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Author Topic: Ace of The Duck Pond The Good Doctor.  (Read 5429 times)
MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #250 on: November 24, 2015, 11:13:28 am »

"Ah. I see, so there will be echoes in the Captain's head until The effect of the curse, or dark spell, whichever you actually used, wears off." Meri said, dispassionately. "That explains why the noose keeps twitching," she added. "I wonder, will it wear off in time to keep you from being strangled?"

She turned to Jace and said, "A little something else slightly different to think about, lest you think in future of using my blood to heal a wound; If you had chosen that road, it would be my voice you'd be hearing in your head." She saw Liam's reaction, and added, still as if speaking to Jace, "I have no desire to sire more fledglings and have them wrenched from me again, so my voice would be strident indeed in your mind." She had finally realized from the Hunter's reactions that he did not want to be identified as such, so did not address him upon that score; she might be a fiend, but she had her scruples, and prided herself on her discipline and self-control - and her honor, albeit an immortal undead's kind of honor. "I haven't heard my own sire's voice clearly since I came to this world," She said, a note of near-wistfulness seeming to creep into her words. "I wonder if she is still surviving."
------
Al carried Jace back over to the cot and laid her down gently. He walked over and picked up the bucket, righted it (upside down), and sat on it again, this time very deliberately going through the process of Field-stripping the Colt. He paused to pull the jacknife out again, and folded out a file blade, and took a leather bag from a lower leg pocket and extracted a pistol cleaning rod and brushes, and the gun oil bottle from earlier.

"I haven't forgotten you, or my promise, Doctor," he said, a coldness in his voice that made even Meri take pause, "But I rolled on my friend, here, and she needs a good stripping and cleaning before I go shooting holes in you. Rest assured, though, that if I have trouble fixing her up, I can always switch to my knife. That might even be better, I could butcher you slowly while you watch, and Meri has a nice, long meal." He stripped the gun with lightning speed, checked the parts, then reassembled it just as quickly, tried the action (with an empty magazine from a pouch on the shoulder holster's harness), stripped the gun again, filed a couple of places, and reassembled the action after oiling this or that part, and finally put it all back together. "Well, Dangit. She works just fine now." He slid in a fresh, loaded magazine, and worked the slide, then set the safety.

--------
Meri wished they'd stop talking about feeding her; her canines wre getting so long and curving slightly that they were starting to prick her lips, and her stomach grumbled like a child's, just before supper...
« Last Edit: November 24, 2015, 11:25:44 am by MWBailey » Logged

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« Reply #251 on: November 24, 2015, 06:28:05 pm »

Liam looked at the doctor and said  "Each time she hears your voice, I will take a part of you."

The doctor looked up with a snear on his face, and pointed his finger at Liam "You do anything and I will make her suffer!"  Jace cried out in pain, the timing suggesting that maybe the doctor was trying to speak in her head again.

Liam answered  "I understand how compulsion magic works better than you think old man."   The crack of the pistol was followed immediately by a spray of blood from the tip of the doctor's right knee cap.   Simultaneously Jace quieted and the doctor screamed in pain.

Liam said in a soft flat voice  "Each time she cries out, I will distract you again."   

To Donna Liam said "I am not sure Meri needs to be so close to the doctor.   I might have to make him leak a little until Jace is stronger."
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #252 on: November 24, 2015, 07:11:15 pm »

Meri snorted. "I am not the ravening beast you imagine, Mister Liam. my fangs may be long, but I have discipline to spare. I am no mere fledgling, that leaps on the first sparkle of blood."

"All the same, meri, you ought to moveback," Al cut in, "th' man has th' scent y' were taught to obey, after all. I might not be entirely compfortable arpound you -no offense - But I'd damned sure prefer you as a friend than an enemy."

"honesty is always welcome, Mr. Clancy - "

"Al. we've been in battle together. This 'Mister,' 'Miss' stuff kinda gets in the way."

