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The City's Dark Jewel
He didn't believe her, or he thought the declaration foolish. And he persisted in trying to tie those pretty little strings around her wrists in a way that was growing tiresome. The bait of her own temper would not be so difficult to tempt with boredom beginning to nip at her heels. It simmered closer to the surface these days, sharpened by the tangle of loss that lodged as an interloper in her chest. The memory of pain was transient; particularly to one who courted that madness for the grim thrill, as she did. But that. That was crushing her to fucking distraction.

Ori shrugged, dismissive of the path he nudged her down. "Disinclined to the task, sweetheart. There's nothing in it for me, least of all a fucking challenge."

She watched the fight, gaze diffused around it; the outcome was an inconsequential gamble, after all. Until sounds rushed her ears like time suddenly phased strangely. She pressed a finger to the fabric collaring her throat as something stuttered in her chest, quickly vanished. Her brows daggered, gaze skipping briefly upwards. Her mood plummeted.

"Save the ruthlessness, Ryker. You're going to need it."
He only noticed her fleeting discomfort because he reached for his drink at the same time. The glass tipped to his lips while mismatched eyes hovered above the rim. With half the world blurry, it was almost as if Oriena phased just for a moment. Not unlike another creature he recently witnessed.

“How did you get it to release you?” He inquired out of genuine curiosity both of her experience and willingness to divulge. The mist creatures reared demands of the others, and Ascendancy behaved as though he knew them personally. They were sentient, that was obvious. Dangerous and deadly. What had Oriena experienced while incapacitated? Ryker couldn’t help but wonder at what marred the pink flesh of her neck, if anything. Fingers could dig deep into such tender crevices, and hers was a tempting throat.

The fight pulled his attention again for the next few moments. A particularly nasty hit scrawled a distasteful frown upon his lips. Rib-shots hurt like a mother, but a jab to the solar plexus could put a man down indefinitely.
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The fear he saw was a needle of adrenaline straight to his heart. Like the strongest shot of tequila or vodka, hitting you instantly, flashing down your chest and out through arms and legs. Like the power when he seized it, flooding his body, coursing through every vein in his body.

The smell of the blood and the sweat and the stink and the dry air and the cries of the audience and the pounding of his heart and his heavy breathing, the sting of the salty sweat in the gashes and the ache in his ribs and chest and quads- all of it melded into life, this immediate life.

And all the weight, all the anger and hatred and hurt and fear and hopelessness over the last few months a mountain, compressing him, the piston pushing down, driving, harder and harder, the mix denser and denser, pressing....pressing...until-

a spark!

And Ivan exploded.

He struck at the man- a plea, Oh Ma! Pop! Forgive me for failing to protect you. I beg you. Please- felt the connect and the ribs giving way. Struck- a vow, I will make you pay, you bitch Yun Kao!!!- and felt a nose crumple. Struck- a lament, I loved you Ascendancy. You were my God. And now...- arms absorbing the blow from the kidney shot. Struck- a wail, Danya, Danya...Damn you Danya! What did you steal from me?- and heard the grunt. Struck- a whisper, Ahh Zoya! You left just left. And now a part of me is gone- and his knuckles were torn by the man's teeth.

Ivan absorbed every blow to his body- My god it hurts.-, felt the feral man move around him- So fast! how can he be so fast?- grabbing at his neck. Ivan flipped him over and without thinking dropped right on him, head in a lock, feeling the man's teeth against his chest, hands flaying and punching and scratching, Ivan socking him in the head repeatedly, his knuckles bloody and raw -O god, I am on fire!.

A shot to the temple slowed the man considerably and Ivan flipped over so the man was on his stomach, him on top, head still locked. The man writhed under him, their sweat and blood mingling, the salt stinging the tears, shaggy hair stink in his face, head trying to hit him. The man slowed, Ivan's arms bars of iron cutting off all his air.

He held tight, sounds slowly fading away until all he could hear was his own breathing..

Finally finally the man went limp. Ivan held on for a moment more, making sure he wasn't faking, before trying to loosen his grip. It was as if his arms were iron, cramped and tight and unyielding even to him. Finally, they did give way, though and the man's head lowered to the ground. He still sat on him, legs to either side, ready just in case.

