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Hello there my friend!

This article,The Long Halloween, is the sole property of Lady Komainu, and as such you are not allowed to use or edit it without my explicit permission. If you wish to use this article, just leave a message on my talk page and I will happily reply to you as soon as I can!
"When black cats prowl and the pumpkin gleans, the streets fill with madness and screams. May the Angels be with you, for it is Halloween!"
— A random stranger.

The Lambent Day

Theia was skipping to the Dragon Gunfire guild hall, admiring the life awake in the city this morning. Crocus had always amazed her with its large building, it's large concrete arms reaching into the heavens. The sounds of people exchanging stories and laughing at friendly jokes. The smell of local food stands and restraunts filled her nose, as she was convinced to stop at her favorite bakery to pick up a chocolate croissant. Her Exceed, Albina, grabbed a scone and returned to Theia's side as they had the guild hall's entrance in sight.

Passing through the Jutsu Shiki covering the entrance she descended the steps into the underground passages that was the guild. The glowing lacrima lined the way to the main room where she saw many of her fellow members conversing and having a good time. She wants to go join in on the fun, but know that she came there on a mission; to find a job so she can buy loads of candy for her and Albina to enjoy Halloween To the fullest extent. She goes up to the job board and browses all the flyers, hoping one will jump out at her.

"Working at a diner"...nah, I don't think my team would like that as much as I would. "Escorts for a delivery"...maybe. "Rumors of Pet Experiments" WHAT?! Someone is experimenting on animals! I can't stand for this! We need to stop this right now, there is no time to ask Master Aether if we can take this. Theia thinks to herself and quickly rips the flyer off the board. "Albina we need to get Völsunga together right now, we have a job!" Theia shouts as she rushes out the cave, back up to the surface streets and heads to the east, towards her teammates apartment.

She quickly races to the door of her teammates and slides past the door in a frenzy. She quickly regains composure and starts banging on the door. "Seraph!! Seraph!! Open up!" She shouts, as Albina catches up and pauses to pant at the threshold of Seraph's apartment door. "You need to wait for me next time Theia! Also what is that racket??" Hearing loud noises sounding like music from behind the door, Theia knew that Seraph couldn't hear her. She jiggles the door handle, and notices that it was unlocked. She pushes the door open and is left speechless at the sight she sees.

In front of her eyes she sees the red haired man holding a plate of nachos moving his hips and feet to the sounds of the Afro-Cuban music blazing in his apartment. Theia bursts out laughing, tickled by sight of her partner Salsa dancing with his food. The sounds of her laughter make Seraph jump and drop his plate, as he stands there in surprise.

"Jeez, Theia! You scared me there for a moment---wait, I left the door open, didn't I?" Seraph replies with his eyes wide open, he was honestly a bit embarrassed of the entire situation. "I guess there's only one explanation— I was making salsa and nachos while dancing to salsa", he added with as he chuckled. He notices Albina panting and then looks back at Theia. "Half the team's here and you've been running so did something happen or do you want to go to the zoo, again? If it's about animal rights, I swear to you I am no lawyer." He then picked up the plate from the ground and placed it near the dishwasher. He grabs a mop from the corner and hands it to Theia, "Want to help me finish cleaning this up, so we can get out of this mess that I call my home?"

Theia grabs the mop from his hands with a loud "Hmph!" and begins cleaning up the mix of salsa and chips. She takes a deep breath and begins to explain in one long string of words. "Seraphweneedtogoonthisjobrightnow! Weneedtosavetheanimal! WecangobackforthezooanimalslaterbecausetheydontdeservetobelockeduplikethatandIreallywanttotakehomethatredpanda, butweneedtogoonthisjobrightnow!" Theia finishes and takes a deep inhale, proceeding to pant afterwards. Seraph just sits there with a blank look, pursing his lips together as he waits for her to catch her breath. Once Theia has regained her composure, Seraph speaks up with an eloquent, "Huh?".

Now a bit more calm, Theia explains "We need to go on this job right now!" As she throws the flyer in his face, detailing the expedition they are about to embark on. "It says here that there is a rumor going around that hundred of pets are vanishing from peoples homes to be experimented on by this unknown scientist. We can just stand around while these helpless pets are taken from their owners! We need to find Melanie and go save them right now! Think of all the puppies and kitties!" Theia says and puts her hands to the sky as if asking God for an explaination. The mop hits the floor with a loud clank, and puts another thought into the blonde mages head. "Hey Seraph, speaking of, have you seen Melanie around? I haven't talked to her in a couple days now..."

"Animals, again?" he raises his eyebrow as he remembers the time when he tried to help an animal who was experimented upon. "Last time I tried to help a suspicious looking gorilla-borg (cyborg), it blew up in my face. Like literally, I punched him and he blew up. Like I always say, Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. " Brushing his bangs behind his ears he asked, "Melanie? Nah, she dumped me and here I thought I was supposed to be upset. By the way, do you like my new undercut? I am really diggin' this discontinued undercut thing but let's not talk about it---you clearly want to go and save these pets and I don't have a choice, do I?"

"Ahem, if I may interrupt. Chase told me while we were at the guild hall, after you rudely took off," Albina says with a glare towards Theia, "that Melanie had decided to get some space and go on a personal job. So she won't be joining."

"Oh, thanks Albina! Sorry for abandoning you back there." Theia says and leans down to place her hand on top of the Exceeds head. "Now I am sorry if this is mean, but I think you should stay out of this job. If these people are kidnapping pets to experiment on, I wouldn't want them to mistake you for a cat and hurt you. I hope that's ok?" Theia asks and receives a nod a smile from Albina.

Turning to Seraph she smiles brightly and says, "Well I guess it's just you and me! And yes, you don't have a choice. We need to help these poor creatures even if it kills us." she slams her fist into her palm with determination. She begins to turn and walk out the door, but the quickly spins back and goes to Seraph to plant a chaste kiss on his cheek. She giggles and says, "Your haircut is very cute by the way. Now come on silly we have to hurry if we are going to make it to the city before dusk!"

"H'okay! I see a lot has changed after that night. I am really not comfortable with the part where you say, even if it kills us but I guess I'll have to roll with it" he replied in a nervous tone. Seraph was dumbstruck after getting a kiss on his cheek, he was almost incapacitated and wanted to savor the moment but he knew, he HAD to get over it as time was running out. Seraph grabbed a cross draw belt holsters and loaded them with a pair of striker-fired semi-automatic pistols. He looked back at Theia before leaving the apartment, "Don't look at me like that. I never said I couldn't use one." He slowly walked out his apartment along with Theia and locked the door. "I don't trust myself. You mind keeping them safe for me?"

"Your guns?!" Theia said in surprise as Seraph placed them into her hands. "Uhhh I guess if you need me too, but they kind of intimidate me...you may know how to use them, but I don't! But if it mea stop won't shoot yourself in the foot, then I'll wear them." She gently places them into the holster she hooked on.

Seraph stands there in shock, just staring at Theia. A blank stare, without a single facial expression. Okay, that happened..., he thought to himself as he burst into laughter. "You and I just had our first misunderstanding, little bird. The guns are for me, ha-hahaha!" He continues laughing. "I know you can't handle guns. I can. Always could. Now, if you're willing to carry it for me, fine. Let's go! We have a long way to go and time is running out. I must ask this though---" he paused momentarily. "Why doesn't the job request paper thing say where is the lab or anything about the people involved? How are we supposed to track this evil person?" He began walking down the stairs and waited for Theia to come up with a reply.

"Oh! Were you talking about your house keys?! You have to me more specific next time! Trade me, I don't want these guns!" Theia says as she takes off the holster and shoves it at Seraph, then snatches the keys and places them in her pocket. Clearing her throat, she continues, "Well the flyer says the rumors are originating from the coastal town in the Country of Sin. I figured we could walk there? I'm not a big fan of trains...but my Light Wings will get me there fast, as long as you could keep up." Theia teases as she elbows Seraph lightly in the ribs.

