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Title: Catalyst
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STABINAE - October 4, 2010 05:53 PM (GMT)
God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfought
It can't be outdone
It can't out matched
It can't be outrun
No...





Society was in ruins. The world - at least as humans had known it - was crumbling around her. Croates prowled the streets and demons gleefully wreaked havoc under their Father's command, whilst the dwindling number of human survivors tried desperately to survive in their clustered hideaways.
Stabinae did not know what had become of her own brethren. but she did know one thing:
She, too, wished to survive.
She, too, wished to elude the growing threats; unlike the majority of humanity, she'd succeeded so far.

Hiding in plain sight had always been her forte, after all.

Roaming without a meatsuit was dangerous, but nowhere near so as travelling with one. In her true form, infected walked right past her, and no spells could ground her. For the past few months she'd been flickering all over the country, stockpiling supplies in her apartment - well, it wasn't technically hers, but no one else was alive to claim it - and keeping her meatsuit in good health. The mind who'd originally owned it had never woken up, and it was still in perfectly usable condition, so Stabinae disliked the prospect of abandoning it. Thanks to the Apocolypse, there wasn't that much choice left for possible hosts.
For two weeks now, she had not left the apartment. Blinds closed, door locked, she had holed herself up in the dark and simply thought.
As far as she could tell, she had only three options at this point:

1. Join Lucifer
2. Join the human survivors
3. Stay put until something breaks in and kills her

Option 3 was ludicrous. Option 1 was idiotic. Option 2 was suicidal. Ludicrous, idiotic, or suicidal...

Stabinae silently rose and started packing. She didn't exactly require most things that humans did, but she, too, needed to eat and drink at some point. Additionally, the discretionary items she'd collected primarily to keep her meatsuit in good shape would likely be in short supply outside, and needed.
Lastly, Stabinae ensured most of her meatsuit's skin was covered - jeans covering legs, denim jacket covering upper torso and arms, black Converse covering feet - picked up her bags - one rucksack, two overnight bags - and Faded out of her hideaway.

She reappeared in the middle of a dirt road, surrounded by forest; a chain-like security fence towered a few hundred metres in front of her.
Camp Chitaqua. Pah. What was she thinking? Once she was discovered she'd probably be set upon like a pack of dogs baiting a bear. And then she'd be vexed, and then the camp survivors would be significantly less.

There was a sudden sound from behind - the snap of a twig, approximately 50 metres away.
Stabinae reflexively dropped her bags and spun around, sinking into a defensive crouch as her fiery burgundy eyes scanned the trees and road for signs of a potential threat.

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 10, 2010 07:55 PM (GMT)
Blood dripped from the mace in Eddie’s hand. The sound of the bike engine purring dully behind her was temporarily drowned out by the sound of her own breath rasping from the effort of wielding such a heavy weapon. It was a crude tool, a ball of shrapnel welded to the end of an old iron chain, but it did the trick. The bodies of three Croats lay at her feet, limbs broken and skulls smashed. They’re not people, the shape-shifter told herself. Not anymore…

She pulled her scarf away from her face and took a long slow breath. “Oh, brilliant!” She scowled, noticing the grubby material had incurred yet another blood stain that she’d have to scrub out. If anyone had been alive to see, it would have been an odd sight - Eddie in her ‘barbarian biker’ form, looking like some brawny stuntman who’d wandered off the set of a Mad Max film, fawning over an old pink and white scarf. Still, a stained face mask was better than getting any blood in her mouth. God only knew what a shape-shifter with the Croatoan virus was capable of.

Her little private run had been going smoothly until the bike had misfired and attracted the attention of the ‘locals’. But Eddie still had her prize: a backpack full of cigars and liquor plus as much toilet paper as she could fit in the bike luggage. This was the stuff Dean and the other hunt leaders tended to scavenge for themselves without bringing back enough for those who never left camp. Having spent a life-time wheeling-and-dealing, Eddie couldn’t resist the opportunity to exploit a gap in the market.

***

Dusk was setting in as she pulled up to the rear of the camp, her routine when sneaking back in. She felt an odd warmth on her chest that she could normally attribute to bourbon, but she hadn’t drank anything since she left the camp at sunrise two days ago. Reaching under her jacket to scratch the skin, the exposed tips of her fingers brushed the numerous charms and talismans that always hung from her neck. But then her fingers brushed metal that felt warmed by more than just her own body heat. Alarm flared in her eyes immediately. She stopped the bike and pulled the fingerless gloves off completely, scrabbled to open her jacket while grasping again with shaking hands to see which pendant was showing a reaction. Looking down, she saw the offending object clutched in her hand; the Medallion of Choronzon, which meant a very specific kind of presence. One she wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with. “What the fuck?!” She grimaced, looking around her. She switched off the engine and offloaded her backpack, hooking it onto the handlebars until she got back – assuming nothing tore her apart before she got back.

The metal was glowing now, and so she followed it, winding a vague path away from the road according to how the soft red light grew stronger or dimmer. She had reached the chain-link of the camp’s outer-perimeter when she saw a figure moving in the gloom. Looking down at the medallion, the “S” that seemed to represent the East on it’s compass-like layout was now softly illuminated like the red of a person’s fingers when held up to a light source in the dark. Well, wasn’t that a turn out for the books? “S” had been the one who paid her to hide the damn medallion in the first place. She took another step forward and a twig gave way under the weight of her steel toe-capped boots. Shit!

The demon’s aura of intimidation preceded it, extending a vice-like grip on the shape-shifter’s stomach in an all too familiar way. Channelling the fear through her normal reasoning, Edra was filled with dread that the medallion’s original owner would not be too pleased to find that she had dug the thing up and added it to the ‘Mr T’ collection she accumulated over the passage of the apocalypse.

“Who, whoa! Chill out, princess!” she begged, stepping out of the shadows, letting her eyes revert to their natural pale yellow. It took her a second to remember that she was not wearing her usual human form, and she prayed the demon’s piercing second sight would work in her favour for once. “It’s me. Eddie!” She added. “What are you… I mean… What the Hell, Emily?!”

STABINAE - October 11, 2010 05:01 PM (GMT)
What have I done?
What is the difference?
I'm not going anywhere
When does it stop,
When does it stop?
What is the point in
Carrying on?





In hindsight, it could have been anything.
It could have been a deer or some other wild animal. It could have been the wind. It could have been gravity.
But because of the current age, where infected walked the woods and wildife had long since fled, where She stood alone outside a camp full of armed humans/hunters with nowhere more sensible to stay, Stabinae knew it wasn't any of those harmless things. That would be too coincidental, and in this world there were no coincidences.
There were surprises, however, and the first time in She didn't know how long, the shackinjira found herself genuinely caught by surprise.
“Who, whoa! Chill out, princess!”

