I've also changed how data is loaded when the sheet opens.
ISSUE FIXED. PLEASE REPORT ANY ISSUES IN SITE DISCUSSION
Ilkin nearly lost it when Aleksander fired but he recovered quickly and squeezed the trigger. Time slowed for an instant and the bullet flew out at just the right minute. A lesser crack echoed through the air and the bullet hammered Aleksander. Ilkin was a pretty good shot anyway but his magic made him much better. Whatever happened, the Russian mobster wouldn't come out of this battle without a nasty wound.
The mage cocked his deagle again and took off running. He was a good shot and a good runner. With luck he'd overtake the Russian before he could get out of sight.
"JIIIEEEEEH!" was apparently the sound that strippers made when shot since this was the sound that escaped from Rose's mouth after a bullet sank into and out of her. It was probably the fastest form of penetration she had ever received in life.
Being slammed with a bullet knocked the poor skank over jarring her further when her posterior hit the ground. Her eyes clenched shut for a moment and then flew back open, the last thing she needed no mater what level of hurt she had was to see GeGe and his spade-opening. Her shirt was ruined, was it sad that this was the first thought that came to mind before a lovely amount of pain and anger surged through her?
Rose wasn't sure more if she was mad at the ****er who shot her, the dude who had antagonized him to do it or the naked dumb-ass in her head for making her come! A very odd string of half finished profanity's ensued almost immediately, they didn't seem to be said at anyone individual but were more then likely being generally focused at men in general "Piece of shit-, cock sucking-, dick breath-, fertilizing rabbit ****er-, jerk handling dip-" that pittered off into an almost calming mantra of "Shit! ****!" after a moment as a hard mental nudge came at her.
There were many emotions involved, rage, frustration, bursting adrenaline, lack of patients, urgency but it all boiled down to GeGe wanting her to shoot! The geist had a host and a new group of people he wanted to touch in various ways and he was not in the least bit happy about being threatened to have it taken away.
The last thing Rose really needed at this point was having a back seat driver telling her what to do while she was busy cursing! Her gun was already in her hand, everything had tensed the second she heard the BOOM so the thing was still gripped awkwardly.
Now would have been a perfect time to just roll on the ground and continue to curse and whine and bitch but no, she wasn't offered the chance.
With a quick maneuver she gripped it in one hand she squinted and held it as shakily strait as she could in the direction of where the mafia reject was running. "I am SO," she clenched her teeth and shut her eyes as tightly as possible "NOT IN THE MOOD" as the pressure built up, the urgency to do something to retaliate building, pulled the trigger "FOR THIS!"
The large-caliber bullet from the Israeli weapon sped through the air, slamming into Aleksander's broad back. The mafioso stumbled, missing a step, but there was no fountain of blood as might be expected from such a wound. No rending of flesh, no tearing of skin.
The Russian recovered partially and continued running, barely even noticing as Rose's bullet pinged off his side, ricocheting to bury itself in the wall. What he did do was grab something from a pocket, a metal cylinder about the size of a water bottle, with a pin at one end. Aleksander pulled out the pin and dropped the cylinder to the ground.
There was a half-second delay, and then brightly colored smoke began to pour from one end. The smoke was a vivid, egg-yolk yellow, and it spread out in a good radius from the civilian smoke grenade. Beyond it, Aleksander was only a vague outline of a figure, still running away from the situation which was getting entirely more complicated with every passing moment.
The rest of you arrived on the scene to find Rose and Ilkin sending a hail of gunfire down the length of the Museum of the Industrial Revolution, even as one of the Russian guards ran like hell. Then the smoke grenade exploded, and you didn't even see that.
Rakesh skidded to a halt, vaguely nonplussed by the virtual warzone you had stumbled across. Seventeen, either more used to these sorts of things or merely with fewer inhibitions, called out, “What's happening?” in what was really a very calm tone of voice, all things considered.
From behind the smoke the mafioso probably couldn't see the changeling, holding a sniper rifle over half her size. He could likely hear her voice, sounding like a child playing hide and seek, or perhaps playing a starring role in The Omen. "Where are you going to run, Mister Aleksander? I think you're smarter than that, don't you? You saw what we did to the Clockwork Ghost. Now there's more of us. Your gun just made Miss Rose angry."
It had done slightly more than that, from the looks of it, but she wasn't dead and was still cursing so close enough.
"You seem like a reasonable man, Mister Aleksander. Maybe your boss is a reasonable man. You're outnumbered. He couldn't fault you for this." Erin paused a moment. "Or maybe he's not so reasonable. After all, he knew we were coming, didn't he? And yet he sent you up here, all alone..." There was another pause, a bit longer, as she walked more and more towards the smoke. "You're just here to slow us down. And you're barely even good for that."
"Do you know what happened to the other three men Chernenko brought with him? I really suspect you do. Maybe you could still hear the ripping and the gunfire after he sent you away... you didn't ever watch the Ghost kill those people, but you saw what she did to them, didn't you? It was your job to keep them from escaping, after all. And wasn't your boss ever so interested in everything about that... my, don't you have such a strong body, Mister Aleksander? Wouldn't it look nice with a lovely, clockwork brain?"
