Bela - Raeneck Rampage Part 1

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Description: The war for Southtown was over, and The House of Podiebrad has dubiously claimed victory. While the city was under siege, however, the Raven Guard had sought to pick through the evacuated houses, pillaging and looting under the justifiable defense of protecting the city. As they try to smuggle their plunder out from the city down at the river piers, they are visited by a very curious, and very furious Rae. But the demon has his own greed that needs to be satisfied...

"7 V-Gages."

The words rise up from comes out over the weathered down at the riverside. The Southtown river was filthy, and was bitterly cold and quiet. But it was not a place where nothing was happening. A single procured 18-wheeler was parked at the side of what looked like six shipping containers, arranged in a kind of makeshift camp. Within, a team of six Raven Guardsmen were hard at work. Dressed in the official field uniforms of the Podiebrads, they were clad in the strange reddish bodysuits, armed with talons and bearing the raven masks of the soldiers. Only two were out amongst the shipping containers, with two more going in and out of the back of the truck. A fifth was on the dock itself, sitting at table. The sixth was lying motionless in a small rowboat tied to the dock. The first at the shipping containers had called out the number. A response comes to him from the second.

"187 Necklaces."

The second has a deeper voice, and with a grunt, lifts up the box in his taloned claws. The first shakes his head. "I had 186. Mark it for recounting again." There is a long groan from the second. Another recount. That was why it had been so slow. Every time they didn't match counts, it had to be a recount. He moves over to the first, and the duo switch places amongst the shipping containers.


Comes the almost bored response from a woman's low tones, as she rolls another box from the truck. The first sounds only faintly perturbed when he responds to the single comment. "I told you, it's not fair to use U." There is a moment of silence amongst the illuminated shipping containers, other than the sound of fabric brushing against metal and cardboard. They had been going at this all night so far. But there still hasn't been a fire of urgency with their work.
"So why aren't we getting to party?"

The high pitched whine cuts from the truck, as the smallest of the four looks out. "Because we need to count everything, squirt." Responds the second man at the shipping container. The smallest whines even louder, as he struggle with a box. "My name is Domonkos! I told you, I wanted my nickname to be Domo! " He stamps his foot. "Guys, and Zoe!" pipes up a high pitched voice from the illuminated portable table at the actual dock. A leather bound dossier is set up on it, while the young lady clicks her pen. "Grandpa Joszef- I mean the Corporal is trying to get his nap in, and we are way behind schedule on inventory! The Patriarch has been waiting three days for our plunder to get out to the harbor, and he will be very disappointed if we have another day where we can't get a final count together!" The first gives a faint grunt. "You heard Lili, squirt." Domo lets out a strained shriek as he brings the box down next to the first.

"7 V-Gages." The second calls out. "Seal it and ship it, squirt."

When one chooses to become a smuggler, a certain number of risks are often understood to come part and parcel with the line of work. The frequency with which any given point in a rout is used determines how likely it is to be discovered. The length of a line of communication greatly increases the number of leaks it will spring. More valuable cargo has higher odds of a third party trying to take it. But the least predictable, and most frustrating of all the hazards a smuggler can face, is blind, idiot luck.
"The fuck is a V-Gage?"
The question hacks through the Raven's chatter like an axe to the face, rasped from a throat long accustomed to hot smoke and strong drink. Its owner is still a ways off from the little cluster of structures around the dock, the sound of their voices likely having drawn him in from further along the otherwise quiet bank.
"'Cause if its anything like a V-Card, I might be innerested in takin' a poke."
As the unknown man moves closer, the hoarse cough of his words is joined by the quiet crunch of his boots passing over a patch of gravel, pace slow and meandering. Both the walk and the tone speak of someone utterly in their element. Relaxed. Predatory.
The laugh, however, is pure, hateful corruption.
Materializing out of the lightless no mans land along the edge of the stinking lake, Rae Briggs wanders his way closer to the start of the dock, tattooed right hand reaching out to drag roughly along the top of a crumbling cement barrier. His other hand dangles a 40 oz bottle of dark brown glass, its contents sloshing cheerily as he lifts it to his lips and downs a couple of large glugs.
Pulling the bottle away with a loud gasp of satisfaction, the shaggy old demon continues forward until he has just enough of an angle to see the two Ravens moving in and out of the trailer. There he slows to a halt, soulless greye eyes sliding passed Domonkos' scrawny armored form with the glassy disinterest of a cruising shark. Once he notices Zoe, however, an unsettling sort of hunger settles into his otherwise empty stare, lips pulling back from yellowed teeth as his scarred face twists into an open leer.
"Well hell, doll. All gimped up and no fuckin' party. Reckon I can help with that."

And the action pauses.

When the voice comes up, the reaction isn't quite... terror. It's a distant cousin of it. Dread. Experienced dread, coming at the sound of the gravel. The count stops dead. "You're thinking what I'm thinking?" The first asks to the second. "Yeah. Ass pirate. Wonderful." Responds the second to the first. Domo stops his work, putting the box down, as he looks out at the river. His knees knocking. Zoe, for her part, doesn't stop her work. And the girl at the weathered dock itself? She was away from the table now, crawling low as she comes to the small rowboat as the stranger arrives. Peering down, she keeps a whisper. "Grandpa. Graaaaaaaaandpa. Grandpa. Grandpa Grandpa Grandpa." The girl murmurs into the boat as the stranger makes his own inventory.

There is no response.

When the stranger comes from the edge of the darkness, the duo makes their reaction finally. They get in position. One leaping up on top of a container, the other crouched down with his arms stretched out. Domo scrambles away, actually showing a proper reaction of terror. But the demon gets his neurons activated at Zoe, the woman cocks her head a bit, steadying the stack of boxes she was trollying along. There, she takes in the presence of the demon. There comes a husky giggle. It's a slow, halting one, as the woman tilts her hips just so. Zoe brings the back of her knuckles to the base of her jaw, in bemused flirtations. The duo of counters were less flirty, watching the figure as before. There was an invisible synchronization going on now, delicate positioning stealthily taking place. But there was something missing. They weren't ready to fight. "We don't want any trouble, guy." The first pipes up from down low, still in a crouch, ready to pounce. "You looking for something? You're in luck, we got a discount here, right Pista?" The man up top of the container eases a bit on his hostile stance. "Oh yeah." He states, shaking his talons a bit. "Oh yeah, first armful's free, crazy awesome deal. How about you let the lady get back to work, and we'll let you take whatever you like-"

"Zoe's not your kind of lady, you big- you big gorilla!"

