No security had been boosted – or it hadn’t been on the exterior. The span of time that had passed between her visits had been a bit longer this time, though it was doubtful that such was the intent of those giving her the request. The thief could recognize her scent was still here, but she would not follow the same route inside.
They were probably wondering by now how the security was being defeated, wondering if there was an insider turning the switches off. It wasn’t the case - although the idea gave her the thought of perhaps muddying her trail by encouraging a belief along that line.
The camera was now offline, and the thief doubled her precaution by slicing a couple wires connecting the monitor to the wall. If someone from security came to check on it and rebooted the system, she’d at least have footsteps warning her to scram and that particular camera disabled.
From what she’d overheard.. she had five, ten minutes at most. They were making proper rounds to protect the interior of the storage space this time.
Keeping a weather ear out while examining a hallway she’d bypassed earlier (mostly listening for anyone nearby), the sneak-thief made her way into a room with two locks on it. Picking the locks took two precious minutes. Considering opening the door, she sent something inside that couldn’t be harmed in inside first, and felt a trap be set off. Having the door still closed and able to shield her was a very good thing, able to feel some heat seep through the door at the bottom close to her feet.
It would be another clue as to how someone activated it without actually opening the door and stepping into the magical trap, but a necessary precaution. Getting injured by the trap would probably mean getting caught, later if not sooner.
When some experimentation showed that the trap wouldn’t go off again, the thief stepped inside quietly, not letting the door’s latch settle but not leaving it ajar.
The smell this time was what gave her an idea of what to open, though it required kneeling and bringing her nose a bit nearer to the boxes. Not so much what she looked for but what it was enclosed in, unlike the other ordinary boxes in the room. What she was taking now had to be a bit more dangerous, as the packing that it was enclosed in seemed fitting for something biohazardous. At least it seemed so, judging from the acrid smell of some latent chemical mix present to absorb the contents in the event the container got punctured in-transit.
The sneak’s sense of smell proved correct as opening the particular cardboard box showed a cylindrical secondary container inside, well-sealed. As long as she didn’t break this second container open and no one toggled with that seal while she was nearby it wouldn’t be her health at-risk.
The box didn’t have anything else, so she pulled out the inner compartment gently and returned the small number of packing peanuts that she’d dislodged before putting the flaps of the outer box back the way she’d found them. The clear tape over the flaps was broken, but a closer look might have to be taken before anyone noticed it. It would have to do.
Closing the door firmly behind her, the thief moved down the hall back towards where she’d come in. A detour was necessary upon hearing someone coming around a bend in the hall. It forced her into a dusty, disused room that was still boarded-up from the outside. Hearing the people – two, deduced from the small lines of shadow that passed by the closed door – pass, she had to choke down a sneeze and ease over to the window. The pane had long-since been broken-in, leaving only the sturdy boards to be a deterrent for vandals or trespassers.
A couple cuts and a bit of careful prying and the boards fell off, leaving the thief able to make her exit and leave only marks in the dust, a hole in the boards, and an emptier-than-earlier box to show for her presence.
That was what she thought.
The invisible watcher had seen the unfamiliar face and followed it through the building, including the thief’s means of escape when the hallways had proven too lively. The half-spirit being decided she didn’t need to follow the thief. There were better things to be done than chase her.
“What do you mean it’s GONE?!”
The look of shock, closely-followed by annoyance teetering on the point of rage, painted a less-than-pretty expression on Dorian Gray’s face.
Uneasy, Luke did manage to hide the nerve from entering his tone. “We made sure we upped the traps. Lawrence set the trap himself this time. It would have caught anyone coming in. I-I'm not sure how the thief got through it-“
“I DON'T CARE-!” Having raised his voice, Dorian paused while he caught himself. Losing his temper wouldn’t do any of them good here. Collecting himself, he dropped the volume of his voice significantly, much calmer when he did speak. “... This.. is the third theft from our midst in the same number of weeks. The first two were negligible. The third - do you understand what would happen if anyone else knows of it? What it’s used for? Or worse, where it was intended to go?”
There was a look from Dorian between everyone present. “We need to find it. I need you to come up with ideas on how to get it back - and fast.”
