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Filth and Vermin (IC)


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Saturday 21st, Late Afternoon, at an abandoned Railway. 


What Fortune! A child full of potential, soiled, and ripe for corruption!


Shut your mouth Tazel! commanded Carmen Cantos at the demon that flickered and rumbled in her belly. Normally the forked tongue of the demon bound to her would be more subtle and deceptive, or frankly untruthful. However, the infernal creature seemed almost unable to contain itself at the thought of Kit. 


Not a word to her! unless I command it! And for now, you can keep silent!


Whilst she had no trust for Tazel, she was as bound to it as it was to her. 


She was in a bad mood anyway, today. Pains shot down her leg, making her limp more stiff and her mood more irritable. Some painkillers had helped, but she hadn't slept well. 


She gripped the Cantos devil stick tightly. It possessed considerable power in itself. It also helped her walk. 


It was Tazel himself who had alerted her to the presence of Kit. And no amount of coaxing or demanding could make the fiend reveal his sources. Quite possibly, Tazel did not know himself. 


The signs, vague as they where, was that this devil child was a wild card, a young woman - or girl - branded with some infernal power that was, in all probability, too much to handle. 


At least, that was what Carmen was worried about. 


There really was no winning when it came to the mysterious and manipulative creatures of the infernal realms. 


So, with a little help from Tazel, she had arranged a summons - a whisper through the smoke and fire and metal of the infernal realms, to reach Kit's ears. To meet Carmen here. 


She did not wear the burning smoke and leathers of Pitch. At least, not yet. The rocker leather trousers were there, with her boots and calliper on her right foot. A simple cut off t-shirt, exposing the Cantos tattoo running down her spine. Her her the usual dirty blonde mess. She looked like the Rock Journalist she was. She even had her Bike parked next to her. 


And now, she waited...

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The summons had been rather odd, though she had been expecting word about a magic instructor outside the school proper. In this modern age, she had expected something more polite like a phone call or email, but magical whispers out of nowhere work, too. And she had recorded this summons through the unfathomable arcane might of a Post-It® note and a ballpoint pen.

Maybe she should invest in a quill or something, for appearances' sake.

At Soot's insistence, she gives her cat some food before finally bothering to get dressed. Combat boots with checkerboard stockings. A black skirt with black-and-white horizontal-striped top, and an olive green denim jacket. She goes through hats- trilby, cloche, beanie, newsboy, stetson- before settling on her grey beret on top of what was a pixie cut three months ago. Now, it's more of a mop.

She'd already looked up the meeting spot on her phone, so she steps into her closet and walks through the shadows through the nearest drop point she had, a mere five minutes' walk away. A weird place to meet, but they probably need the room for lessons or something.

Before long, she reaches her destination and spots the only person around. "Hiya," she calls with a wave. "You're Miss Cantos, right? I'm Sam. Er... Kit." She corrected herself, remembering the call was for her professional name. Not that she kept the two separate.

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Carmen turned to face Kit, slowly, hand on hip and cane, and stared.  


"Right" she said, her brow furrowing and her lip twitching. The girl was small and scrawny, an odd reflection to Carmen's more full figure. 


"You can call me Carmen. Or Pitch, if ya being all professional" she explained, straightening up. 


"Come walk with me. I could do with the exercise, even if I don't walk to fast" she explained, as she moved through the disused Railways. The landscape was sad and beautiful, a corpse to old industry, with refuse and rusting metal everywhere. The tramps and hobo's f Freedom City were here - a few could even be seen sleeping off some booze. 


"Don't ask me how I came to hear of you, girl. Err...Kit" she corrected herself, with a smile. She had no wish to alienate the young lady, even if she was worried. "Truth is, I don't rightly know myself. And I don't often trust what I hear, I've been lied to so many times. But, thing is, I got wind you are mixed up in something infernal. And I kind of make it my job to make sure that doesn't get out of hand..."


She smiled, a wist of ruefullness to it. 


"Family business, you could say" she shrugged with a little laugh. 


