? What are you?"

"Because you needed help, silly." Teo replied with a bright smile, "I don't need any more reason than that, do I? My name is Teo, and I'm this lake's spirit. If someone turned up on your doorstep injured, would you not take them in to help them?"

The older man clenched his fists and broke his gaze with the spirit. He let out a sigh.

"Thank you," he said. Though, with everything he'd been through, he felt wary. Spirits had been known to be tricksters. That's what he'd heard. He never had a chance to make sure himself.

"There'll be more of them out there," Emeka said to him. "And... two boys. If they're alive, they'll be trying to find me."

From the inside of his shirt, he plucked a small vial, looking into it. Two eyes peered back at him. "It'll be bad if anyone finds me."

"Why is that?" Teo took a seat on one of the rocks in the alcove, watching Emeka curiously. "You said before that you had no choice, in turning that man into what he was. Tell me, what have you done? And how were you forced to do it? I would like to understand. And what is your name?"

The man juggled with the information he should be giving out. He'd only just met the boy. He had saved his life, but he had only just met him.

"I was threatened. My life, and the life of others, were on the line," he answered grimly. "I am Emeka. A geneticist in Wing City."

Teo nodded his head. "I understand, then. People will do terrible things to protect those close to them. But, perhaps you can yet redeem yourself?" he tilted his head, "Your situation suggests that things have not gone according to plan. You fled from something, or someone. Whatever bargain you made, does it still stand now?"

Emeka looked down again, at the vial. "I... I don't know," he said. "Something happened. But I don't know what. I don't think I'm scott free, but things have changed."

Teo thought for a moment. He wasn't clear on exactly what Emeka had meant by that, but he forged on. "Who threatened you? Why did they want you to make monsters?"

"Someone with a goal. You might know her name, you might not. I was told that, a century back, they were prominent in this world. Inkson. Sarka Inkson. I'm still not sure why. Ruling the world might be it. But that seems wrong."

"I haven't heard it before," Teo said, shaking his head, "But I'll remember it."

He paused to consider, "If you need a safe place, for yourself or for the other people who were threatened, then you can bring them here." he said, smiling. "Very few things can overpower me in my home. And I'd welcome the company. I don't get very many human visitors, and animals don't have a lot to talk about, usually."

Emeka smiled tightly. "I may take you up on your offer, but understand my hesitation. I've not been through the best times this past year. It's hard to put my trust in anyone right now. But thank you."

Teo nodded his head, "Of course. Now you should sleep. Your injuries will heal faster if you rest." he said, "Nothing will harm you while you're here."

Nodding, the wounded geneticist lay down. a hand covering his eyes. At least, if he was killed here by the spirit, it would be away from every nightmare he created himself.

He would be at peace.

As Emeka drifted off into sleep, Teo stepped away and quietly melted back into the lake. Of course, he was still there - but there was no point holding his human form when nobody was watching.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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#, as written by Teo
The present...

As Robin and Nairi made their way along the beach, they would find the corpse of the centipede creature still suspended in ice. It looked oddly peaceful. After a few moments longer, the water near the shore of the lake began to glimmer, and Teo rose from the waters, shimmering. The water of his form gradually went from transparent to his normal pale skin-tone, and the shimmering 'clothes' formed of luminescent water currents formed with him.

"Hello, there!" he said, smiling to the pair of them. "Don't be alarmed, I'm not going to hurt you. My name is Teo, I'm the spirit of this lake."

The wave of water he stood upon the crest of drifted forwards to deposit him daintily on the beach. "You're looking for a man named Emeka, aren't you?"

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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Robin blinked, looking towards the young man. He tilted his head to the side. "Uh, yeah," he said, frowning. "How do yoooooooou know that?"

He turned to look at Nairi, nudging him. "Another one of Sarka's... people?"

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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#, as written by Script
Upon discovering the frozen centipede, Nairi had suspected they wouldn't find Emeka alone - if at all. He hadn't had time to read the memories nearby before this one had come out of the lake, though.

