Chapter VII - Healing Pains

This is what you came here for. Adventure, intrigue, murder, mystery and action - plus a healthy dose of boring everyday stuff. One continuous story-line, broken up into smaller themes for easier consumption.
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TennyoCeres84
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Neasa nodded approvingly. "Whatever we can do to throw them off is the best we can do," she said.

Meris nodded in agreement with the plan, but she then turned her gaze to Nereus. "There's something we also haven't considered since you escaped. With your absence, that left a void. What if Buck in our son's body filled that void and decided to make a move? What if the Void Weavers Anjali and Coach saw were affiliated with him?" she addressed.

Hanako sighed. "That's also another possibility. With Chambers weakened by that potion, it's feasible he sent that imposter in his place," she mused.

Neasa frowned. "What kind of power level does he have? Is he as capable as Nereus?" she asked the couple.

The Archmage tightened her lips. "Close enough to be a concern, from what I remember. If we hadn't realized that Chambers swapped Chauncey's soul for Buck's, I'd say the body would fit him like a glove."

With regard to Gutierrez, Alastriona frowned in Archie's direction. "Gentleman, my arse," she spat. "He seems all polite and cordial, but I wouldn't trust him as far as I can throw him. He and his wife had an air about them that they expected to be treated like royalty. I seriously wouldn't be surprised if they made their entrance during Sophia's moment of silence on purpose."

Aspasia sighed as they discussed all of this. "The Choosing will have everyone's attention. Something like this only comes along so often. With Azazel and the others participating, things might considerably change for all we know," she observed, then nodding to Aidan. "We'll need to listen and keep an eye on our persons of interest, but try to steer things in our favor, if at all possible."
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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"If it comes down to it, we could fight back as hard as anyone," Marius noted in regards to power levels. "The issue would be getting the fight away from collateral damage, and I'm sure they'll use that against us."

"Cuz we're the 'good guys', right?" Charles asked sarcastically, making air quotes around good guys. "Pff. Maybe Hauser 'n me ain't on y'all's levels, but we'll stick it to 'em when it counts."

"Yes, but we can't have an air-to-air gun fight over the city," Marius pointed out.

"Might not have a choice," Preston mused. "Jenkins is right, morons will use morality against us; try and take fight away from civilians, morons target civilians until we come back. They don't care about anything but getting us."

"An' Drakey won't let us jus' leave, either," and Charles rolled his eyes. "Unless we go high enough tha' Black Speech won't affect no one down below?"

"Dragon-shout them into water and let them evaporate on the way down, or something like that?" Marius suggested. "Not a bad idea."
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Alex's comment made Bucky snort in amused approval. "And there's the family resemblance," he noted. "Sophia didn't care much for dragons or supernaturals who don't make their intentions clear none. Behave, and you had a perfect companion for any stroll through the park. We sat together under a few trees, on occasion. Talked a bit. I was happy to take her mind off of what makes this town tick, from time to time."

Archie nodded, his shoulders moving in a mute wistful sigh. "It is my hope you won't begrudge us our efforts to lighten your load, as it were, Alastriona."

Nereus, in the meantime, stuck his hands in his pockets. He looked back to the group once Archie had spoken. "My son is a labor of love, my friends. He has all my power, all my dedication and all of his mother's drive - I feel it as deeply as I do my own heartbeat. Unfortunately, his body was usurped. Nikolaas Buck is bound to have some of our respective abilities, but they aren't his - not entirely. They're like tools he's stolen - and I'm hopeful we'll eventually restore them to their rightful owner. I wouldn't consider him handicapped, however - not in the slightest. He's grown in my son's body, he's had centuries to make it almost entirely his."

He lightly frowned. "I don't know how to put it into words, exactly - neither Meris or I were made to use the Black Speech in the way the Loyalists do. I don't doubt he sees himself as powerful, but he's only tapping into a fraction of Chauncey's total power. I've had long years to suffer seeing Buck puppet my son around, and I've always deeply known that something of the man he could've been still remained. Something that attests of the Speech's power when used for Good."

The former Augur brought his hands together. "Once both halves are united, Lucian will find an equal in his abilities, and we'll present something and someone else for our enemies to fear."

Three crossed his arms on his chest as he listened to Charles and Marius. "It's not that I don't want you to go, Charles - I just know you're especially capable here, with Abraham - and I wouldn't leave Hope to Doherty, nevermind how comfortable he's gotten with his own powers. I know Magnus Tower is jam-packed, but..."

