The Gang of Five
It is quite fitting that the sweltering hot days of July arrive right when the gang confront the barrens of the Mysterious Beyond in the fifth film showcase.  It is almost like us admins planned it that way or something.  :bestsharptooth

This month in the Monthly Showcase we are featuring the Land Before Time V.  Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in that topic.  Additionally, there is a new fanfiction prompt challenge for the months of June July, please check out this topic for more information.

Blanking the Slate

Serris · 921 · 59929

Serris

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Soren sighed as he followed the other guards. There was no way he could overpower two armed guards.

"Don't worry, we're not going harm you. The boss just wants to have a few words," the one to his right said.

The Human looked at the blank stainless steel and concrete walls. Bland signs occasionally broke up the monotonous walls but the guards hustled him down the hallways too quickly for him to read them.

------------------

The two guards were watching Anne futilely pound on the corundum window as she begged for her drugs and her horn implant.

Just then, their supervisor came in. "You two! Get that mare presentable and out of there! The boss wants to see her!"

One of the guards shoved a bottle containing some capsules with a golden gel inside through a narrow port in the door along with a plastic bag.

------------------

Anne picked up the bottle and with shuddering fingers, pried open the cap and gulped down two of the capsules. Immediately, her muscle twitches stopped and her clouded mind instantly cleared.

She knew that the effects of 2,3 zotphenylamine -- namely, faster reflexes; accelerated thinking and increased attention span -- ould take some time to manifest.

Her lips curled in the Flehmen response as she smelled the musky odor of her accident. Opening the bag, she found a dark green jumpsuit similar to those worn by Seryet City Public Works Department employees, a pack of wet wipes...and an adult diaper configured for Equines.

She held the white plastic garment at arm's length as if it were an explosive device. "You fuckers think this is funny!?" she snapped.

In response, the port slid open and a guard shouted. "Shut the fuck up and get dressed you pissy pony!" The port then slid shut.

Anne pinned her ears and bared her teeth as she threw the adult diaper on the bed, stripped naked and began wiping herself down with the wet wipes. Judging from how the guards were leering at her through the window, they were apparently enjoying the show.

Soon, she was clad in her dark green jumpsuit and the two armed guards filed in through the open door. A third one stood outside the cell.

"All right, the boss wants to see you."

Anne snorted in frustration as she followed the two guards.

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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Emilena's eyebrows raised when she saw Soren and Anne both brought to their location. "Well, it appears the gang's all here," she remarked dryly. "The quack, the addict...only one missing is the lesbian."

They reached the interrogation room and their escorts wasted no time herding them through the reinforced double doors. It was a clinically-stainless chamber, almost corporate in appearance with its steel chairs and sallow concrete walls. Betraying the room's darker function were shackles built into the leg and armrests of every chair except the one occupied by a short, slightly stocky man with dark blonde hair.

---------------------------

"Even if you can fake being dead after getting shot strangled or whatever it is you do, Lily, that will only work for you, it wont work for anybody else. We don't have healing powers after all. Just out of curiosity, how much are you willing to pay?" She heard Marita ask.

Lily stopped dead. "Wait...how do you know I can do that?" She felt panic grip her heart, and her hand surreptitiously slipped into her dress pocket and closed around a scalpel. "How did you learn about my regenerative powers?" Horrible thoughts were swimming through her mind...projected simulations checking to see whether she'd be able to kill all of them without any escapees. She could not let word get out!

Heart thumping wildly, Lily shivered with barely-controlled urges. These are my friends! she told herself urgently. Let them talk! Don't kill them!

But really, a tinier portion of her thoughts insisted, what was the matter with killing them? Everybody dies eventually. Everyone but her.

---------------------------

"Just...leave me alone for a few goddamn seconds! Please!" Flora crawled to her bed and buried her face in her arms. "You just have no idea!" she cried. "No clue of how fucked up everything is! And it's all your goddamn fault!"

She shot Rose a glare. "I had everything!" she shouted, tears stinging her bloodshot eyes. "I was rich, I was famous, and I was writing music! Yesterday I had a whole life of writing music ahead of me, and now today I'm getting the shit beat out of me by your psychopathic friends! Why can't you at least give me some fucking privacy after all the shit you've put me through?!"


