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October 22, 2017


ARMA Headquarters







Bitter and unending cold.


Gritty assignments, surrounded by constant death.  Hiding. Moving.  Changing.  Living alone as always.  Juxtaposed with the incredible light and joy of spending time with someone who only knew him as a lie.  It wasn’t a lie… he wasn’t a lie.  There had been a human within him once, not a mindless killer.  The crack had started almost a year ago, the increasing demands driving a wedge in his sanity, only one person keeping his thoughts on the straight and narrow.  He couldn’t lie to her anymore.  The breach of trust was unforgivable.  If he came clean and they killed him anyway, at least he had purged his soul before answering for his actions.  She had to know, and he couldn’t keep the secret any longer.  It would never be right, could it?  Whatever he chose to do afterward, pending his survival, would be without chains or guilt.


The building had been under his surveillance for a while, thick with contemplation how to make it right.  Decision had been made.  Hood was pulled closer around his features, pushing into the stairwell of the roof access, footsteps a death knell as he took them two at a time then jumped to the next landing. He didn’t rely only on his abilities as a magus, the man was nearly unbreakable.  A lion on a leash.  The leash had been broken.  No pause, no falter in his step to cross the street, a beeline straight to the ARMA doors, blade athame pulled and sliced across his palm to release his blood to the air- blade returned to its sheath after wiped on his hoodie sleeve.  He was primed to die, not before he got to speak with her... it would be a hell of a fight.


Exhale pushed outward, a long seethe as the air around him became a furious flurry of quivering heat, the street’s cool temperature fogging as he wicked the moisture from it with the inferno building off his skin.  Paint seared and bubbled from cars as he passed.  Dry cracks splintered behind him as he walked toward the front doors, already feeling the wards pushing back at him, no doubt those inside could feel his pushing back.  Air was becoming too thick to move in, a linebacker pushing against a football sled.


He made it past the main door inside before the ambient protective power of dozens of unified mages disallowed another step… knees hitting the floor, hands pulling back his hood so any cameras could get a clear shot of his face, fingers intertwining behind his neck in an unarmed surrender.  Inferno burned from his core, sweltering the immediate air around him in a defensive warning of hell.  Normally pale gray eyes were white with heat, gaze straight ahead.


[santo]I have killed twenty six of your people.  I know who the next targets are.  I need to speak to Cassandra Greene.  I will ONLY speak to Cassandra Greene.[/santo]


Lashes closed, unmoving as the furl of heat suddenly released, the silence before a storm.  Waiting for death, or… for life.

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Of the many present, two looked to one another with silent command. In what appeared to be a lull in the intruder's defenses or a moment of weakness, they sought to capitalize and secure the prisoner. They were at least wise enough to employ Ice magic against someone of a fiery persuasion -- true, the strongest would win in such a contest, but it was slightly better than two Fire mages attempting to subdue him. A Mage that knew paralysis or slumber might be better suited, but fortunately such a Mage present hadn't taken in upon themselves to intervene.


The blasts of arctic chill never reached their intended target. An invisible wall caused a build up of ice several feet away from the man. This, of course, set others on edge. Before they too joined in on the festivities, however, a voice called out behind them, "Twould be unfortunate for someone to harm a surrendering captive before they said their peace, would it not?"


Morrigan Asara slowly descended toward the lobby wearing an ebon dress sculpted between her breasts and over her belly to leave her center mass bare while blessedly -- as this was not her most questionable outfit -- not much else aside from her hands and head. Her golden eyes fell to the surrendering creature knowing full well the other Mages weren't going to stage an open rebellion in their own Headquarters... yet. Twould depend on which twenty-six the man referred, and if any that knew them intimately were present.


"It's a trick," one called out in explanation of their actions.


"Twould be a rather foolhardy trick. A diversion, perhaps. He's already spent a great deal of energy getting this far; I would be thoroughly impressed if he managed to survive any further wards within these walls," Morrigan countered. "Now," the raven haired mage turned her attention quickly back to the man that knelt before the assembled, "I believe someone should find  Miss Greene. This one has a great deal to explain." Her chin lifted a bit so that her golden eyes might look down from an ever so slightly higher position. This man Morrigan knew because of his acquaintance with Cassandra. It was not so amusing to think a confessed killer of ARMA Mages would have been so close to the  pleasant woman that had offered Morrigan a place to stay for a time.

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He was acutely aware of his escalating position as a zoo attraction.  Hadn't they ever seen someone of the Order before?  Like a wild animal in a zoo, there had been several chances for the lookie-loos to have been gored by the rabid animal. Close enough he could have hit them in the throat and snapped their neck.  Urges had shivered across his skin to do just that, the unconscious remnants of beatings and torture to kill without thought or  mercy... saving grace the one person on his mind that he couldn't leave without seeing, or apologizing to.  Even if he died, he'd done more living in the last year than he had ever done since he was a boy.  The split second decision to not kill her when every voice in his head screamed foul had finally opened the crack in the stone exterior. The one who murdered without question as punishment for his own crimes, waiting for the moment when his own life would be taken to release him from the hell he'd made of himself.


So he waited... either for his demand to be met, or his life to be ended.  He'd left something for Cassandra in case of the worst.  On one hand he thought his death would be easier to take, the apology of a martyr sacrificing himself to a greater good because she had found it in him.  On the other, he prayed for the slim chance that he could be forgiven for what he'd done by her own words.  Anything after that... was a terrifying mystery; the first shiver of cold on his skin expected.  Judged without a chance to explain, whatever was going to steal the heated breath from his lungs dissipating suddenly.  Perhaps not.


"Twould be unfortunate for someone to harm a surrendering captive before they said their peace, would it not?"


Woven lashes opened slightly, pale gray watching the approaching woman through the peripheral of a gaze that stayed straight ahead.  He knew the voice.


"It's a trick"


If it was they'd be dead.  The assassin didn't kill with his power, he didn't need to... he killed with his hands. Eyes were focused straight ahead as he remained, unmoving, unwavering from his position.  He'd spent a lifetime on his knees apologizing for his sins... waiting for Cassandra would be a joy in comparison.


"I believe someone should find  Miss Greene. This one has a great deal to explain."


Chin dipped toward his chest, the murmur from those around him drowned out in his head by his own whispers in Latin. Until he heard her voice, the world would not exist, could not exist.  Every recount of weakness in his life was being confessed to a most likely ignorant crowd, staying focused.  He had one goal, to ask for forgiveness... what came after, still remained to be seen.

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[alistair]He wouldn't. Survive, I mean.[/alistair] Alistair's voice sounded from the stairs as he stepped down - he didn't care for the elevator in times like this. In fact, most of ARMA was well aware of the protocols involving them - you didn't use the elevators once an alarm had sounded. Trying to use an elevator when a few dozen mages had their powers up was a lot like trying to use one in a fire - they just weren't trustworthy.

[alistair]But then, unless he's a complete fucking idiot whose skills are purely savant-esque, he knows that. He wouldn't have gotten through the old wards like this.[/alistair] Not that the storm magus planned on elaborating. They had been hard at work for the past year, making modifications and enhancements to the wards the Order had originally put on the building. One of them in particular came to mind - something designed in particular for someone with an overflowing energy such as Rhome's. But that spell, by necessity, needed some give to it. It had to let someone press through its effect, pull them in deeper to the point where their struggle became vain and exhausting.

