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  1. #21
    science experiment gone wrong
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    ~1770~

    Walking the streets of a small town in Southern Russia Susan glanced at the various stalls as she passed them. She walked this path practically every day and saw nothing new or eye catching, the standard fair she usually seen. Granted every so often there would be something different and interesting, not that it would cause her to purchase or barter for it, she had been living a more basic lifestyle as of late. Only getting the items she really needed. Although every so often she would splurge on something if the mood caught her just right. She was only human after all.

    Pausing her stride momentarily as she felt the Quickening she looked around. Silently she searched for the person in the crowd doing the same thing, and for a potential fighting place if the other immortal was in the mood for one. They spotted each other almost at the same time. Susan started to smile as she recognized Owen. Started to, that smile faded as his tired looking gaze hardened and his hand went to what she assumed was the sword hidden in his clothing. Speaking in English, since she knew hardly anybody around them would understand it, she said, "If you're still angry about me trying to take you away from Himiko..."

    For some reason hearing her name made his face momentarily twist in a way she didn't recognize before relaxing his feature. "I'm sorry Susan. I thought you were someone else for moment."

    "I feel sorry for this other person then," she said in an attempt to lighten the tension she was still feeling in the situation. He didn't resist as she went over to him for a quick embrace he barely returned. "How have you been Owen? And is Himiko with you? I would love to see her again."

    He looked away a bit, looking pained, "Himiko..."

    He couldn't say it, he didn't have to. Susan had seen a similar look on her face in the waters of lakes or in the puddles made after the rain when she lost Jean. Not caring what any of the crowd thought at the moment she held him close. "Owen I'm so sorry. What happened?"

    "I...," he pulled away from her, that metal wall he had up earlier went back up. "I can't..."

    "It's alright," she said as she guided him toward the place she was staying figuring he needed that more than anything. But from what he said earlier she had a feeling that was who he had mistaken her for. "You can tell me when you're ready. You can stay with me for a while. You look like you're about to fall over from exhaustion."

    "I can't stay," he pulled away from her again. "I wasted too much time already. I have to find her."

    "And in the condition you appear to be in now I doubt your chances if you did find this person." Getting a firmer gasp of his sleeve he herded him toward her dwelling one more time. "Rest and a hot meal, that will do you a world of good. Trust me I've been around long enough to know that."

    ~Now~
    After the stunt he had pulled with the Thief Susan had every right to tell Owen to go to hell when he asked her to watch him talk to someone. She was going to tell him just that. But he told her, "I need you to make sure I don't take this one too far." The way he looked, knowing him for so long she knew he was being serious. He was afraid he may go over some line for some reason.

    "Where was this concern when you were tracking the Thief?", she demanded.

    "Susan, please, this one last time," he pleaded. "I'll never bother you again after this."

    "If only I could believe that," she said. "I'm going to have my head examined for this but alright. This one last time."

    "Thank you," he said looking grateful.

    He took her to a pretty open public area, so there was no chance he would use her to trap another immortal. She would have maimed him personally if that was the case. He motioned to her to stay close so she decided to stay within ear shot as he sat next to some teenager. The young woman looked up, half surprised and also half expecting him if Susan was reading her face correctly. Then she looked resigned to the fact he was there as she didn't move. After a bit Susan heard Owen say, "How did you sneak the note into the office at school without being seen?"

    The young woman didn't look at him when she said, "How do you know I was the one who wrote it?"

    "You still have some homework assignments left behind from before you disappeared," he told her. "I compared them on a hunch."

    "You're an handwriting expert now?", she practically demanded.

    "Live as long as I have," Susan wondered why he phrased his response like that, "and you'll be amazed what you pick up. so how did you do it?"

    Susan fought the gasp that almost came out of her mouth once she realized what note he was talking about. Whoever this person was she sent him on the path to the Thief. She paid a little more attention as the girl spoke, "As many students go in and out of that office you'd be surprised how easy it was."

    "You also could have told me where she is just as easily," Owen went on. Right Then Susan realized who this young woman was after she got a good look at her. It was the student he had told her about, the one whose mother had killed Himiko. Now she understood why he wanted her along.

    "I can't," she said, remembering her name was Janet.

    "Then why tell me about the Thief?", Owen demanded. "He could have told me where she was just as easily. Why send me after him at all?"

    "He used me," she said, so softly Susan almost didn't catch it. "She let him have his way with me. I couldn't kill him without her doing something."

    Owen looked down momentarily as Susan heart went out to Janet. When he looked back up he had this determined look on his face. So determined Susan almost stepped forward to drag him out of there. "Why are you still protecting her? If she let that happened why are you still there at all?"

    "She'll find me," she almost shouted. That outburst still caused a few head to turn in their direction. "It doesn’t matter where I'd go. She'd track me down and..." No matter how angry or upset Owen was with her at the moment even he had to have heard the fear in her voice. In fact Susan was glad that he apparently did as he lost some of the edge to his features.

    "I can still help you leave. I have a friend," he looked right at her briefly. "He's a preacher, his church has a pretty big basement. You can hide there while I try to arrange something."

    "Don't tell me she won't hurt me there because I'm not immortal," Janet told. "Your rules don't apply to me. And don't tell me you'll protect me either. Just stop acting like you care." Janet suddenly stood up and walked away.

    When Owen didn't follow Susan walked over and sat next to me. Part of her wanted to asked how did it feel to get used by somebody. An older, more primal part of her mind that she tried not to listen to that much the older she got. Unless she was in battle of course that part came in real handy if you wanted to survive. But after the bomb Janet just dropped it wasn't appropriate. still she had to ask him, "Why do you seem to care? You barely know that girl outside of the class room."

    "I honestly don't know," he told her. Thinking it over a bit he went on, "I suppose I want to believe she's not her mother's daughter and is innocent in this situation. Even if she did use me to take care of her problem."

    "Do you regret tracking the thief down like that then?"

    Again he had to think it over, "No. If he did what I think he did to her my only regret is I didn't take his head myself." Surprisingly Susan found herself agreeing with him in that respect. "Look Susan, I know I've been getting a bit obsessed being this close to finally getting Himiko's killer..."

    "A bit obsessed?" she said in disbelief.

    "All right really obsessed. And I know I said I would take out anyone standing between me and her." He looked right at her, "I don't want Janet to be one of them. I am willing to bend my morals to do anything possible to get her mother, this Victoria," he practically spat her name out, "but I won't have Janet's death or rebirth on my conscious."

    Susan grabbed him by the back of the neck and made him look at her. She studied him for a long time. Finally she said, "That last bit you just said, that is the you I know and care about. That first bit about doing anything, I never want to see that person in you ever again. You want vengeance after all this time, get it. I lived in a time where that was common and I understand that need completely. But do it as you. You do it as that other person I just saw and we're done."

    "I can't promise...", he started to say.

    "I'm not asking you to promise," she informed him. "I'm telling you flat out what will happen. I'll play nice when Natalya's around, because she had nothing to do with this and shouldn't be punished for your actions. But you will be dead to me. Am I clear?"

    "Crystal," he said as he started to get up. She grabbed his sleeve and kept him in place a moment longer.

    "You said you’d go to Father Andrews to help her out of this if she wanted it," she began. "I'll help with her too if you need it. From what I've seen you're going to need every bit you can get with her."

    He looked at her, his face was stoic but she could see the confusion in his eyes, "After I used you to get the Thief? Why would you help me with getting Janet out of this?"

    "Because," she really didn't have to think this over, "despite of who raised her I think she's innocent in all this too. You're basically going to war with this woman and the other's she with. I've seen too many innocent people die pointlessly in more wars than I can count. If I can save one I will do it gladly. And that will be my only involvement in this."

    "Fair enough," Owen said. He looked almost ashamed of himself when he told her, "Thank you."

    "We're still friends at the moment," she told him. "Besides you can't burden the good father with all you problems now can you?" He nodded and she let him get up he went a couple of steps before she got up as well. "Owen."

    He stopped and looked back at her.

    "I really don’t want to kick you out of my life. If you feel yourself becoming that other person call me, Father Andrews, Natalya. Somebody. You're too good a man to go down the slope you're close to being at the edge of now. And you know what I'm talking about because you told me the father helped you away from it before."

    "That would require that I see it coming."

    "In my years of experience, once you been there once you recognize it if you really want to," she told him. "Trust me." Owen gave him a smile that was tired as he was starting to look. "Head home Owen. Get yourself something to eat and some rest. It'll do you a world of good."

    Shaking his head he almost laughed as he said, "As many times as I heard you say that."

    "Listen to experience this time," she shot back. "You'll be around longer." If he doesn't let his obsession get the best of him like she feared it would that is.

  2. #22
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    Very good episode. The present mirroring the past was a good bit indeed, and from the sounds of it, Susan's dead serious about keeping Owen on the straight and narrow. Which is good, he needs that shove once in a while, since Michel keeps popping out at the wrong times. Though hopefully they can convince Janet to get away from Victoria, but at least one of them is down... now only a few more to go. Assuming Owen gets to kill them one at a time. Though I wouldn't be surprised if Susan gets to take a few of their heads... Heck I'd be happy if Natalya did too. lol

    So close, but yet, so far... the battle certainly has a ways to go it seems. :3
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  3. #23
    science experiment gone wrong
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    So how are you and Evelyn?”

    Natalya looked out the window of her hotel while Susan asked that question. Her mind was elsewhere at the moment. Part of that was wondering exactly why Eve was taking so long. Another part was remembering exactly what Owen told her about Himiko's death considering where they were now. “She's doing good. We finally left Malaysia. I brought her to a town in Japan. Matsuyama, a nice quiet place from what I'm seeing. Seems like the perfect place to ease her in on another culture before exposing her to the busy side of the country.'

    Susan sounded a little disappointed, “You're still babying her.”

    And she was tired of having this particular conversation, “I am not babying her. I'm making sure major culture shock isn't going to be a problem. I don't know the last time you've been to Tokyo but it can be a bit much for a first time visitor. And in our case...”

    “All right, all right,” Susan cut in, “I'll drop it.”

    “Finally,” she mumbled. Natalya loved the woman to death, but she could do without he backseat driving when it came to her student.

    “How is she coming along with defending herself?”, Susan probably thought this was a safer subject. And it was.

    “She's coming along great,” she answered. “Once she figured out how to hold a sword properly she started to get the hang of it pretty quick. Although I think I may have to try that idea I had a while back about the pig spines to get her used to the idea of cutting off a head.” Thinking of that made her think of Susan's old student Serenity, and of Keith. “How are things between you and Owen?”

    “Fine,” was the answer.

    “That's good,” she replied. “Because last time I talked to him, while he wouldn't say what happen, he did say something he did got you angry with him.”

    There was a bit of a pause before Susan answered, “He mentioned that huh? Something did happen, something I didn't agree with. But he knows where I stand and he's seems find with it.”

    “And you're not going to tell me either.”

