C.B. is standing near the fridge, clutching a can of Moxie. He rubs his face and sighs. "Maybe I should just...I should go home." He squints up at Haruki and adds, "Sorry, kid."
"I'll walk you, if you want," Haruki offers. "I'd offer to run with you instead, but... well..." he shrugs. "I like running. Running's good and makes me feel good. All that healthy living endorphins you know. You'd probably hate it. If you're going to go home and feel miserable, maybe we could watch tv or something?"
C.B. snorts, pouring more Moxie down his throat. Delicious, delicious Moxie. "You can run anywhere you want, Haruki, but the only running I ever do is from the pigs. I was planning to go home and feel miserable, yes. How'd you know?" Sarcasm! It's what's for dinner. Breakfast. And every meal in between. "Teevee's kind of broken, but. Come if you want. Stay if you don't want."
Haruki looks horrified as CB says his tv is broken. "If it's broken what do you watch your... shows on." It seems almost as if he was about to substitute another word instead and there is a twitch of his lips. "I have my phone. We can watch stuff on that, or listen to your old music. Or maybe you could read me some more of your book? I want to find out what happens to Ante, D and Carl."
The smell of blood and guts come with the people who are coming in, led, apparently, by Teagan. Hopefully they came in the back way. Teagan's got blood on their hands still, wet this time, and not dried like their mien usually shows. This, apparently, is the aftermath of the Ashen Hunt. Wordlessly, and blank-faced in a way that it takes a Mirrorskin to be truly blank-faced, they head for the sink, and without saying anything to anyone, they start washing their hands.
C.B. just sort of...blinks at Haruki. "Haruki, I don't watch 'shows'. I'm not interested in 'shows.' Television is just another method of mind control for the masses, don't you get that? Like the phone you want to watch stuff on. Come on, man, you should know better." But he softens a little, the lines in his brow smoothing out just a touch, at the mention of his book. "Aww, c'mon, you don't have to say that." Tiny, tiny smile though, as he drains his can of Moxie and goes to pick up the other can he threw around before preparing to depart. His head jerks up suddenly at the smell of blood...and the sight of Teagan. "Oh...Jesus, what the hell happened now?" He's not really very good at leaving well enough alone.
Dielle disappears in a shower of glitter.
@Emit "I want to hear you read," Haruki reassures CB. "Please? I want to know what happens next." But then, the door opens, and that smell is one that doesn't sit at all well with Haruki. He goes a shade of almost green and dry-heaves and he's... he should ask if people are okay but he can't, and his stomach roils and he just needs to get away from the smell. And so he's darting out the door.
-> >> Haruki to Here << <-============================================
Rolled 1 Success
< 5 5 8 >
==========================-> >> Resolve + Stamina - 3 No Flags << <-
Vorpal dodges around Haruki as he escapes, having paused for a few to ditch his armor someplace safe. He's a little behind Teagan, but -looks- fine with whatever went down. "There was a group of some nine murderers thought they were Hunters, chasing down us monsters in the shadows. Killed their way through the States for years before they came here and found folks that killed back." Vorpal throws himself down onto one of the overstuffed chairs, taking a load off while Teagan cleans up. "They're not going to be killing us any longer, needless to say."
C.B. watches Haruki run out the door. "Ah, fuck." He doesn't dash after him -- he needs to know what the fuck is going on here before he goes anywhere, so he quickly dashes off a text. Something he very rarely does! Then his brows raise at who comes in next. "Well, well, if it isn't His Vorpliness. This is about that Ashen Hunt of yours, isn't it." He doesn't sound impressed. "I thought that was sounded like some pretty goddamn savage stuff. But an eye for an eye is how we all roll around here, right?"
"Ashen Hunt happened," Teagan answers; most of the blood burned away on their Elemental Armor, and they just shrug. There isn't much reaction on their face to ... pretty much anything. "Sorry, I was just trained on getting everyone somewhere out of the weather, and somewhere safe. Sorry... Haruki. Hey, Ceebs." Their face stays blank in that way that Mirrorskins stay blank, reflecting the light back just... like nothing is happening at all. "They were tearing her fucking claws out."