"Doesn't seem to fit with her theme." Nari replied, eyeing the blue-haired boy with suspicion. "Where is he?" he demanded, "And what do you want?"

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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#, as written by Teo
"He is here, but I will not take you to him." Teo replied, smiling apologetically. "Not whilst you intend to do him harm. I have spoken to him. I know why you're chasing him, at least some of the story. He has done things that should never have been done, but he is not an evil man."

He tilted his head, "Will you hear me out? And what are your names, if I may ask?"

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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Robin frowned more deeply. He was glad that Emeka was just another victim and not a villain in the whole scheme of things, but he didn't know about what Nairi was thinking. He felt that, perhaps, they shouldn't trust this other person so quickly, as much as he wanted to. He seemed really nice, and in a world filled with monsters and witches all trying to kill them, someone nice was really... um... well, nice.

"... R-Robin," he answered the boy.

As they spoke, Emeka stood as close by as he could without alerting them. He could only just hear them, but it was enough to make out what they were saying.

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Character Portrait: Nairi Character Portrait: Robin Nieves Character Portrait: Teo Calypsi Character Portrait: Emeka Martin
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#, as written by Script
Nairi's eyes narrowed. "So we should just forgive him for attacking us, caging us to give to a witch that would have had us dead?" he hissed, shaking his head. "No, not that easy."

His nose twitched. "Know that he's listening. He knows what he put us through, and that's not half of what he did to those ... experiments." Nairi spat the word out like it was dirty. "Playing god over innocents isn't something that just gets forgiven."

Teo's expression went from a smile to a frown as Nairi spoke. "I know," he replied after a moment, "But is violent vengeance going to change any of that? Could you say that you wouldn't do awful things to protect the people you love?"

Robin's hands tightened into the fists. That question. That horrible question. He looked at the ground, clutching his hat with one hand. "The little girl," he said to Nairi. "He has a little girl."

Nairi looked as though he was about to burst a vein, his scowl was so intense. He turned to look at Robin for a moment, then back to Teo. Finally, he let out an angry yell of frustration and tossed his sword into the ground. The blade embedded itself in the sand and stuck there. He turned away, stalking several steps up the beach before closing his eyes and taking several deep breaths. "Fine." he said after a long pause. "No violence. Still need to see him, though. Have questions to ask. If he's so regretful, he can answer them."

Teo hesitated, his eyes drifting towards where Emeka was hidden. "That is his choice." the spirit answered, "But perhaps helping you might be a step towards atonement, if he wants to take it?" His voice was questioning, as though prompting the scientist.

Emeka ran his hand down his face, palm over his mouth. He couldn't trust the smaller child with the sword. The other child wasn't much of a worry, as far as he knew. And then there was Teo. If he could take care of the monster from last night, then he could take care of these children if things got too rough.

Silently, Emeka emerged from his hiding spot, approaching the group. He didn't have much to say just yet. Just looked at Nairi with a hardened, but weary face.

Nairi turned to face Emeka and locked eyes with him. For a moment he simply glared into the older man's gaze, his golden eyes searching for what lay behind them and seething with disdain. "Nothing to say for yourself?" he finally challenged.

Teo watched on in silence, ready to intervene if things got out of hand.

"There was nothing I could have done," said Emeka weakly, meeting the werecat's eyes. "I would have liked to save you both, but I'd of died in the act. Or Nanna would have died. I can't do much to raise her but I've kept her alive. You know the witch, don't you? She would have killed her without mercy."

"There are people you could have gone to." Nairi hissed, "Police - that's their job. Academies, even I can't break in there. Rolling over, doing what she wanted was not your only option. However you try and excuse it, you were a coward. Do you even know how many more of those... things," he swung an arm out at the centipede, "you created? That are now going to be taking out their suffering on innocents? On children just like your Nanna? Or how many Sarka will kill before she's done? Pah!"