    “It's a private matter between the two of us,” Susan told her. “I'll let Owen decide if he wants to tell you what happened. He's not cheating on you if that's what you're worried about.”

    “A, I know you wouldn't keep that from me if you found out. And B, Owen know I would make his life a fucking nightmare right before I ended him,” Natalya informed her. “But I can take a wild guess and assume it has something to do with Himiko's killer.”

    Another pause, “I'm not going to say you're wrong.”

    “I was afraid you were going to say that.”

    “Nobody can know how obsessed a person can get with his grudges,” Susan said.

    Too bad Natalya had had more than a good idea what those grudges could do to a person. All she had to do was remember her father near the end. “We should have gotten a clue though, when Keith died.”

    “I don't understand” and the older immortal seemed genuinely confused.

    “Owen did tell you how Himiko died didn't he?” she asked. “Helpless, one her knees and Owen powerless to stop it. Does that sound familiar at all? Because it became real clear to why he went fucking mental right after Dijkhuizen did it.”

    “You think Owen went back to that moment in his head.”

    “I don't just think it Susan,” she said. “I told you before, you may have known him longer but I know him better than anyone. I can see it every time he mentions Himiko or Deborah. Hell I can tell exactly which one he's thinking about just by the look on his face And he's always looking a little sadder when it's Himiko.”

    “You almost sound as obsessed as he is,”Susan commented,” to tell which one he's thinking about and all.”

    “Yeah, well you try competing with a dead woman,“ she mumbled without thinking. And immediately kicked herself mentally once she realized what she said. “Sorry, old baggage I thought I got passed. Back from when we tried living together the first time and I was slightly less mature.”

    “You know Owen doesn't compare you to them,” Susan said, suddenly sounding like she did when she first started training under her. Old habits as they say.

    “I know he doesn't, it just something I had a hard time with the first time around. It's just something I had to learn to live with. Just like Owen had to deal with the very few issues I bring to the relationship.”

    “Few issues?”, Susan said in a teasing tone. Natalya could see the smile on her face she probably had. “I trained you for years young lady and I would say there's more than a few.”

    Natalya smiled, grateful for the change of subject more than anything, “Please I was the perfect student and you know it.”

    “Of course you were,” Susan said, “It would explain why you looked so confused when I took that small branch off that tree after your first couple of weeks with me.”

    Her free hand went to her ass and rubbed it when that memory popped up. “It's not my fault they taught you bad habits in Nun school. Or any patience in dealing with a student.”

    “I will fly down, find a tree and show Evelyn exactly how I had to keep you in line back then.”

    “No, that won't be necessary,” Natalya quickly said. Speaking of, she better find out where Evelyn was. She sent her out on a small task because she wanted her to get accustomed to the area but it's been awhile. “I hate to cut this off early Susan but I better get off of her. I'll call you later.”

    “Alright, take care of your self now.”

    “Always. Love you and keep me updated on Owen.”

    “You know I always do.”

    The phone call ended and Natalya went back to the window. Again, when did she become this responsible? Fortunately while they were still in Evelyn's home country Natalya bought her a phone. Well a better phone at any rate, something a little more modern than the hand me down her parents gave before before the girl's first death. No way an assistant of her's would be caught with something so outdated. So a simple phone call would answer this particular question. After a couple of rings she answered. “Where are you? That little job I gave you shouldn't have taken this long.”

    Sounding a little embarrassed she told her teacher, “I can't read the signs.”

    Young girl in a new culture Natalya reminder herself. “I t\aught you Japanese Eve,” She reminded her.

    “You taught me how to speak it not read it.”

    “So nicely ask for direction. You do nice very well I've seen it.”

    “I tried,” she said. “well I start to but stop and walk away.”

    Here Natalya pinched the bridge of her nose, “”I had you broken out of that shell. It's easy to just ask for directions.”

    Her response was, “Easy for you to say.”

    Natalya eyes narrowed a bit, “Wait. Did you just talk back to me?” Normally she could have just imagined the horrified look on the girls face, probably expecting a lecture on respecting your superiors.. But instead Natalya went, “Aw, I'm finally rubbing off on you.”

    “What? No...”

    “Oh yes. In fact I'm so happy I'm going to help you out. Just stay where you are I'll get you location from your phone.” Natalya also made sure that phone she got her had a built in GPS just in case she did get lost in a new environment. Her father didn't raise an idiot after all. She found her soon enough, apparently being towered over by another immortal based on the way he looked in her direction as all of them felt the buzz.

    Natalya quickly sized him up out of habit, Average height and build, suit didn't look like it would hinder his movements much, sword was probably somewhere in the overcoat draped over his arm. And he looked pissed about something. And as worried as Evelyn was looking at the moment this could go south in a hurry. Running up she quickly forced herself between her student and whomever this was. “Is there a problem?”

    “I am not dealing with you woman.” Great he was one of those. She glanced back at Evelyn trying to figure out what happen. The girl wasn't exactly being helpful in that department at this point.

    “Well she is my student,” Natalya said, not backing down from his gaze, “so now you're dealing with me. Now what is the problem exactly?”

    “She disrespected me.”

    “He bumped into me,” Evelyn said.

    “You should have gotten out of my way! I am a busy man and don't have time for this nonsense.”

    “All right, let's just calm down,” Natalya told him. “Obviously a bad day has been had somewhere and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back as they say. Let's just take a few deeps breath..”

    “I challenge her,” he said suddenly, but soft enough so nobody walking past them could over hear. “I will not let this disrespect go unpunished.”

    And now we just lost any chance of calming down and straight into trying to avoid a fight. “As her teacher that isn't her call, it's mine as I'm sure you are very aware. And you did cause it by bumping into her to begin with.”

    “Shut up woman.” she was about done trying to play nice. Still she tried one more time to talk Evelyn out of this mess. Before she could get a word out he slapped her. “I said shut up!”

    She was vaguely aware of some of the people around them looking at them and quickly leaving the area. She was aware that Evelyn put her hands to her mouth shocked. She was even aware of the still stinging sensation on her cheek. But right at that moment, she just had one thought, screw the bad day theory this bastard had it coming. Not really caring what he expected her to do she just smiled at him and said, “Would 'thank you sir may I have another' sound too cliche? It sounds a little too cliche.”

    “What are you doing?”, Evelyn said trying to drag her away.

    “Pay attention kiddo, important life lesson going on at the moment on dealing with a jerk with a superiority complex.”

    “You will not disrespect me,” he said trying to intimidate her. Natalya just smiled which infuriated him even more. He tried to slap her again. She backed away just enough that the hand missed her. But he swung with so much force he turned around with the momentum. Natalya, never one to not seize an opportunity when presented, kick him in the back and made him stumble forward. Whomever this guy was looked back at them then at the crowd before running off.

    “Come on kid,' Natalya said as she quickly herded Evelyn in the other direction, “let's get going.”

    “Is it over?”, she asked.

    “Not by a long shot,” she told her. She's met guys like that jackass before. No he wasn't going to let this go at all, not until he was satisfied. She purposely directed them a few blocks away from the hotel they were staying at. Even hushed Evelyn when she noticed. But she wasn't just walking in hopes of getting away. Something Susan had taught her, based on habits she had learned in the era she grew up in. Whenever you are in a new territory keep an eye open for potential battlefields and learn the terrain because a potential enemy force probably will not it like the back of their hand. Same concept but smaller scale. The first few day here she and Evelyn walked around to get generally familiar with the town she located a couple of spot out of a habit that was drilled into her. If she read that guy right he'd find them eventually.

    Almost on cue he stepped back into view, a straight sword in hand. Pushing Evelyn back she reached behind her head and drew her slim blade katana. He pointed the type of his sword at Evelyn as she calmly waked forward. “I want her.”

    “Well you're not getting her,” Natalya said, swing the sword around a bit in her hand. “Unless you can't handle a real woman that is” He charged at her. Bracing for the force of the impact she blocked his initial strike. Pushing him back she came at him high and low, mainly trying to draw him away from this very open area and into the forest that was close by. Just to make sure she said something in Japanese, mainly something about the size of his manhood, which did the trick as he followed her through the trees. Sometimes men like this one made it too easy.

    Turning back to face him she block another at her neck. With some effort she pushed him back again. “Still haven't given me your name,” she said. “Kind of rude last I heard.”

    “You are not worth the breath it would take.”

    “How are the women not crawling all over you?” She went after him again. They blocked each others swings, testing each other defenses. After a few minutes of that particular dance she thought she got a decent enough bead on him that she could up her attack. But she wasn't over confident as she was sure Mr. Macho was doing the same thing. And if she guessed right...

    He up his attacks, going for her neck every chance he got and trying to wear her down with just brute force. She guessed right. No finesse what so ever. Now it was all down to trying to get his timing. Because that was going to be the key to getting out alive. His sword came at her high one more time. She ducked just enough that it went over her head. She spun and swung low cutting deep into the back of his thigh. A primitive instinct made him grab at it. Bringing the sword around again she cut him down the back. He went down to a knee.

    Holding the edge of her sword to his neck to freeze him in place Natalya slowly walked around until she was facing him. Still being careful to keep an eye out for any sudden moves on his part. He was still more angry than afraid, even in this position. Even looking at her with disdain filled eyes. Too bad he wasn't going to learn to grow out of this particular mindset. Still she couldn't help but get in one last jab, “Be glad I'm taking the right head.” It confused him just long enough for her to bring the sword back and swing through his neck. His Quickening hit her faster than she was expecting. The energy ran through and assaulted her body, causing her to scream at the top of her lungs as she absorbed his power and essence.

    Dropping to her knees after it was over she looked over to see Evelyn standing nearby. It wasn't the first time she'd seen her take a head or absorb a quickening, and unfortunately she didn't look as horrified as she had in the past. Unfortunate because she was starting to lose some of that wide eyed innocence she had when they first met. Natalya hated this life doing that to her but it couldn't be helped, wide eyed innocent didn't last long in the Game.

    Still she offered her student a small smile, “That never stops sucking.”

    “Are you hurt?”, Evelyn asked, getting closer than she ever had with a headless body around.

    “Nothing that isn't already healing.” With a grunt she got to her feet. Replacing her sword back into it's sheath she walked out of there with Evelyn in tow. “Okay Eve, we're going back into town. You still have a job to finish.”

    “Even after all of this? Don't you want to rest up.'

    Putting an arm around her as they continued walking she said, “Another important life lesson kiddo, the world doesn't stop for anything. It might get delayed a bit due to circumstances but it keeps going. I gave you a task, despite a major roadblock, it still needs to be done. Don't worry I'll help you get there and be the moral support while you talk to the guy.'

    “But I'm not fluent yet. I'll mess up.”

    “Best way to learn Eve, be right in the middle of it. Say the wrong verb. Get something totally by mistake. Try not to be put in jail.” The girl look at her n horror.”Maybe not now but back in the day saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could get you in a lot of hot water.”

