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Ari

Good Place to Start(IC)

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One of the Week Days? Maybe? Probably March 4th 2018? Evening?

 

Definitely Jessica Witchblood's apartment

 

The first thing that happened was the knock at the door. It was firm, insistent, and worst of all woke Jessica up out of an extremely pleasant dream. One involving a beach, a soft-eyed lover and one of her old teachers burning on a stake for all to see.

 

"Are you there, Ms. Witchblood?" A muffled voice hollered through the door "It's me, your demon! I'm...well I'm here for the orientation!"

 

This week had been one of the worst in Jessica's entire life. If she tried to focus on any one of the miserable things that had been going on, it caused her a severe migraine and summoned several other phantoms for the problems stacked on top of them. Which started hitting her head with large iron mallets. 

 

That might have been the ill-fated all-nighter coming back to haunt her. Greek wine was sweet, delicious, deadly. Sweet, like the lips of-

 

The voice burst in again "Um....is this the right place? Should I come back? I need to see a Ms. Witchblood right away! Otherwise they'll throw me in the lake of fire! Again!" 

Edited by Ari

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Jessica and Ryan Reynolds were on a private beach, roasting marshmallows over the corpse of that asshole who made life Hell for her in her senior year.  About the time clothes were about to come off Jessica heard yelling off in the distance. Ryan Reynolds was yelling something about orientation and being thrown in a lake of fire. Not the strangest dream she had. The bangs at the door were what woke her up. She sighed, then mumbled, "maybe next time."

 

Getting up she slipped on a black thigh-length t-shirt and floated towards the door. Scratching her hair and pulling it back she looked through the peephole. Some crazy person she didn't know. Probably a fan from the club. See chain locked the door and opened it. "OK, you have a thirty seconds to explain your craziness," she said wearily, still adjusting her eyes for the sleep.

Edited by Crimson Beguiler

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On the other side of the door was a nervous-looking young woman with thick brown hair wearing what could be broadly described as business casual. She was fiddling with a pair of golden spectacles with one hand and glancing hurriedly over a sheaf of papers on a clipboard held in the other.

9 hours ago, Crimson Beguiler said:

"OK, you have a thirty seconds to explain your craziness,"

Starting at the voice, the woman yelped and dropped the clipboard. At the same time a finger caught under glasses, sending them winging away into the street. The woman stared blankly at where they had gone for a second...and winced as a car drove by.

 

"Don't need that to do my jobHey Ms. Witchblood!" she spun on her heel to beam at Jessica, all professional cheer "So glad to see you! Let's get all this out of the way." Reaching out a hand that very suddenly had a pair of bolt cutters, she snipped the chain and slid right past Jessica into the living room. Her hands on her hips, she surveyed the mess with an approving eye, nodding thoughtfully "Yeah, I can work with this. Okay!" She clapped her hands crisply "So, this is my first assignment to a human, and I hope I can meet your doubtless unrealistic and frankly unfair hopes, Ms. Witchblood! After your last demon met that...unfortunate accident," the woman's eyes flicked briefly to the closet door "Lower Management decided they needed a fresh set of eyes on your case."

 

"You can call me Jay!" She marched up and offered her hand, grinning from ear to ear.

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Jessica audibly grumbled when the woman cut the chain. That was coming out of her deposit if she didn't fix it before the landlord came. Minute, but he noticed everything.And Jessica always noticed him noticing everything. Whatever. She yawned and stretched as the woman invaded her sanctum. Quirking an eyebrow, "Last demon? Apparently it must have taken a fall before it got to me. You're the first one I've seen, Jay."

 

She poked over to the kitchenette and opened the fridge. "So, what's your plan," she questioned Jay as she poked around the for something to put in her stomach, "I hope it's not dragging me off to eternal torment, or something like that. Not really my deal." Bread. Peanut butter. Banana. Cold cuts. She looked up at Jay as she made the sandwich on autopilot. "Besides, I'm sure you got a long career ahead of you," she said with mocking flattery, "I mean, you want one, right?"

