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  • Unusual Prospects (Mana)

    Remington Hargrove

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    Remington finished snapping the back onto the once broken Iphone screen.  How many had she fixed?  It was countless.  She didn't even think about them anymore.  She was practically autonomous when it came to fixing these stupid contraptions.  She had debugged and messed with broken screens on all of these cell phones. 


    Her day job was a nightmare.


    But, it kept her off the IRS radar and that was all that was important.  Of course, the under-the-counter cash payments she took never made it on her books.  But, this way she could legitimately support herself.  And the IRS had no idea how much she spent on her hobby and second more prominent job.


    The phone was done.  She put the tag on the screen and rubber banded it around the phone so she wouldn't give the wrong phone to the wrong person and tossed it in the plastic basket marked with the same number that she would put in the locking shelf behind her once she decided to get off her ass.


    Rem sighed and kicked her heels up on the wooden counter top.  She put her arms up behind her head and leaned back taking a nice break.  It wasn't that she worked hard.  But, she tended to spend a lot of time up at night hacking and enjoying her life as a underworld hacker.


    Rem's day job was fixing phones, computers, anything that was technologically sound or.. possibly could be infected or jacked up because of idiot users... was her cup of tea.  So, it paid the bills and it was boring as shit most of the time.  Rem ran a hand through her long black and blue hair and rubbed at her tired eyes.  If only she could nap.


    People would steal her blind.  There was no way she was napping on the job.  She closed at six so she would get a nap before she got back up to do what she really enjoyed.d 


    The windchime connected to her door alerted her to the fact that someone entered.  Rem checked the clock.  Not time to close.  


    "Welcome to Fried Circuits." she said simply.

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    Sept 5th 


    "Welcome to Fried Circuits."  


    The windchime was distracting but pleasant, more pleasant than the robot-sounding "Welcome to Fried Circuits."  Mana cleared her throat and decided to be brave.  "


    "Ah, excuse me, I was just hoping for some nice and tasty fried circuits," Mana stated with a straight face, but immeidately Mana realized it was a hopelessly bad attempt at humor and she groaned.  However, in an attempt to save herself, she rushed on before the woman could throw her out of her shop for bad taste and impertinence.  "I mean, honestly, I haven't eaten in three days and I honestly would eat fried circuits right now or anything else, because you see I don't have any money left (the $60 Jo had given her hadn't lasted long in present day NYC) and I don't have a job.  My last job was one I wouldn't want to do again if I could avoid it, because you see I was a, well, to put it as nicely as possible, a courtesan, and the only reason I did that was because the Madam, this woman named Gianna Benz, saved me from a fate worse than even prostitution.  But then that was back in LA, and that whole scene totally fell apart--because you see as far as I know Madam Benz is dead or worse.  So, I got desperate and somehow managed to get to NYC, but that is a really long story.  It seems like today, in the post-Nevus Event world, everyone is out for themselves, and half the humans have powers of one sort or another and I haven't managed to get myself on my feet.  So, I saw the word 'fried' on the sign above your shop and I was so hungry I just walked in.  I don't normally bother people like this--honestly." 


    Mana lowered her head and pivoted on her worn and tattered shoes, figuring that the faster she exited the shop, the less embarrassing the situation would turn out.  Dressed in exactly the same dirty and worn clothing she had been wearing for weeks (it seemed like months), a white blouse and torn jeans that were too large for her, she knew she looked a mess.  Her unwashed hair didn't help her overall appearance in any way. 


    And Mana was not like so many other people today, people who had an eye for details and were careful to notice everything and everyone around them.  Mana barely even noticed that the shop was apparently a computer repair store.  Sure, she had seen that there wasn't an edible crumb in the whole place, but other than that Mana's only impression was of the woman standing behind counter.  And even that impression was rather hazy and indistinct. 


    But Mana had noticed one thing: some cell phones that the woman was repairing (or Mana assumed so).  Mana turned again and thrust a Whole Foods plastic bag onto the wooden counter.  Inside the bag was about a dozen old cell phones, smart phones and the works.  


    "You can have the works, all of them.  They don't work.  See, I sort of go through the dumpsters looking for things to eat, and trust me, there isn't a lot, and that is sort of why I smell the way I do.  The phones don't work.  They were all thrown away.  I don't even know why I picked them up.  I tested each one just to see if it worked.  Trust me, they don't.  So, they are all yours."  


