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By All His Engines [IC]


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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

9:52 PM


The shining towers of North Freedom weren't exactly Nick Cimitiere's usual digs. Give him the bohemian splendor of Riverside, the long shadows of Lantern Hill, even the ambient decay of an abandoned rail yard in Greenbank. But then again, his usual activities didn't bring him somewhere like this. 


But then there'd been the stories. A string of tech break-ins still wasn't in his wheelhouse, but the fact that they'd gotten into places that seemed on total lockdown certainly caught his attention. That didn't automatically imply ghosts, but it certainly pointed fingers in that direction. But then there'd been the attack on the security guard. He'd been sedated after his injuries, so the police weren't able to get a good account - but the wounds on his body took on the shape of claw marks. 


Nick wandered among the looming skyscrapers, drowned out in their shadows. So... werewolves? Demons? Particularly feral ghosts? He reeled through the possibilities in his head, feeling utterly off of his game. And what the hell do they want with tech firms? 

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Graft moved easily through traffic. Jumping from building to building, running up and down walls. All in all, it beat the hell out of taking a taxi. He remembered treating the wounds last night and shuddered involuntarily. It was a bizarre trail, and he knew that the end would probably be even more bizarre.


The story was something out of a nightmare, and he knew that if he went to investigate, he might find himself face to face with something weird and scary looking. Luckily for him, he was also weird and scary looking. Then he spotted Nick. He didn't recognize the symbols on the jacket, but the skull face certainly made him look like wasn't just there on a jog.


He briefly considered the possibility that he was the guilty party, but nobody like that would walk around like that in broad daylight. That would be phenomenally stupid or not.


He landed behind Nick with an audible thud at a distance of about twenty feet behind him. He straightened himself out and shifted the mass from his legs back to the rest of his body. He put his best face forward, smoothing the suit back out and making sure he had a pair of eyes clearly located where human eyes should be. The armor, to outside observers, looked about as normal as he could get it.


"Hello." He said as he stepped closer to Nick. "I think we may be after the same thing here."

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Sat atop a burning motorcycle, all flames and smoke, Pitch revved up her engine for effect and clacked down the vehicle to a stop. Tazel, her bound demon, bubbled furiously in her, but he knew that he was bound to her. Part of him was familiar enough to like it, part of him was just an innate rebellious demon. He was firing her body up, filling it with angry smoke and flame. Her eyes glowed a smouldering red, the darkness no shield to her eyes. 


She didn't recognise Graft, but if the alien looking monster was a friend of Nicks, that made him ok. Pitch had a hard time with trust, but Nick deserved it. He kept the ghosts at bay, and she kept the demons away. 


"What is it this time?" she asked. "I ain't no smart ass detective, but break ins, claws, and you on the trail. Well, it ain't no escaped lion from the zoo. At least, no regular one..."


She gave a quick salute to Graft. "Evenin' mister, or ma'am. Cant rightly say for sure, but you look like a cover of a seventies Rock concept album!" she said with a smoky grin. "Don't mind me, as long as you with the good guys, I don't judge by appearances!" she explained, getting off her bike and clutching the Cantos cane in her hand, its brass and wood black with smoke. 


"This ain't my normal patch, or yours..." she said turning to Nick and walking up to him slowly, a stiff limp in her leg. "...do you know what we are looking for?" she asked, red eyes glowing. 

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"Something unusual," came an answer from overhead, accompanied by the humming of four stationary energy wings and the armored heroine they propelled.

Dragonfly's interest in the issue had been bordering on mere curiosity until the security guard attack; thieves were one thing (and not usually her direct problem), but ones that attacked guards that way were bad news when left unchecked, and were worth looking into. Not that she'd intended to be anything but solo on this one, but what the hell, she was in a good mood for once.

"Technology thieves usually attack with...technology. Specialists use claws, maybe - themed idiots - but through that much security...don't like it."