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because i remember that you were able to do such things before' Marita said' unless you've undergone an operation to remove them, it stands to reason you should still have them. such abilities would be useful in just about any occupation you might be in. would save you loads on paying for medical bills right? Marita said.' even one trip to the doctor can leave you broke, especially if money is tight at your job otherwise.. it is for us i can assure you of that.. we have to stretch every cred.. now.. lets se ' ok.. tracing emissions looking  for any elevated readings in areas where they shouldnt be.. dfiscunting for natural phenomena like Volcanoes..' Marita typed away rapidly at the computer her screen showed an image of the country, the light area showed where power was being admitted, the darker arreas were mostly national parks.
_
 Shirleys room..
_
what WE put you through? Rose started ' what WE put you through? Girl, you have no idea how lucky you have had it! You have sold MILLIONS of records, you'd have to go to the darkest part of Africa to find someone who hadnt heard of you! you made more creds in the last year alone than I will make in the entire rest of my life, working 40 hours a week, every week, for 60 years! Heck if you combine the earnings, of myself Marie and Marita together over that span,  we'd STILL not have as much as you did in 1 year! and you know what. Lets say you manage to get through this safely? do you know what that will do to your career? It will ELEVATE it! because promoters love nothing more than to play up the ' reclusive superstar' angle! I mean look what it did for Prince! 15 years of being that weird symbol and  masked character guy, and after he went back to his old name, his sales went through the roof! he was already a huge star before, but his return made him a LEGEND! Now you're too young to get the ' legend' moniker. but 'superstar' will absolutely be appropriate when people talk about you and your music, once you come back!' rose sat down next to her and gave Flora a smile

 ' Now I'm sorry about what Lily did to you, shes not the same Lily we knew before, but well the events back there changed all of us. we had to  change, in order to survive. but as for the people who really put you through all this, that would be the Purifiers, that  group  of lunatics who killed your groupie friend, just because they saw him in some of your videos. the same group that have grabbed our Lanthae friends and is holding them for reasons known only to God. blame anyone, blame them. now come on, Shirley. Is thee anything I can do for you, that will make you feel better? anything atall, just name it ?' Rose smiled at her.
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bushwacked

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The guard behind Axel gave him a shove, and he stumbled through the door after the others, his legs almost catching in the jumpsuit he was holding up. He swore under his breath, then turned to look into the room when he felt eyes on him. Directly in front of the group the steel chairs fitted with shackles were arranged in a line, facing a single, identical chair.

The short man in the chair facing the group was watching them, amusement lighting up his green eyes as his attention passed from one to the other. He was slouching slightly, one finger tapping haphazardly on the armrest. A cigarette was hanging loosely in the other hand, smoke from the lit end drifting up to disappear into nothingness. His denim jacket and jeans were ruffled, unkempt.

If the man sitting down oozed relaxation and ease, the figure standing behind him was the exact opposite. Looming behind the man, the tall doberman stood still as a statue, the set of his shoulders as stiff and straight as the concrete walls surrounding them, his dark eyes staring at them unblinking over the turned up collar of his jacket. His hands were clasped behind his back, but Axel had the feeling he'd be ready to spring instantly if needed.

In each corner of the room, an armed guard was clutching a machine gun, looking anxious. When the door closed behind Axel, the short man sitting down took a long drag from the cigarette, held it a moment then breathed out the smoke slowly. The amusement in his eyes spread to the rest of his face, and he smiled.

"Finally. For a minute, I thought nobody was coming to the party. These seats aren't as comfortable to wait in as they look, you know." He gestured to the seats lined up facing him. "Come on, sit down. I thought we could wait until we found the other ones, but... well, life's too short."

The guards who had led the group into the room now pushed them forward. Axel was forced into the rightmost chair, and the guard made to fasten one of the shackles over his wrists.

"Hey, hey, hey, hey, the fuck're you doing?" the man said quickly, holding up his free hand. "We don't need those. They're old friends. Old friends who were a huge fucking pain in the ass but hey, nobody's perfect. We're just gonna have a little chat." Rhaegson grinned widely at the group. "So we aren't gonna need to chain you up. Are we?"


aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Lily could barely speak. The last time Marita met her, she was a horrifying murderous monstrosity who was more reptile than human. "Well, you're wrong. I don't have any powers. I'm a new woman, remember? That...thing...it wasn't me," she affirmed, not able to meet the Great Dane's eyes.

"I'll pay you everything I have," she promised. "Roughly fifteen thousand credits." Luckily in this day and age, the virtuality of currency negated any need to launder the funds Lily had siphoned from her victims. "Just find the base, and we'll decide what to do then. I don't think you should come with me, but if you insist, we'll need to find a way to ditch the runt. Is she your daughter or something?"

--------------------------

"I want you to leave me alone!" Flora shouted. "HOW is this not clear to you!?"

Her words grew unintelligible as she sobbed into her blanket for almost fifteen minutes, Rose's arms wrapped around her the entire time. Eventually, Flora's shoulders slumped and she raised her head again. Her eyes were bloodshot and her face was stained with tears and gripped with exhaustion.