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Jay looked thoroughly shocked. "Oh, nothing like that!" The demon shuddered "That only happens to the ones that try to escape, anyway, we try to give our clients the best possible care."

 

Picking up a discarded sock and examining it with a critic's eye she went on "And you have the right of it, Miss Witchblood. Quality over quantity is the way of Hell, it doesn't do anyone any ill if we just sweep up a lot of dull, complacent souls no, our economy runs on real evil, on the kind of sins you can really shudder righteously at their mere mention!" Tossing it carelessly aside, Jay grinned merrily at Jessica "No, in fact, today I was thinking we could visit that Catholic mission down in Southside. You know the one, with all the nuns and the soup kitchen? Does a body good to see them at work."

 

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Jessica ate her sandwich as she listened to Jay's proposal. This couldn't be serious. She was in another dream. Pinching her butt did not wake her up. Well, it was real. This was a real, from Hell, meant to cause evil demon. She couldn't let her out of her sight. They had come for her and thus were her problem. On the other hand, this would put her on or around holy ground. Not only did that weaken her power, but the probability of an altar was more yes than no.

 

Jessica swallowed the sandwich and opened a bottle of water. She feigned thinking as she drank. There was an obvious answer. She just didn't want to take it. "OK," she said sitting the bottle down, "I'm going to give this a try." Walking over to the drawer, she slipped on some black leggings. Black on black. Evil, she thought with a scoffing chuckle. Slipping on some trainers, she looked over at Jay, "let's get on with it then."

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"Oh, yay!" The demon's face was a picture of pure joy "We're going to have so much fun!" Still beaming, she snapped her fingers.

 

With a sickening jolt, the pair were standing outside the scrolling, solemn edifice that was Our Lady of Mercy Mission of Freedom City. It was lit with the soft, golden glow that had illuminated the building for over a century. The light washed over the faces of the crowd outside in the gentle, even snowfall, a crowd in threes and twos staring glumly at the sign on the door. Some of the nearer looked glumly at Jessica and Jay, but lost interest quickly. From the piles of backpacks, bags and carts strewn long the block, this hadn't been expected by anyone. For over a hundred years the doors had been opened, not blocked off with a steel cage and hung with a sign saying

 

THIS MISSION IS CLOSED

 

"Don't worry, folks!" Jay hollered out, gesturing grandly to Jessica "Me and her will have this place open again in a jiffy! Lead on, m'lady!" she added to Jessica with what the damned soul could have sworn was a twinkle somewhere in the depths of her dark eyes.

 

Her words were electric. Up and down the street people whooped and cheered, some of them huddling closer to clap Jessica on the back, or tearfully shake her hand, a few even trying desperately not to embrace her in sheer relief.

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So easily they were transported, Jessica didn't expect it. Of course, that was the point. Though the trip, quick as it was, was not the problem. It was the destination. A missionary. Bound to be holy ground. Jessica looked at Jay. Her normally happy-go-lucky demeanor replaced by shocked mixed with perturbed... fear? She wanted to stare daggers into her 'guide', but she had to do something.

 

"Listen," she said gruffly but soft to the other 'real' demon, "I don't do church. I don't do missions. Consecrated, sacred, holy, whatever."  She pinched the bridge between her nose and tried to center. "I'm going to do this, but we get the hell away from here afterwards." Besides. Homeless people in the cold? Not inside. This would be a good deed.

 

"OK," she spoke up to the crowd, who were too blase to even notice two demons in front of them. She walked slowly to the mission door as the people huddled around her. It was the strength in numbers that made her fear abide. She looked at the sign. "This door," she questioned rhetorically, "this is it?" She poked at it a few times. Once it didn't burn her hand or anything, she stared at it. She looked to Jay, "hey, you still got those bolt cutters?"

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Jay's grin could only be described as 'there'. 