A single mage, no matter their talent, didn't get into a magus stronghold. It was why the Order had never sent a strike team directly. It was why ARMA had yet to assault the Vatican in the same way. The old adage about not going after a wizard in his tower from D&D held particularly true these days. Alistair reached the bottom step, a rifle at almost parade rest cradled in his arms. It was a very old fashioned rifle - a 1903 Springfield, veteran of two world wars, restored with its original parts. Alistair wasn't sure how much Rhome did know about the power that could be imbued into something like that, but it didn't matter. What did matter was what he'd done with it - and with the hand loaded ammunition in its magazine. The combat personnel who had assembled, forming a barrier around the man outside easy range and ready to strike, didn't look up from him. They knew better.

[alistair]I happen to think he's other kinds of fucking idiot, by the way, but not that one.[/alistair]

The commander was wearing his usual, the heavily enchanted black coat settling around his legs with a slightly unnatural slowness, the fabric reacting and stiffening in places thanks to the suffocating thickness of the mana in the air. There was someone at his side as well - a willowy thin Italian woman, delicate bones and features in stark contrast to the steel in her eyes. There was a faint shine of frost on the floor in her wake - Alia Safina, granddaughter of one of the first of the High Archmagi, and Alistair's first apprentice. Among other things, one of the best mages in the world with water and ice magic. Not that Alistair thought he would need her, necessarily - but she wasn't about to be left behind for this one. She had more reason than most to hate what the Order did.

[alistair]I think the sociopaths you serve have done enough to my sister.[/alistair] His grip, almost involuntarily, tightened on the grip of the rifle, and while he rested it against his shoulder, he didn't raise it. Not yet. There were two dozen Knight magi facing him. Another few Towers with psionic powers... and there were, of course, the golems. The hulking stone figures were surprisingly quiet as they moved, adjusting themselves to be ready, runes slowly brightening to radiance across their skin. [alistair]If he moves, obliterate the spot. We can re-tile the floors later.[/alistair]

That much done, he turned his head slightly - one of the women who had been at the main desk, visibly shaken, looked to him and he nodded. She disappeared. Cass would likely be on her way... might as well make sure she knew the commotion was about her.

Morrigan, he would need to have words with later.

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Shrilling alarms. Hurried movements. Hushed whispers.


There were looks that Cassandra couldn't explain as she rushed from her therapist's office. Coming out of the mind-meld or whatever the hell it was didn't happen quickly. It took time that required her waiting a few minutes afterward to gather herself and allow her vitals to regulate. That meant waiting when she wanted to go right then. Trouble was afoot and she'd be needed — probably. The actual reason she was needed though wasn't something she could have even guessed at in a million years which was why those whispers and looks from people returning to their duties left her confused.


Until one of the women that worked the front desk came walking toward her at practically a jog.


[npc]Miss Greene, listen, you should wait here a moment. Your brot—ah, Mr. Greene. . . that is Commander Greene wanted me to let you know what is happening at the main desk.[/npc]

The woman was a jittery mess, but that didn't inspire Cassandra to stop and try to calm her nerves at the moment. That could be handled later. Instead she kept walking with a motion for the woman to keep up while she talked.

[npc]There's a gentleman asking for you. He has not divulged his name, but I gather by his admissions and behavior, and the reaction of the ARMA ranks, that he is not an ally. He has surrendered himself though says he will only speak to you.[/npc]


Confusion made her brows bunch until they seemed to merge into one for a moment. An enemy of ARMA desiring to speak with only her? After surrendering himself? That was most unusual. Cassandra looked over at the woman then back toward the hall as they moved into the elevator.

[cassg]Describe this man for me. As best you can, please. Try to be detailed.[/cassg]


As the doors closed, the woman started talking and by the time they opened on the main floor Cassandra's heart had started beating fast enough that it felt like it'd burst out of her chest. That sensation that came with the approach of an anxiety attack as her chest felt constricted on top of it. Instead of stopping though, she kept moving while her mind told herself to take a minute to gain some poise. However, her feet weren't listening so that by the time she got the main entrance and her blue eyes fell on the surrendered man. . . she was white as a sheet and her eyes seemed to grow three sizes. A quick glance was given to Morrigan — the woman would recognize him. It was unavoidable. Then after a moment they halted on her brother before she looked back to the kneeling man.


She wanted to say his name aloud, ask what in the hell was going on, but the words wouldn't come out. Betrayal was already cutting off her oxygen and filling her mouth with a bitter taste. Forcing herself to draw a breath into strained lungs, she turned to Alistair and approached him; avoiding the curious eyes around them.

[cassg]You should move him somewhere private for when I speak to him. And. . . we should talk before I do.[/cassg]


Cassandra should've met his eyes, but she didn't have the nerve. It'd take everything to look him in the eye during the coming conversation.

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Morrigan turned her head to look back as Alistair descended. Well now confidence in one's security was important. Nevertheless she remain quite curious how determined the man before them was on this matter. The most committed person won in the end... a fair bit of skill often ensured their survival, however. Alistair was still adamant the man had gotten as far as he would go no matter her personal curiosity on the subject. Pity.


"Oh, quite so," Morrigan replied in her usual flippant tone. The enemy befriended the sister to ARMA's leader and then just... turns himself in? Either a Master stroke, or the act of a Fool. And given that she wasn't a strong believer in the quality or strength of others, Morrigan would defer to 'Fool' -- or 'fucking idiot' as Alistair put it.


There were a variety of reasons why Morrigan tolerated working for Alistair Greene. The fact he was willing to utterly destroy their captive if he did anything out of place while remarking they could replace the tiles was one of them. How did these people put it? She liked... the cut of his jib.


It wasn't long, fortunately, before Cassandra emerged. This was going to be an intellectual exercise of exceptional quality. True, Morrigan would rather Cassandra not be at its center -- for one, she was too close to the subject, and for another, the other mage had been quite pleasant company and deserved better -- but the facts were the facts.


For one, Cassandra not looking at the prisoner was a good move on her part. Being attached to the captive as she was, it would not do to reveal her emotional attachment or vulnerability to everyone present. If she gazed upon him, given her nature, Morrigan was quite certain Cassandra would have had a reaction. Alistair's observation of such an outburst would be the most unfortunate consequence. She already spoke of taking him aside -- no doubt to explain some of the details of this strange situation -- which at least would be a controlled detonation of the man's patience.


"Alistair?" Morrigan turned her attention to ARMA's leader. It was his choice how to proceed. True she'd taken change of the situation earlier, but that was before the man himself appeared; now it was his responsibility to see it through. Would he appease the two lovers, or would he throw the man into a dark hole? For a time she could see him doing the latter, but eventually the matter would have to be dealt with rather than ignored. Morrigan was in favor of controlling the circumstances of that moment rather than leaving it to chance.

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His world was cold.  Clothing would only hold the heat billowing from his skin for so long and even that now was fading.  Gooseflesh had delved into a slight shiver.  The constantly heated mage was cooling down to the core, and he would pay for it.  Conscious weakness was humbling; it took more strength to lay down arms than it did to pick them up.  Muscles should have hurt, stiffened, cramped.  Most would have been in pain.  His world was pain.  Repeated, merciless pain- from the moment his parents left this world until the very second his knees had hit the ground just past the exterior doors.


Eyes had closed some time ago, fingers still intertwined harmlessly behind his neck shaking slightly as the shivers set in.  The world moved around him, he heard everything without response, felt eyes on him, the flurry in the air that signaled activity sparked by his presence.  What exactly did they think he would do?  He wasn’t here for anyone, he was here for someone.  The rest could go to hell.  The mage had become silent except for the gentle shivering, no more Latin to shut out the world- merely waiting while others pissed their pants and figured out how to pick up a phone… thoughts spiraling downward faster into impatience and aggression that had somehow triggered itself when Cass’ brother had pushed the issue.  His suppressed anger was never directed at anything before, only inverted to his own faults.  Did it mean he was finally losing control… or losing the ability to care?