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Nick looked over his miscellaneous crew - he'd invited Pitch along, on the understanding that she might have more experience with the kinds of supernatural creatures that liked to bust out the claws. Dragonfly, he'd met before in the field, once upon a time. The one guy he didn't recognize was the guy in the armor.


"Wonderful thing about Freedom," he said, "stand on the street corner in a costume, you'll get a bunch of guys showing up to help you out. It's gotta be a wonder for Halloween." He turned to the buildings. "All right. We know what we're looking for. These guys, whoever - whatever - they are, like to go after stuff buried deep in the servers. Not really a tech expert, but I'm guessing that means they'd go for software or other stuff that can easily be hauled out the front door. That is, if they're even taking the door..." 


He looked around the district - towers on one side of the street, industrial park on the other side. "Situation like this, I'd hate to pull a Scooby Doo. If anyone's got any recommendations on covering a lot of ground fast, I'd love to hear 'em." 

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"Speed ain't my thing, except on my bike" said Pitch, burning away quietly. "Unless I blow out my little fiery friend...but I wouldn't trust him to be truthful" she said, quenching Tazel's bile in her stomach. 


"Any witnesses to these break ins?" she asked, fingering her cane. "Don't even have to be humans...some creatures of the beast, maybe, rats...dogs..." she asked, wondering if street vermin would be any more reliable. 


"Or maybe some hoodoo thing? ghosts? or the walls themselves?" she asked. Nick was pretty good at that stuff. 


"Other than that, its the slow train for me" she explained, tapping the cane on the floor. She was never going to be a world class splinter with that leg. 

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Graft nodded. "I can move fast when I have to." He pointed at his head. "I'm in a suit. An organic suit that has a whole suite of interesting abilities. Infrared vision, ultraviolet vision, enhanced sense of smell." he turned around. "Ghosts and the supernatural aren't my thing. Outside of the Halloween costume, I'm a doctor." he shrugged. "So while I'm no expert on magic, or technology, I have my uses."


"Got a plan to sweep the place, I take it?"

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"Nothing available for wide survey at the moment," Dragonfly admitted, shaking her head. "Working on it, actually, but won't be ready for a long time. Could sift through surveillance very quickly, but would need access to - or proximity too, mmh - digital records. Otherwise...."

She spread her hands helplessly, glancing at the nearby buildings. "Not much of an investigative expert, for magic things. Not really my area. Not enough wires and steel. If it isn't arms dealers or obvious high technology, don't have much of an advantage over anyone else in sleuthing."

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Nick took measure of what everyone brought to the table - a lot of good options for surveillance, but not exactly anything that could go everywhere at once. And traveling in numbers would likely take away the element of surprise. That left one plan - Operation Mystery Machine. 


"Okay, then, here's how we'll handle it," he said. "I know I said I'd hate to pull a Scooby Doo, but that may be our best option. We've got some tough customers among us, and I highly doubt our thieves are traveling in numbers themselves." He pulled out his cell phone. "I assume that we're all carrying - or if we're not, we've got our own alternate methods of communicating. We'll split up, tackle the various offices as best we can. Dragonfly, I think you can patch into some of the systems. Pitch, you've got your finger on the weird, you may be able to tune into the thieves' frequency." He turned to Graft. "You said you've got different visual wave lengths and can move fast. Can you scale the buildings?" 

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Graft nodded. "I can climb the buildings, yes. Scan the area, search multiple wavelengths of light in every direction." He looked at the other two. "I have a phone, yeah. It's...in the suit."


The undifferentiated biomass that constituted his suit was quite adaptable, he noted. He had never met any of these people before, but they seemed decent enough, that and they seemed useful. They were a motley crew. Two magic users, what looked like a tech expert, and himself, an organic hodgepodge with a person inside. This could be interesting.

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Pitch smouldered and smoked, listening to the roll call silently. She wasn't exactly subtle herself, walking around like a living bonfire. 


