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At this point, anyone would be pissed off. In fact, no. Pissed is not the word. About to wreak havoc and mayhem and possibly rip out someone's guts with his teeth was far more succinct. And in his defence, it wasn't like he hadn't done that before.
What's more, he was totally in awe of his boyfriend's utter inability to stay alive. Surely, there was a survival instinct in every living thing? Not in Rufus, apparently. He tends to die quite a lot. His only redemption from that is he doesn't stay dead too long.
This time, the two of them had been in San Francisco – a more civilised sector than they were accustomed too. Perhaps Zachary had naively hoped this meant the damage would be minimal. Ahh, that was a laugh – where-ever there were bullets, no matter if they were friend or foe, Rufus was bound to attract them like a bloody super magnet.
Zachary hoisted his bloodied, bruised and battered (plus fucking idiot of a) fiancé over his shoulders, hunching under the weight of the other man. Rufus hung limply, blood trickling endlessly, like petite scarlet rivers, down his milky, pale arms. Zachary wasn't sure how he'd forgive Rufus this time; not only did the idiot not stash enough bullets, but also decided to use that particular shrapnel bomb that Teddy had told them to only use in dire emergencies. Dire emergencies did not include 'when your fiancé has a gun aimed at his temple.' Obviously, Rufus overreacted. The bastard has a tendency to do that when he panics. And unfortunately for Arlen Zachary, Rufus panicked a lot. How someone with such a nervous disposition got so handy with a gun, the gods only knew.
With unwavering eyes looking straight ahead, and a grip of iron on the gunslinger's horribly tattered clothes, which were slippery with their wearer's blood, Zachary trudged on toward the Transpo Booths at the end of Fifth Street. It had been the decided rendezvous, and to Arlen's silent relief, the shadow of Magdalene Vandelle unlatched itself from the surrounding, looming darkness. She pulled the hood of her cloak from her head, to better see the extent of Rufus' wounds. She swore under her breath, her amber eyes growing wide.
"The hell did he do to himself?" she muttered, her fast eyes flicking back to Zachary accusingly.
"He used that bomb that your friend gave him." Zachary hissed back, his voice cold as well as hinting on venomous.
Maggie blinked. "Rufus used that thing?"
Zachary gestured with zeal at the slumped figure on his back. "Obviously."
Maggie bit her lip before throwing her hood back over her face. "C'mon. We have to get back to base, before the vanguard turns up."
Without hesitating, Zachary strode onward toward the booths, Maggie following swiftly behind, muttering into an outdated handcom. "Lib, I need you to be ready for a code 5 when we get back...It's Rufus...yes, again."
At this point, Zachary tuned her out. Had it been his choice, they'd had never got involved with this rebel party. But Rufus had been adamant. True, the living conditions these people had were horrible, and the controlling force was nothing short of tyrannical.
Walking through the tarmac streets, the roads were littered with the remains of car debris and rotting corpses. No-one bothered with burial or pyres these days. Enough carbon and sulphur in the air already, and these days, the underground was home for the living, not the dead. But more to the point; no-one cared. These people were rebels. They deserved to die.
That's right; Zachary was walking among the decaying remains of his fallen allies. He didn't bat an eyelash. Death was just another part of it all, to Zachary. The more pressing issue at hand was the only slightly still alive ally that was pressing into his back. Death was a part of life – but Arlen would prefer it if Death stayed the fuck away from Rufus.