Lawrence was calm, which was not unusual. “The seal spell on the item has not been compromised. At least we can be assured that they cannot truly verify what it is. I can run a detection field, although it would take time-“
Footsteps gave him pause. Gloriana had been absent from the meeting, and made her appearance only now, a paper bag in one arm.
Luke wasted no time to point out caustically, “How fashionably late. You’d better have a good reason for-“
The woman ignored the jab, strolling past Luke, unwavered, and setting the bag on the table. From it, she pulled out the stolen item. The other stunned sets of eyes in the room stared at it for a moment.
Dorian recovered first. “..Glory?”
“You know I've set up specialized teams to look into any Immortal's proxy dealings in the city. The team looking into Aldric's activities came across an offer from one of his expendable associates; they were selling this. I had them buy it to cover our trail, so they won't know we're onto them.” Gloriana pulled out a chair and took a seat.
Interested, Lawrence adjusted his glasses queried and leant forward slightly. “Which expendable associate was it?”
The question had been for Gloriana, but it was Dorian who whispered the answer. “Uriah..” The name had been muttered almost too quietly to hear while Dorian rested a hand against his forehead, teeth gritting together momentarily. The hand dropped, both of his hands moving to press against the table while Dorian looked between the Family he had managed to get a hold-of. “Of course it’s him.. it has to be him.”
Glory only nodded at this.
Uriah was not an exceptional gangster. His indirect affiliation with Aldric, however, was not to be taken lightly. The Immortal of Ice was fond of supporting this kind of rubbish through layers of third party dealings, thereby making those third parties – such as Uriah’s gang - into expendable resources. He'd set them loose, allowing them to take actions by which he might gauge a response from Immortals or the higher powers within mortal society. Such actions would not warrant political repercussions, but they were vexing annoyances that would require intervention.
This was a good thing. It meant that Aldric hadn’t intentionally nudged Uriah into this thievery, and thus had no real idea of what the item was meant for. That idiot Uriah had stolen the item of his own volition.
The last thefts were not the only offense from this gangster. Altercations and vandalism caused by his gang already existed on that list. The number of his offences was enough to ensure that this latest incident would be less likely to be seen as the direct cause of his untimely death.
Eyes shifting to Gloriana, Dorian straightened, expression slightly smoother – but barely. The tone of voice was still cold, albeit his vehemence was not directed at Glory. “I don’t care anymore if he’s affiliated with Aldric. You see him, you erase him.”
That was all he needed or had to say.
Dorian let the group adjourn and returned to his office.
Expecting to walk into it empty, he instead found Erme at his desk. The girl, as usual, had a bit of an eerie smile in her features, lighting her crazed-looking eyes. It took several seconds for Erme to look up, and that smile turned to a smirk. Back she went to her drawing.
Sighing, not about to let his anger at that turn-of-events minutes prior out on Erme, Dorian told her, “You shouldn’t disappear for long periods of time like that.”
No response. The half-spirit was still working on her masterpiece, but Dorian could see a bit of it done already-
Erme dropped the pencil onto the desk, stood up, and pushed the drawing into his hands. Once he held onto it, she walked out. Dorian didn’t watch her leave. It was the drawing that had his attention now.
Erme’s ‘sketch’ was of a woman.. well, ‘woman’ wasn’t exactly accurate. The pawed, clawed feet and clawed hands weren’t human, and neither were the long pointed.. furred.. ears. Neither were the three tails in the drawing. She had long, darkly-coloured hair – who knew if Erme meant it to be black, brown, or whatever shade with only a gray pencil at her disposal – and there was some strange scribble nearby. It looked odd, the dark and seemingly shapeless patch of pencil, but it had been done in some purposeful manner like the rest of the image..
Dorian set the picture on his desk while occupying the chair Erme had left. It was under a minute before he pieced together the possibility, given that Erme had been around more than long enough. The girl was odd at the best of times, but this..
Withdrawing his phone from his pocket, he entered one of his most-used numbers and held it close.
“..Glory? Change of plans.”