"I'll spot anything hellish, don't you worry. Well, literally hellish rather than metaphorically" she added. There were some demons that were invisible to the eye, of course. She couldn't spot them. But she could see through any disguise. No hiding as a mortal man. 


She strolled away, swinging the Cantos Cane. "I got a phone, if that's what ya mean, but I can't use it like this. Smoke damage" she explained. She had tried once or twice, but each time, she ended up paying bucks for a new one. 


She scooped up a rat in the gully, and pressed the Cantos Cane to its head. A vague and disconcerting whistling, shrieking came from the cane, like an incantation partly in Latin, and unpleasant to the ear. 


She then dropped the rat in Nicks hands, where it sat still, looking up at him. 


"My friend here, just talk to him when you need me. I'll hear" she smiled through black and smoking teeth. 


With that, she started her patrol, examining the buildings carefully, and when she saw a vermin on the street, picking it up and repeating the process. The Cantos Cane sang a half dozen more times, and the rats, bedevill'd creatures, started to spread out, faster and quieter than she was, with ears and eyes scuttling the streets for the peculiar...

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Dragonfly was still for a moment, watching Pitch stroll off with her...scouts?...before turning her head back to look at what had been dropped in Nick's hands. "....horrifying," she keenly - and dryly - observed, and one could almost hear the raised eyebrow in her voice as her blade-like wings flared back to life.

The armored heroine rose off the ground for a couple feet, though she paused in mid-air long enough to glance back at Nick. "Will survey nearby buildings for surveillance. Number is already on your phone," she added, and indeed it was - she never did get tired of that trick. "Will let you know if I find out anything interesting. You...may have to relay it to others. And the rat."

Wings humming, she took off toward the nearest building that had seemed likely to have useful security.

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Nick nodded as Dragonfly took off, while Pitch walked off with her own personal Pied Piper act. He turned to the man in the armor. "Just keep watch over me and make sure none of the guards mistake me for a bum," he said. He lay down on the clean pavement, trying as hard as he could to get comfortable (and giving up swiftly), and let his consciousness unmoor from his fleshy form. His spiritual self took off into the air over Hanover, and he moved on unfelt currents across the empty industrial park. 


As he scanned the buildings, so, too, did Pitch and Dragonfly. For Pitch, her rats darted in and out, finding boltholes in places often unexplored. They passed through the floors of the office building, unseen and unnoticed, finding nothing but shadows. At least, until they got to the fifteenth floor. Here was a clear and familiar smell - brimstone. And in the distance, heavy footfalls...


Dragonfly, meanwhile, passed by the various towers, her internal display registering images from various security feeds. As she pulled close to a nearby building, the feed picked up something significant - strange, misshapen forms lurking in the shadows on the eleventh floor. There was little light on them, but what illumination there was seemed to catch on metal.


Nick, meanwhile, drifted through a smaller building, maybe three floors high at most. This seemed like the place for tech startups that were too glamorous to camp out in Downtown but not ritzy enough to get a high tower. With the espresso machine and the off-beat furniture, it was the kind of office he might work in - if he'd taken coding instead of art class. But there was something lurking in the shadows, pecking at a keyboard with claws that no manicure could provide. It turned its head, as if sensing something, and took a step towards Nick. He didn't want to figure out if it actually did see him - he had visual confirmed. He ripcorded back to his body, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed up Dragonfly. He held up the rat to his mouth as well, trying to get Pitch in on the feed. 


"I've got one creepy crawly on the third floor of 323 Hawthorne. How about you guys?" 

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squeak squeak

Damnit...I can speak rat, but Nick can't...why can't a Necromancer like him learn a little basic rat?

Pitch shook her head outside the tall office building, staring up at the imposing building. Fifteen floors up and her leg already had shooting nerve pains. She better get a lift from one of the other guys...