That is how Domo pipes up, as he throws a box of compact discs at the demon. You almost could -feel- the eye rolls from the other three guardsmen. "Seriously, squirt?" Pista groans. "Seriously? Oh my god, you really are retarded!" Zoe just stares out at Domo, her disappointment only barely concealed by the mask. Pista's posture loosens, as he looks up and down the hulking brute. "But I just thought- he's a monster, and we are monster hunters, so-" "OH MY GOD DOMO, SHUT UP!" Stresses the first guy. "How the fuck do you not recognize Rae Briggs?" "Who?" Pipes up Domo, incredulous this is even a topic. Pista up top answers. "Southsyn versus Freakshow. He was Freakshow's Ace, ran through Henchman and Nagase before Duke rolled in. Tore a hell of a chunk out of him in a key pivot. Absolutely fucking brutal match, you probably were too young to be following it, it was one of the exhibition matches outside the tournaments. We're not just sucking dick, I swear Rae." He quickly adds towards Rae. Almost immediately Zoe looks up and down Rae herself, though. Domo spasms his thin limbs, as he actually steps forward. "I don- I don't care if he won or not! He's not a fighter, he's a bad monster, and he's- he's going to try and rob us, or w-w-worse!" He makes sure the worse is emphasized towards Zoe... who takes the knuckles off her jaw, in order to stretch a bit coyly, revealing the muscles underneath the rather well-built lady. Especially compared to the thin and absolutely tiny Domo. It's distracting enough to stray away from the dock itself.

As the girl jumps down into the boat, to try and wake their corporal up.

The demon's gaze remains locked on Zoe's coquettish posing with reptilian interest, giving the more responsible pair of Ravens all the time they could want to shift their positions. There is no sense of concern from the grey-haired old fucker about what they might be planning to do. In fact, he appears completely unaware of their presence until they call out to him directly, drawing his shark-eyed stare away from the well-built female and on to the first man squatting before the containers.
"That right? Yer gonna Let me take whatever I like. Ain't that fuckin' generous."
Bottle continuing to dangle loosely from his left hand, he takes one slow step toward the crouched fellow before Domonkos' shrill cry slices between them, followed by a medium-sized box of disks that he makes no attempt what-so-ever to dodge. As a result, the cardboard strikes him square in the chest, disk cases flying every which way as it bounces off and tumbles to the ground, contents spilling across the cement in a noisy plastic clatter. Once it is all said and done, the brutal bastard has eyes only for Domo, the first flickers of rage stirring behind them as he gazes unblinkingly into the young man's masked face.
The explanation that follows is underlined by Rae's resumed forward progress, filth-stained biker boots coming down on the spilled disks with the loud crunch and snap of cracking cases. He is in no hurry to reach the idiot boy for now, seeming to enjoy the build up to the moment in which he either finally comes within strangling distance of his unfortunate victim, or he breaks and tries to run. Still. He is not Visibly a monster. If one were to ignore his eyes he is certainly a rough looking figure, scruffy face badly scarred and left ear half gone, hairy chest and arms covered in writhing black tattoos. But he is just a man. Not particularly tall but extremely broad and muscular, built like a human battering ram.
And yet, as he approaches Domo, the boy can definitely feel the presence of evil. That gut-deep internal warning that something with monstrous is baring down on him.
"Not a fighter, you chicken-headed little monkey fuck? Boy, I was tearing the arms off of shit stains like you while yer daddy was still bein' bent over the altar every Sunday by Father Mc'Fuckin'Feely. I've killed more men than you've met, in more countries than years you've been alive."
With every word, the tiny spark of anger he started with seems to grow, building upon itself in a feedback loop of fury. Right hand curling itself into a tight fist, left clamping hard around his bottle, he takes another deliberate step, shoulders hunching...
And notices Zoe stretching out of the corner of his eye.
The look of rage twists behind Rae's eyes then, glinting with something instinctive and cruel. Slowly his lips relax out of their clinched snarl and into a broad, vicious grin that slices across his bearded face, twisting his scars into new and even more horrible angles.
"She's a hell of a woman, ain't she, Squirt? Bet she shows up in yer dirty thoughts every night. Gets yer PP hard. Yeah. Mine too. And ya know what? I am gonna rob ya. And I am gonna do worse. I'll burn this whole fuckin' place to the ground. Throw us a fuckin' Napalm Christmas."
As he speaks a flicker of flame seems to dance across his right eye, followed by a second flare in his left. His pace increases slightly, closing on the smallest Raven with literal fire in his eyes and a look of bloody ultra violence gathering around him...

Rae no sells it hard.

Domo didn't know why he said monster. But he felt it. And if he felt it, it must be true. And yet, when that figure turns at him, when he growls so deep, it penetrates his bones. The fear, the raw terror as the brute just crushes his weapon underfoot. The little man imagined himself next. The force of hair and muscle was creeping up steadily. Domonke was shivering, as the demon digs his grip into his metaphorical soul. How did Rae -know- how Zoe haunted his sweet sleep every night. How her powerful figure was lifting him up, and cradling him like a small babe. Was it his magic that was making Zoe walk towards him, her hips swaying? Or was it his own lackluster attributes of being a man, to impress and defend her? Maybe poor Zoe, the innocent paragon of a Madonna she was, was forced to do this in order to protect Domo. Because Domo couldn't demonstrate himself of being strong enough. Domo felt the fire building, everyone felt the fire building. But that fire might suddenly be quenched.

Because up against that fire, Zoe was bringing a gentle set of Talons down below the belt.

A dangerous act towards a lesser man. The free hand runs through the blonde hair of the Podiebrad. It seemed that Zoe was very well gauging how much of a man and a monster Rae is, and would be. A no, no, no grunt from the woman, as she wags a finger. Zoe glances back at Domo, who was trembling even more, stumbling back. He begins to turn away, but the voices rise up. "Don't look away, squirt." Pista calls out with a numb dread. "Napalm Christmas is just the tip of the shit iceberg Rae can pour out." But the first adds on dryly. "But it looks like Zoe found a different tip to pour out." Zoe nods her head at Domo, before turning back at Rae, thighs turning, gauging which way the strangers passions would be turning next.


That was the sound from the rowboat, as the girl jabs a foot into the ribs of the corporal. "Eh?" The old man suddenly jerks up from the boat. "What? Is the barge here? Patriarch? What's going on, oh my bones..." He adjusts his mask a bit, as the girl bows her head. "Grandpa, grandpa, it's Lili, there is a man here, and I think he's going to rob us! And our cousins think he's real trouble!" The old man groans, pulling himself up from the rowboat, peering out. "Well, if they are handling it, then I don't see why I need to be woke up." He gives a yawn. Lili quickly adds. "Well they are going to give him whatever he wants, whatever he can carry!" He turns back to his granddaughter, and then back to Rae. And as swift as his soldiers, he bounds up from the rowboat, nearly flipping Lili into the river.

"Shit. Shit! SHIT!!!"

COMBATSYS: Gamma Squard has started a fight here.

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Gamma Squard     0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Rae has joined the fight here.