"Don't worry, I'm not here to bite. Just to help"

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"You can call me Sam," the redhead interjects at the matter of address as she walks along, keeping her pace appropriately slow and not commenting on it. Looking around, she's glad she picked the combat boots. Now, it's just a matter of avoiding the rusty nails. And the broken glass won't do good things to her new boots, either. After paying extra for them to look worn, it wouldn't do for them to actually become worn.

Don't ask? The statement seems odd to her, since it's obviously Claremont, but if she's not supposed to know that, she can play ball.

"'Mixed up' is one way of putting it," she says nonchalantly. "I got marked when I was a baby, but I've managed to keep it under control my entire life. Haven't really had much in the way of side-effects or anything." At least, not that she's trained to recognize. "No blinding fits of rage or sudden invaders from the lower planes or anything, and I've been drawing on my powers pretty regular."

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Carmen nodded, a twang of envy in her. 


No side effects? yet...



"Long may that continue" she replied, stopping for a moment. 


"It's been my experience - and I can't say it has either been a lot of it - that you never know what's coming around the corner when you deal with infernal" she said, almost to herself. 


"Need to stay on your guard, kid. Whatever that Brand gives you, I reckon it has two sides, huh?" she smiled, with encouragement. 


"Still, gotta live with it. Gotta laugh with it, else it's gonna beat you right down. Hell, gotta use it, eh?"


She folder her arms, still clutching the Cantos stick. 


"So, what does that little sigil do, huh? twist hearts? throw fireballs?" she said, looking on expectantly. 

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"Thankfully," Sam counters, "I don't really have to deal with the demons. I get a direct channel, so it's really more just shaping the energy, y'know? Kind of a glitch; they weren't counting on me to escape." She shrugs, talking far more freely on the matter than she has in a while. After all, this is the first person she's ever had a prolonged conversation with who actually seems to know a thing or two about hellish magic without wanting to annihilate everyone who uses it.

At Carmen's try at her powers, Sam whistles. "Good guess." She flicks her fingers open, calling a tiny blue wisp of what looks like ghostly flame into her hand, shielded from other onlookers. It's just a moment before she dismisses it again. "It's not actually fire. Closest thing I've gotten to a real name for it from someone who knew what they were talking about is 'anathema.' It unmakes things. Or, if it hits something living, it mostly just hurts. A lot. The rest? Well, I was taught by an imp- warded up nice and tight by AEGIS now- so you can probably guess the gist. I can walk through shadows and break brains. I can make illusions in your head," with a casual thought, Carmen sees a double of herself walking by her side in the girl's place, albeit without the limp. "Go unnoticed if I want to," she seems to vanish for a few seconds and then reappears, herself again. "Put you to sleep, and yeah, twist hearts. I... have a lot more rules on that last one. I've seen what people turn into when they abuse it."

Edited by Blue Rose
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Carmen considered carefully, experiencing a slight itching along her spinal tattoo. 


"If your power is infernal, I doubt it would have any effect on me at all" she explained. She said it with some relief. For all the deep problems and twists she had with infernal creatures, she was at least protected. 


As long as my spine is shown...the ever nagging worry hit her. She was always careful with what she wore. A thread in the wrong place and...well, she would not exactly be vulnerable, but the chink in the armor was there. 


"Actions speak louder than word, kid!" she replied, growing to Kit even if the trust wasn't there yet. 


"Show me what you got!" she said with encouragement. "Hit me!"

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No effect? Sam visibly deflates at the words, doubly so since it looks like Miss Cantos hadn't even noticed half her show.

Though the next part is what takes her by surprise. "You want me to attack you?" She blinks. "Alright, but fair warning. If you're not as immune as you think, this is gonna hurt. A lot."

She takes a deep breath, takes a step back from Carmen... and falls through the ground, covered in the waning day's long shadows. If she wants to see what Sam's got, she'll get her at her best. Reemerging twenty paces behind Carmen, she calls forth anathema and hurls it square into the small of the woman's back.

Even if it does work, she's not worried about killing her; it's never actually killed anything human-sized. Knocked them out, sure, but never killed.

