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Airs and Heiresses
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Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Jul-6-2015 11:19

New York, 1938
St. Regis Hotel
Rooftop Nightclub

"So there I was, staring down a barrel INCHES from death...and I told the man, 'darling REALLY, if you simply must shoot me do allow me to remove my earrings. They are Cartier, you know." Molly Maltese paused to take a sip of her Red Snapper, popping the olive neatly between her cherub lips before gnashing it to a pulp. "And the man was quite flummoxed, he said- I say, is that Riza Hawkeye?"

She rose, the group of rapt men in tuxedos and women in glittering dresses and furs murmuring their protests as she wended through their knees. But the apparition she was quite sure had been Riza Hawkeye had vanished in the crowd of New York socialites populating the exclusive terrace.

"Well, this place is a bit ritzy for Riza." she murmured, fairly certain her old acquaintance didn't make a habit of populating social-climbing fetes. And she reasoned, any time Riza had appeared before it was hardly ever for a pleasant cause. Well, maybe that was unfair. It just seemed she was more the swirl-of-furs-and-stiletto-daggers type than a frothy socializer like Molly herself.

Peering around, Molly saw nothing but the shadowed faces of revelers partially cloaked in the smoky haze. She had just been about to give up and go back to her companions when the most shocking hubbub began. Over on the north part of the terrace, she could distinctly hear the shouts of men and panicked screeching of females. Moving forward, she could just make out..

"Did you see... The Ambassador... who could have... murder! Someone has pushed the Ambassador off the building!" Molly picked up speed, expertly weaving through the crowd of panicked voices. Sirens already began to sound twenty stories below. Just as she grasped the ledge and looked over, an all too familiar voice sounded in her left ear.

"Oh hello there, old friend. Lovely breeze out today."

Before her stood Riza Hawkeye herself, looking utterly unruffled as several ladies fainted behind her.


The Cloaked Figure
The Cloaked Figure

Aug-31-2015 18:07




He shuffled his feet swiftly down the hall. The day he had both wished for and dreaded had finally come. Sphinx had need of him.

He still remembered that handshake, the Faustian bargain he had struck long ago.

"So brilliant, but so disadvantaged. Peng Fai, do you desire to be more?" the woman had asked him.

"Yes, of course," he'd replied anxiously, "but my parents are dead and my sisters are much to young to survive without my guidance."

"We will care for them," the woman smiled, "they shall want for nothing. And you Peng Fai, we will pay to educate you, to make you great." Her gaze hardened and she gripped his shoulders, "Understand that one day we will come for you. We will have need of you. And you must not refuse."

He looked down at the bottle of curare extract, his hands shaking as he filled up the syringe. He'd never harmed a patient in his career, but they were bad people. They were dangerous. They had to be. Sphinx wouldn't ask this of him if it wasn't of the utmost importance. He finished filling the second syringe and placed it into his lab coat.

He continued down the hall, Maltese was her name. Johnson would be too heavily guarded right now. Once the girl was dead, he'd have time to put down the ambassador and hopefully by that time someone else would arrive to take care of the rest of them.

He came up to the room and glanced inside. Just the girl. He reached into his pocket and slowly crept inside. Her breathing was even, and her eyes gazed off into space. Drugged, with laudanum no doubt, upon her arrival. He had to work quickly, her doctor would be back to stitch her once he'd left enough time for the laudanum to take effect, which meant any moment now.

The Cloaked Figure
The Cloaked Figure

Aug-31-2015 18:24

He withdrew the syringe and grabbed her arm, "I sincerely hope you do not possess any consciousness at this moment, Ms. Maltese. I beg your forgiveness if you feel anything."

"I do hope you're not planning on putting anything into that poor girl," a voice behind him calmly stated, "she's been through quite enough today."

"What!?" Peng yelled, dropping the curare extract to the ground and nearly leaping out of his skin. He spun around in time to see a robed figure with a cloak over its head emerge from the shadows behind him. How long had he been there?

"Oh Doctor," the figure wagged its finger at him, "I don't think curare will help this girl right now, will it?"