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Rae              0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0     Gamma Squard

Having turned the entirety of his focus upon Domo's trembling form, Rae fails to notice Zoe's swaying approach until she steps between them, slipping neatly into the 5 feet of space that separate the young boy from his coming fate. The intrusion causes the brute's eyes to flicker, lip curling back toward a snarl as his left hand flashes up toward her throat. A motion that slows considerably when her own hand grabs first, gently teasing rather than clawing as he might have expected. In fact, so surprised is the brute that his eyes blink, expression caught in a look half way between bemused hesitation and bestial fury. The fingers that might have choked and throttled close themselves loosely around her throat, the bottle they had been clutching dropping forgotten to the cement with a tinkling crash.
Ranting tirade trailing away to silence, the demon stands very still, gazing into Zoe's bird mask while heat rolls off of him in prickling waves. Someone who didn't know the old bastard might assume that he's frozen out of fear. After all, were he a normal man, then the clawed fingers tracing a path down his right pants leg would imply some sort of stale mate. A Mexican Stand Off. But those who can read the demon would know better. He isn't afraid, he's taken aback. After all, throughout all of his many long years, no woman has ever actually followed through. They might tease, threaten, make any number of promises. But to actually go through with it?
The rough grunt of amusement tears its way free of the brute, hot breath wafting across Zoe's masked face like an open oven. His grip tightens just a fraction as she turns away to glance toward the stumbling boy who's name he has already forgotten, reminding his limited mind just where he is and what he is doing. Which is unfortunate, because though Zoe's touch has confirmed that he is indeed a hell of a man, beneath the surface he is only monster. A fact that she is reminded of when she sways back to face him and finds all traces of uncertainty gone from his expression, replaced with the leering promise of violence.
With explosive force, Rae sweeps the muscular woman off of her feet and hurls her backward through the air toward her younger ally, tossing her away with about as care and effort as a trash bag into a dumpster. She is still air born when he throws himself forward into a lumbering charge, boots pounding as he rampages toward all four of the Ravens, already loud speaking voice cranking itself steadily up toward a shout.
"Best take yer chance now, ya wormy little shitdick, 'cause once I'm done burnin' this place to the fuckin' ground I'm takin' her for a ride she ain't never gonna forget!"

Zoe doesn't breath when Rae seizes her neck.

Her body doesn't lock up like the little squirt. But up close, it's hard to ignore the sheer aggression of the Podiebrad woman. A hostility? An assertiveness? Or a kind of strength underneath. She wasn't breathing. But she stares back steadily, as defiant as she could be behind a mask, as her own grip even -squeezes- back. She wasn't cracking so easily. She would take work to break. That was the invitation. Domo gasps for her, as there is a pregnant pause. Was it anticipation for the boy? Fear? Both? As the sheer strength flashes through Rae, the woman is hurled across at Domo. In normal situations, it would be the end of a fight, not the beginning. But they were all Podiebrads here. She was a Raven Guardsman.

And so was Domonke.

As she comes hurling towards Domo, the little soldier almost instinctively hops up. Bringing his taloned hands down, he assists Zoe as she tucks and rolls. Tumbling under the smaller man, Domo finishes his own bound by spinning up and down, rolling on the ground. Almost in sync with Zoe's toss, the duo aside are moving, Pista coming in from the air, the first rolling on the ground at Rae. Wasn't as fast or as in sync as it should be, but part of that was the lack of their corporal being there.

Oh speak of the devil.

"Squards! Assemble!" Calls out the Corporal Joszef, as his granddaughter follows up. "Go and... uh..." The first rolls past Rae's arms and legs, swinging his legs around in a cutting two-limbed low kick in the tumble. "We're way ahead of you, old man!" Cries out Pista, as he descends after his counterpart with a slashing heel drop aimed for the back of the rampaging Rae's neck. Lili rushes past Grandpa Joszef, rushing low and fast across the dock into the fray. Domo and Zoe were steadying out, the bigger girl finally having broken from her tumble into a stand, and Domo scrambling up to the top of the truck to escape the path of the furious Rae. All six were in motion in their own way. All while the corporal bellows out.


COMBATSYS: Rae blocks Gamma Squard's Medium Kicks.

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Rae              0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0     Gamma Squard

Charging forward into the scrambling Ravens, Rae is immersed in targets of all shapes and sizes. The two nearest shipping containers have open doors that beckon to him. The nearby trailer lies open and inviting. And there are red ninja bird fucks flipping around in all directions, two of them literally throwing themselves at him.
"Fuckin' flippy ass ninja twats!"
The first to reach him by a fraction is the tumbler, both legs sweeping low toward Rae's knees. The brute doesn't even slow as he swings his left shin forward mid run, catching the oncoming blow and powering through it to send the first man tumbling away over the pavement. That gives him just enough time to swing his shoulders forward and stomp his kicking foot down, boot grinding across the ground as he spins himself into a skidding turn. As a result, the second man's scything heel kick misses the nape of his neck and glances off of the flexed slope of his right trapezius. This also puts him belly to head with the low-dashing Lili, burning gaze flicking past her toward the old man bringing up the rear, then back down.
"Hey sugar tits. Looks like I lucked out."
That being said, Rae leaps forward to meet the girl, twin tongues of flame roaring out of his feet to trail behind his heels. The hellfire carves two rising arches through the air as the demon swings his boots up and throws his shoulders back, launching all 240 pounds of his bulk toward her in a sloppy dropkick that is just high enough to catch her in the head and shoulders if she isn't careful. If contact is made, an explosion of fire will blast out from the ugly fucker's boots to blast away whatever they touch. However, hit or miss the brute will then fall out of the air, back impacting the cement with a hefty THUMP.

COMBATSYS: Gamma Squard blocks Rae's Bat Out Of Hell.

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Rae              0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0     Gamma Squard

"We're not ninjas!" Squeals Domo, as he bounds up.

After the attack, the two tumble and leap off, the leaper falling into a tumble, and the tumbler rising up into a leap. Constant motion, endless motion. The pair engage and disengage, and already their counterparts are moving to follow up. But what a team of six can coordinate to do, Rae can work as a singular force of nature. He takes that skirmishing strike, and is sent hurtling right at Lili, aka 'sugar tits.'

It's not great for Lili.

For the girl's purpose, Lili shrieks as she -makes- the block, catching the main physical side of the drop kick. For the explosion part? She is blown flying through the air. Joszef flips over his granddaughter, leaving Lili to roll with the impact as tries to steady herself in the air. The shriek turns into a gurgle as she lands off the dock into the river with a splash. She wasn't -out- because she can swim. All Podiebrads had to be robust cold water swimmers, though they certainly did more work in the hot water. But right now, for the moment, it was five versus one.

And they were coming all together -again-

Aiming for Lili seemed to cause a portion of the momentum to stumble, but not eliminate it. Bounding from behind is Zoe and Domo, launching off the cargo trailer into a pair of flying kicks. Domo's noisy, as well established by his whining. But Zoe demonstrates her tacturn nature by being quiet, and fast, leading ahead of the smaller two. Hopping in tandem is Corporal Joszef, who breaks into a roll on landing before launching straight up into a spiraling rising kick at the brute. Three kicks from all angles, in synchronous timing. And after their trio of spiking kicks, they would be scattering like ravens. And if Rae can following everything else going around? The first two were already leaping back and getting in position for another dive in...

And there is a gasp, as Lili scrambles back up on the pier, bringing that head count back up to six.

COMBATSYS: Rae endures Gamma Squard's Magpie Marauder.