Nairi spat on the sand between them, "If you want to not be completely worthless, you'll tell us what we want. Get your kid somewhere safe, then wait it out till the bitch is dead."

Emeka's eyes ignited with anger. "You wouldn't know!" he growled. "There wasn't going to anyone. I was trapped. You think I saw anything else besides that lab, the first two rooms of my house? With so many options, you think the witch might have covered all her tracks? What do you think is going on? I can't wield a sword. I can't fight! I can't do what you do. I'll help you if I can, but I can't go back into the city. I can't."

Nairi growled. "You could have tried. You had contact with the girl, the girl had contact with the outside. Gah!" he shook his head, "Not important now. Too late to undo. Fine."

The werecat took a deep breath. "Why did Sarka want you to make monsters? What's her goal? What is the liquid-orb creature, where is it and why is it so important?"

The man's wrinkles had wrinkles at this point. He reached inside his shirt, but hesitated. "I don't know. She spoke about a lot of things. About power. Domination. But..." His head shook. "It seemed too simple for her. I can't say I've gotten to know her, but she was around enough that I picked out some things about her. She's intelligent, just... mad. Something's driving her mad. I don't know what it is."

He took the vial out of his pocket, showing it to Nairi and Robin. Two eyes stared at them.

"... what! Burt?" cried Robin, running forward.

"All the research I've been conducting. The monsters. It's more than just that. She had me trying to perfect a formula. The girl with white skin was the closest I've gotten," said Emeka as Robin took hold of the bottle.

Nairi narrowed his eyes, "A formula to do what?" he asked, mind going back to the strange girl in the cage. She'd unnerved him, a lot. What had they been trying to achieve with her?

"A body. A weapon. Something mindless, but functional. Something that could be used. She wanted it to be powerful. I never did figure out why."

Robin quickly opened the bottle and turned it upside down, emptying its contents. Falling to the ground in a very large droplet, with a plop, was the frog-shaped Burt. With eyes. It cherruped happily at them.

There was a pause, as Nairi looked down at the small creature, then looked back at Emeka. He pointed at 'Burt'. "And this is it." he said, voice laced with disbelief. "What even ... is it?"

"An endless supply of ink," said Emeka grimly. "Growing as it consumes. It converts matter- any matter- into ink."

Nairi grimaced, "Ink. A power source. She must have something big planned. Otherwise would be easier just to buy it, steal it. But ... what? What can she do with that much ink?" He shook his head. He had very little understanding of 'ink magic' and as far as he had been able to tell, Kastner's knowledge was limited too. Not knowing what his enemy was capable of was... frustrating. "Gah. All of this time, spent figuring out what it was... doesn't even give us knowledge that helps in beating her."

He glanced back at Emeka. "Don't suppose you know where she operates out of? A home, a base of operations, a lair, anything?"

Emeka shook his head. "I've been in that labyrinth for almost a year. She didn't trust me enough to tell me all her plans. She only told me what she needed from me."

"Gah..." Nairi grimaced, pacing a few steps up the beach, then back. "Need ... something. Something to work with. Plans, goals, weaknesses... can't just keep flailing blindly in the dark and hoping we're hindering her." he muttered. He rubbed at his scalp, running over all their knowledge inside his head.

Sarka had promised the city to the monsters - Goulash, the fat one and the eel one. So she intended to take it, somehow, in some way. She needed an infinite supply of ink - not just massive, she could rob an ink store or buy it if she just needed a lot. But what was her goal? Her plan?

Nairi practically growled with frustration, "Can't figure her out!" he hissed angrily.

Robin reached his hand up to place it on Nairi's shoulder. "She can't be able to make a move too soon. We have Burt. Her plans are set back, right? So..."

"Keep it that way. Whatever it is, she can't go on without that creature," said Emeka.

Nairi nodded with a sigh. "Hate not being able to ... do anything, though. Just sitting and going to ground..."

He shook his head. "Will take it somewhere she won't get it. Store it safely. Then we can still react to what she does next without risking it being taken back."