"What do you want from me?" she asked desperately. "What can I do to make you leave me alone?" Uncrossing her arms and lying down in Rose's full view, she unbuttoned her jeans, defeated. "Do you want to fuck me? Your girlfriend raped me in the back of your car, you wanna invite her too? Will that be enough?" She began lifting her shirt over her head. "Have your fucking way with me. Queef all over my face if you like."

--------------------------

Emilena kept an eye on the guards. Her instinct was telling her the man in charge didn't want them killed, but these were psychotic terrorists; there's no telling how much the average soldier really felt obligated to follow orders, especially when massive bounties had been placed on their guests.

Her eyes met with the Doberman's, and with a flash of recognition she realized she'd seen him before. He was one of the two interrogators who'd tortured her with a car battery last time she'd made the Purifier's acquaintance. Specifically, he'd been the quiet one, right up until he'd promised to kill her next time they met. Narrowing her eyes, she sat down in the proffered chair and made a mental note to keep an eye on him.

"If we're so chummy, perhaps one of your cronies could remove my handcuffs so I can stop flashing everyone?" she asked pointedly.


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Rose started as flora took off her top ' whoa, whoa whoa. Keep your top on,and your pants on. lets get a few things straight. ' Marie did not rape you in the car. rape is unwanted contact of a sexual nature. a kiss, by definition, is not sexual. otherwise you'd have lots of lawsuits from women against guys after the guy planted one on her by surprise.  she didnt do anything more to you than kiss you. look i'm sure you are just having a real bad day when one thing after another is going wrong, believe me i've had those. we've all had them.' rose got up off of the bed and started walking away towards the door ' i;'m not going to force myself on you Flora. you want to talk i'll be next door. just one thing- lose the attitude. I dont care how many times girls have sucked your tits or guys blown you because you demanded it. here you show respect, you get respect..
-
Marita looked at Lily ' Daughter ?No, shes not my daughter. i've been put in charge of her welfare though so where  I go, she does too. package deal Lily, i'm not dumping Shirley overboard. now i've narrowed down the Purifiers possible location to three different areas- one in the mountains of Utah. one in south-central Mexico, and one -in northern Alaska.
-
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Serris

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(???)

Soren and Anne were next to arrive.

The Human took one look at the chairs and flinched backwards. "Oh fuck no! You expect me to--"

"Stow it and have a seat." A large Clydesdale mare said. She gently tapped Soren's leg with the muzzle of her shotgun. The manner in which she spoke was a demand, not a request.

Soren huffed and took a seat in the uncomfortably cold chair.

Anne looked around as her ears twitched. Her tail swished back and forth as she wrung her hands. "Look, I'm not sure what's going on but--"

The Clydesdale mare waved her free hand dismissively. "Take a seat and our boss will bring you up to speed."

--------------------

(Braunii)

Braunii was quite far from Seryet City and the fact that it was an isolated oil farming town that looked like a throwback to something from the mid 1980s -- save the modern vehicles and frame-flyers that flitted through the cool night desert air.

Aaron had just gotten off his shift at the algae farm and was eating dinner at Golden Pond -- a seafood diner that catered mostly to the working-class with simple, hearty and greasy food.

The atmosphere inside the diner was loud and raucous with patrons sharing jokes, stories and discussing the latest sports game. The staticky sizzle from the catfish burgers searing on the grill mingled with scratchy 1960s rock.

Aaron munched on some beer-battered silversides -- a specialty of the diner -- as he waited for his order to be cooked. He took a sip of his beer as he read the news on his smartphone.

Almost immediately, the smartphone buzzed with the receipt of a text message:

Geasbrecht. Head to Seryet City now. Meet me by Genetics Boulevard.

Aaron sighed and summoned over a waitress to package his order to go. Luckily, Seryet City was a mere three three hour maglev ride away.

(OOC - Silversides are small finger-sized fish, frying them with batter produces something like a fishy french fry.)

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bushwacked

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Rhaegson shook his head. "Chummy we may be, but I ain't dumb. I've seen the kung fu shit you can do." He paused. "Hey Marcus, she's the one who got off on being electrocuted isn't she?"

Axel saw the tall doberman standing behind Rhaegson nod. "That's her." His voice was low, rough as gravel.

Rhaegson chortled. "Christ, I thought I knew some fucked up people. And now you're worried about covering up your... tits? If that's what you call those things?" he snorted, eyeing Emilena's small chest. "You know, you... actually fuck that, all of you, are strangely hard to kill. It's actually kind of weird when I think about it. I mean, I could count the amount of times you should have all died on both hands-" he spread his fingers exaggeratedly, "- And you know, I just don't feel like being in the same room as you if one of those times happens again. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly a heavyweight boxer." He winked at Emilena. "So no, sugar tits. Your cuffs stay on... for now."