She had bristled, sent out a firm wave of Intimidation for the unwelcome stranger, and stayed statue-still. Watching. But as the ' brawny biker ' called out, stepping out of the shadows, the shackinjira's mind raced through the familiar sensory information, matching each one up to come to a near instantanious conclusion. It’s me. Eddie! What are you… I mean… "

Stabinae did not require the nervous retinal flare to inform her what - or rather, who - stood before her. Her stance did not relax with her recognition, though she did quietly decrease the use Intimidation in order to get some more coherent sentences from the shapeshifter.
“ What the Hell, Emily?!”

The shackinjira's eyes shifted focus, from Eddie's body language to the medallion she was holding. Her medallion. The medallion she'd specifically requested the shifter to hide.
Huh.
It made sense that once the end had become nigh, the shifter had decided to dig it back up. At least she hadn't tried pawning it off.
" I requested you to make that unreachable. I wasn't aware that request had a time limit; or do you believe yourself unreachable, Eddie?"

Her voice was ominously calm, indicating a definite undercurrent of irritation, but not full-blown vexation; at least the medallion was still out of the enemies' hands - so to speak - and now, the shackinjira could keep a clsoe, constant watch over it without worry of someone non-angelic and non-demonic slipping through the barriers and swiping it from under her nose; a risk she'd had to live with beforehand, as she'd been unable to check on the medallion herself because of the anti-demon precautions taken for its last hiding place.
" You'd better shift back to your ' camp survivor ' form ASAP, so we can get the whole, " her voice changed to a parody of excitement as she quoted, " ' look who I found? ' O-m-g! ' nonsense out of the way."

It initially seemed to be an assumption on Stabinae's behalf that the shifter would help her, but this was not so. The shackinjira did not assume things, and as expected she elaborated on her ' assumption '.
" It will aid my induction into camp hierarchy if I have you to both serve as a familiar face and as a reference for any background checks. As for what's in it for you? Same as last time. As long as you don't prove an inconvenience or a threat to my existence, I am perfectly happy to let you live."

A bit cliched, perhaps; the whole constant death-threat bluff was a move pulled by many ' bad guys ', and difficult to take seriously. However, there was one key difference in this circumstance that made it deadly serious.

Stabinae didn't bluff.

Additionally, as it had been during their last interactions, there was the tacit offer of protection. Stabinae was not as callous or selfish as some of her kind; she kept an eye on her assets, understanding when to put the pressure on and when to give them space. As long as you kept your side of the deal, the shackinjira was fine with the offering the occasional good turn. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours and all that. It helped that Stabinae had a reputation for being very, very clear about what was tolerable and what was inexcusable.

The shackinjira had paused briefly, regarding the shapeshifter with clinical appraisal. then she added in a witheringly cool tone, " And put the medallion away. It's mine, and I don't appreciate it being used for ' show and tell ' games. Furthermore, you don't want people seeing how it lights up like a Christmas tree every time I'm nearby, or I may feel... Compelled to do something. "

In a nutshell; keep my secret, and I'll keep yours. Keep the medallion out of sight, out of mind, and you'll keep your head. Simple enough, really.
But then, Stabinae was not a particularly complicated being when it came down to it.

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 13, 2010 02:39 AM (GMT)
"I requested you to make that unreachable. I wasn't aware that request had a time limit; or do you believe yourself unreachable, Eddie?"

“Yeah, I do actually!” The shape-shifter declared. “I believe I’m a walking talisman holder living in the middle of a goddamned Hunter settlement that’s got it’s own angel AND demon proof security system. I’d say that was more unreachable than the last plan, and the last plan was pretty solid, so this is a free upgrade.” Edra crossed her beefy arms in front of her, squaring up to the petite woman. Stabinae clearly wasn’t fazed in the slightest, the same old demon she’d always been. Edra found that reassuring in an odd way. “Your welcome, y’thankless old bitch.” The Shape-shifter added, letting a wide grin break out on her face. “I’m guessing the bottom fell out’ve the book market and you want in here?”

"You'd better shift back to your 'camp survivor ' form ASAP, so we can get the whole," her voice changed to a parody of excitement as she quoted, "'look who I found?' O-M-G!' nonsense out of the way.”

Edra chuckled, the sound deep and wicked coming from her current form. It was just so odd hearing a creature like ‘Emily’ pretend to be excited about anything. “So you wanna come be my show and tell for the humans, play by the game rules here… And presumably there’s something in this for me other than attention I don’t really need?”

"It will aid my induction into camp hierarchy if I have you to both serve as a familiar face and as a reference for any background checks. As for what's in it for you? Same as last time. As long as you don't prove an inconvenience or a threat to my existence, I am perfectly happy to let you live."

“Whoopee.” Edra spun a finger round in mock celebration. Yup, definitely the same Emily. But even the death threats were making her nostalgic, which she knew on some level was proof enough of being a screw loose these days.

"And put the medallion away. It's mine, and I don't appreciate it being used for 'show and tell ' games.”

Edra cocked an eyebrow at the demon repeating her own terminology back to her. There was hope for the old girl yet. “Fair enough.” She sniffed and slipped the medallion into her jacket pocket.

“Furthermore, you don't want people seeing how it lights up like a Christmas tree every time I'm nearby, or I may feel... Compelled to do something.”

“Yeah, don’t worry.” Eddie reassured her, beckoning her back to the road where the bike was parked. She didn’t bother offering to help with Emily’s baggage. “It’s not like I want anyone to know I brought some Elder-Demon into camp.” She paused then, walking in silence for a while, reflecting on what the long term implications of this bargain would likely be. “Try to stay in your meat-suit, okay?” Her voice was quieter than usual, full of some unnameable sense of regret. “I’d rather you didn’t possess any of the people living here; poor sods have been through enough already, y’know?”

Reaching the bike, Edra gestured to the luggage rack that was already bulging with toilet roll. “This stuff's quite squishy, just untie the bungee cords on the side there and you can lash your bags on top. Now If you’ll excuse me… I might as well get changed now rather than later.”

With that Edra began to strip, dumping her clothes at the roadside. It wasn’t like there’d be any other people driving past to see. And Emily didn’t really count as ‘people’ either. Once she was naked she started on the next layer. She always started in the same place, digging blunt nails into the soft flesh behind her ears. Skin came away with a wet tearing sound, muffled somewhat by Edra’s wounded growl. The pain always kick-started the rest of her body’s ability. Bones shifted and cracked, tendons stretched and tightened. Her entire frame was condensing back in on itself. After a few agonising minutes Edra was able to straighten up and spit out the last of her old teeth, wiping blood from her chin. The grass verge was littered with steadily dissolving scraps of the brawny biker.

Dressing again, the clothes hung loose on her now. Her guise was the same height as the ‘real’ Edra with the same expressive almond-shaped brown eyes; but set in a weathered male face framed by a grey beard and fraying grey cornrows. There was muscle still, but carefully layered underneath the illusion of a middle-aged spread. She looked, for all intents and purposes, like an extremely well-kept pensioner.
She shrugged by way of introduction “Emily Crowe, meet Edward Lole, the man who just picked your arse up about five miles down the road from here.”

