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Beyond the Pale

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Sunday 4th June



The air was dusty. The kind of dust you could feel on your skin, and taste in your mouth. A taste like ash, like burning sickly sweet incense, like rotting flesh consigned to a pyre. The soup of odours was even more pungent to those beasts of the night who could sense such smells. Or those heroes of the night. 


This was Pueto Rico territory. Spanish was spoken more often than English, and could be heard on every street corner, or coming through open windows. Or from the Church. 


Singing - there was singing. Choir boys practicing, there voices melding together and floating through the evening. A few old folks, lighting candles, holding crusifix pendants, eyes upwards towards the carved ceiling or the stained window; or perhaps to God. Muttered prayers, some desperate, some afraid, some said with wet eyes. 


A tall thin preist, skin a honeyed brown, his head bald, his clothes black, his teeth white as he smiled, clutched a small bible. He was handsome, but his looks were only for the divine. His eyes observed all, both in and out of the Church. 


And he spied La Puma Negra. 


"Come to pray? Can I offer guidance?" he asked. 


Even his voice sounded handsome. Rich, deep, rumbling. A voice that could sing in a seedy jazz bar, or preach from a pure pulpit. 

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


The clergy housing was a small one floor apartment style dwelling in the South Side of Freedom City. Located within Paseo Boricua, a small district within the larger city that housed many of the distinctly Puerto Rican residents of the local area. This population included Carmen, a young woman cursed in her own opinion, with the power of the werecat. While on the occasion she would get a few strange looks, the year spent here made her was a little bit more comfortable than it had been before. It still however wasn't home, unlike a more familiar place back at the orphanage in Aquadilla. Here however would have to do, this small apartment dwelling on the second floor by the parish's local Catholic church. 


In this dry summer heat, Carmen entered the church to listen the boy's choir. She liked it when they practiced, with some of the older ones she roughly her age she considered somewhat cute. Naturally though, none could see her, in fact keeping herself towards the back and out of sight of most of the fellow church goers. Even with some of the acceptance towards her looks and the few that seemed to think she appeared familiar in look to another former hero. For a moment, she couldn't stop thinking about it, lost in a thought as eyes drifted towards the virgin Mary.


El Gato. That was what she was called. Someone like her from long before her. Soo lost in thought she was that only her senses could pick him up in the last moment before he came to her, smiling white teeth visible to her slitted eyes, "Hello reverend father," she'd greet him, bowing her head in respect. He always seemed so polite, just like the many clergymen and women that were at the orphanage back home, "I have. There is a lot on my mind father. I think I just need some peace, that is all."

Carmen smiles back, "They sound really good father."


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The smile stayed smiling. 


"Music is a little piece of Heaven, isn't it? Strike me down if that's blasphemy, Lord!" chuckled the priest. 


Six choirboys sung, and sung well. Not professional, not yet, but they were in tune. They ranged from... well, it was hard to say - eight to fourteen, maybe fifteen? Small, dressed in robes, reading sheet music. 


"What is on your mind?" asked the Priest. He stayed a cautious ten feet from La Puma. "It sounds like your are conflicted, perhaps? But then, many who come here are conflicted, so it is perhaps not so much a guess. Troubles, troubles, we all have our troubles. Some weigh light, some weigh heavy, but through God the load is easier to bear..."


He raised an eyebrow. 


"But I think maybe you are more... troubled than most? Or maybe the troubles are stranger. Do not fear, we are in a house of God, and all are welcome. This is a place for love and redemption, not shame and pennance. Well, at least whilst I am around. Some of the *ahem* more senior clergy are a bit more fire and brimstone." 


He gave a wink. 

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


"I guess you could say that," she'd say. He almost reminded her of Father Serrano back home, or was this now her home while she attended school? This was her home for now as long as she was here Carmen speculated internally, a home away from home. Then again, that home back in Aquadilla was simply just an orphanage, a temporary home that had become her only home until now. Her smile went to a more troubled look as she began to dwell on the matter, her mind constantly changing its thought like that of an overactive housecat. A coincidence that she happened to be so catty in looks herself.


"I pray Father, I truly do but, I feel as though my own hands must do something, that I've been sitting idle for too long. God does many things for me, for us all," she says, as if there was frog in her throat. Carmen was dancing around the question, coming up with the nerve to ask it. She was trying to relax, deep breaths and all, "I'm looking for someone, someone like me, or was like me. I don't know their name but..."