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The anathema burst through the air, taking Carmen by surprise. 


That's a neat trick she told herself as Kit hopped around the shadows. She could see the hazy blaze of the infernal as she did so, the Cantos stick was good at that. It was designed for that. 


Despite her disability, she wasn't slow, but she was nowhere near fast enough to follow Kit jumping around and throwing the anathema. Perhaps, with adrenaline and fear, she might have been faster. But she wasn't trying to avoid the blast. 


She wanted to be struck. 


The anatheama blazed round her torso, reacting violently to the tattoo on her back that blazed in reaction. 


Carmen didn't feel a thing. 


"Very good. Quite the devil, aren't you" she commented, dryly. 


She held her hands up to her neck covering her chest. Her t shirt wasn't entirely burnt off, but it wasn't the sturdiest thing in the first place, as she tended to wear old and threadbare clothes. It probably maintained her decency, but it wasn't something she wanted to chance. 


"As you can see, I have a family tattoo down my spine. Shot my nerves to pieces, but no devil power can touch me. I really should take a few precautions about clothes, however..."


That really sucks.....she noted, as some charred fabric fell of her despite her attempt to keep it in place. She was hardly a modest girl, and didn't have a body to be modest about, but public displays of nudism were a step too far even for a rock chick. 


With a burst of flame and smoke from her mouth, her body erupted with churning evil wisps of black fume. Her forearms grew into heavy metal studded bracers, her leathers grew charred and metalled, and a backless top of smoking jet black silk covered her front, leaving her spinal tattoo fully exposed. 


"Well, I guess this mean's you see me in full gear" she smiled at Kit, her eyes blazing. 


"I really should have thought that one through" she laughed, more comfortable with the humour of the situation. 


"I'm immune to your devil fire. Doesn't mean a raggedy old t shirt is. Guess this outfit will do till I get a spare!"


She chuckled once more. 


"But, you proved your point, its infernal magic, no doubt about it. And you seem to control it well enough. I got to ask you though - does it control you?" she asked, a lance of pointedness through her growing friendliness. 

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Sam, for her part, gets an eyeful of the tattoo, and the lovely back it's printed on. She only blushes a little at this, but with her complexion, a little blush is a glow visible from orbit.

Her jacket is off before Carmen can transform, but when she does, it is a moot point. She raises a finger after a moment and then says, "Um... That doesn't normally happen." Though she realizes why; normally, her fox fire is more focused on sucking life force than unmaking fabric. With the target immune, there wasn't much else to do but chew through her clothes.

Though the transformation itself is truly impressive. One of the best hero get-ups she's seen up close. "If you want to be less, y'know, conspicuous, you can borrow my jacket on your way home." She puts it back on. "I don't really have a costume, myself. I just fight crime in whatever I'm wearing.

Though the real question hits her in the gut. "That's the kind of question you can only say no to. Doesn't matter what the answer is, there. My powers aren't really tied to any specific mind or anything. I'm in control of me. I haven't really been doing any villain stuff since I was little. I've been making good on the hero gig. There's... not really a whole lot more I can say about that."

Edited by Blue Rose
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Meanwhile, a little way away...


The plume of smoke was there, for all to see. 


"See, I told you she would be there" hissed the rat to Filth, in  rat. The five thugs around Filth were oblivious to the Rat speak - just another one of Filth's hissing pets as far as they can see. 


The Filth gang were not high up on the ladder of Freedom Cities streets. They were, to be honest, right at the bottom. The rejects no other gang would have. Scrawny, cowardly. The bullied kids who wanted to be bullies but didn't quite have the aptitude for it. 


It was only the fact that Filth, their leader, had some minor mutant power that they were even on the map at all. The young Filth, a short kid with a scrunched up face, had found, to his delight, that he could control and speak to rodents. And he was building an army in the abandoned railyards where his gang had made a makeshift base of beercans and vaguely intimidating homemade weapons. 


And then, Filth had found a very special rat. 