Grabbing the holster and strapping it to him. "Ha, ha! Very funny. Do you really think you're the only one who can fly?" he says in an angry tone. Seraph then quickly runs off and in a flash disappears from everyone's sight, only to appear above Theia; in the sky, a few seconds later. However, more amazingly, it was not him who was flying but rather a flying vehicle. A technologically advanced, car-like flying machine. "Like it? I call her, Q-Tip. Mostly because she runs on zero-point energy produced by the quantum vacuum lacrima wired to a top notch ICE with a light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation-ish ignition system, an modified electrohydrodynamic thruster and flexible swept wing made of carbon fiber reinforced with aluminium and finally, it really has a sharpened nose which of course is made from pyrolytic carbon wrapped in anti-magic disruption mesh; a tip if you will. For maximum aerodynamic advantage. Hence, the name. This baby can go transonic within ten seconds and oh, it has a system that can control the trajectory of a vehicle without constant hands-on... yes, that's mostly because you can be very distracting at times." He explains with a sly smirk as he steered the vehicle towards Theia. "Need a ride, princess? Just so you know, I have an electroacoustic transducer installed in this thing. Refuse and I'll race you. If I race you and win, I'll tell everyone who won the thing. Your choice. "

"A light amplification ICE? So does that mean I'll have to give you a jump of this flying tin can gives out?" She laughs out. "I am just messing with you; I know how boys are with their cars. And I will have to pass on the offer, vehicles are not my thing...unless you want me to get sick all over your dash. I'll stick to my wings, thank you very much." Theia says as she begins to condense her light magic into the form of wings on her back. She levitates up to Seraphs eye level and smiles. "Ready to go?"

"Ready when you are!" he exclaimed with a small grin on his face. "I really meant L.A.S.E.R ignition but who cares---she wants a race. I'll give her a race!" he murmured to himself, closing the door. He started the engine and accelerated towards his destination. He couldn't believe his eyes, his invention was actually functioning just the way he thought it would, perhaps, it was his luckiest day or was it? "Are you sure you don't want to join? This really does have an artificial atmosphere and wasting your magic isn't a good idea" he shouts on a loudspeaker that he recently installed in the vehicle.

Flying behind Seraph and his car, Theia thinks about his offer. "Artificial atmosphere? So I won't get sick? I guess you do have a point about conserving magic... I'll join you in the car, just please don't crash. We need to get to those animals and save them!" Theia says and opens the door sit in the car, her wings dissipating into the air. She smiles brightly at her partner, "Alright, let's see what your baby can do!"

"Hold on tight!" Seraph says with a smirk. Flying at speeds of 650 mph, the two mages make it to the country of Sin in a matter of seconds. The country itself is laid with foliage and coastal wildlife that is flourishing beyond the borders of the cobblestone towns. They land close to the port side city of Strogas, which is known for its exquisite seafood and friendly residents.

A few minutes after parking the car in a desolate area, Seraph finally stepped out of it and exclaimed, "Land, sweet land! I missed you!" He looked at Theia signalling her to get off and move quickly as they had work to do. He looked at this watched and pressed a button, causing the vehicle to turn invisible all of a sudden. Great work, Seraph. Three months and you still can't figure out a way to make it actually invisible, can you? Camouflage is good but this really won't cut it he thought to himself before finally turning back at Theia. "So, what's the plan?"

Theia rolls out of the car and hugs the earth with a deep sigh. After a few seconds she stands up quickly and brushes off her black shirt and dark wash jeans. "Now that that terror is over, I say we go ask the local townspeople where they have seen most of the pets disappear. That way we can localize the posibilities of where the culprit is. Because they probably couldn't have carried the pets far before they began to make a lot of noise to alert the neighbors." Theia pauses and puts a finger to her chin. "That is unless they drugged them...anyhow, I think it's best if we start asking around and gather information."

As the duo finished their conversation, a bunch of suspicious looking men ran out of a building; a skyscraper to be precise. One of the four men shouted, "Now that bastard will pay!" as he activated a remote detonator causing an explosion to go off in the building and instead of running away, the men stood there admiring their work. The fire on the twentieth and twenty-first floor spread quickly as people tried to escape from the building.

"Okay, time for a little detour. People first, animals second." Seraph said looking at Theia with a serious demeanor. "You go and help the people stuck on the two respective floors and help others evacuate the building. I'll take care of those jokers and the fire!" Without wasting his breath, he dashed towards the four men, attempting to pull them out of the path of the falling debris. "Go!" he shouted tackling two of the men out of harms way. After moving them from the path of the crushing debris, he hurled them like javelins and jumped towards the third man, grabbing him by shirt but to his surprise, the fourth man had managed to escape. Choosing to focus on the situation at hand, he pulled the man away and then knocked him unconscious with a single strike to his neck. Now to take care of the fire. It's chemical in nature and the sprinklers are only making it worse. Think Seraph, think!

Theia nods quickly and reactivates her Light Wings, which appear swiftly as she begins running towards the skyscraper. She leaps up about 10 feet away from the building, and her wing send her quickly to towards the top of the building. As she approaches the twentieth floor she can feel the radiating heat from the flames. Luckily she had a lot of experience dealing with fire, having sparred with Seraph many times, and uses her magic to create a thin layer of light over her skin to protect it from the radiant heat. She dives into the broken windows of the building and sees that there are people huddling under desks and chairs. This must be an office of some sort... now where is the exit?

Theia peers around and sees in the back north side of the room is the fire exit, but it had been blocked by a collapsed area from the roof above. She purses her lips together as she uses her wings to hover over close to the doorway. "Illuminating Whip!" She shouts as a long concentrated stream of light falls from her hand. She whips it forward, and the light strand wraps around the debris. She quickly pulls back the whip and send the debris flying out the window behind her. She uses the whip again to rip the door from its molten hinges, and screams, "Everyone out of the building now! Through the stairwells! Don't touch any metal surfaces until you reach a lower floor!" The dozen or so people scramble out of the burning room through the threshold to safety.

Theia then flies through the collapsed roof up into the twenty-first floor and surveys the scene. It appears that most of the people made it to the doorway before the flames took over their floor, but now the floor lie broken in front of the people's only means of escape. She smells a faint scent of two people in the furthest corner, although it is fairly masked by the scent of smoke. She quickly flies over and hears cries of two women hidden under a desk in a corner office. "Listen, I am a mage of Dragon Gunfire, I am here to help you!" Theia yells, and quickly flaps her wings to disperse the smoke in the room. "I am going to get you out of here I promise." She says with a smile, as the two women stand up, a sense of desperate fear on their faces. The door is a no-go, so the only option I have is to fly them out of here...There is no way I can carry both of them, and I don't know how fast I am to be able to go one at a time... Theia thinks, and glances towards the ground. What shocks her is that she can see cracks begin to form in the hardwood floors, as it becomes uneven. It's going to give out soon! I need to hurry! Theia thinks and quickly grabs the woman on the left and picks her up en route to the windows of the building. "I will be back! Don't worry!" Theia shouts to the other woman. The look of fear and panic that was painted on the other woman's face sent a wave of guilt over Theia as she exited the building and began dive bombing towards the ground. I have to be faster. I can't break my promise to that woman!

Theia pulls up quickly just as the woman's feet are about to hit the ground, and Theia places her gently down. The woman cries out in relief and Theia wastes no time in shooting back up into the air. I have to go faster. I need to save that woman. I can't let her down. I can't let her die. Theia repeats as she quickly gains speed, ascending towards the flames at lightning speed. She takes a sharp turn into the twenty-first floor and spots the woman coughing hard against a wall of thick smoke. Blazing in, Theia sees the floor give out and the women begin to fall. With a burst of magical energy shooting from her feet, Theia speeds up and manages to catch the woman before she hits the ashy ground on the lower floor. Doing a quick 180, Theia speeds towards the window and glides gently towards the ground to place the other woman down. She heads back to circle the building and use her keen senses to detect any more civilians trapped inside.

Concurrently, Seraph thinks to himself. But what kind of chemical? Unless I know, I really can't help--Oh wait, gotta run! As soon as his chain of thought hit the end mark, his feet began acting on their own as he ran towards the escapee and gave him the chase of his life. He dived over a magic vehicle and chased the man in the middle of what seemed like a bazar. "Really? Going to try and blend among the people? I can hear your breathing, your movements, your heart beat!" he announced following the man but just as he was about to grab the man, the man turned around and tried to blast a random civilian with Sand Magic. "No!" shouted Seraph as he made a run for it jumped in the middle of the sand attack and the man, taking the hit directly to his chest. He coughed and held his chest with his left hand, "Ouch!" To everyone's surprise, he got back on his feet the next moment and took a stance. Performing a front-flip to avoid a bunch of civilians, Seraph landed gracefully but unlike a true acrobat who always turns to his audience, he turned his back to them and continued the chase.

"Did I lose him?" the man questioned after he had already traversed a great deal of distance. "Did you?" replied a voice and as the man turned his head, he noticed Seraph on a line as he swung by a line and approached him from above but it was already too late for him and he ended up receiving Seraph's boot to his face, quite literally. "I am in a hurry, so you better tell me-- what did you use for the fire?" he interrogated the man in a rough tone. "Uh.... magnesium" the man replied. "Good boy!" he exclaimed signalling his flying car as it appeared before them in a matter of seconds. Magnessium, hmm---so it must be around 800 kelvin. Can't use water thanks to the electricity and fire won't cut it. Only if I--Oh, how convenient! he thought to himself with a smirk as he looked at the man as he dragged him inside the vehicle and the duo took off.