***
user posted image

STABINAE - October 13, 2010 06:07 AM (GMT)

Hello face in the mirror.
How are you today?
I'm searching for your identity,
I wish the fear wouldn't stay.





“Yeah, I do actually! I believe I’m a walking talisman holder living in the middle of a goddamned Hunter settlement that’s got it’s own angel AND demon proof security system. I’d say that was more unreachable than the last plan, and the last plan was pretty solid, so this is a free upgrade.”

The shifter hadn't changed, despite the end being nigh; a fact that the shackinjira found oddly easing. She was more than happy to go back to their old ways, squaring up verbally but with no real feel of hostility. There was always the lingering danger around Stabinae, but otherwise their relations with each other was almost... Friendly. The shackinjira understood the shifter's opportunistic personality to a high enough extent that she could place Eddie in her limited confidence as she had once before, and Eddie was as casually amiable about such a thing as the shackinjira had come to expect.

Stabinae wasn't concerned with this bravado of attitude. As long as the shifter listened and followed instructions, the shackinjira wouldn't bat an eyelid. Burgundy eyes watched, intent as a hawk, as the medallion of Choronzon was slipped into the shifter's jacket pocket.
Not exactly a foolproof hiding place; she would definitely be keeping an eye on Eddie tonight. The shifter reassured her not to worry, beckoning for her to come back to the road; apart from a small spike of paranoia the shackinjira had no sensory alarm bells going off, so she followed.
If it was a trap she still would have a window of opportunity to escape; not even Eddie knew her Title, and without that the shackinjira could not be grounded. The first sign of trouble and she'd simply Fade out...

And return to that apartment to mull over her two remaining options.

Still, the idea of a trap was a vaguely facetious figment for her sharp, nervous mind to come up with.
As the shifter had pointed out; this wasn't just a ' hi, I've brought a demon home with me ', situation. This was a ' hey, I'm a monster and I've brought a bigger, badder monster to join the party too ' .

...

It was possible that the shifter's attitude and terminology was rubbing off. Sigh. Stabinae had hoped such a thing wasn't contagious.
“Try to stay in your meat-suit, okay?”

Quietly spoken, with a barely traceable sense of guilt; unsurprising, really. The shifter only had Stabinae's word that the Rogue wouldn't go on a homocidal massacre the moment they got through the gates.
Well, Stabinae's word was a strong one, but words had decreased in value since the Apocolypse had begun.
“I’d rather you didn’t possess any of the people living here; poor sods have been through enough already, y’know?”

She simply regarded Edra; her expression indicated that when it came to idiocy, the shackinjira saw the shifter and humans as eternal soulmates.
" Why would I need to do that? I have a host, which is about as close as I'll ever get to a body of my own in these circumstances. "

That was all that was to be said on the matter. That was all that needed to be said.
As they reached the shifter's mode of transport Stabinae compliantly went along with the offered instructions, lashing her two overnight bags on already-loaded luggage rack. Then, she stood back and kept lookout, keeping the shifter in her superior field of vision.

It was not a pleasant process, shapeshifting; the shackinjira had already been aware of that. However, she had never witnessed it before. From her current observations, it seemeed like an act done best in privacy.
When the transformation was over the shackinjira turned more attention to the finished product, her burgundy eyes capturing, labelling, memorizing. It wasn't a bad guise, overall.
“Emily Crowe, meet Edward Lole, the man who just picked your arse up about five miles down the road from here.”

" Nice to meet you, " the shackinjira replied coolly, pokerfaced as usual. " Now, may we proceeed? "

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 14, 2010 01:47 AM (GMT)
Edra took another moment to look up and down at Emily one last time, eyes unconsciously flaring yellow for a split second. The demon seemed to dismiss the idea of her taking other hosts out of hand, but Edra knew if there was one thing the two of them had in common, it was the lack of hesitation in using whatever was at hand to survive. And mortals were just tools made out of flesh for Emily’s kind. On the other hand, the closer scrutiny revealed that she’d actually taken very good care of the body she was wearing, which was pretty damn impressive given the circumstances of the last four years.

"Now, may we proceed?" Emily prompted.

“Yeah, sure.” Edra shook off the hesitation and threw a leg over the bike saddle. Reaching down she adjusted the shrapnel mace hooked to the pannier. The last thing she needed was for the demon to end up with her leg impaled if they needed to stop sharply. She turned in the saddle and patted the exposed patch of leather behind her. Given the luggage it would be a tight squeeze but the woman’s body was fairly diminutive. Travel-Size; for your convenience… Edra thought to herself and smiled.

The bike coughed and spluttered into life. While she waited for Emily to clamber up and settle herself she twitched from side to side, listening to the sound of the engine. Her poor bobber had been through a lot, even more so since the apocalypse had kicked off. She’d learned to interpret his every little sound, each twitch in the handling. She’d have to tighten his chain when they got back, and do something about the muffler that had almost gotten her killed in the bad lands earlier that day. She wouldn’t be parted with the damn bike though. ‘Edward’s’ love affair with his battered old Harley was a running joke at Camp Chitaqua, people would lean over the mess tables and ask him how his wife was. Edra always thought of the machine as the grumpy old bastard in their relationship but gradually that role had fallen to her instead. It made the shape-shifter feel reassured, like she’d always had a co-conspirator wrapped up in the lies with her.

Feeling denim-clad legs shift either side of her, Edra realised there was, of course, a third conspirator in this lie now. Letting the engine die down to it’s normal rumble, she decided to hand out a quick debriefing. The demon had an impeccable poker face, but a little pre-warning might still go a long way.

“It’ll be a girl called Risa on watch when we get back. She knows I go on these runs ‘cause she gets a cut of whatever I bring back, but she’s not gonna like me comin’ in through the front door ‘cause none of the other Hunters are supposed to know. She’s a sucker for a decent sob story though so just… try to look suitably traumatised when she checks you out.” After everything they’d manage to live through, when they finally found Chitaqua Risa’s sister had gone crazy and hung herself. Edra had noticed the only things that softened the Hunter’s Rottweiler attitude these days were Dean’s drunken ‘come-hither’ looks or girls when they got that suicidal look of despair in their eyes.

“Stay away from the guy in charge. His name’s Winchester and I’m pretty sure the only thing he hates more than Croats is demons. Oh, and once we’re in, if anyone invites you to an orgy, or a group meditation or some-such shit, make a point to be as far away from the party site as possible. The hippie stuff’s all run by this shaggy-haired fallen angel pimp guy; I don’t know if he’s got any second sight left or whatever but I’m fairly sure he doesn’t need beasties like us freaking him out and messing up everybody’s karma, if you get me. Any questions?”