Maggie brushed past the two men, striding with purpose towards one of the three tubercular booths. Arlen complied, following her lead. This booth would have been earlier corrupted by Maggie, who was not just a hacker, but a 'cracker' – a high level techno-whiz who knew exactly how to function a computer to her liking, and how to kick a guy where it really hurts... technologically speaking. Those she stung via the web, she stung good. However, those skills at this point were focused on scrambling the booth's transmission signal frequency, so the bastards on the other end of that satellite couldn't follow them.
Maggie yanked the keyboard toward and expertly started dialling at the keys. Mike-Indigo-Sierra2-Indigo-Oscar-November-Charlie-Oscar-Mike-Papa-Lemur-Echo-Tango-Echo. Request: Tr3 via point XVY6 NE 0.12 – Scram dest via; 6121. Pending...
Maggie stared at the screen, watching the green letters without emotion. No doubt the vanguard were on their tails, and Rufus had left them a bloody little breadcrumb trail to follow. She sighed, her eyes briefly glimpsing her comrade's state. Mostly, he was sliced to pieces. In some places, shrapnel was still impaled into the man's translucent skin. Maggie's lip drew to a thin line. Oh yes, be it her or Zachary, one thing was sure: Teddy Pearson was going to die. She turned back to the screen.
Pending...pending... Access Granted. Scram dest enabled – engage.
Maggie had barely seconds to yank Zachary and Rufus into the energy stream. And doing so was never pleasant. In a normal Transpo Booth, one might feel a slight tickling sensation as their atoms were separated, transported over thousands of miles, then put back together again in a completely different country. A tampered Transpo Booth, however, was a little different. It felt as if your entire being, hell – your very soul was being ripped to miniscule shreds, scattered through time and space, only to be forcibly yanked back together by some brutal, unseen force and sewn back together, atom by atom, with scorching hot needles. Maggie gasped, hot white light bursting before her eyes as she dragged Arlen with her back to base. She could hear screaming; she wasn't sure if it was her or Zachary.
Suddenly, they were on the road adjacent to Leicester Square. It was nearly 2am. Without warning, Maggie swerved to the right and vomited the entire contents of her stomach, the taste of acid and scum permeating her mouth. She hated this place – she just wanted to go home. She slowly straightened herself out before turning back to face Zachary and Rufus, only to find Zachary kneeling beside Rufus' still body, checking his pulse.
"He's stopped breathing." Zachary said tonelessly. She'd heard this voice before – the calm exterior that hid an entire whirlpool of emotion. She wouldn't know this had it not been for that incident three weeks ago.
Rufus had been paired with Starius, and had come back with deep lacerations all over his face. Starius... was worse off, let's put it that way. Libré had been run off her feet trying to sort them both out, but Arlen only watched over Rufus from his bedside. When Teddy tried to get him to eat something, he was glared at. Frightening-shit-your-pants-"Try-that-again-and-I'll-eat-you" glare too.
At that point, Maggie had snapped. She didn't even think, she just grabbed the closest thing at hand – a broom – and whacked Arlen around the head with the handle. She remembered his reply well...
Glare. "What do you want, Magdalene?"
She's blinked, before yelling "For God sake – it's not Teddy's fault, and it's not yours either. It's just a little blood-loss; he'll wake up in a few hours! So calm down!"
Zachary didn't even budge. He just replied, stoic as stone. "I am calm."
And that was that. Maggie had come to understand that cold calmness and general watchfulness over Rufus was Zachary's way of showing he cared.
Two days later, the two were engaged. This only supported Maggie's theory even more.
And now, once again, Rufus wasn't breathing, lying on the concrete pavement in the middle of London. Joy of joys.