"Al, then."
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #253 on: November 24, 2015, 08:53:47 pm »

Jace was able to breathe deeper as the pressure in her head lessened.  It did Donna's heart good to see her captain's pain eased and she was sure Al felt the same.  She had not realised how much he cared for her until today.  Perhaps when all this madness was over she would have to play matchmaker.  The vampire being close to her was a bit nerve wrecking but she seamed to hate the doctor as much as Donna did herself and this was very much an any port in the storm situation.  "No matter what way we end it you won't be leaving here alive doc unless you give us a dammed good reason."

The doctor was pale, he could feel his grip on Jace fading but maybe there was just enough left to get him out before the dammed noose took him.  If he could use her force to form a blade and do enough magic to make the rope close quickly well the rope would sever itself.  If that failed there was always the last resort of the black cross.  He hoped that would not be needed because it was both horribly messy and would put him back under his brother's thumb but then again letting the protector eat these mercenaries would be fitting especially the vampire.  It was something to remember.  Carefully he started building a force blade before his neck as the noose tightened.  It was made more simple by the fact that she was untrained and it took her far longer to realize he was siphoning off her than most.  He set a spark in the electrics of the bomb.  It was simple and would set off any others with the same trigger causing chaos all over the station. 
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« Reply #254 on: November 24, 2015, 09:11:34 pm »

Wilfred saw a spark of life in the device and fired his revolver at it. The device gave out a puff of smoke but nothing more. Firing a shot into the doctors leg to distract him and brake his concentration, he opened the box, pulled out a pocket knife ad started cutting wires, when he had finished, he twisted a few wires back together then slid it under the doctor. Replacing his revolver into his holster he searched the doctor and removed everything he found including a black cross hanging on a chain around his neck.
He looked over to liam, "I believe you know what to do with this!" he said and threw the cross over. He turned to move then swung his fist punching the doctor in the face, braking his nose and cutting his lip, disrupting what ever he had been concentrating on. Satisfied he had done what needed, he walked away rubbing his knuckles.
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #255 on: November 24, 2015, 11:24:20 pm »

A look of alarm slowly crept over Meri's face as she sensed a thaumic energy wave building. It was nothing much at first, but then it took on the particular dark-magickal stink of something that she recognized. the Ta Chi sprang from the shadow at her side, and she caught it as it scribed an arc over her head. "We may wish we had not neutralized that necklace," she said, her voice nearly a snarl, as she took on a warrior-ready stance.

"The hell?" Al exclaimed and sprang to his feet and pulled the Colt and the Khukri, putting himself between Jace and the Doctor, he being the only thing in the room as far as he knew that was anything like a threat.

"Exactly," Meri said tersely.

Meri calmed somewhat after Wilfred shot the box and punched the doctor, but she did not come down off of the balls of her feet, and she still held the six-foot-long Ta Chi as if it were a very large, curved toothpick. Did the bastard do it? she wondered. Did he already call the Beast, or did Wilfred stop him in time? "Dread Lords of Darkness,. let it not be so," she breathed out loud, but kept her stance.
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Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #256 on: November 25, 2015, 12:00:43 am »

The doctor laughed and laughed until the tightening noose took his breath away.  A shadow was growing in the corner as his life faded and he was beyond caring.   Jace spoke but the words were not her own.  "Devour them but keep this one she is a gift for my brother!"  The shadow exploded in to a dark swirling mass.
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #257 on: November 25, 2015, 12:30:30 am »

"GUARD YOURSELVES!" Meri actually roared as she forsook all semblance of humanity, leathery wings sprouting from her back and her nails springing into claws, her eyes becoming red-hot glowing pits of hell as she launched herself at the rapidly-coalescing shadow. The thing howled in rage and pain as she made one cut, then one viscious slash, but she was then brushed aside as the beast swatted her with a huge paw; she crashed through the far wall of the hangar, the sheet iron billowing out and cartwheeling away.  

