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The Angel of the Undercity & A Homecoming
#1
She woke in darkness; just the flickering of a yellow light overhead, like the winking of an eye. Something was missing, but she could not fathom what.

It went like that for a while. In and out like moon tides, with no dreaming.

When her consciousness finally returned in full, she realised the thing that was missing was pain.

Ori’s fingers threaded against her neck, but the carcanet of bruises was gone. Her lips twitched into a scowl as she pushed herself up. The walls were bare brick, creaking pipes running along the ceiling, a rusted metal grate slashed across the door leaking light from the tunnel beyond. She knew where she was, then. Idle inspection traced the webbing of new scars on her skin as she fought for the energy to move. Her thigh was twisted where it had burned against the pavement, and still covered with the dried black smear of copious amounts of blood.

Probably Ryker had bequeathed other gifts. She didn’t care enough to look.

The Almaz’s fighting halls were quiet, and she saw no one as she made her stumbling way from the holding cell to the line of showers. The slap of her palm sprayed needled daggers of water against her shoulders, curling her lip against the shock. For a while she watched the dark swirl of water pooling beneath her feet, until her arms braced the wall, head pressed atop.

She needed to get out of here, but she was fucking tired. Bone-chilled, soul-deep tired.

Her hair clung dripping down her back, soaking into a stolen tshirt when she later emerged into the silent club. The tee was tucked into an equally pilfered pair of gym shorts strung about her hips, her feet still bare. The tracery of scars spanned the entire outside length of her left leg, mottled white like they were already years healed. A few other puckers burned pale against her porcelain skin, but nothing else quite like that. The hard won legacy of bruising was gone, though; the swelling of her cheek, the burst fountain of her lips, the slit of an eye. Only shadows clung to the hollows in her face; pale and worn, and very young looking.

Sheets hung across ongoing maintenance work to repair the lights Ivan hauled to ruin, but the place was abandoned. Perhaps it was night; in the bowels of this place, she had no way of knowing. Her gaze searched the shadows for Ilya’s gaunt skull of a face, but he must be down below with the cages. Vaguely she considered seeking for evidence of Kasun, but it was more effort than she was willing to expend right now, and the fact she thought of him at all only reminded her of the ijiraq’s infection spreading through her emotions. 

This was the third strike, and Ilya would want to exact the price for his services soon.

Ori pulled herself up on the bar, intending to slide herself over and snag one of the bottles from the optics, when she finally caught movement. She paused instead, the stems of her pale legs crossed, arms braced either side of her like the claim of a throne. It was not who she expected, though the surprise did not flicker across her expression. They said the Angel of the Undercity smelled misfortune like a shark nosing at blood in the water.

She caught the coin he flicked out to her, but did not look at it. She knew what it was.

“I don’t need another favour.”

Ekeziel’s brow rose, the white slash of his smile a flash then gone as he oozed free of the shadows. Laughter churned like a giggle, just as short lived, as he came closer. His skin was strangely sun-touched for one who called the tunnels home, like the warmth of desert sands. One arm sank to lean his weight on the bar, his other hand boldly cradling over the cap of her knee, its surface inked dark with the curling tendrils of a rose from wrist to knuckles. The palm slid up, brushing up the hem of her shorts. His gaze lit molten fascination as his fingers curled against the burns.

Heat tingled under the tease, flushing upwards, but Ori’s gaze was glittering dark. “Are you asking,” she purred, tone pendulously caught between seduction and bald threat, “to see how far the scars go, Ezekiel?”

His brown eyes flicked up. He offered a jack o'lantern smile. “What would be the point when I’ve heard you scream so sweetly already?” He laughed again, and moved to instead grasp her arm, urging it around and running his thumb over a puncture against the vein inside her forearm. He pressed until dull pain throbbed the wound, like the needle slid in anew, and leaned in close to stir hot breath at her ear. “Even after Ilya’s girls were done, you would not stop, Oriena.”

She turned her face to watch him flatly. If there was a hunger in him, it was not a carnal one. He let her arm go.

Memories scraped the surface, ignored. The agony Ezekiel envisioned had less to do with the bubbling melt of her skin than he clearly supposed, though she remembered it well enough in flashes. Searing pain. The demon leer of a face that was sometimes Ryker’s and sometimes a stranger’s. The Healing was nothing like the sweet rivers of Jensen’s embrace, but something of excruciating cold, cording her muscles like they were cast into a shell of ice. The ache of it hadn’t left yet.

