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 · 59930

Serris

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The 2,3 zotphenylamine Anne had taken started to take effect. A key characteristic was her pupils rapidly dilating and then returning to normal. Kojuuro's torrent of words slowed from a barely understandable stream to a much more manageable trickle to her ears.

One of her ears pivoted backwards and the other pivoted forwards as she digested the vast amount of information she had at her disposal. She nodded. "Considering that you were threatened with death and that you were just spared by Soren's curiosity, I have reason to believe that you are just pulling words out of your ass to save yourself. And I know you're going to say 'what makes the Purifiers more trustworthy?' Well, here's my response: they don't have anything to gain by promising us stuff and then going back on their promise. Not to mention, they have no motivation to lie to save themselves since they're in a position of power right now."

Soren looked over Rhaegson once more. The man stood still, no hint of emotion on his weatherbeaten face.

"I may not have Anne's smarts but you bugging all of us during the Lanthae Incident -- especially when we were supposed to be allies -- tells me you were up to some shady shit," the Human said as he looked over Kojuuro once more.

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i'm trying to make amends for all that guys ' kojuuro replied to them. " i know i have a metric f ton of stuff to atone for, and I  cant do that when I'm dead. you familiar with a Christmas Carol? Rich miser scrooge, treats everyone around him like dirt and hoards a huge fortune. hes forced by fate to see the error of his ways, and turns over a new leaf.well, i'm like scrooge, being forced to turn over a new leaf.

 now you dont particularly have to like me, or trust me, and given my past conduct thats only fair. but at this point, lying wont save me, only the unvarnished truth can. that , and you showing me mercy. i have nothing to gain from lying to you guys, goodness knows i've done enough of that already so that most of you guys hate me. but i do have the resources i mentioned, and the ability to get anything you guys could want. i will absolutely follow through with what i have promised you.  i'm making good on past deeds, righting wrongs if you will.  and Lily.. well she'll likely kick my ass when she sees me. only fair, given  what went on between us, she deserves the chance to kick me in the sack. spare me, if for no other reason that you are better people than me. i wronged all of you, and i'
m asking you to give me a chance to make amends.
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aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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"You spineless coward!" Emilena burst out, so enraged she leaped to her feet. "Listen to you!" she spat, circling the prisoner like a predatory cat. "Groveling pitifully for your life. Is that how you want to go out? Without a shred of dignity?" Priming the claws on her intact hand, she slapped him across the face. "Adrian would be ashamed to see you like this," she growled, flicking strips of flesh out of her nails. "And as for Lily, I'll pass the word on, don't worry. She barely remembers you, you're not worth wasting her time."

She looked ready to slap him again, but restrained herself. "Your time's up, weasel," she snarled. "Realize it. This is the last choice you ever get to make. How are you going to face your death?"


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Soren showed no sign of reacting when Emilena slapped Kojurro. Inwardly, he chuckled. The once proud warrior was now reduced to begging for his life. "Personally, I'd just pitch him off the nearest elevated walkway. I'm not too fond of killing someone who's begging like this but considering that he's shown himself to be untrustworthy as well as greedy. I'll make an exception."

"We don't have to kill him," Anne said.

"Anne, Axel's right. We can't let him live. We'll be looking over our shoulders for the rest of our lives," Soren replied. He looked over the groveling Wolf.

Anne's ears pinned back. "Nope. We OD him on drugs until he can't do anything but piss himself...for the rest of his life.

Soren smiled. A cold and cruel smile. "Always looking to drugs for the answer, huh?"

"Better living through pharmacology."