    “Personal experience I'm sure,” Evelyn said.

    Grinning Natalya gave her a big squeeze as they continued walking, “See I am rubbing off on you.”

  4. #24
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    Really well done episode, and great interaction between Eve and Nat, learning the ropes of living, and surviving in a new culture, and getting her ready for what her life as an Immortal will eventually flourish into. Assuming she makes it that far. The banter and reminiscing of when Susan trained/ disciplined Natalya made me chuckle. And there is always a douchebag like that anywhere ya go, and he really showed how pathetic he was to challenging a newbie, and how he reacted to Nat's attempts to forego conflict. Her line at the end to him was funny too, also I'm assuming this douche hasn't been an immortal for very long either. Perhaps longer than Eve, but due to his quickening hitting so fast, perhaps he's only been immortal for a year or two?

    Either way, nice work. :3
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  5. #25
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    Being alive for eight hundred years one often had time to contemplate their life. Jin had done so many times in his, before he became immortal and after. Just to calm his mind, because to busy mind was a unfocused one. And if nothing else he prided himself on his focus. Before his rebirth he was a soldier in the national army of his home country. While he was, at the time, an above average fighter his tactical mind was top notch. If he was more prideful back than he would even dare say few in the ranks above him could match him. But he was never that prideful, even as those dimmer than himself rose in the ranks higher than he did. One even stole one of Jin's strategies as his own to get a command rank. Another thing about him was that he quickly learned from past mistakes, he didn't quite talk as openly about what he would do after that.

    Well one time he did, and to the same person. Jin always wondered ifit occurred to the oaf before he died that the information he gave was intentionally wrong. Not exactly an honorable method of getting revenge, no matter what culture you hailed from. But one was only human in the end.

    Still he rose in the ranks, getting as far as commanding a small squad of soldiers. Still following other peoples orders and plans, but he learned he could quickly adjust his small team's movements in those plans on the battlefield, seeing things the generals either didn't consider or care about. Not so much to make it look like he thought his plans were better of course. He saw what would occasionally happen to those who thought they were. But enough that they could work inside the orders given to them with a little more leeway given how successful they were as a unit.. Just enough that he started to gain some notoriety in the higher echelon for his unit's prowess in battle. If he was a little more prideful he might have even boasted that he was on his way to becoming one of those generals.

    Then he made an error.

    He realized it, like many others he supposed, right after it happened. In the middle of a battle he stabbed someone with at the time he thought was a fatal blow. Then he turned away. Any other time he would have made sure the other person was dead first, even in the heat of battle. He trusted the men under him as much as they trusted him. But this time he turned away and discovered his fallen opponent had more life in him as he looked down to see his sword coming through his chest. He doesn't remember much after that, it was a blur as they say. He thought he heard one of his men cry out before the eternal darkness took him. Jin faced it knowing revenge would be swift.

    Then he woke up. Not in the normal way one was used too. No this was different, more painful as his whole body seemed to wake up for the very first time. Naturally frightened by such events he looked around and saw one of his men. “Do not worry sir,” he had said. “None will know you have returned from the dead.”

    “What are you babbling about?”, he demanded. “Of course I'm not dead. Look at me.”

    “No you are not sir.” Without warning the man had a knife in his hand. Getting ready to curse him for his apparent betrayal he watched as the blade flashed in the light before moving. But not at him. Jin watched dumbfounded as the man stabbed himself in the stomach. He doubled over and Jin just stared at what he was seeing. A small part of him was wondering if this was some sort a conspiracy, frame him for the murder of his own man. A very small part grasping for any logical thought to explain what just happened. Then the man straighten up, removed the blade with a grunt and handed it to him for inspection. As Jin did so his man lifted his clothing to reveal the wound which was now gone outside of the blood. “You are very much alive sir. But you are more than just a man now. And I have much to teach you.”

    Jin adapted quickly to the new situation. He had to otherwise he would face a more permanent death if someone else took his head. Jin often missed that man, he lost a challenge to a superior opponent from what he heard. He never gave him the proper thanks for teaching him the ways of his new life.

    He often assumed that was part of the reason he formed this little group that was currently around him. Not a proper squad of soldiers like in his previous life, but not anything resembling a family either. No just a rag tag group trying to survive. Even though destiny would have them tear themselves apart at some point in the future. Decades from now or mere days it would happen eventually.

    He glanced over at Omar, the first of his group. And most loyal out of any others, even if he did occasionally disagree with his decisions from time to time.

    ~1598~

    “Do not do this!” Jin had heard the cry outside of a desert town he was looking at to seek temporary lodging for the night. If it was hospitable to outsider that is. Curiosity made him look for the source of the scream. He sensed another immortal first and soon found the source of both. A muscular man with his hands tied behind his back being forced other some sort of rock by a group of men. The one with the sword of the region in his hands told him what was about the happen. The condemned man eyes met his momentarily and in that brief instant both knew what the other was like most of their kind could. His tactical mind, which was only grown sharper over the centuries, quickly assessed the situation. As soon as the other man lost his head his Quickening would soon become his. But it would also mark him as a target by these very men. Seeing the sick glee in death in their eyes it wouldn't be drawn out enough for him to get away from the scene.

    Which left only one other option. “I am not sure what this man has done but surely it doesn't require such an action,' Jin said. Or at least that was his intent in his mind. He hadn't just yet master the native tongue completely as of yet.

    “Leave dog,” the one with the sword said as he shook it at him. “Or you'll be next to feel my blade.”

    “As usual other must resort to violence,” Jin sighed. In one motion he drew his sword and slashed the other man's neck. Not to decapitate but deep enough his life fluid would quickly pour out of him. His companions were stunned momentarily before charging at him. Obviously none were trained soldiers. Even if they were they didn't have his experience on the battlefield. The battle, if you could call it that, was quickly over. Jin was about to leave but cast a second thought at the bound immortal still trying to free himself. As a second thought he walked over to the man who started to squirm harder out of his binding. Kicking him down to his gut he placed a foot on his back. “Keep still,” he ordered before cutting the man binding with the tip of his sword.

    Jin walked away as the man started rubbing his wrists. “Why did you save me?”, he demanded. Jin almost reconsidered letting him live.

    “I didn't,” he informed him. “I was protecting what I really am from those men.”

    “Still I am in your debt,” he said walking behind him . “My name is Omar...”

    “I have little care for who you are,” Jin told him.

    “Still I am in your debt. I am yours to command until it is repaid.”

    “Would you offer me your head?”, Jin inquired. Here the man paused. Jin let it hang in the air for a moment longer before going on. “Still, I suppose a local guide would be helpful. Do you know the area well?”

    “As well as any man,” he told him.

    “I suppose that is good enough,” Jin said after thinking about it for a moment or two. “Tell me, why were those men going to execute you?”

    “One of them thought I forced myself on his sister and sullied her,” this Omar said.

    Human curiosity got the better of him, “And did you?”

    “I didn't force myself upon her,” was all he said. But there was a particular glint in his eye that he had seen before in other men.

    “Perhaps you know how close the next village is. I get the feeling this one will be inhospitable”

    ~now~
    That debt had surely had been repaid by now but Omar still stood by his side. Jin quietly hoped he wouldn't have to be the one to eventually kill him as their life demanded. Of course remembering how Omar came into his company made him look over at Ezekiel, looking uncomfortable as ever behind the computer. An interesting contraindication of a man if there ever was. He was raised to believe anything not created by the Lord was unnatural and yet had the highest aptitude of any one Jin had ever encountered at it.

    ~1995~
    “No, this isn't right. I can't be able to use this.”

    “And yet you are,” Jin watched as a salesman tried to calm down the most plains clothed individual Jin had personally ever seen. There were peasants back in his youth that were better dressed. They had spotted each other earlier as fellow immortals but kept things civil since they were in a public place. “I have never seen anyone pick up a computer program that fast.”

    “That is not possible...!”, the man was starting to make a scene.

    Foe whatever reason Jin took pity on the man and intervened. “I'm sorry,” he told the salesman. “My friend hasn't been right lately and I thought the air would do him some good. I guess he got a little too excited.” Without another word he lead the man out of the store and into the street.

    After a bit his temporary companion said, “I am not you're friend.”

    “No you are not,' Jin quickly agreed. “But further outbursts might involve the calling of the police. And depending on how tightly wound they were the situation could have escalated rather quickly. And I'm sure neither of us wants to wake up in the middle of a investigation. Granted I could have just as easily left by myself...”

    “Are you going to kill me,” he asked suddenly.

    Jin looked around to see where other people where in regards to them. “I had no plans but if you are challenging me.”

    “No,” he said sullen. “I only respond to challenges.” Well there was a unique viewpoint. “I will not fight unless provoked, as this unnatural life demands. “ He looked lost in thought as they continued walking away from the store. “I keep hoping the next one will be the one to finally end my curse but I always win.”

    “Then why not let the other person win?”

    He looked at Jin like he just uttered the most blasphemous thing he had ever heard in his life. “That would be akin to suicide. This existence condemns me to hell itself but to make it worse would prolong my eternal agony.”

    “So being alive is unnatural but letting yourself be killed is a sin,” Jin said trying understand his logic. “You have placed yourself in a most unique quandary. I'm not quite sure how one would get into that spot to begin with.”

    “Either challenge me or leave me be,” he said as he walked away. Jin watched him, weighing his options. While have never seen the other man fight Jin figured he could figure out his combat style rather quickly. He would be doing the other man a favor it would seem.

    Still something else made him say, “Or to create a third option, I could be your friend.”

    The other immortal turned back at him “Our kind,” the very word seemed distasteful in his mouth, “do not have friend.”

    “I'm sure my current traveling companion Omar would disagree,” Jin countered. “Than an small acquaintance perhaps.,” he said walking forward. “Somebody to just be yourself around. To relax. As much as we can relax around others like us.”

    “Why,” he asked, “why do that?”

    “Because even we need someone to lean on occasionally,” Jin answered him. “Part of us is still human after all. That part that needs to be around others, for the sake of their own sanity if nothing else.” The other man looked confused, unsure of what to do. Taking it as a good sign that he was still lingering he added, “My name Jin.”

    Reluctantly the other man replied, “Ezekiel.”

    “Well then Ezekiel,” Jin motioned down the street. “Let us talk and get better acquainted. Calling each other acquaintances we should know a little about each other at least.”

    ~now~
    “I've located the woman 's profile,” Ezekiel spoke up. He and Omar joined him at the computer as he backed up to let them look at the screen. Victoria looked mildly interested from across the room. The newest member of their little troupe. Unfortunately there was no real story there. The late Nathan brought her in, along with her per-immortal daughter. Will Jin was positive Nathan had a more lustful interest in mind, and the thief was quickly disappointed in the respect, Jin let them stay for one reason. To give the daughter a roof for a while as it seemed they traveled a lot in her short life. Which brings them to right now in a matter involving her former high school teacher.