"I don't like you." Erin clicked open the sniper rifle, loading ammunition into it with a lot more expertise than a sheltered London girl really should have had. "But I'm willing to offer you mercy. You can throw down your weapon and surrender. And then you will go to jail, for the many, many crimes you've committed." She glanced to the side, looking to see if the others would agree to these terms in good faith. "But they don't hang people here. You will live."
"Or you can keep fighting, or keep trying to run. And then the others will kill you. Or maybe Wormwood will kill you." She raised the sniper rifle to her shoulder, looking down the sight towards the obscured figure in the smoke. "Which will it be?"
Cae was already running after Aleksander. He had fired the shot against Rose, and it was not forgivable. Flashes of previous instances appeared in the back of her mind, mostly of Rakesh losing his lifeblood for her, over and over. Not tonight.
And now she vaguely heard Erin's words...
But Lamothe's plan wouldn't work. He was too far gone; he wouldn't settle for prison. And why let such potential rot in a cell? He could be doing so much good...
Who will weep for you when you are gone?
His body would be charity for the needy. The hungry.
As if by their own accord, her legs spun into a frenzy--she was visible now, but it hardly mattered when she moved so fast. There was a desperation coiling tightly inside her, waiting to burst from her throat, giving a spring to her step. Even if the others fired, Cae was in between the bullets and the bulky meat of the mafioso.
The smoke was no deterrent for one who didn't breathe, though the dryness might have been irritating. Irritation was of no concern now.
With an inhuman, almost gleeful shriek, Cae leapt upon the man.
For one, infinitesimal moment she thought of only his sweet, unwilling sacrifice to the greater good. She was the greater good, her brain demanded, the other regretful logic pushed below the red power of a hunter.
Ilkin had never seen her move so fast before. If he'd had his wits about him he'd have tried to grab her but he wasn't sure he'd have been able to, fast as she was going.
"I do not get paid for this."
Considering how much the Mage made, that was saying something.
He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the smoke and charged into the cloud. Atlantean words spilled from his lips. The Tapestry awoke and readjusted itself at his command. The weave of Fate, the pulse of Life, and the flow of Space resonated as one and Ilkin's mind locked on to Aleksander.
Even through the cloud he had a perfect sense of where the Russian was and what lay between him and his target.
Aleksander's day was just getting worse and worse. What had begun as a fairly straightforward attempt to disarm a pink-shirted stripper was now acquiring supernatural complications by the score. The most immediate of these complications being Caelan. The vampire was fast. Incredibly fast, moving so quickly that the eye had difficulty following her, the vampire leapt at the Russian with a shriek of inhuman joy.
One did not survive in the Russian Mafia, however, by being a milquetoast. Aleksander heard the shriek and whirled, but it was far too late to bring the shotgun to bear. So instead he did the next best thing. Letting the gun fall to the ground with a clatter, Aleksander's hand locked around Caelan's wrist. He pulled sharply to the side, forcing the vampire to turn, then caught Cae's other flailing hand. In the space of a few seconds Aleksander turned the situation entirely around.
The Russian breathed heavily, wrenching Caelan's hands together behind her back, looking back at the rest of you. For a moment he was quiet, then Aleksander took a breath and spoke.
"I've thrown down my weapon. Prison does not sound so bad when you are being shot at." Aleksander said with a flat attempt at humor. "Swear you won't hurt me, and I let the bloodsucker go. Good?"
Seventeen glanced at the rest of you, little sparks of electricity running between his fingers. He shrugged. Your friend, your call. Cuchulainn said nothing, while Whim bit her lower lip and looked worried. Rakesh... Rakesh was fixing the mafioso with that intense look the werewolf had, but even if he hurried, he couldn't cross the distance in time.
"I said I'd show you mercy," Erin replied, lowering the sniper rifle slightly. At that distance and through the smoke, he likely couldn't recognize the make and model of it. That was probably a good thing. "Blood and brains are just so messy..."
Lord forgive me, they screamed...
"I think, Miss Whim... we should put him in the Twilight," she suggested, still keeping her eyes and sights on the mobster. "He won't run away. Not when he doesn't know how to get out. When we come back, we can get him back and turn him over. And if his boss kills us... I guess he'll just have to stay there forever, won't he."
She didn't hear Ilkin. The creature that was Cae snarled in disappointment. She struggled only for a moment, then the pain in her arms was too great to keep twisting.
"You are strong," she purred. "Mm, but sucking blood is so much fun," she replied, a chuckle bubbling afterward. It sounded very little like the modest Caelan.
She sniffed and turned her head sharply to the side. She could just see his hands grasping hers. "Do you smell that?"
Alex couldn't see her sharp-toothed grin. He couldn't hear the loud drumbeat of his own heart, the ebb and flow of blood coursing through every fiber of his body. Could he even smell his own salty sweat?
She rolled her head up to him. "Just let me go, and I won't hurt you," Cae whispered. Considering who was in whose grasp...
Her eyes wandered back down to her comrades. They met Rakesh's intent gaze, and something in her shifted. It was like the ground falling out beneath her. What the hell was she doing?
But it had been for him...hadn't it been?
"Just...just let me go," Caelan choked and repeated, Vitae filming at her eyelids. "I won't touch you."