Al stood in front of Jace and began taking aimed shots at the thing's eyes and head, or at least where they seemed to be. "LIAM! Its time fer a magic buillet!" he yelled.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 04:47:18 am by MWBailey » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #258 on: November 25, 2015, 04:40:25 am »

Donna made the sign of the cross and wondered what she could do to fight such a monster.  She had no power at her back, no special talents other than piloting and lord knew if that could even help.  It didn't matter as the monster tried to take out Al with a paw swipe.  Power or not she lept to his side taking the brunt of the hit with her blade.  She was pushed across the floor but managed to deflect it away from Jace who seemed to be pinned in place with shadows.  Donna worried for her dear friend knowing that the events of today would leave scars as the healed but perhaps with all of them by her side they would be lessened.  "Fancy meeting you here Al. Can I have this dance until your lady decides to cut in?"  Donna took up a place by his side. This was a nightmare but they were all in it together.
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« Reply #259 on: November 25, 2015, 04:45:27 am »

Liam raised his pistol, he was going to wait for a clear shot.  But then he had a crazy idea.    Compulsion magic.   Years of lessons on how to fight monsters and magicians flooded back in a new pattern.  He knew exactly what to do.    Dropping both firearm and bag, Liam snatched several items out of the bag and ran to the misty shape still defining itself.

He quickly started sketching a pentagram.  It was nearly formed enough to try to lunge at the others, yet still was half in the void, so not truly a threat yet.

Liam called out  "HURRY, SOMEONE DRAG THAT DAMNED MAN OVER HERE WITH THE BEAST!!!!"

The Fiend was forming slowly, but by the time the star was drawn in chalk, it had enough solidity to touch Liam with it's claws and the boy felt a deep chill.  He had to hurry.   Liam started chanting the "Rules of Binding" and using his own innate ability to make the mechanics of the spell function correctly.  As long as he had them both inside in time.........

« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 04:48:00 am by Ranger Reid » Logged
MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #260 on: November 25, 2015, 05:02:14 am »

"Glad ta have ya!" Al shouted over the din of the beast's formation. "Hang on a sec!" he whipped oyut teh grease pencil he used when he did calculations on the dead reackioning wheel's metal grid plate, and drew a cross, followed by an ankh, and thenh a short Hail Mary on Donna's blade. "Ain't much, but Daddy Pasquel back home used to kill ghostlights with pencil crosses* on his bullets, so maybe? Just keep it away from Jace, she's whatthey want - and I - I'll be damned if I'll give 'er up!"

Meri healed in midair; the man she'd drained in Wilfred's hangar must have had an extra spark in him, as the prana still coursed through her body. She swooped up into the air and then dove for speed and power, and heard Liam's yell as she came to the hole her impact had blasted in the hangar wall. "ON THE WAY!" she screamed, and swooped down, dropping the Ta Chi, and swept the totally unready Doctor up, literally tossing him in a heap into the center of the pentagram. "Special Delivery!"

The Ta Chi whooshed over the heads of Donna and Al, and slammed point-first into the flank of the beast; it was obvious now that it was a Hell Hound, and it screamed a howl that rivaled that of all the fiends of Hell as the long blade sank into its vitals.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 05:40:09 am by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #261 on: November 25, 2015, 05:17:16 am »

Liam cried out as the beast clawed his torn shoulder.  Even half formed the claw was able to start the bleeding again.

The hunter changed from the "Ruled of Binding" and began the "Seal of the Pact"   There was no escaping the pentagram now.

Lastly, He sat one of his bullets at each point of the star.


"Everyone stand back!   Meri, if this fails, I think you might be the only one who can face this thing.   You can take my blood.  It should give you powers."

He crawled away from the finished pentagram as the beast suddenly burst fully in to being.

With a horrific roar, the Hell Hound launched itself against the pentagram.  The room shuddered, but the binding held.   (Liam was almost surprised.  He had never worked the spell, but as soon as he considered the magic as another mechanism based device, his power had flowed in to it.  It had been a little too easy.  For the most brief moment, he was fearful of becoming addicted.

That thought didn't have time to develop fully, as the beast lunged again into the wall of force.   It's roar was deafening. 

After a moment the beast looked down at the doctor.   He had gotten his neck free somehow, and was just coming around.     His eyes went wide as he realized how close he was to his supposed minion.   The doctor tried to roll away, but when he touched to wall of the pentagram, he was knocked back to sitting by the explosive power.