Breath pulled in, a familiar scent barely parting lashes to confirm it was indeed whom he’d come to see.  The scent doused every shred of hostility that was quietly compressing and turned it to a calm wash.  It was the first inkling of anything except apathy- actual emotion on his features, furled brows knitting almost imperceptibly at her expression he thought he’d prepared himself to see.  Chest immediately tightened, hard to breathe, lower lip pulled through his teeth as he watch the distress.  She wouldn't look at him.  He didn't deserve it, but there was no doubt in his mind this was the right thing to do.  It had been thought out carefully- every step, every word.  It would get him out, it would keep Cass safe

"You should move him somewhere private for when I speak to him. And. . . we should talk before I do."


Gaze had fallen from her, staring at the floor, the meloncholy on his features reminiscent of hearing a judge give a sentence of death.  The entire year- he'd lived more than he ever had in his entire life because of her, all the while being a horrible monster in the dark.  Now, Cass’ safety and the safety of many, many others in the upstart organization was up to the rifle clad mage.  Question was, did he have the rationality to let Cass hear him out?  Or, unknowingly decide both their fates because of an unfortunate incident that should have been left alone?

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Cass's arrival might have defused the situation. Might have. Didn't really. Alistair didn't look at his sister when she came into the room. He was watching the assassin by the door. Watching his expression when he did, and the way it fell. His own remained exactly as it had, until Cass spoke up. She wanted to talk first. Why did he have the feeling his day was about to turn into a fucking drama even more than it already had?

[alistair]And won't THAT just be fun.[/alistair] he said, raising his voice a bit more than he normally did. Any other time, his tone probably would have had some genuine humor to it, but it didn't that night. He didn't have much humor in him at that particular moment. The tone had come out far more acidic than his general good humor. He often commented that his easygoing nature was under serious attack - tonight, that was much more true than usual.

The next few seconds were filled with a silence that could have been broken by a mouse's fart, but Alistair knew he had to be the one to break it. They were waiting to see what he was going to do. And even though every instinct told him the only thing that made sense was putting one of the .30-06 rounds through the murderer's skull, that wouldn't have been what was expected of him. Alistair Greene and the people of ARMA didn't kill prisoners. Didn't torture them.

It was one of many ways they differed from the organization they had broken away from, after all.

[alistair]Bind him and take him to holding.[/alistair] he finally said, tone flat. A pair of the Knights nodded, stepping up to Rhome, the air around them shining faintly with power as they kept shields in place against whatever he might do. Alistair, for his part, kept the rifle at the ready. Working in concert, the pair took his hands from his neck, moving them quickly around to his back before one pulled a length of what looked like nothing so much as black ribbon from their belt. It went around one wrist, twisted into a figure eight and the second 'loop' went around the other. Writing, the characters in some obscure and ancient language, glowed along its length as soon as that happened, and the loose fabric shrank abruptly, snapping to what would seem at first like a viciously tight binding around his wrists. The sensation lasted only a second though before it faded - along with all the feeling from his fingertips to his shoulders.

It wasn't a trick they had learned from the Order. The Order relied more on heavy metal bindings, but the purpose was the same - prevent the magus from being able to gesture. There was a similar bind for the lips, but that was left out for now, so long as his guard remained so heavy. Apparently, there were things he was supposed to say.

The guards would haul him to his feet then and off to the holding room one floor down - a no-doubt heavily armored room despite its common appearance. When he was sat down, the binding came to life again, allowing his arms to separate just long enough for its pull to drag his wrists to the iron loop at the table in front.

Alistair, silent for the majority of this, turned and walked behind the group, though when Rhome was left in the room and secured, he let the guards step out, then stepped on his own into the adjoining room, a pane of one-way and highly soundproofed glass separating them from the room Rhome occupied. He looked to Morrigan first. [alistair]If that man so much as draws on his mana, he is to be put down. Hard. Do not fuck around with him. He is quick with fire, and he has no regard for collateral damage. I'll be out in a minute.[/alistair]


He motioned for Cass to join him, then shooed everyone else out of that particular room before he shut the door and he finally looked up to Cass.

[alistair]You wanted to talk, huh?[/alistair]

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Don't look at him. Don't look at him. Don't look at him. Don't look at him. Don't look at him. Don't look at him.


The repetitive words became a mantra inside Cassandra's head as she fought the feelings attempting to leave her crippled before too many curious eyes. Every pair drifting in her direction since the moment she appeared; silent questions driving into her like sharp knives. Out of each pair there were three that could be felt the strongest: Alistair, Matthias, and Morrigan. Thankful that certain others were not here to witness this moment, she worked at keeping herself outwardly composed as Alistair's tone filled the room and Morrigan spoke her brother's name. A familiar panicked sensation swept over her and took a firm hold as she waited for more to be said.

Would Morrigan tell Alistair that shed seen the kneeling man coming and going from Cassandra's apartment for almost a year?

Just thinking about those words being spoken in this large room, before she could explain to Alistair, filled her with dread that increased the oncoming feeling of panic. She didn't draw another breath until she realized Morrigan wasn't going to say anything else. She'd have to thank her friend later. Waiting was agony, the silence filled with uncomfortable tension, as she still couldn't look at her brother. That would be a terrible idea with her stomach in knots and her emotions barely held in check. She would not humiliate Alistair, the only family she had left, in front of those that respected and followed him. There was little care for her own reputation at this point; the pain gnawing at her heart making it hard to think about that right now.


Had any of it been real? Was it all pretend from that first encounter? Did he actually care about her during those nights he soothed her after a nightmare? Or had he only been collecting information?


There wasn't any doubt in Cassandra's mind about who he was working for. . .


Alistair's words broke the lengthy silence, drawing her out of those thoughts; body flinching before she could hide it. Thankfully everyone was trained to concentrate on carrying out orders. None of them took notice or, if they did, had the decency not to stare. That mantra was hammering at her skull now, but the urge to look at Matthias — a name that the voice in her head pointed out was probably fake — became too strong. Giving in was a mistake; the moment she shifted her blue eyes in his direction giving her a clear view of his expression. He looked genuinely downcast, further confusing the emotions running through her, but nothing as strongly as when noticing that tremor in his hands. Only a glimpse as they brought his hands around to secure them behind his back yet enough to flood her with unwanted sympathy.


He's cold. . . He doesn't like being cold.


The involuntary thought made her mask crumble a little. Cassandra knew how much he loathed being cold. That internal flame, his heat, was likely being dampened by the security measures of the building and the magus using their magic against him. Those bindings would only make it worse. The feelings she carried for him made her want to tell them to be gentle, that they probably didn't have to use the binds, cause he wouldn't harm any of them. . . but none of the words passed her trembling lips — common sense gaining control.


I don't know if that's even true. If he's working for them. . . Was he sent to kill me?


Bile bubbled up her throat at the thought, but she swallowed it down and forced herself to look away as Matthias was brought to his feet then led in the direction of the lower floor holding areas. Cassandra followed quietly at the back, gathering her courage for the coming conversation with Alistair. There'd likely be plenty of anger, possibly even disgust, and questions at what she had to say. All she wanted to do though was go home and release all the building emotions; something that would have to wait. Once in the room, while Alistair gave orders, she observed the man on the other side of the glass until the sound of the door closing let her know the others had departed even before her brother spoke. Taking a deep breath, ignoring the sting of tears, she turned and met Alistair's gaze with her own.


[cassg]I kn-know him.[/cassg] Swallowing, hating the shaky and quiet way her words had come out, she forced herself to speak a little louder, [cassg]Matty- Matthias and I met at a book store back in November of last year, and we've been seeing each other since then.[/cassg]


Keeping the emotions out of her voice, and off her face, was impossible after the slip with his name. Not bothering to try to hide them again, she let them show openly and kept speaking.