The car hovered over the skyscraper and Seraph asked Theia on the loudspeaker, "Did you evacuate it? I have a way to stop the fire!" Looking back at the man inside the car. "You try anything funny and you won't see light for the rest of your life, buddy."

Making one final pass around the building, Theia lands on the ground and her wings disappear. "The building is all clear! I double checked to make sure!" She shouts up to Seraph in the car. She then makes sure everyone has backed up far enough from the building, should the fire flare up.

"Don't look at me, amigo! Do it!" he said looking at the man as the stood up, still bound to shackles and touched a lacrima inside the car. Man, that absorbing lacrima is coming real handy now and he said that it was a bad investment! Seraph thought to himself while the lacrima absorbed the man's elemental magic; rapidly draining him in process and released the absorbed magic in the form of actual sand on the respective floors. "Stop!" he shouted looking at the man as they were over doing it. Soon the flaming building was covered in sand and smoke. "Phew! I almost traded death by burning for death by asphyxiation."

Coughing at the smoke made, Theia shouts out, "Is everyone ok? Please head to the nearest hospital if you are feeling any discomfort or pain breathing, or if you suffered any serious injuries!" The crowd of people make their way towards the town, giving thanks to the two Dragon Gunfire mages as they pass. Running over to Seraph, Theia pokes the man in shackles, looking at Seraph. "Glad that was taken care of, and no one was seriously injured. So now what should we do with Mr. Sandman? Do you think he knows anything about the missing pets we came here for?"

"Sandman? Here I thought I was the only one who loved comic books, heh! Why don't you ask him yourself, Theia? By the looks of it, Mr. Sandman here, unlike the three other idiots did not have a personal motto behind this. A hired gun, if you will. His demeanor and all the running gave it away. Anyways, you going to give us what we want or what? I'd like to know more about your boss" replied Seraph turning away from the man. The man stood up, somehow managing to resist the effects of anti-magic shackles. "Ne govorit' na vashem yazyke. YA Bogdan , vysokopostavlennogo chlena v bratstve demonov ! I, ya ne zapugat' podobnymi vam ! Krome togo, chto ochen' Gal mozhet sosat' moy chlen , mne vse ravno." The man shouted with extreme contempt looking at the two mages and even though he spoke in a foreign language, it was clear that he was cursing them. "Otpusti menya, osel" he added and his facial expressions changed; it was cleared out that very moment that he would be more than happy to murder the Mages if he could.

Theia looks at the man confused, tilting her head sideways, as if that would do anything to help her comprehend the words that were just said. She leans in closer to the Sandman and puts on her best and brightest smile and says, "Listen, I don't know what you just said, but we are really trying to help these animals here. Do you think you could tell us anything you know about it? Maybe in a language we understand? I would really appreciate it!"

Seraph turned back sighing, he walked towards the man and gave him a blank stare as he pulled the man close and whispered in his ears, "Vy ne khotite eto sdelat'! Dover'tes' mne. YA sdelayu vashi deti sirotami , i ya proslezhu, chtoby nikto ne naydet svoye telo" and then held him by his collar.

The man suddenly panicked and started babbling, a few moments later, he managed to calm himself down. "I don't know a lot. Our gang went to work with this crazy lady and there was this weird guy talking about animals and the next stage to something evolution... ugh... I don't know. Please! Trust me! I just know he was looking for someone to financially support his project... I don't even know his name. I only know her!"

Theia was delighted to see that he was speaking in a language she could understand now. She turns to Seraph and smiles, "See Mr. Sandman isn't so bad! What did you say to him?" She then turns back the captured man and begins digesting his words, tapping her finger on her chin. "Evolution... interesting word choice. I am going to have to come back to that... And a man and a woman, you say? Who is this woman you know?"

"S-Sahar!---please, let me go! I don't know anythin---" before the man could continue he received a quick nerve pinch, causing him to be incapacitated and slowly lost his consciousness. Out of all the people in the world, it had to be her. Of course, it had to be her! turning back to Theia, Seraph smiled saying, "I said, pretty please. Let's go!" as he walked opened the car door.

We All Die At Dusk

Back at Enca, a big, plump, purple haired lady looked down on two unconscious bodies inside a casino. "Look, I am not going to lie, I do enjoy beating people to a pulp with my own to two fists but boys, if you can't get the job done, what's the point?" she said in an angry tone as she stepped on their bodies, crushing them and slowly walked away. She walked into a lounge by accessing a door from inside the room; a private room, that is. A small and subtle lounge but nonetheless, with audience, her audience to be specific (goons). She sat on a large sofa and wandered to herself, if she needed to add another aquarium to the place. By the looks of it, the place could be entered from only place, a steel door in the front guarded by two men in suits.

One lonesome Oak tree stood by the lounge swaying in the wind and as the wind swept by the tree whispered to the air and its surroundings. Even though, it was barely dusk, the air was cold and numb and with every breath the stray animals outside drew, a misty, chilly exhale followed. The lounge was perhaps the only decent place in the neighborhood, considering it was very close to the slums and the next best thing to a brothel for men living there.

Theia and Seraph hover over the area, peering through the slight fog on the cars windshield. Surveying the area, this matches the description that the Sandman gave of Sahar's estate. Theia turns to Seraph and states, "I only smell two guards down below, they seem drowsy judging by the levels of melatonin I am detecting in their sweat. Should be easy enough to knock out, so we can go in and ask questions. I have a feeling this women may be connected with the missing animals..." She says with such seriousness, that Seraph can't help but feel her determination for this job.

"You want to do it stealthily? Let's not. I have a feeling that she'll let us in if we ask nicely" Seraph said with a blank face. Stealth is a good route but I am no assassin. At my core, I am a performer--- I always was. She probably has sensed us already. It's no good anyways he thought to himself as he stood up turning his head as he tried to concentrate on the sounds around him with his superhuman sense of hearing and noticed to relatively calm heart beats and came to the conclusion that they were either sleeping or knocked out cold. "Seems like you missed two people. That's usual."

"Stealth would allow us to enter without harming the two other people you sensed. We don't want to draw much attention to ourselves; because based on the heartless goons she sent to that office building, I don't think she would be so kind as to let us in if we asked..." Theia said, with concern in her eyes for the extra lives Seraph thought they would have to encounter. "But you're the one who is familiar with this women somehow...so I'll follow your lead Seraph." She said, and cracked the door open, ready for what comes next.

As the duo knocked down the door, they were greeted by a dozen of robots who were apparently expecting them. Every single one of them locked their guns on the two dragon slayers. "Well, this explains why I couldn't hear breathing sounds and heart beats." Turning to Theia, "Don't. I know, I know. Stealth. We'll talk about this, later" he added as he maneuvered himself quickly and grabbed onto one of the robots as he tossed it on the other robot, causing them both to crash and explode. He quickly reached for his belt and managed to draw out his twin guns and pointed them each at the robots. "Quick question, where's your bo--Oh, never mind! I don't even need to turn around to know that's you, Sahar. The unique scent of that undercarriage just wafts through the night air. That and food. Lot of it."

"Hello, there! I see, the little dragon has decided to drop by. What brings you here punk?" questioned a rather large woman standing behind Seraph. The woman easily towered the robots and Seraph and was at least four times heavier than normal humans. She took out a revolver and pointed it at Theia. "You are friends with kids now? Wait, is she what I think she is? I never thought you were a pervert. Dating young kids, jeez."

Theia turns around to see the robust women, and gasps. The women could easily squish her with her index finger, based on their size difference. "Woah! I am not a kid! I am just short ok! That's not nice at all!" Theia huffs.

Seraph rolled his eyes in frustration. This again? he thought to himself. "Wait, did you just call me a pedo---" he paused as he shot down two of the robots and proceed to shoot down another one. "Five down. Seven to go!"

Theia charges up her magic in her palms, and generates a high energy photons. "Light Dragon Scatter Shot!" Then sends out seven streams of light that hit the robots in the chest. The high energy photons dislodge the outer electron of the metal, generating a large current of electricity that surges over the robots body, causing them to short out and fall to the ground.

"For the record, she's nearly an adult!" Seraph exclaimed shooting another robot, the bullet travel through the robot's face and lodged itself into the skull of another robot. "Now that we are done with the machines---" but before Seraph could continue, Sahar appeared above him within a blink of an eye and tried to punch him.

