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Nine Lives
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Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

May-9-2012 18:06

The office door slammed against the wall with a bang, and papers swirled restlessly across the desks of the darkened room. He looked up from his bottle of gin, bleary eyes just registering the figure outlined in the doorway. It was tall, and from the cast of the hips and tucked in-waist silhouetted in the black trench, it was a woman. She stood on black stilettos, and a black snood concealed her hair from view as surely as the netted veil did her face.

"Who is that?" he asked nervously, squinting his eyes. There was a pause, and then the figure moved forward, legs, hips rolling smoothly in an unmistakable way. He paled; rearing back in the chair so that it almost fell. He righted it with a clatter, fingers shaking.

"A ghost?" he breathed, suddenly terrified. Was the moonshine bad? Giving him the jake- was he hallucinating? The black ensemble of the woman suddenly seemed more foreboding than chic. "You...I thought you were dead!"

She moved forward, just inches away from him in the dim lamplight. Slowly, black satin-clad hands lifted up, grasped the edge of the veil, and pulled it back. Her glossy red lips shone in a vulpine smirk in the light.

"I never die. Nine lives, you know." Molly Maltese breathed in her sotto voice. "I've been to the end of the world, my dear, and I've brought back the case to end all cases for you."

Replies

Jack Billings
Jack Billings
Thespian

Jun-20-2012 09:40

"Where is Mr. Zeo?" Jack demanded, straightening the lapels of his immaculate dove-grey suit. "Cyril, bring me the man. If any of his little friends try their shenanigans, I want them to see who is spearheading the effort."

Cyril, his new lackey, gave a grunt of assent and left the room. Jack waited until the door was closed to move to his desk. On it sat two identical wooden boxes. As he opened them, he gave a little smile to himself- for resting in the denizens of each were identical, gleaming ankhs encrusted with jewels. He lifted one up to the light, examining it with a shrewd eye before giving a nod of satisfaction and tucking it back into the velvet nest in the bottom of the box. He had had one of his connections experienced on the black market examine and recreate the Nine Lives artifact flawlessly, as well as draw up official documents and certificates of legality. They were absolutely perfect.

There was a commotion outside of the door and Jack hastily slid the box containing the real ankh into his drawer , locking it as Zeo entered looking disheveled as always.

"Zeo, my good man." Jack said imperiously, pulling two small bags of opiates out of his breast pocket. "You're accompanying me on the trade-off today. If you're a good boy, there's something in it for you." He sneered, but Zeo just looked at him blankly, devoid of expression.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-20-2012 10:18

"The instant rush is so strong you'll never be able to be rid of the desire for it the rest of your pitiful life... if it doesn't kill you first. And do you know when you mix a depressant like morphine with a stimulant such as cocaine here, what effects do you get?" Billings sounded almost joyous, "Confusion, incoherence, stupor... You may even experience paranoid delusions and hallucinations."

Billings laughed to himself, "Wait until I release you onto my wife and her friends when they come meddling in my affairs today! I wonder who you WON'T recognize! No matter what she does, I have more tricks up my sleeves than she has of gowns. Cyril, go ahead with the injection." Billings nodded to the man holding the syringe.

One of the burly men unrolled Zeo's sleeve. Zeo tried to knock him with his elbow but he was simply not strong enough. As the needle pierced through his skin he felt the effort and hope in the last few days draining from him...

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-20-2012 11:03

Molly raised her head at the sound of a door opening and voices downstairs.
"Its show time." she said grimly. She drew her pistol and held it down by her leg as she leaned tensely by the doorjamb and listened. Vulkie left the tied up curator to join her as they breathlessly listened to their friend greet the men.

"Greetings, gentlemen. I'm Carla, the Curator of this museum--" suddenly Riza's voice faltered. Molly tensed, but relaxed as she continued on. "I understand you have an artifact for me?"

"Yes, we do." Came Billings voice through the door and Mollys hair stood up despite herself. "I am William Jackson, and these are my associates Cyril and Joseph...why Miss Kane you look as though you've seen a ghost. Do you recognize my associate perhaps?"

Oh no. The jig surely had to be up. Molly raised her pistol...

"Surely not, Mr. Jackson." Rizas voice was steady and petulant. "Its only that your associate there looks quite ill. Perhaps he'd like to take a seat?"

"No, Miss Kane. He's quite alright. Perhaps its the stuffiness of this office. Perhaps we ought to step out into the main room, he can amuse himself with the displays while we conduct business."

