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New Allies
Ryker and Oriena knew each other and from either of their expressions they didn't really like one another. But then it seemed Ryker was a man of other tastes. She'd felt it before, but now things were digging deep. She wondered if there was a game a foot and how she could exploit it. Exotic pets? Never letting go. Yun was confused, but this was likely a spark meant to set something on fire. But there was calm cool manipulations at play on all sides and Yun was sure to get caught in the brush fire if she weren't careful. But not here - not today.

Yun raised her hand and one of the lackey's waiting nearby brought over a tray of wine and three glasses. "Come, now, let's all share." She nodded to the wine glass offered to each of them. And then the wine tray made it's way to the Yakuza sitting not too far away.

There was a disturbance in the crowd, nothing that a normal spectator would notice but Yun did. A man from the Yakuza slipped up on to the platform and whispered in his bosses ear. And from another direction she saw her own making her way here. Something was awry and Yun had a bad feeling about this.
His fists clenched. He wasn’t one to spar words with feeble women, and his patience was razor thin. A low growl rumbled in his chest, but he bit his tongue as movement distracted them all. Mik and Ivan must have done their jobs. He was half impressed, given that he imagined they held maybe a 20% chance of success. Sure enough, someone came and whispered to Yun, and Ryker’s anger was soothed by the joy of success.

He crossed his arms and imagined the seeds of doubt spreading their shoots through the minds of the Yakuza and Syndicate alike.

“Yes, let’s share,” he agreed with Yun.

“That business I spoke of earlier, it’s here,” he offered Yun a data card. On it were details she would find interesting, given that it was taken from the Yakuza – it should prove useful.
A slender tendril of power lifted the wine glass from its perch on the tray, and though she idled the stem between her fingers she did not drink. Ori was not usually given to such mediocre displays of her gift, and nor was she much impressed by them in others. This was frivolity with the purpose of annoyance, meant only to differentiate from the rather mundane company. Beyond the tantalising promise of a devil caged by such a thin veil of skin, Ryker was dull. He bit only to retreat no matter how she bared her fucking throat. Shamelessly afraid of a little light-natured fun.

She watched his clenched fist. Watched that internal ire douse as Yun’s messenger leaned to whisper in her ear. The power coursing Ori’s veins might have gifted her the ability to listen in; it certainly sharpened her hearing, even basked inert like light in cupped hands. But she made no effort to pry.

Instead she lounged back in her chair, a perfectly feral smile plucking the corners of her lips. If something so plainly pleased his vile nature, she doubted it boded well for Yun, and in part she was content to let that unfold. No loyalty charmed her to a side. “You speak of pleasure and yet rush so quickly to business. Hardly the way to please your woman, Ryker.” She tsk’d, laughing slyly. Not for condemnation of his prowess. Her eyes flickered to the woman in question.

He wanted something from Yun, or from the Syndicate, and wider machinations rumbled quietly in the periphery, closing like a vise. At the bar that night the Spider had barely given Ori so much as a cursory look, let alone offered any intimation of a friendship that explained Oriena’s presence now. That he either dismissed the absurdity, or simply did not think of it, irritated her. He didn’t care why she was here. He certainly didn’t think her capable of interference.

Not something that would ordinarily have bothered her; but then she was not entirely herself, these days.

She didn’t much think about the sharp razor of threads as they unleashed in retaliation; a delicate web, fine and complex, sinking as savage as teeth into his skull. A painless affliction. Let him see how he enjoyed the strings of a puppet.
"You say you're a godman. So what? 
I'm the devil herself"
Alpha ~ Little Destroyer
[Image: orianderis.jpg]
She didn’t turn her head, but it did tilt with interest. Memory marked one of those men as something other than a simple civilian, which might mean myriad things -- including the Custody’s business. But it might also be something more clandestine, and ultimately of little interest to one like Nhysa. Ascendancy required loyalty, after all, but he did not choose to keep tight leashes. She trusted Li’s instincts, though, given what she knew of him, and he clearly kept a sharp eye on the currents of the crowd.