“GGK!” As a foot was pressed down onto Uriah’s chest, he silenced himself momentarily as an assault rifle was aimed at his head. Gloriana was not one to bluff. The rest of his comrades present were either being held down by members of Gloriana’s gang, or by the girl named ‘Leila’ – or whatever the hell the copies she made of herself were called. They’d taken hits before being trapped by the other thugs or Leila, and bruises, bloody noses, and gouges were plentiful all-around.
Uriah’s mouth quickly started working again. “IT WAS THAT WOLF GIRL! LILAC! ” Not an eyebrow twitched on Gloriana’s face, but desperation kept the words coming. “She’s from that league thing! She’s the one who did the stealing! Then she’d sell it back to us! It’s the TRUTH, I swear!”
One of the Leilas around – actually the original, even if Uriah had no way of knowing this – snickered. “Unbelievable,” she remarked. “Can you believe the shit streaming out of his mouth, Glory?”
Gloriana hardly moved, and when she did.. she returned the safety back onto her weapon. “I’ll bite.”
Leila was incredulous. “What..?”
The gun remained aimed at Uriah, though Gloriana glanced in Leila’s direction while adding, “There were reports of someone leaking confidential information back to our rivals. Someone who fits the description given by Uriah.” The war-witch returned her gaze to Uriah, who at least knew better than to fidget under her foot. “We do not look kindly to people who poach our merchandise, Mr. Uriah Glenn. However, if you can bring her to us, we will look the other way one last time. And if you play nice, Mr. Glenn, the Grand Conspiracy.. may have a vacancy.”
Gloriana removed her foot, but left the rifle remained casually pointed in Uriah’s direction – conveniently around the level of his head. “Do we have a deal?”
Rightly, Uriah was apprehensive. Very cautiously, he sat up, and scooted back from the rifle a little when it earned him no admonishment. “.. Yes.”
Glory pulled her rifle up, setting it lightly on her shoulder. Leila had paused, but her copies eased up on the thugs they had been holding. Once she gestured for them to move, the men under Gloriana’s employ also gave Uriah’s boys some breathing room.
Leila remained silent as loose ends were cleared up with a few brief exchanges between Gloriana and Uriah. Gloriana directed her men to leave first, and then the two women followed them out, leaving the battered Uriah and his team alone.
When well away from the gang’s base, Leila finally voiced the lingering concern to Gloriana. “Didn’t Dorian say ‘you see him, you erase him’?” It wasn’t as if any of the Family was likely to forget an order from Dorian.
Gloriana just paused and looked at Leila while she clarified, “Sure he did. He also said to bring back the thief.” The War-Witch looked around briefly, not seeing eavesdropping ears. “If she can get through our safeguards that many times, she may well be just as good at hiding. Not to mention the trouble we might go to if she’s ready and fights back. But.. if her last client calls her back again..”
A sly smile had crept onto Leila’s features as she understood Gloriana’s tactic. “O-oohhh..”
The two women continued on, not noticing that someone had overheard not just them.. but the dispute with Uriah. Luke had moved out of the way from around a corner, his expression full of disdain.
This should be his job, catching the sneaky criminal.
Lilac stretched while she walked, feeling the satisfying ‘pop’ of her spine cracking for the effort. It had been a good four days since she’d last finished a job for the gang who had commissioned her.. a little soon for her liking, but she’d just have to tread carefully. Having a stash of local currency put away might be useful later, and the work would keep her with something less aimless to do than wander around or lurk after Kira like an overprotective sibling.
Even though these men had employed her multiple times now, Lilac still detoured in an arc around the building, never wanting to get too comfortable in this area of the city. It was definitely what most rational people could see as ‘shady’. Lilac was ever-mindful that darker dealings could be happening all around, something she wanted no part of beyond the ones she made on her own terms.
There seemed more reason to do so today. There were a couple of guys waiting out front, as would-be guards. That hadn’t been the norm in the last couple times she’d come here..
Lilac already knew who she was looking for, so she avoided the guards’ notice and crept around the side of the building. Announcing her presence was not necessary even if it pissed off the rest of the gang. Following the familiar scent to a cleared-out room that had likely been used to transport goods several times, Lilac slowed her already-cautious walk. The sounds ahead came from multiple people, definitely a bigger group than she’d happened to meet before.
