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So the ticking noise was coming from the brain and this... woman?
"What the fu-" Rose was cut off from her sentence as weird pincer things snapped there way around her binding both wrist and ankle with a biting nip and her mouth was covered so her supposed curse turned into a harmless "Fu-mmmm!?"
First a random chick came in with a ""I, I think it's been summoned to kill you, miss!" No surprise there. Death tended to want to chill with her, but then a giant dog had poped up. And not just any dog, the superman of all dogs, one that came equit with its own disgusting sound affects while it morphed into a bear dog! Rose didn't care for people cracking there knuckles let alone the lovely melody of snaps and pops and stretching that came along with this new creature.
The TickTock woman she could deal with mental, she had expected it. A mousy random woman and her giant freak dog was another deal all together and filled with all kinds of creep out vibes.
Gege mean while was in his glory! He was so excited at these random new arrivals that he had almost clapped and was actually fanning himself slightly with his card fingers.
A little help? She screamed in her mind.
Gege snapped himself into the same position she herself was in, minus the legs of course. He stood very ridged, his smile gone for a brief moment trying to mock her facial expression, he stood like that frozen before his smile spread again. He raised his carded hand up and waved, made his finger and thumb into a gun and pointed it strait ahead and shot.
What the hell did that even "The bonds aren't real! It's something in your mind!"
Oh... her geist placed his card gun against his head and pretended to shoot himself in the head this time all his fingers truing to show Jokers. Dumbass...
She didn't want to draw attention to herself, not yet, not until she had something to protect herself with. That being thought she braced herself mentally against what she knew wasn't there yet she could still feel and wiggled her hand slowly into her sweater jacket, digging, searching, in hidden unknown areas of her clothing, or lack there of, for her tiny gun.
Should she wait and try to talk to the asshole of a ghost or just shoot? She might be an angry bitch of a ghost but that didn't mean she couldn't get angrier, it was a risk if she shot and failed, it would also draw more attention to herself then the others... A clatter rang in her head, the familiar sound. "Even" she whispered, meaning if it was even she would shoot and i fit was odd she would wait a few more moments to consider the best course of action. It was one of his things, if a choice came up and there wasn't a sure way to go there was always a pair of dice waiting to help you decide.
PC Actions: Ilkin does not break his bonds Rose realizes it's an illusion, draws a gun. Erin tries to break Ilkin out, does not succeed. Caelan shoots the Clockwork Ghost, inflicts 4L.
The bear-dog strained against its bonds, but they held fast. They were only in his mind, perhaps, but hardly the less real for it. But then the huge beast had an idea of its own. Why struggle at all? Quick as a mongoose, the bear-dog changed once more, turning from it's previous, leonine form into something markedly smaller. A German Shepherd, as a matter of fact, just as when Erin had met it first.
The dog slipped neatly from the mental bonds and lunged at the clockwork ghost. Sharp teeth ripped into spectral flesh, chewing gobbets of flesh from the ghost's body. Where the ghost's blood and meat fell, they quivered for a moment. Then they turned into a pale, semi-transparent jelly, which stained the ground for a brief moment. Ectoplasm.
The clockwork ghost regarded this entire proceedings with the same utter lack of expression she had betrayed previously. A bullet zinged through her ethereal body, a dog was chewing on her arm, and she... didn't react. It was as though the experience was so wholly outside the specter's paradigm that it could not react.
Or at any rate, react emotionally. What the ghost did do most certainly qualified as a reaction. Once more, the metal baton flicked about, drawing a complicated sigil in the air. The air hummed with power, even as the ghost's mechanical brain continued to go Tick-Tock, just like a clock. The lights seemed to dim for a moment, as though whatever fell magics drained the light from the room.
The dog fell as though scythed, it's feet lacking even the strength to hold it up. The hound twitched, and a pain-filled whine echoed through the room. As for Caelan...
You were in a basement. Perhaps it was a dream. Perhaps it was merely some vault of your own mind. Perhaps something stranger. There were no doors in this basement. No windows. Just a dim bulb providing a flickering light above you. And the mirrors.
In front of you. The Master of Elysium checked the schedule one more time, even as the Regent of the West End and the rest of the Primogen took their seats at the conference table. Abonde stood, and looked pleased with herself as Caelan entered, in a dark business suit and accompanied by a handful of loyal ghouls. She offered one to the Regent, who accepted, pleased at this gift, before discussing Caelan's appointment as official Haruspex, now that Abonde wished to retire to her studies. "This is what will happen."
To your right. Rakesh kneeled, his body quivering. There was a collar about his neck, a dog's collar but with the spikes on the inside. They couldn't maim him, not permanently, but as the flesh closed around the wounds and then opened once again, the pain must have been excruciating. The werewolf didn't care. He kneeled, panting, all for one more drop of vitae from Caelan's veins. She stood before him with a knife, a cruel little smile on her face. "This is who you are."