She'd trail off, lost in thought. It was hard to think straight, not saying the name of the person on her mind that her uneased. This dry and dusty heat. It made it so she almost couldn't think straight at all, "They disappeared around Terminus years ago. I want to know where they are, I want to find them, to talk to them. I feel like that is the only way Father for me to get any peace out of all this," she spoke in Spanish, finally able to relax herself to speak as she looked him in the eyes sincerely. 

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The priest nodded, and nodded again. His fingers drummed against his bible. 


"Someone like you?" he asked, his interest spiked. He leaned forward slightly, his eyes wide, the drumming of his fingers slightly faster. "What do you mean? We are old God's children, and we are all worthy of his love, no matter how much we have sinned. I have yet to meet the devil who is not welcome in this house."


He paused, straightened, and composed himself. His hands brushed down the creases of his robe. 


"I..*Ahem*... I do not wish to pry. Well, I do wish to pry, but it is wrong of me to wish it. What I mean to say is... ah... who are you? Terminus invasions? Are you in... ah... some kind of trouble?"


The priest looked around, scanning the entrance to the church, frowning, chewing his cheeks. 


"Please, I can't say I will understand, but I will listen, and won't judge. Who are you?"

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


Carmen smiled, "You've seen me enough in here Father. I'm the only walking cat in here," she says alluding to her appearance, almost smiling, a rarity if there ever was one as she tapped her foot, slender tail wagging out from behind her. She thought he was making some sort of joke if it was one, though she did likely presume that he, like herself when lived back in Puerto Rico, wasn't as well briefed about the events of Terminus back during the 90s. Possibly he was just like her, a transplant to this city, sent to find some sort of divine purpose in life. Neither would he likely know whom she was looking for as well.


"I'm sorry. Claremont teaches all kinds of current history. I like it there," she says, oddly feeling a bit more relaxed, "Big invasion thing. It happened more than twenty years ago."

"Carmen, I live in the clergy housing across the street. The Aquadilla church, orphanage, they help pay some of the cost for me to live here during the Summer," she says, cat like eyes looking to him.

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"Yes, yes... cat..." gabbled the priest. His eyes seem to go smokey and grey for a moment, before coming back to focus. "We are all God's children, and all that, but you are undoubtely one one of stranger ones."


He looked left, he looked right, checking if any Inquisitor from past ages was listening, ready to pounce with a set of red hot tongs and a stern face. 


"What is it? What strange magic made you this way? Sorcery? I'm not with the Church... more... ahhh... ruthless factions. Burn the witches? Never suited me. So please feel free to speak plainly. I can only imagine that you are some mythological girl? Unless. Unless of course I got it all wrong and you are the result of some science experiment, or mutation of the genes."


When he gabbled, his voice became too high, like a nail across a blackboard. Quite in contrast to his normal melodic tones. 


"Ahem. Pardon me. Nerves." he said, slowing his speech and breathing more deeply. "I apologise, became an eager beaver, didn't I. What I should have said was - how did you get that tail?"

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


Something didn't feel right with this guy. Carmen has seen him before, at least she thought she had, but this didn't seem right, as if he was a complete stranger, almost as if he had just started working here and was clueless. Maybe it was some sort of memory issue? He could also be playing stupid with her as some form of joke, she couldn't really tell at times. Yet, as the Father talked, more things felt off about him that it made her far more uncomfortable. It was so garbled and weird. It didn't make sense for someone almost that was starting suspect something wasn't right about it.


Carmen shrugged, "I was born this way Father. You'd think they'd brief you but if you don't know when I was younger I slowly started to become well.... this," she responds to his questions, playing it moderately cool. Something wasn't right and she was going to figure it out somehow, one way or another.

"Tail and all too. The special experts at Claremont well, they said it was likely magical. There isn't anything medically done to me outside a flu shot or too. Maybe some immunizations," she raises her brow, "Burning witches? I'm not no witch's cat. What year do you think it is today, medieval times?"

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"You don't need to change yourself, my dear child. You are quite beautiful as you are! quite as God intended, I am sure. Please don't cut off your tail!"


He gave a nervous laugh. A slight shuffle back, until he caught himself in the action and stopped. 