"Yǐnxíng yāo!" he gasped. Patients had come in for the past few months with severe injuries claiming to have been attacked by a cloaked demon. They'd written it off as a series of opium fueled delusions, but here it was standing before him. Calm, standing in judgement of him with its great staff, it had come for him!

He grabbed for the remaining syringe and charged the figure. Before he could get close, the figure swung its staff at him, striking him first in the hand and then across the face. He hit the cold floor hard. Stars filled his eyes. He felt his arms being pulled tight behind him and tied together. Rope. Before he could even move, he was bound, hands and feet together.

"Dear Doctor Peng... oh my..." the figure read aloud, "I think I'd best pin this to you so they know exactly what you were doing here and what to do with you when they find you."

He opened his mouth to speak but felt another swift blow strike him hard. There was pain for a moment, and then... blackness.

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Aug-31-2015 19:17

There were several irate voices around her, Molly thought dreamily. Or maybe there wasn't. She wasn't quite sure. This wasn't something that particularly mattered to her. Everything was just fabulous. Like champagne bubbles. She felt as though there were champagne bubbles in her skull- life was just like champagne bubbles. Sparkly and buoyant and oh-- wasn't everything so happy?

She sighed luxuriantly and blinked, smiling at how long it took her eyelids to find their way down. When her eyes finally closed, it was like a little jolt- and the angry chatter came a little closer.

Maybe if I blink I can concentrate on what they're saying, she thought, grinning at the audacity of her plan. Inspired, she blinked again. It sounded like gibberish. Cautiously she opened her eyes and as the world spun happily, she thought she glimpsed two Chinese nurses gesturing wildly. Blinking again, Marc came into focus, and the man called Jasper, staring at a huddled form on the floor.

Oh, I don't care about that. She told herself, giggling. Something pinched her wrist and she opened her eyes again, this time looking into the eyes of a doctor who was very close to her side.

"You stop moving! I make even stitch!" he said, and Molly sighed again and wondered why anyone could be so nasty. Champagne bubbles- how could you be angry?

Who knows how much time passed- maybe none, when Molly found herself being shaken. Should she blink again? Maybe so. Blinking hard, she looked up to see Marc's face, and she stared blankly at his mouth as he seemed to be saying something to her.

"We've got to go now." he mouthed, and Molly wondered if she was imagining how slow his mouth seemed to move. She couldn't help it- she giggled at him and let her head loll back. Hush up Marc. She thought to say, but didn't think it made it out of her lips. Everything felt so good! Why was everyone snapping- there was no reason for it. No reason at all...

She presently found herself being shaken again.

Molly Maltese
Molly Maltese
Old Shoe

Aug-31-2015 19:25

"Are you dead?"

Molly's eyes opened slowly, the world seeming to have quieted down to a nice hum. Jasper's face was before her and as she blinked again and again, trying to figure out where she was- she realized she was sprawled across the backseat of a car, and he was staring at her from the open door.

"Oh, I don't think so." she said sleepily, closing her eyes and nestling into the seat again. Hmmmm... she breathed out as she pressed her cheek to the leather.

"I think this ones down for the count." Jasper said doubtfully to someone, probably Marc. There was some shuffling outside and someone patted her hair dubiously.

"Don't touch my hair." she breathed peacefully, then her eyes snapped open. "Its gone! My hair is gone! I need a hat! I need several hats!" she proclaimed, struggling to sit upright.

That was a lot of work though. "Jasper." she finally said, slumping back down with a grown. "JASPER."

Jasper stuck his head into the car again. "Uh, yes?" he asked somewhat nervously.

"Jasper please remind me that I need to get hats. Its very important." And with that, Molly was out like a light once again.

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Aug-31-2015 19:27

As Riza and Joseph descended the metal staircase to the fifth floor, Riza's thoughts were clouded by the resurfacing of memories she'd much rather forget.

His heart just wasn't here; she could see it in those perpetually sad-looking eyes. Though he felt bound by duty to stay by her side after she had discovered she was pregnant with his child, she knew that same sense of duty was preventing him from going after what he truly wanted. He still pined for Anais. He would never admit it to Riza, but deep down she knew. That night they had been together, it was as though he was driven by a feverish desperation. He had needed a replacement, and she had been that replacement.