“Away from the best seats?” She laughed, running a finger along the collar of his shirt. He was capable of protecting himself just as she was if chaos did snap her teeth on the gathering, though she suspected at least he might feel compelled to act like a harried father to quell the itinerant children from their play. It’s what she supposed that symbol on his arm had once meant; perhaps still did, even if his own brothers would turn on him now. Nhysa did not covet disorder by any means, but neither was she dissuaded from its threat. Rather, like the indulgent parent, she was curious to simply watch what might unfold. 

Shadows were prickling at her again, and -- peace, dear one -- she finally shifted her attentions. With a wink she turned in the circle of his arms, resting lightly against his chest instead -- one of many idle couples apparently enjoying the spectacle of the fireworks. The men Li had spoken of had by now dispersed. Nhysa watched the platform as bid, and felt the pressure biting around her ankles finally abate. “The woman,” she said curiously. “She is channeling.”
Ryker was offering up information. But there was another problem. And the Yakuza were looking at her and speaking rapidly in Japenese. Things were going to go up in fireworks if she didn't do something. Yun stood up ignoring the fake banter between her to companions. They were playing at games she had no time for. "Shall we adjourn and discuss our mutual business." She waved her hand to Ryker and the Yakuza and even Oriena. "The fireworks will start early and we can share a quieter meal."
The woman in his arms turned and he was now holding her far more intimately than before. Her words barely made it to his ears. Her scent encompasses his senses. He whispered in her ear, "Not away from the best seats, out from between the two. One front instead of two." But he was sure that the party behind them had broken up now, as the scarred man was in front of them now.

Li smiled "I suppose that makes sense. Who else would want a puppy as a plaything, and pit him against a man who can do what we do?" Li pulled her a little closer, it was distracting but he could provide whatever she desire - whatever he thought. "What would you like to do my dear? I'm your's for the evening." Pleasure - business - it didn't matter it was all good while he spent time with Nhysa.
“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 fixed Oriena a marble cold stare: ”What makes you think I want to please a woman?” He snarled at the thought, before choosing to ignore her completely. Yun Kao’s invitation beckoned, and he intended to accept it. He stood, back turned to Oriena and the crowd. Mikael and Ivan were doing their parts. He could see the snakes slithering through tall grass, hissing and wary of an impending danger neither could see. The thrill of it quickened his veins, and he almost smiled if the muscles on one side of his face would make the pull. Yet, as he stood there, triumph bled away. His heart began to beat drums in his chest. He could feel the woman’s eyes on him, and he wanted to spit at her feet. But the more he thought about it, he couldn’t leave the bitch gloating. She thought he was a plaything to kick around and dump when done. A worm squirming beneath the grip of a god. He served no master. He would cower before none. Especially a filthy whore whose sole purpose in life was to die a twisting on the whim of some jon getting off on strangling pretty necks.

His fists clenched. How dare she laugh at him? How dare she lift a finger and expect him to play. As he stood, frozen with fury but unable to act, he fought the rising bile. He bit his tongue so hard the twang of blood dribbled down on the next swallow, attempting to stay himself, but the power followed on the ugly heels of the pain, drowning him with ecstasy. He should leave. Yun Kao was his for the taking. The Syndicate was his to conquer. It was all there on a silver platter. All he had to do was reach out and take it. Instead, all he wanted was to crush Oriena’s throat in his bare hands and fuck her until she cried with terror. 

He turned, face bulging and teeth bared. He roared as the power surged, knocking those in his path completely from the stage. He jumped off the back, following the bodies keeling on the ground. A few witnesses screamed, and a couple of cocksure heroes seemed to rush in to help the damsel in distress. ”Don’t fucking touch her” he barked orders that scared them from the attempt. He snatched at her ankles with force that could wrench a dog to heel. His arms were steel, muscles clenched, vision red. Fire fueled the fists that beat submission.

((Moding with permission))
[Image: ori1.jpg][Image: hqdefault-Edited.jpg]

Oriena had claimed this spot for the view, and she had no real interest in adjourning to discuss whatever business Yun and Ryker had with the Yakuza. She uncrossed her leather-clad legs and stood, watching the retreat of his back with a spike of bitterness that twisted inside. The hum of power still pulsed through her, but it seemed the experiment failed -- or maybe the man’s mask was too firmly glued to his skin, and in truth there was only a sickeningly soft spine beneath the pretence of something more brutal. Another man with no bite; who expected the world to kneel but who would not force it to its knees.