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Rae              0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0     Gamma Squard

Though many, often colorful, words have been used to describe Rae, agile is not one of them. That fact is driven home by the ease with which his opponents leap and tumble about, while simply recovering from a prone position takes him moments of time he can ill afford. Intelligent is also a descriptor rarely applied to the wrathful demon, but those who have fought him personally know that just because he's stupid doesn't mean he can't be cunning. After all, Even the wildest animals have instincts to guide them through a fight.
With two more Ravens queuing up to fall upon him from above and their corporal beginning the tumble that will bring him into range to join them, Rae pushes off of the ground and rolls onto one elbow, levering himself up to a bent kneel in preparation to rise. Old joints crackling, he gets his burning left boot beneath him and shoves down on his knee, coming to a stand just as dual kicks smash into his broad shoulders from behind. At the exact same moment The third kick spirals up from below, heel driven squarely into his solar plexus in a move that should wind a man at the very least.
Instead, he decides to explode.
Each of the three kicks impact cleanly, the brutal old fucker making no attempt to defend himself. But they do not meet unprepared flesh. Every muscle in the demon's body is flexed and ready, thick hide absorbing the impacts with meaty THUDs that can be felt by each of the other kickers in the team up. But even as the force is vibrating through him, power is rushing forth to meet them.
"HEEHHH, Heh, Heh..."
A hacking cough of a laugh rips itself free of Rae's throat as every inch of him explodes in hellish flames, the air around him blasted outward in a wave as it expands beneath the sudden introduction of so much heat. Whether or not the birds can escape the sudden inferno is up to speed, skill, and luck, but the ground beneath his boots is devoid of any of those quality's. All of the dirt, weeds, and other unfortunate debris within six feet of the monster bursts into flames, stinking smoke rising from the ground as his presence scorches an irregular circle into the cement.
"I dunno, Squirt." the hellish being replies, hateful voice crackling and popping like the flames that surround him. Having been reduced to little more than a shadowed silhouette at the heart of the inferno, he turns, stretching the circle of destruction as he wanders a couple of steps to stand before the entrance of the first shipping container. Internally he wants to move, to hurt, to rage and kill and burn and fuckandkillandkillandKILL, but he holds on, aiming those impulses like a gun.
"Flip like a ninja, Squeal like a ninja, BURN like a ninja, ya might just be a fuckin' ninja."
Words radiating the diabolical excitement that struggles to unmake him, the demon draws in a deep breath, grabs hold of the energy cascading through his body, and releases it in a long, continuous breath.
A stream of fire pours forth from Rae's lips, flowing through the open door of the container and spreading within, splashing off of the metal walls and rolling back on itself to roil and swirl upon the contents within. The heat is intense enough that bits of the metal frame are already beginning to soften, the structure groaning quietly as it weakens and sags. But that isn't where the attack ends.
Turning on the spot, the brute sweeps the flames out across the loading area in a spreading path of destruction, creating a blazing wall of hell that rushes toward the first and second Ravens preparing to strike him. By the time the last of the flames drizzle from between his yellow fangs to splash across his chest, a large slice of the lot in that direction has been reduced to a burning hellscape, though only the initial cargo container was hit.
His halo of fire spent to transform the battlefield, Rae stands exposed upon the still smoking cement. However, with the passing of his flames certain aspects of his appearance have been not so subtly transformed. Where once his eyes had been grey with flickers of flame, they now burn a raging reddish orange to match the flames that cast his shadow across the lot. His teeth have grown sharp and jagged, tanned skin shaded dusky red. No longer can he pretend to be anything more than he is. A demon of rage, berserker of hell.
"Aaaah shit," the monster growls, arms spreading wide and head dropping back and shaggy hair brushing against his thick neck. Drawing in a deep breath, he huffs it up toward the sky as a little puff of flame, fangs bared in a snarling grin full of eager menace.
"Usually takes me a while to get this wound up. But ya gone and got me all Excited."

COMBATSYS: Rae successfully hits Gamma Squard with Hellraiser.

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Rae              0/-------/-----==|======-\-------\0     Gamma Squard

Rae has the right instinct when dealing with a pack of Podiebrads, to his credit.

When a trio of Squards descend on him, unleashing a chain of precise flying kicks, it's easy to turtle up. But normally, holding still while the flock of raven guardsmen throng around you was a recipe for disaster. It's almost as bad as chasing one of them, to let yourself open up to counter attack from the others while your target flits away. They were dodgy bastards, and they would dodge and deflect. Dodging a bomb, though? That's gonna take a lot more effort. That's something possibly the Patriarch himself could pull off. But the rank and file?

Right now, it looked like if there was going to be anything they were going to pull off, it's gonna be the demon himself.

The blast cloud outpaces the scattering Raven Squards, as the momentum blows them away. Jozsef takes his own hard tumble down the dock, his shoulder and head slowing down his impact. Zoe herself is pancaked hard into the truck's cargo container, tipping it over as she collapses. Ironically, it might be Domo who takes the least of the impact: he soars over the truck, giving him just enough time to adjust in the air. It's a long drop, but he has his senses when he comes to a tumble into the brush. That leaves the duo aside, and a Lili scrambling up. The duo is diving in, one lunging in with a front flip into a heel drop aiming squarely for Rae's noggin. The second, Pista? Should his counterpart make the heel spike, he was going to swing off his brother on the rise, and descend with a shoulder-slam straight down, hurling down into a tackle between them. A risky offense, but should open up to Lili. Except, Lili wasn't looking at the duo, she's talking to her Grandpa. He's sluggish, slow. Injured. Zoe herself is not getting up at all. And Domo is AWOL. But Grandpa Jozsef is talking to Lili, It's not English though, it's Hungarian. He's pointing at something. The flipped over cargo hold off the truck. Lili takes the cue as she starts to scramble. That's a hard crack on the momentum, a clear opening in the otherwise tightly bound strike pattern of the squad. The duo was waiting for Lili to cruise in for the finishing follow up, and she wasn't there. Instead, she was going for the truck, the cargo space in the back.

But why?

COMBATSYS: Rae blocks Gamma Squard's Rook Takes Queen.