No movement.

He stood and found himself shaking, the adrenaline leaving his body, all his strength pouring out of a bloody wound, puddling around his feet. He tried to get the shaking under control. The power still glowed over his shoulder and he seized it.

It was as if everything the man had done to him was done again, only ten times worse. The roar of the crowd washed over him. Ivan looked up, tried to see past the lights, to see these people, the men and women who oozed sleaze and corruption as they ran the empire for Brandon.

The threw his arms up and ropes of air twined the massive lights overhead, ripping them free from their anchors in the ceiling as he pulled them down to the ground. They crashed around him and his opponent in an explosion of sparks.

And there they were.

He just stood there, heaving breaths, watching with a sneer.

[[Kasun modded with permission]]
"I must have said please." A dry answer, cut from his own words. No one bothered to ask that night; Oriena was abandoned like a husk with soul departed, the venom of rejection a poison she radiated just as violently now he brought it up. Her eyes were flat. Viciousness churned. The memory did not make her recoil, and no fear stoked the recollection of pain. Just the black promise of vengeance, even if she burned with it.

A sharp yelp pulled her gaze back to the fight's conclusion.

The point of the wager she hoped to lose dampened beneath the flare of her own volatility. Ori pandered to the fickle explosion of her own temper. She fully expected Kasun to learn the lesson of control, and she did not care for his injuries. But as the sparks of the fallen lighting burned dull reflection in her eyes, something snapped. Careless retaliation unleashed until the power burned like it had under the creature's control.

Her chair scraped back.

Electrics overhead shorted. The screen above began to fuzz grey static, everything in the pit below churning light. "Is that the reward you want? To know why she let me go?" She, not it. There was no victory in the sharp curve of her smile. Her finger crooked a beckon she sorely doubted he would have the nerve to follow. Ryker watched from the shadows before; she had no reason to think he might find a set now. Though he might wish to save his man from the storm about to descend. Otherwise, his answers would have to wait.

Chaos stirred below. Handlers yelled in the shadows, none yet brave enough to enter the carnage. Oriena did not care; nor did she pause to heed paltry attempts to stop her. A woman's delighted laughter followed her path, curling like smoke in chest, the spark of memory soon forgotten. Once within she didn't even look for Kasun's body before her fist found the cop's throat. Power slammed into his bruised body. "If you have killed him with this stunt, I will be the last thing you see."
Nhysa watched the fight undeterred, a curious "huh" her only reaction to Li's confessed reevaluation, though her lips teased a delighted smile at the prospect. It was only when the heavens above wrenched that she slipped back from the grill, curiosity at war with the instinct for self preservation.

The world exploded, searing sharply against her eyes, shaded presently by a hand. She glanced at Li, brows raised at the unusual conclusion -- only to turn full around at the intrusion of another. Oh, interesting. The woman from above blazed power. Nhysa laughed, brushing back to let her pass. Unsure of Li's reaction, she reached out a hand to still him from action, curious to see what might happen before either of them intervened.
The wolf fell in a turn of events. Though it wasn't the victory anyone was expecting. Instead of a cheering crowd, they were scattering as the victor in the ring brought the house down - quite literally. Fucking idiot! The power coursed through his veins and Li wondered why he hadn't used it to his advantage. Some men liked to get dirty it seemed. Li didn't use his power, but that was because he had been hiding. Now? He wasn't sure, but it wasn't likely to put on such a display.

The woman from before made her way into the ring and put a death grip upon her wolf's opponent. Nhysa put a hand out to stay him, though Li had no intentions of helping Mr. Destructo, or the wolf. If the wolf died he died, Li was more than okay with that outcome despite his prior statement. And If he wanted to pay damages to the house so be it. He was a fucking idiot.

