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[5e IC] Mirror Dance [2076 Game Thread]

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Alyce falls to her hands and knees on the floor where the vampire had thrown her, one hand automatically going to her throat as she tries to get her breath.  Her body has rarely felt so abused and she has to shake her head to get her bearings.  One of the really neat things about a good ultrasound sensor package is that it gives a very accurate picture of what is in the area and Alyce has a very, very good one implanted in her and it gives her a better picture of what is going on than if she had eyes to see it all with.  Al had worked his own kind of magic and had cleverly arranged to anger the vampire enough to throw him across the room.  Alyce would have to remember to congratulate Al later on his fine acting ability to pretend to be hurt.  As it is, the woman is now several feet from either of her opponents and her attention is on Al.  Not on Alyce.  Not on where Alyce's severed finger is.
The vampire is screaming at Al so much that Alyce does not even really need to be sneaky, although she does try to not draw the vampire's attention to her.  Finger in hand, she sends a wireless command to the whip inside it, praying that the whip itself is unharmed and still responds to her wireless commands.  She is quite glad to feel the whip unspool and pool on the floor at her feet.  The vampire remains unaware of Alyce until the Keeb screams out loud enough to be heard.  "Keep your fragging hands off of my man, bitch!"  She takes the finger in both hands and swings the whip from behind her, putting every bit of her skill into the strike, knowing that this may be the only one she will get.
The vampiress takes a step towards Al and is momentarily surprised when she loses her balance and crumbles to the floor, leaving the foot and lower right leg behind.  As the vampire falls, Alyce picks up the broken table leg from where the woman had dropped it after ripping it from Al's hands and tosses it to him.
Touch Sideiron. Out on the North Sea taking bounty on paras. '56 or '57. Touch had sailed with them, what was it? Three, four runs? Good man, knew the right weapon for the right critter. He'd talked a lot about his time with some vampire hunters working the Southwest deserts. Ute and Pueblo lands, mostly. Always been on about how dangerous they were, how tricky. So Al had been a bit disappointed at what a bunch of pussies most they'd encountered today had been. To be fair, his own powers were admittedly prodigious, so perhaps he ought to judge them on a sliding scale or something.
But Touch had been a pro, always known what he was talking about. Consequently, Al had assumed as they'd progressed deeper into the coven's sanctum that the worst was yet to come.
So when he caught the table leg and sprang to put it through the one-legged she vamp...and found only air, he was surprised but not shocked. Leaving her foot behind, she had somehow launched herself up to the ceiling, and there she was flat against the stone masonry up there, out of his direct reach. She smiled down at him coldly, putting on a brave face, but Al knew she was having a harder time than she let on - he could literally see her elevated pulse rate as blood gouted from her stump with every beat of her black heart.
Alyce's whip had a hell of a lot longer reach than Al's little wooden stick, but even as she swung it the vampire skittered along the ceiling at a speed bordering on teleportation, ending up in a tight corner where the weight-tipped monofilament line would have no space to swing properly. And even as she did so, she flung a hand at Al, throwing an invisible freight train into his chest. It sent him flat on his back - again. He popped back up, and by the time he did the spurts of blood from her stump had stopped.
She thrust her hand in Alyce's direction and knocked her flat. Al charged, aiming to take a step on a chair to launch himself ceilingward. This time he was ready for the monster's sorcery - she flung her hand and he spun. It looked like the blast had spun him around, but instead had slipped its force just as he might a punch. Still, he cried out and dropped to the floor. She was on him faster than he expected, but that just meant he had to be a little quicker. Rolling over, he thrust up and impaled her pouncing form as it impacted him. She knocked the wind out of him even as he punctured her immortal aorta.
"Rope-a-dope, bitch."
Trying to catch his breath, he was pushing out from under her when when she sucked in a huge inhalation like a free-diver emerging from a deep plunge and clamped her doomed hands around his throat with a strength born of fury - the fury of someone that has just been consigned to an eternity of hellfire and knows it. Al switched to internal air, but oxygen was academic - she'd clamped off all the blood to his brain and was working on literally squeezing his head off of his shoulders....
Alyce had been flung to the far side of the room from whatever the vampiress had cast at her, leaving her crumpled against the wall, sucking in great breaths as she tried to get her balance.  Internal alarms were going off all over her body and the physician in her knew that she was hurt badly, probably very badly.  Her leg, still weak, had never fully recovered from what the bitch from Below had done to her and she can tell that the treatment she had just received had made it worse.  From her position on the floor, Alyce's sensors let her know exactly what is going on.  She "sees" Al make his leap from the chair to get to her, only to be knocked from the air like some pesky gnat.  Then Al's true genius showed again as the woman gave up her precious place of safety and leapt down on him.  The arrogant bitch actually thought she had Al Guthry at her mercy.  There are many, many reasons why Alyce loves Al, and one of them is the crafty way he seems to get the bad guys to do exactly what he wants them to do. 