-> >> Vorpal to Here << <-============================================
Rolled 1 Success
< 2 2 3 5 6 9 >
============================-> >> Resolve + Composure No Flags << <-
There's a clank actually, because behind Vorpal is Czcibor, who has no blood on him whatsoever, but who *does* have cat hair on his big wool coat. He smells strongly of vodka, and catches Haruki carefully before setting him aright. "Sorry," he says, quietly, and gets out of the kid's path. And then he comes through the door, too, and leans against it, eyes closed. "She'll be okay eventually, and that's the best that's going to come out of this whole fucking thing," he says. His accent's thicker, but his words aren't slurred.
Vorpal pauses and leans forward, head canted to the side as he starts to speak. "Forgive me, Mister Alexander, but perhaps I misheard. You seem to be ignoring the part where I mentioned there was an almost -ten strong- pack of -serial killers- focused on murdering -us- in this city, because I can't think of any other way your response would be "you Courtly folk sure are vicious" and not "my goodness gravy, I sure am glad you got to them before they tortured and killed their THIRD VICTIM in this city alone.""He throws himself back into his seat, his posture irritated in every line. "I don't expect you to kowtow or praise, but you can keep your politics to yourself. This wasn't an eye for an eye. To do that, we'd have to hunt down every member of every one of those nine families and kill them all. Then we'd be getting close to "eye for an eye." THIS was ending a years-long killing streak, and weaving it into a symbolic ceremony. Which is more important to you, the fact that nine serial killers are going to be prevented from slaughtering our kind for years to come? Or the fact it aligned with a celebration?"
He nods to Czcibor as he confirms the captive is gonna be alright. "Good. I saw her fingers. They were probably doing what they put Anne Marie through. I don't think she had much time left before they finished up."
"Tearing whose claws out?" C.B. looks quizzically in Teagan's direction. His eyes move quickly to Czcibor as he enters in next. When Vorpal calls him 'Mister Alexander,' though, he visibly winces. He stands there and hears Vorpal out, hands on hips, brow knit. Doesn't interrupt, but when Vorpal's said his piece, he replies: "No. I'm not gonna keep my politics to myself in a place /designed/ for free speech, thanks. I'm entitled to my goddamn opinion, which is that the fucking /monarch/ of the Freehold publically endorsed murder -- even if it's completely justified, righteous murder. Y'know, a lot of folks said an /awful lot/ of /awful things/ about the Viet Cong, but that didn't stop us from bombing the goddamn shit out of them. So, yeah. When policy and destruction mingle, I get just a /teeny/ bit antsy. I have a right to be." He tosses the Moxie cans in the recycling and sighs, muttering to himself as he prepares to leave.
Jenny enters through the front door. The closet (or possibly pantry) door, rather than the front, but la. The barefoot weedling brushes some unruly vines back behind her ears, straightening out the basket under one arm as she finally turns her attention to the room, noticing at the same time both the abbatoir aesthetic and the stench. "Holy shit. Johnny, the fuck?"
"He doesn't like it when anyone but Green calls him 'Mister Alexander,'" Teagan offers drily, scrubbing their hands until all the fresh blood is washed away, and all that's left is the dried blood under their nails and in the creases of their palms, just a permanent stain on their mien. "I'm not a member of the Freehold and I don't believe in freeholds and you know it. But I do understand when someone's gone too far, and I do understand when there's a danger to the all of us. And for all your moralizing, I was the one who took down the body of the girl they murdered, and I was the one who took the paper out her pocket which told us to stay out of Tamarack Falls or we'd be hunted. So frankly, freehold or not, these fuckers were gonna die. And if you wanna condemn that as mass murder or gasp about your stars and garters, go ahead. But they were gonna die. If not at the hands of a group of us, then slowly, one at a time, on the blade of my goddamned machete. Because that's my fucking job."
"So this was quicker and cleaner." Teagan sniffs, dries their hands off on the fronts of the black khakis which don't match anything else they ever wear, and fishes their vape out of their pocket. "They had pulled out some of her claws. They had something that let them see us. Some sort of ... token or object. So they were a danger to you, to me, to... Freehold or not. They weren't just killing us, they were torturing us. So yeah, someone had to call it. I don't begrudge Ashe Whelan it. It needed doing." Hey, wasn't that vape like all beat up? Someone made it new and shiny again, or bought them another one.