But Li didn't move to leave either. This might be an better fight than before...
“What you must do," said Monkey, "is lure the monster from its hiding place, but be certain it is a fight you can survive.” 
― Wu Cheng'en, Monkey: The Journey to the West


Ryker found himself drawn ever more into the nuances of the fight. Ivan's rally sparked ferocity that wafted through the cage stronger than sweat and soil. Come on, kid. Transfixed, he felt his own muscles tighten, mimicking the detective's forearms, squeezing harder. Until motion slowed. Oriena's champion came to sluggish stillness.

Ryker palms clapped a slow beat for the victory, but the motion halted at what followed. Power swarmed. Ivan's power. Ryker wanted to flinch with the sheer amount of it. Lights flickered. Flashed like sirens. Creaks and groans of old hardware. Then the crash of steel and glass. Ryker's jaw clenched shut. Oriena rushed to the scene. Around him, many leapt to their feet, gasps and commotion rippling once realization sank in.
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He felt a slam of...something. Her power, probably...shove him back- and damn, but it hurt! Every part of him was bruised over, where he wasn't bleeding. Her hand was at his throat, voice snarling.

Disgust welled up in him.

This bitch plays her little games at the ball- blows up a glass, cutting herself badly, all the while acting terrified and innocent- while inside she is laughing, watching his concern for her, his getting dragged away to who knows where. Cuz she doesn't know who he is, or whether he will be a guest of a CCD interrogation room. She doesn't give a god-damn shit about it.

And then she casually tosses her boy-toy out into the ring with him, as if it is no concern whether he'll be hurt or not when she fucking knows Ivan can channel.

And now? Now? NOW she worries about him?

Fuck that. He threw a wall of air at her. "Don't even tried to pretend, you bitch. You didn't seem to care when he went into the ring with me, knowing what you know."
Power slammed like a petulant shove of the shoulders, the snivelling act of children in a playground. It created physical distance, but only rammed the strike of her own threads deeper; pressing into tender wounds and against the vulnerable curve of his throat.

She didn't care for his poor hurt feelings. The drip of his venom was like balm to a heart as barren as Oriena's, but the creature's losses had blackened a splinter that had not been there before. Whether he believed her or not, she meant what she said. There was no pretence.

Kasun was hers.

"You wanted blood, I gave you blood." They had both elicited her attention tonight, ignorant of the chaos they courted, thinking themselves immune to the conseuqences. The threads ravaged a little deeper into his skin, like punctuation, as around them the sparking bulbs began to douse one by one, fluttering darkness that quickly spread. Far above the screens transmitting the fights to the crowds winked out. The thump of music died so that only the maelstrom of confusion reigned. Her voice lowered, scathing. "Do you think Ryker cares for you either? He's not here to save you. Knowing what he does of me."

In fact the cop had been warned several times, caustic little hints he had been too wrapped up in his own hungry anger to see. No questions had roused at the little digs, no curiosity, and now no time remained to remedy the ignorance. Darkness churned a singular hatred; the promise of a reckoning he would have no way to translate. It clawed monstrous in her expression before sharpening into the razored curve of a small smile, the last thing he would see of her face.

For the darkness fell absolute, and as it did, her hold on him winked out.

"You can tell Ryker she did not let me go. You can tell him that war is coming. I mean to see to it."
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Her power held him in invisible bonds, tried to dig into his wounds. He curled a lip in sneer. She disgusted him as her pretty mouth twisted with rage, hurled venom. Hatred made flesh. She repelled him. His eyes glittered at her as shadows sharpened her face with each extinguishing light, distorting it, warping whatever physical beauty she might have, revealing the monster she truly was.

He found a smile on his lips as she was exposed for what she was.

Only when the lights had gone out completely did her hold drop. He stared into the darkness, emotion masking whatever he might have felt physically. She was nothing to him. Her toy was nothing. He got what he wanted. He spat at the ground and stalked off, not interesting in seeing one more glimpse of her, a ball of light appearing to guide him.

The prep area was filling with people- staff, security, looky loos. When they saw him they inched back. He must look a sight. A hard look at security gave him pass as he got his things and went to the lockers to shower.

The water carved agony into his flesh and he gasped. Temperature mattered little, cold or hot, the pain was excruciating. He let the water pour over his head, the room filling with steam. He'd have to hit up a hospital later. Or go find Jensen James. If he was still around.

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