She let all the other rats go from her mental grasp. Their use was done now, and even bound to her, she felt a little unclean around them. Rats saw, and smelled, too much. The one with Nick, she kept, and forced it to nod and squeak.

She revved up her motorcycle, and spun it around, a quick jaunt back to 323 Hawthorne, leaving a trail of smoke and ember behind her.

"Got something" she called out to Nick as she pulled up. "A smell of Brimstone, and something up on the fifteenth floor. Either someone is playing chemist, or its hell up there" she explained, staying seated on her vehicle.

"No shortage of action tonight, it seems. I could do with a boost up there though. These wheels don't go up walls!"

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"Contact here," Dragonfly sent back over radio, lights dancing behind her eyes as she watched through the building's security. No sense tipping her hand until she was ready to fight the...whatever they were. "Multiple targets, eleventh floor - 1430 Schuster. Don't know I'm watching yet. Not...sure what they are, actually. Poor visibility. Metal, oddly-shaped...."

She cocked her head to the side, frowning. "No shortage is correct - seems like, anyway. Don't like implications of this level of simultaneous activity. Was hoping culprit or culprits would be more limited."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"The guy I'm seeing has a hotter than average body temperature. He's giving off a lot more heat than a normal human, and he has horns. Something tells me that this guy is not normal."


Graft wondered what he'd gotten himself into. Couldn't be demons, could it? Could be some kind of demon, after all, he was in an alien battle suit, teamed up with whatever Pitch and Nick were. Selective obliviousness was a silly  thing to have.

Edited by Thunder King
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Well. It looked like tonight was a busy night. Nick looked back up to the building where he'd spotted the demon, then back to the building Pitch had come from. "All right, so they're divided right now," he said. "As far as I recall, teamwork isn't exactly a winning quality in Hell, so I don't think they're going to coordinate before they pop back downstairs." And in addition to all that, they had no idea what these demons were looking for, or how close they might be to finding it.

"All right, here's what we do. If you can strike, strike now. Either take them down or try to drive them towards the center of the industrial park, so we can corral them in. Dragonfly, Graft, you both seem to have ease of mobility compared to Pitch and me. If one of you manages to get your guy down, hit Floor 15 of 256 Archway Drive. There's a guy up there that neither of us can directly get to right now."

He turned to Pitch. "Sorry, but... you really wouldn't like the way I offer people 'a boost up.' In the meantime..." He pointed to the building in front of him. "Third floor. Shall we?"

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"The mind boggles" answered Pitch through a mouth full of smoke and a cheeky smile. Nick was not her type of guy, but in a strange sense his kind of exotic looks and Gothic presence were attractive. Perhaps it was just that she felt a kindred lost soul. Perhaps it was more. 


But right now, she sighed as she looked up at the building in front of them. 


"Third floor. Yeah. Great..." she muttered, gripping her cane. She wasn't out of shape by any means, and Tazel bubbled through her, firing up her body with infernal power. But still, ol' Daddy's work was not to be denied. The tattoo on her spine had damaged her nerves, and she would walk with a limp with or without Tazel in her. Three flights of stairs was a bit of a grind. 


"Lets go, then, don't want to keep the spooks waitin'" she grumbled, turning boot heel and stomping up the stairs. 

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Nick tore up the stairs as best as he could. His specialty was the arcane arts, not foot races, but sometimes, fighting crime was its own workout. The scent of brimstone flared on his nostrils as they got closer, the stench of rotten eggs and infernalism. The alarm was off, because he'd whispered the right thing to it. That just left them and the demon.

Nick slammed his body into the door with all his force - it wasn't much, but it was enough to take out what was already an unlocked door. His vision cleared just as the demon reared its head... but it wasn't quite any demon he was familiar with.

There were the elements in common with some of the lesser hellkin - the pallor of skin that had never seen the sun, the inhuman androgyny of a fallen angel exposed to infernal energy. But where he expected strange limbs ending in claws or tentacles, he instead found gigantic, piston-like arms, fashioned of something like tainted brass. The eyes had been replaced with sparking gems, lightning dancing from the sockets.