"Just get to the point," Axel spat, glaring at Rhaegson.  

Rhaegson smirked. "Patience, my ugly friend. Let's see... Goofy looking rat, you must be Axel." He glanced at Soren. "Mr Miyagi... You're Soren. So that only leaves the coked up betty in the corner, Rose."

"Anne," Marcus said lowly, correcting him. "Rose is the other addict."

"Two addicts on their team, and none of you were able to kill these assholes?" Rhaegson rolled his eyes at the guards in the room. "Really guys? Ah well... just as well, I guess. Right now, killing you is the last thing I want." He took another drag on his cigarette. "Someone out there is being a real pain in our balls. And you guys, you lucky sons of bitches, are gonna help us out." Through the smoke, Axel could see Rhaegson's eyes glinting as he watched the group.


aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Emilena's face flushed angrily. Having passed through puberty in less than 24 hours within an Accelerated Growth Pod, her underdeveloped sexual characteristics were completely normal, but Rhaegson did a scarily good job of making her feel self-conscious about something she'd never spared a thought to before. She balled her fists but then quickly winced when her ruined hand responded only with an eruption of painful tingles.

She focused on the Doberman instead. Asshole remembers her too apparently. As Rhaegson continued talking, Emilena instead kept her eyes trained on that guard. If she failed whatever test/offer they were about to give, she suspected he'd be the one to kill her, and this could be her only chance to size him up. You could learn a lot about someone by simply refusing to break eye contact.

-------------------

"Then don't come," shrugged Lily. "I couldn't care less if you and Shirley and the rest stayed behind. I'm expecting it to be a suicide mission anyway." Matter of fact, she was designing it to be one. "No point in me paying you if you're going to run off and die before you can spend it."

She looked around the apartment. "You've got a nice place. You've got people who love you, and apparently you hold some sort of responsibility to your ward. Forgive me for being rude, but it doesn't sound like you can afford to be in the revenge business any more. You should grow old with your loved ones and leave the past to me."

------------------

Flora continued crying even when Rose finally left her alone. She'd hoped to feel at least a sense of relief at finally being given a modicum of personal space, but instead the pregnant stillness of her room only served to remind her that these four walls were her prison for the foreseeable future.

All they do is tell me I'm wrong and they're right... she fixed her clothes, feeling ashamed of what she'd just offered Rose. They're like a hivemind, all chirping the same tune at me until I shut up and do what they want...and I'm stuck with them forever... It took a desperate act of prostitution to secure even a moment's privacy, and Flora dreaded how they would choose to interpret her submission in the future once they get the opportunity.

Curling into a ball in the corner of her bed, Flora tried in vain to calm herself down. She tried to mull over this problem the way she'd always done in the past; with confidence and reliance on past experience to find a solution. She thought of all the challenges she'd faced and overcome; the prejudices in school, the gossip in show business, the medical scares whenever she'd developed unexpected symptoms that could be STDs...and all of these paled to the amount of helpless and powerlessness she felt right now.


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this place, nice? no, this is what we can get on our income.." Marita said continuing to type away' hmm '  no, this doesn't look right... backtracking now.. hmm..  wow that was a false front there.. almost fell for it... gos back closer, running subterranean scan....wow.. what do you know..right under our noses..'' she turned lily ' its in seryet city, in the northern part of town.. As for leaving you to go on your suicide mission, forget it. i'm not letting you throw your life away when theres an alternative.'
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Serris

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(Seryet City)

"Well what's in it for us?" Anne asked as her ears pivoted in response to the noises of the guards patrolling the outside hallways.

Soren got up from his chair. Scowling, he pointed a finger at Rhaegson. "Give me one reason why I should help you fuckers! You destroyed my home, my career, my life!" he shouted.

His two guards blocked the Human's path.

"Mr. Almaya, sit down and be quiet." The first guard raised his rifle.

"Fuck you!" Soren spat.

"Soren," Anne said. "I know you hate these guys but right now, they've got all the power. We're lucky they didn't just overside us."

Soren huffed and sat back down. The two guards glared at him underneath their armored visors.

"Now will you sit down and shut the fuck up or do we need to use the shackles?" the other guard said.

The Human scowled but said nothing.

"Much better." He turned to Rhaegson. "Continue, sir."

------------------

(Braunii)

Aaron took a seat inside the train station's waiting room. The desert air was cool and brisk as it blew through the station's open windows. The faint scent of brine and algal oil wafted through the air.

