masterofgunfu: (Default)
"What happened to barely winning?" Jim growled at Kate, Curran, and Dali as they came back from the first match of our team.

We had two qualifying bouts, a semi-final, and then the big match to get through with all seven members of our team intact, but we couldn't field the entire team for each of the first three fights. Instead, we opted to split our team pretty much in half and Kate, Curran, and Dali fought our first match, and it had been a glorious smack down.

"You said sloppy!" Kate replied in mild outrage. "Look, I didn't even use my sword; I hit him with my head, like a moron."

"A man with a sword attacked you and you disarmed him and knocked him out cold in under two seconds," Jim snapped back before turning to Curran.

The Beast Lord shrugged. "It's not my fault that he didn't know how to fall."

Jim's gaze slid from Curran to Dali. "What the hell was that?"

"Crimson Jaws of Death."

"And were you planning on letting me know that you can turn people's elbows backward?"

"I told you I did curses."

"You said they don't work!"

"I said they don't always work. This one worked apparently." Dali wrinkled her forehead. "It's not like I even get to use them against live opponents anyway. It was an accident."

Jim looked at them. The clipboard snapped in his hands. He turned around and very deliberately walked away.

"I think we hurt his feelings," Dali said, looking at his retreating back, before sighing and going after him.

Curran looked at Kate. "What the hell was I supposed to do, catch the were-bison as he was falling?"
masterofgunfu: (Default)
The next morning I stood outside what had once been called the Cooler, Atlanta's ice skating rink. It was brick and oval in shape and rose at least four stories, stretching into the morning sky for what seemed like forever. Buildings this size were rare in Atlanta. Magic had a way of eating and collapsing anything past two stories.

A hundred yards from the Arena was a wooden tower and perched atop was a set of mounted machine guns and cheiroballistra. Tall enough to cover nearly the whole of the parking lot and close enough to cover the roof of the Arena. I also spied the distinctive red and black uniforms of the Red Guard. In the highly competitive field of mercenary work, there were few corporations and among them, the Red Guard were the best. From every report I've read and every encounter I've had with them, they've earned their pay and reputation. Looks like blood sport paid well though, as the Red Guard charged a premium.

OK, enough rumination. I stepped over a two-foot wide, fluorescent while line (obviously marking where the Red Guard's responsibility began and ended) and headed for the service entrance. I doubted the fighters were expected to enter through the front doors.

I quickly found the check in and gave my name and team to the woman working the checkin desk; Red Guard, again, and someone high in the chain of command, if I didn't miss my guess.

"'The Fools'? Is that a description of your team's intelligence or your need to amuse?" She asked me with a completely blank face.

I smiled, completely friendly-like. "No clue. I wasn't part of that decision."

"Fair enough. Go through those doors and I'll have someone meet you to escort you to your team's rooms," She said, eyeing my three duffles worth of weapons. "And just to be clear, there is no fighting outside of the sand. During a match, you guys can try and kill each other all you want. Outside of one, stay out of each other's way. That clear?"

"Crystal."
masterofgunfu: (A-oh shit)

[OOC: All dialog and situations taken from Magic Strikes. I've merely switched the POV from Kate to Andrea.]

It'd been a rough few days for me. Yes, Kate was a big girl and could take care of herself—heck, she likely could take better care of herself than I could of myselfbut I still worried. I knew all too well how quickly things can turn in this world. Regardless, I was relieved when she finally called me at home three days after she went off the reservation.

"I've got your results right here," I said after we had exchanged out initial 'heys'. "It's not silver. It's electrum."

Electrum was nasty stuff for those who went furry. Lyc-V has trouble with all coinage metals but silver typically is the most bothersome. That has more to do with its availability though because electrum added magic to the toxicity mix.

"You don't rank high enough to know the rest, so they won't tell you," I continued, "but I do. This particular alloy is very old and very poisonous to shapeshifters. You know how high my silver tolerance is. I couldn't even hold it, Kate. Do you remember the agreement we made during the flare?"

"Yes," Kate said carefully.

"There is only one person who has access to this allow in a large quantity. The composition is very specific. It's—"

"About fifty-five percent gold, forty-five percent silver, three percent copper, and the rest is random crap."