STABINAE - October 14, 2010 04:14 PM (GMT)
Tell me what you think you see
And fantasize;
Think I'll give in so easily?
There's only so much sin
A sin can take
Push too hard,
And I'm going to
Break.





Stabinae was many things, but a skipper wasn't one of them. It was a trait she shared with older, less flighty demonic beings; once they took a host, they generally stayed in it unless they had a good reason not to. The shackinjira had no problem with possessing people - really, any body would do, at least temporarily; she didn't exactly set a standard - but she simply didn't see the point of skipping from one to the next and the next without any real purpose. Possession was risky. Possession was an attention-grabber.

She'd made the mistake of snatching a hunter, out of convenience rather than any random grudge, a couple of decades back; the hunter's friends had tracked her down and ambushed her. With the use of a binding sigil, a devil's trap, and a whole lot of salt/holy water, they'd had their revenge. Ironic, really, as it was because of their act of ' avenging ' their comrade that got him killed; using a loose cable within the circle and her own supernatural abilities, Stabinae had set her temporary host ablaze. The flames seared off the devil's trap on the wooden floor, and scorched through the layers of skin that held the biding sigil. She'd escaped to the opposite side of the country, still feeling like she was burning.

They say demons are fearless, ruthless killing machines. Well, Stabinae sticks to the hosts that will not be missed. She doesn't kill unless there is no better option.

She still can't stand to be close to fire.

The shackinjira eyed ' Edward's ' bike appraisingly, then got on. She had ridden on a motercycle before, oddly enough; she'd stolen one a couple of times in the past, and on each occasion she had not enjoyed the ride. however, today was not the time to be fussing. Or Fading. Both put her at the risk of drawing unwanted attention, the latter considerably more than the former.
The roar of the bike's engine was irrritatingly loud, though it didn't block out the shifter's voice. Stabinae listened to the debriefing, catagorising and assessing each piece of information.
"… try to look suitably traumatised when she checks you out.”

Though she could comprehend emotion, interperet it and even was capable of mimicking it, Stabinae's emotional range was - at best - that of a high-functioning sociopath. The idea of acting traumatised made the shackinjira's lips twitch; then the fire rose up in mind's eye again, and the mask of the poker face returned.
" Hn. Trauma isn't exactly a popular emotion with my kind. Nonetheless, I should be able to give an adequate performance. "

Threatened. Abandoned. Alone. Fire.
Hiding. Fear. Despair. Fire.
Anger. Resentment. Agony... Fire.
Absently, the shackinjira's subconscious wondered whether her kind could suffer from a warped version of PTSD as she listened to ' Edward '.

“Stay away from the guy in charge. His name’s Winchester and I’m pretty sure the only thing he hates more than Croats is demons. Oh, and once we’re in, if anyone invites you to an orgy, or a group meditation or some-such shit, make a point to be as far away from the party site as possible. The hippie stuff’s all run by this shaggy-haired fallen angel pimp guy; I don’t know if he’s got any second sight left or whatever but I’m fairly sure he doesn’t need beasties like us freaking him out and messing up everybody’s karma, if you get me. Any questions?”

Winchester... The name held a significance to it that the shackinjira did not fully comprehend. No recognition, just significance. The name meant something. She'd heard it before... Somewhere.
" An extremist as top dog? C'est la vie, malheureusement. I'll keep that in mind. Now, step on it. I want to get this over with. "

The unexpected switch from English to French was smooth; the foreign language was fluent from her lips. It was one of many languages the shackinjira could speak; more significantly, it had been the language she'd been using as her first language when she'd had her... ordeal. The use of it kept the memories fresh, kept her focused on being in character. Memories and emotions could be triggered in her mind with a few key words, just like with humans - unlike humans, however, the shackinjira was never overwhelmed. It was Method Acting, and Stabinae had experience of such a technique in spades.

As for the... ' hippy stuff '; Stabinae had not been curious before the world started ending, and she was not curious now. She had no issue with leaving the 'pimp guy' to his own devices. If he was an ex-angel, well... That just served as another reason to watch her distance. There was an ingrained, instinctual wariness of all things angelic flowing through Stabinae's veins for a reason, after all.




C'est la vie, malheureusement - That's life, unfortunately

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 16, 2010 10:50 PM (GMT)
"An extremist as top dog? C'est la vie, malheureusement.”

“Ooh, I love posh girl’s when they talk like Édith Piaf.” Edra grinned

“I'll keep that in mind. Now, step on it. I want to get this over with.”

“Alright ‘Miss Daisy’, just remember I’m not your bloody chauffer!”

The bobber ate up the ground as Edra passed around the camp, past the part in the chain link fence laced with iron and sprayed with salt water that could be unlocked, curled backwards just far enough to let a bike through and then locked again. If Risa knew the person making use of that one possible weak point was a shape-shifter, she’d shit a brick.

As they rumbled up to the entrance, Edra made a point of revving the engine, an advance warning to make sure no one got so surprised that they started shooting. No one had any silver bullets, thank god, but she didn’t want the bike ruined. Or Emily pissed. When they were near enough to see the candle light in the houses Eddie peeped the horn in a specific sequence of five, like Morse code, then stopped the bike, praying there weren’t any devils traps sneakily hidden in the ground somehow. The Hunters usually told her about stuff like that… after all, they thought ‘Old Eddie’ was a more experienced Hunter than most of them.

“Eddie, what the Hell, Man!” Risa barked, emerging seemingly from nowhere with a sawn-off shotgun aimed square at her head.

“Change of plan, darlin’.” The smooth, velvety voice that came out was suddenly nothing like Edra’s native London accent, it was a warm, reassuring Louisiana twang. “Ah found this poor little thing just wandrin’ down the road about five miles down. Couldn’t rightly sneek her in through the backdoor now, could I? Chuck’s gonna need to put her on the register.”

Risa’s gun let out an ominous ‘ca-chunk’ sound as she turned to Emily. “What. The. Fuck.”

“Now Risa, honey, you let her be!” Edra scowled, genuinely annoyed at the human’s apparent lack of sympathy. And they called Shape-shifters the monsters. Unconsciously, her hand moved backwards to squeeze Emily’s knee. “You know ah wouldn’t drive in here with a Croat riddin’ on the back’a mah baby. The girl’s been through enough, let her through.”

STABINAE - October 17, 2010 01:52 PM (GMT)

“Alright ‘Miss Daisy’, just remember I’m not your bloody chauffer!”

She wasn't particularly keen or comfortable with the bike ride, but it was a neccesary annoyance. She could hardly risk Fading anywhere when she was in such close proximity to restless, homicidal hunters. In Stabinae's mind there was little difference between them and the Croats they were so desperate to keep out of camp, but at least the former could hold a vaguely interesting conversation. The faint yet promising aroma of coffee was an additional bonus.