The screaming, though. That was for something else. Grief hurled into the void as it siphoned through her soul like a trespass; scars deeper and uglier than the ones on her skin. She touched her damp neck, tracing a line that should have flared tender pain. There was nothing quite like staring into the promise of the abyss to spark new yearning for the thrill of living, though the rumour was that Jaxen Marveet was dead. Ori had not cared to dig for the truth, but she doubted its veracity anyway; he had every reason to be laying low right now. And she wasn’t going to look for him, even if it was the slide of his hands she was thinking of then.

Ekeziel nodded towards the rows of glittering bottles behind her, smirking. “You’re looking for something to take the edge off?”

A smile finally hooked. She wondered how long she had been down here, and how long he had been loitering around the Almaz, waiting for her to rejoin the world of the living. “No,” she said. “I’m looking for something stronger.”

KALLISTI

It had been a long time.

The evening was in full heat by the time she ascended the steps. Inky skirts whispered about wicked-sharp heels with each step, baring the long length of her scarred leg through a slit to the thigh. Tousled curls swept down one shoulder. She winked at the doorman, who angled to bar her from cutting the snaking line awaiting entry before hesitating with a frown. Money talked at Kallisti, and she looked it tonight. A smirk of blood-bitten lips smoothed her passage. She pressed him aside with the palm of her hand. “Tell Carmen to shut the doors. We’re closed tonight.”

Her gaze swept the lavish interior as she stood in the arching threshold; the damask inlaid walls and ornate furniture of such a familiar shadowy kingdom, and far past its use to her. If people stared, she did not notice, but nor did she court anonymity tonight. Power wreathed on whim, glowing her ethereal bright; a cool beacon to those she knew would feel it within. The scratch of voices in her head were quiet, lulled by Ezekiel’s charms, and a thread of mischievousness burned in its wake. A duller edge of restlessness than her usual proclivity, though such moods rarely lasted. 

She found Amaya entertaining by the bar, hair bright as flame in the soft light of the chandeliers. From behind Ori’s hand reached to snake over the curve of her hip, and she smirked as she felt the woman tense. Her lace-shrouded arm only wrapped closer though, pulling her flush. Surprise pinched Amaya’s expression for the quite forbidden touch, at least until she realised who it was. Ori’s storm-tossed gaze absorbed the client opposite like a promise or a dare, but it was for Amaya the whispered words pressed close like a lover’s caress. “Go tell the others you all have the night off. Up to you if you stay or not.”

Then she released her. 

A flush of power flickered the lights briefly to twinkling madness, and a sense of disturbance finally began to pierce the smooth evening, though little had outwardly changed. The music still hummed soft seduction, and for now the stage still offered its ribald titillation. The lambs still played, and she let them.

A long time ago Oriena had danced here; only once and on a dare, but she had never been entertainment.

Tonight, this was her kingdom. And tonight, she would be entertained.

[[This thread is open. No plans. Just assume your character was already in residence when Ori closed the doors]]
"You say you're a god man. So what? 
I'm the devil herself"
Alpha ~ Little Destroyer
***
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#2
It was the oddest thing. Rena felt at home with these women. In a way, it was the first time she'd felt at home since. Well, maybe since she'd lived with her sister Nina. And before that, when momma and papa were alive. The outside world was always...alien. Oh, she wanted in. Of course she did. And she had made it in. The beautiful clothes on her body, the jewels that brushed her collarbone, that bedecked her fingers or hung from her wrists said as much.

At least that was what she told herself. And believed, mostly. Caught up in the party, in the glamour and richness, the flashing of cameras and the mingling with famous artists and models and musicians, a world of Champaign and caviar. She wanted it to be home. Even convinced herself it was.

But here, with these women, there was a different kind of kinship. She wasn't sure what it was, exactly, that made Ilesha and Juls feel like old friends. She didn't like it, honestly. It felt too exposed. And yet there it was. A sense that they were the same.

She opened her mouth to ask about the app when a feeling of strength and power seemed to call to her. Not from either woman. From beyond the door. She clicked her mouth shut, eyebrows raised, before saying 'You feel that? Who...?" She trailed off as she stood and went to the door, hand on the knob, looking between it and the women. After a moment, she turned it and opened, the noise of the music flowing in along with a breeze. Through the dark halls she followed the call until there, across the main hall of the Kallisti stood a woman of striking features and piercing eyes, radiating the power like a queen.

Her breath caught.
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#3
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Juls had no real interest in the app Ilesha spoke of. It was interesting, and it would be good to learn from others, but the tech behind it was likely going to be abused. Someone was going to turn innocent things into weapons. Ilesha worked for the government and that was what they did. Juls was cautious about siting her opinions. A doctor she would use what tools she could. And one day Juls wished to be able to heal. She felt bad that she was unable to help Raffe when he needed it, but there was so little known. She had seen what could be done, now, but that didn't help Raffe then. And Juls was still a little scared to try on a real life person.