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" drugs? Kohuuro gasped his face bleeding from where Emilena had slapped " You're not giving me biproxytol, are you?> that stuff will rot your brain and.. and.. wait.. he suddenly looked around at the 5 gathered before him ' theres a few of you missing.. mary.. miri.. marita! the great Dane babe.. she';ll vouch for me.. Kojuuro said to them.
_
 suddenly he was grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a  bison guard '  Alright enough blubbering..' he turned to Marcus and Rhaegson ' sorry to interrupt, gentlemen, but i have some  very bad news to  report. 20 Purifiers  have gone missing, and given the recent murders, we are assuming they are likely dead. Whoever is going after us, they are getting more bold and brazen."
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bushwacked

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Rhaegson cocked an eye at the bison. "Why thank you, my good sir. Well, it looks like the people have spoken. Sorry lollipop, but I guess it's a one way ticket to the farm for you!" Giving a friendly ruffle to Kojuuro's head, he leaned back and nodded at Marcus.

His eyes like dark marbles, Marcus pushed the barrel forward and pulled the trigger.

Axel flinched at the explosive gunshot that roared suddenly through the room. As if in slow motion, he saw the front of Kojuuro's face crumple outwards, eyes, nose, mouth disappearing in a red wave of gore as his face broke apart. The rat felt small impacts as fine droplets of blood hit his face and chest, like warm rain.

Then Kojuuro's body collapsed forwards, hitting the floor with a heavy, meaty thud, and Axel was left with a ringing in his ears. The wolf's blood started to pool across the floor. Axel shifted to avoid it but his bagggy jumpsuit restricted him, and the substance flowed around his bare feet. Gritting his teeth, he looked up.

Grinning, Rhaegson lifted his feet and brought them down on Kojuuro's still-twitching corpse, like a gruesome footstool. "Sorry to rush things along, but... as you've just heard, time is a fickle bitch, and she's not on my side. I did like that drug idea though. Really outside the box. We've gotta remember that one."

Marcus grunted, holstering his revolver again.

"So, now that the pleasantries are outta the way with.. I'm gonna need your answers." Rhaegson tilted his head. "Are you in, or out?"

Axel took a deep breath. I don't want to die. Not here. "I'm in," he said quietly.


Serris

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Soren's ears rang from the gunshot so Rhaegson's words came out as barely audible white noise. He spat out some droplets of blood that had flown into his mouth. As much as he hated the Purifiers, saying "no" was equivalent to suicide...and suicide was not on his "to-do-list". He silently nodded in response.

"I'll do it," Anne said. She then pointed to the socket on her forehead. "Now if you don't mind, I want my horn back."

Lost amongst the noise was a door opening and a German Shepherd dressed in an oil farmer's uniform. He looked at the gore-spattered wall and headless corpse of Kojuuro. "Shit. What'd I miss?" Remembering the text message he was sent, he spoke. "Aaron Geasbrecht reporting. Sorry for being late but I was out of town for the past few months."

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Emilena looked darkly at the corpse. Kojurro had caused her a lot of grief and his very presence brought up a lot of negative memories, but he'd been Adrian's friend and a former ally. She never thought she'd witness his death, and Rhaegson providing the opportunity did not go unheeded.

"I'm in," she told Rhaegson, eyes flashing. "But that cyber hand better look exactly like a normal one," she warned. "And as scanproof as possible; I do not want people and their metal detectors going around thinking I'm a godless filthy Gleamer. You of all people should understand."

She perked her eyebrows when Aaron entered. "Oh hey, it's car battery guy. An interrogator who actually knows what he's doing." She gave a pointed aside glance at Marcus. "I could almost feel the competency levels in the room go up just now."


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"Great! Isn't it nice being friends," Rhaegson exclaimed, popping a thumbs up. "And don't worry, your new hand's going to be as discreet as your tits. Until you're ripping someone's head off."

Looking at Anne, he nodded. "Sure, you can get your horn back. Actually-" he signaled to Marcus and Aaron. "Take them back to their cells. All of your crap'll be there. Someone'll come by and get you soon, Echo." He pointed at Soren. "You stay there. We're gonna shoot the breeze for just a little longer." As Marcus and Aaron escorted them out of the room, he clicked his fingers. "Oh, almost forgot. These two are gonna be joining you on your little road trip. I'll be waiting to get regular confirmation from each of them that you're all being good little boys and girls. If I don't, daddy'll be angry." Rhaegson grinned. "It'll be fun. Like a buddy movie!"