Her face felt strange; the complex mixture of trauma, wariness, and hastily repressed vulnerability of a survivor was not an emotive blend she was used to manipulating. Still, a little psychological push and prod and her facial features captured it perfectly. Not too perfectly; the blunt, sharp, solitary personality of Emily Crowe was still there, defiant against her supposed ordeal, determined not to be seen as weak.
This was where a faking Stabinae succeeded, and a faking psychopath failed. There was more to emotion than a tearful mask; there were several layers of masks required, an entire personality to uphold in order to make it believable.
The shackinjira had the latter down to an art.

The deliberate revving of the engine was mildly irritating, despite her intuitive knowledge of its purpose. She probably should have been grateful for this precaution, but unlike Eddie she had nothing to worry about if someone opened fire. The only party who'd have to worry in such a circumstance would be the idiot who'd shot at them.

No, Stabinae's only concern was the anti-demon precautions that were sure to be littered around camp. The salt lines - not used everywhere for fear of wasting it, but perhaps used long-term in certain buildings - and the Devil's Traps. She'd literally have to sniff those out, and ensure she avoided them. Again, there wouldn't be too many, but they'd probably be placed in various places around camp. The more paranoid hunteres would likely have one over their doorstep. If they were in inconvenient places, the shackinjira would have to make a late-night patrol to subtly ' de-activate ' them and make them harmless.
Five peeps of the horn - obviously a signal - and the bike stopped. Emily glanced over her shoulder, staring back the way they'd come, then turned her wary gaze to the houses.
And to the woman who stood with a gun pointing their way. Risa, she expected.


“Eddie, what the Hell, Man!”
She kept silent - the words weren't adressed to her, after all - and observed. Her burgundy eyes took in every inch of the stranger, her body language tense. Like a deer, poised for escape; or a wolf ready to flee the sheep-fold.

“Change of plan, darlin’.”

A change of accent, the shackinjira noted absently from her position in the backseat; metaphorically as well as physically. Emily Crowe was the one making the decisions now. Stabinae stuck to the shadows, pulling strings. Making her puppet dance.
“Ah found this poor little thing just wandrin’ down the road about five miles down. Couldn’t rightly sneek her in through the backdoor now, could I? Chuck’s gonna need to put her on the register.”
Emily's brows furrowed minutely at the mention of Chuck; a brief, and very human wondering as to who the mentioned person was. Stabinae couldn't have cared less, of course.
There was an ominous double-click from the gun; it was loaded, by its scent and the way it was held, and now ready to fire.

“What. The. Fuck.”
The woman had turned to Emily, but the shackinjira knew she still wasn't being addressed directly, so she held her silence and had Emily lift her chin slightly, in a subtle show of wary defiance.

“Now Risa, honey, you let her be!”
The shackinjira's theory had been correct, then. Risa didn't look at all sympathetic, but Stabinae wasn't fooled. Of course this human could empathise with another survivor, a fellow female all on her own. But survival for herself came first, as well as her fellow campers; she was justifiably suspicious of the stranger before her, concerned about welcoming in any potential threats. There'd be enough trouble for ' Edward ' having left camp without informing the camp leader. There'd be trouble for her knowing about it, and allowing it. The woman just didn't want to dig her own grave completely by being responsible for blithely welcoming a stranger with open arms. Strangers in this day and age were very rarely ever what they appeared to be. As ' Emily ' was actually an ancient and very powerful demonic being that could easily obliterate the entire camp if given the chance and the motivation, Risa had every right to be suspicious. As long as she didn't know what she was being suspicious of.
Emily's eyebrow twitched in acknowledgement of Eddie's squeeze. Like Stabinae, Emily Crowe held an unusual lack of tolerance for physical contact, but in this situation the shackinjira let it slide. For now.
“You know ah wouldn’t drive in here with a Croat riddin’ on the back’a mah baby. The girl’s been through enough, let her through.”

Perfectly true. Edward wasn't driving in with an infected; the shifter was driving in with something far, far more frightening. Not that any of the other survivors needed to know that. She would hold her tongue, hold her silence, until this initial induction was over with or until she was directly addressed with a query worth responding to. It wasn't difficult; Emily Crowe had never been much of a talker. Actions spoke louder than words.

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 19, 2010 02:38 AM (GMT)
Risa’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. It was difficult to say no when ‘Edward’ had managed to establish himself as a father figure to so many at the Camp. It had started out as a deliberate ploy on the shape-shifter’s part. There weren’t many older people to have made it through the apocalypse, and when they saw Edward’s craggy face they all projected lost fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles and grandparents onto him. Edra enjoyed leniency, indulgence and respect as a result. And if Eddie was completely honest, using a male guise just made it easier to deal with this little society where the authority figures were mostly male. The feminist in her was appalled but not as insistent as the survivalist in her.

“S’okay hunny. You can get down here.” Edra gestured for Emily to dismount where they were. Then she dismounted herself and turned to unstrap the demon’s luggage, now projecting a more polite, helpful manner. “Don’t worry, ah got it.” The words had a meaning on a few levels. “You can stay on the cot-bed at my little ol' shack until we get you somethin’ more permanent.” Because something more permanent would have to be something sans devils traps and not with anyone who might notice their roommate wasn’t quite human. Her own rucksack on her back and one of Emily’s bags in each hand, Edra turned to find her path still blocked. Risa was stood staunchly in front of them.

The shape-shifter’s gaze was unyielding under the woman’s scrutiny and eventually the shifter won the staring contest. The Hunter blinked and lowered her gun, but still squared up to Emily, which seemed unnecessary given the height difference to begin with. “Who are you? What’s your story?” she scowled.

“There’s nothing goes on in this camp I don’t know about, you get me?”

Edra had to smirk at that. She got away with it as Risa’s attention was focused on the newcomer. She supposed it was a good job Emily’s sense of humour had been burned away in some lake of fire a millennium ago.

STABINAE - October 19, 2010 07:50 PM (GMT)
Emily noticed the narrowing of Risa's eyes, though she did not acknowledge it. She was not interested in interacting with anyone apart from the shapeshifter today; a cup of coffee and a a few hours of quiet thinking - in solitude - were the only things the shackinjira required right now. Interrogations ( as she knew there would be ) were not exactly high on her priority list.

Not to mention avoiding salt and holy water. Holy water was the more typical test, because it could be used to slightly dilute the strong flavor of that cursed alcohol that humans were so fond of and if a human drank it, they'd probably never notice the difference. Her, on the other hand... Stabinae had been forced to drink holy water before. It was really quite painful, and she didn't expect for a moment that it would be easy to mask that pain when there was smoke coming from her burning throat.

She wasn't about to rely on anyone for anything, but it would make things easier if Eddie made himself useful and ' test ' her himself. Hunters tended to keep holy water in flasks, the shackinjira knew; it wouldn't be difficult to swap it for normal, harmless water that the shackinjira could drink in front of any suspicious parties.
If she came across any salt lines, well... Stabinae could be imaginative when she needed to be. Just because she couldn't step over them didn't mean she couldn't break them via her ' luggage ', spillage of water, etc.