    He looked at he picture of a blond woman on the screen. A few days prior Omar swore he saw the woman that was with the man after Victoria at a hospital during one of his supply runs in the next state. Jin had requested some thing and suggested that it be as far away from her as possible, but that was a bit extreme. But then again that was Omar. Jin glanced over to his longest running companion for verification. Without looking at him Omar nodded, “That's her alright.”

    “So the bitch was there when he captured that loser,” Victoria stated. “So what.”

    “Perhaps we can use her to lure him somewhere, “Jin said. Yes Victoria wronged him a long time ago. But she was under his wing now and like he did with his old squad centuries ago he looked after his own. “Find a way to end this once and for all. One way or another.”

    “Whatever,” Victoria said. “Guy had a hard to kill me for centuries. I don't think you can talk him out of it.”

    “As I said,” Jin told her, “one way or another.”

    “Maybe you can find out how he knew about Nathan,” Ezekiel offered. Yes that was an interesting question to ask. While Nathan was brash none of them could think of anything he did that would bring attention to their group or who was in it. Then he looked past Victoria at her daughter Janet. Was he imagining things or did she looked strangely satisfied for a moment? He glanced over to Omar. He had seen it too. It almost looked like he apparently approved as he nodded slightly. His distaste for the late thief was no secret, especially after Victoria started letting him have his way with Janet. Perhaps there was some lessons the young woman picked up on a little too easily. A issue for another time.

    “One thing at a time my friend, “Jin told Ezekiel who was still waiting. “Let us see how we can use this information first before we act. We don't want to miscalculate things and make the situation worse.”

  6. #26
    science experiment gone wrong
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    Owen froze momentarily as he stepped away from the school's door and into the parking lot., He felt the buzz. He did not need this right now, especially after the police got off his back the last time he had to fight somebody near school grounds. Another headless body, and despite the fact there was another one near by while he was under surveillance more than likely some hard nose jackass would look at him again. Okay he might have been getting extra paranoid since he'd been actively hunting the woman who killed Himiko. But part of him was still worried that one of them decided to come looking for him instead.

    Covering up that freeze with the casual gaze that centuries of practice gave him he glanced around the lot and looked for who it could have been. He spotted her right away. It took a second longer to realize he knew this one. Her usually look he last saw her in was a little different. There was some red streaks in her hair, and she wore longer pants and a scarf now. But she still wore the chain belt, and as an old mortal friend of his once told him years ago, the eyes never change. Breaking out into a big grin he walked over to her, “Serenity, it's been a while.”

    “Hi Owen,” she said friendly enough. But something seemed off as old battle hardened instincts kicked in. She seemed a little more nervous then he thought she should be for some reason. Those old instincts also made him estimate how far away his car, and his sword, where. And more importantly who was still in the parking lot observing the two of them. “How have you been?”

    “I've been good,” he said trying to feel her out. Then stopped himself from doing that. This was Susan's old student. Yeah she took off with Harris but he couldn't have changed her that much in a couple of years. Maybe keep his guard half way up. “Is everything okay? Nobody did anything did they?”

    “No,” she looked like she wanted to say something else but stopped. Then she looked to see where everybody else was herself, “Can we talk? In private?”

    Half guard went to full guard before she even finished speaking, “Exactly how private we talking here?”

    She must have read something on his face because she answered, “I'm not chall.... I just need to speak to you, away from anybody listening.” Seeing how he happened to look over Serenity's shoulder to see Princess watching them that sounded like great idea.

    “Sure thing Ser, There's a quiet spot over there by the park.” As they walked to that location Owen looked back and saw Princess start to follow only to be quickly stopped by her father the principal. About time he grew a backbone he thought as he made her go back into the school. Once there were there she sat on a bench and he leaned against a nearby tree. “Alright, what was so important?”

    She suddenly looked scared, “They have them.”

    “They and them who?”

    “I don't know who they are,” she said. “Scott and myself was visiting Susan and this group of immortals jumped us about a block away from the hospital.” Owen felt his stomach tighten. “I don't know who they were. Two of them held swords to Scott and Susan's necks and demanded to know if I knew you. When I said yes they said to get you and come to this address here.” handing him a piece of paper she went on. “They claimed they wouldn't kill them, but if you don't show up before tomorrow...” Ser couldn't finish the sentence, she didn't have too. “Owen who are these people?”

    “Was one of them a blond woman?”, he asked reading the note. He knew the general location it was a couple of hours from here. She looked confused at his response. “Long story,” he ended up saying. “I'll explain on the way to get Susan out of there.”

    “And Scott,” Serenity reminded him.

    He hesitated a bit, fingering the scar on his neck. Serenity just stared at him.“Yeah sure, why not.”

    After hearing the short version of the story Serenity was quiet for the rest of the trip. Only speaking up when she saw the street written on the paper. Turning on to it they found it soon enough as the sun started to set. Getting out and opening the backdoor he retrieved his sword. “At least it's holy ground. If they're being kept close nothing should have happened.”

    “Like that worked out so well last time,” Serenity said not looking at him. Owen didn't look at her, he knew exactly what she was talking about.

    “I haven't forgotten,” he said.

    “It was you're fault then too.” There he looked at her. “That happened because of you. Susan was held hostage then because of you. Susan and Scott are being held now because now because of you.”

    “The last time was not my fault,” he shot back. “That was the result of that damn game Harris set up.”

    “You were still the center of it!” she shot back. “You were still the reason. And now something you did caused this. Do you even care somebody else could die because of you?!”

    “Yes I care!”, he exploded. “Do you really think I forgot? Do you honestly think I forgot about Keith? Do you honestly think I never realized why that happened? I have never forgotten that, I can't forget that. Keith's death has haunted me ever since it happened. Ask Susan. Ask Natalya. And you will be asking Susan because we are going to get them back. You can drop me out of your life afterwards and Susan will probably join you there after this, but we're getting them back one way or another.”

    If Serenity had a response it staid in her head as they felt the buzz. Both of them looked around until they saw a lone Asian man coming toward them. Stopping a few paces from them he studied them for a moment before saying, “I apologize for interrupting.”

    Taking the lead Owen went “Where are they?”

    He turned a bit and looked behind him, past the church, and pointed in a more specific area, “They are over there, still alive. She can check if both of you would like. I won't interfere but I would like to have a few words with you in exchange.”

    Trying to gauge him in those few moment he was speaking Owen weighed his options. Glancing back at Serenity he went, “Go ahead Ser. I'll be right behind you.” She seemed hesitant but eventually went in the direction that was pointed out. She only paused when she got close to this stranger. He just smiled if a friendly way and moved aside to give her a clear path. Hesitating a little longer she hurried off to where they were supposed to be.

    Alone with this guy Owen halfway expected him to get more aggressive now that she was gone but he stayed the same. Much like Owen did earlier he apparently sized him up, occasionally glancing at the long sword still in his hand. “I do regret,” he started, “that we had to meet under such circumstances. But you have been a particular nasty thorn in my little group's side. Again my apologizes, Owen I believe it was, I'm Jin.”

    Ignoring the pleasantries Owen demanded, “That group include Victoria?”

    Appearing disappointed at this particular turn he said, “And if I say yes?”

    “If you're protecting her then we have a problem.”

    He started walking a bit, keeping the same distance as he circled around him, “While I have not known Victoria long I do get the feeling she is more than capable of taking caring herself. She might even be offended if I tried to do so if I read her correctly.”

    “You do realize why I'm after her right?”, Owen made sure he kept this guy in his sights while also trying to keep an eye on their surroundings. Given that woman's little habit of using mortals as a warm up act he wasn't trusting anything. Then he remember he let Serenity go off on alone and looked back for a moment in the direction she went, making sure he didn't see the worry cross his face.

    “I'm aware of the situation,” this Jim replied. “While I'm not trying to belittle your feelings in any way you must admit it was a long time ago, and last I heard time is supposed to heal all wounds.”

    “Yeah well I've been told I have a hard time letting things go,” Owen told him. “And some wounds don't heal. Especially ones that deep.”

    He simply nodded. “I personally have never felt your type of loss,” Jin said.

    Owen cut in, “Pray you never do.”

    Jin went on, “I would imagine that sort of hatred would would turn you into some sort beast or demon by now.” He ignored that small feeling of laughter in the back of his mind. “Yet you seem almost normal, like that sad , unfortunate event never happened.”

    “Well as they say nowadays I had a pretty good support system over the years. One of which your group kidnapped.”

    “I needed your attention,” Jin said, not even trying to to look apologetic. “Obviously it worked. So what do you want out of all of this?”

    “I want her,” Owen said pretty much automatically.

    Jin just smiled, “Which 'her' are you referring to?”

    Victoria almost came out of his mouth on instinct. But he stopped himself from saying it it. Calming down a bit he answered, “Susan.” Jin, whoever this guy was, almost seemed happy with his response. “Oh and the other guy too, Harris,” he added. “It would make Serenity unhappy if anything happened to him. For reasons I still don't understand.” Jin just gave him a look. Owen absentmindedly fingered his scar again, “He's not my favorite person on the planet.”

    “I suppose that type of situation is something every person has in common.” Jin stopped walking, pretty much blocking the way Serenity went. With a small gesture he stepped aside, “If you survive I hope we won't meet again.”

    “We will if you're still harboring her,” Owen told him as he walked past. Adding, “And keep Janet out of the way when it does.” He didn't look back to see his reaction, if any, to that last statement. Owen definitely didn't show any on Jin's last statement.

    Hurrying up when the buzz hit him he was relieved to see Susan and Harris was still alive like Jin said. Tied up and gagged on a couple of folding chairs but alive. He spotted their swords, Harris still using that cutlass with the jewel encrusted hilt, sticking into the ground in front of them. Then he spotted Serenity, standing in a defensive position, hand obviously around the handle of her sword but still hadn't drawn it yet. Then he spotted Janet, and tried not to be disappointed in that, and the plain clothed guy from when he finally tracked down and caught the Thief. Slowing down as he came closer he tried to get an idea on what was going on. “Have we said 'let them go' yet because I'd hate to repeat it.”

    “The girl is not answering my challenge,” the guy said, almost disappointed. Owen had met enough people over the centuries to get the idea that wasn't because he was blood hungry, especially since he looked away when his bigger friend took care of the Thief. But he couldn't figure out why. Either way it meant he could avoid another situation like the one that cost Keith his life. On the other hand he knew Susan well enough to see that the looks she was giving her former student was the reason why she wasn't accepting right away.

    Owen stepped forward, “Not her fight.”

    “I can take him,” Serenity said, mainly to massage her own bruised ego over the situation.

    “Not your fight,” Owen said. “Seriously am I speaking Greek? Which would be weird because I never picked up Greek. Italian yes, but I never made the trip to that particular country.”

    They guy looked over at Janet, who answered his unasked question, “He was like that in class occasionally.”