[cassg]I hadn't introduced you to him yet cause it was the first relationship since. . . well, what happened to me.[/cassg] The courage she'd scrounged up dissipated before she managed to get the rest out, and she finished lamely, [cassg]Anyways, that's probably why he wants to speak with me — and you should let me do it.[/cassg]


Now she waited for Alistair's head to explode as she fell silent; rubbing the back of her neck in agitation as she moved to place herself between him and the door to the adjoining room. There wasn't any possibility that he'd respond calmly to what she'd just told him. He'd likely want to kill him and she couldn't allow that to happen for the sake of ARMA's reputations. . . and her need for answers.

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Morrigan's golden gaze observed the Greenes in complete silence. With the host of ARMA staring daggers at the 'prisoner,' she was quite free to observe the other half of the equation. A much more important half given she'd already studied Rhome-Matthias until the arrival of the Greenes. Both tried to stone wall any that did spare a glance in their direction. Emotionally empty masks, or those of deceptively cooled magma ready for a hapless soul to set foot on treacherous terrain and be consumed. Though in her estimation Alistair did a better job at masking his true feelings -- not that she wagered they would fall far from those that radiated out from him in that very moment.


True to form, Alistair ordered the man taken to holding. Couldn't forget the rules he helped fashion when ARMA sprung into existence simply because he was personally invested. A wise move, but then that was why Morrigan tolerated following his orders; she did not suffer fools lightly.


Little more needed to be said and soon enough an armed escort, the Greenes, and herself were on the move toward 'holding.' This would be where they discovered the true extent of Alistair's self-control, Rhome's fortune, and Cassandra's loyalty (to either party). It was sure to be quite spectacular regardless of the outcome.


Upon their arrival Alistair had one order for Morrigan to follow. Prudent to say it out loud, but surely he knew it was completely unnecessary. "Of course." There was no chance she would go easy on the man just because she knew his face or because of his involvement with Cassandra. Perhaps if he'd managed to draw closer to the Other Worldly Magess she might have even the slightest hesitation; unfortunately for him that hadn't be part of his 'turn myself in' plan.


Though, hard-ass disposition aside, Morrigan would prefer the man continue to cooperate. Better to be a fool and alive, then a suicide errand boy.


At Alistair's silent command, she cleared the room with the rest. Out in the hallway she produced a sliver of chalk and began drawing a conjuring circle on one of the walls. Best to be prepared with one of the more demanding summons if Rhome tried to escape. Still a highly unlikely event, but Morrigan didn't like working on presumptions. Rhome hadn't gotten to know her, and she hadn't gotten to know him -- which turned out to be quite the mistake evidently.

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It wasn’t the first time he’d been bound… the sad reality an impending tidal wave of his past existence.


He didn’t know what he expected. To be cold cocked?  Burned alive in the foyer of a building that thought it was safe?  The irony wasn’t lost on him, only burrowing deeper under his skin as the dichotomy was becoming increasingly cold in his gut.  Take him to holding.  For what?  To get him out of sight so what they really wanted done with him could be administered?  Tortured like a dog?   He didn’t really care.  It was a war, and war stole humanity; from both sides, killing strangers under orders.  He was nothing more to them but an outsider, and if they chose to kill him they would be no better.


What did bristle his spine was the anger floating between the two siblings.  The magus could feel it, a downcast expression turning into a hardened mask of unreadable features as he was pulled to his feet.  The eerie sensation of being touched without intent to injure not lost on him.  Nobody touched him without intent to kill, or at the very least punish, except Cass.  He could walk under his own power, the slight tug of resistance on his shoulder before moving on his own within their grip making the point he was not going to be dragged like an animal and would go where they told him.


As he passed, the silver drew up to Alistair for the first time since an explosive first meeting, unreadable before the darkened gray visibly softened at Cass.  He was true in his word, he would only speak to her, but the hostility from her brother was palpable and it was putting his teeth on edge… knowing it might be unleashed on her.  This was not her fault.  It prickled his hackles with an uncharacteristic protectiveness.  Though he’d vowed Alistair had no reason to be the point of his aggression unless the Order told him he was, this could be a deal breaker.  Sibling or not.


[santo]The ring on my finger and the blade on my belt at my back, I don’t need them… but if it makes you feel better you can take them.  Foci.  Not enchanted.  Harmless to you.[/santo]


Cass already had his wolf charm, he’d given it to her as a gift on Valentine’s day.  She might make the connection, might not.  Of course he didn’t mention the charm on his wrist that was now pushed slightly up under his hoodie cuff from the bindings.  He kind of needed that. 


He was silent again, pressing his head back slightly to push the hood further down as they walked.  The scrunch of fabric at the back of his neck was irritating.  Features darkened again, he really didn’t want to sit at a table, hands in front of him.  The last thing he wanted was to look at his hands, sigh long and a bit quivered as he was settled and alone.  Cold was setting in.  It didn’t matter if he was wearing warm enough clothes.  He’d powered down… and he meant it.  Still.  Eternally patient, the ticking at the back of his brain starting to chip at it.


 She’d wanted to talk to him.  Is that what was going on behind the one-way glass?  An ear-boxing from both her roommate and her brother?  Deep breath pulled in and held before letting it out.  This was not a debate, or an opportunity to lecture her on trust.  She didn’t just jump into his life without thinking, and he would like to think he’d done as much for her as he could before he had to do what was necessary.




It was taking too long… eyes shifting slightly to see what exactly was keeping his hands on the loop… never seen it before.  There were no limits to his patience, but there were sharp limits where Cass’s mental state was concerned.


Anger.  The deep, stinging emotion that had erupted when he'd finally decided to turn on Alistair and burn the flesh from his bones.  Like a switch.  It was then the pale eyes rose to the glass, eerily seeming to stare through it with an indifference that was as frigid as his cooled skin.  He swore not to speak to any of them, and had no idea who was beyond the glass.  He didn’t care.  He only cared about one thing.  The words were clear as a bell, but deadpan and unmistakable in their intent.


 [santo]Do not upset her.  This is not her fault.[/santo]



**edited for an error.

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[alistair]Fucking hell.[/alistair] Alistair hissed, when Cass finally came out and told him what he'd been worrying was the case. Oddly, the lights didn't flicker - it was probably because he'd known it had to be something like this the minute Rhome came in acting like a struck puppy (by his sociopathic standards anyway). So Cass's uncomfortable revelation wasn't the shock it probably should have been. Just the way this day was shaping up, it seemed like.

Oddly enough - as Cass would well know - there wasn't much in the way of pyrotechnics. Alistair had two distinct sorts of anger, ever since they were children. When he was angry in a more general sense - getting in a fight, that sort of thing - he was loud, sarcastic, sometimes caustic but quite open about things. It was worse when he went quiet, like he was now. He didn't blow up at her, or make a move toward Rhome's interrogation room, though the very fact that he hadn't punched anything or screamed at her made it more likely that he opened up with a plasma lance straight through the one way glass.

He was still instead, considering, his fury cold and contained, working out ways to disappear the fucker in the other room before he had a chance to do any more damage. Pondering whether or not he could actually get his hands on a nuke and a teleport spell good enough to send it across the ocean to the Vatican... That sort of thing.

When Rhome spoke to the mirror however, unsurprisingly guessing he was back there with Cass, Alistair's hand came down on the speaker key hard enough that he nearly broke the button apart. [alistair]And exactly whose fault would that be, you unconscionable fuck?[/alistair] he hissed into the radio before pulling his hand off the button. His voice was quiet, barely restrained - as though he was afraid he'd be screaming if he let himself speak any louder. That much done, he looked back at Cass.