He abruptly turned his attention back to Soren, waiting for the others to clear the room.


aabicus (LettuceBacon&Tomato)

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Emilena bit her tongue and stifled a growl when Rhaegson mentioned Purifier thugs would be joining their group. Honestly she should have seen that stipulation coming. The last few days had been taking a toll on her short-term deductive reasoning.

"You know what? That's actually great. Welcome aboard, Purifiers." She shot a glare at Soren as she allowed herself to be escorted out the door. "Now we've got some real men on the team."

During the long walk down the hallway back to her holding chamber, she kept an eye on every cell one of her future teammates was returned to. unfortunately hey were all spread out too far to engage in any sort of meaningful strategizing.

She and Axel were the last returned to their cells, and Emilena's eyes lit up when she saw they shared a hallway. Axel was the one she needed to talk to anyway...


Serris

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Anne shot Rhaegson a look of disgust before Aaron hustled her back to her cell. Just as promised, her horn was sitting on the bed. Along with two pill bottles full of 2,3 zotphenylamine capsules.

Sighing with relief, she grabbed the implant and screwed it back into its socket. Her shoes were still the same glued-on plastic horseshoes but she could swap them out later. After picking up some rather boring chatter (probably from a Purifier watching some sports show), which verified her implant was still perfectly functional, she sat down on the bed and began thinking.

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

Soren watched as Aaron and Marcus hustled everyone out of the room. Soon, it was just him, Rhaegson and one of his guards. The burly Clydesdale mare didn't seem to say anything or even notice his existence.

Swallowing, Soren turned to Rhaegson. "I suppose you want to establish another stipulation for our help?"

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MArie entered  Shirleys room carrying a piece of paper ' Shirley/ We need you to sign this please. " Its an agreement form. the purifiers have agreed to leave you alone, in exchange for our assistance in dealing with an enemy of theirs. We've talked to Bailey, and hes told us to make sure that you stay safe no matter what. He Recommends you sign it.' marie said putting the piece iof paper and a pen on the table. "  We wont fight you on it, its solely up tp you.' Just come on down when you've mae up your mind.' She said as she turned to leave.
_
 marita was re-reading the terms of the agreement. She, Marie and Rose had all signed their copies they were just waiting for Shirley to decide on her choice.
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"Stipulation? Nah, more like a..." Rhaegson motioned with his hand as he searched for the right word. "... a bonus. An extra incentive." He took another puff of his cigarette, his grin shining through the smoke. He studied Soren for a moment more then spoke again. "You and the mouthy fox. You aren't exactly best pals are you? I heard about the way she introduced herself to you back in Lanthae."

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

When he stepped through his cell, Axel saw his clothes, rumpled and dirty from the attack in the alley, had been dumped on top of the bed. Crossing, the rat pulled them on slowly, movement much easier now that his handcuffs had been removed on the way back from the meeting with Rhaegson. He pushed his feet into his trainers and stood up, staring at the wall blankly.

Suddenly his face twisted in anger, his foot kicking out and slamming against the side of the bed, and again. "Fuck!" he hissed as the impacts sent a bolt of pain up his leg. Not again... How am I in this situation AGAIN?! He stood still for a moment, feeling the seething waves of anger and frustration roll over him. When it started to subside, he swallowed. Stop losing your head, you asshole! You're in it now, so just DEAL with it! Axel took a breath. Deal with it... alright... Need to come up with a plan. Emilena's been in these situations more than me...

Axel walked back to the entrance of his cell, looking at the guard who stood outside, the tall doberman called Marcus. "I need to talk to Emilena."