"Burning witches? The Church has had its sins, hasn't it. I beg forgiveness and pray. But it is Magical, you say? the fur, the tail? I have heard of such creatures. I am a bit of a follower of occult histories, but...!"


He put a finger to his lips. 


"Don't tell the inquisition!" he whispered with a wink. 


From outside the church, in one of the dark and empty streets that were home to rats and stray dogs, came a cacophony of barking. Sharp, sudden, like a bullet - it made the Priest jump. The stone walls and glass windows thummed with the sound from outside. 


The amazing senses of La Puma Negra went beyond the cacophony - she could hear a half dozen dogs, the smell of blood and meat, and one of the yelping dogs was not quite a dog. It sounded more like a boy...

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


"I never said anything about cutting my tail, so I don't know what you're talking about at all!" she said through gritted teeth and a growl. Carmen was getting upset, raising her voice partially but nothing that would cause too much a scene, being in the far back. Even if her temper was flaring she respected that this was a church, and with her years of education under such an institution, raw emotion was hemmed in by manners.


Carmen was going to say more before a shot rang out in the distance, her ears picking it up as it rang through the dry night air and she was immediately on guard. She could catch that the priest had heard it too, near jumping from the sudden sound and potentially others that recognized it. Noises filtered into her ears as immediately they were-cat young woman's senses went into action, honed by her time training at Claremont and her own growing skills. Dogs barking, cats screeching, but one of those dogs didn't sound like a dog. 


A boy, he may be hurt, "I have to go now. Someone's in trouble and God's work must be done by my hands. We'll talk later," Carmen says before rushing away, giving the strange priest a slight nod before making her way into the night. Off went the shirt and the pants and underneath the school issued combat gymnastic leotard made for her, tossing the clothing onto the porch of her apartment doorsteps. She wasn't used to working alone but tonight she would have to. It was time anyway for her to take off the kid gloves and start taking what Patriot had taught her.

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Outside the church


The sky was dark, the Alleyway was unlit, but La Puma could see perfectly. 


Six dogs, barking. 


A dead dog, torn apart. 


A boy. Around twelve. On his haunches. Wearing the torm uniform of a choirboy. Blood on his hands. Blood around his mouth. Howling at the moon. 


The eviscerated dog and lost so many entrails that La Puma could almost taste the blood in her mouth, swirling around. There was a rancid flavour; this was no mere dead dog, but something rancid. Something sick and fetid in the flesh, in the blood. Something unnatural. 


And yet the feral boy seemed to be enjoying the taste well enough. Licking the blood of the hands, smearing the blood over his face, over his robes, locked in some escstatic ritual. 


The stray dogs stayed away from the diseased feast, and the feral boy. It was hard to tell whether they were scared, furious, or confused. Maybe all three. They were certainly restless, and showed no sign of comradarie with the boy. Something had whipped them up into a frenzy, and their barks were suitably frenzied. 

Edited by Supercape
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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


The stench got to her immediately, catching it on the nose as she grimaced long before she even saw the terrible and disgusting display before her. The coppery taste was already in her mouth as she looked down at the corpse of the dog, its entrails scattered about on the ground, other stray dogs, a pack, barking and staying away from the one hovering above it. A boy, a choirboy from the church covered in blood and appearing to have been the one to have killed the dog. He was feral, almost deranged like, putting the young heroine on edge. La Puma Negra's felt her mind scramble into danger mode, but Carmen came back, the part of her humanity quickly moving to him.

"Kid, stop, what are you doing, what have you done?!" she called at him, drawing close to child. Like some sort of ritual, licking at the blood slathering it over her robes in some sort of fiendish display. 


None of this explained the gunshot. There had to be a shooter about, but where could they be? Was it the boy or someone else, maybe they had shot the dog, peering through the night with cat like vision, attempting to figure out and get to the bottom of such a disturbance.

Edited by MoonSimply
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With a whipcrack turn of his neck, the Kid turned to look at La Puma. His eyes were bloodshot, wild. His smile formed a grin - teeth bloodshot, teeth sharp. His canines seemed particularly pointed. His face looked odd. The nose breaking into a snout, the forehead receded. It was if he had been molded into the shape of a dog, but without taking away his human features. At a glance, one would merely think he was a funny looking kid. 


The barking dogs turned to face La Puma. Perhaps it was some ancient ancestry between feline and canine, but they did not respond well - the alley resounded with the sounds of warning growls, peppered with brief sharp barks. 