Riza wasn't particularly bothered by the thought that she wasn't good enough for him, as her interest in him had been nothing more than a passing fancy. She loved Joseph, but not in the romantic sense. The thing which had bothered her was watching him trap himself, watching him get farther and farther away from what he wanted, what he deserved. It hurt Riza to see him do that to himself, just for her sake.

It was not a decision she made lightly, but it had to be done. And soon, before the child was born. If he became attached...

"Joseph," Riza called. He did not respond. "Joseph!"

Joseph turned his blank gaze from the window, a look of confusion momentarily clouding his face. "What?" He had spent days just staring out of that window. Days. Riza knew what was on his mind.

"Get out. I don't want you here," she stated bluntly, jabbing a finger towards the door.

"But--" Joseph gestured to Riza's stomach.

"--This is my child and my responsibility, not yours," Riza said, choosing her words carefully. "I can take care of it on my own. You don't need to be here."

Riza Hawkeye
Riza Hawkeye
First Nomad

Aug-31-2015 19:27

When Joseph did not move, Riza could feel something burning deep inside her. "Just get out!" she screamed. Perplexed, Joseph backed up towards the door. "Out!" Riza picked up the daggers she had been polishing on the counter and hurled them one after another at Joseph's head. He ducked, and they embedded themselves into the wood mere inches from his face.

Joseph opened the door and paused for half a beat, looking back at her with an inscrutable expression on his face. Then he disappeared into the night.

Riza clenched her jaw and willed herself not to cry. It would be okay. She could do this. She could do this by herself. A tear rolled down her cheek. She would be fine.

Pulling her mind back to the present, Riza realized that she and Joseph had already arrived on the fifth floor. She took in the scene before her: blood and guts spattered everywhere, bodies on the ground, and a man punching another at the far end.

"Edward! I said stand down!" Joseph yelled.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Sep-1-2015 08:39

Ed straddled a large man and was punching him in the face. Zeo bellowed twice before Ed could stop. What the Shanghainese clerk muttered back at the hotel was true. This man had a temper issue.

“Oh no you don’t!” Riza quickly grabbed the jaw of the sniper and clawed out a capsule before the man could bite down into the cyanide. Zeo figured such suicide attempt had happened before. He pulled down some curtain strings with his one good arm, almost toppling over everything. Riza elbowed him away and took over in binding the man with the strings.

Edward squatted down and closed his companion’s eyes. “Where is Mellish?” Ed looked around. Zeo frowned. Ed slammed his fist on the wall. The building shook.

“We took down the guy who got Mellish,” Zeo treaded carefully as if diffusing a bomb. He pointed at the bound man with the broken nose, “but we need more information. I don’t know as much about the case yet but between you and Riza, I’m sure we’ll move forward. ”

The library was not the best place for interrogation. He jotted down the address of a secure location for Edward, “Deputy Middleton can take you to this place when you’re done here. I’m sure you need a moment with your lost, but come as quickly as you can. Keep the location to yourself.” Zeo covered the bound man’s head with small tablecloth he found. “When you bury the bodies, make an extra grave. That way, the Sphinx would believe all their men are dead.” He said it for the benefit of their prisoner before he knocked him out cold.

“Remember we are government agents. I know that lot,” indicating Riza and her friends, “they resolve to unnecessary violence.”

“Agent Carlyle, I know we haven’t worked together for long, but I assure you I know many ways to extract information without shedding blood or breaking bones.” Zeo replied. As he and Riza hauled the unconscious man to his car, Zeo muttered under his breath, “Doesn’t mean that won’t drive him insane though…”

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Sep-1-2015 08:43

Frank woke with a start and realized his limps were restrained at the four corners of a heavy stone table, his broken nose throbbing in the musty air. The non-descript room had no window and only a heavy mental door. A single incandescent lamp hung from the ceiling, so dim that he could barely make out the rest of the furnishings. He seemed to be in some sort of a warehouse or a basement.

Frank was determined that no matter how much his captors hurt him, he would not talk. Sphinx had trained him enough for that.