Man and beast stared at each other, possibly in some unspoken communication.    Liam feared that they might be able to combine their strengths.  He hadn't considered that possibility at all.   He had just assumed the fiend would be drained from the crossing and have to take energy..........


Even as he worried this, the beast apparently came to agree with him.   It dove onto the doctor's chest.    Like a giant dog licking at a wound, the HellHound took in the doctor's blood from his scalp wound.

The man screamed as not only blood, but some glowing essence trailed out and in to the monster's maw.     

Within seconds the beast had finished feeding and turned back to face Liam.      He knew he could command the beast if he chose.   He looked at it.  The lure of power was washing over him like a flood.

In the corner of the room, a small beast stirred.   A gremlin.   Liam flashed back to who he was, not just his job, but his entire LIFE had been training to hunt.   The addictive power of the magic was nothing compared to that.   Then Liam thought of Donna.   He had only just started that relationship, and he couldn't face her if he went down this dark path.

That was the last straw.    With a grunt of pain, Liam stood and began the chant of dismissal.     
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #262 on: November 25, 2015, 06:03:54 am »

"It will not fail." Meri's voice in her full-on vampiric fiend form was both hellish and beautiful. she flapped down to land beside Liam. "you have control. You will not fail. If yo do, I shall do as you have said, but I do not think it will be necessary. Don't worry about my blade; it belonged to my Liege Lord and Master. He was a great Lord and Warrior - and what the Japanese call a 'devil.' It is fitting that it passes in such a heroic fashion." She did not mention that it was possible that it would be returned to her; she had heard of such things before, but Liam need not know that; she could sense his temptation and did not want to exacerbate it. She backed off, to go and stand beside Al and Donna, her body slowly returning, but not completing the transition to, a semblance of humanity; the danger would not be past until the Doctor and his erstwhile organization were gone from the station, and she wanted to be ready just in case.

"Good," she said, when she saw Liam make his decision and begin the chant to send the hellbeast back. "Power is said to have two edges. That is a lie. It has infinitely many, and they all cut the wielder in some way." she looked at teh two people beside her, and beyond them, at Jace. "You might want to be sure the shades are gone from your amazon captain." She added, "I am honored to have fought with you all. I would hope that we could part and be amicable, if not exactly friends. I understand, however, especially in some persons' cases, that such might not be possible. I will stay until your danger is passed., however."
« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 06:06:23 am by MWBailey » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #263 on: November 25, 2015, 10:56:04 am »

Donna took a deep breath and looked at the broken man on the floor.  The fire in her raged to finish the job but her more level head had a better plan.  She looked at Al and Liam with a wicked grin.  "What if we tied our friend here up all nice like and left him waiting for pick-up out in a row boat?  That should get the rest of the crazies out of our hair for at least a little while.  we can put out news in a back handed way so they won't even know who cleaned his clock."

Jace shivered her mind had had been full of such cold sharpness she had been unsure if she would ever be warm again but then there was a horrible scream and it all broke away like crumbling ice.  She was alone in her own head and had never before realized what a wonderful thing that was.  Every part of her the shadows had touched there were odd burns that felt cold to the touch. Jace wobbled as she got to her feet. Each step hurt but it would hurt more to admit how badly that bastard had cut in to her.  "Come here my big palooka."  She held Al close and kissed him full on the lips.   
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« Reply #264 on: November 25, 2015, 01:04:21 pm »

Liam smiled a tight evil smile.  "If his brain works, I think I can take your idea up a level.   He said the collar was intended for Meri, but settled for you, Jace.   With his soul damaged, he should be almost like a" (Liam looked at Meri), "fledgling.  We could plant a suggestion that he take his propert" He kicked the box on the floor, "and go show it to his cult.  Might convince them not to try it again."

Liam suddenly felt the drain of using his power, only this time it was heavier and more taxing.   Messing with magic always had a price.   He lost his balance and started to go to the floor.    Before he did though, a slender arm encircled his waist.   "Later.  Was all Donna said as she hugged him tightly."   
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #265 on: November 25, 2015, 04:46:19 pm »

Al froze in shock, and then relaxed and rallied; he returned the kiss and pulled back, then responded whith equal fervor when Jace pursued, holding on tightly yet gently as he kissed her deeply.