"Seraph! Above you!" Theia shouts and sends off another Scatter Shot aimed right at Sahar's fist. The attack causes her to miss Seraph, and instead tumbles down.

Seraph grit his teeth as he jumped back, performing a triple back flip and released a fraction of his magic aura to propel himself backwards. "Next time, make sure there's a time delay. I may be fast but not nearly as fast the speed of light and unlike your opponent in that wannabe Slayer tournament, I don't use lame excuses or sheer stupidity magic."

Sahar landed as she opened her hand, almost blocking every strike from the scatter shot by directly talking all of the impact to her hand and while she missed one, causing her to be hit by it from behind, she appeared unfazed for the most of the part. However, her palm on the other hand, received major burns and some tissue loss.

Theia casts her head to the side and says, "Tsch. I am still a little bitter about the results of that royale...But now I have a new found resolve to get even stronger! And I am not going to let this heavy lady get in the way of me becoming the best I can be!" Theia says and then clenches her fist, covering it in a golden light. "Light Dragon Blinding Fist!" She then jumps and aims for the face of Sahar, landing an extremely hard hit that causes her fat to ripple down to her feet.

While the hit was a successful and it did bring Sahar on her knees, the attack apparently only gave her a bloody nose and caused her to be blinded for a moment. She got back up and smirked. "I actually felt that. My entire body hurts but little girl, that won't be enough to--" but before she could finish her sentence she was shot twice in both of her quadriceps, causing her to fall down. "Yeah, no. Didn't think so!" Seraph remarked.

Theia then quickly acted to pin her down to the ground. "Light Dragon Photon Shield!" She shouts and then constructs a box of highspeed Light Magic, creating a barrier around Sahar to keep her trapped within a box of light. "Now tell us where the animals are!"

"Who do you think you are? Ordering me around?" Sahar replied in a rage filled tone. "Calm down, Sahar!" Seraph said pointing the gun to Sahar's head. "Now, answer or the next new attraction in this place will be your brain turned into mush".

Sahar mumbled at first but ultimately decided on giving the duo the intel they needed. "Fine! His name is Valentine. He lives a couple of miles away from here. It's a three storied gray building by the station. I don't know anything other than that. He promised me soldiers. That's all."

Theia's throat goes dry, as she freezes up at the mention of that name. Valentine...No. It couldn't possibly be the same guy. Although he would be capable of something this cruel... Nevermind that, we need to focus on completing this job. Theia thinks to herself and turns to Seraph. "Well, what are we waiting for?"

Seraph kicked Sahar in her face, knocking her unconscious. He turned to Theia, "You sure you want to do this? You have that look on your face again. Are you okay?" he interrogated. What is she not telling me. Does this have something to do with her past? he thinks to himself.

"I'm fine. Let's go." She says with a stoic expression. She then rushes out of the lounge towards the car with a fiery determination.If it really is him, I am going to hit him with the full force of the collective pain he caused me. There is no way I will let that mad man continue his cruel deeds...

Seraph drove the car on the streets instead of the air, trying to get as much time with Theia as possible. "Listen, I have always respected your privacy and I know, I shouldn't be forcing you to do anything but if we are going to do this, I need to know. I mean not this but THIS. You and me. We really haven't addressed it since the night you and I, uh...kissed. So, if there's something that's bothering you, you can tell me."

The sudden emotional statement brought Theia out of her haze, as she turned towards him in confusion. "I know I can tell you anything, and I promise, I do feel comfortable talking to you about whatever is on my mind. It's just...It's just that the name that lady mentioned, Valentine; it's the same name of a terrible man that performed those experiments on us in Shattered Dusk. I am very thankful to have had your help in stopping them, but I just don't want to relive that pain again..." Theia sighed heavily, and looked towards Seraph for a sense of understanding.

"I understand how you feel. I know what it feels like being used. Being vulnerable and helpless. Know this, Theia. I am with you. You don't have to do this alone, ever. Don't thank me, we are more than just guild mates...I promise you, you won't the same way, ever again..." Seraph replied trying his best to comfort Theia. Only if I could tell you what you mean to me... he thought to himself.

She continued on saying, "What do you mean, we need to talk about us? I kind of thought we were just seeing where this took us...I mean I talked to Melanie after we kissed, because I knew your breakup was recent, and she said that she had always thought of me as a better fit for you. So I feel relieved that there is no hard feelings between Melanie and I, but I can never tell where you stand, so I thought we were just going with the flow..."

Feeling uncomfortable with Theia's statement, Seraph tried to change the topic. "No surfaces where fingerprints would show. No carelessly discarded identification cards. Not even a confession signed in blood. No rumors about him catching animals. He's good. In a city like this, it only makes sense." Seraph lost the glow in his eyes. "This place is hopelessly lost to corruption and injustice and violence. I'm going to like it here", Seraph added with a fake smile.

"Uhhh...okay." Theia said with a very confused look on her face. And this is why I never know where you stand Seraph...you get the courage to bring the subject up, but then change it just as quick. Oh well, this is no time to worry about that; we need to focus on stopping Valentine. Theia thinks, and then decides to get their minds back on the job. "So do you have any idea how we are going to stop Valentine?"

"We are almost there. We need to get the area of surveillance. Try to suppress your magic power. I am going to hide this car around the corner. We need to walk. We don't know what we're dealing with....and don't worry, we will catch this guy" Seraph replies with a certain confidence in his tone. "I am pretty sure he couldn't do anything without the coppers knowing, so they must know. They must be helping him. Hmm, guess we'll have to do this on our own. That's what we're for -- when the law doesn't work."

Nodding, Theia says "I will do my best. And that's right, let's do our guild proud." She says with determinations and begins to mask her magical energy, even before they park the car.

The Darkest Night

Seraph parked the car on around the corner and stepped out of it along with his partner as they suppressed their magic power and walked towards the building. Hmm, how convenient! A skylight on the top! Seraph thinks to himself as he stealthily walked next to the building. The sun changed its shades from bright yellow to orange-red, the sky turned rich amber and then gradually mauve. As the sunset ended its glory it was soon twilight. The birds ended their journey and were back to the warmth of their nests and soon the lamps outside were turned on. A few minutes later, the stars were the only source of light up in the sky as it was the day of a new moon.

He walked back a couple of steps as he then continued to run towards the building, building up momentum and jumped from one lintel to the other while making sure, he doesn't make too much noise. On reaching the second floor, he noticed an unused fire exit and climbed upwards until he reached the roof and waited for Theia. He didn't want to look through the skyline all by himself but he deduced that even if he is somehow able to see what's going on inside on the floor beneath, he wouldn't be able to hear any of the interesting conversations that might be taking place. "Theia, quick!" he whispered through his communication lacrima. Signalling her to get on the roof top.

Theia nodded and got close up to the side of the building. Although she wasn't as tall as Seraph, she was much more flexible, and a keen user when it came to acrobatics. Finding a protruding brick, Theia grabbed on with both hands, and began swinging from left to right. One her momentum was fast enough she swung her legs to the side, giving her an extra push, as she lept and grabbed on to the lowest lintel to pull herself up. Following a series of jumps and grabs, Theia managed to make it onto the fire exit and made her way to the roof.

"Here's the idea, I cut the glass and you catch it before it falls, okay?" Seraph whispers as he puts his glass cutter to use and stars cutting a piece of glass from the skyline. This would enable the duo to listen to the sounds and conversation below them.

As Seraph finished cutting the glass, Theia positioned her her hands over the spot. As soon as it began to drop, she created a large gust of wind beneath the piece with her magic and lifted out of the skyline to place it gently on the ground beside them. Turning to Seraph with a cheeky smile, "Well that was a breeze!" She giggled and continued. "Now let's see what these goons have to say..."

"Hey, did you check out those full sized man-bats, bruh? Those are kinda mad freaky!" said one of the ruffian, as he walked up to his fellow guard and began chatting. "I know, right? This place really creeps me out. Man-bats, teleporting pit bulls, walking-talking electric cats, flying fishes... talk about weird. Specially the hell hound on level two, man!" the other guard replied.

Seraph looked at Theia with wide eyes, "Teleporting pitbulls? What kind of psycho creates teleporting pit-bulls?" he whispered. Really Seraph? He said a goddamn freaking hell hound and you choose to talk about pitbulls---wait, on a related note, is she a dog person or a cat person? he thinks. "What's the big idea?" he asks Theia.