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Rae              0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0     Gamma Squard

With his back turned toward the burning section of lot, Rae continues to bask in the roasting heat of the flames, arms held wide while his tattooed skin soaks it in like a lizard in the sun. He seems perfectly at home in this self-made hellscape, chest expanding as he draws in another deep breath of smoke-laden air, the toxic fumes bothering him not at all.
Lowering his chin, the demon sweeps his glowing gaze across what he can see of the lot. No sign of the squeaky little cocksucker, but the horny bitch is down. Other two fucks probably got caught in the fire, so that just leaves the little cunt and her grandpa.
Fixing his burning attention on the soaking girl, he takes a step in that direction, already imagining the sorts of things he might do to her. Vivid fantacys that are ruined slightly by the jabbering of whatever foreign talk she's squeaking out to the wounded ass hole on the ground. It's masked slightly by the crackle of flames and the groan of folding metal, but it's damn sure no language he knows.
"Fer fuck's sake. I hope that squawky shit ain't what you do in bed, or I'ma have to find somethin' fer ya to gag o--"
A pair of interlaced shadows sweep out before him as Ravens 1 and 2 come leaping in over the flames, giving him just enough warning to jerk his head violently to the right. As a result, the flipping heel kick comes down hard on the meet of his shoulder for the second time tonight, forcing a rough grunt of annoyance from the brute as he dips his knee to bleed off the force. However, at the same moment his right hand reaches up, attempting to snag hold of Raven 1's ankle and drag it forward down his chest, left arm swinging up to trap the side of the knee against his shoulder. If he can secure the grip he will take a long step to his right, dragging his prisoner along through the air and pulling them both out from under Pista's grasping tumble. Then, leveraging all the raw, brutish strength in his squat form, he will whirl himself around in a circle and bring Raven 1 swinging about like a human baseball bat, attempting to hammer Pista off across the pavement.
"Fuckin' Jumpy Ass Little SHITS!"
Unless Raven 1 can slip free, Rae will use the grip on his leg to sweep him up over his head, then straight back down to the pavement like a human sledge hammer, driving him shoulder-first into the baking surface before releasing him, taking one deliberate step forward to loom over his body, and bringing his left boot stomping down for the bird man's throat.
"Stop fuckin' around and FIGHT ME!"

COMBATSYS: Gamma Squard dodges Rae's Combo Grapple.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Rae              0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0     Gamma Squard

It's actually even more annoying than Rae could even start with.

Oh, sure, when Domo staggers out of the bushes, the duo was covering for Lili and now the squirt, who was jabbering back and forth with the little one as they join together within the cargo hold. But when Rae lashes out to grip around First Raven's leg, he actually touches the leg for a moment. But as he gosh to tighten his mitts around it, he could probably even feel that man's leg dislocate. Before Rae can do the job. The Podiebrad squiggles and wriggles out of Rae's clutches, flapping his arms wildly as Pista actually stops his retreat to double back. Tumbling back hard in a single motion, he thrusts back right into First Raven, seizing him up and tearing him away from the brute. It was an all out escape; and as the pair hits the ground in a tumble a good 9 meters away. It was one that was almost certainly going to leave them open for a drastic follow up. Zoe lets out a moan as she tries to stagger upright. She fails, as she promptly collapses. And Gramps wasn't much better either. For a moment, it looks like there was zero pressure from the Podiebrads; all were ripe for Rae to pick and choose his next target.

There is a clicking sound.

First, it's a steel-shell briefcase that's tossed out. It carries NOL insignias across it, which is a pretty big tell. But what comes after is Lili and Domo, holding old SKS rifles, right down to the wooden stocks. Domo tosses away the bullet strip, before falling into a crouching position. Lili herself falls prone with a roll, as the pair train their battle rifles across. "We'll never surrender!" Squeaks Domo, as the pair begins to open fire on Rae. It's semi-automatic fire, so it's not even a proper suppressive assault. But they were shooting to kill.

And it doesn't take specialized Podiebrad expertise to aim for center of mass.

COMBATSYS: Rae fails to interrupt Jackdaw Barrage from Gamma Squard with Harmageddon.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Rae              0/-------/---====|==-----\-------\0     Gamma Squard

"God fuckin' damn it!"
Rae's hoarse voice slices through the chaos as his prey manages to wiggle free of his grip, snatched away by his buddy to land in a tumbled hip some distance off. Eyes blazing with simple-minded hate, the grey-haired old fucker turns to follow, boots tossing up puffs of ash as he rampages toward them. That is, until Domo's stupid little voice pipes up from behind, causing him to draw up short.
"You still alive, Squirt?"
The question is asked with all the casual brutality that Rae can muster, the demon turning to glance back over his shoulder with one hateful orange eye. The appearance of rifles on the battle field doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest, lips pulling back to bare his fangs as he completes the turn to face the tiny terrors.
"Reckon I oughta fix that."
The crack of the first shot rings out over the water, Rae's bulky form jerking slightly as the bullet takes him square in the chest. Behind him, Ravens 1 and 2 are showered in a fine mist of blood and bone fragments, the pair of them able to see clearly the gaping hole that has appeared in the back of his worn leather vest.
The noise that Rae makes in response to being shot could best be described as a snort, the savage old brute turning to spit a mouth full of blood from his mouth as it bubbles up from his punctured lung. But if the Ravens were expecting that to bring him down, they are sorely mistaken.
Stepping forward, Rae takes a second hit to the chest, then a third to the gut. Gore fountains from his back as he powers through it with mindless rage, transitioning from a step, to a walk, to a run as bullets thud and thwap into his exposed torso, firelight shining through gaps where the rounds passed through without bouncing. Fire light that is mirrored by the twin beacons of rage that are his glaring eyes, lips pulled back and bloody froth pouring from his mouth as he charges flat out toward Lili and Domo.
Fueled by rage and pain, the monstrous biker shortens the distance to 15 meters. Then 10. Then five. Lungs sucking wetly with every breath, it seems as if he might power right through the onslaught, might get within range to put those deadly hands of his to their bloody work. But then a bullet strikes his right knee and it buckles in an explosion of bone and blood, the demonic old bastard collapsing to skid another couple meters on his hands and good knee. While he is down another bullet thwaps into his left shoulder, shredding the muscle there, before a third drills him squarely through the eyes, brains exploding out the back of his head to paint the pavement.
Bellowing roar choking off into a gurgle, Rae slumps forward into a low hunch, bloody hair falling across his face as his shoulders rattle and heave. Surely that should be the end of him. But somehow, against all the laws of fairness and justice, it isn't. Rather than keeling over in death, the mangled old fuck begins to wheeze and shake, seizing on the spot as a wet gargling forces its way free of his throat.
The sound grows stronger, resolving itself into hacking, horrible mirth. The wounds inflicted upon him smolder and smoke, hellish flames drooling from the bullet holes as his tattooed flesh burns itself closed. Broken bone crunches wetly back into shape, the back of his head knitting itself together as his unholy body works to repair the damage done.
Lifting his blood-smeared face, Rae grins up at the rifle-wielding pair, the last of his chuckles bubbling bloodily between his teeth. All across his body the scars of their attack spark and flicker with hellfire, his body radiating growing heat that can be felt over the larger pyre that still blazes some distance off.
"I'm really gonna enjoy what I do to you."

Oh hell no.

Domo's morale barely holds alongside his cousin, as the pair releases the fusillade into the surging demon. Each one of the 7.62 Soviets rip through Rae's torso with bone-splintering force, each bullet shredding into pink mist raining upon their cousins. All while the monster rushes their position. 20 shots run out apiece, as panic fire settles in to replace the accuracy. It starts to go wide. But it might have been Lili or it might have been Domo that got the knee. And that stops him from overrunning the position. Domo empties his rifle out, managing to miss a few times upon the fallen Demon. Lili rises up. She is abandoning the rifle here. She wouldn't need it for where she was going. That meant it was just Domo alone when he stares into the warped visage of the demon, looking upon him with savage hunger, a sadistic itch that he would use every one of them to itch.

