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What is the Alternate Name for Group 14 of the periodic Table?

The Carbon group 0.0625 6.2% [ 1 ]
The Silicon group 0.0625 6.2% [ 1 ]
The Tetrels group 0.5625 56.2% [ 9 ]
The Lead group 0.0625 6.2% [ 1 ]
The Germanium group 0.125 12.5% [ 2 ]
The Tin group 0 0.0% [ 0 ]
The Tetrahedral group 0.0625 6.2% [ 1 ]
The Diamond group 0.0625 6.2% [ 1 ]
The Graphite group 0 0.0% [ 0 ]
Total Votes:[ 16 ]
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I'll cross my fingers and hope we can all be friends. User Image
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Skin shifted his candy in his mouth, clacking it against his teeth as he walked. In his hand he gripped the ankle of a worker in stained grey coveralls, the limp body dragging on the floor behind him, arms extended above the corpse’s head. There was the barest smudge of a blood trail smearing the concrete as they went from the man’s broken face. Skin liked using his fists; he especially liked using them in a way that killed people quickly. It was a bit of a problem for him, as the faster he killed them, the less he could use his fists. This irritated him, angered him, enraged him, and he ended up beating corpses long after they needed to be.

Which tended to be messy, and was probably why he hadn’t been told to kill anyone recently. Which pissed him off all the more.

With not a single grunt of effort he hauled the body up and tossed it in the back of the truck with the others. Five in the bed, three more in the shop. Not a bad day, and he was fairly proud of himself with his swiftness. He would have taken more time, drawn it out, made it sweet, but he had a goal in mind and it wouldn’t do to have bodies lying around or be worn out when the Black Soldier came into the shop.

He had seen the logo on the side of the truck when it arrived, and had made his way down before they had even finished introductions. He hadn’t figured on having an awful lot of time, and hadn’t wasted it.

Now as he grabbed two of the last and dumped them he heard the rattle and growl of the towtruck backing up into the shop.

Well, a dead counter girl would certainly supply as a distraction when they came in.
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Kanda was jarred awake when his car hit the ground, lowered from the crane on the back of the old truck, hand slapping at his side where his gun fit snug into its holster. Only when its familiar grip was against his palm did his heart stop racing and his adrenaline begin the dive back to normal levels. He scanned his surroundings, deduced that he was inside the shop, and breathed. Okay, so he had a freaky dream. He was under a lot of stress in an unfamiliar nation and he hadn’t gotten any sleep in the past thirty hours. He was allowed a freaky dream.

He raised his seat and almost reached for his jacket when he remembered what dwelled within it.

Then remembered how businesses tended to look down on gun toting angry guys and picked it up again. The little rat-monkey thing made that cranking noise again when he pulled it on and he thumped the pocket. “Shut up. And don’t ******** come out, the Moyashi will probably blow a gasket if I lose you.” He could still feel the sting of his hair getting pulled. Nobody pulled his hair. Not a damn person did that and lived.

“Talking t`yourself now boy?” The old man shut the truck door and walked around to unhitch his car. Kanda slamed his own door and scowled at him.

“Like a senile old fool is one to talk.”

“I may be old, but I ain’t senile, and I sure ain’t no fool.” He pat the hood of the tiny convertible and smiled. “You’ll see. We’ll get her shiny and new again.” It turned into a crooked smirk. “That is, if you can afford it.”

“Told you old man, all I want is it running.” He dug his hands in his pockets, felt the brush of warm fur against his knuckles and yanked them out again.

“Well see that’s our little issue. I have a thing for kei cars. People here, they don’t know squat s**t about economy, complain about gas prices but if you go electric well you’re just a god hate’n hippie an`a communist. Things like this, they make a guy feel conscious `bout his d**k here, and Americans care nothing more than `bout the size of their dicks. Always have, likely always will.”

“And I care why?”