Alyce is a bit surprised that the monster does not die immediately, but realizes that she must be tougher than the run of the mill vampires they had killed so far.  Even badly injured, this one was still fighting.  And, still, Al was playing her, getting her to do just as he wanted.  But that meant that Alyce needed to do what he needed her to do and she uses the wall to push herself to a standing position and limps forward the few feet to where the vampire has her hands on Al's neck.  So far, she had managed to take the loss of a leg and a wooden spear to the chest and still remain in the fight, but Al's genius had placed her within Alyce's reach again.  The creature was like a wounded bear, so fragging focused on killing Al that she did not even hear Alyce walk up next to her.  In fact the first sense of danger came only when she felt the monofilament wire tickle her neck.  Alyce began tightening the noose she had looped around the vampire's throat, croaking her words out between pants.  "I thought I told you to keep your fucking hands off the man I love."
At this point, at least in Alyce's mind, it should have been all over.  A quick pull and "Wham!" no more vampire.  Sure, in a normal world, that would be exactly what happened, even in most abnormal worlds but this is a very abnormal world and the vampire did not simply die and go away.  She moved with an incredible speed and strength, removing one of the hands from Al's throat and reaching back to grab Alyce's arm, twisting with all of her inhuman fury and strength.  Alyce screams as the bone snaps, feeling it puncture the skin of her arm.  Reflexively, the vampire tosses Alyce aside as she begins to scream, her voice full of invective.  "I will take you both to hell wi................"
When Alyce has time to think of it later, she can laugh at the full irony of the situation.  With her arm shattered and bleeding, she was no longer in any condition to pull the whip taut, but one hand is locked about the severed finger that holds one end of her deadly whip and the other still grips the weighted fingertip that acts as the counterweight.  The force of the Vampire's throw sends Alyce along the floor, crashing into the remains of the table, her broken arm slamming something hard and unyielding enough to send a severe thrust of pain through her entire body.  The ironic side effect is that the action forces the whip edge through the neck of the monstrous woman, popping her head from her shoulders and cutting her diatribe short.  Alyce laughs out loud as the vampire's head bounces across the floor before landing with it's now now-sightless eyes facing the open doorway to the next room.  In this moment, not even Alyce's ultrasound sensor could show her the expression of surprise on the head of their foe, but Alyce does not need to see that.  She lays back on the floor, still half laughing and half screaming in pain.  "Frag, I guess we showed her, didn't we?"
The moment of triumph is short lived, though, as both she and Al hear a might roar of anger and frustration come from the other room and her sensors let her know that Bressington is now standing in the doorway to the cell.  The sight of the head of the woman looking up at him from the floor sends him into a rage.  Of course, this might have been perfectly timed if Alyce and Al had been ready for it, but, sadly, they are not.  Al is still groaning and trying to breath again and Alyce is nearly unconscious from pain and losing blood.  The vampire lord focuses on the woman who has just killed his lover and stretches out a hand, sending a blast of some sort of energy into the already injured Alyce, causing her body to arc and writhe as she screams in pain.  Al reflexively looks in her direction and his eye is caught by the sight of what has to be true evidence that the pair's Voodoo gods have not completely abandoned them.  Just six inches from his right arm is the shotgun he had brought down and that had been put on the now shattered table with everything else that had been taken from them.
Still beneath the vampire queen’s headless corpse, his face and neck bathed in the arterial flow from her severed neck, Al’s hand darted to the right to snatch up the Remington 990 shotgun. Breathing out mantras to the distant voodoo gods that served him, he line up on Bressington’s outstretched hand. The digital readout behind the rear sight read 03. He fired true and the capsule of wood pulp broke on the ubervamp’s wrist, tearing off his hand and breaking the stream of mana streaming into Alyce’s screaming form.
Al had thought the room full of wooden implements and furnishings had represented the pinnacle of overweening arrogance, but leaving your prisoners within a few yards of their loaded weapons? But if she-vamp was the opening act, there was every possibility Bressington was just badass enough to get away with that sort of overconfidence.
Eager to prove he wasn’t, Al kept firing, sending two more into Bressington’s face as he turned toward the new threat. The capsules tore away his right eye and surrounding bits of skull and then his lower left jaw, horribly disfiguring him. Al knew that left the shotgun empty, but the vampire didn’t, remaining eye glowing with outrage as he retreated into immateriality, his body breaking up into mist form.