"Yes," I said confirming what Kate obviously already knew. It was Samos electrum, from the coins struck on a small Greek island in the North Aegean Sea in 600 BC. Which meant there was a very good chance the electrum had originally come from Roland. Why he was giving a fighting team in the Midnight Games very expensive and rare metals was another thing.

"I guess you know what that means, then," I added to fill the silence.

"Yes. Thank you," Kate replied.

"Be careful," I said just before Kate hung up.

masterofgunfu: (Default)
[OOC: All dialog and situations taken from Magic Strikes. I've merely switched the POV from Kate to Andrea.]

It was Sunday morning when I walked into Kate's office saying, "Raphael called. Apparently an order just went down the chain of command." I had to pause when Kate gave me a 'Raphael, eh?' look; to which I replied with a, 'Go ahead and ask, I dare you' look.

Her look was understandable, given what I had said at lunch the day before, but after we had deserted her with the Beast Lord (which she totally deserved for waving Raphael over), Raphael had invited me to go book shopping. I felt a little guilty for using his attraction to me to gain information, so I had decided to play along and he had been a perfect gentleman. Didn't try any moves. No getting into my personal space, no casual brushing against me, nothing, just us looking for books. In fact, he played so nice, I gave him my phone numberswork and homewhen he asked. I knew it was never going to go anywhere, I wasn't going to sleep with him and he'd lose interest, but that didn't mean I couldn't have a little fun, right?

"The Pack?" Kate asked, bringing me back to her office.

"Yeah. Any member of the Pack who attacks you is going to have a long, unpleasant meeting with Curran."

Kate grimaced and raised her pen in a mock salute. "Yipee. I had no idea I was a fragile flower in need of His Majesty's protection."

"Have you been attacked?"

"Yep. I was good and didn't kill anybody."

That sounded like a story so I closed the door behind me, stepped forward, and sat in her client chair. "What's going on?"

Kate sat a moment, deciding if she wanted to spill, before standing and activating her office's wards. A wall of orange surged up to seal the door and all the low level office noise disappeared. Then, she leaned over to unlock the top drawer of her desk, removed a thin case folder, and dropped it onto the desk. "Do the hand."

I was tempted to raise my eyebrows but instead raised my hand. "I will not disclose the information I am about to receive, unless authorized by the person who surrenders this information to my discretion. I will not use this information for personal gain, even under duress, coercion, or to save myself or others from imminent physical harm. I do so swear by my honor as a knight of the Order."

It was a hell of an oath. More people flunked out of the Academy on oath breaking than any other test of will. When you've been beaten, drowned, whipped, and then branded with a hot iron, most people will say anything just to make the torture stop. There was a narrow band of pale skin on my back, despite the Lyc-V in my system; a reminder of where a hot iron had kissed me. It proved I'd passed. I knew Kate had a identical scar. We both would remember the secrets we had keep for our test oaths to the end of our days and never reveal them. Not even through a stray thought.

Kate nodded and handed me the file. I read it, the abridged version of the Midnight Games. I knew there was a bigger file locked away but Kate didn't have enough clearance for that. Of course, I could accidentally mention any stray information she might need.

Once I was through reading what was there, I looked up at Kate and arched an eyebrow. Then she told me about the rest. How Jim, her old mercenary partner and the Pack chief of security had planted a team in the Midnight Games, suspecting outside shapeshifters of using the Games as a way to check the Pack's strength. Which was really bad. That meant the Pack's chief of security was breaking the Beast Lord's first law; no one touches the games.

But that wasn't it. Their plants in the Game kept getting killed and they hadn't told Curran. And the latest was Derek, Curran's protégé. Well, Derek wasn't dead yet, but he was severely injured. Kate told me of this team competing in the Games called the Reapers and her best guess is that they cornered Derek, beat him, broke him, and then poured molten silver on his face. Derek currently lay in a coma and Doolittle, the Pack's senior med-mage, couldn't figure out why Lyc-V wasn't healing the damage.

Then she told me about how Curran had been sneaking into her home to "make sure she was alright" and how he walked in, bold as you please, last night to scare a few years off her life. After wrestling and fighting, Curran had kissed her and by the look on her face I could tell it was bad.