"Eating..." growled the kid, in a voice that was unduly low even for a twelve year old. 


For a moment his eyes watered. 


"Help..." he whimpered. 


Before he went back to licking the blood of his fingers. 


"Eating... feeding" he growled again, before turning his eyes once more to La Puma. "You food? You burn? Smoke... smoke..."


The dog childs eyes widened, the pupils jet black, like saucers. The moon seemed to shine brighter, illuminating the haunched body with a pale shimmer. 


"Food. Smoke man needs smoke. But food. Need to eat..."

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Carmen "La Puma Negra


La Puma Negre hissed in response as she watched him turn to what appeared into some sort of were like creature like herself. It was a sickening display, a gruesome sight that near made her skin crawl. He looked just like one of the wolfmen from the moon that had attacked the office that was Patriot's headquarters, only far worse in appearance. 


She'd see his eyes. The silent cry for help. Something had taken over this child, something feral and ancient. It nearly reminded her of her own self somewhat, but this was far worse, far beyond the monster that was or at least thought herself to be. This kid was trapped, and not seeing the presence of any shooter. The likely sound was boy's own cry.


"Well tough luck kid, I'm off the menu," she growles at him. Cat and dog they definitely were and all her instincts were going off at the same time. There was danger here in the pale moonlight. 


"I think you've eaten enough"

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The Dogboy gave one more yelp. 


"Eat. Food..."


Whatever the child's new (or old) appetites, he appeared uninterested in digesting La Puma. Maybe some animal instinct knew when he was facing a bigger beast with bigger teeth. He was probably under five feet tall, and had yet to develop the frame and power of an adult. 


Small, yes. But fast also. 


Without anyforewarning, he ran off. Running on hands and feet like a dog, faster than an Olympian. The anatomy was impossible; no human should have been able to contort like that, sprinting on four limbs. Not even a world class parkour athlete. Not without breaking his (or her) spine and wrenching limbs out of their sockets. And yet this child did. 


The alley was dark, but that was no issue for La Puma, or, it seemed, the child. La Puma could catch the scent of the child, but it melded with the blood on the pavement, with the smell of rats, the food of rats, and the excrement of rats. People had discarded trash and decomposing food here for weeks if not longer. The scent would be hard, but not impossible, to follow. 


More concerning was the hole in the wall ahead that the child was running too. A hole small enough for a child to squeze through - into some crumbling warren of walls and forgotten architecture. 


But it would be a squeeze for an adult. A squeeze for La Puma Negra...

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


The werecat's eyes widened as she what was the child run off and away from her. Whatever was happening, La Puma knew that she could not let this kid get away from her, regardless of whatever sort of malady was affecting him. So, she would give chase, using her speed to her advantage and keeping close to see where he would go. Back at Claremont, she had been clocked at a speed nearly at 50 miles per hour, so it would child's play for her to keep up with him, unless he got any faster. However Puma wanted to learn, she wanted to see where the runt went, to follow him back hopefully to the lair.


Unlike his, Puma's movements were natural and trained. She had plenty of experience working through and around her home here in Freedom City and back in Aquadilla. What this poor displayed was inhuman even for her own standards, body moving and contorting in such a way that was likely painful. Likely just as painful trying to attempt to get in through the hole as she leapt over knocked over trash cans and refuse in the alley ways dark pathway. Clawed nails would scratch along the concrete as she came to a halt before the hole. Whatever sort of abandoned structure this was, partially crumbling, she had to follow.


"Damn it!" she'd curse aloud before taking a deep breath and climbing in through the hole. Puma could fit, but she wouldn't like it.

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The crumbling masonry scraped against La Puma's fur, turning her costume to a patchwork mess of tears. But with an impressive display of contortion, she slipped through the gap like an oiled eel. For one moment, more snake than Puma!


Inside was dark, and dust. She could see discarded rat bones and could smell rat excrement. This was a warren, a network of slim passageways that sprawled out around the chruch and its nearby environs - for this was a patch of old buildings, and in many cases, neglected ones. Repulsive smells hinted they lead into the sewers beneath them. Fresh breezes hinted that they extended to breezy rooftops. 


Just ahead, the dog child turned to look back at La Puma with surprised eyes. He had thought himslef safe, but had not counted on La Puma's cat-like flexibility. 