The man with the dark eyes and a sharp nose who suggested digging the extra grave looked at Frank coldly, realizing his prisoner has awakened. The bleeding wound the thin man suffered earlier had been redressed, and determination filled his eyes.

Without a word the thin man took out a pair of scissors and started to cut his shirt open, sleeves and all. He pulled out the pieces of fabrics one by one and fed them to a fire burning in a steel trashcan. Frank clamped his jaws and looked to the corner of the ceiling. The thin man continued with his pants. That made Frank uneasy. No one said a word, and only the sounds of scissors on clothes and the sizzling fire filled the room… at least Frank didn’t realize his breathing was heavy enough to be audible.

The man nodded to the woman next to him when he finished, and the woman suddenly took out a bucket and poured ice water all over Frank, indifferent to his state of undress. They released his shivering arms from the restrains at corners of the stone table only to bind them quickly together again. They hauled him up and securely tied him to a heavy pipe from the ceiling. His toes could barely touch the ground.

The fire died down as it consumed its final piece of clothing.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Sep-1-2015 08:44

“I know you are not afraid to die and have proved it today. Trials and prison would be a stroll to the country club for you as well. I don’t know how long you’ve been in Shanghai, kid, but there’s a Chinese proverb, ‘Death is lighter than feather.’

‘In your case it is quite true. Rest assure we won’t go light on you.’ The man shoved a leather gag between his teeth and tied it behind his head. ‘Just so that you won’t bit you tongue and expire on us. You can yell all you want. No one will hear you here.” The two prisoners walked to the door. They planned to leave him there for God knows how long.

“Think about it. Anytime you want to end this, just let us know. We are only after information. None of your bosses will know it’s you, as you are already considered dead.” The woman switched off the light and shut the door.

The prisoner’s eyes became wet in the darkness.


Zeo and Riza returned after a few hours of rest, but to the sniper it would seem a decade. Zeo ensured the hallways were kept dark all the time so the imprisoned man would feel disoriented, no matter what time of the day they visit him.

Zeo abruptly turned on the light in the room. The sniper winced.

“Wakie wakie kid!” Zeo beamed as he entered. Riza carried with her on a silver tray a sumptuous meal, and set it on the stone table. The aroma of roasted beef filled the air. She proceeded to eating it, with a glass of red. They knew the man hadn’t had a single drop of water ever since they captured him. The sniper tried not to look, proving that he was already famish.

Zeo removed his leather gag and massaged the muscles around his lips. “That must have been uncomfortable.” Zeo pretended to wince. Unable to deal with his own psyche, the detective was perfectly capable to analyze others as long as it was work related, and his purpose was to mess with this man’s psychological boundaries.

Joseph Zeo
Joseph Zeo
Tale Spinner

Sep-1-2015 08:45

“Again, you can end this anytime. Sit down, eat, drink, sleep. If you don’t miss that already I’m sure you will.” Zeo paused, “We only need to know an address: the location of the head quarter of Sphinx. I heard it was in Southern Asia?”

The sniper remained stoned faced.

“Very well, time to learn another Chinese proverb, ‘To forfeit the drink of reward for the drink of penalty.’” Zoe’s face hardened, “Basically, to chose the hard way.” Riza swiped the tray off the stone table, the sound of glass and porcelain crackling on the floor. They took down the sniper and restrained him back onto the stone table.

Zeo slowly picked up an exquisite toothpick container from the fallen tray on the floor. “It wouldn’t sit well if we severely damage your body, but there are many ways to inflict pain with very small intrusions.” Zeo took out a sharp wooden toothpick and shoved it in the gap between the nail and the tip of his little finger. The sniper grunted, clenching his jaws. His whole body shook. Zeo and Riza proceeded with the rest of his fingers on both hands. “You know, the finger tips are one of the most sensitive part of the human body-”

“Just kill me you sick bastards!” The man bellowed.

Zeo smirked. He was breaking…

“The address please.”

The man clamed up again.

…may not yet.

Zeo took more toothpicks and proceeded with the rest of the body. At one point the man howled.

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