Filth rubbed his stubbled chin as he examined the smoke. It could have been some hobos lighting up a bonfire to keep warm. But he reckoned he had seen a few of those. This looked a bit different. A bit thicker, deeper, somehow. 


And that rat of his. He seemed to know stuff. Stuff that would lift the Filth gang out of the filth. 


"I got it I got it" he reassured the rat, and himself. 

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Carmed smoked quietly as she listened to Kit. 


"It's as good an answer as any, Sam" she agreed. "I can't say I have any right to be an expert on these matters. Given the nature of the infernal, I don't think anybody can, not even my father, and he was as crafty as they came. I read his diaries when I grew up. One thing always stuck out..."


"If you are confident with dealing with the infernal, you have been duped"


"Never trust 'em, kid. Always keep your eyes, your ears, and your heart, open"


She gestured with the Cantos stick back at her bike were her beaten up leather jacket hung from a handlebar. 


"Thanks for your offer, kid, but I got it covered" she winked at the pun. 


She started to walk back to the Motorcycle, slowly, her smouldering boots crunching against the debris of the abandoned junk. She spent the moments contemplating Kit...or Sam. 


Back at the Motorcycle her smoking stopped and her leathers, silk and studs faded, whilst she slung on her jacket over her self. The remnants of smoke served to obscure her form during the change. 


"I'll make this deal with you though, Sam. If you ever need any help with that brand, and what it brings, then I'll help. Come to that, I'll hold you to helping me if I ever get in over my head. You may be young, but something tells me you have seen a whole lot of life in those years..."

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"I prefer my version," Sam counters. "If you're dealing with demons, you should probably be running. It's kept me around this long." Then again, it helps when you can jump to Chicago in a single step.

She follows along as Carmen goes to the bike, if only so they don't have to yell about hellish magics. This place may be remote, but one doesn't go yelling superbusiness to everyone who walks by.

Despite the smokescreen, Sam averts her eyes while Carmen gets changed. It's only polite, after all.

At her 'whole lot of life,' Sam can't help but crack a smile. "You have no idea. I've gotten out of some of the tightest scrapes you can imagine. So, you've got yourself a deal. Never know when I'm gonna need someone like you in my corner."

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Pitch raised her hand in farewell and started the bike. 


It had gone maybe 20 yards when she fell off, the bike skidding wildly. She clutched her throat her, her face contorted. 


With a blaze of fire and smoke, she opened her mouth wide. Words came out from her open jaw, not her own, but Tazels!


HOLY GROUND! he yelled. 


Tazel was bound to the Cantos' bidding, but he could not resist. He flew out of Picthes mouth as she writhed from the smoke and fire that trailed out of her mouth. She lay on the ground, clearly injured from the fall, as Tazel was spat out behind her. 


Oh I did try and stay, really I did! laughed Tazel, a foot high wisp of flame that danced around. 


Even as he spoke and danced, Sam could hear an awful scurrying. A field of rats, numbering hundreds, was scampering out of the refuse and abandoned carriages, towards Carmen and herself...

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Sam waves back with a smile. Random magical summons don't normally go well, but this one was alright.

And then, everything changes. She looks around. Crash. Carmen's down; no backup. Demon. Rat horde. Probably summoned. One rat's not all that dangerous, but a swarm can skin a person to the bone.

No shadows to step her out... Not strong enough to pull her to safety in time... Hiding won't help her...

She looks to the demon. Carmen has that tattoo, but the demon probably doesn't, so she tries something she never has before. Swaying a demon's heart. She's not even sure how one works, or if they even have the usual gamut of emotions, but she knows one that's in all of their lot. Rage. Pure, seething rage. So she grabs for that and tries to turn it on the rats before they can start eating anyone.

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What in hell are you playing at! laughed Tazel as Kit weaved her power. 


You were no more than bait little girl, just a....paWN....JUST A PA....RATS! RATS! VILE AND HORRIBLE! EVERYWHERE! FEEL THE WRATH OF HELL, INSIGNIFICANT VERMIN!!!! yelled the demon as he was overcome by Kit. Anger, it seemed, was something it was easy to turn a demon's heart too. 