"Vorcyk~," the tin man says in a tired sort of sing-song, "I also did not agree with the method. I came along to heal ours, because it was the best I could do, when I could not stop what was going to happen. CB did not come; we have just invaded his space with blood and the aftermath of violence that he also does not agree with, and he himself is leaving instead of asking us to. If you must be angry, please take it out on me for my insouciant behavior during the hostilities, rather than on CB, who has the strength of character to object vociferously instead of passively, as I did."
He closes one eye, then both again finally, and brings his hands up to rub his face. "I also do not begrudge Ashe Whelan. How can I, when she is willing to bear a season's crown and make these calls, and I am not?" He shoves himself off the wall, then, and moves to place a neatly hand-labeled mason jar of blushberry jam in the trade bin, and not take anything out. And then he, too, goes to leave. "I am going to go see if it is possible to get alcohol poisoning; good night everyone."
Vorpal's expression twists in frustration as CB points out what sort of place this is. To his credit, he does nod slowly as that point is made, but everything about the Viet Cong leaves his expression baffled. "Apologies, then, CB. I used the name for emphasis, didn't know it was reserved. That said... I have absolutely no idea what a Veet Kong is, but I see your point about telling someone to shut up in someplace for free speech. That was rude. I apologize." He lifts a hand to rub at his forehead. "Sore spot. Lot of people been twisting my words and actions lately. It's getting exhausting. I -do- think it's a bit dishonest to try to pretend like the Freehold is terrible for this. Every single civilization in history would have executed them just the same. Nobody lets serial killers run free among their own people. And Teagan's right. If not them? It'd have been me."
Jenny's entrance draws him a little upright. "What?! It's not me. I didn't get a drop of blood on me, which should be impressive, considering how many of them there were." He throws a hand up in mock exasperation. "Everything's my fault today." Czcibor's objections leave his lips tight a moment, but he lifts a hand to wave farewell. "Stay safe, Kowal. I'm sorry you got caught up in this. You've enough hope, I think, to hope they could have become better men. Me? My hope was that I'd be able to make sure Anne Marie was their last."
"No, actually, I don't like it when /anyone/ calls me Mister Alexander, but since Green did it first, I /tolerate/ it when she does," C.B. says, turning his bright-eyed, electric stare Teagan's way, and taking a few steps towards them. "Go ahead, ride your moral highhorse like you always do. Shittalk me once I've left, too -- like you always do. Frankly, I don't give a good goddamn. Just because these people 'needed to' die, doesn't mean the Freehold 'needed to' celebrate it." Yes, those are air quotes. "If you think I'm going to thank you all for your goddamn service and start wearing a yellow ribbon, think again. If someone who was suffering isn't anymore, I'm glad to hear it. And I'm not saying I want a bunch of murderers going around slaughtering us all, either. But /excuse me/ if I don't bend down and kiss all of your feet for being good little soldiers."
Steps from the door, he glances over at Czcibor and his surprising words. Surprising to him, at any rate. "Look, this isn't /my/ space. This is everyone's space. You're all welcome here, whether I agree with you or not. Okay?" He pauses near the door. "Just try not to get blood on the furniture. And if you do, do me a solid and at least try and scrub it out." One last glance in Vorpal's direction. "I think you missed my point, Vorp. It's not about the /who/, it's about the /why/. Just think about it. It's not illegal yet." He taps his head, gives Jenny a curious look -- who's that chick? -- and then disappears down the stairs.
CB heads through the door and back down to the cafe.
"Yeah, well, don't know nobody else, I'm not gonna yell at them, yeah?" Jenny blinks and tries to take in all the speeches and strong ideological statements and general viscera and gore. "You all fond of this look or want someone to clean up?" She looks over as the iron Pole heads down the stairs, catching the tail end of that at least. "Ah, yo! I can help with that." The dryad rummages in her basket, pulling out what looks like a glass coke bottle full of an ethereally writhing darkness. "Just take it slow with that stuff."