The expression the doberman fixed him with was dripping with contempt. "Fine. But I'll be watching." He signaled to two other guards who were standing nearby, and together they walked with Axel the short length down to Emilena's cell.

He ducked in, feeling their eyes on him as he made a small noise to announce his presence to the ex-cop. "I... didn't see that coming," he started.


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Flora cracked one eye open, she'd been fitfully sleeping and didn't feel a need to signal her waking up. Once she was alone she looked at the paper Marie had given her. It was the dumbest thing she'd ever read, but her name wasn't really Shirley so whatever. She signed it with her fake name and made to slide it back under the door.

Then she took a deep breath and opened the door instead. She looked at each of the four women in tandem. "I'm not afraid of you," she said, struggling to keep her voice level. "I may be a teenager but I have rights to privacy and respect."

She made eye contact with Lily in particular as she said her next bit. "I don't know where we're going but it beats being cooped up in here. While out, I don't want to be touched without permission, ordered around, or--"

"This isn't a girl scout expedition." Lily rolled her eyes. "If you're about to get shot in the head, am I not supposed to push you out of the way?"

"Yes!" Flora countered. "I can take care of myself." She handed the paper back to Marie. "Capiche?"

* * *

Emilena quickly hid the chink of Kojurro's faceplate she was using to attempt to pick her handcuffs. "Oh, uh hi..." she said, recovering way too slowly to mask what she'd been up to.

She observed Axel. It was really remarkable how unrecognizable he'd become in a mere few months. She decided to keep her mouth shut beyond pleasentries; he might just reveal more information regarding his and Lily's breakup without her prompting.

"Didn't know Purifier prison came with visitation times," she said matter-of-factly, aiming for a conversational rather than hostile tone. "Did you tell them we were married or something?"

She also weighed her responsibilities right now. The chances were extremely high that Lily would be crossing paths with this team, and it was in Axel's best interest to be warned of this early. But was it in Emilena's best interest to tell him?


Serris

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Soren gave a humorless and cold laugh. He causally blew some of the smoke away from his face. "I'd call that an understatement. The Lanthae PD is about as good as tits on a catfish. If they ain't doing fuck-all to respond because someone robbed my shop, they're trying to nail me on some shit charge."

He spat on the ground as he recalled how Emilena had assaulted him when he reported a fire on his property. The Human then looked Rhaegson in the eye and smiled. "So...about that extra 'incentive', what exactly is it? You'll kill her after this whole thing?"

Inwardly, he felt unclean for accepting favors from the same people who destroyed his life...but getting revenge on the Lanthae PD and Emilena was a tempting choice. He nodded and smiled. "All right, go on..."

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

Uziel looked at the clock. It was approaching midnight and Soren was still not home. The man turned off his telenova. Doctor Schatten had already left for work.

"Odd," he muttered. "Soren's rarely out this late and he never mentioned where he was going."

He looked at Soren's room. Going through his stuff might provide some clues as to where he went. But if Soren came home...well, Uziel would have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

Deciding to see if he came home in the morning Uziel headed to the bathroom to wash up and prepare for bed. He paid no heed to the cracked living room window. It was bullet-resistant corundum -- expensive but in a neighborhood like this, invaluable.

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understood ' marie said as she took the paper and handed it to Marita.' alright we're all signed up. the agreement means we wont have to  storm their base. they've made a deal with the others, if the email i got is any indication.' she said to Lily. ' in the meantime help yourself to any supplies you might need for the trip.' marita ent to her computer , brought up the email and replied - she wrote simply ' we;re in. where do we need to go to pick up the others?
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Rhaegson returned the smile. "Well now, that's entirely up to you. It just so happens that in this pocket right here, I have the answer to our little problem." With a flourish, he reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a small computer chip, slightly larger than a thumbnail. He looked at it lovingly. "You know, I remember the days when if we wanted someone dead, someone had to get their hands dirty. Bullet through the skull, knife through the throat... I mean, don't get me wrong. There's nothing like looking someone in the eye, and seeing the exact moment when they realise they're about to die." Rhaegson smirked. "Not that I need to tell you that though, right?"