"I don't think I could trust anyone else. I have no one else. I'll be trying to go to various other companies. Perhaps the Patronus. I'm not sure what it will come to. You're not the only one who's feeling helpless."

"Too far north, would take too long." Nairi said, shaking his head. "If we want to be here to try and figure out what her next move will be. Was thinking one of the Academies. They have artefacts, vaults. Are fortified, lots of mages. She won't be able to get it from there. We can take it. You ... do whatever." he waved a dismissive hand.

"We should get moving. The longer it's out in the open, the more chance she has to take it."

"I could hold onto it." Teo piped up after having been silent for the majority of the discussion, smiling. "I can sink it to the bottom of my lake, and protect it there. Almost nothing can get down there if I don't want them to."

Nairi shot Teo a suspicious look, "Only just met you, we have no reason to trust you."

"I... I trust him," said Emeka. "He saved my life. Sarka doesn't like water. You've discovered that, haven't you? There's no better place than the immediate safety of this lake. If you carry him off now, you run the risk of getting caught."

The werecat gave Emeka a sidelong glance, "Your vouching doesn't help much. Don't really trust you either." he said dryly, before turning his attention back to Teo.

"You want me to trust you? Give me something of yours. Something you have on you all the time." he said, holding out a hand.

Teo blinked, arching an eyebrow. He opened his mouth to question the reasoning, but decided against asking. It would probably be a better show of good faith if he just did it. He waved a hand, and the water behind him stirred. After a few moments, a small pebble rose from the depths, smooth and oddly tinted teal. It looked very different to the other rocks around the lake. "This is a stone from my former home. I brought it hear with me as a memento, and I normally carry it with me. The rest of the time it's in the lake, which is as much 'me' as this form is, most of the time."

Nairi nodded and took hold of the stone, before taking a seat cross-legged on the sand. "Give me a few minutes." he said, rolling it over in his hand for a moment before delving into its memories.

Robin rocked back on his heels, reaching down to pick up the now very heavy, somewhat large Burt. He was just able to do so, smiling up at both Emeka and Teo with the brightest grin. Everything was... mostly okay now.

"So why did you save him?" he asked Teo, glancing at the scientist.

Teo tilted his head curiously. "Because he needed help." he said, as though it were an incredibly obvious reason. "I had no reason not to."

Robin blinked. "So you just save people even if you don't know if they're bad?"

After thinking for a moment, Teo shrugged. "Yes, I suppose I do. But I would rather save the life of someone who deserved to die, than allow the death of someone who didn't." he explained.

The young man had to think on this for a moment, but he eventually came to agree. "I guess that makes sense," he said, eyeing Martin.

The scientist frowned, narrowing his eyes. "Yes?"

Robin shook his head, causing Emeka's frown to deepen.

"And what about the thing?" the boy asked Teo, pointing to the centipede. "You did that in pretty bad."

"I tried to calm it, but, it had lost its mind. In the end, I think that what it was before would have appreciated death. Just being alive for it was painful." Teo said, his voice sad. "I think it was a mercy."

Robin nodded again, almost sagely. "Are you going to do the same with all the others?"

"If they come here, and I feel as though it's necessary." Teo shrugged, "Maybe it's selfish, but I hope that not many find their way here. I don't like killing."

"Oh," Robin responded, looking down. He met Burt's eyes. The creature reached out a paw a chirped at him, causing the boy to smile. "Maybe we can draw them away."

Emeka turned his back to them, wanting nothing more than to leave. "They shouldn't. They'll be running rampant in the city, I'm sure. The WCPD will have their work cut out for them."

It was then that Nairi snapped back to reality, looking up from the pebble. He gave Teo a thoughtful stare for a few moments, before shrugging and nodding his head. "Okay. You guard it. Can't see any reason not to trust you." he said.

He turned towards Emeka, then. "Will Sarka know you've fled?" he asked, "What do you think she'll do when she finds out?"