With one hand, La Puma could grab the childs ankle. He kicked out, but was no match for her strength!


"Let go! Let go!" he screamed. Screams that echoed chaotically around the warrens. 


"Beast! Devil! No more devil, please!" he continued, voice shrill, tears dropping from his eyes. His sheer desperation let him greater strength, but still not sufficient to break free. He was at the mercy of La Puma Negra!


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Carmen "La Puma Negra"

La Puma was cursing internally as she scraped alongside the small and narrow passage, feeling the scrape against her furred body as her attire was scratched and torn here and there. Fortunately, they had tailors that she could bring it to back at Claremont, but she'd had to write out a whole form and then some in order to fill it out and she only had one other spare outfit to use. Not to mention, she'd have to have a nice long shower after this. At the least she could breathe easy knowing that she hadn't suffered any real injury doing so, moving like a cat as near dislocated parts of her own body to do so with her feline like biology. 


Once finally through in this mess of abandoned and neglected spaces, Puma could see the creature, this dog child, quickly moving ahead to be in front of him. It was some sort of warren in the middle of a large array of old long forgotten buildings. The smell was absolutely terrible, like the island after a bad hurricane had swept through.


"I'm not letting you go, not until you tell me what's going on, you got that kid? I ain't gonna hurt you unless you want to start some trouble," she seemed somewhat annoyed, holding him by the ankle, "And if you think I'm a beast that's the pot calling the kettle black."

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The dog-child bared his teeth and hissed. 


This hiss sounded feral. The teeth where stained, bloody. La Puma could see strands of entrails and stringly flesh strewn from one canine to another. It smelt of dog, it smelt of rat. Whatever the child had been eating, it would be poor fare for even a stray dog. 


One had to admire the child's stomach. 


"I beast!" he proclaimed, hissing again. 


Once again, a flash - a tear running down dirty cheeks, lips wobbling - "Help me!" came the childs voice. 


Before a terrible hiss and gnashing of teeth. The eyes wide, dilated, full of fight. 


"I beast!" he said again, boldly, stopping the futile kicking and instead leaning forward, as if the show of teeth and fury would somehow intimidate La Puma, who was twice his size and ten times his strength. 


"Smoke made me beast! I am beast!" it uttered, snapping his teeth once again. 


"We born of pale smoke!"


The words sent a shiver throughtout the body; was it fear, or happiness? it looked somewhat like a mix of both. A kind of divine rapture laced with the fear of God. Whatever pale smoke was, it was mentioned with reverance normally associated with worship. 

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


La Puma watched as he growled at her, like a cornered little mutt. She in turn barred her teeth and growled, more than willing to play the larger top predator here, "Don't you start anything you can't niño, unless you're gonna finish it," she spoke, making sure he knew who queen of the concrete jungle here. Puma was by far unintimidated.

Pale smoke was not something she knew very well about. A gas leak or something? Not likely that it was the reason that this kid had entrails and blood from his mouth, the smell still fresh. Maybe it was toxic radiation like out of some dumb horror movie or maybe some poor kids power origin. Instead, whatever this smoke was some sort of third thing, trying to figure out what sort thing could have caused it all.


"Listen here mutt. You probably got parents trying to figure out why you aren't at choir practice. You aren't some beast, not if I can help it," she continues to growl at him, "Now tell me, where was this smoke stuff you're talking about?"


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The Dog Child recoiled - anger having failed, it fell back to fear. But fear of what? La Puma... or something else?


"In church!" he barked. "Pale smoke! Pale smoke make us!"


There was a wriggle. Fear lent strength, but La Puma had strength beyond most men, let alone a child. How old was he? Twelve, she guessed, although the distortion of his body and face made it hard to say. through the tears of his choir boy robes, she could see haphazard body hair - no, not hair, fur!


Through the smells of rats and filth, she could smell the boy. The scent of someone not quite human. The small of boy, and of dog. 


"Pale smoke from Church! He is maker of candles, player of music, master of smoke!"


The Dog child smiled, feral pride taking over from fear. 


"You no match for Master of smoke!!!" he yelped, defiant once more. 


What was that La Puma could smell in the distance?


The faintest of smells... but there it was...


The smell of burning candles. 


The smell of smoke!