This was delicate. He didn't want to say he no longer trusted Tom implicitly. He settled with a deflection, instead. "Herbert is still more of a diplomat than a fighter, Melmoth and Abdiel aren't always around anymore," he said, gesturing to the pair, "Belphegor's interests align with our own but he's Sloth, so we don't have any guarantees as to his willingness to act, and Randolph only has power as a Judge. He could protect us, but he never could take the fight to anyone directly."

Obviously, the warthog picked up on this. "I'm still here, Aidan. I'm not leaving anytime soon, believe me.
- I know, it's just that you're as essential on the side of diplomacy now as you were on the front. I don't want to come back to London and to hear about Alice tearing a hole through the tower because her Eldritch puberty kicked in or with Envy thralls making impossible demands. Herbert might be Pride, you're still the face of demonic integration as a concept."

Aidan's intentionally ego-stroking argument seemed to have its effect, Tom lightly shifting his gip on his staff. "Well, I suppose you're right," he said, allowing himself a smile. "It's a good thing that Herbert didn't follow along, I don't think he would've appreciated hearing you say this."

Nereus looked vaguely puzzled as this finished, a look that Vernon and Eirean shared. Three settled with a side-glance to Marius, seeing as he'd shared his apprehensions concerning the warlock with the vampire. He couldn't speak openly, but they'd be free to ask Vlastos for a primer on the subject sometime later.
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Alex smiled at Bucky and Archie kindly. "I don't mind you helping me. I want friends, but I also want allies to help me look after this city. Saying Hope is a handful is understatement," she chuckled.

Meris lightly squeezed Nereus' hand in support. "In due time, dear. I mainly brought it up so that we wouldn't be surprised if Buck does turn up."

Picking up on Three's intentions, Aislinn raised her hand. "I'll also be here to help keep an eye on things. We'll make sure things run as smoothly as possible while you're headed to London."

Ciaran tilted his head. "I'm staying here as well while Bucky and Neasa help run interference."

It didn't take long for the young dryad to pick up game of subterfuge in Aidan's ego stroking. She was reminded of a game she saw during her brief stay in Blue Paradise when a con artist moved a small object under three bowls. Her instinct about Tom was right, and she would also ask Marius as to what happened with the warthog.
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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"Abe's a'ready plannin' ter hit up London, though," Charles pointed out, "s'why he left early, 'member?"

Marius was quick to pick up on the subtleties at hand, though outwardly he rolled his eyes. "Where IS dear Wormsy, anyway? Also off getting ready for London?"

"Since when is 'e yer 'dear Wormsy'?" Charles asked, turning a slightly incredulous look towards him.

"Since we went through therapy together at the hands of Shen Long, that's when," Marius replied, cocking an eyebrow in return.

Preston, for his part, looked agitated. But it was rare that he didn't. "Wanna get moving, already?" he muttered, not meeting anyone's eyes yet giving them all an imploring look. "Stillness is death with morons after us!"
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Three gave Preston a look to be reassuring. "Herbert's gone back to Magnus Tower - he's got a law firm to take care of and an attendance record to furnish."

Melmoth scoffed in amusement at that. "I'll say - there hasn't been a day since the war ended that hasn't seen someone from old Grish's neck of the woods either relay some challenge from one of his underlings or show up on either my or Herbert's doorstep to demand asylum!"

Nereus frowned lightly. "Grish? Who's that? I'll confess I didn't entirely pay attention to Chambers' agents when they reported on our common threat, and California had its own issues with Pride Knights and castellans - but I didn't keep up on the local Infernal Who's Who, beyond the obvious shotcallers."

Carrie smiled at Marius. "I hope nobody here minds if I interject, but I saw the whole thing from Angel Time. I saw Grishnakhal get nominated by the Black Goat, saw his fortress rise and I saw how happy he was to be entrusted with some prisoners - and with Riona - thinking it might serve as a way to gain capital in the Vice.

I also saw Marius here kick the well-deserving culo of someone who's about as old as he is. Only the Burning Legion fights like it's worth a damn, idiot was so busy trying to stick to his sense of martial artistry and honor it didn't occur to him that an Ordo Dracul around Marius' age would be an effective combatant by default."

Nereus nodded. "And is he an immediate concern?"

Silva didn't reply, instead choosing to slide her gaze over to Marius, to let the man deliver his own assessment.