Backstepping several times, the kitsune watched the group from a safer distance away than she would have been in a few more feet. On a second review, she realized none of them were focused on each other. They seemed relaxed, talking to each other. Casual enough. It wasn’t some kind of meeting that she wanted to avoid overhearing. Her main man was seated in one of the only chairs in the room, and none of them had noticed her yet.
It could have been coincidence, perhaps something that was happening around the same time that couldn’t be put-off until she left...
Keeping a small shred of doubt in-mind, she straightened and walked down the hall.
As Lilac continued towards the group, coming into clear view, she saw most heads turn towards her, attentive, only a handful spooking at her sudden appearance. “Good to see you again – you good for another job?” the gangster in the chair – Uriah, not that his name really mattered to Lilac - said as he stood up, plastering a smile on his face that Lilac instantly knew was fake. More fake than usual.
Would I be here if I wasn’t? Lilac withheld the disgusted look she was tempted to make, only replying coolly, “Get on with it so I can go.” Less time spent in this place, the better.
Lilac had not advanced very far inside, feeling acutely how she was the center of attention of all the men in the room. It was one thing to have them watching her wondering what she was doing here, have them leering at her in distrust, but it felt different. Had she another moment, she’d have bristled.
The moment that the words began to leave, Lilac had to throw herself aside to avoid the wooden chair heaved in her direction. She almost fell over leaning away from the arm reaching in her direction. Instantly, she let Jem loose. Cries were audible to her as she skipped back from a baseball bat swung in her direction of her head, but Lilac paid no mind to the injuries Jem inflicted – all she needed to know in the chaos was that they weren’t severe enough to turn lethal.
The backstab here warranted revenge, and she was not going to stop and reason with these soon-to-be-sorry bastards.
One gangster had stepped forward too soon, and she felt her claws go through his face in a round kick upwards. They were too close, too many-
Lilac used a wave of shadow-casting all around herself to unseat and knock back most of the group – some actually were lifted off the ground and struck the wall - but noticed there was one missing who wasn’t knocked-out or getting up.
Ducking just in-time, Lilac followed right after Jem as the creature used its body to noose Uriah’s neck to jerk him violently sidelong. The fists that had been raised at Lilac instead went to scrabble at the shadowy material Jem consisted of - only to pass right through it.
Sending a curled fist into his jaw, Lilac followed through with a kick to the head that knocked the man out cold.
The brief one-on-one dispute gave her a fleeting chance to see the purpose of the room. The door had been jammed shut, which she could open, maybe, but.. first she had to deal with the rest of Uriah’s gangsters who were still awake. If there was a heavier lock outside, it would be useless, so she’d only bother with that if she had to. Jem had actually knocked out – or in confusion, caused them to hit one another - about four of the thugs, but a few more were just nursing wounds that prevented them from running either towards her or away. One of the wounded had a phone, and he caught Lilac’s eyes just in-time to realize he’d given the purpose of the call away.
This came from one of the two who were still well and able to stand. Lilac felt herself pincered without even hearing footsteps on either side. One of the peripheral movements in the corner of her vision caused her to take a precaution, which ended up saving her life.
The thug on her left had only threatened with the gun. The one on the right actually fired a couple rounds.
The translucent, murky-looking barrier - her precaution, albeit it took more power than she usually used at one time - protected her, the bullets merely lodging half-way in it and remaining stuck.
This wouldn’t do, there were still about four or five awake, and there would be the guards up front coming to help in a moment-
Reminded of a time, years ago, of being outnumbered like this, Lilac thought of an equalizer. In a moment’s time, she let her shadows flood the entire room in an effort to give herself a chance to think. Pitch black was all anyone could see anywhere. Damn their numbers, Lilac’s advantage over the gangsters was now smell and hearing – not to mention, she could hear cries of pain from those Jem was continuing to assault. Jem was attacking anyone in the room who might come after Lilac, biting and clawing as she found targets even in the dark.. the creature would always know who was Lilac, and thus who not to harm.
Only knowing roughly where it was because she remembered the sound of the spot it had hit the concrete floor, Lilac knelt and shuffled her fingers around until she felt the metal surface of the bat. Quickly, she got it ready. Her barrier was gone in lieu of the void-like darkness she’d filled the room with.. getting solid hits would require letting everyone see again, and once they saw her, they could shoot. The only protection she could have while trying to move was Jem, who Lilac sensed rather than saw return to her shoulder.