"FInd me. Kill me. Or find Nanna," Emeka told the werecat. His wrinkles multiplied as his expression turned grim. "If... if you can find her..." he mumbled. "If you could find her and make sure she's safe..."

Nairi hesitated for a moment, before begrudgingly nodding. However much he disdained the scientist, the girl's life was in danger. It wasn't her fault her guardian had been doing horrific things. "Will find her." he said, before nodding to Robin. "We should move. Sarka might be weak now, but is only a matter of time before she regains enough strength to go after the girl. Could already have sent one of her monsters."

Teo smiled, "I'll keep your ink-creature safe." he said, "There's a temple on the island at the centre of the lake, that has chambers deep beneath the surface. I can keep it there."

He looked towards Emeka, "You're welcome to stay in the temple as well. I can keep you supplied with food from the forest."

Emeka nodded. "It'll be hard for any of them to get there. There're only a few experiments who can sqim. Fewer who can do it for long. I don't believe Goulash or the Viscera mage have a good way of doing it. We'd only need to worry about Nagara." He looked back at the boys. "Unless you two have already done away with them."

Nagara, the name rang a bell... from the vision of the warehouse. The woman with the snakes. "No, have only encountered her once. Before I knew anything about what was going on." Nairi said. "Goulash... killed it a lot of times. Probably isn't dead for good, knowing its ability to make copies. The fat one out there somewhere too. Haven't encountered it, only read about it in the news."

Teo shrugged, "Nothing can swim in my lake without me knowing of it, They wouldn't get far." he said, grinning. "I've fought off a lord of the plane of fire, I can handle a witch and her creatures."

"Let's hope that's right," said Emeka. "For your sake and mine. I didn't create the first three goons. I don't know if she has more of them helping her" He turned to glance at Nairi and Robin over his shoulder. "Good luck. You're probably our greatest assets in this fight. If you die, it'll be bad for everyone soon to be involved."

Nairi nodded his head solemnly, then turned to go. "Don't plan on dying any time soon." he said, "Too much unfinished business for that."

He snatched his sword up from the sand as he moved back towards the road into Wing City, pausing only to make sure Robin was following.

With a sigh, the boy dropped the ink creature, patting it on the head. "We're coming back, buddy. Promise," he said with a tight smile. Before he had even a chance to turn around, Burt let out a high croak and bounded over to Nairi, reaching out for his pant leg.

The werecat turned to arch an eyebrow at the creature, staring down at it. "Er... yes. Will be back." he offered after a moment's hesitation, "Stay here. Don't get stolen again."

Back on the beach, Teo giggled at the exchange.

Burt chirped again, then seemed to nod. With a bound, he made his way back to Teo and Martin, standing on its high legs. "Rrp?"

Robin tore himself away from the creature best he look, almost on the verge of tears. He drew his shoulders up next to his ears in a slouch beside Nairi.

Teo crouched down to Burt's level with a broad grin. "Hello there!" he exclaimed brightly, reaching out to pat the creature affectionately. "My name's Teo! I'm looking after you for now!"

Nairi glanced across at Robin as they moved away, frowning at his expression. After a moment he gently nudged the other boy to get his attention, offering him a tentative smile. "Will be alright," he said, "I- He'll be safer here. Is in good hands."

"Yeah, yeah..." groaned Robin. "We'd only just got him back, though!"

"Know where he is now, at least." Nairi offered with a small shrug, "Know he's safe. Will see him again when we bring the girl back here, too."

With a sullen nod, the young man sighed, "I hope he doesn't grow up too much while we're gone. We'll miss his first words!"

Nairi raised an eyebrow. "You're talking like it- he's our kid." he remarked with a small smirk.

Robin lashed his head back, planting a hand on his heart. "We've had him since he was a wee tadpole, Nairi! Are you talking like he's not?"

He barely hid a grin as he looked to the side, hat flopping over his eyes.

Taken aback, Nairi blinked at Robin before he looked down and away, red tinting his cheeks ever so slightly. "More like a pet." he mumbled almost inaudibly.