“B`cause you look like a man unconcerned about what ******** think `bout your d**k, and I like your car. So I’ll give you a discount. You get it all done, body, guts, th`whole shebang, and I’ll do it for flat line parts and labor,”

“Awfully sweet of you, but I just want it running.”

He crossed those sun spotted twigs in front of his rail thin chest. “And there’s th`kicker. You don’t get th`whole shebang, I don’t do th`fixing.” He grinned just a little maliciously. “Good luck finding another who knows `bout Daihatsu, I’m sure th`shops lining OBT would be happy to try their hand at ******** it up.”

“******** you, it’s a car. It can’t be that different. There’s regulations and codes for a reason.”

“Boy, you don’t even got the steering wheel on th`right side.”

“The ******** does that got to do with anything.”

“Everything,” he waved as he turned from the garage towards the door to the shop. “I’ll just get th`boys while you’re thinking it over.” They both knew he already won.

Damnit, Kanda liked that car, he was used to that car. He didn’t want to have to get another car, but he didn’t see why he had to get all the ******** dents and body ******** fixed. They were fine. He kicked the section of the fender that was held on with a bungee cable hooked under the hood. The exposed headlight sat in a caved in hole like a bruised eye, the glass covering it long since busted, the grill warped and dented and the front license plate holder was missing. Florida didn’t require both license plates, so he hadn’t bothered with replacing it.

Okay, so it looked like his car had walked away the looser of a very bad fist fight. He jammed his hands in his pockets again, swore when he once again hit the rat. Stupid ******** thing.

“Alright, wait up you ********.” The old man paused in the doorway, smug little grin and raised eyebrow. “I’ll pay for the ******** she-whatever.” He poked a finger in the boney chest. “But this b***h better shine.”

“We’ll add paint to th`bill.” He opened the door. “Yo boys! Get your asses out here an-” He never finished, as hands vised around his neck and twisted.

The crack of a snapping spinal cord was a wet crunch in Kanda’s ears, and he watched an enormous mountain of muscle haul the old man up by that shattered neck and toss him to the side like a broken doll. He crumpled against the wall in a jumble of clanking fragile bones, lifeless.

Kanda was already five paces away, gun drawn and directed at the behemoth ducking under the doorway. “Freeze. Hold it right there.” He shouted, and the noise rang around the garage louder than a bullet. The man advance. “Police, stay where you are, put your hands in the air.”

A voice southern as sweat iced tea teased out, “Do you like sweet things?” then the man laughed, picking up a tire.

“Put your hands in the air.” Kanda repeated, when he was once again ignored, the large man advancing on him with a slow taunting stride, he fired. The shot punched into Skin with a hot, fierce pain, he chucked the tire and Kanda threw himself back behind a tool crate to dodge.

Contrary to what movies and television liked to show people, bullets weren’t a one kill attack unless you got them in a sweet fatal spot, they still hurt, still did endless amounts of muscle damage, but Skin shook it off. His family could heal him new; rebuilding damaged muscle was hardly a difficult procedure. Besides, the pain sharpened his instincts, his mind, his rage. He raised a trunk of an arm and gripped the handle of the garage door with a meaty fist, tugging it down to slam closed. Trapping them in the dark.

“Let’s have some fun.” He laughed.

Kanda had slithered and weaved around the tool kit and car parts, settled himself behind a half destroyed Chevrolet with his back to the sandblasted door when the light when out. The heartbeat that thundered in his ears pumped adrenaline into his veins like a singing fuel, he was running on fumes and the spike in his bloodstream like the spark of arousal was a welcome kick.

“Where in the dark is our black soldier friend.” The rumbling taunt sang through the gloom, Kanda would almost pinpoint its location. With a careful hand he tugged the spare cartridge of amo out of his boot and shoved it in the inside breast pocket of his coat where he could reach more easily. He wasn’t absolutely positive what he had in his standard issue would take down a man who could shrug off a sucking wound to the chest.

He closed his eyes, let his dim surroundings go still, and breathed. He had been jumpy earlier, raw adrenaline on an empty system did that, but now he was calm and professional. Now he had a job to do. Black soldier he said. So he knew of the Order, knew he was a part of it. Akuma, or Noah?