Archie, in the meantime, took this as a sign that they'd at least gone over the specifics of their next several moves. "Obsteperous Hellish bailey-keepers aside," he said, "I would say we've covered the basics, hm? You have your stations, things to prepare, the usual lot..."

Lucky nodded. "Yep; I'm with Drake on London, I wanna hear Jameson's sit-rep over a pint or two."
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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With things having been settled, Aspasia didn't add in her own experiences with Grish and looked back to Coach and Miranda. "Well, we know we need to be doing. I suppose Abigail will be sending our garments ahead of us, along with Azazel's. All that's left is packing whatever other essentials we'll need for London and getting our ride."

"I know we're not supposed to have weapons with us at the Choosing, but what should I do about Joyful Death? It doesn't feel right to leave it here," Miranda noted.

The Fauness pursed her lips thoughtfully. "They probably won't mind if you leave it in our room. If something dangerous does happen later, you'll have it ready."

Neasa looked over at Meris. "I'm thinking I could probably use some of your clothes to be able to resemble you more, Meris. That'll help with the illusion while we're traveling."

The older selkie nodded. "That's a good idea. I'll find something for you that I can do a resizing spell on."
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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"Staying in Hope," Preston declared. "Gonna fly chopper, shoot morons."

"I'll help too, of course," Marius added.

Charles looked uncertain. "I'll be at Magnus Tower, I'm guessin'?" and he looked to Three for confirmation.
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Aidan nodded in agreement, and made as if to step away from the gathering. "Well, I've got prepwork and a suitcase to pack. We'll be in London how long, exactly?"

Vernon pouted slightly. "In Faerie's own time scale, I would expect a day or two. The event itself should be short, but it is as you've already surmised; it provides political opportunities too great for unknown factions and old favourites of ours to miss. Besides, you're all fairly capable. I doubt anything is stopping anyone here from taking a jaunt across two Gates and back to Hope as soon as some urgent matter settles in."

As Haskill spoke, Three kept his mind on Jenkins. "Don't forget Randolph's concerns about Tom and Herbert," he sent him. "I know you feel like you do better on the field, but you're the only one here I'd trust to stand their ground against Herb or Tom, if things go down. Mantus might expect us to pull a heist against one of our own friends, but he forgets what you and I have. I've held Pride's Crown using the Black Speech, and you can probably see it, inspect it, without touching him. Get him to lower his guard for a bit, soften him up for you seeing as we don't have the same toolset. I'd suggest booze."

He flashed Charles a grin for a second. "Besides, I don't think the world's ever seen a drunken Prince before."

Outwardly, he turned his attention to Carrie. "You're coming with me; I want you to meet Mary. I think you'll like each other."

Silva's smile had a bit of an edge to it. "Already do," she said, "some of the women I most respected were on our old HVT list. Remember Sadira Al-Jilani?"

Gomez smirked at that, gesturing with a hand. "Palestinian girl, superpowered, Sandman-esque, right? She was one nasty fuckin' thorn in the Coalition's side, she was. None of the constructive aspects of the Palestinian side of the conflicts with Israel and the rest of the world, and an uncanny knack for gummin' up works and blastin' flesh off of NATO bones...
- That'd be her," noted Silva. "Nasty piece of work, sure, but she was a doer. Now, a native-born gwailo turned Triad boss and the virtual queen of the Shenzhen dev circle? Less nasty, but she's not the type to let things get in the way, either."

Three scoffed in agreement. "Shit no, she isn't. Hey Preston, how's about we all agree on the same time for our respective departures. Seeing as Carrie and I need to be in London for a bit before moving on to Faerie and I've already got a time set with Mary, I'm thinking we all book by 9 AM tomorrow. That doable?"
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Meris told Nereus that she was headed to her quarters to help pick out clothes for Neasa to borrow for the ruse and then to pack. Neasa followed after her after telling Buck similarly and that she would meet up with him later.

Aspasia looked back to the gathering and looked to Coach and Miranda. "I think we can head back and pack, unless there's anything else you think need to be inquired about?" she asked the two of them.

Miranda shook her head. "No, I'm good. I'm ready to pack my suitcase, Mom," she commented.

Overhearing Aidan's discussion with Preston, Hanako glanced back at Matriel and looked to Nereus. "Will you be ready to go about half an hour before 9? Being a bit earlier will ensure we won't leave too early or too late. Even while in a feline form, you shouldn't tip your hand to your foe by setting out at the wrong time."
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