    “Just trying to hide the anger over the fact my friend got kidnapped,” Janet looked ashamed of herself at least, “again.” Serenity mumbled something, he ignored it. “But,” Owen looked down to make sure he stepped off holy ground, “if you're looking to challenge some one boyo I'm suddenly in the mood.”

    He nodded a bit before turning and removing his hat and coat and placed them on a nearby stone bench. Retrieving a small sword and a hand sickle from their hiding spot he turned back toward him. “Ezekiel Fields.”

    “Owen McAllister,” he said before taking up a defensive position. He had seen a more than a few opponents in his life, witness a few challenges between other immortals, and was familiar with all sorts of bladed weapons. But he had to silently admit the farm tool was a first. He fought a couple of duel wielders before so it wasn't completely unknown territory, just a pain in the ass to keep an eye on two weapons at once. Both of them took a few swings to test each others defenses. Mostly Owen wanted to see how fast he was with that sickle, turns out he was pretty quick with it. Ezekiel decided to up the offense and came at him swinging both weapons. Swinging his long sword to block anything that came at him Owen started backing up. Intercepting the sickle with the long sword he kicked Ezekiel away to get some space between them, and a little more breathing room for himself.

    Taking a quick moment to watch how the other man moved as he took a step to the side he tried to figure out the the best way to come out of this alive. A dark impulse that came out of nowhere made him glance at Janet. It would be so easy to distract him by going after....While Owen pushed that thought down Ezekiel came at him again catching him off guard. Barely getting his blade up to block the short sword his leg was slashed by the outside edge of the sickle. Moving away left him open to a sword swing that sliced down his back and he went to a knee. Looking back he saw the sickle come at his head he moves but it still impaled his shoulder. Owen cried out in pain as Ezekiel reared back for the killing strike. Dropping his sword Owen grabbed the other man's arm in mid swing in an act of desperation.. Clutching at his sickle wielding arm he slowly forced it up removing the blade from his shoulder.

    Struggling to his feet he headbutted Ezekiel a couple of times busting them both open. As both of them stumbled backwards Owen realized he left his long sword between them. Holding his shoulder and willing his immortal abilities to heal his body faster he kept backing up. Them he felt his foot hit something. Susan and Harris's swords, it had to be. He reached back reaching for a handle. A sound similar to a male grunt of protest told him which one once he felt it. He pulled it and brought it forward, it was Harris's cutlass. He grunted in protest again. “I'm not keeping the damn thing,” Owen said through his teeth.

    He almost started to reach for Susan's rapier as well when Ezekiel came at him. Charging a bit and rolling under a vertical swing of the sickle Owen ran toward his long sword and grabbed it on the fly. Centuries of battle instinct got the cutlass up as he turned around to intercept the short sword. Seeing the opening Owen swung his long sword around. Ezekiel tried to step back but wasn't fast enough as the edge of the blade caught him in the side and sliced open his flesh, but not deep enough to incapacitate him. Not waiting for his immortal abilities to kick in Ezekiel came at him again. Now with two weapons of his own Owen was having a better time of it as he blocked and dodged whatever the other man threw at him. He was still wicked fast with that Sickle though.

    The fight went on for several more minutes until Owen was able to cross the other man's arms and with the cutlass forced them to the ground. Immediately letting go and putting both hands on the handle of his long sword Owen had it at his opponent's neck. A dark impulse over took him again, made him look in the eyes of his opponent. He wanted to see the fear in them, wanted to savor it as the other man realized he was about to die. A snarl starting to form on his lips as he stared him right in the eyes. But there was no fear, no trace what that he could detect. The happiness in the other man's eyes broke the dark hold that briefly over took him. Feeling nothing but confused Ezekiel told him, “Thank you.”

    Brought back to his senses Owen stared at him for a brief moment, “Okay then.” With one pull he brought the sword around and beheaded his opponent. Still in shock over the man's final moments Owen wasn't ready as the Quickening hit him. Transfixed as he absorbed the fallen immortal's essence he screamed at the heavens above as it became too much. He dropped to his knees after it was over exhausted on every level possible.

    “No you don't,” He heard Serenity say. He looked up to see Janet try to run but Serenity got in her way, sword in hand.

    “Stop!” he yelled out hoarsely. Serenity looked at him. She wanted vengeance on somebody for this situation, he could see it in her face. He wasn't going to let her go down that path. “Untie Susan,” he told her. She wouldn't budge. “And Harris too if you have too. Just do it.” She looked back between the two of them before heading toward the Susan and Harris but still kept glancing back at Janet. Getting to his feet wiping the blood off his face as he walked over to his former pupil. Right now she looked as afraid as he'd ever seen her. Stepping to the side to give her a clear path he told her, “That Jin guy's that way, you might be able to catch up.”

    Serenity, who just untied Susan looked at him feeling totally betrayed, “Owen.”

    Removing the gag from her mouth Susan said, “Let it drop Ser. She didn't ambush us.”

    “But she's with them,” Serenity protested.

    “I made sure they were okay,” Janet offered weakly. Serenity started toward here. Susan stopped her right before Owen got in front Janet. All it took was one look from him to get Janet running off toward Jin

    “Why are you protecting her?”, Serenity demanded.

    Susan spoke for him, “It's a complicated story Ser. Owen,” she looked over at him as Serenity went ot untie Harris.

    “Just remember you said you'll play nice when Natalya's around,” he said, figuring that was were she was going. On a few levels he knew Serenity as right, this was because of him. Feeling exactly like he just lost one of his longest confidants he started to walk away.

    “Owen,” Susan called back out. When he stopped she walked toward him. “I told you I would have you out of my life if I saw you become that person who would betray everything you believed in for revenge. You haven't done that yet, and please don't ever.” She hugged him, “I know what's like to have friends kidnapped in an attempt to get at me, so I'm not blaming you for this either.” Serenity grunted again as Harris massaged his wrists to get some feelings back into his hands. “But you're going to owe me one hell of a dinner as payback.”

    Owen smiled despite himself, “I'll see what I can arrange.”

    “I don't believe this,” Serenity mumbled. Susan walked over to her and tried to explain things.

    Unfortunately for him Harris walked over and studied him a bit. In a tone only he could hear he said,, “Speaking of being other people I watched you. I saw you're face near the end. You still got a little of Big Evil left in you, don't you?”

    Owen stared at him but Harris didn't flinch. Although his hand went to a similar scar on his neck that Owen had put there. “Start another game with me and find out.” Harris held up his hands and conceded before placing those hands behind his head and walking toward Susan and Serenity. Owen looked back where Janet ran off too and hoped it wasn't a mistake letting her go back to that group and her mother.

  7. #27
    Eenymeenyminymo
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    *shriek* OH MY HEAVENS! YOU'RE POSTING! Are you coming to the con? Are you, are you?

    Oh, boy! Thank you for posting! I've got to tell people about your story! 100% serious here. Oh boy!

  8. #28
    science experiment gone wrong
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    “Come on!”, her mother screamed at her during practice. Despite wondering what else she should be doing Janet still tried harder, blocking her mother's attack from every angle she could come from. Janet had been training with a sword, and it was always a real sword and never a practice or a toy one, pretty much from the moment she took her in as a young child. Her mother made her practice for hours everyday since to make sure she became an expert from a young age. Jin and the others always commented her on her skills. And Janet always silently told herself the Mr. MacDonald, or McAllister or whatever you wanted to call him, seemed impressed with her too.

    But she was never good enough for her mother, no matter how hard she tried.

    Janet always told herself that it was because she didn't want her to become complacent, overconfident in her ability and skills. Because once she made her immortal overconfidence would get you killed in a hurry. Janet had seen it the entire time with her mother. Anytime an immortal challenged her, especially a male one, they saw her as a weaker opponent. And she generally let them, right up until she was ready to kill them. Then they saw what she was truly capable of as a warrior.

    Still it was starting to get annoying. Janet was more than capable of defending herself now. Even being able to hang with her mother who had had been fighting for centuries. No small feet in the decade plus she'd been raised by her. So why did that seem to make her mother angrier and more aggressive the longer the training duel went? Instead of that making her worried about Victoria losing her temper that just made Janet more determined to earn her respect, show her she was ready to be an immortal. Then maybe, maybe she finally showed that she she loved her like a true mother after all this time.

    Even now, even with Omar looking on from his workout machine she didn't seemed impressed with her or with her skill. Not for the first time Janet was more than able to hold her own during her training, even getting her mother to look confused as her usual lines of attack wasn't working. In fact to anybody else she might have started to look a little furious. Maybe that's why a small part of Janet's mind, a small, very vocal rebellious part that refused to be beaten out of her, had her smile ever so slightly at her slight victory. But she covered it up quick, but not fast enough judging by her mother expression. And then it was too late.

    With a vicious scream she got threw her defenses and backhanded her. Janet's head whipped around as he fell tot he floor. Janet was partially aware that Omar ceased his workout. She was more aware of her mother practically on top of her, pulling her up by her hair.”You think you're that good now you little bitch?, she demanded. Right now Janet wished she was screaming in her face. But she recognized the cold fury just underneath her calm words. She had been the recipient of that fury enough times to recognize it. “You think that since you got lucky this time that you can take on your own mother?”

    “It seemed like more than luck to me,” Omar finally spoke up. Janet looked over at him, silently pleading for him to be quiet before he made her angrier. He looked her right in the eyes, seemingly understanding her plight. But he kept going on, “In fact it seems to me she had your number this time around.” Janet winced, anticipating her Mother next action but it never came. Oh she hauled her up by the hair as usual but instead of the beating she usually received her mother just held on to her hair and stared down Omar.. Somewhere in all of that Janet became aware that Omar actually walked forward because he was closer than he was a moment ago, almost ready to attack. Janet watched her mother as she kept looking at Omar. Then she glanced at her and smiled. Just like when she let Nathan...

    No, no, no, no. Not again. Please, to whomever is listening, please not again.

    “If you wanted her that bad you should have said so,” her mother told him. Dragging her over to the workout machine, and past a bewildered Omar, she pushed her down and bent her over the workout bench. Then without warning yanked her shorts down to her knees letting Omar see everything. Janet was too mortified to move, to even protest. “Go ahead,” she heard her mother say almost causally, “relieve some of that stress that has to have built up over the years.” With that she walked out of the room. Leaving her and Omar, alone in the room. Janet wanted to beg, plead, promise to do just about anything if he wouldn't do it, not like Nathan would have. But fear kept her quiet, fear of angering her mother more than him, even as she heard him come closer. He felt his calloused hand on her leg and she froze, preparing for the worst. Then she felt her short being pulled back up.

    “Get up Janet,” he said. She did so not sure what to expect. Not looking at her as she turned around he added, “You may want to fix your pants a little better than I did.” She looked down, while nothing was exposed there was still enough skin showing she felt indecent. Readjusting her shorts Omar finally looked at her and sat her down on the bench. She was more than confused as he sat down next to her. “I have never claimed to be an honorable man,” he said after a bit. “I have done things most people wouldn't be proud of but I still am. But there is one thing I have never done. I have never lay with someone who wasn't willing. In that respect you will always be safe with me.”