~ Codebreaker ~


"My lady, I don't think you should go that way."
"Gal, no matter which bloody road we use, something is going to try and kill us anyway. And when I say us, I mean me. So I get to choose which road I die on – okay?"
"...I should go first, My Lady."
"I told you to stop with the 'my lady' crap! Don't make me use the pepper spray."
Gal actually winced at the aforementioned spray. Satisfied, Kestrel started trudging grimly down the sinister looking road before her. But then again, everything was freaking sinister and liable to kill you on sight when you were Kestrel. This place, obviously London, but not the London Kestrel had known, was no different. In the sinister sense, that it. The fact that there were bones crunching underneath her shoes said everything.
"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
"...my name is Galahad, my Lady."
"Pepper-spray."
"Sorry!... Lady Kestrel."
Kestrel rolled her eyes as she started forward again. The street lights that would have lit up the dark pathway were dead – much like the unfortunate bastards that seemed to pave the ground. Kestrel mused silently how long they'd been there. Judging by some of the skeletons – stripped clean of all flesh and tissue – they'd been hanging around for a while. Either that, or this new world was also home of the flying piranhas. Knowing her luck, it would be the flying piranhas. Great.
Just as they were reaching the end of the road (and using that phrase was like a death sentence, Kestrel could feel it), sirens started to scream out from a distance. And they were getting closer. The sane part of her that called itself 'common sense' told Kestrel to go toward the sirens – after all, they were supposed to be emergency services, and therefore good guys, right? But no sooner had she thought this than a familiar sinking feeling came over her; the same one she'd felt when the good, bad and ugly of the magical world came to her doorstep back home. The same feeling that screamed "what the hell are you standing around for?! Move your ass!!" And past experience had told Kestrel that listening to said feeling normally kept her alive... barely.
But by this point, the sirens were starting to close in, as if they knew exactly where Kestrel and Gal where. Kestrel balked in alarm -  they hadn't been bugged had they? If some asshole had been implanting weird shit in her head whilst she was sleeping, then crap was gonna fly. She'd been pretty uneasy when she found herself K.O'd in the middle of London – a deserted London, no less. That was pretty disconcerting in itself. And now, this deserted London had the police after her; although something was telling Kestrel this was not your standard, friendly neighbourhood watch. Boy was she right.
They looked marginally like the SWAT team, only in navy blue, not black. Emblazoned on their backs were bright red 'V's, like some kind of gangster group gone military. And that was enough for anyone to pee their pants, in any form of London – let alone the capital city of the twilight zone.
And yes, as expected, these men were armed. Fabulous.
"See what I mean, Gal?" Kestrel asked airily, turning to face the knight, waving her hand at the scary men with big guns. "This is what I mean when 'everyone wants to kill me'. Even in alternate realities!"
"Understood, Lady Kestrel; but I really think we ought to be leaving now." There was an edge to his voice. Kestrel sighed.
"Would it be too much to ask, for this to be a big misunderstanding?"
"Take off the locket and get on the floor." Echoed a tinny, automated voice. Kestrel peered through the ranks as more and more armed men in big flashing vans appeared on site. All this for two lost people in an ally? What kind of place was thi-
How did they know about the locket?
"Take off the locket and get on the floor."
Something wasn't right here. These people knew about her. Alarm bells were ringing like a fire station in Kestrel's head. And she distinctly heard the 'click' of someone priming their sniper gun. Kestrel bit her lip. "Any suggestions, Gal?"
"One, My Lady, but I'm sure you won't like it."
Kestrel took one look at the boys in blue, and hissed "I'm open to ideas!"
Gal, bless his heart of gold, took this as permission to 'protect and serve'. And protect and serve he did – much to his lady's utter dismay.
Without warning, Gal grabbed the feisty woman's waist and pulled her into a fireman lift over his shoulder, ignoring her squawk of indignation, and proceeded to leg it in the opposite direction to the gangster SWAT team.