"I don't know...but I don't like the sound of anything they are mentioning... I don't understand how someone could be so cruel to animals. They are some of the most innocent creatures!" Clenching her fist, Theia turns to Seraph with a serious expression. "I bet you anything that this Valentine guy we are looking for is on the second level where that 'hell hound' is. Let's go before he hurts it any more." Theia then cupped her hands together, and when she opened them there was a small ball of light floating in midair. "You might want to close your eyes for this Seraph." Theia smiled. Pushing it down the hole in the glass, it gently floated down into the middle of the room, where it burst into a great flash of light, blinding the guards present below.

When the light subsided, the guards could be seen on the floor cringing with their eyes hidden in the crooks of their elbows, temporarily blinded by the flash. Theia then hops into the hole in the glass, and before she landed, she let off a gust of wind to cushion her fall. Looking up, she motions with her hand for Seraph to join her; being careful that she doesn't make a sound to alert the guards of her location.

"Alright" he closes his eyes and jumps into the the hole and landed on the ground as softly as humanly possible. He opened his eyes to notice the guards lying on the floor, he took out a small blow dart and exhaled into it twice, firing two tranquilizer darts at the guards. Knocking them out. "That's how you do it."

"Where do you manage to keep all these gadgets? Surely your pockets aren't that big...whatever, let's go." Theia says and makes a B line towards the stairs;rushing up to level two where she hopes to find the man responsible for these atrocities.

"Of course, they aren't. That'd be ridiculous. I actually have to shrink all of my gadgets and then coat them with microscopic stabilizer to keep them from exploding. The shrinking mechanism works by decreasing the distance between parts of atoms. You see how the world around is made of well---atoms? Atoms are made of empty space. Take for instance the hydrogen atom, which is roughly 99.99999999996% empty. So I thought to myself, hey why don't I try to decrease these empty spaces between atoms and part of atoms and voila, one day---I actually managed to shrink my stuff. You haven't seen the "Subatomic Reducer", have you? Okay it is a terrible name but I'll show you later on. It's very handy. Except the objects that are shrunk are highly unstable so they tend to get a bit too explosive." Seraph says as he explains the entire mechanism for his gadgetry concealment. As they rush upstairs in order to confront this man and the "hellhound" Seraph pauses. "You hear that?"

"Yeah, yeah. Atoms, shrink ray, explosions. Got it. This is no time for science banter, we need to find Valentine and free these animals." Theia says sternly. 

"H'okay. You're pissed. You're never pisse---" Seraph pauses as they walk up to the second level to witness the monstrosity, Valentine had created. A multi-headed, gigantic hound and a long snake like tail with a tail blade at it's tip. "Is that real? How is something that big and heavy even standing? Some architectural structure!"

Staring at the oversized beast chained to the ground, Theia could feel her heart crying out. She didn't even want to imagine the kind of suffering the animals had to go through to create such a heinous beast. The creature stirred for a bit and then let off a piercing howl. Followed by another squirm the beast passed out from what Theia could only perceive as agonizing pain. Then she sees him...messy brown hair, white lab coat, snake-like eyes filled with malice hidden behind glasses. Magical energy began leaking out of Theia's body, as her entire being was now covered in golden light that danced like flames across her skin. With a face of pure anger, she hisses, "This is why I'm pissed...Hello Valentine."

"That is Valentine? I thought he'd be---taller" Seraph said with a deep sigh. He looked at the beast and then back at Valentine. He looks at Valentine as he begins analyzing him, Seraph's heart rate increased, his brain started processing information faster. Seraph gave Valentine a look, as if he was disgusted by him but in reality he was simply reading Valentine. From Seraph's point of view, he was seeing a world painted in red and his eyes were working like a spectral analyzer. He noted to himself, Egoistic. Sadistic. Intuitive. Smart. He put his hand on Theia's shoulder saying, "Calm down. We'll help him, don't worry. Don't let him get to you!"

Turning to Seraph, she says through gritted teeth, "You don't know the kind of pain and horror this man put me through! You can't understand!" Her voice slightly raises as the light surrounding her gets bigger and more intense as her emotions grow stronger.

Valentine looks over to the duo, a disgruntled look on his face. "I suppose I shouldn't have hired so many people. They were all imbeciles who couldn't even keep out two mages." He turns away from them, assessing the hellhound's condition with mild disinterest. "If you're here about the animals, I don't care if you take them," he says. "I've already gathered the information I need in order to perform the experiment elsewhere." After making a few notes in a small notepad, he taps the beast's muzzle. It makes no reaction at all, and he shakes his head. "In fact, please take them, they're useless to me anyways." He sighs, facing the mages once again, his gaze slightly turned towards Theia, the more immediate threat. A look of recognition passes over his face, and his lips spread into a pleasant smile. "One of my experiments has finally come to see me? I imagined at least one of you would return, though I thought it would that airheaded boy. He seemed the most likely to come and thank me for the gift I gave him, especially after our abrupt parting," he pauses a moment, setting down his notepad and pen on a tabletop. "I mean, those nasty guilds up and took you guys away without allowing me to give you parting gift or even a goodbye! And I'm supposed to be the bad guy?" He takes the lab coat off, setting it aside and straightening his appearance slightly. He takes a seat in an office chair, folding his arms across his chest as he leans back. "Now, I'd hate for this reunion to end badly, wouldn't you? Assuredly, we can talk as civilized people? Pull up a seat, and we can discuss whatever's on your mind. And you too sir," he says, adressing Seraph, "I'm sure you'd enjoy a nice chat." Valentine is relaxed, though his wariness can be read from the way his fingers tap lightly against his arms.

Theia, not moving a muscle aside from clenching her fist even tighter, stood as her aura began to glow brighter. "You think what you did was a gift?!" Theia spat."You did nothing but torture us! Leaving us to writhe in pain, as we only became acquainted with the sounds of the each others screams! The same pain that I'm sure you're inflicting on these animals! Those 'nasty guilds' you talk about are no such thing; they are our family now! You are a heartless man who has no concept of what it means to have friendship or guildmates who would die to protect you! The only thing you know is how to steal the humanity of an innocent being!" Bringing her clenched fists up to her sides, she lowers her tone and speaks the next sentences laced with seriousness and anger. "And you are right. This reunion won't end badly; at least not for one of us." Her fist become coated with a light that shines brightly to illuminate the lab and cause all shadows to run with fear. "This is for all the pain you caused us! This is for all the suffering you caused my friends! Light Dragon's Blinding Fists!" Theia yells as she aims for the head of the rather calm man sitting in the chair before her. She rushes towards him, but stops short just of hitting his face.

Valentine looks appalled at Theia's outburst, his fingers stilling as he clenches his jaw tightly. "I ask for a peaceful and quiet reunion, and this is how you respond? In all honesty, this family that you've made has transformed you into nothing better than a neanderthal. The fact that you believe and expect other people to die for you is enough reason for me to believe you need rescuing from them. As soon as you need them where are they Theia? Where will they be in your time of need? Because instead of having your family backing you up, you have one person beside you. Really, what would be the difference between standing next to him and standing next to me? A few inches and some IQ points? This guild has destroyed the perfect weapon I made you into, allowed you to believe that you're somehow stronger with others. Did you know that once people's humanity has been stripped away, they find that they have greater strength than they thought? Society holds us back from our true potential and they lead you to believe it makes you stronger. It's pathetic." Sensing her intentions, he stands up. Her momentum is stopped abruptly when she ran into a barrier he'd made with his Jutsu Shiki beforehand. "Do you honestly think I'd trust those idiots to protect me, especially when I knew there would be a few of you rogues out for revenge? I suppose I can only temporarily erase your stupidity," he sighs, shaking his head.

Seraph sighed out of frustration and brought his palm to his face and out of exasperation exclaimed, "Yeah, sure! Fight to your hearts content! Of course, there's no such term as talking!" With his eyes fixed on Valentine and blinking frequency reduced, Seraph noted and analyzed Valentine's body movements and words. "Actually, contrary to the popular belief Homo neanderthalensis were actually quite smart and social. In fact, there's only one evidence of them fighting among themselves but it's probably for leadership, much like politicians do these days. For your information, they had a cranial capacity that outclassed modern humans and combined with the fact that they had their own society and invented magic, yeah---not much of an insult. I might be a pariah but you're just a---dick. Okay, just because you lack a couple of inches and maybe a few IQ points, you don't have to whine like an imbecile. You're such a self-aggrandizer, aren't you? You actually envisage an entire guild to waste their time after you? Sorry, Mr. Ironic Name as much as I'd like to help you further indulge you in your self-absorbed thoughts, I hate to break it to you but you're really not that important." He raised his hands performing a magic seal which removed the Jutsu Shiki from the equation altogether. "How convenient! Same magic as Aether and guess who spent sometime developing a counter magic? This guy!" Seraph smirked as he pointed his fingers at himself. He flexed his leg muscles and suddenly disappeared from his initial position, only to appear between Theia and Valentine with a small dagger pointed at Valentine's throat and even though, the two men had a good few inches of distance between them, nonetheless trying to fight or resist two people at once would be foolish and perhaps even Valentine could acknowledge that.