[alistair]Before you go in there.[/alistair] He paused, walking to the door that led to the hallway and pulling it open. One of the Intel people was outside, holding a folder, which he motioned for her to fork over. When he had it he shut the door again, and held it out at Cass. [alistair]He's killed nine of our people that I can say for sure. I caught up with him once, he ran and used the crowds in the streets to cover him, knew I wouldn't open up properly with the lightning if there was going to be collateral. Remember that mall that was blown up a few months back? That was him, creating an opportunity to get away from me, and to my fucking shame he pulled it off. He's not under any sort of control. No spells, no geas. Just a psychopath willing to let himself be used like a rifle. I'm not going to sit here and listen to this unless you want me to stay, but don't believe a fucking word he says. He'll kill without blinking, I've no doubt he can lie just as easily. Keep a shield up. He's marked. The room will hit him with a damper if he tries to draw so much as a candle's worth of power.[/alistair]

That much said, he held the folder out to her. Unless she asked him to stay, he'd turn on his heel and step out into the hallway, a faint smell of ozone trailing in his wake. Once outside, he'd shut it, and look over to Morrigan.

[alistair]This day is not my favorite.[/alistair]

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This wasn't real. It couldn't be happening. Hadn't enough been done to her? Hadn't the Vatican and Order taken enough pieces of her? Apparently they would never leave her alone and knew nothing of the word enough.


Cassandra should've known her brother's reaction, but given the newness of the situation it was difficult to predict. Her own composure was crumbling even as she fought to hold on to it. Mathias's voice coming through the glass, and the words he spoke, made Cassandra squeeze her eyes shut against the sting of fresh tears; though she didn't allow them to fall. Thankfully Alistair's response help to pull her back from the edge. Now was not the time to fall apart. She had a job to do.


[cassg]Ali, don't. . .[/cassg] She couldn't help the catch in her voice, and instead of speaking more settled on a tense smile and shake of her head.


Defending Mathias from the wrath wasn't a thought. Instead she wanted him to stop cause such things would help nothing in this situation. Cassandra was grateful there wasn't anyone else to bear witness to her pain and humiliation. Alistair was understanding as expected, but he was her brother. How many others would behave as thoughtfully? She dreaded the thought that people would find out, and knew it couldn't be a secret; that wasn't the way they did things here in ARMA. There were people that'd understand, people that'd want to hurt Mathias, and people that. . . would whisper horrible things when they learned that she had been dating him. And what would they say about Alistair? It was a question she didn't want an answer to. The last thing she wanted was any problems being caused for ARMA over this matter — over her.


Giving Alistair as much focus as possible now, she turned away from observing Mathias to watch her brother move toward the door. As he opened it she felt her stomach, the thought of someone joining them in here Cassandra's first thought, but when he only accepted a folder then closed the door. . . it didn't go away as expected. If anything the knots became worse as she reached out to take the folder her brother held; cringing a little as her hand shook as she grasped hold of it. Hoping that Alistair wouldn't think her too weak to do the interrogation, she opened the folder to look at it while he spoke.


[alistair]"He's killed nine of our people that I can say for sure. I caught up with him once, he ran and used the crowds in the streets to cover him, knew I wouldn't open up properly with the lightning if there was going to be collateral. Remember that mall that was blown up a few months back? That was him, creating an opportunity to get away from me, and to my fucking shame he pulled it off. He's not under any sort of control. No spells, no geas. Just a psychopath willing to let himself be used like a rifle. I'm not going to sit here and listen to this unless you want me to stay, but don't believe a fucking word he says. He'll kill without blinking, I've no doubt he can lie just as easily. Keep a shield up. He's marked. The room will hit him with a damper if he tries to draw so much as a candle's worth of power."[/alistair]


Cassandra grew ill the more her brother spoke, chills crawling along her spine as her mind tried to reconcile that the man in this folder was the same one who'd comfortingly held her after a nightmare. They didn't seem alike at all; the one on paper, and being described, was a cold, calculating monster in comparison to the warm, compassionate man she'd been allowing into her heart. Part of her mind recalled that first meeting, when they'd been walking to the diner, and what he'd revealed. She now was left to wonder how much of that was a trick used in Mathias's particular trade. Closing the folder, Cassandra mustered up an attempt at a reassuring smile for her brother.


[cassg]I'll be cautious. Don't worry. . . too much.[/cassg]


Asking her brother not to worry at all would be asking the impossible. It was his job both as a big brother and as the leader of ARMA. She wanted to ask that he stay, but knew it'd be better if he didn't; for her as well as himself. Conducting the interrogation of a man she'd spent Valentine's Day with would be relatively difficult with Alistair observing. She would have to sit there while knowing he was hearing things that might be said and that would not do. Once her brother departed, Cassandra's smile vanished and she turned back to face the glass; watching Mathias wait impatiently in the other room.


Her right hand lifted to clasp the wolf charm that'd taken permanent place on the same chain as her locket since he'd given it to her a little more than 8 months ago during their Valentine's Day date. Part of her wanted to rip it off and threw it in the trash, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Against her will, Cassandra's blue eyes lowered to Mathias's restrained hands and took notice of their occasional trembling, and felt sympathy tug at her heart. He hated the cold as much as she did, but it was worse for him. Just as swiftly, she grew angry as tears fell down her cheeks, and tucking the charm and locket roughly beneath the neckline of her button-up sweater she wiped her cheeks dry.


Cassandra knew that she couldn't wait any longer, at some point Alistair or Morrigan might come check on her, she drew on that endless well of inner strength and took a moment to turn on the recording equipment so that Alistair could watch, or listen, later. More importantly though she did it to ensure that protocol was followed. It was likely turned off for her sake, but she'd not have Alistair's leadership or her honor brought into question over an unrecorded interview; especially not one this noteworthy for sure. Placing a hand on the doorknob, and wishing as she noticed her reflection in the small pane of glass that she'd taken the time to wash her face or re-do her make-up, Cassandra opened the door to the inner room where Mathias sat.


[cassg]We apologize for the delay, Mr. . .[/cassg]


She trailed off, cool and impersonal as she shut the door and her gaze shifted to the folder open in her other hand. Placing it down on the table between them before taking a seat.


[cassg]The file we have on you doesn't seem to provide a name so lets start there. What is your name?[/cassg]


Everything inside demanded that she ask him how much of it was real, and why he'd done this, but she refused to give in; already hating that he was able to see the outward signs of her hurt through the red-rimmed eyes and color cheeks. Being vulnerable was at the top of Cassandra's list of dislikes. It would be hard to keep him from breaking through the wall she'd put up, but she wouldn't allow him to see more of her pain as long as she could avoid it.

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Alistair’s words were slightly warped through the intercom, his features unmoving at the display of pure anger.  There was a time when the king decided to step away from the Order, he had to remember what that felt like, the distrust of those around him.  Perhaps he didn’t.  Leaving in mass versus leaving after factions were deeply entrenched and locking horns…  entirely different.  Rhome’s leash was held so tight he wasn’t even sure if this was going to work.


The silver held the glass for a few more moments before looking down at his hands.  He felt he was in an airplane.  Air, forces he couldn’t control pulling and tugging at him in every direction as their magic poked and prodded him like a pinch collar.  They were wasting no effort, and he was trading one for another.


When the door opened, he was expecting Alistair, a shotgun, and a bullet-pleasantly surprised without changing expression, or direction of his gaze.  A long sigh pulled into his lungs and was let out just as carefully, fulling expecting someone to proverbially smack him on the back of his head for making even that much movement.


He finally looked up at her when she spoke, then the folder that fell quietly to the table and back to the glass.


"The file we have on you doesn't seem to provide a name so lets start there. What is your name?"