Behind you. A cult meeting, in some rented warehouse on the outskirts of London. Loyal acolytes led the sacrifice up the stairs, bound him naked and screaming to the blood-stained altar. The priest raised the knife, but Caelan stopped him. Dressed in scarlet robes, she took the curved blade from him and pressed it to the victim's neck. This she would do herself. "This is your destiny."
To your left. Ilkin, his body broken, not a drop of blood left in his corpse. He had died with a smile on his face, locked in the ecstasy of the Kiss even as his last drop of lifeblood was torn from him. You could see Ben's body a bit further along, the apartment the two Mages lived in cold, sterile without their presence. Caelan stood up, licking the last bits of blood from her lips. "You are a monster."
"This is what will happen. This is who you are. This is your destiny. You are a monster."
Cae shuffled backward from the image in front of her. Where--?
She frantically wiped her mouth of the blood, her whole frame shaking.
She released the hilt of the blade stuck in the young man's neck. She had already done the deed...
Ilkin, perfectly lifeless before her, a statue depicting a former life's last moments. Of twisted pleasure. Cae hugged herself, the violation of her action coursing through her veins already.
She stared blankly at the Regent, not understanding a word he spoke.
Rakesh, his eyes no longer his own. There was only pleading desire.
This is what it meant.
She tried to reach for Rakesh. He was the protector, the scholar; never the slave. Not like this, never like...but she couldn't. Instead her wrist faced outward, the curved blade in her hand sliced over it.
"Well, Rakesh," she gasped, hearing herself say it as if from a different room, "If you want it."
Cae sobbed over Ilkin's body, her bone-white fingers clinging to his bloodied collar. "Please wake up, Ilkin, please, please, please, w-wake up. I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to--"
Her shaking hand waved in the dull air of the basement. The lightbulb swung above her.
"Please, Ilkin, please, Rakesh," she cried, no longer aware if she was speaking aloud. No longer aware if there was a gun in her hand.
Cae slammed her hands on the mirror where Rakesh was hungrily lapping from her own veins. "Rakesh! Rakesh, STOP!" A cruel irony, a twisted reversal of her earlier days, when she'd had to rely on his blood, just so she wouldn't have to kill. He had sacrificed for her, and now what had she done in return? Made him a blood-slave. Here it is. Take your blood back in kind, Rakesh, poisoned.
The Caelan in the suit bowed formally to the Regent, her hair hiding her smirk.
The Caelan over Ilkin stood, her cheeks pink with her friend's blood. She sighed contentedly.
The Caelan over Rakesh pulled her wrist away from the hungry werewolf, and kissed him on the forehead. Then she tugged on his collar and chuckled.
The Caelan in the red dress caressed the convulsing body of the victim on the altar. She brought a drop of blood from the knife to her lower lip.
The uncontrollable sobbing continued. The uncontrollable bloodlust continued as she was forced to watch.
Ilkin swore into the illusory bindings. He knew they were fake, they were just in his mind, but he couldn't convince himself of that...Until...
"Grah!" the Mage focused his will and forced his mind to reject the magic. The bindings melted away and dissipated, and Ilkin felt reality reform around him.
"This is obnoxious," he grumbled. A ghost with Awakened magic?! The Guardians would want to know about this in due time. Right this moment, he had more important things. Like not getting his head cut open.
He raised his gun and fired. The weapon's magic activated and time slowed down for just a bare instant, then the bullet barreled toward its target.
The bear dog turned dog BIT the ghost! Despite the situation and the seriousness of what was going on around her she couldn't help the ghastly frown that tugged at her lips. Rose couldn't, wouldn't, and never wanted to imagine what it would taste like to bite into someone who's been long since dead. Nausea swept past for the briefest of moments. She was so busy considering how goobering and disgusting this would be when the sound of a gunshot near by scared the hell out of her!
Rose jumped to the side reflexively and bumped right into the brown mouse of a woman, cursed some colorful curse very quietly to herself, and glared at the guy, who like so many other men, had shot off without warning.
Well then, it seemed other people had guns and weren't afraid to use them. "Everyone else is firing, does that mean we can now? Her attention is going to head in this direction regardless." GeGe shrugged in reply being to busy staring first at the half dead dog and then to a spot on the wall a bit right of the dog. He tilted his head as if he was to busy watching something, the affect was like talking on the phone to someone watching HBO when all you had was the regular channels. Basically whatever was going on over there was more interesting then her and Gege didn't have the time to be bothered until a commercial break.