"Says the guy who was more than willing to fuck the serial murderer until they dumped him," sighs Teagan wearily. "It sort of puts a tarnish on the whole moral high ground he tries to claim." Their scarred hand comes up and wipes down their face slowly, then flips dismissively. "I think I need several drinks." They turn their attention to Czcibor, and shrug. "Man, I get it. But I can't be bothered that we went after people who were actively hunting us, in an organized way that kept more of us from dying. And I don't even believe in freeholds."
"The Ashen Hunt was tonight," they offer to Jenny. "We just took out like, a whole.. squad... of Hunters who had killed one of us and were torturing another." Their hands only look like they have dried blood on them, it's a trick of their mien, but still, they extend one of them toward Jenny in greeting. There's a thick, ropy scar across the palm that's typical of Squires of the Broken Bough, and Teagan's Mantle is like standing next to a blast furnace. SUMMER HELLO SUMMER. "I'm Teagan. I don't think we've met."
"I will. And sorry for that. You did good," the toy soldier tells Vorpal, lingering a step down from the top, for a second. He looks apologetic and fond, all at once. "Really good, keeping fire off everyone else. I always like having less work to do afterwards, you know?" His blank shining metal gaze lights on Jenny, then, holding the bottled shadows out. He starts to reach to take it, then holds up a hand and shakes his head with a tired smile. "I don't think I can. If I manage it I can fix it, though, so I appreciate it-- but don't waste the resources on me when someone else might need them." And then he nods to Teagan. "It's why I came at all. You did good, too. Thank you both." A look between Teagan and Vorpal, and then a departing nod to Jenny, and he vanishes down the stairs.
Vorpal seems to be doing his best to shrug off CB's retort, glancing between him and Teagan for a few as he sorts things out. It seems to dawn on him that the animosity lessens at the end, towards him, and things make sense again with Teagan's comment. "Ah. Well. That was pleasant." Jenny has a good point, of course, and he gestures. "Ah. Well, that's fair, it'd be a bit rude to lay into strangers rather than me, I suppose. And I can grab a rag and help, if you're going to go out of your way. I haven't had a drop of blood on me all day, it's about time I got a -little- dirty, I imagine."
"Two of ours. They killed one other besides Anne Marie. And that girl was slated for number three," Vorpal elucidates when Teagan speaks of their local kill count.
"And thank you for that. I thought it'd be a good chance to try some teamwork and communication. You know. Those things I'm -horrid- with," explains Vorpal before Kowal takes his leave.
"Jenny. Nice to meetcha." The dryad shakes the bloodied Lost's hand, then runs her other through her vines, tucking them back carefully behind her branchlers. Finding a bandana in a pocket and tying them temporarily out of the way as she walks over to the sink. "Nah. Won't take a minute." She sets the basket down on a less-bloody table. It's full of several such bottles, baggies of some healing fruit, fresh-baked muffins and a few other assorted goods. "For anyone who wants some. Though it looks like most of the crowd's dispersed." She turns on the faucet, putting a bucket underneath.
"Good to meet you, Jenny." They go to rummage around in the fridge and come up with one of the beers in there. It's possibly even one of C.B.'s beers, they're not checking. "Yeah, sorry, we didn't have the most amicable split. He threw a glass at me and I dumped him over it a couple weeks later. I don't think it was as much about his principles as it was about, you know. Me. So. Sorry about that." Teagan shrugs absently toward Vorpal, and then smiles lopsidedly at Czibor. "Yeah, I know we did. Thanks for coming to make sure we stayed mostly in the right number of pieces." Then their attention turns back toward Vorpal. "... I didn't know about the second one. Only the one whose body I found. Fuck."
"A'right. If you say so," Vorpal offers to Jenny as she takes ownership of cleantime. He relaxes back into the overstuffed chair and watches her move. There's not much shame in this one. "Driven off, more like. Haruki looked fit to pop. Kowal felt bad about everything, CB was both pissed and political- just a rough night for most folks."