    In her confusion a sob escaped that broke out into a full on cry despite how hard she tried to stop it. Omar put a uncertain hand on her back to try and calm her down. “I'm sorry,” she got out.

    “You have no reason to apologize to me. Or a reason to be afraid.”

    “You don't understand,” she went on. “She'll get angry with me. She'll do things because she'll think I screwed this up some how. And it'll be my fault. It's always my fault.”

    “Janet,” he said firmly, ”her actions will not be yours.”

    “It will be,” she protested. “just like at the orphanage. When she killed that woman and I couldn't stop her. It was my fault she died. All because I couldn't stop her.” her greatest shame, her biggest guilt. She had never spoken it out loud to any one.

    “You were a child,” Omar told her. “What could you have done to stop a grown woman?” That question hit her like a ton of bricks. What could she have done? She could remember the gun in her mother's hand as clear as day. But her mother said she let it happen. But what could she have done to stop it? After she calmed down a bit Omar told her, “If you are worried that she might think you didn't let me have my way with you, let's just sit here for a while longer. Let her think what ever her sick imagination conjures up. I will be your safe haven.”

    “Th... thank you,” she meekly uttered.

    He nodded in response and they sat there in relative silence for a bit. Then, “I may not be your only safe haven.” She looked at him confused, what was he talking about? “While I have had only the briefest meeting with your high school teacher,” she tensed up again, Omar waited a moment before continuing, “Jin seemed to think that he might be a honorable man in his own right.”

    “What if Jin's wrong?”, she asked. Then flinched expecting a backlash.

    Instead Omar shrugged and went, “He has been wrong before. But based on things he shared with me about their brief conversation I don't think he is here. If you so wish, I will help you leave so he can help you.” Her teacher did want to help her, she knew that. From the moment she started at the school she could tell he radiated kindness. Just about everyone outside of the Principal's daughter and her clique had a good thing to say about him. Even after he discovered who her mother was he offered to help get her out of this situation. She wanted to jump on the offer, then and now.

    But as always she said, “I... I can't. She'll find me no matter where I go. I'm sorry.”

    If Omar was offended he didn't show it. “Then I will still be your safe haven. And I will be here if you decide to change you mind.”

    Omar kept that promise too, every time Victoria got to be too much Omar would just suggest he would want some “alone” time with Janet and she would practically throw her at him. And in those moments Janet did feel safe. Although from time to time she wondered why Jin would look at them in a peculiar way from across the room. She was positive if he asked him Omar would tell him what was really going on. Maybe he already did seeing how Jin knew how much Omar hated it when she was passed off to Nathan. All she knew her mother was oblivious to what was really going on when Omar took her somewhere else. For the first time since she could remember she truly felt safe when those moments happened.

    It only lasted about two months.

    She wasn't sure what happened or what started it but one day she walked into one of the rooms in the place Jin had settled the group where her mother and the others were and Omar had just exploded. “You will not use her like that anymore!” Janet had stopped as soon as she passed the doorway. For the briefest of moments she thought his outburst was directed at her. After his initial shock was over she realized he was staring at her mother, who just looked unimpressed as always. The fact Jin was actively trying to clam Omar down said what ever set him off was bad.

    “He wants her,” was all Victoria said. “So we send the little tramp in then we jump him. I'll even let you cut off his head if it'll make you feel better.” That sick feeling in her gut started to form, not after her mother called her a tramp, but realizing that she was talking about McAllister. “Especially if we get him before an official challenge happens...”

    “Enough!”, Omar exploded. “Janet is not you personal plaything for you dishonorable actions, you flagrant disregard of the rules of the Game. She deserves better than you.”

    “She doesn't deserve anything less than what I give her. Isn't that right sweetie.” That was the first indication that Victoria was even aware that she was in the room. Even after the things she just said. “You mother is talking to you,” Victoria came at her, “answer when spoken too.” She drew her hand back to strike her. Janet had already started flinching in preparation of the blow. Then Omar grabbed Victoria's hand before the blow could even land. He mother looked confused and angry. “Take you hand off of me you bastard!”

    “Omar,” Jin started to say.

    “No,” he snapped back. “Not this time. The girl has been used as a tool long enough. I will put a stop to it now. Outside witch.” Letting her go Omar stormed out of the room grabbing his scimitar on the way out. Janet tried to stop him as Victoria followed him out with an all too familiar smirk on her face but Jin put a hand on her shoulder and just shook his head. Before long both of them heard the familiar clangs of metal on metal. Despite Jin's warning she ran out of the room. Briefly aware that Jin was following her she rushed outside where once again the older Immortal stopped her from getting involved. All she could at the moment was do like him and watch.

    When she wasn't looking or Omar was having “his way” with her he trained with her. So she knew his scimitar was designed more for slicing than anything else, which he was trying to do with all the skill he had. Victoria used a rapier, and made sure Janet knew how to use one as well, with all the precise strike and blocks she could muster. Omar obviously had the superior strength but her mother had the agility. But she had something else too, she had a mind and a willingness to manipulate. Seeing her talk droves of various thugs over the years into assaulting any immortal she wanted to target. That mind included her fighting as well, often getting into her opponent's head doing so getting so flustered that she could capitalize and take their heads. And if that didn't work...

    After what seemed like hours but was only several minutes Janet saw it. How she was able to get their swords down then grab his wrist. Janet wanted to cry out and warn him but it was already too late, Victoria was able to position the blades so they were behind her neck and they were so close to each other. Janet finally found her voice. “No!”, she called out. Neither took their eyes off the other. “Don't do it!”, she went on. “Please Mother don't to it. I'll do what you want. Just don't....”

    “Janet,” Omar called out. “Do not lower yourself. If my fate is what you fear then I face it gladly because you found your strength.” As usual Victoria blew him a kiss the pushed, using what hidden leverage she had to spin him away. Janet dropped to her knees and hid her eyes not wanting to see Omar lose his life. But she could still hear. Hear a body drop. Hear her mother scream as his Quickening came to her. Then she heard nothing, then footsteps coming toward her.

    She didn't look up, refused to look up. Not out of fear of her mother like she normally would have. But out of a new fear of what she herself might do after Victoria killed Omar. Some one who only wanted her to be safe. Victoria grabbed her hair and looked at her as she usually did to get her point across. But she didn't speak right away as she was somewhat taken aback by the hate Janet was currently feeling but she covered it quickly enough, but Janet saw it. Then she pointed at the headless body. “Look what happened because of you.” Then Jin grabbed her arm and forced to let go of Janet. “What the fuck!”, she exclaimed after she got free.

    Looking as angry as Janet had ever seen him Jin simply said, “Do not sully Omar's memory in your manipulations of this girl.” They stared each other down. Given that she was still feeling the effects of the Quickening Victoria backed off. Still she looked back at Omar's body then looked her in the eyes before walking off. It wasn't said but the message was clear, this was on Janet.

    But right then Jin's words kept repeating in her head. “Your manipulations of this girl” Manipulations. That's what her mother did, manipulate. Those thugs, her opponents, even her. Janet always felt sorry for the others when she saw it so way did she always fall for them.

    Hours later Janet was sporting a fresh bruise on her chest, never anywhere visible her mother was too smart, usually. And once again she believed that she deserved it for causing what happened. Jin's words still echoed in her head but her Mother's was starting to drive them out. She went outside and hugged her knees as she sat on the ground wishing she had the strength to fight back.. Before long she was aware of somebody sitting next to her on the bench she was leaning on. She looked up to see Jin just staring out in the distance. She lowered her head in shame, afraid he would lash out at her as well. Before long she meek out a small, “I'm sorry.”

    Calmly, and still looking forward, Jin said, “I was unaware you had done anything to wrong me.”

    “Omar,” she said after a bit, he didn't react. “And Ezekiel,” she went on. “Both of them are dead because of me. Omar died because he thought he had to defend me. Ezekiel is dead because I didn't help him because I'm not bound to the rules yet.” Her mother's latest guilt trip, and yet another one she was falling for. Why was she this pathetic? Why couldn't she fight back against her mother's manipulations when she could see them so clearly, especially now. What strength did she have? What was Omar talking about before he died.

    “Omar decisions were his own,” Jin said after a bit. “He lived by his own code, by what he thought was right. As for Ezekiel,” he trailed off. Janet looked up at him to see him look a bit wistful. “While he may not have seen it that way but I considered him my friend. And I will miss him dearly. But I can take some comfort in the fact he was finally granted his fondest desire and met an opponent that could relieve his his 'cursed' life. And between the two of us I know Ezekiel would have taken some offense if you interfered with his duel with your former teacher.” Janet looked away again, feeling ashamed once more. He was right Ezekiel would have been angry if she interfered. Even if she wasn't really an immortal yet the rules still had to apply, didn't they?

    Then Jin dropped another bomb, “I'm aware of what your mother wanted you to do to your teacher's friends after we captured them.” Janet looked away, mostly ashamed again but a bit of confusion in there as well. How did he know? “Thank you for not doing so. Omar was impressed with your restraint as well once he found out. Called it you hidden strength.” Was that what he was talking about, the fact she disobeyed her mother's direct order. “It would have made the meeting with your teacher more complicated then what it was.” He sighed and went back looking out to the distance. “And I'm sure he's more than aware that a storm is coming over the horizon.” Janet wasn't sure what to say to that. Obviously it was a metaphor for McAllister coming after her mother, even she knew what was going on there. Then Jin held a hand toward her. He was holding a phone. She just stared at it until he gestured that he wanted her to take it.

    “I don't understand,' she said as she looked it over.

    “It was Omar's.' He looked at her again and gave her a warm smile, like the ones he used to give Ezekiel after he was done hacking something. “I'm sure he would have wanted you to have it. I'm not quite sure how he managed it but apparently it won't lock.” He stood to leave but lingered a bit, “Before resetting it and erasing the contents have a look around. You might discover something helpful.”

    Alone again she just studied the phone he just gave her. She had one already so Janet didn't quite understand why he thought Omar would let her have this one. Still she looked back at the building to make sure she was still alone then turned the phone one. Like Jin said it wasn't locked so she started going through the various features. Going through his contacts, out of curiosity more than anything, her heart stopped momentarily. There was a listing for a McAllister. And her photo was used for his name. Why...? How? Was Omar actually talking to him? And for how long?

    Finding their text messages she nearly dropped the phone. Omar told him exactly where they were. She looked back at the building, did Jin know about this? Janet kept reading the texts, there was a warning. If he came before she was ready Omar threatened to kill him. Before she was ready? Did he mean her, before she was ready? Ready for what? McAllister apparently agreed to these terms. Just to keep her safe as he put. She had a good idea what happened to people who try to keep her safe. Victoria takes care of them.

