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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

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Jun-26-2012 18:07

Riza was startled out of her thoughts by a rapping on her door. She set aside the pillow she had unconsciously been hugging and walked over. It was late and Riza was tired. But she couldn't sleep. Not after the day she'd had. Being shot at was nothing new for her; it didn't faze her at all, though the fact that it had been Joseph shooting at her did.

Riza turned the knob and swung open the door. Upon seeing the man standing there, she had to fight a strong impulse to slam the door in his face. Her countenance momentarily mirrored the mixed emotions fighting inside her, and then softened as she saw Joseph's face.

She stood aside to let him in, perching on the edge of her bed as he shuffled over and sat beside her. They avoided making eye contact. Both waited for the other to say something, but neither did. He was afraid, but she was terrified. She had spent all day trying to untangle the plethora of thoughts whirling around in her head.

"How's your leg?" Joseph finally asked, breaking the silence. He gazed down at the gauze wrapped around Riza's leg.

"Fine," Riza said tersely, taking a sudden interest in the wallpaper. She paused. "How's your shoul—"

"I'm really—" said Joseph simultaneously, cutting her off. They fell into silence once more.

Riza was startled when Joseph took her hand in his. She felt something stir within herself and instantly pulled away. She was afraid if she looked at him, she might burst into tears; if she tried to speak any more, she would lose her words; if she tried to touch him, she might try to strangle him.

But then a realization hit Riza. Joseph was there, right beside her. More importantly, he had chosen to be there.

He reached for her hand again, holding it between both of his. This time she didn't pull away.

A cloud of unanswered questions loomed overhead, but the only one which had to be answered right then was...

"It's okay," Riza breathed, more to herself than to Joseph. She looked at him. "It's okay."

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-26-2012 19:36

Joseph felt the weight of the world lifted away from his shoulder when he heard that the baby was alright. If it was anything else, Zeo did not think he would be able to handle it.

Riza's hands felt icy. He knew the gunshot wound on her leg had taken a heavy toll on her. If the baby was fine, then by Riza's reactions back at the clinic, Zeo knew he was responsible for her fall. No verbal apologies would make up for what he did even if he was forced into it. Zeo could feel that Riza was still angry with him, as she rightly should.

"You need to rest now. It's getting late." Zeo said softly, "If it is alright with you, I want to stay here tonight... Just sitting here by the bed is fine!" He quickly added.

Zeo was a very focused man, and at the moment, all his attention was on Riza and the health of the little one inside her. He knew he could fight his addiction as long as he could fix his mind on them. Everything else was out the window, including the thought of Anais.

Anais... Josee... Zeo didn't think he would ever see them again, and he knew Anais would take good care of his daughter anyhow. At the moment only what's in front of him was important, and he felt at peace.

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-27-2012 13:44

Molly came awake with a gasp that turned into a high-pitched whinny of pain as the bandages at her chest pulled. She lay there for a moment, basking in the washes of pain as she steeled herself to rise and examine her surroundings.

"Upsy daisy." she breathed, and hoisted herself up with a wheeze, green eyes darting around in curiosity. She saw, to her surprise, Andrew Corelli sitting in a chair nearby, chin tilted forward as he slumbered. "What are you doing here?" she murmured to his slumbering form but he slept on, oblivious.

Molly shuffled her way to the door, making her way down the hall on silent feet. As she passed Rizas door, she heard the low murmur of voices. Josephs and Rizas. She smiled to herself and moved on into the main room, where she sat at the table with a pen and a notepad.

"When in doubt, make a list." she said grimly. She hoped everyone enjoyed their night of respite and reunion, because from the way things were shaping up, in the morning they would be dispatched to the headquarters of the Helfire Club.

M. Lacrimosa
M. Lacrimosa
Sleuth About Town

Jun-27-2012 20:14

It was after midnight when Marc started on his way to the safe house. The last two days had been extremely hectic. Marc pulled out a rather long cigar, clipped the end and lit it.

Marc's mind was still on the recent past. Marc knew he royally screwed up when he forced Zeo into the safe house. Riza still had not spoken to him. Was he in the wrong?

Marc smiled at his thoughts. "What am I worrying about?" He asked himself. "It's over with..."

Marc opened the door and walked in. He had to say something to Zeo about the law firm looking for him. He walked next to Zeo's room and thought about knocking on the door. He raised his fist and paused. It was now nearly 1 am. Zeo was probably fast asleep and Marc didn't know how cranky Zeo could get if he was woken up this late. Instead he went to bed.

***The Next Morning***

Marc woke up early. Unaware if anyone else was awake, he showered shaved the 5 O'clock shadow that was forming on his face. Marc sat down after making a cup of coffee and lit up another cigar. Zeo joined him shortly after.

"Zeo, before everyone else wakes up," Marc started. "I wanted to know if I can talk to you. Just me and you, man to man."

Zeo agreed.

"Andrew Corelli is NYPD sent to get you. Apparently, you are being looked for by one Nichols and Newmann Lawfirm. Zeo, I hope to God that it's nothing bad."

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-28-2012 06:44

Zeo would never be tired of watching Riza sleep, her chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm of breathing. She looked serene. Zeo looked at his watch. Sunrise should arrive in another hour or so. He himself was not sleepy, but the pull of the narcotics was still strong. Zeo decided a coffee might be what he needed.

Someone else was already in the kitchen when he walked in. The smoke from Marc's cigar reminded Zeo too much of everything, but he chose to ignore his cravings beckoning him. Marc wanted to talk. Excellent. That should keep his mind busy.

"... Apparently, you are being looked for by one Nichols and Newmann Lawfirm. Zeo, I hope to God that it's nothing bad." Marc continued.