And in their buildings, Dragonfly and Graft found the same thing - strange demons with even stranger devices fixed into their flesh, the synthesis of infernal spirit and unknown machine.

Nick was not one to let such a sight keep him from laying a beatdown, however. Eldritch blue flame danced to his fingertips, and flew out fast and hard at the strange demon. But it proved too graceful, dancing out of the way of the psychic assault, fixing its hollow eyes on its quarry.

"So. I'm having a lot of Doom flashbacks right now..."

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They came in all shapes, all sizes. Their essence was mecurial. She knew more about demons than most, and she knew you couldn't ever know them. At least, not fully. 


But with the Cantos Cane in her hand, she could sure see a demon when she saw one. It flared a horrible fire to her eyes. Even without the cane in her hand, it would not have been hard to guess. The smell going up the stairs was clue enough. 


Her legs ached from pulling herself up the stairs and her mood was not pleasant. 


"Not the subtle type, are ya, buster?" she commented, hurling a chain of black steel at the demon, the metal smoking and warm, delivered straight from the infernal forge, the land of steel and fire and endless clanging of metal on metal. The forge she could draw on, fuelled by her plentiful supply of anger. 


The demon was fast though. And she wasn't fast enough. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The world bent inside-out as Dragonfly teleported into the building, placing herself a relatively safe distance from her discovered pack of demons while her armor spun up into combat mode. "Going to be honest," she greeted, hurling a bolt of twisted space at one of them while sizing them up with her own eyes. Something made her glad her suit protected her from unpleasant odors. "Still not actually sure if you're up my alley. Not big on demons, but might know more about your...modifications, with context. Don't suppose you feel like sharing?"

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Graft saw the demonic...thing, and decided to act. He popped the window and, as soon as he was in, broke out into a run. He extended the claws on his right hand and took a swipe at the creature as he closed in. He slid a few feet away and straightened up. This was not good. This demon shrugged off the attack without feeling it. This was definitely, definitely troublesome. He'd have to be careful.

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Although Pitch felt the psychic lashing of the demon, it was like the touch of a feather running down her spine. She could feel the tattoo itch slightly, not unpleasantly, but a tingle. 


She cracked her fist. The demons here were little danger for her. Whatever else her screwed up father did to her, this much was true: his ink protected her from any infernal power. 


But that didn't mean others were safe. 


"Stay back, Nick..." she muttered. "They can't hurt me. Whilst I, on the other hand..."


She lurched forward, and jammed the Cantos Cane, singing and whistling a horrible Latin screech, onto the head of the nearest Demon. 


"You are mine, buster!" she said, forcing her will into the demon, binding it with the strange power of her father's cane...

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"So, no, then," Dragonfly deadpanned. She'd been more than read for return fire from the demon; the world bent into a large, circular shield at her fingertips, sending the incoming attack skittering away from its mark like it was being pulled in a dozen directions at once.

Which, to be fair, it was.

Unfortunately for her attacker, the heroine's shield didn't work both ways: the bolt of twisted space she launched back at it had no problems making it through and eating its way toward its target. "Not talkative. Good points, bad points. Less annoying, no evil speeches. Do kind of miss the banter, though. ....may be spending too much time with girlfriend's family."

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Graft turned to the demon. There was no way he could let up. He ran towards the demon again, not a blind charge, but a fast run. The sound of his feet thudding against the floor indicated he was heavier than he looked. He reached across and clawed at the demon as hard as he could, slicing through it. He wasn't normally one for killing, but if he had to use lethal force against a demon, he would.


It was strange, because if anyone were to catch them fighting they might wonder which, if either of them, was the good guy. The suit was not in 'pretty mode'. Bones and muscles jutted out, and he had no visible eyes at the moment.

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