Setting her jaw Rose aimed her rather small gun at the ghost. The echoing ticking and tocking was really starting to give her a headache! So with a horrible quite, like one must usually say before doing something dramatic, in this case "Tick Tock this, bitch!" Rose Pulled the trigger and shot.
The bullets zipped through the ghost's form, causing odd flickers of light to dance and play within it. It looked fractured, as though seen through a kaleidoscope, perhaps, or a funhouse mirror. Not every part of the ghost moved in time with every other part, the gaps in the ethereal flesh glowing with a green-white light. The Clockwork Ghost regarded you for a moment, brass eyes set in an expressionless face, like two microscope lenses. Then another bullet slammed through the ghost's body, carving a glowing wound in its breastbone. There was a sudden, searing flash of ghostly light... and the room melted.
Or at least, that's what it felt like. Shorn of some essential, spectral connection, everything in the changed Curio Room, the strange jars of formaldehyde, the odd instruments, and the Clockwork Ghost itself, all changed back to raw ectoplasm. Gallons of pale, yellowish fluid drenched the floor, spreading out. Slightly slippery, odorless, it would evaporate soon enough. For the moment however, it all but covered the room.
The ghost was gone. Her bizarre demesnes, that spectral basement with it's eerie tools, was also gone. All that was left was the unchanged ectoplasm, and the dog curled on the ground. The dog's eyes were closed, and it's body twitched and jerked, pitiful little whines erupting from time to time. The Clockwork Ghost, however, was gone.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick... Tock.... Tick....... The steady ticking of the Schafer Movement wound down, and the mechanical brain in the stand was silent once more.
"Hey, doggie, it's okay," Erin said softly, creeping over to the werewolf and wrapping her arms around it. "It's just in your head. It's gone now. It didn't take any of us." Erin herself seemed slightly surprised at that last bit, her feelers tapping as she held the dog for a moment.
Then she stood up, walked over to the pipe organ, and looked up. There was a security camera up there; she and it engaged in a staring contest for a bit. After unsurprisingly losing, Erin examined the pipe organ, pondered for a minute, and began to climb onto it. She'd managed to get up on top of the pipes before discovering a bit of stray ectoplasm had coated her shoe - the hard way. There was a dissonant chord as the woman slipped off the organ, landed on the keyboard, and then rolled back onto the floor.
"I'm alright!" Erin said reflexively, scrabbling back up onto her feet. She took off her shoes and threw them aside, this time easily pulling herself up in front of the camera. She gave it a rather childish look of displeasure before opening up the side and pulling a few wires loose.
"Those Russian mobsters probably saw everything," she guessed, after she had gotten the other camera. She sat down, her feet dangling in front of the pipes. "Maybe if we're lucky they weren't watching? But, umm, I think they summoned that ghost to kill you, miss," she suggested, her antenna waving at Rose, though only Ilkin could see. "So... I guess they'll know they didn't."
Cae was not well enough to celebrate the victory. She crouched by the cotton gin, her eyes sealed shut by the spell and her own silent, bloody tears.
Things too horrible to name...to remember...to forget...
The sacrifice was ravaged.
The friends were destroyed.
The plans were set.
The love had failed.
The love she had been given in her second life was all for naught, because she could not overcome what she was. The human potential had been sucked dry. There was nothing left but a soulless, selfish hedonist.
"Cae?" Ilkin realized he'd heard her call out to him before the clockwork ghost fell. Kertenkele rustled forth from the Mage's jacket and scrambled to the ground as Ilkin darted out of the Curio Room.
"Cae?" he called again. Her last cry sounded frantic. If the ghost could trap him in its spell, he knew Caelan's fragile mind would be even more vulnerable.
He dashed around the corner and crouched beside her. His hands grabbed her shoulders and he shook her gently.
"Cae, snap out of it," he said, "It's not real. Whatever you see, it's not real. It's a spell."
The Mage tried to force her to meet his gaze. "Come on, then," he murmured, "We're all okay. The ghost is gone."
Meanwhile, Kertenkele clambered up to Erin's shoulder.
"Lovely night, isn't it?" he grunted. "The dog's name is Rakesh, by the by. And I am Kertenkele, charmed I'm sure. The lumbering human that carries me around is Ilkin. How do you do?" The lizard hobgoblin sounded a little less than charmed, but he was congenial enough.
"The cameras are everywhere and my companion did not have the forethought to block them somehow." The tiny blue lizard shook his head. "Neither did anyone else. I suspect it will be hard to get to the Russians now. Alas."
He glanced from Erin, to Rose, then back to the Changeling. "What did you learn from your Contract?" he asked. "Anything we don't know? Ilkin mentioned the brain had considerable magic in it, but discovered little else before the ghost showed up."