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


A church wasn't what she was expecting when she listened to the former child talk, continuing to make sure he knew whom was the one in charge here. He was young, definitely around the ages of 11 or 13. Likely 12 in the middle. If he had been an older child, someone with some pre existing muscle mass, it may have been far harder to wrangle them down in order to speak with them. Simple threats and growls wouldn't have been able to settle things properly.


"Church, show me. It'll take a lot more to scare me off,"  she responded to him, wanting to get to the bottom of this all as quick as possible. She felt like she was getting closer to what was the source of this issue but had a feeling that she was only in the shallow end of things. There was something far deeper at stake here, something that wasn't right at the heart of all this mess.


Puma could smell it now, a strange scent, burning candles, "Show me now!" she growled, baring her teeth towards him.

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The Dog-Boy growled in response, but it was a whimpering growl, a growl of capitulation and subservience to the alpha - not the fierce bark of resistance, of challenge. 


"Show you!" he agreed. 


The boy scampered ahead. Despite being free of La Puma's mighty grasp, he did not try to escape. Perhaps it was a primal subservience to a superior beast, perhaps he simply knew that he had no chance to escape La Puma. She was faster, she was stronger, and apparently even able to wriggle through the cracks that the Dog-boy had thought would save him. 


There were cracks a plenty in the network of empty filthy spaces, the warren of the dog-children. As they weaved through the maze (a maze that would be difficult to navigate back through) La Puma saw signs of other feral children; torn rags, gnawed rat bones, and even empty tins of dog food. 


They were heading up - up through inner and outer walls. Quite the squeeze, quite the climb, although nothing La Puma could not manage with her inhuman agility. Her clothes, however, rapidly accumulated more scrapes, more filth. By the time she had reached the top of the gap, she could have been mistaken for a feral child herself. 


Through a crack in the wall, the Dog boy pointed. 


"Pale Smoke!"


Several dozen candles plumed forth a hazy chalk like smoke. Below, an organist was playing an organ. DIscordant, chaotic music. the Organist was dressed in black, with lanky long black hair. And skin as white as bone! An albino, if La Puma judged him correctly. 


Neither the smoke nor his condition seemed to bother him; he was quite lost in his music, playing it with a frenzied smiled on his face, as if tasting every note. 

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Carmen "La Puma Negra"


Puma would nod her head, following him closely by so that she was within reaching distance of him. This poor kid, this beastly child, was the only chance she had at figuring out what just was happening here. Of course, that meant that she would have to move more through the filth and debris that littered this maze of patchwork abandoned buildings and factories. It was almost a maze of the forgotten, thinking that maybe none of this real, some sort of pocket reality maybe? She had been unhappily involved in a few situations like that, much to her displeasure at times.


There was likely more children, how long they had been there. It sickened her that they were like this, but she couldn't dawdle on the thought, moving through the junk a tearing up and dirtying more of the outfit. The last thing she needed was some sort of wardrobe malfunction as it wasn't like she was going to be getting any sort of deposit back for this uniform from the school. Thoughts of a cleans shower in the future on her mind.


Upon entering this new space, looking through the crack that the beast boy had shown her, she'd peer the strange albino figure, listening to the music that he played from the strange organ, "Stay here," Puma spoke to the boy as she began to sneak forward, making her way to him. It was apparent that he had all the answers to give to her and she was going to get them answered, one way or another. Creeping through, she'd stay to the shadows, using her black furred body to her advantage.

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Derrr--derrr-dumm diddy dumm dummm - derrr derrrr!


The organist played with his hands dancing up and down as if he was a mad puppet; his gestures over-theatrical, melodramtic. With every stabbingchord, his head swung this way, and that, long locks of jet black hair swishing with the music, to lay bedgraggled over his face. 


She could see him up close now; sweat on his brow, lost in music. One could fancy La Puma would have to be banging a drum and riding a firework for the organist to see her. His arms and legs were wiry, thin. The man had the pallid look of someone dying of consumption in an infirmary - the damp clammy skin only adding to this effect. 


The music was progressivel more discordant to the point of complete atonality. The music sheets were ruffled, chaotic, but La Puma could see that the Organist was at least roughly following the piece. Its 7/4 time signature contributed to the unearthly feel and unnatural rythmn. 


Around the organ, various white candles blew white flames and white smoke. Wax? Yes, probably wax, but they had a dusty, strange smell that La Puma could not fully identify. And yet... one smell did stand out. 



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