It was just the Devil's Traps that she had to watch out for like a hawk. There were definitely a few hidden around camp somewhere; possibly Eddie knew some of them, or could locate them using his superior position in the camp hierarchy.
“S’okay hunny. You can get down here.”

She complied, rather cautiously. At only five foot four inches her host had always been petite, but as she stood in such proximity to Risa and Eddie it became obvious how thin she was, with her denim jacket hanging loosely around her arms and shoulders. Not starving-to-death-slowly thin, but definitely thin enough to remind someone of a comparison between well-looked after pets and a lean, hungry stray.
There was no fat on her; the shackinjira's focus had been on keeping her host alive and in working order, and so had only fed and watered it when necessary rather than on a regular basis. She didn't require her host to be in top physical condition, and such an expectation in her circumstances at the time would have been impractical, a waste of food long-term. She just needed it to be alive; and healthy enough to stay that way even if she left it for a couple of days.
“Don’t worry, ah got it.”

Sure, you have.

She observed, somewhat skeptically, as the shifter began to unstrap her luggage for her. Emily didn't feel particularly protective over the contents of the two overnight bags - she didn't need them to survive, and she was not materialistic by nature in any case - but her rucksack was another story. It held... books. Including a certain old text that the shapeshifter had sold to her on their first encounter; though the pages on her kind had long-since been removed. It held scribes in Latin, French, Gaelic, Russian, Egyptian... anything useful or relevant, anything that could keep her mind from straying to darker thoughts.
“You can stay on the cot-bed at my little ol' shack until we get you somethin’ more permanent.”

Hopefully, said 'shack' would be quiet. And dark. And otherwise void of any inhabitants. Speaking of which... The shackinjira would have to inform Eddie about the rather inconvenient ' side effect ' of bunking with her kind. As the hunter lowered her gun and finally decided to address Emily, the Rogue's focus snapped onto the spoken words, ignoring the way the human was squaring up to her.
“Who are you? What’s your story?”

Oh, so many names. So many stories; such long, long stories, the graphic content of which could drive many hunters to madness or permanent shellshock. So many lies, truths and bluffs to choose from; regardless of what she picked, the human before her would never know the difference. Still, she kept her guard up and her mouth under strict control, sticking to the bluntest, least offensive reply.
" Crowe. Emily Crowe. And my story is irrelevant, seeing as it's brought me to the exact same situation as everyone else; paranoid, desperate, and alone. "

Yes, she was alone. She'd lost a few good contacts and aqquaintances through this war, yes, but she'd also lost the closest thing she had to kin. It was 2014, and Golgotha was dead. Only Fengari - technically ' team Lucifer ' in that he was part of the chaos - and herself remained. Possibly Nidenski, though she could not see how the restless, twitchy young Rogue could have stayed under the radar... She closed her eyes in a long blink, controlling the hollow feeling rather than reflexively pushing it away.
Since the shackinjira did not feel sadness, so to speak, this odd, inhuman sensation in her gut was the closest she could get to manipulating bereavement of any kind. When she opened her eyes again, they were hard for a human, nowhere close to the top of the scale of intimidating gazes the shackinjira was capable of, but enough for the hunter before her to get the tired, shaky yet still authentically evident ' back off ' aura from the solitary survivalist.
“There’s nothing goes on in this camp I don’t know about, you get me?”

Emily smiled without humor.
" Thank God I have no big bad secret to hide from your omniscient mind; doesn't sound good for people's sex lives, though. "

She took a step forward, not sparing the gun a glance. If it was pointed her way again, she'd be inclined to dislocate the arm that held it.
" Now, I'll save you the trouble of stalking me by telling you exactly what I plan on doing. I am tired, I am alone, and I am sick of expecting something to jump out and attack me every second of the day. I want to drink some coffee, sit in the dark, and find a reason why I should bother carrying on. I do not want to be interrogated by a stranger with a gun who knows nothing about me. "

Possibly not the best course of action, but the shackinjira was not enough of a hypocrite to go down the road of a traumatised survivor. The sympathy such an act would evoke would have irritated her beyond belief; it was more convenient in the long run to put herself forward as the blunt, hard-as-nails stranger who didn't want nor need friends, but also had no reason to lie. Coming off as someone who was true to themself would earn her respect... eventually.
She paused, then added in the same, ominously civil tone, " So step aside, please."

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 21, 2010 11:57 PM (GMT)
Emily smiled without humour. "Thank God I have no big bad secret to hide from your omniscient mind; doesn't sound good for people's sex lives, though."

A Cheshire cat grin spread across Eddie’s face, lighting it up in a way that was still distinctly her, even in such a different body.

"Now, I'll save you the trouble of stalking me by telling you exactly what I plan on doing. I am tired, I am alone, and I am sick of expecting something to jump out and attack me every second of the day. I want to drink some coffee, sit in the dark, and find a reason why I should bother carrying on. I do not want to be interrogated by a stranger with a gun who knows nothing about me." There was an awkward pause. Clearly, Risa was a little thrown by a stranger who refused to be intimidated. "So step aside, please.”

Risa followed Emily’s line of sight to find Eddie was stood patiently. The old man beckoned to their newcomer, but it was more of a gesture to tell Risa they were done and the matter was settled.

“Introductions over. That’s Risa. Now you follow me young lady.” Which was code for ‘follow me through the minefield and you’ll be okay’.

“Hey! What about your bike, Eddie?” Risa called after them.

“She ain’t goin nowhere!” The shape-shifter shrugged, walking backwards briefly. He pointed an accusing finger at the Hunter and added “Help yerself to TP but otherwise don’t you be touchin’ my baby.”

Risa opened her mouth to say something else but since she didn’t have the shotgun raised to demand their attention anymore Eddie felt it best to simply move on, making a mental note to give the hunter a higher share in the retrieved booze and tobacco than usual. “Bravo, dear.” She whispered to the demon.

She made her way through the camp, winding her way through the huts and trailers, reeling off little nuggets of information about the buildings or the people they passed by way of small talk. She offered a reassuring smile to the odd passer-by who stopped to stare at Emily until they reached the little cabin Edward currently called home. Their final obstacle to cross was a salt line running between the radio hut and the water tower. Eddie stopped, glanced around to check for witnesses and then scrubbed a section out to let the demon through. When she looked back up her eyes were their natural yellow again.

“Step through and you’re home-free, just peace, quiet and freeze-dried coffee.” Eddie offered, back to her own English accent. “Are you sure this is what you want? Living with… all this?” She tilted her head in a slight roll around.