He opened his eyes to an adjusted focus, in light and in battle. His hand no longer trembled on the gun, and his mind no longer clutched at a mesh of instinct and muscle memory. Now it was all training and survival and doing the job.

He crept along on his haunches to the edge of the car, peered around. At such a low angle he couldn’t make out much, too many machines, parts, and containers in the way, but to stand up exposed him. Instead he tracked shadows, took notes on his surroundings. So many clustered and cluttered areas, nowhere really open. The big man would likely stick to the empty car slots, enough room for him to move around.

“Come out come out!” was the bellowed rage and a huge tool crate was flipped and crashing down on the hood of the car he hid behind, smashing the windshield into a spider web of glass. Kanda jolted, but didn’t move. Still and silent. Okay, so maybe he’d just throw things.

More objects were tossed, smashing and thundering. He knew the location now and could end it fairly quickly. Maybe.

He ducked around the Chevy and rolled into the open, gun pointed and fired into the gray and black and shadow.

And was hit by a tire.

He skidded back, breath choked in his lungs, pain a flash of lightning in if face and chest and gut. He rolled, came up on liquid legs and tried to duck back into the tight spaces between cars and tools and parts but the blearing shadows in his throbbing eyes made him stumble and ram noisily against a crate. His opponent was on him in an instant and hauled him up, tossing him out into the open once more.

His gun was lost, but not the fight. He spat the blood pooling in his mouth and wiped it from his nose, focusing his glare at the man who stepped up before him.

“Now that introductions are over.” He settled into a battle stance.

The man grinned and the image was grotesque and monstrous, not because he was a hideous man, but because the insanity and bloodlust that twisted his features made it that way. “You can call me Skin.” The man was across to him in three strides and the real fight began.

Skin was bigger, much bigger than Kanda, and that counted in a fight, but so did swiftness and skill, and for a while it looked like it was in Kanda’s favor, until a fist cracked into his cheek, nearly snapping his head off his shoulders with the force and ringing his ears with the sharp pierce of a siren. It left him dazed for just that instant needed to grip his collar and throw him once more to the ground.

“Morons, all of you.” He dug a toe into the Order member’s ribs and rolled him on his back. “You’re so busy chasing Cross you don't even realize what’s right in front of you, you could have us, but all the Order cares about is one little deserter.” Noah then. Kanda blinked, felt the heaviness of a boot settle on his sternum, the man was so huge simply settling his full weight would be enough to crush his chest, the unfriendly grin vanished, and slashed in its place was an ugly scowl “Since you didn’t get the last warning, I’ll just have to leave your corpse for them next. Stay away from Carbon.” He pulled his foot up to crush it down, and a shrill familiar crabbing sounded like an alarm. Timcanpy lunged down from somewhere in the shadows and clawed at Skin’s face, who howled in rage and grabbed it, flinging it into the mess of machinery.

‘Noah.’ It was all that echoed through Kanda’s mind and with a face swollen with blood and rage he reared up, hand fisted, and jammed it in the exposed groin above him.

Skin’s jaw gapped, face turning ashen and balance disrupted he toppled backwards. Kanda curled his legs to his chest, his hands up, palms to floor beside his head, and rolled body over head away, landing in a crouch to face his fallen enemy, who struggled to rise, shook his head, and threw up.

“Another body huh?” he snarled, getting the leverage of a running start he landed a kick into the ribs, forcing the man back down into his own vomit and feeling the give as ribs crunched beneath his boot. He wiped the heel of his hand against his cheek where pain still blossomed with every working of his jaw. It was likely cracked or broken, he hoped they wouldn’t have to wire his jaw shut again. “I only know one Order member dying in this city, care to guess who he was?” There was a nice looking iron rod broken from when Skin had tossed things about. He picked it up, walked around the man to his head, out of reach of those long arms and big hands.

“Heh, a screamer from what I heard.”