"Shit. Fuck shit," was all I could manage.

"'Shit fuck' would also have been accepted." Kate replied with a sigh.

"The head of Pack's security has gone rogue, Derek is near death, and you're mated to the Beast Lord."

"Jim hasn't gone rogue; he's just not following orders at the moment."

I gave Kate a look. "That's what going rogue is!"

"And for the record, I'm not mated to Curran."

I just shook my head. "What planet are you from? He's slipping into your apartment to tuck your blanket in at night. That's the protective urge at work. He thinks you're mated."

"He can think whatever he wants. That doesn't make it true."

"I just realized: he's treating you like a shapeshifter alpha. You're playing by the rules of not-quite-human courtship here. Has he asked you to make him a dinner yet? Dinner is a big deal."

"No, he hasn't. Look, I'm not a shapeshifter and he's dated humans before."

"That's just it," I said, tapping my fingers on the desk to get her attention. "A direct come-on like that is a challenge. That's how an alpha male would approach an alpha female. They are all about power struggles and the hunt, and they don't do subtle well. I realize this sounds twisted, but it's a backhanded compliment on his part."

"He can take his compliment and shove it where the sun don't shine."

"Can I quote you on that?" I asked with a smirk.

"Be my guest. I've worked too hard to be his passing fancy."

A sudden thought made me frown and I had to ask. "So where does all this leave you? Are you going to disappear for a while?"

Kate nodded. "I have to see this through, and I can't do it with Curran breathing down my neck."

"Need any help?"

"Yes. I'm putting in a request to analyze some silver samples to the computer database. It might take a day or two to process. If you could pick it up…."

I waved my hand dismissively and scowled. "Of course I'll do it. I meant shoot-somebody type of help."

"Oh. Not at the moment. But I'll call you if I need a bullet through somebody's head."

"You do that. Try not to get killed."

"Will do."

We looked at each other and I felt like this would have been where we hugged had we been hugging sorts of people. There was once last thing I had to know though. "So how was it? Kissing Curran?"

"I can't let I'm kiss me again, because if he does, I'll sleep with him."

I blinked a few times. "Well, at least you know where you stand."
masterofgunfu: (A-Yes keep talking)
[OOC: All dialog and situations taken from Magic Strikes. I've merely switched the POV from Kate to Andrea.]

It was Friday lunch and I could tell something was bothering Kate. We'd been having lunch every Friday afternoon since Kate not only saved my life but kept my secret. She had her own secrets, some of which I could almost guess the nature of, so we were kind of keeping each other's secrets, but she didn't have to save me when she did and so I decided we needed to know each other better. Plus, what friendship isn't made from shared secrets. True, those secrets were usually shared between the friends but I didn't really care. I needed a friend and from what I could see, Kate didn't have anyone either. So I made Friday lunches a thing.

"The Midnight Games," she said finally.

I finishing chewing my gyros as I thought of all I knew about them. "One of my mentors was in it. The Games are held in the Arena, a bunker of some kind. It's run by the House, which always consists of seven members. They make most of their money off betting on fighters. There are individual bouts, but the big banana is their team tournament. It's held once a year. Fourteen teams participate. Each team consists of seven fighters, all with specific roles."

"They enjoy the number seven, don't they?" Kate quipped and took a bite of tzatziki laden gyros. I tried to think of what the roles were.

"My mentor fought as a shoote…" I started to say before I caught sight of the tall man with dark hair lounging across the street. Raphael. Damn. I had been avoiding him. He was bad news, plain and simple. He had 'bad-boy-let-me-make-trouble-for-you' eyes and just being near him was unsettling. He made me want things I couldn't have. The simple fact was, I was a mess. I was held together by stubbornness, duck tape, and not a whole lot else. And he had a way of pulling that apart. "Can you believe it? I think he's stalking me," I said with a hiss.

Kate, my BFF and greatest ally, waved him over.

"What are you doing?!?" I asked, hoping the hint of panic I heard in my voice wasn't noticeable.

"I want to find out if he knows anything about the Midnight Games. He'll tell me anything if you let him sit with us. I think he really likes you."

"Yeah," I said with scorn. What was this, middle school?