It was tempting to let him go - a compound fracture was only the most obvious of Alyce’s injuries, and they needed to find Dreamy - but who knew how fast super-sucker could reform, able to ambush them at will. “Not so fast there, Count.” Al’s left hand held his jury-rigged handivac. He thumbed the power on and lunged while Bressington was half-corporeal, limbs barely visible but torso still only misty at the edges. The vampire screamed in agony and indignity as the ghost of his left leg was caught in the suction of a common household cleaning device. He immediately re-assumed his fleshly form, remanifested foot shattering the handivac apart, its weight pushing Al back down to the floor. No matter - the gadget had done its job.
Only now Al had the handle of the destroyed handivac in one hand and an empty shotgun in the other as the vampire bore down on him. And half a face or not, he came fast, last fang bared. Al met the charge with the butt of his weapon. The impact broke the remaining half of Bressington’s jaw, transforming his visage from mere freakishness to macabre grotesquery. It also shattered his firearm despite the custom melee hardening Al had spent so much time on. The vampire staggered back. Al, still on the floor, tangled his feet in those of the monster, toppling it to the floor. Wresting the stake from the sternum of the she-vamp, Al rolled and stabbed downward, only to have his wrists caught in Bressington’s remaining vise-like hand, the point of the shattered table leg inches from his chest. They grappled like that for a few seconds, during which time Al managed to scramble up off his back to a kneeling position, giving him leverage on the vampire. But even able to use his body weight, he was unable to overpower the vampire.
Face to face, Al bearing down on the stake, its point touching the vampire’s shirt, Bressington met the unshaven adventurer’s eyes. And everything swam.
Al knew what was happening. He knew it was sorcery. But for all that he still wanted to let go of the stake. Wanted to get up and turn it on Alyce instead. He tried to focus on the part of his mind that knew it was all a spell. But the part that wanted to just do as the Great and Immortal Lord Bressington bade was getting bigger. He knew She would be absolutely miffed if he let his friends down. No help. He imagined the fiend had been strengthened by a recent meal, how he hadn’t been able to save Dreamy and now the abomination was using Dreamy’s own essence to overpower him. But still he couldn’t shake the idea that the best possible thing to do was to submit to the Immortal Lord’s divine will.
There was nothing for it. He stood, the stake held in one hand hanging at his side. Time to kill Alyce. Below him, the vampire without a face made a sound that was probably a chuckle.
Al turned.
He saw Alyce.
He saw her. Not an idea planted abstractly in his mind. Her. Crumpled. Bleeding. Barely conscious. The spell in his mind told him that once she was dead, all the never-stopping pain of never being able to have her would finally cease.
Then she opened her eyes. Met his. And, just like Alyce, she smiled.
Al turned and plunged the stake straight through the vampire’s heart.
The creature that had once been Lord Bressington screamed with an agony that only the deathless finally confronted with true death can feel and the cry of despair echoed in the room long after the vampire had uttered it.  Alyce regains her feet, using her sensors to detect even the slightest hint that the vampire is only acting, holding her whip at the ready in her one good hand.  Her own agony at the injury to her leg as well as the compound fracture of her left arm is almost more than she can bear but there is still Dream to find, as well as that thrice damned mirror.
As she walks, she has to almost drag her nearly non-functioning leg, but drag it she does almost in some macabre imitation of a late night horror trivid.  She tries to cradle her left arm to her chest, to protect it just in case she falls.  Al rolls over off of the vampire's body as Alyce hobbles up and she smiles down at him.  She does not want to go to the floor but she is able to bend over enough to wrap the whip a couple of times around Bressington's head.  As she straightens up, she mutters, "Just in case." and pulls the finger upwards, cutting completely through the vampire's neck and causing his misshapen head to roll a short distance away.  Laughing a bit, she glances back at Al.  "I never doubted you, Al.  You played a master musician.  They were always one step behind you.  I would kiss you right now if I could bend over far enough to do so, but I am afraid that if I go to the floor, I may not be able to get back up right away.  Of course, in my current condition, I am not really the sort of girl any self respecting boy would want to kiss, anyway."
A massive jab of pain mars her features and almost makes her leg crumble.  She wobbles a bit and cries out softly as she moves a couple of feet away so that he does not have to see her agony.  Sucking in her breath, she manages to control her spasms and turns back to Al.  "Now that we have dealt with this pansy-boy, I think we should go look for Dream and that mirror.  Hey, give a yell if you see anything that looks like a cane or a walking stick around here.  That bitch did something to my leg and it doesn't want to obey.  She fragged my arm too, but that is a bit more obvious, I expect.  I am bloody sore and could use a vacation from this sort of drek."
As she limps to the door, she wiggles the finger in her hand.  "Al?  Mind the whip I am trailing from the finger those rat bastards cut off my hand.  It is still bloody sharp and I don't need to cut you by accident."