Tazel burned brighter, and flew to the swarm. Inevitably, some died, burnt up as Tazel did the job of a thousand exterminators, albeit in a less humane way. The Demon was not inclined to give quarter in the best of circumstance, and now , enraged, he most certainly was not. 


The rats themselves pulled away, but did not falter. Some irresistible force pushed them forward, turning the abandoned railway into a sorry sight, a charge of possessed rats, like lemmings or moths, into the fire of Tazel. 


But for all his strength, Tazel could not enter near pitch. The rat army swarmed over her, but rather than attacking started to pull her away...down...down...through refuse and down a concealed manhole. 


BURN! BURN, YOU FILTHY CREATURES! I SHALL TOAST YOU ALL!!!! screamed Tazel in fury as he went about his task of rat decimation. 

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Crap, Sam says to herself as Carmen is pulled away. At least I slowed them down... and it probably won't hurt to keep the demon busy.

She looks to the rampaging, rat-burning fiend and briefly considers dealing with him, but she has her priorities. Rescue first. Demon later. People can run from the demon until then. 'Dead' is a lot harder to fix.

So, she follows the rats towards the manhole, giving chase. It should be a short chase; after all, how fast could an injured, decimated rat swarm carrying an entire human possibly move?

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Carmen was deeply dazed by the Crash. Her leg hurt like head. 


Damn, would have to be my good one...she sighed as she felt it. Nothing broken, as far as she could tell. At least, no bones poking out. Still hurt like hell. Must have twisted something....


Her head felt dizzy, soft. And then the rats came. Perhaps her blurred vision and dulled sensibility were a blessing, as the swarm of rats over her could have driven many a man - or woman - to hysteria. The way they gnawed under her and then lifted, like a magic carpet, to pull her down...down...


That would have given panic to nearly anyone. 


She felt the Cantos stick torn from her grasp, and Tazel gone. She was not yet powerless. Drawing on anger, she started to pour forth the power of the infernal forge, all metal, smoke and fire in her mind. 


And then, it was gone. 


"I got her! I got her!" yelled Filth, as he pulled away his face, rat-slaves crawling over him. He had planted a horrible kiss on her lips whilst she was recovering. His face loomed out of the semi-darkness to deliver the blow. 


And the power of the infernal forge was gone. 


"I got her!" he yelled excitedly. 

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The rats indeed had been decimated, and slowed. Tazels scorching fury had done the work. There were enough to carry Carmen away, as Tazel could not enter whatever holy ground was there. But no rats remained to injure or impede Kit. 


Where are they, where are they? screamed a livid Tazel, before the red eyes burning flame-wthin-flame turned to Kit. 


What are you doing little girl? Stay out of this! You don't want the eyes of our kind on you, do you? he purred. Don't interfere with us, and we won't interfere with you...and we have every reason to cast our eyes and hearts to you, don't we little girly?


Tazel's liquid voice purred as she was just by the manhole. She could see down - filth, refuse, shadows, and a most unpleasant smell. It must have disused for decades. 


And, to cap it all, two of Filth's gang, Micky and Mouse, the scrawny dark-skinned brothers, jumped out of the Carriage nearby, holding home made clubs with rusty nails in them. 


"Hey, Filthy did it!" yelled Micky. 


"Yeah, hand's off our prize!" yelled Mouse to Kit. "She and dat' stick, dey gonna give us real power!" hollered Mouse. 


Micky pointed his weapon at Tazel, a little afraid but bold still - "And you can't do nuthin'! we learnt all 'bout you...yeah...you cant come round 'ere, we laid holy water and cross and everythink!"

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Sam shudders at the demon's words, but the fact that he's sincerely trying to dissuade her is just that much more reason she should go.

But she really doesn't need the eyes. Or The Eyes.

She takes shallow breaths through her mouth, pulling up her blouse as a shield to endure the smell while the scene above her unfolds. Holy ground, huh? If that's true, this stand-off will last plenty long. And she needn't waste time dealing with those punks when she can get to work doing things the old fashioned way.