"Jenny's good people. Know her from back in Maine." He nods Teagan's way at the end. "Yea. Two here, working on three, and that's just -this- town. They'd been at this for -years.-"
GAME: Jenny spends 3 Glamour
-> >> Jenny to Here << <-=============================================
Rolled 4 Successes
< 2 3 3 4 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 >
============================-> >> Manipulation + Wyrd No Flags << <-
"You were thinking maybe you'd kill a bunch of people, show up soaked in blood, and say, It's okay, they were serial killers, and everyone'd be feeling happy and dancing, yeah?" The weedling doesn't bother with a mop, instead drawing the water out of the bucket with her fingers, going all water-bender as she directs the same bubble of warm, soapy water. An arm of the stuff lashing out to wipe up a pool of blood, then retracting back into a sphere, the water gradually dirtying as she works, adding without much change in her casually amiable tone, "Try the black drank. It'll fuck you up. If that's what you guys are looking for tonight."
"Generally speaking, I don't expect people to be happy when I show up bloody. And I'm not soaked in blood. My armor burnt most of my blood away." Truth be told, there isn't actually that much blood: Teagan came in with bloody hands and maybe a little on their shoes. When you walk around blazing with fire during a fight, not much lands on you. "Even metaphorically, I wasn't. I don't expect people to dance, but it is nice, once in a while, having taken on the mental and physical risk of going after people who, yeah, I fucking saw the body of one of their victims my fucking self, to not be lectured about how keeping us safe from them is, like, some sort of moral failing on my part. Maybe people could just chill the fucking fuck out for like five fucking minutes." Vorpal's explanation of where they know Jenny from is given a big thumbs-up, as Teagan downs their first beer in one long chug and then gets up to get some of the black drank, indeed. Apparently? They're in the mood to get fucked up, after all that. "Look, I don't expect people to sing and dance, but the occasional 'hey, thanks for keeping me from getting tortured to death' or even the occasional 'boy, I don't like what you do or how you do it, but I recognize that you do it because it's your job in our society, so I'm gonna shut my fucking loud-ass trap for five minutes' would go down pretty good. How strong is this black drank? Are my girlfriends gonna be cursing your name if I drink too much?"
The shadows under Vorpal's chair bubble and jitter, trying to expand beyond the confinement in the natural spread of light. His jaw sets for a long moment before Teagan starts to explain, buying him time to draw breath and release, slow and measured. "Like Teagan said. I did not expect that, and I am losing patience with people presuming I did. I am aware that most people have little faith in my sanity and self control as is, even more so those who knew me before Johnny became a god, but before I went after these men, I found out what they'd been doing, and why, for years. These weren't people chasing down monsters who'd slipped their leashes and ravaged human society. These were cowardly, sadistic fucks who got their hands on some magic glasses and started hunting down the people what looked funny. They'd been doing this shit for years. If they would have had three kills here in the space of a month? Spread that over five years and do the math. We're talking- what, probably about two hundred kills all together? "Only" one hundred, if we're generous and cut that in half? They've been travelling, and killing, for literally years. They're serial killers, and every one of us fits their victim profile. I didn't get into this lightly, I didn't get into it carelessly, and -everything- I did was to keep us safe. But nobody's gonna throw a party because the psycho god went off and killed some poor little mortals. I get that. I don't need it hammered home."
Even if Johnny and, uh, what'd they say, Teagan? aren't too bloody, presumably the others left a bit of a mess. Jen's getting it all cleaned up anyway, switching out for clean soapy water when necessary, hardly breaking from her work to look up as the weedling drawls, "Holy shit y'all. I don't care. I mean, like, good job taking out bad people I guess. But I mean yeah you are losing touch, that's why you're shocked that other people are shocked. Doesn't matter how fucking delicious people find your sausage, they're not gonna react well if you just start shoving your making-of videos in their face. You'd've asked me first how people would react and I'd say yeah everyone's going to feel sick and upset and not know how to react because it's all a bunch of unpleasant bullshit you're suddenly shoving into their lives. Doesn't matter if you're in the right." She looks over at Teagan, "And sorry, know I don't know you. So no offense. But this was super-fucking-duper predictable fallout, yeah?"
"Not so much," Teagan answers Jenny. "I mean, it was, but not for the reasons you're saying. The same dude who was lecturing me tonight was also 900 percent on board with hunting down Loyalists and killing them before we broke up, and when it was us doing it and not the Freehold. So, like, I get what you're saying? But unless you've known C.B. and me for a long time and I just missed it? You're missing context here. The high horse that rode out of here was just a horse's ass, so let's change the subject." They open themselves some black drank and pour themselves some. "Uh, Johnny? You want some of this? Or am I supposed to still call you Vorpal?"