The German Shepherd looked around. The train station was pretty much empty save for a few smartly dressed men and women along with some stranded tourists.

Algae oil execs probably, he thought as he took a draft from his can of soda and glanced at a Samoyed in a nice business suit.

The train station was a throwback to the 1960s with reproduction posters and other memorabilia decorating the walls. Unlike the train stations in the big cities, there was no graffiti, suspicious street vendors, bums, addicts, beggars or trash.

He looked at the digital clock on the wall: 8:56 PM. His train would be arriving soon.

Aaron finished off his soda and went to the bathroom. He headed out onto the platform to await his train.

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Rhaegson gave a lazy thumbs up to the guard, then turned his attention to Soren. "Looks like the pot head is the brains here. Who'd have thought," he said lightly, winking at Anne. "But you did ask a good question. Why should you help us? Well, I guess numero uno on your list is that if you say no, our chat ends here... and by that I mean we put a bullet in the back of your heads. I'm not gonna give the big we'll torture you until you agree spiel. You'll just die."

He shrugged. "But I'm hoping you ain't gonna go down that road. Things'd be so much easier for all of us if you agreed. Getting rid of blood stains and all the other bits is a real pain in the ass." Rhaegson glanced at one of the guards. "Remember... what was his name... the guy who wouldn't stop crying. Charlie. We kept finding little chunks of his brain stuck on the floor." He chuckled, letting himself reminisce for a moment before bringing his attention back to the situation. "Oh, and now that we've given you all a starring role in what happened last year, there's a good chance you'll be on their radar now."

Axel glared at him. "Who's radar? What the hell are you talking about?"

Rhaegson tapped ash from the end of his cigarette. "Them, twinkle toes. The ones who started all this. The guys we want you to find." When nobody said anything, he clapped his hands together. "Alright. I'll give you the short and sweet story. A few months ago, a couple of our guys went missing. Well, maybe they've taken an impromptu holiday, I thought. Maybe they've taken some time to find who they truly are. What can I say, I'm an optimist. Those theories went out the fuckin' window when their heads showed up."

He put out his cigarette and pulled another from his pocket. "These things are gonna kill me someday. Where was I? Yeah, so we found their heads. Sure, in our line of... work, some of don't have the longest life expectancy. So we chalked it up to it being an unlucky day for those poor bastards. Except more of us kept going missing. And more pieces of them kept turning up. And not always heads either. We had a guy who'd had this big tattoo of a... mermaid or something inked all over his chest. It looked like shit, but fuck me, was he proud of it. A few weeks ago, a little girl found just his torso tied to a tree in the park."

"But the real kicker was what happened a few days ago, where all the augs dropped dead. It was very sad." One of the guards in the corner snorted. "That had nothing to do with us."

"Bullshit." Axel shook his head. "We saw what happened on TV."

Rhaegson wagged his finger mockingly. "The reporter that got blown away? Don't believe everything you see on TV kid." He paused. "Well, the reporter did actually get blown away. He's as dead as dead gets. So you can believe that. But the asshole who shot him? I've got no fuckin' clue who he is, but he ain't one of us. And the way that guy spoke..." Rhaegson lowered his voice to a growl, raising his arms menacingly. "Fear the Purifiers!" He winced and leaned back in his chair. "Jesus, it was so hammy... I'd like to think we have a little more self respect than that. And forced - someone really wants to put it in people's heads that we were behind this. Not that I'm complaining, the free publicity was appreciated."

He smiled amiably at the group. "Our people being targeted and now this? It's linked. Has to be. And it's got me wondering... who's suddenly become our number one fan? And that's where you all come in. I want you to find out who they are, and I want them dead." Rhaegson glanced at Anne. "What do you get out of it? You get to live. And after the job's done, you have my word we'll let you go, and you can get on with... whatever you do. Scout's honor."


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"Wow, that sounds like a great deal," Emilena rolled her eyes. "I'm sure you're just gonna let us go after we solve your problems. After all, clearly you guys are real good at putting the past behind you and learning to forget."

She folded her arms, wincing as this sent another eruption of tingles through her destroyed hand. "Since you're gonna kill us either way, how about you skip the game of Clue and just get it over with. The chance to return to my old life's not exactly as tempting as you may think it is."

-------------------------

Lily pursed her lips. "So you're insisting on coming along, and you're insisting we bring your ward with you?" She shrugged. "Okay." They'd all have died in the next 80-100 years anyway. Hardly a difference, and not her problem. "So you've got the coordinates? Hand them over. I'll need 24 hours to prepare my welcoming gifts, and then we'll pay them a visit. A short one."