"Nichols and Newmann...." Zeo pondered. He heard of this firm before. It's a mid-size establishment which at times perform legal services for the underground dealings, but most of their practices were legit. "Do you know how Corelli find me? Did anyone give him a pointer as to my whereabouts? Beside Riza, whom I bumped into the night before I left New York," Zeo recalled that alluring evening, but quickly directed his mind back to the task at hand, "no one knew that I was coming to London."

"I have little information, but Corelli did mentioned a secretary from that firm... I think her name was Anna Niedermann or something like that, a slim brunnette with green eyes." Marc replied.

Lightening bolta shot through Zeo. It sounded too much like a cover Anais Ninn would use. It could be just a coincidence, but what if it was not? "Did Corelli mentioned anything more about this Niedermann lady?"

Marc tried to recall his conversation, "Corelli thinks that she was really worried about you?"

Just when Zeo was giving up on finding Anais, had Anais been monitoring him all along? The chance was slim, maybe Zeo was reading tea leaves, but what IF? Again Zeo's head was a turmoil of storms. Before he could clear heads from tails in his thoughts, a rasp cough echoed from the main room.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-28-2012 06:55

Both men's heads turned. Marc took out his gun by reflex.

Zeo quietly moved to the main room, only to find Molly steadying herself by the table, a pen and a notepad in front of her. On the notepad was a long list, as if she had been working on it for hours.

"Molly! You should be resting in bed." Marc said brusquely. He was not happy to see Molly working herself to a cough in her present condition.

"Helfire Club ain't waiting for the late birds!" Molly snickered, "but I'll let our friends wake naturally before I sum up the plan, and trust me -- it's going to be a long day ahead."

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-28-2012 15:53

Molly, Marc and Joseph sat around the table, laughing and sipping at coffee. For a moment Molly was lighthearted. It was just like old times, before pain and weary toils had divided them.

Presently everyone awoke and came forward from the denizens of the house to group around the table. There was general consensus of dismay that Molly was up and about with her injury but she waved the concern away.

"We've got bigger fish to fry." she said hoarsely.

"The list?" Joseph asked expectantly, leaning forward, but Molly took a long measured look at him and pulled something from her lap. The ankh!

"Not just yet." she asked, placing the ankh on the table. "Corelli was gracious enough to grab this on our way out. It is, after all, what we came for."

"Excellent. Then we're done, aren't we? We've got the piece." Vulkie said excitedly, but frowned when Molly shook her head. "What else is there left to do? Surely you don't expect us to go after Billings. Look at the state youre in! The state of Riza, who is with child! You cannot keep expending us for your personal vendetta!"

Molly narrowed her eyes to green slits and stood laboriously. Corelli made a motion towards her but she waved him away. Picking up the ankh with her right hand, she hefted it high overhead and brought it down in a wide arc towards the table. Reflexively hands reached out to catch it, but it was too late. The edge of the ankh hit the wooden surface of the table and sprayed out in a cloud of broken plaster! Gemstones rattled free of their casings and skittered across the table like marbles. In the light it was clear they were paste.

"A fake!" Joseph cried, and Mollys eyes met his.

"A fake, Joseph, and a good one. But I myself researched the ankh for ages, I myself held it in my hands and this- this is merely a recreation. An expert one. But recreation nonetheless. And I find it very hard to believe you spent all that time in Billings' service and didn't notice the time and effort expended to craft it!"

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-28-2012 16:07

Joseph stuttered, and all eyes turned to him except for one pair- Riza's.

"What on earth is that?" she murmured, and leaned forward to sift through the pile of broken plaster. She pulled out a tiny square of folded parchment. For a moment everyones attention was broken.

"What does it say?" Molly frowned.

"I don't know, its a series of symbols." Riza said, showing the parchment around. Everyone shrugged their shoulders, unsure, except for Corelli who was staring at the last symbol with a look of concentration.

"I've seen that before. Thats...a planet in an oval? "He said.

"Looks like an eye..."came from Vulkie.

"An eye?" Joseph sat up straight, pulled the parchment toward himself. "Thats the symbol for..."

Suddenly it clicked into place and the detectives breathed it in unison.

"Circle of Light."


Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jun-28-2012 16:11

"Oh no. Not those crazy bastards." Marc groaned. Molly bit her lip in worry.

"I can think of at least 40 things I'd rather do than tangle with the factions..." she murmured. "But the question has to be had. The museum- Carla Kane- would have discovered the ankh was a fake with a little research. Yet she was willing to trade the money up front in a shady deal...unless she KNEW it was a fake and there was a message inside. The question is- who is Carla Kane really- or who is she working for...and what could this series of symbols mean that could possibly warrant $20,000?"

There was a collective silence.

"Molly, I think your to-do list just got a lot bigger." Marc grimaced, and the detectives sighed.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Jun-28-2012 20:12

When Molly questioned Zeo about the fake Ankh, he was speechless. His mind was still occupied with the mysterious 'secretary' within the law firm who hired Corelli to look for him. Was that really Anais, or was it wishful thinking. His eyes met Riza for a fraction of a second and he looked away, feeling guilty that he was still so hung on Anais when Riza was with his child. When Zeo finally had the time, he must question Corelli in secret to find out more; he didn't want Riza to worry about Anais. For the moment, his attention must return to the fake Ankh and the coded message hidden inside.

Zeo took out his pen and note pad and started to copy down the encrypted message. "I may know a few people who may be able to translate this." Zeo murmured as he wrote.

Suddenly Molly's clammy hand slammed down onto Zeo's. "How can I trust you?" Molly's eyes narrowed again.

"I state once and for all, I have no idea that Billings crafted A fake Ankh. He must have done it in secret. No other Helfire Club members I met heard about it either, or at least they haven't mentioned it. Now, will you let me do my share or that you rather I return to the pit of Helfire? It's up to you." Zeo replied steely.


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