"I suggested talking, but it is you who started fighting," Valentine flippantly waves his hand, casting his gaze away from the pair in disinterest. He is entirely at ease despite his hopeless situation and the hellhound that sits no less than ten feet away writhes in pain as it sleeps. Valentine whistles, a harsh sound resonating in the room, and it snaps awake, eyes alive with fear. It shows no signs of wanting to move besides this, and Valentine lets out an irritated grunt. "You're absolutely right though sir, this is a waste of time. Go ahead and kill me. You clearly possess the strength and knowledge, and I haven't done a single thing to fight against you. The barrier that I have set up is something that activates on its own, and you've dismantled it. That hellhound is less than useful in this situation, and I've got enough sense to know that if I fight you, I will lose." He raises his hands in surrender, turning his gaze back to the pair. "I would gladly tell you the locations of every animal I've captured, and how many I have so that you don't miss a single one. I don't need this useless violence, and I don't need them either. My research is finished, there is nothing to gain by further mutating them. Even if I were to perform more tests, I'm positive they would die before I could even see the fruits of the research." The blade at his throat is hardly concerning for Valentine, and he doesn't even flinch at Seraph's movement. "My what a contradiction you are. Claiming to want nothing more than to talk, and then threatening to slit my throat in the next instant. If it's a fight you want, I don't intend to give you one, nor do I have the capacity to. I don't train tirelessly to destroy obstacles in my way, I'm not interested in magic at all really. The only reason I have magic is in case I am faced with a situation in which I need a little boost." he writes the word Light in the air, sending it towards Theia. "Go ahead, consume it and gain strength. What do you want, sir, I've got every element at my disposal? I'm only assuming here, but since you came from Dragon Gunfire, you're also a Dragon Slayer, correct? Despite their new rule of everyone being excepted, there is still a higher concentration of Slayers than in most other guilds. Funny how the past never truly goes away. Almost like people refuse to let go of it." He stops a moment, looking towards the hellhound. It gazes at the three in the room, shaking in fear and pain, awaiting a new form of torture to be used on it. "You see, the only reason I learned Solid Script was to support the Dragon Slayers I created. I learned Telekinesis so I can easily pick up tools I need, as well as keep test subjects still so I don't accidently sever anything important. I have Jutsu Shiki to test out my modifications. I may be heartless and without morals, but I don't want my experiments to fail. My magic is simple and easy to counter, as you've demonstrated. So any fight you engage me in will hardly be anything better than a fish against a dragon. Burn away my shadows with your pure light, and they will simply be replaced by somebody else. Light can't exist with shadows," he looks over to Theia, a provocative look on his face. "Killing me won't change what happened either, if what you're looking for is revenge. You'll have my blood on your hands, and for what? So you can vanquish the one who tortured you? Let me tell you dear, the fear that I have instilled in nearly all of your minds will live on even if I don't. Fear isn't as easily overcome as all those protagonists lead you to believe. It haunts you forever, even if you eventually get over it. Memories of fear are just as crippling as actual fear is. I believe you can relate to that, can't you, oh pure one? Because even after I was detained and no longer a threat to you, you still had nightmares, didn't you? You were brought to your knees at the mere thought of what I did to you, and the things you did because of me. That is the power of the mind. All I did was cut you open and tamper with your brain a little. As easy as flipping a switch, and bam, I'm instantly something greater than a demon in your head." Valentine is smiling like he's won a great prize, and despite his position of surrender, based on his facial expressions, it'd be hard to tell who was in charge of the situation. "And, even if you don't kill me, sending me to the Council won't do you any good because I'll simply find my way back out again. So, what will you do to ensure the safety of these innocent beings? Because I won't be stopping my research anytime soon," he smirks, resting his hands back at his sides, tired of holding them up. He makes no movement other than that, still displaying the lax behavior he'd had when they had arrived. "The light guilds think they can wipe out the darkness, but even if they succeed, they'd find more reasons to fight. There is no perfect society in a world of humans, the fools who said that know nothing of human nature. If it's not me, then it will another minority that you target. Humans destroy those different from us simply because we can. And when it comes down to it, we're all selfish in one way or another. Our race has created and perfected magic, yet this knowledge isn't spread to the masses. Mages hoard it for themselves, making guilds and gaining strength and forcing those who are obsolete out of the world. You train in explicit magics and refuse to give information on how to learn it. Pantheon, a prime example, teaches its own mages Lost Magic, but never allows this information to go towards teaching others Lost Magic. Why is their cause noble, but mine is not? I give strength to those who deserve it, not those who want it. I have never once tried to hide what I am or what I do, and yet I'm the villain. Those of you who are supposed to be walking the path of light are so secretive about everything you do that it's a wonder more people aren't revolting. The Council allows you, the light guilds to destroy innocent people's property and all you have to do is apologize and give compensation money. A dark guild does this and they are immediately told or forced to disband. Shattered Dusk may not have been a guild with true or good intentions, but why is that family any less than yours? We fought together against forces just like you do. Koma Inu attacked us and all we did was bring in the rejects of the world. What family did you have before Shattered Dusk, Theia? What about Chase, Melanie, Iridescence, Kizuato, Lyla, Caine, the Hom brothers, and Mitsuki? What did they have before they got there? Nothing. They were abandoned by society, left to die on the outskirts of the earth, and we took you in because we saw potential. Yes, we tortured you, but it was a simpler and faster method to get you the strength you needed to exact the revenge you wanted on the people who ignored you for so long.  How are we the ones in the wrong? We gave you a home, a dirty, twisted, and dark one, but a home nonetheless. So why was it less than what you have now? The camaraderie you shared then is hardly different than what you have now. You scream and shout whether you live in heaven or hell, because it's simply what you do when your emotions go into the extremes, positive or negative."

"You love the sound of your voice that much? Alright, Valentine here's how things will go from this point. First, you will help us fix the animals. Two, you will tell me what exactly did you do with them; every single detail. Three, show me your lab and four, wear these! Can't trust you enough, Lex" says Seraph tossing an anti-magic restraint. "Now, these aren't double locks. You struggle and this will tighten, causing permanent nerve damage. You don't exactly have to do this but try to keep quiet for once. Speak when necessary and who knows? Maybe I won't let you rot in a prison cell."

Blood still coursing with anger, Theia hasn't budged, her fist still inches away from Valentine's face. "You are wrong. It is shadows that cannot exist without a light. But I am not afraid of the shadows, it only means there is a light close by... I have learned to navigate the darkness so that I can stand tall in the light; where you have chosen to make home in the pitch black. It is true, that this darkness that you have filled my head with instills a crippling fear and pain inside me, but the thing is, with the help of my family I have learned to not let this fear control me. They have shown me, that although it still remains, it acts as a compass to point me towards areas I need to grow in. That is the difference between a dark and light guild. A dark guild will use fear, torture, and pain to pull you into the shadows and convince you that you will be strong. But the thing is, in the dark you cannot see the sword that is slowly inching its way deeper towards your heart, robbing you of who you are. It is only in the light that people will show you who they really are, and accept you for what you are as well. For in the light there is nothing to hide. All your flaws are out on display, but you know what, they choose to love them anyways. That is why the strongest bonds are forged in the light." She pauses as her aura begins to slowly retract, leaving only her fists covered in the attack she has yet to land. "These are things I have learned from being part of Dragon Gunfire...I don't believe you are a villian at heart, but the deeds you have done have shown that the darkness is slowly seeping into it. But it is only up to you to choose. Let the shadows overtake you? Or find the light that still lives inside your soul and let it grow?" She finally takes a look at the man before her and sees that he is still smirking like he has yet to be bested. Theia, although calmer than before, finds his cocky demeanor enraging and pulls her fist back, only to slam it into his left jaw with all the force of her previous anger. Taking a step back she huffs and says, "I still don't like you though. Even if you are surrendering and giving up these animals."

