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  • Just Like Old Times

    Jocelyn Rose

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    Outside the Black Mask Bar

    September 10th, 2017

    9:14 pm EST


    "It's simple, Dresden. We follow a lead until we find the monster. We bust its head open, and we move on. Come on, We've done this a thousand times." Joce explained with yet another attempt to convince Alistair that this was not some kind of trick or trap, or anything to do with inquisitors. They'd both had a headache full of inquisitor non-sense, though Dresden far more than Joce. But that was because it was a lot harder to get to Joce, she wasn't in some tower directing members of an entire organization trying to take over the duties of the Order of First Light. 


    She was out in the field, like they both were now. And although the field afforded more accidental problems, they were less likely to kill her than a horde of inquisitors. She was also pretty sure most of the inquisitors avoided dealing with her because she scares them. She's one of the few people that isn't an inquisitor still that has the power and training to combat other mages. The only other Joce could even think of was Lydia. 


    Of course this entire mission wasn't about escaping inquisitors though. It was just about getting back to the roots. A lot had changed over the years of Joce and Alistair working together or around each other. And that meant that Joce had to make sure they both still had the right goals and ideas in mind. Going back to their roots was the perfect way to make sure they understood the point of developing ARMA. They were there to protect, most of all. It didn't matter that they weren't the grunts in ARMA. Doing the grunt work was still a good way to keep connected with what the lower people in ARMA were dealing with regularly. 


    Jocelyn pressed away from the wall she was leaning against, outside the Black Mask. It was probably her favorite bar around here, not that she drank often anymore. And that was why she had a number of informants talk to her there. She wasn't a frequent and consistent visitor to it, but she came often enough that it wasn't out of her character to stop there.


    This time however, they were meeting with one of her informants that was too young for the bar. So they had to wait outside, in the alley. Perfect place for an ambush. But Alistair was probably in the safest hands in terms of protection, even if Joce didn't look like it much with her lithe and stick-like body, and medium length red hair. That was probably why she was able to walk right through the ARMA HQ grab up Alistair and leave. Not before making sure it really was her, but still they knew the Knight-captain was better as security detail than anyone they could have put on a tail to follow them. 


    She stretched her hands out above her head and then adjusted her leather jacket when she brought them back down. "Besides, you miss this. Tracking down the evil, slaying it, and setting buildings on fire." 


    She laughed at that last thought, while reaching her arms back to use them as a rest as she relaxed against the wall again. Despite the relaxation, her senses were tuned to the mana field. It was the best way to catch an ambush or a problem. And also to know when her informant would be in the area. She glanced back over to Alistair. "So just enjoy the break while it lasts. Don't worry, before you know it you'll be dealing with all the bureaucratic non-sense again!"


    She tensed up almost immediately after saying that though, and turned in the direction of a shadow of a person on the farthest wall from them. Her lips curled into a smile. "Took you long enough, Peter."


    The shadow suddenly jumped off the wall and emerged into a young girl, with a newsboy cap on and her long red hair tucked away under it rather messily, with some long strands spilling out. The little girl of maybe 14 was scowling. "I told you not to call me that, Miss."


    Joce's smile turned into a devilish grin. "And I told you not to call me that." Then she laughed as she glanced to Alistair. "This is Peter. Or at least that's the name I use for her. She's a great scout, saved her a few years back from a Djinn." Joce then glanced to Peter, "This is Dresden. And that's all you need to know. What have you got for me?"


    The girl's scowl faded as she glanced to Alistair with a little awe. "But, isn't he--"


    "Yes. And you know you shouldn't know that." Joce rolled her eyes. "Info, Peter."


    As she glanced back to Joce, the girl's face looked a little grim. "I still don't understand why you want to go after this Tengu though. It's been quiet so far. Can't you just leave it alone?!"

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    • 2 weeks later...

    Alistair shook his head a little bit, laughing. [alistair]I think it's been about two years since I had a job that turned out that smooth. But I guess that's what happens when there's a significantly greater number of people after my head.[/alistair] The last part there might have been somewhat dire, but his tone suggested that he was in plenty good humor about it. Alistair wasn't the sort who could maintain grim intensity for any particular length of time. Eventually, he turned everything into a joke. It was a coping mechanism to be sure, but a pretty good one in his opinion.

    It was a strange twist of fate that, nine times out of ten, Alistair thought he would much prefer to have a few vampires after his throat than deal with other mages. But then that was how things went from time to time. Joce was damn good cover, sure... but the Order had to be careful about who they sent up against Alistair, even when he was alone. Given that his particular brand of magic could and sometimes was lethal in an instant. If he caught someone the right way (or was it the wrong way?) their heart could outright stop, and even aside from that, the rest of them were far from unimpressive as well. As much as Joce could hold out against anyone in a close fight, Alistair could duke it out with anyone when it came to hurling elemental spells. If he couldn't, much like her, he'd have been dead long ago.

    He appreciated what Joce was doing today though. Dealing with Inquisitors and trying to undermine the group they'd worked for over the last six years was a heavy task, and for all his good humor, it could get exhausting. It would be good to get out and do something... less ambiguous. At Joce's comment, he laughed. [alistair]I don't make too much of a secret of that part, now do I?[/alistair] he asked, looking back to her and lifting a brow, still grinning slightly.

    Of course she had to mention what he would be back to in the morning though, and he rolled his eyes, punching her lightly in the shoulder. He caught the same shifts in the area that she did, and he stepped away from the wall with her, letting her take the lead. This one was her informant, after all. He did lift a brow at the name, and the girl's rejection of it, but... Well that was Joce for you. [alistair]Could be worse, kid.[/alistair] Heck, she was a short informant... she could have ended up being 'Toot'.