He watched her for a long moment, saying nothing as he studied the obvious wear of his actions on her features.  The Italian had to keep reminding himself this was the only way.  If there was any other way he would have found it.


[santo]Do you remember when you decided to leave the Order?[/santo] words were so quiet, eyes with an unnerving glint from the glass back to Cassandra.  He was speaking to so many: her, her brother… those beyond them in the building.  [santo]Remember what you did for them before you left…?[/santo]


…and again, he was quiet, gaze back on his hands.


[santo]Rhome Mathias Del Santo.  I go by Matty.  Rhome… the word, evokes a response from people I like to avoid.[/santo]


Lashes parted, looking quietly at a ring on his finger..


[santo]I found that in the caves where I grew up.[/santo]


The little distraction, was like a sledgehammer to the psyche.  Everything, everything was true.  The only piece he’d omitted was where he’d sold his soul to the devil.  He wasn’t going to beg, or plead… she was treating this like a business meeting.  She was hurt, and it crushed at him.  But, there was so much more that had to be done.  They wanted to know about him, he wanted them to know so much more.


[santo]People like me went to the Vatican after the Nevus to find guidance from the faith.  We found hell instead, guised as salvation.  I renounced my position, and they tortured me.  I let them, the things I did when I realized I had power were unforgivable.  I convinced myself I deserved it for just being changed.[/santo]


Eyes lifted to her.


[santo]What did they do to you?  Before you left?[/santo]


It was a loaded question, not meant to hurt or distract, but to draw some sort of empathy.  It wanted answers too… validation that what he was doing was the right thing, that he’d made the right choice to defect.


[santo]Other than being his sister, why would they have wanted me to kill you?[/santo] 


Eyes moved to the glass, then back to Cassandra.  His voice was barely louder than a whisper.


[santo]I made a choice not to kill you, because there was no reason other than to hurt him at the core.  Tell me there was no other reason?  That I made the right choice?  If they know I lied, they will send someone else to kill me to prevent me from protecting you.  They will kill you.[/santo]


**edited for an error

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"Oh?" Morrigan looked over at Alistair with a small smile curling up the corners of her lips. "Tis worse ways to learn of this." Cassandra being assassinated. Alistair being assassinated. ARMA's defenses being compromised. Speaking of which, Morrigan would have to make sure someone examined those for anything 'unusual.' Not that the man had been wandering about, but you should never underestimate the enemy's capabilities. Perhaps he planted something on Cassandra that passively interfered with various wards and she unknowingly carried it throughout the complex. So many possibilities... and so here they were again. All of this could have come out under worse circumstances.


"Cassandra must have been surprised as well." The Mages' golden eyes slid to the side to regard the man once more. Surely the woman had not been aware of the Order's Agent's true identity; if she had been Alistair would not have been as calm as he was presently. "If tis all as it seems, this may be to our benefit. If tis a ploy," she let it trailed off. Alistair may not want to hear her speculation on the matter. How could the Order use this to their advantage? Emotionally destabilize both Alistair and Cassandra. A pawn might be lost, but organizations made larger sacrifices than that in war.


A moment passed in silence on her part. "Assuming he intends to surrender himself completely, and that Cassandra does not turn her back on him," the black haired woman turned to look over at their leader, "what would be done with him? Tis a long list of what could be done. Twill test the resolve and beliefs of many despite the choice made." A slight shrug followed. "In the end you are their leader, and they will follow where you lead. Or they will leave -- a short sighted mistake of those not fully committed. In any case, a defining moment."


All of that might have already crossed his mind, but then this was what Humans called 'small talk' was it not? They could stand there in the hallway like statues just in case the man tried to break free. Not a terribly good use of her time; there was much to do elsewhere. However, because Alistair asked and it involved Cassandra, Morrigan would tolerate the prolonged interruption. Whether the Order would be as forgiving was a separate matter. Were they aware of these proceedings? Was it a distraction? Questions with no answers. Not yet.

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[alistair]Didn't say it was as bad as it could possibly be. Just that it wasn't my favorite.[/alistair] Alistair corrected, pinching the bridge of his nose and spending a few seconds exhaling and considering his options while Morrigan spoke. She tended to have an odd perspective on things - made sense, considering she wasn't nearly as human as she looked.

[alistair]Seemed like she was...[/alistair] he agreed, gritting his teeth slightly. Not that it was any fault of Morrigan's, of course, but... it would be a serious understatement to say that he was having a difficulty keeping his cool at this point. It wasn't often something the man who led the group had an issue with, but it wasn't often that things got this personal. The fact that the Order had been willing to go there... Didn't someone at one time have a plan to drag down an asteroid onto Vatican City? Was that still an option? It was starting to sound like a REALLY good option.

Plague of spiders, maybe.

[alistair]Pretty short list from a legal standpoint. The guy is a murderer, Morrigan. There's no exception in the laws for a guy being misled by a cult. And I'd be awfully surprised if there aren't plenty of people around here who've lost friends to this bastard who are going to want to know for sure that he's gone away. He's killed people I knew, my people. As far as I'm concerned, he goes to the court, and I hope they put him away for good.[/alistair] He crossed his arms, taking a long breath and expelling it again.

What else did she or anyone expect? How had that son of a bitch expected this to go? They weren't police, but they worked with the police, they had responsibilities to the law. And, more importantly, he had responsibilities to his people - even to the ones that had died. Died by this man's hands. Most of them without ever having the chance to fight back.

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Morrigan's golden eyes turned in Alistair's direction once more. "Legal?" A soft laugh slipped through her lips. "Do not assume my intent, Alistair, but tis unlikely this man would survive to stand before any 'legal' proceedings let alone be granted any surprising sentencing. Put plainly, if he fails to win the protection of ARMA he will simply die. At the behest of a leader or by a wayward soul longing for revenge." Surely the man knew that. Perhaps he hoped for it? Even if the hope was secreted away in some dark corner of the soul people chose not to speak of, as if all creatures would choose to be entirely virtuous without falter.


As for Morrigan, well she still didn't have a reason to care one way or the other yet. Truly, she would like to repay the man in some sense for his deception -- she did not enjoy the thought of being 'played' nor that of a dagger having hung over the overly charitable Cassandra. What would be appropriate? Given the circumstances nothing was appropriate; as she'd already said as much, she fully expected someone in the near future would do whatever it took to kill the man. The Order would want to silence him if they thought he'd softened up to the sister of the Enemy. ARMA would want to kill him for revenge. The Courts would be hard pressed not to kill him for the acts of an assassin. Oh, perhaps someone would care to make an experiment of him or a murderous tool wielded against one's enemies? Whether such a fate was better or worse than death who could say?


Nevertheless, the man's death could complicate things -- if not the death itself, then all the trouble involved in someone attempting to assassinate him. Quite bothersome, really.


"What we will need to do will depend greatly on Cassandra's opinion of the man after this... interview." Alistair may be thinking of legal options, but Morrigan hadn't ruled out the possibilities just yet. They, seemingly, had time to contemplate all of the options -- why hurriedly dismiss certain ones prematurely?

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[OoC Note: If ya'll don't mind, after Ali's next post(if you want to post, let me know!), figure that the thread can just be Rhome and Cass posts so we can wrap up the interview? Thank you. =) ]


The way that he was looking at her. . . assessing the cool mask she presented was unsettling since there was little doubt he could see through it. He knew her better than anyone else in her life these days aside from her brother; though there were things he knew that Alistair did not. She had opened herself up to him slowly, but everything had been just another job for him. The urge to get up, walk out, and let someone else handle the interrogation was a strong one. Alistair wouldn't judge her for it. She couldn't let herself look that weak though especially to the other members of ARMA — not when it came to this matter. There'd be judgment and suspicion to face from some of her colleagues; deluding herself into thinking they'd all understand was naive.