Valentine appears to only be half-listening to Seraph, placing the cuffs around his wrists as he's been instructed. He tightens them so they fit snugly against his wrists, preventing escape, but they won't leave any marks on his skin either. "Thank you. I'm usually not one for accessories, but these match my eyes quite nicely, wouldn't you think?" He chuckles at his own self-indulgences. He listens to Theia's heartfelt speech, his attention split about 75/25, with his new cuffs being the lesser portion, which was truly something. At the close of her lecture, Valentine sighs. "You think I haven't heard this all before? I've had more than a few 'second chances' in my lifetime, and, as you can tell, I have never once changed." The fist that slams into his jaw fazes him only slightly, and he looks more shocked than pained. "Wow, Theia..." he says, rotating his jaw in a circular motion. "How did that make you feel? To exact revenge on your enemies? Would any other mage of the light punch a defenseless cuffed man who surrendered? Probably not, but to be fair, I've done some terrible things to you, so I accept this as compensation if that makes you feel better." Valentine looks no less over-confident or pompous, even as the skin along his jawline turns dark with bruises. "The light that you swear is pure and true is far from it. If it really was as grand as everyone made it out to, then how could anyone choose the shadows over it? Why do we allow ourselves to be pierced by the blade that makes us dull husks of humans? More often than not, it's out of fear or anger, but what about me Theia? I don't fear the light, I don't hate the light. What is that causes me to be drawn to the dark side? Because I'll tell you right now, the dark side does not have cookies, and even if they did, I'm certain they'd taste horrible. Dark mages tend not to be practitioners of the culinary arts. And if you plan on scaring me away with the promises of never becoming your friend, I'll have to say I'm not five, and your friendship means very little to me, since you prove to be rather useless when it comes to controlling your emotions." Valentine walks over to a desk, pulling out various notebooks of an assortment of colors. "Here's all the information about the hellhound. Feel free to rip, shred, burn, or carefully read each and every page, whatever you so fancy. And if you'd like to turn these animals back, I don't regret to inform you that it'll be fairly difficult. You see, just like the lacrima in Theia's chest, these mutations would be twice as painful and long to reverse than they were to induce. To subject these creatures to such a fate would be worse than death, and would probably result in their deaths. The pain they are in now will subside with time, just like Theia's, and they will arise stronger and better suited for the world than ever before."

"Hey! Cut it out! No more punching or kicking or violence. Hey, Valentine what did I say about talking and rotting cells? Now be a good boy and tell me---Will it kill them if I remove it?" Seraph walks towards Valentine grabbing him by his wrist and pulling him to a corner. "Stay with the hellhound. Make sure to check the rest of the building for traps and other animals." Seraph said to Theia as he dragged Valentine. "Your lab. I don't mean the one where you make allergy-proof kittens. Your real lab, Valentine" he whispered into Valentine's ears after making sure that they were far enough from Theia. "You don't turn these things back to what they were, I can't help you. Tell you what, you help me destroy all of the evidence of you ever being here and undo all of the "good" that you've done so far with these animals, I'll let you walk. You really don't have another option here unless you consider being thrown away and locked in solitary confinement for all your worthless life an option---yeah, you'll have to take my word for it. We are men of science, we don't owe this world anything and you know that better than anyone else; help me clean after your mess and trust me, you'll be rewarded. Don't worry, it's not free though. You owe me one after this".

Valentine rolls his eyes, following Seraph into the corner of the room. "I just explained it to you didn't I? Maybe instead of complaining about how much I talk, you actually listen for once? I said it would most likely result in their death, and if that's a risk your willing to take then go ahead." Valentine leans against the wall, obviously not concerned with whatever the duo decides to do with the animals he's captured and altered. "And what makes you believe I have a lab? You honestly think if I did have one it'd be somewhere near here? I have several 'labs' if you could call them that, and they're all over Fiore. I scatter my research about, putting random papers in random locations so I won't be found out. And even if one or two of my labs were to be discovered, nobody would be able to make left or right of what's in them. I have can give you a map of all the locations that I've placed my research. And if your wondering where I keep past experiments, I don't. The whole point of my research is to find out what works best in the real world, so once I'm finished, I let them go. I place a lacrima that monitors their heartrate and location, and I view everything on the lacrima that I currently have stored on the third floor with what my guards referred to as walking-talking electric cats. They don't actually speak though. They're like a parrot, they just relay various phrases they've heard. So, if you find that, you can find the rest of the experiments that I've made since my escape from the Council." Valentine listens to Seraph's next offer with interest, turning over the possibilites in his head. "If you want these animals returned safely to their original form, it'll be an ardrurous task. It'd take a day minimum to transform each creature, and I've got about 20 of them that can be brought to their original form in this building. The hellhound will take no less than a week, and the bats don't need to be changed back. They aren't actually man-sized, they just gather in groups that look similar to a large bat. I just trained them to do that to see if I could."

Seraph expresses sheer disgust by Valentine's comment but manages to calm himself. After finding an unused desk nearby, he sat on it saying, "I do a fine job of listening. You said subject these creatures to such a fate would be worse than death. I was just curious about this fate you speak of. You won't even need fancy labs, all of these things are very traceable. On another note, I don't want these animals to be fixed. If you have placed lacrima's on them for monitoring, you are even more stupid than I thought you were. Might as well sign their bodies with your custom autograph using your own DNA traces. All I need to do is find the frequency, workout the encryption and it traces back to you. I'd say it would take me about a couple of minutes to deal with the encryption, so umm--yeah. Of course, you have labs, plural. I was talking about your secret-secret lab. What? Doesn't every super villain have one? The Man-bat rumors are disappointment then. I fought an actual man sized bat once, well more like a human turned into a bat-thing---long story. Hmm, I should probably take you to prison anyways. Just to see if I could get you out, later. Yeah, let's do that. Thanks though, oh I can find your labs if I really wanted to but let's just say, I don't want to. I know if I should be saying this but you can do whatever the heck you want these animals and I wouldn't care one bit but what gave you the right to cut her open and play operation on her? On a related note, you totally deserved that punch. Let's go pretty boy, we'll just tell everyone you can't fix what you've done and call it a day." Seraph stood back on his feet and dragged Valentine. "One of my minions will bail you out using a false name and give you a new identity. Don't ever come back to Fiore. Take the advice, Valentine and stay silent. No more prattle." he added bringing him back to Theia's location.

"Did you two have a nice chat?" Theia asked sarcastically as she looks over the caged hellhound with sadness and disgust. "So what are we going to do about these animals? And better yet, what are we going to do about him?" She hisses towards the dark Mage in Seraphs custody.

Valentine rolls his eyes, obviously dissatisfied with how things were going. "I don't leave DNA traces on accident. If people trace it back to me, it doesn't really concern me. I've already been discovered for tampering with human lives, I'm not sure I can get into any greater trouble than that. And, no, I don't have a super-secret lab. I'm a scientist, not a super villain, please don't confuse your childish delusions with real life. And I wasn't given anyone's permission, nor did anyone give me the rights to. I asserted myself into a situation where I could learn about human anatomy and psychological reactions to various stimulants, most relating to pain. She could've easily been replaced by another Light Magic prodigy, but she was chosen out of convenience. She was small and easy to manipulate and control." Valentine follows Seraph as he's dragged along, his eyebrows quirked slightly at the proposition. "If that's your final offer, then I will take it. How much does your partner know of this option? I'd assume little, and let me tell you, secrets don't make friends," He says, and the pair arrive at Theia's side. "Oh, it was lovely. He and I are thinking of having another discussion over tea and biscuits tomorrow," He retorts, just as sarcastically. "I might steal him away from you if your not careful."

"What? You want to hold hands now, dear?" Seraph comments sarcastically as he hands Valentine over to Theia. "We have tagged him now it's time to bag him. There's a station nearby. I am guessing the officers are not exactly in bed with you?" he pauses briefly raising his eyebrow. Valentine's blank expression made it clear that was not the case. "Good, I'll give them a call. Chain him to that post, Theia. We don't want to be seen with him, trust me. I am sorry about the animals, Theia. What he did to them can't be fixed, they'll have to live with it..." he adds walking over and activating his communication lacrima. He walks over and makes a call near a corner, making sure the duo doesn't overhear the conversation. After the call, Seraph drops the lacrima and crushes it under his foot. "Let's go!" he shouts signalling Theia that it's time for them to leave. The car hovered over the duo's head and slowly descended as Seraph turns his head, "You are not planning to make out with him, are you? If you wanna punch him again, make it quick. I am waiting!" he added entering the car.