All of Al's stuff had fallen to the stone floor with the destruction of the table, and he was busy picking it up, refilling his pockets. He only had his small medkit with him, the pocket-sized job, bit it had the two things he needed. "Half a tick, slick. Bump that thing it'll mess yer day up a lot worse." He jabbed her arm with the kit's powerful cocktail of local anaesthetic and coagulant, then expertly wrapped the arm in a sheet of plastic, hit the button, and watched it inflate into a sterile, immobilizing cocoon. Then he grabbed a broom from a dusty corner. What he really really really wanted to do was take her straight the hell out of here. But he'd probably have to fight her to do it. And anyway, she'd be right - fuck the mirror, but they couldn't leave Dreamy.
He looked her up and down, bloody and bloody beautiful, then started cutting the broom stick with the saw edge on the back of his survival knife. Thirty seconds later he handed her the finished product. "Ya can't use this ta walk an' swing that whip around at the same time. Make yer choice, cuz we gotta move," he said, reloading his Remington.
[Thursday December 10th, 2076; Bressington’s Mansion, Grosvenor Gardens, Belgravia, London, UK]
When they had been captured Dream had sent her away with a firm command to save herself.  Now that his will wasn’t upon her she had returned and battered futilely on the wards protecting the inner sanctum.  Tears flowed down her face as she felt her connection to him weakening and she channelled her pain in to a last ditch effort.  Whether it was the demise of Bressington or the emotion she poured in to her attack or something else she was finally able to tear the threads of mana apart and burst in to the room with Al and Alyce.  She considered rushing past them to find her father but enough rational thought was left to understand that they were her best hope of saving him.  She materialised in the midst of the gore, the child like figure she chose at odds with the grim scene.  Despite the incongruous vision of a ‘flower fairy’ kneeling beside Alyce’s battered figure there was no denying the power that she brought fourth.  Without waiting for permission or indeed saying anything at all, Petal gently laid her hands on Alyce and, her pretty brow furrowed in concentration, channelled her mana.  Flowering vines burst forth, enfolding Alyce in a warm and fragrant embrace, almost overcoming the metallic stink of blood.  The healing magics slowly, ever so slowly, began to knit flesh back together and infused Alyce with a spreading well being.
“I have done all I can for now, Al, come here!” and protestations of demonic witchery ignored she enfurled him too in glowing healing.  When she finally stood she was once more the young woman they had first met.  Although she was dressed now in a radiant gown that would be suitable for any high class function rather than the sturdy hiking gear from the moors.  Her face a picture of steely determination she said “Let’s go and find Dream and get out of here!”
The view in the next room is almost surreal after the scene of carnage they had left behind.  Dream is there, lying serenely on a raised dais, with no visible blemishes other than the small puncture wounds on his left wrist.  Any torture that caused the desperate screams must have been a purely mental or emotional trial.  Suspended from the ceiling above the dais can only be the mirror that they have striven so hard to find.  It’s not a traditional framed glass mirror but seems to be made from a polished silvery metal that has a shifting oily sheen to it.  Deeply incised in the outer edges are a series of incomprehensible runes that seem to form and reshape themselves.  They make the viewer uncomfortable, no matter their level of sensitivity to such things and Petal visibly blanched when she saw it.
“Cover it up with something, quickly…do not look at it for long, I don’t know what it will do…”