But Domo's pluck was not broken yet.

What happened next though? Without a squard around him, he was a little disoriented. Lili was going to run with the briefcase. Retreat. She was grabbing it, and dashing as best she could. And- and what, why. They needed all six soldiers to fight this man, right? All six? And then it dawned on the boy. He suddenly realized what was going on, as the duo starts charging back at Rae. He looks at Zoe, and the fleeing Lili. Lili was going for help. And the rest of Gamma Squard, what was their mission? It was to slow down Rae as long as they could. Domo glances down at Zoe, as he tries to get another strip of bullets from his belt. She was able to get upright now. But she wasn't setting herself up to fight, no. She wasn't going to fight, Domo realizes, as she claws at the zipper on the jumpsuit, letting it loosen to show a bit of bloodied skin. The goal wasn't to fight, explicitly. The goal was now slow down Rae as long as they could.

By any means necessary.

Domo felt sick, as Lili starts to bolt with the steel case. He was struggling to hold the rifle. He was only a Hunter C rank. He was only just barely a Monster Hunter. And Rae, well, Rae said he wasn't a monster, right? He was just a man. But a man just couldn't do this, right? While Rae was down, First Raven and Pista bound into the air, still wet with the gore of Rae's exit wounds. Descending at Rae, they were going to execute a simple and direct dog pile. To try and smother those flames as they pin him down, to tear and pick at his flesh with claws as they dug their heels into the monster. They would rattle off to the dazed Domo. They were short people now, they needed a full support now. Domo snaps out of it, gripping his rifle as he runs. Leaping off the walkway of the cargo truck, he raises his rifle up, bayonet out, to descend and thrust the business end of the SKS deep at Rae's neck. He had come out too slow. And if that pyre was building faster and faster, well. The demon might explode again. They barely made it last time.

THe might not make it a second time.

COMBATSYS: Rae blocks Gamma Squard's Vicious Combination.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Rae              0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0     Gamma Squard

"I'm gonna skin ya alive, boy." rasps Rae, hellish gaze locked onto the scrawny hunter with unwavering intensity. There might be an equally vulnerable girl beside him, but it was this little shit that first spouted off. This little fucker who keeps coming back. This quivering Squirt of diarrhea that won't shut his god damned mouth.
The demon's attention remains fixed as Lili makes a run for it, breaths snarling through his fangs with little flecks of sizzling lava spit. Dragging his once injured leg beneath him, he braces his boot on the ground and begins to push to his feet, but before he can get more than half way Ravens 1 and 2 fall on him, driving him back down to hand and knee beneath their combined weight.
Heels pound into his lava-splattered back, claws gouge across his face and arms, but neither Raven is able to get much of a grip on the brute before Domo comes leaping down to join the scuffle, bayonet leading the way. Before the makeshift spear can penetrate his throat, however, the monster brings his left hand up and clamps it around the blade, boiling hot blood squirting down his arm as the razor edge slices through battle-hardened palm and grinds to a halt against the bone beneath.
Face a mask of manic rage, Rae powers to his feet with both Ravens still attached, giving the rifle a vicious twist and jerk to try and tear it free of the smallest Raven's hands. If he can secure the weapon he will bring the butt end swinging up and over his right shoulder to clobber Pista up side the head, then release the bladed end and grip the weapon at the mid point with both hands to thrust the bayonet back beneath his left arm and toward the guts of Raven One. All of this is merely a distraction though. The demon has eyes only for Domo. Not even the tantalizing efforts of Zoe can draw the monster's attention as he surges forward to meet the boy, bloody hands reaching.
If, by some unlucky twist of fate, Domo is not able to duck the grab, Rae's fingers will close around the base of his skull, boiling blood still pulsing from the quickly closing cut on his left palm. From there the C rank hunter will be jerked forward off of his feet, the demon's scarred skull coming down to crash heavily into the center of his face. That done, the brute will release his head and drop his grip, grabbing a hand full of jumpsuit at either hip and heaving the squirt up and up high overhead, only to bring him crashing back down, right knee driving up between his legs with a point-blank explosion of fire.
That last bit of advice shouted into the young hunter's masked face, the wrathful demon hurls him away in a random direction, casting him aside like a broken toy.

COMBATSYS: Rae successfully hits Gamma Squard with Devildriver.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Rae              1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1     Gamma Squard

The duo actually tries to protect Domo, when they realize what's coming.

When First Raven and Pista struggle to keep Rae down, they figure out pretty damn fast that no, they weren't getting control of this guy. He was partially hamburger now, but that fire wasn't getting quench. It was too hot, and now, he was breaking free... just as Domo was coming in. There is a headshake, and a cry, but no. By the time the squirt reaches Rae, the demon erupts up, absolutely letting his body trap the bayonet in place. As the rifle snaps and cracks as Rae rips it from his hands, the kid stumbles backwards, shocked. He tries, struggles, to do something. But Pista take a shattered rifle to his forearms as he breaks away, taking the blow ragged. First Raven manages to deflect the blade itself, the raw heat slicing just as awfully as the blade itself as he takes a slice to his pelvis. The wounded pair flings away, as only Domo is left. Domo tries to stop the demon, trying to knock him away. But the moment that bloodied palm latches on his skull, he doesn't even have the mercy to go unconscious instantly. For a brief, hot moment, there is horrific pain as he is driven down to the riverside, and explosion of magma and fire all around him. There isn't even a courtesy of a scream or squeal from him.

As a matter of fact, Domonke gets awfully quiet, when he is tossed away.

Landing with a crunch, he ragdolls in a heap, unmoving. "Eh, what's it to you, asshole?" The bruised and battered Pista lets out, as he staggers back up into a stand. "You think you'll get enough time to enjoy yourself here?" Against the odds, he rushes at Rae, bounding up in the air as he leaps. Descending at Rae, he unleashes a driving elbow smash, chained into a second smash. "Lili's gonna come with the whole army on your head. You won't even get it up with any of us before you got Szabolc on your ass."

"You kidding, Pista?"

The bloodied First Raven adds as he rolls in, a trail of crimson behind him. It hurt so much. But unlike their remaining companions? They could stand, and fight. That's all htey had left, the pressure of the dancing and dashing Podiebrads was now just two of them. First Raven bursts up from his tumble, trying to seize Rae from behind to hurl him over his shoulder towards the dock, and to the still struggling Grandpa Jozsef. "You saw how fast he went off? Guy only needs two pumps, 10 seconds is plenty of time for him, especially with Zoe's bomb ass pussy. Isn't that right?"

There is a groan from Zoe, which sounds an awful lot like a curse through the translation.