    That's what she told herself as she set the phone to take a video of her. To keep him away. Because trying to keep her safe gets people killed. The phone recording her Janet wasn't sure what to say at first. So she just blurted out, “Omar is dead.” A bit of sadness crept up on her but she held it back. “I'm not sure what you two had planned but...” Both of them wanted her safe. Both of them wanted to get her away from here, away from her mother. Neither of them knew how unwise that was, how angry she'd get. How she'd twist things until Janet started believing it was her fault. That her mother was a monster that saw her as a tool to be used.

    That thought finally broke her. Admitting to herself that her mother was a monster, that she was never going to love her like a daughter. That she was just a means to an end and nothing else. Janet lowered the phone as the tears and the sobs came and wouldn't stop. When she finally got herself under control she realized that she was still recording. She looked right at the phone, before her courage left her. “I'm ready. I want to leave. Please Mr. MacDonald, Mr. McAllister.... help me.”

  9. #29
    science experiment gone wrong
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    It had been a weird couple of months since the kidnapping incident. Susan, who true to her word was still talking to him, had invited Serenity and Harris to stay around for a while. Serenity's attitude was still a little chilly toward him but it was good to her her around again. As for Harris.... well it was good to have Serenity around again. And they generally spent most of their time in Chicago so Owen didn't see much of them. Although the couple of times he talked with him the Father mentioned it seemed like Susan was talking to Harris about something. On the home front school was a couple of months from being over so he didn't have to worry about that for awhile, although he did pity whomever got Princess when the new year started. And he hadn't seen a hide or hair of Janet, her mother and whoever else was in that group in those two months either, and he had looked when he had the free time.

    Well seen was the operative word there. About a week or so after their kidnapping Susan had been visited by one of them bearing the strangest of gifts. And that term was being used rather loosely. He studied the scrape piece of paper in his hand like it might bite him if he wasn't careful. Finally he glanced up at Susan, “He gave you his number?”

    “Not exactly,” Susan corrected him. “He gave me his number to give to you.”

    “One of the guys who kidnapped you?”

    “The one who ended up killing the thief if you want to be exact.” And Owen remembered him as clear as day too. “He came up to me, in a non challenging way although I still held up my guard, and said to give it to you. What you did with it was up to you at that point.”

    “Was there a hidden threat if I didn't call?”

    “Not that I could tell,” one of his oldest friends, in length of knowing her if not age, told him. “He gave me the paper, told that message and left. If there was any type of threat there he was blinking it in Morse Code. And before you ask do you know Morse Code?”

    “Never picked up,” Owen conceded.

    “Neither have I and I'm been around longer.” Rising to leave she said, “He did say it was up to you if you wanted to contact him or not.”

    “It might be a trap,” he told her. Considering who he was with that was more than a distinct possibility.

    “It might be,” she agreed. “But then again it might not.” When Owen looked at her with some confusion, she shrugged. “They all can't be like her now, can they. Even if that Jim guy helped arrange the whole kidnapping thing he did seem apologetic while we were waiting for you and Ser to show up.”

    A few hours after she left Owen finally decided to try it. Still he went for a drive to a park that was pretty much you had to go out of your way to get to to make the call. Paranoia made him think they were trying to pin down where he lived based on the various cell phone tower around. Making the call he waited a few ring, telling himself that he was going to hang up if it went to voice mail. Then he didn't get the voice mail, “Is this McAllister?”

    Not really sure what else to do he replied, “This Omar?” There was a grunt in response that sounded like an affirmative one. “All right, why did you want to talk?”

    “The girl.” It was only two words but Owen knew exactly who he was talking about. Looking around for any surprises he listened. “She needs to leave the company of her so called mother. You seem to care about her as more than a tool, you should take her.”

    “Um, Okay,” Owen went. “Why should I believe you in any way, shape or form?”

    “You shouldn't” Well that was pretty honest by any standards. “But she deserves better then what she has now.” And he really couldn't argue that particular point. “I will text you our location. But do not come until she is ready to leave. If I see you before then I will kill you myself on sight, is that clear?”

    “I might have a slight issue with that particular demand.”

    “I don't care,” Omar told him. “Right now she is still enthralled in whatever spell that damnable woman has on her. She has found a hint of her inner strength, but it need to bloom before she can truly be free. To take her now would enforce what Victoria has been saying to her. Do we have a deal?”

    He hated this with everything he had, and he didn't that dark voice in the back of his mind spurning the flame. Still he needed to get Janet out of the way of the cross fire when he did confront Victoria. So he only had one real answer, “Deal.” The call ended as soon as he said the word. As promised he as sent a text telling them exactly where they were located. Also there was an added text reminding him that it would be his death if he should up early, or at all in the area, before Janet was ready to leave. That got under his skin like he couldn't described, but even if he did best this Omar then Victoria would be right there to pick up the scrapes. And very few immortals could survive two fights in a row. So he waited. And for a month and a half there was nothing.

    “Please Mr. MacDonald, Mr. McAllister.... help me.” Owen wasn't sure what to think after he got a message from that number. He was even more confused that it was Janet herself. First she informed him that Omar was dead. Then started to say something else before breaking down and finally pleading for him to help her get out of there. He was so stunned he took the message to Susan. Serenity and Harris were both there as she watched the message too. Harris eyed it from the corner he was standing in, Ser looked unfazed by what she was seeing as she was still a little ticked by the previous kidnapping. Susan looked up and studied him a bit before handing back the phone.

    “You're going aren't you?” Owen was expecting some sort of debate first, maybe even an argument. But he'd known Susan for almost as long as he had been Immortal. And she probably knew him better then he did himself in situations like this.

    “I think I pretty much have too,” he ended up saying. Susan nodded in understanding, knowing where he stood when it came to Janet's safety.

    Serenity on the other hand, “It's a trap. I'm the youngest one here out of all of us and I see that.”

    “I have to risk it,” Owen told her.

    “Why?”, she demanded. “Why risk your life for this girl.”

    Owen looked at her in a way that made Serenity back up a bit. Even Harris stepped forward to get between them. Glancing over to Susan to see what she was doing Owen told Ser, “I don't want another life hanging over my head.” He left before any of them could respond.

    Elsewhere Victoria threw Janet to the ground in front of Jin before tossing a phone at him. “This bitch told him where we're at. Begged him to come get her.” she turned her attention to Janet, “After all I've done for you.” Jin made her angrier by stopping her attempt to discipline her daughter. “Get out of my way?”, she hissed.

    “The phone was Omar's,” he informed her. “and I was aware of some of the contents that were on it when I gave it to her. Although I am a bit disappointed Janet let the phone be found.”

    “Why do you think I search everywhere she goes,” Janet snapped at him. “Children shouldn't hide things from their mother.”

    “I'm sorry...”, Janet started to say.

    “Shut up you bitch!” before Jin could react she had her sword out and jammed it into Janet's heart. Jin looked on horrified as Janet looked to be in too much shock to be in pain. “I will deal with one of you later,” she said not taking her eyes off of Janet. Practically kicking Janet down in anger to free her sword she stormed out of the room. “I have another unwelcome nuisance to take care of first.”

    Owen found the place eventually, an old two story building of some sort. While he wasn't expecting a luxury hotel he wasn't expecting anything that looked this run down either. Still it was in a pretty abandoned area, perfect for a group trying not to be noticed. He walked closer, pausing for just a moment as he felt the buzz hit him. Unfortunately the general feeling that told him another immortal was nearby didn't exactly tell him how many he was exactly dealing with. Seeing how neither Janet or Omar were all that forthcoming about how many were in this particular group that could be an issue. Walking forward he kept an eye on his surrounding just in case there were some surprises of the mortal variety that were ready to pop out and party.

    Being unmolested so far Owen reached into his jacket and pulled his long sword out of it's hidden scabbard before he reached the door in front of him. Carefully he tried the doorknob, it was unlocked. Shoving it open he backed up real fast in case she was waiting on the other side to strike. Nothing came at him so he cautiously walked in. Sword up to defend any sudden attack he eased his way into the room, a lobby type of area with a staircase leading to a visible second floor. Whatever this place used to be it was probably something back in the day. “A little over dramatic don't you think?” Owen's head whipped around until he saw her leaning against a door jam and immediately felt his blood start to boil. If Victoria was aware of the reaction the sight of her was causing him she didn't show it. “I would almost think you didn't trust me. I mean you don't even know me.”

    “I know enough,” Owen spat as he came at her. He should have realized something was up when she didn't even react at his charge. Then he felt the floor give out from under him as he dropped to a basement level. Trying to get some of the former floor off of him as he tried to get up he caught enough of a shadow out of the corner of his eye to get his sword up. There was a metal clang a few inches from his face as his trusted weapon intercepted her sword as she jumped down on top of him. “Case in point.” Owen grunted as he pushed her away, trying to use those couple of extra seconds to free himself as best as he could.

    “Oh boo hoo,” Victoria said as she came at him again. He was on full defense mode at the moment as he tried to figure out if anything broke from the fall while trying to keep his head om his shoulders at the same time. Never a good combination. Not feeling anything out of place Owen stepped up his attack surprising her. Enough that she started backing away. She tripped on an old ceiling joist that was behind her and fell backwards. Not even waiting to see if this was a trap our not Owen raised his sword seeing nothing but her exposed neck.

    Then he felt it. Victoria felt it as well and smiled. Another buzz that came out of no where as he halted what would have been, should have been, a killing blow. A basic instinct based on a fear nearly every immortal had about being challenged again right after absorbing the power of another one. But it wasn't like he usually felt another immortal presence, like he would on he street. Not like one who's Quickening would intermingle with his once the two almost mystical fields crossed. No this was almost like one just blinked into existence, like one who had just woken...

    Horror filled him as his arm lowered and he look at Victoria, who's grin just grew bigger and bigger as she watched him realize what was happening. In almost a whisper he uttered, “You didn't.”

    She got to her feet, that damnable smile still on her face. “Just giving my darling daughter what she always wanted.” Not even hearing that dark voice laughing in the back of his mind he Owen yelled and swung widely with his long sword. She read it easily and backed away. “I wonder how long she'll live after this is over,” she taunted as she ran down the hallway with Owen right on her heels.

    Janet breathed in hard as everything in her body seemed to start up all at once. None of them had ever explained what this felt like. It was nothing she want to experience again. In her confused state she was briefly aware if Jin casting a glance her way before returning to whatever he was looking at. Then she was aware at how different things seem to be. Almost sharper than they were before. And of the sensation that was currently attacking her from the inside. “Your teacher came,” Jin had said after a bit. “The fight is still going on.” She just stared at him while he continued talking. “Having never really him in a duel I can't really say who the smaller confines Victoria has them in would favor.”