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we're going there to get them out, Marita replied, as she kept typing and message popped up in her inbox. ' the message simply said ' A Deal"' Marita opened it ' hello Marita, if you are reading this then you have managed to find our base.  Well done.  Now, normally, we'd send someone to hunt you down or blow up your house, as payback, but  currently we have much bigger fish to fry than a skilled hacker who likes banging chicks in her free time. If you haven't figured it out already, we have everyone else of your old group in our possession. Normally, we'd just put bullets in their heads, and be done with it, but someone else is trying to frame us for stuff we didnt do, like those augments that croaked. Not our doing.
  We want you and your group, to find those bastards, and put them out of commission permanently. Do it, and you get to keep breathing and hacking into extremely sensitive files and intel  for a paycheck, and the rest of your group will get to keep doing whatever the hell they are doing for a living. By my estimate, there are 5 of you in that house of yours, and every single one of them has crossed our paths before . attached is a form of agreement, you will notice there are 5 copies, one for each of you. sign them and reply to this message within 15 minutes of receiving it so that we know you've agreed. Oh, and tell your pop star friend  that killing her groupie was not our doing, but the doing of the group we're sending you after.  we don;t give a crap about pop stars, we deal with politics, mayors, presidents, police commissioners, and so on. if you, agree, we won't bother her going forward, she'll be free to resume her lip synching and non-dance moves she calls a ' career'. Clocks ticking Jones, better do the right thing."
_
 LIly, you had better come and read this.' Marita said clicking on the link, and printing off the attached copies. " The Purifiers are offering us a deal. they are being targeted by another group, and they are making us deal with them. we agree, and we all get to live, that includes, you, me, Marie, Shirley, and everyone else of the old group." Marita said tensely.
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Rhaegson gasped, left hand clutching dramatically at his heart as if he'd been stabbed. "Emilena, that hurts. Alright, let's be honest here. Had I thought about killing each of you? Slowly? And painfully? In increasingly elaborate ways? Yes. Fuck yeah I did. But..." He took a drag. "I'm a reasonable man. Pretty reasonable, at least. And I think a little quid pro quo would be beneficial to everyone."

He eyed Emilena's mangled hand. "That's pretty goddamn gross. And I don't think a band-aid's gonna fix it. You'll lose that hand if you don't get someone to fix it, you know that right?" Rhaegson told her cheerfully. "Luckily for you, I can be that someone. I can get you fitted with an aug hand before you head out. State of the art. Shiny. Helps to kick ass. You'd like it."

Axel snorted.

"Something wrong, Geek Patrol?" Rhaegson turned to the rat.

"Purifiers fitting someone with an augment? You think we'll believe that?" Axel sneered at him. "Fuck you." The rat noticed the doberman, Marcus, clench his jaw when Rhaegson mentioned the augment.

"You think we wouldn't know how to do that?" He grinned. "You'd be surprised. And besides, know your enemy, right?" Gesturing to Emilena, he continued. "I want to make sure she's capable. If she's capable, my odds of getting what I want are better. She still gets to eat with a knife and fork. Win win."

"Short Round," he announced, looking at Soren. "I haven't forgotten about you. I know your workshop got blown up in Lanthae. Well, I blew it up, but the past is the past. You wanna start up your little business again? You help me, and I can help you with that. Actually, I already have. There's a place up in North Seryet, 45 Benworth Avenue. It's a little smaller than your last place, but... fuck it, I'm not Santa Claus. When you get outta here, go check it out. It's yours. And I give my word, my guys won't touch the place. I should know, I bought the fuckin' thing."

Rhaegson glanced at Anne. "For you, your royal Highness - you say yes, and you might as well be in one fuckin' massive drug candy shop. You want cocaine? Weed? Meth? You got it. And I don't mean any of that cut shit.You're gonna feel like Hercules. You're gonna feel like Wonder Woman. You're gonna feel like the fuckin' Terminator."

"Now you, my ugly companion. I've seen that shit pit you call an apartment. I gotta ask you... how the hell are you in debt over that piece of crap?" He sat back, apparently enjoying the baleful look Axel was giving him. "Hey, I'm not here to judge. Spend it all on booze if you want. But if you join up, I'll give you enough to pay it all back. And then some. Hell, you'd even be able to move into a new place where you don't have to wonder if your neighbour's gonna sneak in and cut your throat for a carton of milk. And you'd even have enough to find your way back to the bottom of your whiskey bottles."

He was interrupted by a banging on the door, the metallic thumping resonating through the room. "Just in time!" Rhaegson waved a finger at the door. "Marcus, why don't you see who that is?" As the doberman stalked across the room, Rhaegson smirked at the group. "Before you say anything, I wanted to give you a show of... let's call it good faith. A happy reunion!"