"Meri looked at them almost wistfully, then smirked. "I'd say it's about time." She turned as Liam spoke, and one eyebrow went up at the suggestion of making the doctor 'like a fledgling.' Is he suggesting what he seems to be suggesting? she wondered in her head. I could do that, surely, but do I really want his mind so close to mine? Then a sudden thought, having to do with how it would feel from his perspective, made her chuckle slightly. Oh, how she could make him hate his life!

But then, Liam collapsed; it was as Meri had seen before in human wizards, and monks of a certain sect such as the ones she had observed in Japan; having driven themselves to the edge of endurance, keeping themselves upright by sheer will and obstinacy, they would collapse suddenly when the danger had passed, just as Liam had just done. She had, at her foster-father's behest, treated several such who had studied in the Village, so she knew what needed to be done.

"Give him something to eat and drink. A very strong, mealy-tasting beer and some kind of bread with meat would do well. Then, have him lie down. it is imperative that he have something for his body to run on while he rests. He has not only depleted his body, but his spirit as well; it is common for practitioners of the recondine arts."
« Last Edit: November 25, 2015, 04:49:29 pm by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #266 on: November 26, 2015, 12:05:44 am »

"You and I have a lot to talk about shugar."  Jace said as her legs failed and she collapsed in to Al.  She looked up at him all smiles despite the pain.  "Like you aren't aloud to jump on grenades any more."


Donna looked down at Liam with a grin.  "Wanna feed each other sandwiches in my bunk if it isn't rigged to explode or something?"

"How on earth do I program this thing?"  Jace asked as the doctor followed her around in a way she found very creepy.
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #267 on: November 26, 2015, 01:07:42 am »

"I'd do it all again for you, hon," Al said with a softness in his voice that had almost never bneen there before; or it had been, but never so anyone could hear it. "Gotta protect the ones you love." he saw Jace's face, and added finally, "Aww... alright, I won't do that then. Ain't gonna promise not to protect you, though." He held her close.

"Hmmm..." Meri looked at the Doctor speculatively. Jusy as an impulse, she stopped him with an outstretched arm. A simple gesture, one which would hardly have hindered the man at all if Meri were the mere lovely-cute Eurasion girl she was beginning to look like again (though her eyes still glowed like lambent crimson lanterns); since it was Merovingia "in full sail," so to speak, however, the simple outstretched arm would have stopped a speeding lorry.  She grasped the Doctor by the chin, then laid her other hand alongside his jawline, the thumb running along the line of his chin from the other direction,  her palm cleaving to the man's cheek, and her fingers cupping the curve of his skull. She delved into his mind, and he screamed, a kind of lost, hopeless, quiet scream as she examined the howling chaos within him.

"Dear me," she saild when she released him. "Making him a thrall - or 'fledgling' as your man suggested, Miss Donovan - would be a kindness. If you wamt to "program" him, miss Amazon, I could let him have a bit of my blood, and tell him to do as you say..."
« Last Edit: November 26, 2015, 02:45:02 am by MWBailey » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #268 on: November 26, 2015, 02:26:31 am »

Jace blinked she had felt a dim echo of what Meri expedience. "Oof he was a bastard but that is harsh way to go."

"Perhaps altering him will be for the best.  We don't want them tracing all this back to us.  I mean they knew Meri was here and as much as I dont want to see you take the blame for our work we need time to heal.  Jace darlin' you are nearly the walking dead and Liam isn't much better if they come back on us in force with those shadow things we are sunk."  Donna was ever practical.
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MWBailey
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"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #269 on: November 26, 2015, 02:54:53 am »

Dear girl, I have fought to stay alive since the day I was turned," Meri said frankly, in a voice that was both reassuring and slightly devil-may-care. "The Order has horrors worse than the Hound, but at least I know most of them, if not all. Hells, I was one of their horrors until recently."  that last was spoken as if in reminiscence of a cherished time. "I enjoyed being useful, if you can understand what I mean. But I will never be thus again to that host of rotten vermin. Set them on my trail; they may yet find that I am a worse horror in my own way than any they can conjure..."
« Last Edit: November 26, 2015, 04:24:07 am by MWBailey » Logged
Stella Gaslight
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« Reply #270 on: November 26, 2015, 04:17:50 am »

Jace was leaning heavily on Al. She was tired, hungry and wanted the biggest hottest bath the station had but still she took her time to hold out a hand for Meri to shake.  "Thank you."  She said deeply from her heart.  "You are always welcome here.  If oyu ever run in to trouble just come to us."
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« Reply #271 on: November 26, 2015, 04:23:15 am »

Liam looked at his new group of friends.   