COMBATSYS: Rae endures Gamma Squard's Carrion Crows.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Rae              1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0     Gamma Squard

The feeling of warm blood splashing across his face. The yielding give of fragile flesh crumpling. Of pain and heat and hate and rage and kill and fuck and Hate and HATE!
By the time Domo's has been hurled aside Rae's brain is once more sparking, the full throttle rush of power causing his already limited synapses to spark and flicker beneath the sheer weight of emotion. Swaying on his feet as if drunk, he stumbles a step to one side, bullet holes continuing to smoke and smolder as they are sealed over with yet more dripping orange flame.
'You think you'll get enough time to enjoy yourself here?'
"Heh.Heh heh heh heh."
The monster's low, rasping chortle is his only response at first, the bastard continuing to laugh as Pista's elbow smashes squarely into the back of his skull. Head driven forward, boots stumbling, he takes the follow up smash between the shoulder blades, forehead propelled forward into the bottom of the tipped cargo trailer with a hollow BONG.
Shoulders shaking with uncontrollable mirth, brain alight and pulsing beyond his ability to aim, Rae staggers back from the trailer and directly into the arms of the first Raven. Blood and other filth steams off of his skin as his body temperature continues to rise, clearly heading toward another unavoidable release.
As out of his mind as the demon is, it is easy enough to heave him up and over into a throw, the brute crashing down shoulder-first and rolling toward the downed corporal while he laughs and laughs, new scars glowing. Coming to a tumbling halt not 3 feet away from the struggling Raven, the grey-haired demon plants his fist on the cement, levers himself once more up to a knee, and just manages to draw in a deep, shivering breath.
"HEGH." Rae grunts, fighting to peer out through the inferno that his mind has become, "Ten seconds. Twice as long as yer whole damn family lasted."
Chest beginning to shake with silent, hateful laughter, Rae glances up toward the first Raven, then over to the old man lying beside him. Mouth open, drool sizzling from his fangs, the demon lifts his right fist from the ground, fights down the laughter for a moment, then roars to his feet.
Fist going up and up, he thrusts his arm high overhead, flames gathering around his tattooed knuckles. Then, just as quickly, he descends from on high, fist trailing more and more flames as he throws himself down upon the old Raven, right hand coming down in an enormous overhand smash aimed squarely for the wounded warrior's masked face.
Hit or miss, the brutal old bastard will rebound back to his feet from the force of the explosion, rounding drunkenly upon the two remaining fighters. Without pause he will throw himself toward the First Raven, attempting to grab the unfortunate bird by the throat in hellfire-infused hands and hoist him clear of the ground in an ominous near echo of what was just done to Domo.
"How 'bout I have ya keep count!"

COMBATSYS: Rae successfully hits Gamma Squard with Lucifer's Hammer.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >                                ]
Rae              0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1     Gamma Squard

Tightening his scorching grip around the First Raven's throat, Rae throttles him with steadily growing ferocity. Flaming eyes stare wildly into the man's masked face as he jerks him back and forth, shaking him like a crazed Terrier with a rat.
"What you dumb fuckin' cunts don't seem to understand," Rae snarls, smashing the Raven to the ground and releasing him, only to stand, rear back his right foot, and punt him hard in the ribs with an explosion of flames, "IS THIS IS THE GOOD FUCKIN' TIME!"
Abandoning the kicked man, Rae staggers forward, flames still raging up and down his right arm, around his left hand, and up his right boot. Locking his eyes on Pista, he bares down on the man, closing the distance with a couple of slow steps before launching his right fist forward with surprising speed, hammering the dashing punch home in the last Raven's gut with another explosion of fire even as his left hand darts down to grab the man by the ankle, hauling him off his feet and swinging him around to bash him once, twice against the bottom of the truck trailer.
Only then does the monster drop the Raven's leg and begin to turn, burning eyes seeking out the blood-slick flesh that Zoe was so desperately willing to bare.

There isn't many words from Zoe.

There are never many words from Zoe. Even now, Zoe had trouble understanding what was happening. It was easy when it was word games, fighting with her family. Moving things. Lifting things. Flirting. It was fun to push herself around. Like pushing Rae around. But he hit back. He hit back hard. And she had trouble moving now. Her spine hurts. Her legs didn't hurt too bad. But they weren't moving very well. She needed to move. She could hear her own breath in the mask, as she watches Gabor and Pista desperately descend on Rae. But the big man wasn't going down. No, she watches as her cousins get caught, worried like a rat caught in the vicegrips of a dog's jaws. Gabor is hurled away, broken. He was alive, like the others. Even Pista was alive, as he comes down broken into the side of the cargo container. Everyone was alive. But he didn't care about everyone else. Even Zoe understood that, as that foul attention redirects upon her.

She was getting numb now.

She didn't understand why she was getting numb. She felt afraid at first, but then, as that man, that monster was coming at her, she felt that fear turn to a surge of anger. She wanted to get up, and fight. But as she shook, as she jerked up, she couldn't move. And if you can't move, what does that mean for fighting. For biting tongues? For what. No. No, now she was numb. Distant. Very, very distant. Far away, she could feel the flickers of pleasure of her fellow soldiers. Faraway, with the beacon of the Patriarch. It felt nice in the numbness. She could stay there. She couldn't make sense of the other smaller flickers. But she could fade away into them and hide. She knew Lili was there. Afraid. Running. She would pray for her. Not for herself, she was far away now from herself now. She would pray for Lili. That Lili can make it.

That she can fulfill the will of the Patriarch.


Szabolc never enjoyed parties.

For the commander of the Raven Guard, he always felt closest to the martial heart of the House. This was not a sentiment shared with the rest. No, he was seated at the last outpost of the Raven Guard; located right outside the park near Gedo Street. It was a logistical appointment; they had to ship out. Of course, they were running a smuggling operation out of the river. Plunder was a god given right of the House of Podiebrad, and Szabolc had no shame in it. Some of the prizes, however, were another story. An edge to them, the ultimate prize taken under the noses of even their men. Something as powerful and personal as that should be kept under a vanguard, not withdrawn in a common collective. Szabolc found it dangerous, a risk beyond risks. But the will of the Patriarch was clear. It would be placed with the plunder, to conceal it's transport. Gamma Squard was handling the boring details, while he himself let the others go to celebrate. He wanted hard work, and proper celebration at the Podiebrad Manor. But the Patriarch willed otherwise. He himself was invited, but no. He stayed behind at the desk, reviewing the after-action reports, dressed in the thin uniform of an officer of the House of Podiebrad.

And besides, he was tired.

In the first full fledged campaign organized by the newest Patriarch, the commander had only experienced humiliation after humiliation. And every humiliation brought a new scar. He touched upon the bandaged under his chest, where the shattered ribs still fought to heal. A retaliation granted from the Southtown Syndicate, from Grant. And what was being offered for that humiliation? Already, the Patriarch, his own half-brother was celebration deep in the den of the man behind Szabolc's own humiliation. How about the laceration, the deep and cursed wound left by Lotus? The horrific creature that he and his men sacrificed their honor and their blood, just for Bela to court the Darkstalker. Just for the Patriarch to dominate the creature before him, to humiliate him before his own men. And then there was his forced humbling before Katarina Shimotsuki, before the First Lieutenant and the operational command of the NOL within the Southtown Campaign. A forced humbling that ultimately was for naught, a paranoid delusion of the Patriarch that proved fruitless. Szabolc was a man who had long thought highly of his honor. It was that honor that he reveled with the Illyrians, from when they were once the Sacred Order. And the Patriarch only seemed more and more eager to expend that honor for what? For the promises of Ejnar and the Imperator herself? For a promise of power, the Raven Guard and Szabolc was made to sacrifice so much, like they were little more than bastards? Even then, Szabolc had seen how Bela doted on Zsa Zsa, how much more power those half-breeds had gained within the house, all under the false guise of an internal genocide of the bastard children of their father. Every success was ultimately a prize for the Patriarch. And every failure seemed to have found its way around his neck. He was tired. So tired.