"Right here!" she sang out, stepping up to the folding gate and reaching for the the padlock holding it shut. A sheering of metal, a rattle of the cage as it was drawn back, and the inner door was their only barrier.

 

Jay blithely stepped up to it, testing the lever-like handle. "Locked," she said with a hint of glee "lovely." 

 

Grabbing the door handle with one hand and putting a foot on the door frame, Jay gave a savage pull, rewarded as the handle and its lock tore free of its moorings in an explosion of wood and paint chips. Rearing back, the demon kicked the door in with obvious relish.

 

The portal smashed open to reveal the mission's main room, a cavernous space whose homely round windows and  warm wood furnishings had been solace for thousands of souls over its long tenure. The tables and chairs were gone, but the room wasn't empty: a knot of five men in suits stood in the center. From the look of things they had been talking, but the door banging open had alerted them. Handguns gleamed on their hips.

 

One of them, sour-faced and with a thin mustache, called out "Hey! Who d'you think you are? Mission's closed, get lost!"

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Seeing as they did break in somewhere, Jessica thought that she should have expected it. But it seemed weird. Cops, in a homeless shelter? Sure, she'd go with that. "Oh man," she giggled, "look, we're just on a spree. Doing evil things. Like letting homeless people into a homeless shelter." She stood in defiance, taking a step towards them. "So, we let these poor people continue freezing," she looked over to the group, the youngest one in particular and then back to the guardians of the shelter, "or you can stand down. I'm sure you have procedure," her voice turned from mocking to pleasing, "but maybe you could do the right thing for once?" She took two more steps, each one moving her hips, "If not for them, there could be something in it for you." She meant the publicity, but minds tended to wander around her.

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"Aw, shucks!" Jay snapped her fingers, a pouting look on her face "I knew I was forgetting something! Evil, evil, evil..." she followed Jessica deeper into the mission building, musing deeply with intently-furrowed brows.

 

The knot of men in the main room softened notably as Jessica approached. Faint, unconscious smiles spreading across their faces as they came to meet her, trying to inconspicuously jockey for position. A taller one with a scar across his neck spoke up first "See, doll, you got me all wrong! We're, you know, trying to get this place started up again, get it back on its feet after the...you know, the incident." His smile faltered and he glanced for guidance to the sour-faced mustachioed one, who cut in expertly

 

"'Scuse Martin, he's the kinda lunk who starts talkin' about murders and thieveries when a nice gal like you just wants a li'l fun." He grinned crookedly "Tell you what, our captain needs a fresh set of eyes on this little mix-up, why don't we take you over to meet him? I'm Carson, what'll we give the doorman, missy?"

 

"Can I come too?" Jay shoved in front of Jessica, grin set and eyes fluttering 60 times a minute "I am an immortal being who-!" the rest was lost in a yelp as "Martin" gently pulled her out of sight. Carson nodded distractedly 

 

"Yeah sure, you're girlfriend can come too."

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This little song and dance. Jessica mentally noted the guy she remembered. "My name is Killian," she used the name when she didn't want to be known, though she was unsure if Jay had that information in her notes.  Though Jay being referred to her girlfriend, she laughed a little under her breath. They didn't care if they were right. "And this is," she was cut short by Jay's impromptu greeting. She was sure the demon girl could rip Martin to shreds, but Jessica was here on her dime. Might as well keep up with her.

 

"Carson," she said looking at the leader, "I'm sure you're a man who could show someone the way around a place," she teased him with some double entendre. "Maybe me, you, your boyfriend, and her can go meet the captain. Like one big party?"

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"I'm glad you're so understandin', Killian. Frank, Torres, keep an eye on the place. Cops get too close...well, you know what to do. If it's masks, you ain't seen nothin' until your lawyer gets here. Now, if you ladies will kindly follow me." 

 

Carson led the quartet out through the back, into a sleek gray car with severely tinted windows, the mustachioed man courteously helping the women inside. Jay wiped away the tint from hers like a child wiping fog from a window, luxuriating in the pristine leather seats. 