Those questions earned him only the reaction of a glance toward the glass, and slight shake of head, before she looked at him again. Cassandra wasn't going to tell him that nobody was watching. The belief afforded another way to keep this as impersonal as possible. The notepad and pen already on the table — standard in every room — was pulled closer, and a quick click came from the pen as she wrote down his name. The last part made her hand shake for a second before the muscles in her hand tensed enough to stop it.


What response? Fear? Hatred?


She didn't ask though. Instead Cassandra remained silent; not wanting to interrupt his flow. While this was a tactic taught for interrogation, and one she'd used successfully before, the goal here wasn't to make him nervous. He wanted to talk and she intended to let him. Cassandra watched him play with the ring and felt nausea bubble in her stomach at the desire to offer comfort, and the memory of those fingers brushing against her cheek after a kiss.


I thought about them doing much more. Imagined us taking that next step. . .


His words blessedly broke that train of thought. When they sunk in, she was almost grateful for the overwhelming of emotion that punched her in the gut. She stared at him without the mask now. Unable to hide the tears pooling in her blue eyes or the way her mouth trembled. The screech of chair legs against the floor interrupted the quiet as she shot up from the chair and walked over toward the glass; head lowered to let her brown hair shield her face and shaking hands gripping her hips as she fought for control.


True. It was true. No, I can't let myself believe that.


That look on his face when he spoke made it difficult not to though.


[cassg]Continue, Ma-[/cassg] Catching herself, Cassandra paused and took a breath before speaking again, [cassg]Continue, Mr. Del Santo.[/cassg]


Sitting down and looking at him again wasn't an option just yet. She was happy the tears hadn't fallen, and that her voice was steady, but knew that wouldn't be the case otherwise. The slight tremble in her hands remained though. As he talked she listened quietly, packing back and forth in front of the mirror in thought. The revelation wasn't news to her. All to clearly the memory of the day they met came back to her. She could see him filled with panic, power barely controlled, as he sat in a dirty alley. He'd stared at the book he'd bought in the saddest way. . . and his words echoed in her head now.


♎ "They tortured me… I let them."


He had told her that The Vatican had offered to help after Resonance had changed him, but they'd done terrible things instead. It was a subject they'd not discussed a ton since though occasionally it'd crop up. She wanted to believe that he wasn't lying — then or now — except she was reminded he'd told her that he no longer worked for them. The questions, the pleading look in his eyes, both tugged at her heart and made her angry.


It was the anger that won out. Rushing through Cassandra's body like a raging river.


♎ "I made a choice not to kill you, because there was no reason other than to hurt him at the core.  Tell me there was no other reason?  That I made the right choice?  If they know I lied, they will send someone else to kill me to prevent me from protecting you.  They will kill you."

Swiftly turning to face him now, she approached the chair she'd sat on before and gripped the back with both hands. No longer was her head lowered, but raised to let him see the fury in her eyes.
[cassg]They faked my death, they brainwashed me, and they experimented on me. All cause they wanted to use me as a weapon. They treated me, and the others there, like nothing more than lab experiments. When someone died they considered it useful data then tried it another way on someone else. I still can't remember everything,[/cassg] Cassandra was unable to keep her voice down, the rage building.
[cassg]My brother is the only reason I know that it was their experiments that allowed a monster take hold of my body. A monster that slaughtered them, and did who the hell knows what else, while it wore me like a fucking suit![/cassg]
The need to break something was strong. She wanted to slam the chair against the wall; partially lifting the legs from the floor before she realized. Allowing the legs to drop back against the floor with a clatter and taking a deep breath, she tried to calm down and failed.
[cassg]They had me for more than a year and that thing lived in me for almost five before Alistair saved me. Those bastards took almost six years of my life, Matty. The nightmares, the issues with trust, the fear. . . everything was caused by them. And don't think you're the first they've sent to kill me either. They've sent others in an attempt to hurt him and keep the world from being told everything they've done. If there's another reason? I can't remember it. I may never remember it.[/cassg]
Hands moved from the chair's back to her hips again, the right one raised a moment later to be shoved through her hair before holding the back of her neck. She turned away as the pain of betrayal choke her. Knowing in her mind that he'd been sent to kill her was different than hearing him admit that was the case. Some part of her was hoping for him to deny it, but now all she could do was face the truth. Rounding on him, she stared him straight in the face with all the hurt tearing her apart; uncaring of the tears sliding down her face.
[cassg]You could've killed me that day. There were so many chances. . . and you chose to break me? Use me for information? Why didn't you just get over with instead of hurting me?[/cassg] Wiping her face, realizing that even if he answered she didn't really want to hear it right now, her voice was harsh when she spoke again, [cassg]I should let my brother do what he wishes with you. I shouldn't care and I hate that I do after you-[/cassg]
Cutting herself off before she went on a rant, Cassandra continued like she hadn't stopped, [cassg]I can't let them though. Some of what you told me in that alley was a lie, but not everything. That panic attack and the shame in your voice aren't something you faked. So here's your chance to win some points, and maybe do some good after what you've done. You tell me what happened that made you let them torture you and give us some information to use against The Vatican that we can verify. Then we'll see where to go from there.[/cassg]
Regaining control was refreshing. It allowed her to think clearly. Cassandra understood how effective those who worked at The Vatican, and their underlings, could be at molding a weapon. They didn't always need collars or spells; torture, guilt, and shame were the perfect tools to craft a leash. She wanted to know what had given them the means to break him.
Sitting down again, legs crossed and hands folded on her knees, she stated coolly, [cassg]Whenever you're ready.[/cassg]
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[OoC Note: Sure thing,kinda want to get Rhome in the now.]


Lashes fluttered at the squeal of her chair when she retreated to the glass.  Breaths were calm, gaze moving back to stare at his hands.  Nothing he could say would make this any easier.  He caught everything that flittered in this world, everything…. heartbeat, glance, quiver.  He could read the world like a book, be anyone necessary to get close and accomplish what he was assigned to. The tremble of her hands was killing him.  She was upset. He hated that, the anger that flashed at him first met with the soft gray that he wished he could just let the rest of the world into.  It changed as he watched her speak, turning cold, steely.  Whether it was memories, the thought of her finding the trigger to hate him, he didn’t know… but it mirrored hers.  The wall had come up.  The horrible, impenetrable, loathsome wall that he had discarded almost a year ago. Words went in his ears, and out again until they latched onto something…


"…all cause they wanted to use me as a weapon.”


Dark lashes blinked at the motion of the chair, then back to her.


"…bastards took almost six years of my life, Matty. The nightmares, the issues with trust, the fear. . . everything was caused by them. And don't think you're the first they've sent to kill me either. They've sent others in an attempt to hurt him and keep the world from being told everything they've done. If there's another reason? I can't remember it. I may never remember it."


[santo]I’m the one they send when the rest fail.[/santo]


The hum in his chest was quiet, completely without emotion.  It welled behind the mask in a painful pressure.


[santo]I don’t exist.  To them.  To you.  To the world.[/santo]


He wasn’t expecting her to  move toward him, the flinch slight.


"You could've killed me that day. There were so many chances. . . and you chose to break me? Use me for information? Why didn't you just get over with instead of hurting me?"


Why did he not?


He didn’t mean to hurt her, that was not the plan, but in the back of his mind it screamed at him.  All the while.  All the quiet moments.  Every.  Single.  Fucking.  One.


The crack had started long before he’d been sent to her.  Turned to a shim driven fault when her brother had stepped in, and finally a gaping chasm when he’d gone to finally do what he was told.