Riza had no choice but to acquiesce, and Molly and Vulkie heard the sounds of a chair pushing back and heels circling the floor. Both of them exchanged worried glances. This wasnt going in their favor at all. They would have to find a way to follow Riza outside, to prevent anything happening.

"Please, please, all that is holy, let Marc be here." Molly prayed at the sound of the door closing. "Alright Vulkie. Wait 2 minutes, then crack open that office door there. There should be a display case a yard or two from it- duck behind that. And keep your gun ready."

Something was bothering Molly though, something that had been nagging at her mind for a few days now. It was Billings' use of William Jackson. She was certain she had heard the name- and recently. Was it a coincidence?

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa
Sleuth About Town

Jun-20-2012 19:22

Marc knew that Riza would deal directly with Jack during the meeting. With the help of some makeup, she would look like a different person; unrecognizable to Jack. Jack had, if anything, only came in contact with her once so she would not look very familiar to him.

"Protect Riza from the dark," Zeo told him. Joseph gave Marc an outline of the building, showing him where they would be meeting and where Marc would need to go. It wasn't going to be easy, but then again, nothing ever was when it came to dealing with Billings.

They took two cars, Marc in a rental and Zeo in his own. Marc had parked his car behind the large building and he pulled the rifle out of the back of his car. Five bullets and three magazines.

The model Marc held in his arms was similar to what he held in 1917; a 1903 Springfield. The only difference was that Marc's gun was a newer model. He yanked back the bolt and loaded the first five bullets. He put one extra magazine in his pocket, leaving the third in his car. If it came down to him needing all fifteen rounds, they would all be goners. Besides, he still had his .45 automatic, and his back up revolver. In truth, Marc was a walking arsenal.

He made his way through the back entrance. No one was near the entrance. Good. If seen, the rifle would compromise everything. It was too big to hide. Marc only hoped Zeo had the sights adjusted the right way.

Marc found his spot. The storage above the meeting room. The room was small inside. Marc found his view point. A small window slit near the ceiling. Perfect, Marc thought. He found a small step latter that gave him just enough height to aim through the scope and see what was going on.

Molly was there, but out of sight and Riza was disguised and talking directly to Billings. But where was Vulkie? Hidden, Marc hoped.

"Zeo," Marc whispered when he saw the man. He was pale again. "Oh, Zeo," Marc whispered. "Please tell me you didn't take it again...."

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa
Sleuth About Town

Jun-20-2012 19:25

Marc noticed a few other men that was with Billings. When everyone sat down at a table in plain sight, Marc smiled to himself. His heart racing again. He could feel the his blood racing through his body. The anxiety that Jack Billings finally going to die, really got to Marc.

"Calm down," he told himself. Marc knew if he jerked the trigger rather than squeeze it, he would miss and give himself away. He yanked the bolt back and loaded the bullet into the chamber and switched the safety off. The meeting was underway.

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Jun-20-2012 21:01

Acutely uncomfortable in her scratchy brown wig and severely unbecoming thick spectacles, Riza Hawkeye plastered a smile on her face with great effort and strode across the room to welcome the men who had just entered.

"Greetings, gentlemen. I'm Carla, the curator of the museum—"

Riza faltered as her eye caught sight of one of the men standing behind Billings. She felt a sharp stabbing pain in the palms of her hands.

It was Zeo. Ghastly pale, clothes wrinkled, standing slumped down so low it appeared he wished for nothing more than to disappear at that very moment.

Riza quickly squashed down her emotions with a swallow and said, "I understand you have an artifact for me?"

Billings replied with something, but Riza only half-heard him. Her gaze was fixated on Zeo. At once, her heart was beating abnormally fast and she also felt a great desire to hit him.

"Do you recognize my associate, perhaps?" Billings asked with an eyebrow raise, snapping Riza back to attention.

"Surely not, Mr. Jackson," said Riza as coolly as she could. She suggested offering the pale man a seat, but Billings suggested moving to the main room. Riza bit the side of her cheek and willed herself to stay in character. She smiled graciously as she inclined her head towards the doorway. They filed out.

The marble floor magnified the sound of their footsteps as they made their way to the center of the room. The meager light of the late afternoon sky shone in overhead through a glass window insert in the ceiling. With one gesture from Billings, the man called Cyril produced a wooden case and some papers from inside his rather large overcoat.