He held out the chip for Soren to inspect. "But sometimes, you've gotta make sure the job gets done. And that's what this baby does." He paused then shrugged. "I don't have a fuckin' clue how it works. I'm not a scientist. But if you fit this in her aug when you're installing it, then when I feel like the time is right all I gotta do is press a button and it's ciao Miss Echo."

Rhaegson stared at Soren, and for a moment the usual amusement in his eyes flickered. "This cunt has the potential to be a major pain in the ass for me when this is done, and you have no idea if she'll keep fucking things up for you as well. This chip could be the answer to both our problems." Rhaegson blinked, and just like that his eyes were alive again. "I like you, Almaya. Sure, you stand for something I can't stand... but you're smart. You know the right decisions to make." He dangled the chip. "So I know you'll make the right decision now."

He closed his fist around the chip and leaned forward. "So what do you say?"

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

"Show me someone who'd believe we're married, and I'll grow wings out my ass and fly us out of here." Axel shrugged, indicating over his shoulder at the Purifiers standing guard. "Looks like it's okay as long as our new friends are tagging along." He spat the word as if it tasted sour in his mouth.

After a moment he sighed and rubbed at his eyes. "Look, I figure it isn't a bad idea to start thinking what to do when we get out here. What our first moves should be. So is there... anyone you know who could help us out? You used to be a cop, right? Any contacts we could use?" He crossed his arms. "Anyone useful?"


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Lily folded her arms. "I need no supplies. Let's move now and stop wasting time."

"Its the middle of the night!" protested Flora. "And we're not all robots like you!"

Lily pursed her lips. "Nobody's making you come, girl."

"Man, you really don't know, do you?" Flora rummaged through the hallway closets and located a white backpack. "Hmmm. Could use a bit of color, but we'll fix that." Crossing to the kitchens, she emerged later with it dyed a murky purple. "Grape juice did not work as I intended. We got any bleach?"

"Be careful!" Lily stepped back, scandalized. "You got it all over youself!"

Flora regarded her bright fucsia arms revealed from pulling her sleeves back. "Uhh. Yeah. That's totally what happened. Um, I'm gonna take a quick shower before we go." She disappeared into the bathroom.

Lily glanced at Marita, eyebrow raised. "Be honest with me this time. What's her story? I'm not bringing question marks on this mission."

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

Emilena coincidentally pursed her lips at the same time. "Let me think. Nobody super reliable or current. I burnt literally every bridge during the Lanthae incident, the only people who seem to remember me are the ones who want me dead."

She decided to test Axel to see how much of his old self was left. "Hey. I'm super embarrassed to ask this, but..." She fiddled her fingers and broke eye contact. "You've been augmented.  More than once. I was just wondering...does it hurt?" She pinched her fingers tensely, sensitive at having to ask something so weak.


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I've been hired to protect her ' Marita said ' and keep her safe. I'm getting paid a lot of money to do so, Lily. millions of creds to be precise . Enough that if i get this job done , i'll be living the high life for pretty much the rest of my life.  I'm also under  strict orders to keep her real name secret. because if you knew who she really was- and you'd probably know who she is  right away if I told you her name- you'd understand why I'm being hush hush about this. she's part of the deal.' once she gets out of the bathroom, we'll head out. in the meantime, i'll go grab some things"Marita replied.
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Serris

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Soren thought a moment. Sure, he'd be accepting a favor from his most hated enemy but at the same time, he could dispose of one of the biggest pains in his ass...aside from the Purifiers but for now, they were allies. Very reluctant allies but allies nonetheless.

He nodded. "All right, I'll take it."

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

Aaron watched as Anne lay down in the bed and began to think. He looked around the cell. Not much changed since he last worked with the Purifiers.

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