"You really don't like him?" Kate asked confused.

That was the trouble. I did like him. Badly. "I don't want to be his TWT-IHFB."

"What does that mean?"

"That Weird Thing I Haven't Fucked Before."

Kate choked on her gyros at that, which served her right. Then Raphael showed up and I had to focus. I could do this. I was trained in interrogation techniques. "Hello. Andrea. Kate. Didn't expect to see you here."

Oh, so smooth. "Sit down," I hissed and he did so, perching on the edge of the seat and setting the heavy backpack beside him.

We sat there like that for a few moments before Kate asked, "What's in the backpack?"

"Portable m-scanner," Raphael said. "Picked it up from the shop. Been in there ever since the flarethey couldn't test to see if it worked until a magic wave hit."

He sounded tired and unsure of himself as he spoke. It made me want to hold his hand and tell him it'd be okay. I hit that thought in the solar plexus and stood before anymore like it decided to show. "I'm going to get desert. Kate, you want anything?"

"No," she said.

"You?" I nearly barked at Raphael.

"No." He answered so I spun on my heal and marched off. Downstairs at the restaurants counter I studied the desert menu and a wicked idea came to mind. So Kate wants information from him, eh? And he thinks he can handle me? Let's find out.

I climbed back upstairs carrying a milkshake and a bowl of peach slices, and was just in time to see Raphael shove a pen into his backpack and look shifty. Kate was looking rather focused as well, which made me glare at the pair of them. "Give," I heard her say, as I took my seat, Raphael replied, "The Midnight Games are forbidden. By the direct order of the Beast Lord, no member of the Pack may participate, aid, or bet on the Midnight Games."

"That's it? That's all you got?" Kate said. Raphael shrugged, so Kate gave me a pleading look. Game on.

I took a slice of peach and licked my lips slowly; seemingly oblivious to the pointed stare Raphael was now giving me. He, and any information he had, was mine. I bit into the slice of peach and licked my lips again. "How come they're forbidden? Is there a story behind it?"
masterofgunfu: (Default)
"It's a big responsibility," I told the little girl as we watched the little balls of fur and feathers tear at the jerky I had passed over. "If you don't train them right, I'll have to come back and take care of it. I wouldn't want to, but it's my job. People deserve to be safe."

"I promise!" Evie replied with eyes nearly brimming with tears.

Things had been quiet for nearly two months after the flare of magic and the near destruction of Atlanta by the Irish sea demons. Magic had faded, leaving technology dominate around the clock. Cars worked, radios played, and TV stations were actually able to broadcast for more than a few hours. Heck, two nights ago they even played Terminator 2, proving that things really could be worse than the world we lived in. Then a magic wave hit and things were back to normal…well, what amounts to normal in this post-shift world. The first 18 hours after the return of magic waves, things were chaotic and so the Order was in high gear; cleaning up after all the magic left behind. I was kept in the armory, handing out weapons and ammo to the knights who were out making a real difference in the world.

Now it was the day after the first magic wave and the Knight-Protector, my boss, decided I could finally go home. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? Okay, I do love my jobif I would be allowed to do itit's just my boss I could do without.

Anyway, on my way home, I came across the residents of an apartment complex searching for a little girl who had disappeared a few hours ago. Funny how when the world goes to shit, we're back to the village raising, caring, and protecting the child. Yes, there were still assholes in the world but there were also a lot of good people and good communities.

I, being a decent person and a knight of the Order, immediately joined in the hunt and even managed to find the girl. She had found a gryphon nest with two nestlings and their mother shot. At least the nestlings were old enough to tear off and chew their own meat. The knight in me knew this was a bad idea. Gryphons are classified as dangerous but then again so were pitt bull terriers, once, and everyone knows it's how you raise them that defines if they become a danger or not. So I decided to give the girl and the gryphons a chance.

"OK, and I'll help you when I can. I live just down the street anyway, so I'll be checking on you. Got it?"

"I got it," she replied in a tone that sent the nestlings squealing as she leap up and hugged my legs. I froze, both in surprise and uncertainty, before I rubbed her head. That's what you do when kids hug you right?

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Andrea Maria Nash

August 2014

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