"I believe you will find the documents in order," Billings said, handing them over to Riza. She pretended to scan through them. "You'll have ample time to look through those later, at your own leisure."

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Jun-20-2012 21:01

"And now..." Billings gave a wide smile as he opened the wooden box and turned it to face Riza. She barely suppressed a gasp. There in the box lay a golden ankh, radiant and sparkling as it was struck by the last rays of daylight.

"It's quite beautiful, Mr. Jackson," Riza breathed, momentarily captivated.

"Now there is the matter of the money, Miss Kane. I do believe that twenty thou—" Billings broke off. Riza was overcome with a sense of foreboding.

"You know, you look...familiar," he said softly, tilting his head to get a better look at Riza. "I never forget a face." His voice echoed in the great expanse of the room. Riza froze. Billings stared with knitted brows. Then a change crossed his features.

Riza grabbed the box out of Billings' arms and slammed the lid shut. Many things happened simultaneously. A woman screamed. Gunshots rang out. A cascade of glass rained down from above.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-21-2012 07:52

The indescribable ecstasy from the cocaine was nothing Zeo had ever felt before. Every nerve in his body felt so alive that his past existence seemed fictitious. It lasted only a few minutes, and Zeo already wanted another hit. Before he could realize his desires, the morphine kicked in. It calmed him right down. Like the other forms of Opium he took, the pain inside him was gone immediately. He was then hauled into a car and driven to the Museum. No, it was a Palace. With gigantic doors. They climbed up the hill to meet a brown fuzzy bear, with big goggle eyes. The bear seemed familiar, as if he should be hugging it, but when it looked at Zeo he shrank into a tiny ant. The bear was talking to a tree beside him, then two trees and the bear started moving to a large white cave, and Zeo followed them. One of the trees vomited a wooden box, and inside the box lived a dancing ginger bread man. The fuzzy bear suddenly strangled the ginger bread man and one of the trees whispered to him, "Zeo, start shooting!" so he fired at the ceiling. Candy rained down from above while someone was screaming. The bear ran away with the box with the ginger bread man so Zeo shot at the bear as well. The bear was jumping up and down...

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Jun-21-2012 08:57

Riza was aware of a sharp pain in her leg as she tried to abscond with the ankh. She jumped up and down in an attempt to steady herself as she fell over. On the ground, trying to see amidst the falling shards, she could make out Zeo standing there pointing a gun right at her, his facial expression an indication that he was blissfully unaware of what he was doing.

Riza felt a pain in her lower abdomen and immediately reached towards it. She tried to crawl away from the scene as fast as she could, taking the boxed ankh with her. A bullet whizzed loudly right over her left ear, and she yanked her head around in disbelief to see that Zeo had taken another shot at her. Bastard! Standing unsteadily, he grinned. There came a flash and the scraping of metal on metal as the gun was blasted out of his hand by another bullet.

Riza was unable to see where it had come from, but almost immediately a barrage of gunfire seemed to erupt from all sides. In that moment, hell broke loose. She saw Vulkie and Molly running in her direction, shooting at Billings. Cyril was somehow shot multiple times in the back from above and fell forward straight onto the broken shards of glass, blood quickly pooling around him. Billings himself was shooting wildly. It seemed more men were pouring into the room.

Riza ripped the wig and glasses off her face, and ran as fast as she dared to behind an exhibit of golden plates, just out of range of the gunfire. The box containing the ankh dropped to the floor. Riza slid on her back down the side of the exhibit. It was hurting more. Trying to get her bearings, she let out a gasp.

There, concealed behind the shadow of a doorway, was a man. Riza squinted her eyes and used her sleeve to wipe away some blood. It couldn't be...Corelli?! The man bent down and slid Riza a gun across the floor, which she gratefully grabbed. When she looked up, he had disappeared.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-21-2012 09:13

Zeo's right index finger felt numbed as his revolver was blasted out of his hand. He should have felt pain but the morphine was doing its job. The cave became a forest as more and more trees appeared. The rustling of leaves was deafening. Some trees fell, but many more just came rushing in. They were all moving in a colorful dance. The fuzzy bear shed its skin and turned into a golden Princess. Zeo was inexplicably drawn to her. The Princess hide behind a glass pond with golden ripples. He could hear her gasp for help. He skipped towards the glass pond, and found the Princess holding a silver dagger at him.

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