Robin pulled his hat down over his mouth, eyes peeking from over it. One eyebrow arched so high his brow creased.

"Better than nothing!" sang Robin, his cheeks rising in a snicker.

Nairi said nothing, stuffing his hands in his pockets and keeping his eyes averted. The slight blush remained - he was more embarrassed at the fact that he was blushing than anything else. It was undignified.

The immortal boy was all too pleased with himself, and as much as he wanted to continue teasing the werecat, there were other things that needed their attention.

"So we're going for the girl now? Is that the plan?"

Relieved at the subject change, Nairi nodded, regaining his composure. "Back to the scientist's apartment. If she's not there, will be able to trace her from there."

"I'd be surprised if she went back. We hadn't seen her before," said Robin. "I hope she's okay."

Nairi nodded. They'd have to move quickly - it wouldn't be long before Sarka figured out that Emeka had betrayed her, if she hadn't already. They were behind time. Thankfully, it wasn't far to the city from here. He just hoped that they were in time.

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Emeka wasn't fairing well.

Physically, he was healthy. Healed, more or less. His worries, however, lay heavily on his mind. He'd developed a book of new wrinkles and grey hairs. Constantly, he kept to the little cove where Teo had left him. There was fear in his eyes, not just for himself, but for the fate of Nanna.

If Sarka had figured it out before the boys got to her, she was dead. The thought kept him pacing. Even the return of... "Bert" did him no good.

The creature had taken to following Teo when he could, chirping his concern. In the past hour he seemed even more antsy.

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#, as written by Teo
Teo and the little creature were within the temple at the centre of the lake - or at least, that's where Teo's manifested body was. In truth, he was present throughout the entire lake. He could see Emeka, the fish darting through the water, and the wildlife on the banks. True to his word, though, he'd taken Bert through to the temple's inner sanctum, where he would be safe from any attempts on Sarka's part to retrieve him.

The temple was accessible only via a hidden tunnel on the banks of the island in the lake, which was submerged the majority of the time, only revealed during low tide. The sanctum itself was located at the temple's heart, at the end of a maze of corridors, closed doors and dead ends.

"What's the matter?" Teo asked the chirruping creature, tilting his head questioningly.

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The creature opened its mouth and let out a low, rolling bark. Its eyes were at the entrance, though it was far beyond the entrance that he was looking towards.

Upon the bank of the lake was a woman. She was a stranger only to Teo here, as Emeka and the boys would have easily recognized the filthy old coat that she swathed herself in and the clumsy, broken way she walked, as though her legs couldn't support her completely. She meandered into the water and never stopped, even as she was fully submerged.

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#, as written by Teo
Teo snapped up straight. "I see her." he said, and in the next instant, he was gone, splashing into the shallow water that filled the temple.

Outside, only a few seconds later, the water in front of Nagara shimmered. The outline of the water spirit formed within the water, and he gestured towards her. The woman would find herself swiftly rising, as the water around her gained pressure and rose in a current, until it had entirely lifted from the surface of the lake in a sphere around her.

Teo himself emerged from the water a few moments afterwards, the water rising up to form his body, his hand outstretched towards the sphere. "Who are you?" he called, "This lake and that which lies within it are under my protection. You can't come any further."

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The woman, at first, did nothing. An eerie motionlessness took over her and she let herself float within the sphere, hair like seaweed moving out of her face to reveal a face aged by abuse, lips scabbed and scarred in patterns that suggested a needle and thread were the culprit, skin splotched in blacks, reds, yellows that marred what might have once been a pretty face.

And yet, more disturbingly, the dark line that cracked from her hairline down her neck, chest, and abdomen. Something that was far less natural. A screech tore through the bubble, though the woman hadn't once opened her mouth.

Dots peeked from the center of that line in the woman's body, little reflections that seemed few in number at first, and grew as the chasm opened, letting the can of worms empty forth and reach for the spirit, mouths gaping and teeth snapping.