    Mana now figured it really was time to go and not having to carry that Whole Foods bag loaded down with worthless phones gave her a light and cheery feeling.  She even smiled at the woman, and one would have to see Mana's smile to truly understand its charm and cuteness. 

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    She was true to her nature.  Racine was as stealth as they came.  She had a way of flowing someone and they would never know.  Never know until that moment when they realized it… and it was too late.  Like a doe caught in the jaws of a lion, eyes would grow wide, one last gasp of air… and then nothing more.  Sometimes there was pain, sometimes there was a struggle, but there was never an escape.  Raci was no different.  She was a lioness in a concrete jungle.  The world was her prey.  She only had a few things in the world she cared about and one was her little bunny, Rem.  


    She kept a very close eye on her bunny and was always weary when dusk started to draw nearer.  That is when the jackals came out.  Of course, there was one slight edge Raci had over everyone else.  Her bunny was a technopath.  All Remmington had to do was think of what she wanted to say and Raci received a text.  She was, officially, the fastest texter in the world.  Racine had made her a trophy and everything. If someone threatened her, Raci would know as quickly was Rem could think it.  Remmington was not helpless, not at all, but Raci was a true monster… so why not let the lion hunt? 


    She had been finishing up the night.  Their hunt for this NEXEN killer was still a cold case, but she was starting to gather ideas.  They needed bait.  They needed more people.  She was on her way to discuss this very thing with Rem… when she noticed an odd character slipping into the store.  Quickly, Raci made her way to the door and slipped in, all without making a sound.  She slipped in close behind Mana, but far enough to where she would go undetected.  As the Asian girl begin to tell her story, Racine listened. 


    At the mention of the name Gianna Benz[/i] the vampire lifted an eyebrow.  So… this was one of her gals.  The infamous ghost of LA… interesting.  Racine had a file on her.  She was the type you didn't want to tango with.  However, Gianna Benz had her own secrets too.  As Mana offered the bag of broken phone to Remmington, Racine couldn't help herself. 


    "So… what is it you are wanting?  You come in here with a bag of busted electronics in exchange for…?"


    She posed it as a question, but didn't let her answer, not yet. "You came from LA?  Where the SOS ran rabid and Gianna Benz reigned?"  She nodded her head and answered the lingering question, "Yeah. I know who she is.  And, no, that crazy bitch isn't dead.  She's hiding." Racine glanced over to Remmy and then back to the stranger.  "Didn't mean to interrupt.  Not my business.  Just thought you should know that your girlfriend, Madam Benz is very much alive.  I'm just assuming you didn't learn all her little nasty secrets."  Racine shrugged and then glanced the hobo-esque looking gal over.  


    She needed a shower.  And so much more.  She didn't smell like anything other than a human.  No threat there.  She apparently did not have any techno gadgets, otherwise, Rem would of run through them already.  She wasn't a jackal… she was a rat looking for a rabbit's hole.  Racine was stuck.  The old Raci, the daughter of the rockstars, would of tossed $100 bucks to her and said good luck.  The new Raci, the agent, was more than that.  She knew that this lady didn't need $100.  She also knew that this could be a scam… what Mana couldn't know was that RAcine was just a monster underneath human skin.  


    She'd swore to help protect people… however it may be.  Right now she was hunting a serial killer who was so sick and twisted, it made even her stomach churn.  However, she would spare a minute to help someone out.  "Rem, let's order pizza.  We have a shit ton of work to do tonight.  I have some diagnostics to run.  If you would call that good pizza place I like…i'll even pay." As she spoke, she pulled out her phone and text a message to a numbe that was only 000-00 or what was listed as "Remmy's brain".  


    [You want me to get rid of her?  I have my ways.]


    As Rem focused her mind on the number or whatever weird voodoo she did with the internet, Racine looked at Mana, "what do you like on your pizza, and don't say anything… because I can get very creative."


    She would see how far a stranger in NYC was willing to go for a bite to eat.   Perhaps, if Raci was lucky, she'd get a bite herself.  She was, after all, craving something other than pizza.  She tried to hide it, but that was asking a lion not to roar.  