Theia stares longingly at the animals before her. They can't be fixed... But no one is going to want them, they are going to judge them based on their appearance and kill them right on the spot! What if they are actual gentle creatures who just want someone to love them, instead of inflicting pain? But what quality of life would we give them to live out their time in a body that wasn't their own... Ah I don't know what to do! Theia thinks to herself, but seeing that Seraph is already in the car and ready to leave, she assumes that the officers are already on their way here. She quickly runs and jumps into the passenger seat, turning to Seraph she says with sadness in her voice, "Are you sure we can't take any of them with us..? I mean look at that hellhound's faces, he looks like a sweetie!" Seeing the expression on her partners face quickly nips that idea in the bud. "No...ok fine, let's get out of here."

Epilogue

Seraph looks back at Theia, "Seems like I do know you after all. The reason I had to crush my phone was because they cost a lot more than I thought they did. So, I bought them from their owners. He wasn't just going to leave them. He was planning to sell them, I had him give me the info and I called the buyers and bought them back. Now they are officially my pets! Well, more like my company's---how am I ever going to explain it to them? My wallet is bleeding!" he says bitterly as the duo take off into the night sky.

Jumping up and down in her seat, Theia clasps Seraph's hand which is resting on the center console. "Are you serious?! You bought all the pets! Oh my gosh that is so exciting! I am going to go over every day and feed them, and walk them, and give them all kinds of love, an--" Theia begins to ramble but is startled by something she seemed to have done automatically. She glances down at her hand on top of Seraph's and thinks to herself, His hand is so warm...it's rough, but strong...how have I not noticed this before..? She quickly pulls it back, seeing that she is lingering. "Oh...errr... well that was really nice of you. Thank you."

Seraph blushes slightly and looks down and his heart rate increases. As she grasps his hand, he looks at her and then back at the road, using his other hand to drive the car. "Yeah---listen, about where I stand... why don't we discuss it over dinner? I mean you don't have to. It's Halloween so we can go trick or treating" Seraph slowly turns his hand and held onto Theia's hand, feeling her soft and gentle skin, the lines on her palms and he couldn't help but let out a small smile. Who knows? Maybe she does need me. The way they held hands made it clear that Seraph's love wasn't one sided or unrequited. He looked back at Theia and let out a small sigh, "I am sorry, I-"; he paused realizing that now was not the best time.

"No, it's ok." Theia said smiling warmly at Seraph. "And how about we do dinner and then afterwards we go buy huge bags of candy? I have a really cool spot on top of my apartment building where you can see the stars perfectly. We could go eat the candy there, if you want?" She says, her voice starting to shake from both nervousness and excitement about Seraph holding her hand.

He smiled back at Theia and gave her a peck on her cheek saying, "That's a great idea. I hope you have dental!" His voice was now filled with confidence as he was now sure that they both wanted this relationship.

Theia lets out a small giggle, and smiles brightly. "Of course I do! Now where would you like to go to dinner? We could always get something to go and bring it to the roof? Maybe some shawarma?"

Seraph scratches his head wandering which shop should they head to or perhaps a restaurant. "Oh, I know!" he exclaims snapping his finger. "I'll cook! I believe I've never cooked for you, have I?"

"No you haven't; that sounds like a lovely idea! How about we do it at my apartment though, since yours is still kind of a mess...no offense." Theia giggles. Seraph nods as Theia gives him directions to her place. When they arrive they see a tall building littered with wrap-around windows and white concrete. After arriving on the seventh floor of the building, Theia unlocks her door to reveal a very wide open floor plan with a window that takes up most of the back wall in the living room. She directs Seraph through a threshold on the right that opens up into a moderately sized kitchen complete with a four burner stove, dual convection ovens, granite counter tops, and filled pantry and fridge. Letting go of his hand, Theia gestures to the kitchen with arms wide open and says, "You canvas awaits! Let's see you paint a beautiful picture!"

"Whoa, this is something! Gotta admit, your kitchen is better than mine. I could get used to the floral scent...wait, do I smell pastries? On a related note, you do smell like flowers and pastries yourself. I should probably shut up now and get to work. Do you have an apron?" Seraph questions tying his hair backwards. "It's not a pink apron, is it?" Ironically enough, Seraph opened the cabinet only to find a pink apron waiting for him. Yaaay, my luck. Dang! He wore the apron over his shirt and turned his head. "Don't laugh!"

Theia looks upon him as she tries to hold in laughter. "Pffftt...you look great." She chokes out with a slight giggle. "I have a yellow apron around her somewhere too, if you'd prefer that? And yes, you do smell pastries. The baker down at Plentiful Pastries gives me free ones a lot, on account that I go there almost every day! As for the flowers...I don't know. Maybe it's just my natural scent?" She says as she lifts up her arm to sniff. Shrugging her shoulders she takes a seat at a barstool near the island at the end of her counter. "You smell like...an oaky, citrus smell...mixed with motor oil and a blow torch." She laughs at the latter, knowing it is probably from all his time building machines and what not. She swings her feet back and forth on the barstool as she watches Seraph get to work, "So what are you making?"

"Yellow? I don't want anyone to mistake me for a traffic light. Pink is fine. I am not sure if the thing about my smell is a compliment or not but thank you!" he replied taking out and placing a baking sheet and a skillet on the counter top. "Oh, trying to make Shawarma-Style Chicken with a sauce and I was thinking of making a little fried rice to go with it and perhaps a shirley temple mock-tail? Now, where's your spatula? And do you have boneless chic---wait, you're not a vegetarian...are you?"

"No, I'm not a vegetarian. I eat meat, although I try to limit it. But that sounds delicious! Spatula is in the white jar on the counter, next to the stove; and I have some chicken thawing on the bottom shelf in the fridge." Theia says as she points to each location. They sit in silence for a bit while seraph starts cooking, until Theia clears her throat. "Ummm... So what was it you wanted to talk about..?"

Letting out a small gasp out of simultaneous anxiety and relief, Seraph smiled. "Phew, that was close!" he comments and starts slicing the chicken breast and thighs into several pieces each and puts them in a marinating dish. He whisked some olive oil, the spices, salt and pepper and poured the marinate over the chicken as Theia questioned him. "Uh, it was nothing really. Nothing important! Now I just have to figure out a way to store all those animals" he said stumbling and fidgeting. Trying to avoid the conversation, he continued coating the chicken with the marinate and preheated the oven, before finally putting them in. "So, do you like fried rice?"

"Seraph...you're dodging again." Theia said with a stern tone. "But yes I like fried rice." she then thought to herself, come on Seraph...you were doing so well in the car. I just want to know what you're thinking for once...

"You're right! I am just being stupid. I wanted to know if you were dating someone or like do you LIKE, like me. I am really confused! I think I also wanted to apologize because Valentine's going to walk away because there's no definitive proof against him and even if they could get some proof, it would be by checking those animals and guess who bought them from really bad men? I did. There! Is that you wanted to hear?" Seraph said, as he finished the food and places it on the kitchen island.

"No I'm not dating anyone. And to be honest I'm glad you finally said something because I like yo-- wait what?! Valentine is going to walk away?!" Theia says as what Seraph said just clicked and she stands up abruptly from the chair. "You're saying that we can't put that man, the man who did horrible things to me and my friends plus all those animal, behind bars unless you go to Jail with him?!"

"Well I knowingly bought animals from a criminal, that makes me involved with his operation! Not only would I go to jail, i would have to pay retribution for the cost of the animals I just bought. My wallet is already bleeding! I don't know what you wanted me to do! I saved those animals, isn't that good enough?!" Seraph says as he throws his hands in the air.

"What?! I didn't know that! Gosh Seraph you are so stupid! If you knew that going into the deal, why did you do it?! It's like you are asking to go to jail and bring all this pain upon other people! And now Valentine gets to walk away with just a slap on the wrist after all the damage he's done..." Their shouts, as she walks around the kitchen running her hands through her hair. Turning to Seraph with a blank expression as she points to the door. "You know what, I've lost my appetite. I think you should leave."

"Theia I-" Seraph begins to say, but is quickly cut off by Theia. "You should go." Seraph stands slowly and walks to the door, he looks back and sees that Theia still has a look on her face, so he opens the door and makes his exit. "Hey, there's a good chance that he is going to get raped in prison!" he says before leaving.

Distraught, Theia goes to sit back at the island and begins to shift the food around he plate, lost in thought. Maybe he is right...there was really no way of winning that battle. But I just can't stand the though of Valentine running free again...that's probably why I overreacted...I should probably go apologize. But it is pretty crazy outside, being that it's Halloween. I guess I will find him tomorrow and say I'm sorry for my behavior. She takes a bit of the meal Seraph prepared, and after tasting the wonderful flavor, she is sad that she isn't sharing it with the man she adored so much.

Trivia

  • This role-play was originally supposed to named, "The Hellhound Gets a New Leash" but was reconsidered by one of the authors.
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