Why hadn’t he killed her?


"I should let my brother do what he wishes with you. I shouldn't care and I hate that I do after you-"


Eyes had flickered to the table, avoiding… avoiding…


Why hadn’t he killed her?


"I can't let them though. Some of what you told me in that alley was a lie, but not everything. That panic attack and the shame in your voice aren't something you faked. So here's your chance to win some points, and maybe do some good after what you've done. You tell me what happened that made you let them torture you and give us some information to use against The Vatican that we can verify. Then we'll see where to go from there."


Why hadn’t he killed her?


…because at that moment he wanted to die.


"Whenever you're ready."


He stared at her, the expression so incredibly blank it felt for a moment that he wasn’t really there.  This didn’t exist.  This entire year, all the pretending to be what he really wanted to be.  Of all the questions, all the things they could have done to him, he would rather die than answer what she requested of him.


He’d forgotten to breathe, the disinterest, spiteful mask cracking away.


The panic was stale, a dry throat swallowing a sickly sensation that was bubbling up from his stomach as he looked at her with an expression that held every plead in every language.


The table jerked first as he stood suddenly to push away from her, table unmoving but straining as his physical strength tried desperately to..  to what?  It jerked again, the volcano spilling over in an instant.  Teeth gritted as the terrifying clenched cry of aggression tried to pull his hands from the table restraint away from her.  Not trying to escape, the sudden tantrum trying to exhaust a mind into compliance.  Rage, sorrow, impossibility.  What had he thought was going to happen here?  He thought… he could tell his side of the story, answer their questions.


..this was a question he simply couldn’t answer.


She couldn’t make him do this.


His body jerked away again, chair spinning to smack the wall behind him at one more jolt away from her,… a dog trying to get away from a master he knew was going to beat him bloody... muscles trembling in extreme agony as he tried to free himself.  Why?  He was going nowhere, nowhere except somewhere he didn’t have to answer her questions… the rage deflating to a silenced sob before his knees hit the floor and forehead thunked on the table near his hands in an odd reminiscent of prayer.


The violent outburst was just as abruptly completely silent, the posture of submission one he knew well.


Instead, his face buried in his arms, the muffled words being spoken repeatedly in another language slowly translated to English.


[santo]I can’t tell you that… [/santo]


The table top was so cool… his forehead hot. Body temperature spiked, then fell back to the tepid cool that the rest of the world lived in.  He was motionless.  Back where he started his Resonance nightmare.  Dirty. Numb.  Broken.  Dressed in whatever he could find because his clothes had been burned away by the inferno of his own skin destroying someone he loved.  Someone he was not allowed to love.  Submitting. Asking for forgiveness on the steps of the Vatican.  Asking for permission to die.  Being denied forgiveness unless he repaid his sins.  By buying into evil. He knew that now.


What was the hammer that started the crack?  The reality that woke him from numbness?


The belief they could help him find his daughter.


They’d promised him.


And denied him.


And again, he wanted to die.  Just kill me…  the words formed on his lips but made no sound.  If he asked, they would oblige.  He knew they would.  But Cass, it would hurt her… the trembling words with no sound stopping at his teeth, again caught in the selfishness of what he wanted.  He didn’t want to hurt her.  Anything he said, would hurt her.  Eyes lifted, the burn of his own heat looking as if he’d been crying for days, searching for the least of the evils.  Tell her the truth, or ask for death.


He couldn’t breathe.


[santo]I was a man of faith.  I failed in the worst way imaginable.  I asked to die with their forgiveness.  They denied me unless I paid for my sins.  I know now they just wanted to use me for what I could do.[/santo]


Gaze fell to the table, tired.


[santo]You were a puppet. I was a shell. I died the day the Resonance happened.  I deserved everything they did to me.[/santo]


He was quiet for so long, miserable.  Forehead returned to his hands.  It was all he could tell her.  He could not admit what he’d done.


[santo]I just want out… to disappear.[/santo]


No he didn’t.  He wanted to disappear, return and burn every damn brick of the Order’s holdings to the ground. Every.  One. With blood, and flame, and pain… and himself perishing within it.  It was written on his face, and his face was buried away from her. She’d never seen it, the absolute calculating vengeance that could exist there, the calm and almost arrogant ease with which he could sit across from her brother in a café and discuss killing someone… and she wasn’t going to see it now.  It was the darkness that still existed in him, the deeds that couldn’t be undone.


If he did nothing else in his miserable life, he would make sure the Order suffered.  What he knew, could gouge a hole in the visceral guts of the organization.


[santo]Help me to disappear and I’ll help you hurt them....[/santo]

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Perhaps fear or caution should've made her stand up, raise her shield, call for help when he started to lose it. She had ignored his comment to her telling him that others had been sent; unable to respond for the nausea that rose up at those words due to pain.


Did he not feel what she was feeling? No, no. . . it had been a job.


When he began to yank at his restraints, the table legs grating against the floor and his chair skittering backwards to slam into a wall she remained seated on the other side. It took every bit of control to not move toward him, and she hated herself for hurting for him. Cassandra recognized that agony on his face. She knew that right now he wanted to be anywhere else. The floor opening up to swallow him would be relief, but that was not going to happen.


There wasn't relief to be found here.


There wasn't any escape.


The rage of a caged animal — that she recalled all too clearly.


♎ "I can’t tell you that… "


Clearing her throat of the tears clogging her throat, Cassandra watched him now as he bowed with head against the table. A broken, lost lamb suffering injuries that couldn't be healed.


[cassg]Tell me, Matty.[/cassg]


She hated herself for two reasons in that moment: one the ease of which she used his name and the concern felt, and the other the fact that she was using that connection to get him to talk.


Why should I care when he betrayed me?


Shutting off the anger that came with that thought, she waited now in silence. Hopefully Alistair would not come inside. She hadn't thought about that possibility when the commotion had been going on. She hadn't called out though so Cassandra didn't think anyone would interrupt them. Not until they were finished at least, and her aching heart hoped that it'd be soon. Looking at him was tearing her to pieces.


When he started to speak, she drew breaths more slowly. The emotion in his words was touching upon parts of her that were vulnerable now — only to him. Blinking away the sheen of tears, her pen flew over the paper while he went on and she didn't say anything until he stopped. She'd heard the plea though. She didn't know if everything he had said was true. She also knew that there'd not been anything specific, and that what happened must have been terrible if it was true.


♎ "Help me to disappear and I’ll help you hurt them...."


Raising a brow, hoping that he wouldn't hear the weariness and pain in her voice, she shook her head.


[cassg]I can't promise anything. You give me something substantial and I'll make the case for you. I'll tell them to. . . to bind your magic and set you free somewhere.[/cassg]


She knew they'd probably have Alec check his head to verify that he wasn't lying, and also that they'd have people watch him. They wouldn't just let him go without knowing where he was and what he was doing. He would have to agree to that though if they wanted to help. The idea of binding his magic had popped out before she'd even processed the thought. Inside Cassandra balked at the idea, knowing how he felt without the heat flowing through him and how lost she'd be without her own magic. But that was the only feasible idea. There wasn't any chance they'd let him go without doing so.


All the other stuff faded away for the moment as she came into her element. Her voice no longer held the pain of before. It still held sympathy, but it was mixed with a professional straightforwardness that only people in his position got to witness. She looked him straight in the eye as she talked.


[cassg]I can make a case for rehabilitation. A check by one of our mind readers, binding access to your magic, no contact with the Vatican, regular check-ins and meetings with us, once a week visits with one of our psychiatrists. . . You'd have to agree to all of it, but I can't even start making the argument unless you give us something that we can use. We don't make blind deals. What do you have to offer?[/cassg]

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