Axel stared at the floor as he heard the door creak open, then a muffled grunt of pain. Shuffling foosteps. A moment later, Marucs reappeared in his field of vision, pushing a handcuffed person before him, the figure's wrists secured behind his back. He wore a sweat stained, blood streaked white T-shirt and grey sweatpants. His head was covered by a large paper bag with a smiley face drawn on it, preventing Axel from seeing who it was, but he could see it was some kind of wolf. Marcus pushed him to the left of Rhaegson, his hand digging in to the person's shoulder. Wait a second...

"Well, come on! Take the bag off!" Rhaegson urged. Marcus ripped it off, and before them stood Kojuuro. His face, beaten and cut, was swollen from the beatings he'd sustained. A gag was tied tightly in his mouth, reducing any attempts at speech to desperate mumbles. His bloodshot eyes looked at them in a daze.

"I'm sure you remember this guy. He was your buddy, one of you... up until he put bugs on each of you to get as much dirt as he could, then fucked off." Rhaegson shook his head. "That wasn't very nice Kojuuro. But you know what really wasn't nice? The moment - and I really mean the moment - that video of you got released, this guy was tearing ass around the city trying to sell everything he knew about you all to the highest bidder. Not nice... and not smart. So." He gestured, and with a brutal kick to the back of Kojuuro's leg Marcus forced the wolf onto his knees. At the same time, he reached under his jacket and withdrew a large revolver, thumbing back the hammer and pressing the barrel to the back of Kojuuro's head.

"As a gift to you all, viola. You get to decide what happens to him. I can kill him right here, or you can take him with you. Turn him into Coco the fuckin' clown if you want." Rhaegson grinned. "So... death. Yay or nay?"


Serris

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Aaron watched the speedometer on the train hit 550 km/h. Thanks to the superconducting magnets on the train and track, the ride was more like that aboard a plane.

He took some bites of his catfish fillet sandwich as he read the news on his smartphone. Most of the news was occupied by the rash of sudden deaths involving Augments who had gotten prosthesis from Brennan Synthetics.

------------------------

Anne licked her lips. The prospect of high-quality drugs and powerful nootropics was tantalizing. "Why not?" she said.

Soren fumed but something told him that Rhaegson was being honest with the offer of a new place. Before he could make up his mind, a beaten Kojuuro was shoved in front of them.

He then turned to Rhaegson. "Before you kill him. I'd like to hear his side of the story."

"Smart choice," Anne muttered. She then turned to Soren. "I agree. And pardon me for being a bit skeptical, but I'd like to confirm what you said about him."

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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Lily raised an eyebrow when she reread her copy of the email. The wording seemed a bit too familiar, and it caused her to suspect that this was either a lie or a trap on the Purifier's part. But she was immortal, so who cares what they're planning? She mentally bumped her suicide bombing plan forwards to a point in the future. "Let's do it. So they need all five of us to sign, huh? You want to forge Shirley's signature, or should we go in there and force her to sign?"

--------------------------

Emilena's eyes narrowed. She opened her mouth, fully prepared to retort that she'd rather die than become an unnatural freak of nature, but her rant died in her throat when she looked at her ruined right hand. The lack of blood flow had prevented the bullet wound from healing, leaving a purple throbbing mess of decayed flesh rippling outward into her pale fingers, long since stiffened from rigor mortis.

Rhaegson was right. In her current state, she was almost completely useless. There was no denying that a cybernetic hand would not only restore her dexterity, it would elevate her manual senses beyond anything she'd experienced before. And Rhaegson was offering it completely free.

Her quandary suddenly took the backburner when she saw Kojurro, the loathsomely annoying pervert who'd stumbled into and destroyed multiple schemes of hers during the Lanthae events, being dragged into the room. "Yes, let him talk!" she agreed, voice dripping with malice. "I want to hear his screams when we slit his throat!"


bushwacked

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Axel's initial surprise at seeing the wolf brought before them turned to disgust as he remembered what Kojuuro had done. His eyes narrowed, the rat shook his head. No way we can bring him with us. And we can't just... let him go. The safest thing would be to kill him. But when the others asked for his gag to be taken off, he sighed. "Let's see what he says."

Rhaegson shrugged. "You actually want him to speak? I had to leave the room after two minutes of his bullshit. Well, alright then." He signaled, and Marcus reached down with his free hand, tearing the gag from Kojuuro's head roughly.

"Talk," the doberman growled.

"Like your life depends on it," Rhaegson added.

Axel stared darkly at the wolf, waiting to see what he had to say.