"Not Agaaaaaaaaain!!!" wailed Kestrel as her forehead collided repeatedly with the wall of muscle that Gal called his back. 'Memo to self' thought Kestrel acidly 'buy more pepper spray'.
"Open Fire!" screamed the command, and Kestrel literally swore the air blue as bullets zipped past their ears.
Gal grunted with pain as about five tapering bullets embedded themselves in his back. Kestrel felt herself twitch in shock as blood – Gal's blood – spattered across her cheek. Gal didn't waver, but instead pulled Kestrel around from his shoulder and cradled her against his chest, effectively using himself as a human shield. Kestrel, for her part, was horrified.
The SWAT was pursuing them, and Gal was huffing with strain and effort. Kestrel, for her part, was completely at a loss of what to do. Sure, the mass of muscle that she called her personal knight would be perfectly fine once he'd gone back to the locket, but that was beside the point. He was suffering. For her.
Suddenly, Gal roared in pain, his stance faltering as he leant to the left. Looking down, Kestrel understood why. He'd been shot in the leg -  his tendon was probably torn, and whilst Kestrel was no professional, she was willing to bet it hurt like a bitch.
"Put me down, you idiot." She muttered, wriggling from his arms. Worry tainted her voice as she grumbled "I can run for myself." She pulled Gal's arm over her shoulder. "Lean on me and move as fast as you can. That's an order." Now, Kestrel decided, was not the time for sarcasm. They ran, pell mell with bullets firing at them, ricocheting off the walls, sending sparks flying. Luckily, it had been raining recently, so nothing caught fire as they ran through the streets. As if they didn't have enough to worry about already.
As they ran, Kestrel noticed an oncoming backstreet, and abruptly flung a sharp left; hopefully that would confuse the pigs for a few seconds.
The back road was even darker than the last; you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. The stench was unbelievable – much like the decaying bodies of before, only this time a lot fresher. Kestrel had to force herself not to vomit – she'd probably hurl on Gal, and bless him, the guy didn't need that on top of being shot in various places.
Instead, she focused on moving forward. Or tried to at least; it's hard to go forward when the first step you take throws you and your knight head-first down a manhole.
Luckily, the slime and bile of ancient sewage and human remains cushioned their fall.
Kestrel sat up slowly, and winced. Her ankle cried uncle with hot, pulsing pain. She tried to wiggle her toes, and felt her stomach plunge when her foot felt entirely numb.
"Shit." She spat, flicking her slime-covered hair from her face. "You've been shot in the leg, and I've broken my ankle. On top of that, we're stuck in a sewer with no obvious exit, in a different dimension's version of London that's got power ranger cops on crack! With guns! And little emblems on the back of their shirts!"
Gal, wh0'd been lying silently to the side of her, pulled himself up to face her, looking worn, bloodied up and knackered...and yet the bastard still looked like a fairytale in shining armour. Even with slime oozing off the side of his face. Kestrel sighed. "Gal, I'm gonna close the locket." She went for the large, silver locket on her chest, but before she could touch it, Gal had yanked her hand back.
"I'd ask you kindly not to, My Lady. It would be wrong for me to rest whilst my lady is wounded. And still in potential danger." His eyes flicked back and forth, searching the eerie, grime-covered darkness around them. Kestrel glowered at him.
"No offense Gal, but in your state you're not going to be much help to me."
At this, Gal frowned and, just to spite her, pulled himself to his feet and stood as straight as possible (they were in a sewer, after all. Stooping was necessary.) Kestrel tsked. "Yeah, but can you walk?"
Gal didn't look at her, but into the deep darkness ahead, and suddenly started limping in one direction – at a fair pace as well. Hurriedly, Kestrel pulled herself to her feet, ignoring the screaming agony in her ankle, and started after him. "Gal! Get your ass back here!"
Obviously, he'd forgotten himself – no way would Gal ever leave Kestrel on her ass in a sewer with a broken ankle normally. Maybe his pride was something to be wary of? Kestrel cussed colourfully as she hobbled through the sewer sludge. Was something moving around her leg? She did not want to know.