“Wrong answer.” He swung the shaft and caught him upside the head, blood splatter dotted the oil stained concrete. ‘We’ll try a different question.” He settled his weight on his heels, rolled his shoulders. “Who killed Daisya?”

“Ortho.” Skin grinned up with blood stained teeth. “The weed killer.” The metal rod slammed into him again, this time it lashed his knees three times and blood bloomed against the denim of his pants. The pain did nothing but fuel his rage.

“We can do this all day.” Kanda’s shoulder sang in agony, but he kept his stance casual and assured. “Not like I have anywhere to be, you killed my mechanic.” He slammed the pipe down in his gut this time. “So, let’s try again, Noah. Who killed my brother?”

“Ask the 14th.” Skin wheezed.

“Who?” Kanda crouched down.

“White Carbon.” And fueled by than name and his wrath he lunged up, grabbing the Asian man’s neck in his big hands.

Kanda put the rod in his eye.
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A shock sent Allen stumbling backwards, hand flying to clutch at his chest where a sharp pressurized pain flared to a brilliant agony. Cross managed to catch him before he collapsed, settle him on the bed, the monitor connected to him was going crazy, panicking in its chiming language. “What’s wrong? Hey, brat what’s. ********.” He grabbed the emergency call button and shouted at Tyki, but the man was slumped in his chair, hands clutching his head. No help there.

“Wrath.” Allen breathed, eyes watered from the pain. His hand flailed blindly, gripped Tyki’s as the nurses rushed in.

“Si, Garato. Eu senti isso tambem.” Their hands disconnected as the albino was surrounded, speaking too loudly, too layered, for the man to be heard. “O Titanio e morto.”
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There, fully and completely caught up. Next scene will be something new.
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...you make me want to write now.

//skips off to finish that ramble she was posting to tumblr
Ive been meaning to ask. What is it that Tyki says at the end? I don't know Portuguese that well, and all my translators make it garbage.
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Dash Baxter
Ive been meaning to ask. What is it that Tyki says at the end? I don't know Portuguese that well, and all my translators make it garbage.


Translators usually are for the most part, I have all my dialogue checked by actual speakers of the language in advance, when I can. He says "yes boy, I felt it too. Titanium is Dead."
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Mmm... Ought to make a thread for my bits and pieces of fic... //so lazy
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Starcrossedsky
Mmm... Ought to make a thread for my bits and pieces of fic... //so lazy


Do it, then LINK!
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RinORourke
Starcrossedsky
Mmm... Ought to make a thread for my bits and pieces of fic... //so lazy


Do it, then LINK!


I WILL WHEN I ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING WRITTEN

THAT

ACTUALLY BELONGS IN THE BEGINNING
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Death was a constant.

Possibly the one true constant in this world. Regardless the circumstances, young or old, good or evil, exceptional or common, Death came to everyone, no matter how we tried to cheat it. It came in a soft lazy glide or a swift beating flurry of wings; Death whispered into the ears of lovers and kissed the brows of children. Death too came to those men who believed them masters of it, and to them it came with vengeance, as only a chained wild thing could do as it cast off its shackles and turned on the abusive master, on the mortals who presumed to hold power over something as vast and volatile as Death.

Inspector Malcolm C. Lavaliere was a man who understood power, how to wield it, how to wear it, how to casually and callously strip it from others. He did so now, sipping coffee from the dainty china cup, while several miles and hours away Death would sate it’s appetite for murder in an auto shop on OBT, sitting in the power seat of the spacious office made cramped by hastily stored file folders and important documents in need of attention. The Supervisor currently assigned to the mission stood shocked, off-guard, in the doorway of his own office, it pleased him to know that his mere presence intimidated the man; Lavaliere casually placed the cup back on its delicate saucer, and reclined in the supervisor’s comfy armchair.