She drops down, closes her eyes, and listens for the sound of squeaking and falls through the shadows in the general direction of the mouse swarm, then listens again and takes a guess at which way to go next, peeking around at every hop as she teleports mostly blind.

Thankfully, walls are not shadows, or this trick could be suicidal.

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The old disused sewer did indeed stink, and was filthy, damp. But perhaps not as much as a real sewer. This one was dried up, sealed off, and small. Plenty of shadows for Kit to hide in, but not large. 


Within a few hops, she saw the light. A small electric light had been rigged up. It wasn't much to go on, but it was enough. 


She could see, dimly, a few shapes. It was hard to know if any of them were Carmen, but she could count four. And some mumbled talking. 


"I got her! and this stick!" said Filth. 


"You are the greatest, Filth! Now we can kick some ass!"


"Yeah. That's right. That little rat, he told me everything! we can summon up a whole load of demons now! we will rock!!!"


All around her, Kit could here the faint rustling and sniffing of rats, or at least what remained of them after Tazel's work...

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Kit stops when she sees light and listens. Obviously, from the sound of things, she's close, and those are bad guys. Could start a riot, but right now, that would start too many alarms. No, right now, the priority is finding Carmen and getting her the Hell out of here before they do whatever it is they're planning.

Her will extends out in all directions, worming its way into the minds of all living creatures and rendering her completely unnoticeable. Time to do these guys a favor and bail them out of whatever they're getting into before they wind up damned in the worst ways.

She approaches the light, careful not to bump into anything or step on any rats.

Edited by Blue Rose
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Closer up, even in the dim light, Kit could see the figures more clearly. 


The ginger hair of Filth, in his tattered leather jacket, was carefully examining the Cantos cane - a long, bronzed stick of wood with a brass goats head as a handle. It certainly looked demonic, which was fair enough, as it was...


By his side, the last two members of the Filth Gang, Donny and Duck. Both were of the usual calibre of the Filth gang - scrawny and uncool, rejects even from the gangs of Freedom City. 


And Carmen Cantos, bound by a zip cord with hands behind her back, a bloodied nose, and more than a few bruises, sitting, head slumped on a beat up old chair that somebody had thrown down the hole to dispose of it many years ago. 




A rat?


It looked about the same size and shape as any normal rat, but it was hissing at Filth and staring at him intently. And Filth seemed to be listening as he fingered the Cantos cane...

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Kit looks to Carmen, so close. She could just take out the lights and use the shadows to teleport to safety... if it weren't for that damned tattoo. Which makes things more complicated.

She looks around. Hm... 'that little rat?' That rat on the boss's shoulder may be more than it seems. Or this guy just might be some crazy nut job who likes talking to rats. Either way, she has just the thing.

She slips back into the shadows and focuses on one of the boss man's rejects. Rage is an eternally useful tool, and if the boss has been talking to that rat for a while? Well, she should be able to pull the rage out of jealousy. And if she can get them all duking it out over a rat, that's a victory right there.

Edited by Blue Rose
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Duck started babbling, a red mist falling over his eyes. 


"Why do you get to be leader?" he spat at Filth. "want the stick. want to be leader. want to stop getting my ass kicked. You just listen to that damn rat nowadays. It's only a stinkin' rat! what the hell are we doing listening to a rat? you listen to it more than you listen to us. That damn stinking piece of vermin!" he said, his voice escalating in pitch and volume. 


"I'll show you about that damn rat!!!" he screamed, hefting his club and bringing it down with all his might on the broken table that the rat perched on. The force of the blow cracked the table, but the improvised weapon slammed down a few inches from the creature. 


"What? you gone crazy!" said Filth, pulling his hair in desperation. As Duck lifted his club for another swing, both Filth and Donny started to wrestle with him. 


"Have you gone out of your god damn mind?" screamed Filth. "This rat told us all about her! about the stick! about how we could capture her! its gonna pull us out of the bottom of the god damn scrap heap!" he screamed, his voice full of desperation. 

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