She’d have to let the thugs see so she could strike.
Darkness lifted. Holding the bat for the most power, hands apart and stance strong, Lilac sent a wallop into the head of the gangster who had shot at her, jumping for him before he could level his pistol at her. Down he went – that head would be hurting tomorrow, that was for sure.
The confusion had rattled the other gangster, and as he saw the dark clearing to show his comrade being knocked out, he ran for the door.
Oh no you don’t, Lilac thought while Jem yanked his feet up, causing the man to hit the floor face-first. Lilac stepped over him as Jem released him, using a foot to stabilize the man’s back and striking with the end of the bat against the man’s skull to knock him out cold.
Guards were coming, and Lilac flattened against a wall. Jem took initiative to flatten against the ceiling, its motions poised. Lilac held the bat steady, catching her breath and waiting for a good time to strike.
If the two men were able to evade-
Her thoughts were interrupted as the shadowy creature surprised her, darting over a ceiling beam and splitting itself to wrap around the necks of the two men once they were in the doorway. They had the same chance to dodge a striking snake, and neither of the thugs were prepared for it. While they were dragged forward and held above the floor a couple of inches, Lilac sidestepped around carefully, murmuring aloud – even if it was already known to Jem-, “Just until they lose consciousness, no longer.”
Lilac knew it took precious little time for unconsciousness to set in when the main blood vessels to the head were compressed. Jem also knew.
Later, she’d have to reflect on how creative the creature was, as that trick was certainly new.
The gangsters in the room were unconscious or far too out-of-it to put up much fight. If they all had guns, they hadn’t all thought to draw them. Lilac wasn’t hanging around here any longer – let the fools nurse their wounds and leave her-
The kitsune froze, the bat loose in her hand, realizing she wasn’t finished – the sound of a door opening and closing (probably the same entry she’d snuck in by) told her someone else was still on their way.
Footsteps down the hall were audible before a new stranger stepped into view – and she realized sourly, he was blocking the only exit open to her right now. It wasn’t the same as the thugs, this one. He was slender and dressed in a suit of some variety, with blonde hair that was slicked back smartly. Lilac caught sight of gloves over his hands while he rested a palm against the doorframe. “So you’re the vulture poaching our goods.” Something about his voice felt oily to Lilac’s ears. “If you’re wondering about what happened here, these low-lives-“ he kicked the arm of an unconscious man who happened to be in his way, “-were supposed to take you in for us.”
Lilac wouldn’t go as far to say she was tired, but she’d had enough after dealing with the traitors. Kicking around the people they had turned on her for wasn’t really worth the same trouble. Dropping the bat, finding her arms lighter for lack of its weight, she rolled her shoulders slightly, loosening the joints and keeping a sharp look upon the man.
“Get out of the way,” she said coldly, warning, her tails switching in annoyance around her legs.
Luke scoffed, both hands resting at his side as his eyes narrowed in Lilac’s direction. The kitsune could see a bit of a spell glimmering around his fingertips, keeping herself ready to evade or counter as, rather than moving, he ignored her warning. “The fat bitch isn’t here to deal with you, so I’ll take over. By all means, please try to make this difficult for me.”
No answer was an answer. Lilac had to jump sideways to avoid some sort of magical lightning from shocking her, and Jem went on to attack the man at the same time. The attack was enough to irritate Lilac further, realizing she now had a magic-user to try and defeat. Or at least she had to disable him long enough to escape.
The magic was used to try and destroy Jem, but the ice shards that the man summoned merely went through her, causing her to simply reform and resume attacking. Luke darted sidelong at a swipe from the creature only managing to get a cut in his coat instead of a wound. Lilac forced him to keep moving, swiping at him a few times with her shadows as she also had to dodge another bout of lightning sent in her direction.
Luke was being harried by Jem, but though he had to constantly weave around to avoid her clawing, he was proving quick enough to do so and still aim attacks at Lilac as well. Dodging another stream of razor-like ice shards, feeling them near her back as she moved, she abruptly summoned a new barrier to deflect the lightning magic sent in her direction. The globe-like barrier worked, the electricity crackling out around it and dissipating harmlessly. There was some satisfaction for Lilac as the man’s pause to get a second immediate shot at her opened up an opportunity for Jem.