The Inspector was not an imposing man by physical form, slick, oily, what one would picture for a Hollywood-cast lawyer or salesman, his trim body filled out an excellently cut suit in a black so severe it drew attention to his pasty skin. Carefully styled blonde hair, shades lighter than his square little mustache, combed back from a sharp face with its plastic smile, his eyes were hard ice beneath delicately arched eyebrows. He turned that chilling stare to Komui now, his lips curved into a slimy little grin that never reached his eyes.

The look never failed to intimidate. It worked best on those directly under his power, he enjoyed keeping the Finders, the Soldiers, the lab workers, the backstabbing ladder climbers, and of course the Supervisors, the very people in charge of the individual ecosystems of each and every Branch and subdivision, on their toes. Never knowing when he was going to drop by, analyze them and their progress. Reminding them who was in charge, who oversaw them, who approved or disapproved of every request they made of Central, who controlled all but the most personal of their everyday lives.

“Come in Supervisor, we have things to discuss.” It didn’t take a detective to see the fatigue and sadness wearing away the Supervisors face, and Lavaliere stood up to come around the big fancy desk to greet him. He amused himself by offering his hand and seeing Komui flinch at the uncharacteristic move, he was nervous. Good. Lavaliere often found fear to be an excellent motivator, and if he kept the Supervisor off balance more the better, one whose thoughts were scrambled tended to have difficulty lying.

“Inspector Lavaliere, I wasn’t aware you would be visiting.” Komui’s eyes had gone flat and cool, the tension at the corners tightening as he schooled his face, they shook hands only briefly, Komui’s were a little damp.

“I had business in Washington, we’re entering an Election year you know.” He excused both his attendants with a nod and took a seat in one of the big chairs flanking the couch, giving the Asian man his full attention as the Supervisor walked around the desk.

Komui would not admit it, but he felt better with the desk between them.

“How is your sister doing? I heard she took a hit in Malan, recovering well?”

Komui paused briefly as he settled into his chair, and faced the inspector with a pleasant expression. “It was simply a graze, ricochet I believe they said, no muscular damage, we have had her on desk work for the past month.”

“Splendid, I had worried over your reaction to her being assigned to this mission.” His smile was at its oiliest. “You are rather protective of her.”

Komui balled his fists on his knees beneath the desk and wished dearly he could bash the man’s face in, they both new the exact nature of Lenalee’s assignment here, as tied into the pulse of the Order as Lavaliere was there would have been no way for him not to have known the enormous fit Komui had thrown to every member of administration above his head, yet he had never been able to contact the Inspector directly, and in the end his choice had been hopelessly limited, supervise the new sub-branch or send his sister alone. Impotence boiled in his gut as he forced himself to be pleasant. “As you and I both know Allen is not interested in females, so my worrying over her would be moot.” They had known that, damn it they had known that from the start.

They had used his sister’s safety and chastity as leverage to force him to take this position. Why?

“Yes, I had read that in the report, strange turn of events but he has responded well to a few operatives who approached him in the field. Perhaps we can explore that route a little more.” He wondered if Komui was aware his brow puckered when such mundane undercover topics such as sex and disposal were discussed.

But such things where not why he had come here.

The Inspector had spent all of his life in the Black Order, the good majority of it in a command position, he could remember names and faces of members and soldiers long since dead, dead before this man was even born, he could recall back to the times the Order was still controlled by the Catholic Church, before it seceded into its own power, his family still had close contacts within the Vatican, and he could count on one hand the number of supervisors paraded through his life he had felt anything but contempt for. Komui was in that hand. Strong, resourceful, dedicated; both defiant and obedient to superiors, Lavaliere respected him, even liked him on the occasion, but was never reserved in his willingness to use him to his own ends. It was, after all, his job to know his subordinates, to utilize their strengths and weaknesses, to keep or dispose of them as they fell in and out of favor…

“I also read, in the report recently placed on your desk, that you have lost contact with him? Tell me Komui, how with all the resources and manpower you have at your disposal, you managed to lose a 22 year old boy? One who does not use any type of vehicle or travel very far from the greater Orlando area?”