There were lavish tapestries adorning the walls. The woven image on one depicted in great detail a young woman being ravished by a horde of demons, and as impressed as Al was the by the stitchwork, he figured it would be the perfect cover for the accursed mirror that had been won at so high a price. He tore the hanging roughly from its fixtures and wrapped the bottom face of the suspended mirror as best he could before cutting the gilt ropes that held it. The way it faced the dais made Al think of cheap pay-by-the-hour mirrors-on-the-ceiling hotels. He looked again at a bit of the diabolically ribald scene on the tapestry and wondered just what Bressington had gotten up to with poor Dreamy he needed a mirror to reflect it. Decided he didn't want to know.

Hefting the mirror under his left arm, he held his shotgun ready in his right hand as Petal and Alyce saw to Dreamy.

"Fastest way out, now. An' no side trips."

Alyce had nodded at Al and sent the command to recoil the whip into the finger she is holding.  When that is done, she sticks the finger into a pocket and uses Al's makeshift cane and had just nodded that she was ready to move into the next room when Petal showed up and knelt at her side.  The beautiful spirit had placed her soft hands on Alyce's leg and sent some form of magical healing into her, knitting bones and putting flesh together.  it was certainly going to take some time to get the full effect of the spell, but that would be time they do not have here.  Still, the feeling of wellbeing is enough to get Alyce moving again, although she keeps the broom cum walking stick in her hand. 

Following Al and Petal into the next chamber would probably have been a mistake if Alyce could see, but her sensors and senses pick up enough that she is almost sick to her stomach.  Powerless to do much with the mirror, Alyce moves as quickly as she can to Dream's side, reaching out a hand to check on a pulse, almost surprised to get an indication of a very weak one.  She knows when Petal comes to help her and lets the spirit do what she can for the man on the dais.  A soft moan is all the indication she needs to help Petal get Dream to his feet. 

The four battered and wounded figures leave the inner sanctum but Alyce pauses as Al calls out that they are leaving.  "Al, we cannot leave those babies and young girls behind.  We have to help them."

Al cursed in annoyance. "Dammit, thought our favorite hippie she-demon here was s'posed ta take take o' that while we was down here killin' the coven masters...Ya did clear 'em all out, din't ya Petster dearie? I sure hope so, cuz this one's in no condition ta be helpin' anyone but herself, an' Dreamy here's well out o' commission. Anyone ya din't take out o' here, we git clear an' call the fire brigade - assumin' they ain't inbound already. An' we call a bunch o' bleedin' heart media types, too, make sure some pencil pusher don't jist kill the infected out o' hand. Now let's pick up the pace - we can't help no one from the fuckin' clink."