Only then, he paused.

Her sly smile was like the first curl of smoke on dry kindling as his fists closed. Oh, that beautiful self-control. Ori bit her lip, eyes blazing as she bore witness to the strip-tease of its slow fray. It would have gratified her more not to have had to use the power to beg the company of his promised temper, but the enjoyment washed through her in a shiver all the same.

She expected the violence; in fact she had courted it, flooding encouragement into the poisoned fangs she’d sunken into the compulsion, eating away the bars caging inhibition like acid -- to do what all those looks promised but failed to deliver.

But she didn’t expect to find the hard impact of ground slamming her body before his fists even moved. It knocked the breath from her lungs; left her blinking at the blurred night sky a moment before her gaze reorientated in time to see him framed hideous on the platform above. Her peek at the devil he kept chained revealed more than she bargained for, but it hitched her lips with a sharp smile. A new kind of infatuation glittered for what she saw.

He was a fucking channeler.

The fear thrilled her. She half rose to her elbows, but already he had descended and was dragging her forward, skinning her against the ground. One booted foot drew back to smash him in the jaw, but the angle was all wrong; the blow never landed. Blood curled a trickle from his snarling lips anyway, flecking pink foam when he shouted the crowd back. Ori was strong, but it meant nothing pinned under muscle like that, and he was faster than he looked. A knee wedged her thighs apart. The first fall of his fists blazed blind agony, lashing the power wildly like a guttering lamp in her skull. She let the blows fall; cried out with the pain of it, tasting iron between her teeth, until he pinned the arms instinct fought to shield her face from the assault.

Blood scored the lines of her grinning mouth, spraying upwards as she spat at his sneering rage.

“I see you,” she hissed. Her unfocused gaze seemed only to be looking at his scars, and it burned darkly; a sick seed of satisfaction. Her muscles strained against him. “I know you.”

His palm crushed her throat, choking off the laugh. Ori’s fingers clawed up his wrist, her back arching, caged by the weight of his shifting body. His intention ran her cold. Blood pounded deafening in her ears, cut through with a familiar curl of hunger and rage and a kaleidoscope of memory she was not convinced was her own. Stay out of my fucking head! Then the power spiked loose in final retaliation of those images. Howling winds circled, ribboning with tendrils of flame as the vortex grew out and up, pushing back the crowd and buffeting within its protective circle a hot breath of wind. Her chest was burning; the panic becoming a little more animal. Her nails raked wounds into his flesh in the desperation to draw air.

You were always weak. The words wormed in her ear, a voice she did not recognise.

Spots danced her vision, that growing weightlessness bleeding both terror and ecstasy together. Ryker’s vile nature called like a siren's lure, and the ugliest truth was her favourite kind of treasure. She’d pulled the trigger on his infatuation, but the depravity was all his; he wanted this, and that visceral obsession fuelled her blood to sing even as hate raged her own repulsive soul to shred against the control, invoking bloodlust of her own. She wanted to devastate him in kind. But it wasn’t mercy she craved to hear him beg for when she did.

Ori waited to the brink of her own limits, until her grasp of the power was not a certainty at all, and then she threw all her strength into thrusting him off.

She gasped, chest heaving, stars bursting across her eyes at the release. Blood gurgled in the back of her throat, and agony crushed like an anvil dropped right on her skull. She wasn’t sure she could sit up let alone fucking stand, and she didn’t know where she had shoved him, but she doubted he’d stay there long. She whimpered as she rolled and forced herself up, but failed miserably to find her feet. Blood spewed from her mouth and she spat until it stopped, ran her tongue across the swell of her lip.

Shadows passed high overhead.

The voices in her head multiplied, but she did not look up at them circling, only scowled.

"Don't. Fucking. Touch. Him." Her fists clenched against the concrete, scraping the skin on her knuckles. The snarl of her voice sounded like glass shattered inside the column of her throat, and it felt worse.