 

Martin drove while Carson sat in back, passing the sedate drive with idle chatter. Apparently he was some kind of mid-level functionary in some unnamed organization, having taken an entry-level job in the group years before to help support his startlingly large family. He and Martin had been adopting war orphans since they met fifteen years before, both having lost their own parents and being second-generation immigrants from an Italian community in the Balkans. With the help of the organization close to a hundred had grown up and become American citizens in their own right.

 

He was animatedly discussing the newest arrivals, digging up photos from his wallet, when Martin curtly announced "We're here."

 

"Here" turned out to mean a nondescript Southside office block housing several law offices and bank branches. Again Carson helped them through the car door, Jay tricking him into pulling her out by the leg, and again through a back door and then up a flight of stairs. Down the dingy hallway was a faded sign on a worn-out door. On either side was a burly man, each with burn scar on the right side of his neck.

 

The sign on the door said 'Tarot'. On seeing it, Jay's grin deepened. She glanced sidelong at Jessica, like someone at a movie theatre watching their friend's reaction just before their favorite character dies.

 

Carson nodded to the men flanking the door and gave it a sharp rap with his knuckles, calling out "Hey, boss? It's C and M. Got guests, they wanna help with the mission problem.

 

The door swung open to reveal a middle-aged woman behind a study mahogany desk, curly black hair framing a narrow, dusky face, her eyes closed and hands spread over a broad array of cards. Besides her, two extra chairs, the desk and a trashcan, the room was empty.

 

"Killian, isn't it? And....Jay?" The woman asked mildly "Would you come in? C, M, wait outside. Thank you for finding the solution to my little problem. They will be safe for the rest of their lives."

 

The door was shut behind the pair as they were gently shoved into the office.

 

Her eyes opened, like liquid rings of gold in a black void "Please, take a seat. Lady Tarot is at your disposal."

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Jessica was not quiet during the ride. With the small talk going she questioned the two large guys on where they were from and what they did and what they wanted out of life. Jessica teased Carson some more. She was a very talkative person when she had nothing to do but wait. She did mention seeing the guy in her neighborhood before. Water under the bridge since she was seemingly joining this operation. Though she told them that she was not sure how undercover she could be, given her 'lovely predicament'. Eventually the chatter stopped when they got to the destination. She resisted a laugh when she saw Jay pulled out.

 

Floating above the ground a bit, she held on to Carson from behind. Not trying to gold on too tight to him, but having a ride into the shop. "Thanks, Carson," she whispered in his ear, "you'll be the first to get what you deserve," playing more on her words. When they got inside the Tarot shop, she lowered herself back to the ground. Not that Jessica was short, just that Carson was huge.

 

"Yeah," she nodded to the woman, "we heard you needed some help that we, uh, non-traditionals could remedy."

Edited by Crimson Beguiler

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"Then there is no need for preliminaries." Lady Tarot steepled her bejeweled fingers "You've been to the Our Lady of Mercy mission and found what shouldn't have happened. In fact, it hasn't." Her tone very strongly implied she wasn't intending to answer any questions as to how she could possibly know that.

 

"Someone or something has taken the timeline where the mission shut down and transplanted ours with that. I would like to hire you and your..." she quirked a pierced eyebrow at Jay

 

"Personal demon assistant!"

 

"...that. I would like to offer you and your personal demon assistant the job of sorting this out. I am prepared to offer a substantial sum of money. I see from this reading that you have enormous financial obstacles between yourself and your Star. My organization has resources of significantly greater enormity at its, and my, disposal. I am a woman of my word, Witchblood, and have a vested interest in the restoration of my world to its proper shape. But I lack the power to do this myself."

 

Lady Tarot got to her feet with a rustle of her lock black skirt. She padded around the desk, stopping before Jessica, her dark, gold-ring eyes staring down at her. 

 

"Will you accept?" 

 

She offered her hand.

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