"No blood.   His mind is wide open now, and will be for some time.   Just tell him what we want him to do.    Like........ "  Liam limped over to the doctor and shoved the device in to his hands.    "Take this box back to your brotherhood,  meet with the most high leaders you can, tell them you need to explain what happened.   When you get there, detonate the device."



He looked at the group.   "If we repeat these instructions as exactly the same as possible, within an hour or two he will be programmed completely."

But that is someone else's job.   Donna, I think I would like to see those sandwiches"   Then in a whisper   "and your bunk."
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MWBailey
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rtafStElmo
« Reply #272 on: November 26, 2015, 04:42:15 am »

Meri looked at the hand, and then took it, shaking it with as much warmth as she could muster. "I thank you. I can no longer return to the Village, not without great effort and hardship; I will need a place to stop and rest once in a while.  I thank you. Be careful of inviting others of my kind in, however. I have discipline an a sense of honor; most do not. As long as you do not invite them in, they cannot get in without seriously damaging themselves. It is surprising how effective a threshold, even just a stress gap in the concrete of an entryway, can be against supernatural threats."

"I will handle it," Meri said to Liam's idea. "Miss Jace can help if she likes (the symmetry would be absolutely wicked), but if not, I will do it. I actually like the idea of not having his mind connected to mine permanently." She hadn't quite noticed it yet, but her speech patterns were beginning to shed their tinges of Asianness - though as yet her accent was still the same odd amalgam of British, Chinese and Japanese nuances.

She laid her hand alongside the doctor's head again, gripping his skull almost intimately, and began repeating Liam's order verbatim into the man's mind. At first, the doctor's face twisted in horror, but then, slowly, his lips began to mouth the words, as if they were a favorite bit of verse he was repeating to himself. This was somethingthat Meri decided she would remember, a new skill, this implanting suggestions without making the carrier a blood thrall. Time would tell if it proved to be as useful as doing it the old way.

"Would you like to say it a few times, Miss Jace?"
« Last Edit: November 26, 2015, 04:51:54 am by MWBailey » Logged
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« Reply #273 on: November 26, 2015, 05:28:02 am »

"I think I should."  She stared him in the eyes and repeated the words as if the doctor was a bas dog who piddled on the rug.  It seamed like the more she spoke the more sure he looked.  He actually saluted when he was done. 

Donna blushed a bit and smiled.  "I warn you it is a bit fussy and hen can make a right mess of things but the bed is comforable and has plenty of space for two."
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MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
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United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #274 on: November 26, 2015, 05:14:47 pm »

"That should do it," Meri said.she looked around, and then realized where teh Ta Chi had gone. "Hells. That beast dragged my master's horse-sword back to hell with him. It will be a pain to get it back again. She sighed. "Ahh... Well, there is nothing for it for now. the katana and shortsword will have to do until then."

Away across teh station, in a corner of the facility's Chinatown, A young couple stood beneath a huge, ornate, red-tasseled Chinese lantern on which the words "Imperial Palace" were printed in large red letters, and shared a kiss. "Now, was that a spectacle, or was it a spectacle!" the boy said, excitement warring with light-of-love on his face.

The girl, equally thrilled and aroused, answered, "Yes. The Aces were magnificent! And to think, we now have a protector!"

The boy looked at her quizzically. "you mean there's a hunter, surely."

"No, silly, the Vampire lady! I hear she worked here for a while, you know."

"Get out! "

The sounds of swing jazz filled the air as they both laughed and opened the door, and went inside, the girl demurely tucking her red-and-gold tail discretely back under her skirt...

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