The fiery prison still swirled around them, trapping them both. Its maintenance tested her, but she was too far into her own reckless desires to worry about the strain. It felt like wildfire on the inside, stretching her skin thin, that needle sharp pleasure almost enough to consume her whole. Sweat glistened her brow. Tendrils of her hair drifted around her bloodied face in the scorched wind. She braced herself on her arms, still trying to stand. It felt like a furnace in here. Around them the weaves split, bursting jets of fire inwards like a summoned hell. The caverns of her eyes were storming dark. Now she knew what he was, she offered no quarter; she wanted him to retaliate, to prove himself more than the nothing he pretended to be, else to burn them both into ruin.


The bitch barely fought back. His knuckles hurt. Barely. Fury pumped hot through his arms. He’d smash her skull into the pavement. Over and over. There was nothing except that face. The face that mocked him. The throat flushed under the vice of his grip. He could feel his own fingers closing around the pipe. Her lips paled blue. The eyes bulged. Eyes that saw their last flashes. She was weak. She was pitiful. The arch of her back limped. The ply of her fingers fatigued. The lady of hate would know his malice and recoil. He shoved her thighs apart with his knee, the leather at her waist creaking in his tearing grip. Teeth bared, a demon hovered above a face it hated.

It was a ruse, he realized all too late. A flash of energy pulsed her eyes. He shivered and was hurled backward. The blow shook the air from his lungs. She continued to toy with him. He crawled nimble to one knee. Oriena could barely lift her hand, but she spate commands to forces unseen. Fire followed, circling. The arena enclosed, and Ryker was finally at home.

The small pocket-knife flew into his hand. He brandished it with a flick and sickly growl, but rather than fling it at prey, he drew the edge across his own arm. An angry line of red scrawled behind. Slid down his wrist. Dripped from the fingers. A new brother to many lines drawn before it.

Blade hidden in his pocket, he lifted both arms. While Oriena played with fire, Ryker was born in it.

The pavement splintered. Dozens of black shards lifted high. With the thrust of his hands, the fangs cut through the air all at once. Whips of fire came to his hands next, snapping forward like vipers.


Fire ribboned inwards, testing him and teasing with her own mastery. But it seemed Ryker no longer needed the incentive, and he did not flinch from the threat of its heat. Perhaps those ugly scars knew its taste too well. A sick smile watched the line scored down his own arm and the dark drip of his blood, fascinating her more than she’d like.

Then the ground was trembling beneath her, breaking jagged shards that thrust like arrows. Air wrenched them from their path and lured them into the swirling vortex, though she was vaguely aware of burning across the top of her shoulder. Blood began to trickle from her nose, the power excruciating. His ropes of fire were slammed down with only a second's grace between, sizzling into the ground in a way that scorched where her body lay before the weave split frantically to cool the concrete.

Meanwhile his own shards shot out molten hot, one after the other in criss-crossing lines. She laughed, not much more than a sick gurgle, and crooked a coy finger to him. Her vision was wavering a little manically but she didn’t imagine the descent of a shadow from above.

WEAK was a tattoo in her head, like a boot stamped over and over on her chest, harder and faster like the voices grew louder in the ijiraq’s presence. Hunger groaned inside of it, though it seemed somehow confused.

She ignored the fucker. Air swiped at Ryker’s feet, yanked at his shoulder, trying to jerk him into the line of his own fucking missiles.


Oriena bled, but victory cindered to ash in his mind. He wanted her crushed, not defeated. Prostrate, not dead.

The whips snapped their strikes. The heat churned sweat from his brow, dripping his body like the blood from his hand.
“Bitch woman! I walked through hell once before. Your fires are a nuisance,” he laughed fearless for the flames. The skin stretched with rubbery delight as he pushed closer.

Until the inferno flickered a darker shade. A creature that phased on windless motion. Its eyes white caverns ablaze with hunger. A fear struck Ryker. He’d seen its prey latch onto the Ascendancy, rendering him to nothing. Oriena writhing on the ground. It was a fate he would avoid.

Oriena’s barbs caught in his distraction. His ankles swept from under him. The ground slammed his back and his command of the power wavered, whips disappearing. The Ijiraq dove and dived, held back by the will of someone else. At Almaz he asked how she managed to free herself of its barbs, but she deferred the question, offering to share a sample of what she endured with him. The Ijiraq was with her now, and he would be damned to let her unleash such a weapon upon him.