STABINAE - October 23, 2010 08:14 AM (GMT)
The shackinjira noted Eddie's reaction to her dry remark with absent satisfaction. Humor was not her strong point as a whole, yet sarcasm and cynicism come almost naturally to her. It took little effort to get the pitch just right.
Furthermore, her blunt, matter-of-fact ' speech ' had served its purpose; the human female was evidently now uncertain as to how to proceed, having been unprepared for such a response to her challenge.
Stabinae had no intention of bending to a human's attempts of intimidation, and neither did ' Emily '. She fixed the woman with a long, cool look, driving home her ' back off ' message with her eyes rather than her supernatural abilities this time round; as soon as the shapeshifter gestured, she walked briskly past without hesitation.
“Introductions over. That’s Risa. Now you follow me young lady.”

The shackinjira had slipped past the first test, but her paranoia was still strong. She could pick up on most booby traps - it was a matter of simple observation and deduction in most cases - but contrary to popular belief, Stabinae was not psychic. She could not predict everything that would jump out at her, could not avoid every potential threat that popped up unexpectedly, and it was this introspective awareness that made her uneasy.

' Trust issues ' did not even begin to cover it. Stabinae had never trusted anyone in her life; she relied on logic and experience alone, and never faith.
She didn't know what it was to have faith.
She didn't know how to trust.

Especially not where her survival was concerned.

So, unsurprisingly, Eddie and Risa's brief back-and-forth interaction was noted word for word, tested for any codes or deception, and thoroughly analysed in the shackinjira's mind.
“Bravo, dear.”

Eddie whispered to her as they walked; Emily merely gave the shifter a skeptical sidelong look. Remember who - what - you're talking to.
" Don't call me ' dear '."

Every piece of offered informatin was stored away for future reference - after being analysed and compared with other relevant details for authenticity. Their route was easily remembered despite its complexity - she had a near-photographic memory when it came to landmarks and retracing her steps - and any potentially significant buildings were scanned with a critical eye. She could not afford to be caught off guard or have her surroundings used against her.
She did not avoid the gaze of any starers, merely staring right back; the strangers were always the first to look away.

When they reached the salt line, the shackinjira's paranoia flared. Watching the shifter glance around for witnesses - Stabinae did not need to look; her sharp sense of smell combined with the relatively still air informed her that there was no one currently in this little area apart from themselves - before scrubbing out a section of the salt, Emily's eyes narrowed.
The salt line kept her kind out; if she slipped through an opening and that opening was closed, then she'd be effectively kept in.
Trapped, with only the reliance on the shapeshifter to assist her.

Except a good bit of the salt line was in the open, potentially exposed to the elements...
“Step through and you’re home-free, just peace, quiet and freeze-dried coffee..."

Issue of trust avoided. Somewhere overhead, thunder grumbled ominously behind its cover of an overcast sky. It had not rained here for several days at least; there was enough unfallen rain to make an excellent thunderstorm, once Stabinae used Interference to flick the electrical switch and mess with the atmospheric pressure. With that realistic self-preserving thought in mind, Emily casually stepped through the opening, meeting the shifter's yellow-eyed gaze steadily.
Eddie had reverted back to her English accent, the shackinjira noticed.
“Are you sure this is what you want? Living with… all this?”

She gave the shifter a look.
" Of course not; I'm not suicidal."

There was another rumble of thunder, louder this time. A flicker of lightning amongst the heavy clouds. Then, fat, heavy raindrops began to fall. Emily pulled up her hood, and added,
" I am, however, out of options. Furthermore, it is preferable to be here, riskful as it is, than merely staying in hiding, waiting until my mind rots away completely. Solitary confinement and inactivity is as much a poisonous combination for me as it is for anyone else. "

EDRA OGUNLANA - October 24, 2010 08:21 PM (GMT)
“Of course not; I'm not suicidal.”

As thunder rumbled above them Edra sighed. She looked back at Emily, whose face remained as impassive as ever. If the demon was calling up a storm, it honestly wouldn’t surprise her. Either way, she’d need to go fetch the bike and make sure her baby was covered up for the night.

“I am, however, out of options. Furthermore, it is preferable to be here, riskful as it is, than merely staying in hiding, waiting until my mind rots away completely. Solitary confinement and inactivity is as much a poisonous combination for me as it is for anyone else.”

“Right…” Edra noted, a grey eyebrow quirking. Here, then, was the creature’s admission – it got lonely just like virtually every other cognisant thing on the planet. “Maybe remember that next time you feel like being snippy about me calling you ‘dear’ then?” she suggested with a spiteful smile.

She opened the door to Edward’s shack and literally threw the luggage in. “Allan lives a few rows down, he’s the one who likes to put salt lines down. He’ll be back out there as soon as the rain dries out a bit. I think the guy’s got OCD or something, it drives Chuck crazy every time he goes through inventory and sees another bag’s been swiped. Maybe you could offer to help him, leave a few convenient gaps.” She shrugged. “I’ll sort out the devils traps for you tomorrow and get a flask of fake holy water ready, ‘cause Risa’s no doubt got it in for you but they shouldn’t make you do the test more than once.” Eddie decided she’d need to leave a few traps scattered about with fair warning though. It wasn’t like Emily was the only demon around.

Within the safety of the four thin walls, Eddie reached back into her jacket and carefully pulled out the Medallion of Choronzon, the “S” on it still glowing softly. “I guess I’ll have to stop wearing this while you’re around.” She frowned. “I made a point of digging up as many early warning knickknacks as I could. If there’s anything I can do to avoid the camp getting trashed, so much the better. The ungrateful shits here would kill both of us if they knew what we were… But I figure if you’ve got just as much vested interest in keeping the place afloat as I do, then we’re all better served having you around. I have to ask though... what about the others this thing was made for?”

STABINAE - December 3, 2010 11:08 PM (GMT)
“Right… Maybe remember that next time you feel like being snippy about me calling you ‘dear’ then?”
The shapeshifter's spiteful smile was met with a deadpan stare.
"Hm... No."

The shack's interior was met with a solitary, swift-scanning eye; the shackinjira's other eye watched Eddie throw in the luggage, dispassionate.
“Allan lives a few rows down, he’s the one who likes to put salt lines down. He’ll be back out there as soon as the rain dries out a bit. I think the guy’s got OCD or something, it drives Chuck crazy every time he goes through inventory and sees another bag’s been swiped. Maybe you could offer to help him, leave a few convenient gaps.”

Allan... A name to match with a face ASAP.
" That could draw attention - and further suspicion - if said gaps were discovered. If the man is as OCD as you say, no one would expect him to make such a mistake. It puts too much risk on my behalf to consider as plausible, at least for now. I'll stick with the bad weather and let him continue to waste your supplies. "

“I’ll sort out the devils traps for you tomorrow and get a flask of fake holy water ready, ‘cause Risa’s no doubt got it in for you but they shouldn’t make you do the test more than once.”
" I appreciate that, Eddie, " was all the shackinjira said on the subject of the Traps and holy water being dealt with. There wasn't a need for further elaboration past that, so she didn't elaborate. She expected at least a few Traps to be left activated, if any at all were tampered with in the first place; she was hardly the first demonic being to set foot in the camp, and certainly she wouldn't be the last either.
At the sight of the Medallion, Stabinae tensed slightly; her burgundy gaze was drawn to the glow of the ' S ' like a moth to its nemisis flame.