Petal nods.  "I got as many out as I could find.  I don't think I missed anyone.  I have them all staying in a safe place right now and some friends are giving them some care.  Some of them might be Infected, though, and a decision will need to be made.

Alyce grimaces as she helps Petal with Dream.  The spirit's spell might be working, but there was a lot of damage and she is having a hard time walking.  Still, her pain is less than what Dream is going through and so she shuts up and tries to continue as best she can and follows Al up the stairs to the ground floor.  She pauses to catch her breath and to get her pain under control.  "We going out the same way we came in, or just leaving by the front door?"


The way they'd come in meant going up several flights of stairs and then climbing over railings on the outside of the building. Clearly not an option for his two metahuman companions. The front door was the obvious choice - provided the police were nowhere around. He was sure the vampires wouldn't have called them, but who knew how much noise had been heard. He feared the worst. But it was the only option.

"Front door, natch. Petal, be a sweetie an' go on ahead, see if they's any fuzz about. Hopefully none yet, but if they is, then we'll jist have ta cook up a little ol' distraction o' some sort afore breakin' cover."


[Thursday December 10th, 2076; Bressington’s Mansion, Grosvenor Gardens, Belgravia, London, UK]

Petal shrugged in to her comfortable form of a twenties something student, no trace of the distraught little girl left.  With a confident smile that buoyed the spirits she replied

“They won’t see us, I will make sure of that…but I’ll go and look…” moments later she returned, walking through the closed front door “It’s clear, for now…”


And just like that they were clear. Piled into his modified Bulldog with the mirror, Al drove away from the townhouse as if nothing had happened.

"Well, reckon any o' those 'decisions' dear Petal was talkin' 'bout, what with the victims an' so forth, ol' Al ain't got no skin in that game. I'm jist here fer the vampire killin', not the social work. I'll leave that ta y'all. An' the both o' you gon' need a fair amount o' TLC at this point, the kind ol' Al ain't no good for, so let me know where ta drop ya. I got a place I promised ta be."


Alyce is glad that it appears that they are leaving that charnel house, yet sad that Al is not volunteering to provide the TLC.  She puts a brave face on it, though, and smiles at him.  "I hope that you come visit me, Al.  Soon?"  She turns to Petal.  "I want to see if there is anything I can do for the children we got out of that horrible place.  Perhaps there is an orphanage that needs some funding?"

Petal shakes her head.  "Probably not.  Too many people are going to be afraid of them and what they may become or already are if they are infected.  I am so sorry, Alyce, but I have no answers that can save them, but there are humane ways"  The pretty girl breaks down in tears then straightens her shoulders.  "I won't tell you where they are.  I will find some way to protect them."

Al looks over from the driver's seat, and Petal notices that he has somehow managed to produce a lit cigarette and has it clenched between his lips as he talks.  "Now, hold on, our flower amiga, no one said nothin' about killing them children.  Toots here will thing up somethin'.  Won't you?"

Alyce is frowning at the floor and raises her face to look at Al and Petal.  She uses a hand to wipe her face clean of tears, her frown turning into a smile.  "Yes, Al.  I will come up with something.  You can count on that.  Now let me concentrate for a few minutes and send some messages out..........................................................."  Soon enough, the matrix was burning up with requests and conniving.  Favors were called in and mountains moved.

Soon after, Alyce stands outside her London home.  Her clothes are pretty much ruined and she is covered in blood, a good bit of which is hers.  Her leg hurts like hell and she is supporting herself with a makeshift walking stick carved from a broom handle.  As Al makes ready to leave, Alyce leans forward and taps on the window, motioning for Al to lower it.  "We did good together, Al.  Thank you for letting me help.  Drop by and see me some time, if you like.  The door is always open for you."  She does not make any protestations of love and she does not need to.  Any words would be superfluous to the expression on her face and the soft tone of her words.  Not even Al could mistake what she is telling him.   

Alyce remains at the curb as Al leaves her life again.  She sighs, hoping that one day he will not leave, that he will want to stay at her side and face everything this world and the next can throw at them.


And that about wraps up this IC thread...hopefully anyone else out there reading this has enjoyed themselves!?


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