    [alistair]Hey Pete.[/alistair] Alistair spoke up at the introduction, and when she asked who he was, he just grinned and kept quiet. He didn't mind overmuch who knew where he was. It was nice to stay under the radar, but things could only get around so fast... and one could only be so paranoid. He cut his usual dark figure, black coat, jeans, black shirt, his hair a bit longer than it should be and a touch unruly - as usual. There were only so many hours in a day, he tended not to devote too many of them to looking like he came out of a salon.

    [alistair]Quiet isn't the same as harmless.[/alistair] he broke in after she hesitated, tugging his gloves on a little tighter before he crossed his arms. [alistair]It's very quietly killed six people in the last month. We may not be as xenophobic as the Order, but that still means it goes down.[/alistair]

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    Joce wasn't exactly surprised to hear that most of Alistair's jobs had been a tough one. Honestly, she was surprised there weren't more years of time that he had gone through where he didn't have an easy job. Joce had been through tough jobs even before she had started with the Order. But hers were usually peppered with simple jobs for her. Maybe a couple of trolls, or a number of vampire nests that weren't supposed to exist. They were the easy jobs compared to things like massive demons breaking into their dimension or even some annoying faerie kind or elemental spirits.


    These days it was just all a different case to Joce, and she went into everyone of them fully expecting the worst to happen. That way she was ready when it did and happy when it didn't. She grinned back to him when he said he didn't really make it a secret that he enjoyed the chaos and excitement of a job. "Nope. You love burning those buildings down with glee." Joce teased, even though technically she had burned down more buildings, or been in more burning buildings than she thought Dresden had. 


    Joce couldn't help but be amused by the situation with Peter. Well at least until Peter gave Joce the same thoughts and ideas she usually did when it came to killing a creature popped over from the great butt crack in the sky. It was the only reason Joce hadn't just recruited the girl into ARMA officially. She was better as an informant who didn't want to kill. Unless that changed, Joce wasn't about to use her talents for their army. Some people just weren't meant for the army life. 


    She laughed at Dresden mentioning that it could be worse for the nickname of Peter though. That was more true that Alistair actually knew. "I tried Toot-Toot with her, but she absolutely refused to do any work. Peter was at least tolerable with her." she said as she glanced to the side at Alistair. 


    Luckily Alistair was able to take the explanation this time for why they were tracking down the demon creature. Joce just hitched a thumb toward the big boss and added, "What he said, Peter. You know it will cause more damage if we leave it alone."


    "But she's hurt! And scared! It only fought back because people were trying to hurt her. You'll only do the same." Peter practically screamed, with worry and fright in her voice. 


    That was a bit too emotional, even for Peter and her love of animals and other weird things. "Peter, are you keeping it as a pet?"


    The glance to the floor and the shady body language told everything that Joce needed to know. She turned around with her back to Peter immediately and strode in the other direction down the Alley. "Come on, Dresden. I know where the thing is."


    "No! You can't! Leave her alone!" Peter yelled with her fists held tight and tears running down her face. 


    This was exactly why Joce kept Peter away from ARMA. The girl would have an entire apartment filled with weird and dangerous creatures if she could. Joce just shook her head and kept walking toward the dilapidated apartment that Peter called home. It was only a few blocks away from here. 


    "I can't believe that girl." She said to Dresden as she ran a hand through her hair. "She knows better than to keep them."


    Joce didn't get to say much else as she was knocked to the floor by a shadow popping up and then fading back into the floor and zooming off ahead of them both. Joce jumped to her feet quickly. "Bloody Hell. We need to get to her apartment before she does. Got any way to move fast?"

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    [alistair]Hey. Those were RARELY intentional.[/alistair] he shot back about the buildings, giving her a look over his shoulder. Things were... well, they were mostly pretty lighthearted on the job for the rest of the time. At least, they seemed that way. The girl's distress, though... Something didn't quite add up. If it had gone this way before, if the girl was always snagging creatures and then telling Joce, why would she be so defensive about this one? And if she was going to be defensive, why talk to them at all?

    Particularly when Joce hit the nail on the head.

    [alistair]Wait, WHAT!?[/alistair] he exclaimed almost without thinking, looking at the girl in disbelief. That was... Wow, that was an enormously bad idea. Almost legendarily so. How had she not ended up dead herself? It seemed almost a certainty that she would if she spent enough time...Wait. Maybe that was part of Joce's deal with this one. If she had some sort of power, or even a touch of magic that let her deal with things like this it was no wonder she kept running into them - or that she hadn't been outright killed by one yet.

    Regardless, it was going to be A Problem if they didn't do something about it fast. Whatever kept her safe clearly wasn't extending to other people, and that meant there was no way they could let this slide.

    He nodded though when Joce said she knew where to go. The girl's tears were damned near heartbreaking, but... shit, it was always something on this job. He winced all the same as they started off. [alistair]If it hadn't gone on that spree this past week I'd leave it the hell alone, but -[/alistair] Alistair was cut off by the shadow that took Joce to the ground, and he caught a bit of the blow himself. He was able to catch himself on the wall of a nearby building though, and he swore colorfully before looking back to Joce.

    [alistair]Really more your department than mine, I just tend to run.[/alistair] he said before breaking into a sprint after the creature. He could supplement with magic to some degree, but he was an elementalist... speed wasn't really his thing.

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