Komui’s neck constricted and he raised his hands to clasp them on the desk, leaning forward. “This is a large city, Inspector, but not difficult to navigate quickly on a bicycle, Allen frequently disappears from our radar on Sundays, where we assume from previous attempts to shadow him that he has doctors’ appointments. The medical district, being situated close to the downtown area and Amtrak station as well as on a heavily trafficked street like Orange Blossom Trail which extends from Orlando all the way to Kissimmee, is easy to lose a tail in. Even if he did not know he was being followed.”

“Yet in all those previous incidents he has not disappeared for over a few hours, so why is it you haven’t found him yet? You realize that the Noah could have made a grab while you were distracted by this incident in Oviedo?”

“That incident happens to be a groundbreaking bust on a storage and distribution lab, if you would wait for my report I will be able to give you a breakdown on everything we have discovered in a few hours, until then-“

“In a few hours Allen Walker will still be missing, and we will be no closer to bringing down the Millennium Earl. You forget Komui, your mission here is not such mundane things as Akuma or distribution routes. This bust should have been handed over to another team immediately and your focus put back on the boy. The eyes you have on his apartment confirm that he has not yet returned home. It is approaching morning, and no known history of his indicates he ever stays over at a lover’s.”

“Cross however has returned home,” Komui pressed back, “and does not show any outward sign of agitation indicating he is at all worried about Allen’s disappearance. One of our own is down, Inspector.”

“Soldiers die every day; you are wasting resources while your objective slips through your hands.”

Komui shoved up from his desk, any number of things on his lips that he would not be able to ever retrieve once loosed, he was saved from whatever he would have said by the phone at his side. Snatching it up he barked. “What?”

“You want to come see this.” It was Peck, sounding like a happy child.

“What is it? I’m in a meeting with Inspector Lavaliere.”

“Bring him too, it’s big. It’s big and ******** beautiful.”

Komui looked at the Inspector, who sat relaxed in his chair, not betraying a bit of the urgency he claimed to have in finding Allen Walker. “We’ll be down in a moment.” He hung up. “That was Riggory Peck. He apparently found something intriguing in this time wasting adventure we’re having in Oviedo.”

“I’m sure it will be enlightening.”

Komui stopped at the door and gave him a dark look. “The Finders are all out looking for him, we’ve been trying to trace where he went, if you read the report you would know Allen appeared for a brief time outside of the Medical district, disappeared for a few hours, and reappeared in the downtown area where a relay race was being held. We are looking for him, and when we find him I will update you on his location. Until then give my men some breathing room and let them do their jobs.”

Without waiting for a reply or to see if the Inspector would follow to the labs Komui shut the door and rushed off.
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There where knives in his head, his thoughts were smothered in a drowning fog of pain and that breathless clutching agony he knew so well within his heart.

It was a raw ruinous experience, the death of a member of the family, no words ever could describe the sorrow or loss. It was worse, miserably worse, when a device implanted within you violently brought the news upon your kin that a loved one had passed.

The alert system had been the Earl’s whim, after the 14th’s merciless slaughter of the last generation all had submitted to a new technology, syncing them to one another, heart and mind. With the added benefit of each death being as painful for everyone else as it was for the victim.

This hopefully to deter future fratricide.

Unfortunately so far this debilitating communication was the only portion that was currently in perfect working order; all excepting the Earl lay where they fell, recovering from the anguish, in their minds not a thought flittered, wiped clean by the pain. Through the white noise inside their heads only the one name, their fallen brother, sounded.

Titanium had fallen.

Even through the chemical fog Allen knew the ache, it followed him into the forced void brought on by sedation, down into the place nightmares dwelled. It burned and boiled and seared down to his bones and inside his head he screamed. He had no breath to make a sound, no strength to writhe in the torment that clawed with blazing talons. He called to his most secret of companions, but to no avail. Neah was, as before, silent. He plummeted down the pit alone, only the pain for company. He surrendered to it, and to the darkness, and with that surrender could finally float away.