But her reflection was left when Rena got up to look out the door. But Amaya was coming through and whispered that Ori had returned closing Kallisti only days after it had opened again. Juls hoped it wasn't closed for the duration again. She needed the money.

Juls got up and offered Ilesha a hand and lead the two women out the door. "That's Oriena, our beautiful and most gracious host." Juls smiled at her boss, she wouldn't consider her a friend, but the two little birds trailing her might bring Ori calm knowing others came to the fold. "We have guests." Juls didn't indicate behind her or their names, Ori would know them for what they were she was after all the one who brought most of them in any way. "It's good to have you back." Though her voice waivered. Having Ori back wasn't always a good thing.
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#4
Ilesha wasn't exactly wanting to follow but she took the offered hand and followed Juls out to greet their proprietor. She'd met Oriena once back when she first came here. Ilesha hung back in her less than appropriate attire. The club seemed the same as before though it was now closed to new guests. Whatever that meant for the patrons inside.
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#5
Carmen emerged to catch her eye some short time after Amaya left, but beyond a tight look no words were exchanged. Sometimes the woman knew when to simply ride the currents of Oriena’s whim, which was probably why their business relationship had lasted as long as it had. Certainly she would not risk a spectacle in front of the patrons, and she would smooth over any disgruntlement Ori imagined -- with the clients and staff both. Whether the lingering customers remained or fled to better prospects Oriena did not actually care. It was the company of channelers she sought tonight.

The women began to drift through then. The flutter of trepidation in Juliana’s voice sharpened a smile to Ori’s lips, though she only laughed for the introduction. “Oh, I’m sure.” A brow arched, but no sense of offense was taken, and nor did she much seem to notice the fawning. Instead she only considered the little birds the woman tugged alongside, both possessed of the power that made them hum with familiarity. One woman she already knew, and sultry amusement marked the recognition.

“Ilesha.” The word came out a caress, mostly because she was sure it would make the little sweet uncomfortable under the spotlight of such attention. Oriena’s invitation the last time they met had been a genuine thing, but she was vaguely surprised to see the woman had actually returned to what she undoubtedly considered a den of iniquity. The shining cords of kinship, perhaps, else more yawn-worthy desires of a scholarly nature.

The other was a stranger, expression writ with awe that teased something more playful into Oriena’s expression. “And you, what’s your name?”
"You say you're a god man. So what? 
I'm the devil herself"
Alpha ~ Little Destroyer
***
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#6
Once, long ago, Rena had been in her parent's trailer. She was maybe nine or ten and was sick. Momma had made a thick and hearty chicken stew and the smells had filled the interior with a sense of comfort. They both had work to do and Nina was out doing whatever, so Rena was there alone, bundled on the couch under a thin blanket, heavy bowl warm between her hands and on her chest, as she watched the TV.

Later, stomach pleasantly full, empty bowl now on the floor, she had been drifting in and out of sleep, images and sounds from the screen seeping into her mind.

And in her not-quite dream a goddess had appeared, skin a pale ivory, sharp high cheek bones, full blood red lips, piercing green eyes, and dark twisted horns. She was terrifying and gorgeous, dangerous and alluring. Rena was never sure if she was awake or asleep as she watched the movie, pain and betrayal, love and forgiveness shining like highlights in jet black hair. She only knew the mold had been set.

It was no accident that she dressed the way she did, contrasts of light and dark, complementary shading and color, her palette. Her skin and hair and eyes helped. In that she was lucky.

Because that was the model of beauty and power she held deep in her mind.

And now it was made flesh, standing there imperiously, small curve at her lips, eyes seeming to slide over each and every one of them as if they were owned. The power she held only served to halo her in majesty.

Yeah, Rena was a total fan girl at the moment. Maybe even had a crush, though that wasn't typical for her.

She couldn't help the smile though she tried to stifle it. "I'm Rena." It was all she could say. She felt stupid enough as it was.
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#7
Oriena remembered her. It was a mild shock but the way she had said her name made Ilesha squirm a little. She hoped to have hidden the reaction, but this was all very uncomfortable yet familiar. It was all confounding.

Juls was there with her hand on Ilesha's arm. She wasn't sure if it it was there for reassurance or to keep her from bolting. Either way, it was a comfort - a small one, but still there.

Ilesha gave the beautiful and seductive woman a shy smile. "I bet you are as surprised to see me as I am to be here." It was a small attempt at humor. But deep down in her heart, Ilesha knew she'd be back. Others like her? That was its own draw.
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