In the same way as he crawled through the fires, he pulled and pushed at flames, seeking something to absorb its power. The heat funneled like tornadoes into the ground beneath her feet until the crumbled ground glowed red.


He fell, and it hooked a smile. She tried to use the opportunity to claw back to her feet, but her head spun dizzy with the movement. Blood was slicking down her arm, hot as the breath scorching her lungs. Then the ground began to burn, dragging a visceral gasp up her ruined throat. For the first time her control wavered with the frenzied panic to get off the fucking ground. The fire spinning around them suddenly gutted, too much to hold onto. Cooling threads plumbed deep and desperate, while from the corner of her eye she saw that the moment her attacks on Ryker ceased to instead aid her own protections, the ijiraq descended and struck him.

Not what she wanted.

She half crawled, snarling in agony, but if the creature felt anything of her fury at prey snatched from her fingertips it did not deign to react. The satisfaction of it burst like a supernova inside her, the rapture of a hunger finally satiated. Hatred rooted deep, the well of eons, but it was too easy an end for him. She was not fucking done with this toy.

Ori pulled on all her strength, every last drop until it felt like her skin was disintegrating from the light it contained. She used of the tools the ijiraq had given her in the darkness of the tunnels, and slammed out a net meant to shield Ryker from the power.

Then her own power wrenched free, and all she could feel was pain.

Written with Ryker

[[For most of the fight a mixture of air and fire was circling them, which would have been visible to non channelers too. It was moving rapidly and fluctuating, but characters close enough to the front of the crowd or who had a vantage point would have been able to see through (if any of the civilians were stupid enough to stand around and gawp anyway). At some point after its creation 3 male ijiraq materialised above and began circling in a slower fashion as well. Feel free to use them as you see fit, or attack them or whatever. Their initial behaviour will look odd to anyone with knowledge, but given a food source outside of the arena they will react in the usual way. At the end of the post the fire spinning around Ori and Ryker gutted. You can assume it all happened savagely fast.]]
"You say you're a godman. So what? 
I'm the devil herself"
Alpha ~ Little Destroyer
[Image: orianderis.jpg]
The sweet thing had been talking tactically. The throaty roll of Nhysa’s laughter suggested she found the consideration endearing, even if he had been right to point it out. Perhaps she’d thought they did not need to claim the advantage; there were two of them after all.

She couldn’t tell what the woman was doing at this distance, but she was content to watch for the sake of her shadow, which purred far more contentedly now she demurred to its demands. Li's words whispered close to her ear, making a perfectly pleasant diversion in the meantime. He shifted her closer, and she was intimately aware of the shape of him behind her. The offer curled a smile to her lips.

And then her gaze drew sharply to the staging, a small shift in her posture drawing attention with instinctual alertness -- though she was quite sure Li noticed on his own, since the scarred man scattered bodies like pins swept akin to the tantrum of a petulant child. He promptly disappeared from view, swallowed by the crowd below.

"Hmmm." Nhysa did not pull away, nor seem alarmed by the violence. Screams rippled as bodies began to crush in different directions; outward, away from the spectacle, or inward to quash it. Whatever was happening power raged quite infernally. Fire scrawled in the distance, wrought by the woman. 

They began to be jostled in the rush of escape. It was a little annoying. 

Then her skin shivered cool, and the shadow squeezed tight about her ankles; apparently this was what it desired her to see. Her dark gaze drew up as the shadows dropped above the flames, lethargic and drifting as if they were charmed by something below. She leaned back into Li, tilted her chin to try and catch his eye. “What are they?”
There was a moment where Yun thought she had control. And then the illusion shattered. Oriena and Ryker started a war in the middle of the Yakuza block party. Screams and roaring fire were everywhere. Yet Yun stood there watching everything unfold.

The moments passed in a blur and then she looked up to find things - shadow creatures, shifting floating - horrifying creatures. But she couldn't run as one seemed to solidify and feed upon Ryker. It could be the only explanation - a vampire. Of sorts. What the fuck was this creature. But she looked to Oriena and wondered how she was involved. They had come for what reason? They hadn't been here before.

Yun couldn't move. Astounded. Stunned. Those words didn't even cover the feelings.

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