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kojuuro spat out scraps of the gag, they were flecked with blood. ' P-please..' he gasped " don't kill me! I- i was wrong.. he stopped as he saw who he was kneeling in front of, and his eyes flicked with fear' " Gods...I'm sorry that I bugged you.. guys. it was a cowards move, a move to score up some easy cash. Information is very valuable you see.. anyway.. I've paid for my transgressions.. in blood.. and beatings.. courtesy of these gentlemen here. Spare me, and you have my solemn oath that I will be loyal to you all, for the rest of my days...and that I  will never backstab you again.' he made a fist as best he could with his right paw and blood trickled on to the ground' see.. I am swearing, in blood.. my blood.' Kojuuro coughed." A.. blood.. oath is sacred. ' he grimaced after a couple of minutes and looked down the group one by one.

" Axel, Emilena, i know both of you would rather filet me and serve my innards for dinner, with a dash of pepper and a strong drink to chase it all down.. Cant say I blame you, but all I'm asking for here is a chance to make amends, to all of you, and obviously, I can't do that with a hole in my head.. now I have.. quite a lot of creds to my name. i can get well pretty much anything you guys could want. you want the best stuff creds can  buy, I can get it for you.. direct. Emilena you want the latest hand implant from Singapore? done. you want to be a cop again? well theres a nearby city - Nusarat City- that will gladly take someone of your experience. They wont give a damn about what happened in Lanthae.. or anything you've done since. what will matter to them is whether you can beat the crap out of toughs and thugs.. and theres plenty of them there. now i know that I cost you your job in Lanthae. think of this as atoning for that fiasco and giving you a fresh start' pay is  better than Lanthaes was- i checked. pension too.

 He looked a the rat next. ' Axel theres a place that sells all sorts of exotic drinks,  none of  the watered-down crap they call booze that you pick up at the supermarket- no this stuff is grade A. you want a drink mixed with ghost peppers- or a martini straight out of  Bond? you can get it there. drinks that will make you lose entire weeks of time..drinks that are so pure they're probably deadly in amounts more than a shot'. anything you want. this guy ' Lui Fi Ung- he has it. see'.
 he moved down to Anne. Anne, do you want a better horn implant? theres implants now that are thousands of times stronger than the one you have. they are made of stuff thats stronger than natural ivory, that rivals diamond on the hardness scale. you can pick up a baseball broadcast clear as day from thousands of miles away, as clear as if the game is being played right next door. I can get it for you.

 Soren you want a penthouse apartment, big enough to run a business from? I can get it for you. the whole shebang. its yours. Now, you are probably wondering- how in the hell does that sonabitch have all those creds? Simple- the same bugs that i used to er- gain intel-on you guys, are currently being used in about 50 different  geopolitical  hot spots around the globe, each side using it to try and gain an advantage. its brought me from a homeless bum to a billionaire in just a few short months due to the massive quantities of these buggers  being made and bought. sure its close to war profiteering if you want to get technical, but at any event i have the creds for just about anything you can ever want.

 Now as for the claim I went scurrying around town after that broadcast blabbing to all and sundry about what i knew about you lot in order to save my skin. thats a load of horse apples. i was grabbed off the street, bundled into a van, and brought here.  i was beaten  by Rhaegson over there for about 6-7 hours on arrival with brass knuckles and electrodes, the guy is really good at breaking bones, i have 3 or 4 fractured ribs. then they bound and gagged me and threw me into a cell. and they've been working me over at least the past week- or longer, i've kinda lost track of time. since they latched on to you guys as well i figure theres some bigger deal going on. but anyway.. i've babbled on long enough. take me with you, let me make all of you whole, and atone for every misdeed, every dirty trick, every backstab. i have the money now to do that, where i didnt before.' he turned to Marcus " could I please have some water?  talking  like this on a dry throat is making my throat bleed."
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bushwacked

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Marcus glowered down at Kojuuro, but didn't bother to answer him, the gun still pressing into the back of his skull. Rhaegson was reclining back in his chair, his eyes closed. At the silence that fell in the room, he creaked them open and looked around wearily. "Oh, he's finished?"

Axel glared at Kojuuro, his eyes radiating disgust. "You did... something to Lily, you abandoned us when we needed you, you bugged us, you sold our information for money... and you're trying to buy us off with alcohol? Credits?! We could all be dead because of you. Me, Soren, Emilena, Anne... " His twisted ear twitched. "Fuck your promise. And fuck you. I'm not the same person you took advantage of last year."

He turned to Emilena, Soren and Anne. "He's a liar. We can't trust him. We sure as hell can't take him with us. And even on the off chance these assholes let him go, I don't want someone who can sell my information to anyone who wants it out on the streets." The rat's hands were tightened into fists. "We can't let him live."