Hearing out loud that Jenny doesn't care helps. Vorpal relaxes back into his seat, though the aggravated, glum expression stays. It flashes... something else when Teagan tries to get him in on the drank, and it's perhaps a small mercy that his eyes are swallowed in shadow, because just the -body language- of the slow turn of the head makes it clear that it was somehow the wrong offer to make.
"... -no.- I-" Pause. Vorpal's jaw clenches tight for a long moment. "... you... didn't know." Longer pause. "... no. Thank you. But no. I don't think I will have a drink."
"... we didn't come here to shove the events of the night in anyone's face, seeking praise. CB wielded it like a club to make his own political points. He even specified that he thought it was justified and necessary. And yet, he still took potshots, because it fit his- I dunno. Worldview. And it's not the first time lately someone's taken my actions or words and twisted them into pretzels so they'll stick in my craw when they try to make me eat them. I'm getting sick and tired of getting misunderstood because it's easier to see a monster. I'm -not- a monster, and I'm -not- crazy."
"I'll respond to either, Teagan. Johnny Drexel's pretty famous, it's not like I can pretend I'm not him. Either's fine."
"People aren't ideological. They just do what they want, or what they thinks is right, which mostly ends up at the same spot. Ideology's just the backfill." Jen's done both washing and philosophizing, tugging off the bandana, writhing vines spilling free as she grabs a drank herself and plunks over onto the shadow-godling's lap casually, giving a scarred cheek a peck as she stretches, glancing over to Teagan with a half-grin, "Has a thing about that. Uh, dunno if it's a phobia? Trigger? Something" She shrugs at the terminology, sighing and taking a sip to start off with. Followed by another couple. "To answer the earlier question, love, it'll fuck you up but it shouldn't do nothing permanent, yeah?"
"Oh, sorry, man." From the look on Teagan's face, they're suddenly almost shamed, awkward. "You want something non-alcoholic?" They have their own drink, but now they've got the whole 'shit did I just offer black drank to an alcoholic?' on their face, which can be expressive when they allow it to be. Their shoulders roll, and they just leave it when Jenny gets called away, loping over to take a seat near Vorpal, slouching down on the couch.
"We shoulda just gone to the Wayhouse," they finally sigh. "Maybe I should default to there from now on." One scarred hand comes up to rub their eyes. "I really just fucking wanted for people to be able to sit down and have a drink and be like 'good job everybody, we killed the serial killers and none of us died or lost our shit.'"
Twitch. "I- /no./ -Stop offering.- I'm -fine.- I don't need a drink. I don't need a muffin. I don't need anything." One hand up, fingers splayed to make a point. For srs. Cut it out, he says.
"It isn't your fault. I'm guessing you picked someplace you still think of as comfortable and safe. It's fine. That woulda been nice, yea, but. At the end of the day, the girl's safe, we're all fine, I call it a win."
"Sorry, man, I thought it was about the alcohol, not the offering. I offer people food reflexively, it's a good fucking habit to be in. Because like... it makes it easier for the healers to heal you, and a lot of people have that trick. Plus, it's just fuckin' polite. But, I'll try to remember to stop offering things to you." Teagan shrugs, rolls their shoulders. "Food, anyway." There, their smile grows more lopsided, that grin that they have. They're finally fucking relaxing again, as their shadows stretch out a bit around their feet and they slowly drink, well, black drank.
"Yeah, well, I should probably change that estimation. I'm tired of being yelled at for doing my job, or whatever other excuse." A flip of their fingers. "Whatever. I don't wanna talk about it, or him, anymore." There's a small look aside, there, and a tiny shift of the light in their fractured-mirror eyes. "Yeah. Physically safe. She's gonna need a Blackbird Bishop, for fucking sure. They fucked her up pretty good."
"Don't stress. Like I said. You didn't know." He gestures dismissively, then pauses with a faint squint at the follow-up. "Did you have something else on offer? I wasn't aware."
"She likely will, but I'd rather turn her over to them than to the morgue. It's far easier to repair mental and emotional trauma than death, in my experience."