That was the gasp of Lili, as she hurls herself on the ground, clasping the. She was clawing at the mask, clawing at it. Tearing it off, the cherub cheeks of freckles and narrow brown eyes reveal themselves around a crimson face. She had been running at a tilt for about 20 minutes; skipping over some of the buildings was a real thing. But after clearing the park, she had come to one of the last bastions of the Raven Guard. She had arrived, and collapses on all fours, hugging the steel briefcase. Szabolc emerged from within the tin-walled building, moving gingerly but deliberately as he limps. He didn't squander time with false impressions of sympathy. Even he could read Lili's emotions. And he could see the briefcase in her hands; he understood what had happened. A coldness runs through the steel-eyed commander's blood. Fountains of pain erupt, as he focuses. Four were suffering, but the fifth... "Who is it?" Szabolc asks directly, as he kneels down to the guardsman. "Rae. Professional... fighter. Demon man. Awful... wanted stuff." Szabolc grunts, nodding his head. He knew what would be happening, and he assists the young niece up. "You have protected the most important relics. We will allow him to take his plunder, and send a recovery team. He will be done soon." Lili shakes her head. "No, no, he isn't." She gasps, and feels her own chill. She wanted to throw up. She wanted to retch. And when she says her words, so did Szabolc.
%"Not until he's done with Zoe"

There was a howling chasm of despair, of frustration, of rage. A shrieking madness from deep within the heart of the commander. A pulse of anguish, of a damnable fury. He stands from his desk, not wasting any time with the shock. The words had come, and Lili had spoken. Zoe was like Matthias, she was a simple woman. Strong, in her own ways as Matthias. But simple like him. That's why she was kept to logistics duty, and away from the politics of the deacons and the house staff. For this to happen was a complete upheaval of every bastion of security that Szabolc had faith in. Utterly destroyed in a freak accident. There is no challenge of whether or not Lili was speaking the truth. He had the utmost respect for Jozsef, a respect that was forged from years of service if not character. He himself had served under his uncle in difficult times, and Jozsef potential was only limited by the raw lack of supplies within the House of Podiebrad to sustain another commander. Only the best could be a commander. And Jozsef conceded that to Szabolc fairly. Hence the risks made, hence everything done for the sake of that briefcase. The Patriarch's ambitions have offered every sacrifice from his soldiers. The artifacts were secured by Lili. The Patriarch would be relieved, and after the celebrations, they would clean up and grieve and make their theater of drawing blood from their palms. Theater. That is the will of the Patriarch over the defilement of his children. If Szabolc was the Patriarch, he knew what he would do.
%And thus, he begins to.

"Go to the Highline Hotel. End the party. And bring everyone to the pier. We are going to execute that man." He turns his back to Lili, his vision narrow. He needed to get his armor. He needed to get his blade. He returns to the office, he reaches the locker as one would come to a wardrobe. Opening it, he begins to take out each piece of the sacred artifacts, the last few to create a commander. Binding the breastplate, the greaves, the pauldrons. It was an automatic chore, as he begins to calculate what he knew about Rae. What he could expect. Lili follows, confused, watching as the commander prepares for war. She wasn't going to obey him. Because it wasn't what was supposed to be done. They were supposed to let it go, because in the big picture, they had still won. And she was going to tell him, challenge him. Because she would do so upon the words of the High Commander, the higher command. "But the will of the Patriarch was for the guards to celebrate our victory-"

"The Patriarch does not understand his will."

Those were the ice cold words of the steel-eyed commander, as he interrupts his niece. He glares into the smudged mirror, his hatred spitting out as he feels that pillar of pulsing, writhing agony deep in the endless sea. "The Patriarch has never understood his will. And I have every faith, witnessed before god, that he never will. He understands less about his will than he does about the proper composure of a high commander over his soldiers, his troops, his own flesh, blood, and spirit. He understands less about the need for personal sacrifice before pleasure. And least of his understanding, is the understanding that the men need more than frivolous Bela has only learned decadence and depravity from our late father, and has saw fit for that to be the future of the House of Podiebrad." The long suppressed rage boils out to the lone guardsman, as Lili witnesses firsthand Szabolc taking off his own mask. The commander was betraying the will of the Patriarch.

"I will not allow my sister to be savaged by a demon while that that limp-wristed flower child stumbles his way in understanding our future as a House."

Szabolc finishes fixing his blade into his scabbard, the last of his uniform. And there, he limps past Lili to the motorcycle pits. Gripping a helmet off the rack, Lili follows dutifully, staring with moon pie eyes and slack jaw. "Your orders are as follows, guardsman." The commander states firmly. "Deliver the status of the logistics to the Patriarch. You are then instructed to procure at least squard of six capable Podiebrads. I don't care if you have to wrench them out mid coitus if you have to, you are to deploy them to the riverside dock. Do not stop at one. This is war, Lili. This is an insult from a monster. And we have traditions stronger than our... artist of a Patriarch. If he stops you, then tell him what's happening to Zoe. What that Rae is doing to her while he is busy trying to seduce some crime prince to soothe his bruised ego. And tell him... tell him this."

"Let justice be done, though the world perish"

Szabolc takes the helmet from her hands, and places the helmet over his head, and he takes off on the motorcycle. Lili is left staring, breathing hard, gasping for the fresh air. The briefcase. What was she supposed to do with the briefcase? Grandpa- Grandpa told her to bring it to the commander, and he would explain what would be done next. Lili feels her face continues to burn hot, as the pressure and horror builds around her. She was a mercenary. She was a hunter. She should expect these stuff, she should be battle hardened. But how many of the guardsmen really were? Outside of the ancient veterans, people like Grandpa and Szabolc, there were so few soldiers with real battlefield experience. In a flash, her family, her brothers and sisters and cousins were attacked, and they all may be... should be... would be dead. Or worse. Or even more worse. The roar of the motorcycle continues in the distant, as Lili looks down at the briefcase. When the commander is unable to command, then it must go to the high commander. Placing the briefcase on the ground, she reluctantly places her mask on again. She would bring the briefcase to the Highline Hotel, and carry out her duty. Let the Patriarch deal with the prize. She had to do her duty, the best she could.
%She just didn't know what her duty was anymore.

COMBATSYS: Gamma Squard takes no action.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Rae              0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Gamma Squard can no longer fight.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Rae              0/-------/------=|

Log created on 16:31:32 11/30/2020 by Crock, and last modified on 22:02:38 12/14/2020.