    She heard the words but barely registered their meaning as whatever she was feeling still assaulted her. A sharp memory hit her like a bullet as she grabbed her chest. Her mother stabbed her, in the heart. She had died. Now she wasn't, now she was immortal. That thing she was feeling it was what her mother and the other felt when they sensed another one of their kind. Her kind, she was one of them now. She should have been overjoyed since this was what she wanted all along. But Janet felt hollow, angry. She looked at Jin, focusing on him truly since she woke up. “You let this happen,” she said.

    Jin looked at her with sorrowful eyes, “She acted before I could realize what she was planning to do. I apologize for letting this life fall on your young shoulder. You deserved a better fate than this one.”

    “You let it all happen,” she said as an anger she never felt before started to rise inside her. “Letting her beat me. Lett Nathan fuck me whenever he wanted.” She got to her feet visibly shaking. “You were suppose to be in charge of all of this and you just let it happen to me!”

    “Janet,” Jin said firmly, “you're still in a state of shock over your reawakening. Just calm down and we'll talk.” She may have been a new immortal but she had been training for most of her life. Reaching behind her head for the scabbard hidden in her shirt she pulled her sword. Jin pulled his as well but didn't hold it up in a defensive position, just down at his side. “I do not wish to fight you.” Janet went at him any way.

    Elsewhere in the building Owen and Victoria still fought. He realized she more than had the home filed advantage as she apparently knew every nook and cranny in this hallway they were in. Even had a few surprises laying in wait, and not all of them were set by her. She slashed at a pipe and nearly boiling hot steam attacked him causing him to back up from the pain. He didn't have enough time to get his bearing as she came through as she came through the steam cloud. Barely getting his long sword up in time “Getting slow at your old age?”, she taunted. Tasting the hate he pushed her back and swung low. She easily jumped over the attack and he swiftly got his blade back up to counter her's. “So how often do you dream about me?”

    “Don't flatter yourself,” he spat s he went at her again. She was fighting smart, kept her distance, only going in for an attack when she had him rattled enough to do so. And she was rattling him in that there was no question. On any other occasion he would have ignore the remarks, fight past him. Get this fight back on his terms. Usually. Usually there wasn't something inside of him spurning on his hatred, making that flame rise higher and more fierce inside of him with each passing moment. Something he was barely able to control since he knew letting the hate overtake him would untimely cause his death. At her hands. The hands that killed Himiko. The hatred grew even faster.

    He yelled and swung widely, right at her neck. Victoria was able to block it and twist the point of the sword down to the ground. Grabbing his wrist she quickly got got both swords back up and crossed behind her head. Owen glared at her only to realize what she did right before she blew him a kiss. “Good night.” She spun him out as she pushed him away and swung her sword with all she had.

    Her blade stopped. She looked on in disbelief as Owen stood there. Face in a wince Owen opened an eye. He was till alive. Her sword was touching his neck, the edge was just starting to dig into his flesh. His sword, however, was up just enough to get in the way. He let out the breath he was holding before pushing her blade away. She just stepped back as he slowly turned his head to look at her, a fresh determination in his eyes. “She look at her sword then at him as he backed away. “That's... that's supposed to be...”

    “Unbeatable?”, he finished for her as he followed her. “Supposed to be yeah. But you see I knew the guy who invented it. He even told me how to beat it. And it is simple as hell.” Using the edge of his blade he knock her's away. “You just have to know it's coming, then you have a chance to block it.”

    “Why would he tell you that?”, she demanded as she looked around, trying to find anything to use as an advantage. “Why would he give that secret up?”

    He looked at her, a darkness growing in his eyes, “He was my brother-in-law.” A nearly primal scream escaped his throat as he charged at her again. She was faster spotting a stairway leading up and ran up it at the same time he brought his sword in a motion that might have cleaved her in half if it connected. Snorting he gave chase, blocking a horizontal swing as he reached the top.

    Chasing her across the main lobby Janet and Jin were still in combat having reached the upper balcony of the room. Jin could see how good she was. Even saw hints of Omar's influence in her fighting style now. But she was still a new immortal, and one still in a rage. Jin was older and had absorbed more Quickening than he cared to count. But power alone wasn't enough to win a battle. He himself had lead successful raids against stronger armies. His main advantage right now was his mind and experience., which had in spades over the young woman. Janet had a good mind as well but she was too unfocused, concentrating on her anger, which would make her an easy kill in the right hands.

    But he wasn't going to kill this girl. No he was going to let Janet wear herself out, let the anger pass before trying to talk her down again. Even if he had to wound her to do, even have her die again in order to properly subdue her. And if this McAllister was victorious hopefully he would understand his reasoning. And if McAllister wasn't victorious then he was fully prepared to defend Janet against the woman who defiled the word “mother” with everything that she did. “I understand your anger,” he said in an attempt to get through to her as she seemed to slow down her attacks. Perhaps if he did it enough she would finally listen. “And I fully take any blame in not stopping what had happened to you.” Her attacks started to grow wilder, no sloppier, as her anger apparently grew. Jin now fully realized his mistake in not following his better judgment and try to stop the actions against her.

    Knocking each one away he moved at the last second. Her blade going past him he struck out with the tip of his blade and pierced her in the side. Regretting the pain he was causing her he knew it was for the best at the moment. He had to try and incapacitate her before she became a danger to herself in this situation. He saw her muscles tense and knew she was going to lash out. And that when he realized he made an error in his tactic. When he pierced her side he was standing slightly behind her but still well inside her range as she swung her sword back and it bit into his neck.

    On the lower floor Owen and Victoria had made there way to the other wing as their fight continue. Both only pausing as they felt the Quickening. If the strength of what they were feeling wasn't enough to give away who lost the scream they were hearing cemented it. “She won?”, Victoria uttered, but not in a proud way. But in a way that gave away her complete and total shock of the discovery.

    “Guess you thought she be an easy target then once she became immortal,” Owen spat with a venom that wasn't there before. A venom that was pushing his anger and hate even more. She blocked the incoming blow, barely holding her ground from the force behind it. He came at her with ever increasing force and ferocity. He seemed to get wilder with each passing moment, the look in his eyes seemed to wilder and wilder with each one. Then he started raining down blows on top of her until her defenses broke and with an animalistic type of roar kicked her hard in the stomach. She stumbled backwards trying to keep her balance, and more importantly the sword in her hand but eventual fell to the ground.

    Where in the hell was this coming from she wondered to herself. There was anger, which she saw in spades at the beginning of the fight, then there was whatever the hell this was. She looked up to see where he was, but he stood where he was, breathing heavily. Some sort of shadow crossed his face from the flickering lights, making him look like someone else for the briefest of instants. Enough so she looked on in horror, “What are you.?

    “What am I? A beast.” He slowly walked toward her causing her to crawl back. The tip of his sword scraped against the ground, the sound making her want to cover her ears. With a maniacal glint in his eye a smile that was foreign, almost unnatural to his face started to spread. “A demon.” An eerie, otherworldly laugh seem to come from him as he swung his sword down at her again. Victoria rolled out of the way and tried to run. Owen sword beat against the walls behind her as he tried to decapitate her with each swing. Looking back she saw a look akin to a wild animal staring right back at her, that smile still plastered to his face. And for the first time in a long time she knew fear.

    “Running out of places to hide?”, Owen taunted her. He swung his long sword again and barely missed removing a limb as she hurriedly backed away. She looked around as best as she could and tried ot keep an eye on him at the same time. She say a adjacent hallway, it led to a maze of hallways and the way out if her panicky mind remembered right. Scanning the hallway she saw another pipe and struck it with her sword. More steam rushed out causing Owen to back up by surprise. It was quickly over and as the air cleared she was gone.

    “No,” he growled as he stepped forward. There were too many doors. And the steam deafened him enough that he couldn't hear where she went. “No!” which door to choose , the wrong one and she could, no she would get away. He looked at each door seething. He wanted her head, any head! Then he stopped and slowly turned his head to look back at the way leading to the main lobby No, there was another option here.

    Still where she was on the ground Janet still couldn't get up. That was nothing like she ever imaging a Quickening could feel. She witness her mother absorb another immortal's essence over the years and it always looked painful. But nothing she witness felt like what she experienced. But she had to get up since she was still feeling another immortal close by, but there was no sounds of a fight that she could tell. There wasn't another quickening that she could hear. At least she thought she would have heard it. Finally sitting upright, although it was still a bit of a struggle, was when she heard somebody come up the stairs in front of her. It was McAllister, at first she was happy, he did come for her. But that happiness disappeared as she saw the look on his face. It was hard, emotionless. Except his eyes, they seemed hungry and locked right on her.

    “Mr. McAllister?”, she asked but no answer was coming forth, “Owen?”. She kept looking him in the eyes as her hand went looking for the handle of her sword. As impossible as she wanted to believe, something that went against every memory she had of the mam, she knew, just new that he wanted to take her head. He suddenly ran toward her and stomped his foot on the blade of her sword as soon as she got a grip on it. His face started to twist into a sinister smile as he stared her down. Her arms and legs suddenly moved on their own as she crawled backwards to get away from him. He just watched, almost amused as she banged into a wall, startling her self. Taking her eyes off of him only momentarily to see what she hit but quickly turned back toward of him in case he got any closer.

    Owen kicked her sword even further out of her reach. Brandishing his sword he walked toward her. The tip of his blade lowered and scraped against the floor. That sound seemingly made him stop in his track. He started looking conflicted and confused as he looked down at his sword. His breathing started to get heavier with each passing second. Then he turned and threw his sword down the hall, “NO!” She watched him pace back and forth clutching at his head. Finally he stopped and reluctantly looked back at her. He looked afraid as well.

    Taking a step toward her Janet tried to crawl deeper into the wall. Seeing her reaction made him stop. So instead he squatted down where he was. Right, although he still looked conflicted, now he was looking like the teacher she remembered. After a bit he looked over at what used to be Jin. Finally looking at her all he could say was, “That first one a bitch huh?”

    Confused for a moment she quickly realized he meant the Quickening, or at least hoped he did. “Does it get any better?”

    He only had one answer he could give her. “No, you just learn to brace for it better.” Standing up caused her to flinch back again. “I'm... going to call somebody. A friend of mine. She's a little more trustworthy than I am right now.” Slowly he backed away and searched himself for his phone. God hopefully he didn't lose it when he fell down that... no here it was. Calling Susan he waited for an answer.

    “Owen?”, she said expectedly.

    “It's me,” he answered. “She got away. I was,” he looked back at Janet, “I was too late to stopping her from awakening Janet.”

    “Oh Owen,” she said.

    “I told you were this place is at right? Swing by the church and get the Father to come along. I'm hoping she'll trust him right now more than than she's trusting me.”

    “I'll do it,” Susan told, obviously confused by the request, “but what happened? Owen what happened?”

    He still heard that dark voice. Now stronger than it ever was.. Telling him, no screaming at him, to turn toward the girl. Finish her off To take her Quickening. “Susan... I... I think I need help. There's something inside... I can't control it anymore. I need help.”

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