“I guess I’ll have to stop wearing this while you’re around.”
The shackinjira's lip twitched into a humorless smile as she commented dryly, " That would be wise, yes. Bury it under a Trap or put it in your underwear drawer; as long as no one can stumble across it by snooping, I don't care where it is hidden."

The shifter frowned.
“I made a point of digging up as many early warning knickknacks as I could. If there’s anything I can do to avoid the camp getting trashed, so much the better. The ungrateful shits here would kill both of us if they knew what we were… But I figure if you’ve got just as much vested interest in keeping the place afloat as I do, then we’re all better served having you around. "

Stabinae considered that.
" True enough... after all, to survive, the world must survive with you. "

" I have to ask though... what about the others this thing was made for?”She stiffened fractionally; a tensing movement, so small it could even have been missed by the eyes that were watching for it. If one were to touch her, however, they would have noticed that she was as rigid and still as a statue, not even breathing in the brief few seconds it took for her lightning-fast mind to sieze the enquiry and tear it to pieces in order to search out any malevolent intent. Then, she breathed, and captured the shifter with a warning stare.
Thin ice.

" Are they alive or dead, do you mean? Frankly, I have no idea. Moon is likely to be causing havoc somewhere; I don't know about the others, and I don't care, either. We don't exactly have a sense of kinship. "

EDRA OGUNLANA - January 6, 2011 01:52 AM (GMT)
"Bury it under a Trap or put it in your underwear drawer; as long as no one can stumble across it by snooping, I don't care where it is hidden."

The throw away comment got Eddie thinking, because the last place anyone else likely wanted to poke their nose was 'Old Man Eddies' plastic bag full of underwear. Maybe not the best place for a powerful occult medallion but maybe a good place to stash the cigars and alcohol she'd come back from the badlands with.

When Stabinae took in the question about her 'family' Eddie was, unfortunately, a little too tired to really pick up on the implicit warning behind the demons glare. She interpreted it as the same kind of minor pickle Eddie herself exhibited when people asked questions about her crazy-ass parents. Although it must have stemmed from the need to assimilate, sometimes Emily Crowe was too subtle for her own good.

"Are they alive or dead, do you mean? Frankly, I have no idea."

Eddie turned to the small camping stove resting on the table in the corner of the shack. It allowed her to cover the brief flash of pity that would have probably shown on her artificially aged features. The table where the stove lived was otherwise covered in various shotgun shells and scavenged clips. As far as Eddie was concerned, hot tea and coffee was just as valuable an ammunition as anything she could fire from a gun. Two strikes from a cheap plastic lighter and a hiss of burning gas underscored Emily's icy voice.

"Moon is likely to be causing havoc somewhere; I don't know about the others, and I don't care, either. We don't exactly have a sense of kinship."

"I can't imagine why." Edra muttered wistfully. 'Moon' sounded like a nice name that Californian hippies called their daughters. She couldn't picture a demon going by that name... unless it was known for flashing its arse at nuns or something. She reached for a water cooler bottle half full of distilled dew. The shifter was quite proud of how much she'd slowly collected from a condensation trap on the roof of the shack. It was fucking heavy now though.

"I only ask about the others in case they weren't as warm and cuddly as you." Lifting the bottle to tip it, she grunted with the effort. "Don't get me wrong Crowe. It's just... I happen to know that most other shapeshifters are crazy bastards because they rarely have the brains to live in their own skin and being a perpetual identity thief sends you round the twist sooner or later. If any of them turn up here and start shit on my turf, there's a silver dagger and a round of cast bullets buried out back." Eddie tilted her head, gesturing westwards. She kept it just about vague enough, but it was enough information to serve as a sign of good faith. "So. If you're family, who are likely causing havoc elsewhere turn up to cause havoc here instead, are you going to be able to handle them? Or is there anything else I should be hiding out back with the silver?"

A tin pan's worth of the water began to boil and Edra sank into a dusty canvas chair next to the ammo table, rubbing at her yellow eyes and the grey hair around her temples.

STABINAE - January 30, 2011 11:57 AM (GMT)

"I can't imagine why."
Crowe's lips twitched slightly at the shifter's wistful mutter.
" Let's just say we prefer to avoid family reunions. "

Oh, Edra might have seemed to like the name of one of her brethren, but that was only because the shifter could not link the name to the violent, anarchist identity. Titles were guarded fiercely, so it was not uncommon for a shackinjira to have multiple aliases for multiple contacts - or to simply never tell anyone their Title at all. ' Moon ', however obscure and deceptively soft it seemed, was one of the more unusual nicknames for a very good reason.
It was used exclusively by Crowe to refer to this particular brethren of hers, and not out of humor or niceness.
It was used because it was a direct translation of the other shackinjira's Title.

Each time Crowe referred to him as 'Moon ', it served as a reminder to the other shackinjira that his Title could - and would - be used against him if he dared cross her path again. Though ' alpha ' status in Rogue society was only a minor branch in the great tree of demon hierarchy - their abilities were acknowledged, but they were still seen as an inferior subspecies - it was a reputation that had its conveniences.
More importantly, as it could not be achieved through mere smoke-and-mirror bluffs alone, it served as a reliable indication of how capable she was at not only wielding dangerous knowledge against others, but using it as well.
The shackinjira observed as Eddie reached for a water cooler bottle, talking as she worked. Crowe was content to merely lean against the wall and listen.
"I only ask about the others in case they weren't as warm and cuddly as you."
Her? Warm and cuddly? Hah.
" Hn. "

"Don't get me wrong Crowe. It's just... I happen to know that most other shapeshifters are crazy bastards because they rarely have the brains to live in their own skin and being a perpetual identity thief sends you round the twist sooner or later. If any of them turn up here and start shit on my turf, there's a silver dagger and a round of cast bullets buried out back."

Oh, very clever. So that's where this was going. Crowe's shadowed burgundy gaze flickered in the direction the shifter indicated; deliberately vague, of course, without seeming openly so.
"So. If your family, who are likely causing havoc elsewhere turn up to cause havoc here instead, are you going to be able to handle them? Or is there anything else I should be hiding out back with the silver?"

" I'm not a fool, Eddie, and neither are they. Moon knows better than to cross paths with me; the others, if still breathing, have better things to do than make an appearance. You don't need any special weapons to ward them off as long as I reside here. "

The water began to boil. As the shifter seated herself, Crowe tilted her head discreetly and almost indiscernably so as to focus on the outside sounds. Footsteps; people moving around outside. Not towards her, so Crowe wasn't particularly concerned. The steady, confident rhythms indicated that they were heading from one building to another, as part of a long-established routine. Mealtime? Social purpose? Regardless, their movements did not appear to pose any threat.
She'd keep an ear on them, however, just in case.




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