Her heart suddenly went into overdrive as she heard Gal's sword ring out as he unsheathed it. He'd gone round a bend in front of her, and Kestrel couldn't see what was going on. She pushed herself further, and as she rounded the corner, a feeble green glow came to view. Along with what Gal was supposedly protecting her from.
A man, no older than his early twenties, held a green lantern in one hand and a handgun in the other. Both were held high above his head in a form of surrender as Gal expertly aimed the tip of his sword at the man's jugular. "Forgive me for leaving you, My Lady. But I heard a noise ahead." Well, obviously.
The young man was strangely dressed; his jeans were torn and covered with engine grease and sewer grime, and he wore nothing on top except a fluorescent high-vis jacket. A bunch of tools hung at his waist, and a set of goggles were perched on the top of his head. Despite the weird fashion sense (which was, in honesty, a relief when compared to the gangster police on topside) – the guy, Kestrel had to admit, was pretty yummy. His thick, dark messy hair barely tousled his shoulders, and his eyes – nervously wide as they were – were also a shocking blue, made lagoon turquoise in the pea green light.
The guy, hats off to him, cleared his throat nervously. "That's an awful interestin' weapon yah got therr." He chuckled, his eyes fixed on the point of the sword that was hovering close to his neck. He gulped. "Would yah mind if I saw it a little less up close in person?"
'Oh God. He's Irish.' Kestrel thought, nearly drooling over the musical accent. 'Now it's going to be really hard not to automatically like him.' But something about the guy did strike her as trustworthy - like the fact he had a gun in his hand, and yet chose not to shoot Gal in the temple whilst he wasn't looking. Kestrel put her hand on Gal's shoulder reassuringly. "I don't think he's going to hurt us." She spoke, still a little uncertain.
Reluctantly, Gal retracted and sheathed his sword, eyeing the man beadily. The guy sighed with relief, adjusting the goggles on his head.
"I take it yah not from around here, eh?" he smiled.
Kestrel glared at the guy. "Why is it everyone knows that? First the freak police, and now you?!"
The guy frowned. "Freak police? Oh! The Vanguar- Wait. Yah were runnin' from the vanguard? Shite!" Suddenly, the new guy started scampering off in a new direction down the sewer drain. Not knowing what else to do, Gal and Kestrel followed, limping as they went.
"Hey! You! Who the hell are you?!" Kestrel cried out angrily.
"Less talkin'! More runnin'!" The young man called back, still running full speed in a serpentine fashion through the thick sewage.
"That's kinda hard to do with a broken ankle!" Kestrel shrieked back furiously. The guy stopped abruptly. "Oh.... Hell." He muttered, before running back to them. He stopped in front of Kestrel, and turned so his back face her.  "Get on my back." He deadpanned. Kestrel stared at the guy like he was demented. "The hell?"
"Just do it!" he growled with frustration. Kestrel turned to Gal, who shook his head vigorously. The other guy saw this and snapped. "Listen; at tis very moment the most elite of the rebel exterminators are out therr lookin' for yah. Yah best bet for livin' would be ter trust me."
Gal looked the guy evenly in the eye. "And why should we do that?"
The young man reciprocated the even stare, stating "'Cause I was like yah five years ago."

~ Code Breaker ~

To all good intentions, this started as a 3000 word short story. It's now, to all intent and purpose, a 3-part novel. (facepalm) I still ask myself how this happened. What is this fuckary?

(Zachary pipes up) It's not fuckary, it's Merchary.

...Isn't that Rufus' job?

Zachary: Yes, but he's still unconscious. And I think he'd rather I do it than Emeric.

...Touché.
And so it begins...

This started off as a challenge!fic; 8 OCs, 4 of your own, 4 of your friends - throw into an alternate universe and hit PURÉE.
Well, I did that. Here is the result. And WORRY NOT!! There is pleeeenty more to come...

EDIT: Whoops, forgot copyrights!

Kestrel, Gal, Rufus and Zachary © M Vaughan
Teddy & Maggie © Me

Next chapter: [link]
:iconjestellavee:
JeStellavee Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I love the beginning. Rufus is dead (again) but the way you wrote it made me laugh so hard~

This is fantastic! Great detail and excellent pacing. :heart:
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:iconmanamadeleine:
ManaMadeleine Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Soooo. Muuuuch. Looooove.
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