The creature sank would-be teeth and claws into one arm, causing Luke to hiss in pain. Immediately Lilac’s nose could pick up blood, indicating Jem had gotten a fairly deep puncture through his skin.
A burst of flames scattered Jem and freed his bleeding arm. Lilac used that moment to release her barrier, sending an arm of shadow-casting out and swiping it under Luke’s legs. Down he went, but he wasn’t disabled, she learned. Another rapid two bursts of flame dispersed Jem, and a third one was sent at Lilac while Luke was attempting to get up off his back.
Throwing herself and rolling sidelong kept the strike from hitting, but it tweaked some nerve. Damn it, NOT fire! Lilac had seen more than enough of what happened to her own kind when they reacted to burns, and she was not letting it repeat itself here!
Snarling, Lilac felt and saw Jem’s tactic change while it wrapped its shapeless form around Luke’s head. It wasn’t trying to suffocate him.. but blind him instead, and judging from how he clawed with his fingers at it, it was working. Lilac darted closer, staying low to the ground and keeping a wary eye on his hands, to get the slightest warning of another spell that might be cast blindly.
Tensing her fingers, she swiped her claws quickly across the man’s chest, feeling cloth and skin tear under her slash. Following up with a kick, the man staggered a few steps back.
“ARG-“ Another burst of flame lit up the place Lilac had been standing, only avoided because she’d jumped backwards, landing crouched and ready to spring further away. Jem had released Luke’s head, coiling readily around Lilac’s shoulder as they watched Luke’s shocked wince at the deep set of cuts stretching from his ribs to around shoulder-level. The look was probably due to the chemical her claws consisted of, which would cause a wound like that to burn severely.
Jem jumped from Lilac towards the man, mirroring Lilac’s own thoughts and splitting her form. As Luke readied a spell to disperse her again – useless though he could have realized it was at this point – the creature became three twining ‘ropes’, one settling around each leg and the remaining arm securing one hand. A quick yank forced him onto his back, giving Jem the opportunity to reform atop his chest.
Ice shards went through her, but she had taken a big enough shape this time so that he could not entirely disperse her body. Magical attack or not, she was holding him firm. The equivalent of four ‘legs’ pressed his forearms and hips down, and the soulless pits the creature had for eyes bore into him, the head – and where jaws were able to bite down if she chose – fixed on him.
Jem was holding the blonde man down, her shape rippling in an agitated manner that was a warning to ‘stay still’. Whether it was heeded or not, Lilac saw her chance, as the door was now free.
The sound of something spinning very rapidly hit Lilac’s ears at the same moment as she registered a new scent that had snuck quietly into the room. She turned only in time to see a glimpse of the young woman with her hand out, a spinning chair in mid-air headed right for-
The chair collided with her temple, and Lilac lost consciousness.
continued in PART 2..
PART 2: EA-LEC: 'Thief' 2
Finally, a main story entry! I feel I've been sorely lack in these for quite some time.
Granted this is a collaboration between diana-hnd and myself, as the grand majority of characters are hers.
This is part one of two. The other should hopefully be up in a day or so, time-dependent.
I kind-of want to revamp Lilac's shadowcasting description, as through writing for her, I've learnt that it's even more versatile than I believed when she first debuted. But to do so would mean touching a ref with art that makes me cringe. Plus who knows where the file is on my computer. >_>; In-all, since I'm not doing any big edits in the near-future, would-be challengers beware.. shadow-casting isn't quite magic, and it flourishes combined with Lilac's quick wit. Mwahaha.
As the end demonstrates though.. not unbeatable, however. If anyone was rusty on kitsunes (I expect only one or two people remember), let this entry be a reminder that kitsunes suffer severe reactions to burn-wounds. So they have to watch themselves VERY carefully when fighting with or against fire. Lilac has no interest in gaining new experiences to add to what she already has under her belt.
Dorian, the Family, Uriah and his gang belong to
Lilac (and the sister she refers to) belongs to myself (Absolute-Sero).