Beside Allen, Tyki cradled his head between his knees, breathing deep, concentrating on the pulsing in his temples and behind his eyes, the remnants of that sharp bright pain within his skull.

How? How could Titanium fall?

He knew Skin had followed that man, the Asian. He knew, or suspected, what had happened, and in his heart he felt the sorrow and regret give way to boiling rage. Carefully he uncurled his hands from their fists and pushed himself up, gazing at his kin, Allen’s pale face and bruised eyes, they had whipped his face with cool cloths that remained around his neck and over his forehead, his white hair lay flat and damp against his head. So fragile looking, they forgot too often how weak, how human they all really were, and Allen more than any of them.

If he didn’t despise the Order so much, did not long so greatly for its destruction, how long ago would they have lost him? How easily would the child with no purpose have given in to the comforting promises of Death? Would this new loss, would Skin’s death cause it to burn brighter?

So long as he has this hatred, he can survive. So long as the fire of hungering vengeance burns within him he can overcome anything. A weak heart, who needs such a thing? Cleave it from his chest, and in its place let the furnace of his hatred power his corpse.

“I’ll be back Garoto.” Tyki promised, breathless, placing the deck of cards in the upturned palm of the prosthetic like a ward.

He had to go to the Earl.

Regardless of where they were stationed, they all would have to come here now. This matter would be addressed. The Earl would see to that.

He wondered how the Order would handle the entire Noah family in one place? He wondered how the Earl would enact their revenge.

Oh there would be vengeance, he thought as he stepped into the elevator, his hands curling once more at his sides. There would be vengeance.

Starting with that long haired pretty boy.
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While for some Death circled gleefully, tapping skeletal fingers to heads and counting contemplatively in some macabre parody of a children’s game, to others the day dawned slow and tranquil. Washing away the mourning of loss from Death’s callous play, soothed and comforted by another’s touch.

Morning sun peaked through the horizontal blinds at the two lovers still wrapped up in bed and each other, beamed in to crawl lazily up the bed sheets and heat a wide dark arm settled across pale shoulders. The change in temperature had cataract white eyes slitting open, a shift in body weight had the bed creak out a weak, pained whine.

Marie ran a hand up soft warm skin until it settled at the top of his girlfriend’s head, then slid it down over waves of thick hair and a smooth length of back, finger pads tracing the subtle rises of spine. Miranda stirred, arched under his touch, the little hills shrank to one narrow indent into the skin, his fingers followed the valley down to the curve of her rear before traveling up once more.

That thick mass of hair at his shoulder shifted, cool air touched where pliant skin vacated, the curve of a cheek against his clavicle and the exhale of lungs out over his throat, lips, warm and a little damp pressed to his pulse.

“Good morning,” he said and felt the bed give at his thigh where a knee was placed, the body against his lift, the soft mouth skim up over his chin. He tasted her breath before her lips slid over his own, the assuring weight of his hand on her back had her settling back against him, skin to skin, into the sweet, gentle kiss.

His need for her pressed against her thigh and he heard her huff out a laugh, felt the puff of breath against his face. There was no hesitancy here, it had taken months to ease away the layers of self-doubt and soothe back anxiety, Marie was a patient man by nature, and the rewards of that patience were boundless. In these small moments between them, little pockets of solitude and silence, Miranda was safe, and self-assured. She could slide her hand down his torso and take him in her hand, a task that weeks ago would still have mortified her, and know her effect on him.

Being together, so near to each other for so long a time, was a luxury they never had before. The intimacy and privacy afforded was good for them. In moments like this he could assure her not only with words but with actions as well, a simple touch could be enough, he could embrace her here, just gently holding her, for as long as she desired. He could take his time, and help her find what she liked, and what she needed. She had come here at her own pace, and now even if it was still so easily shattered, she had some measure of confidence.

The day dawns, Death circles, and lovers embrace. The world spins on, the lives of soldiers spent and wasted set always at the table of the ever hungering war.

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