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    "Ah, excuse me, I was just hoping for some nice and tasty fried circuits."


    Oh holy shit.  Rem rolled her overly expressive eyes as she remained sitting in her seat.  She wasn't going to get up for something that every other fucking Joe that walked through the door tried.  Oh it was cute, fried circuits were like fried chicken, original and extra crispy.. until she handed you the bill and you were the one that was cinged.


    And then it started.


    The title flood of woe-is-me.  The this is my sad sack of a story and I need help because I'm about to kill over from starvation and no one loves me story.  The one that would have had lesser warm hearted creatures probably with trembling lips and tears welling in their pretty little eyes.


    Rem had stopped being warm hearted a long time ago.


    She was silently counting in her head because she had to tone out the horror of someone confiding in her somehow.  A little inkling in her mind came and she tapped into her closed circuit TV system and gave a bit of a grin.  Raci could  not easily hide from Rem and Rem had cameras in every nook and cranny in this place.  She was always glad to see the only person in her life she had partially opened up to.


    "I don't normally bother people like this - honestly."


    Rem opened her mouth to lay some serious 'don't care' shit on her when Raci decided to make her move.  Rem looked over at the tattered little asian girl that had been some sort of whore in LA.  But this wasn't LA and she could get a job if she wanted to.  That was the thing with people.  They didn't care.  They didn't want to get jobs because they would still have it rough they would just have to work for it too.  They didn't want jobs because then they couldn't have a pity party everyday.


    Pity parties needed no guest list.


    The girl lay some cell phones on the counter that this girl had found in dumpsters apparently..


    Great, she brings me a sob story and a Walmart sack of shit.


    Raci apparently knew the Madame that the girl was talking about.  Rem continued to sit, she didn't even open the bag with the phones in it.  She coudln't fix half of them without losing money, a couple were probably stolen and chucked and the rest were just old.  It took her all of six seconds to learn that.


    Told to order pizza, Rem rose her brow and looked at the only person in her life that meant something to her.


    Pizza, really?  Though Rem's stomach grumbled, she usually forgot to eat when she was working and this wasn't even her real work.  Once she got downstairs and began working on her other job she would forget to eat for the rest of the night and Raci probably knew that.  Speaking of Racine, Rem could tell the woman was hungry.  There were very few things that Raci could hide from Rem anymore they were highly intune with each other.


    A text came through and Rem cocked her head to the side reading it she gave a grin.  Texting back with her mind, which was truthfully a really cool thing to do when you wanted to have a top secret conversation with your bestie.


    [Not yet, but I know you are hungry and hey.. never turn down free food right.]


    Rem didn't want to give the girl any idea of her abilities so she picked up a tablet and began to place the order for pizza.  There WERE places everywhere that would put ANYTHING on a pizza.  They knew the beings that they catered too.


    "I don't mind feeding you.  But, I don't want to hear any more of your damn sob story.  You want a job?  Go get one.  You want food?  Go get a job and get some.  No one in this damn building came from a place of love and understanding.  So if you are looking for someone to be giving you hugs and kisses and whispering 'it's okay' into your ear you walked into the wrong fucking building.  I'll feed you some pizza so you guys can talk but I don't want to hear how much your life is in the town of Suckville because no one gives a shit.  Man up.  Own your life.  Or get the fuck over it."


    With that said, Rem listened to what Mana wanted on her pizza and let it be ordered.

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    Sept. 5th at the Fried Circuits shop in NYC


    "what do you like on your pizza, and don't say anything… because I can get very creative."   Mana's first reaction was WHAT?  But before she could even answer the woman behind the counter just let loose.



    "I don't mind feeding you.  But, I don't want to hear any more of your damn sob story.  You want a job?  Go get one.  You want food?  Go get a job and get some.  No one in this damn building came from a place of love and understanding.  So if you are looking for someone to be giving you hugs and kisses and whispering 'it's okay' into your ear you walked into the wrong fucking building.  I'll feed you some pizza so you guys can talk but I don't want to hear how much your life is in the town of Suckville because no one gives a shit.  Man up.  Own your life.  Or get the fuck over it." 
    Wow! Mana's hunger sort of turned into sour stomach acid.  "Man up?"  That sort of felt like a punch to stomach, and Mana thought, I'm not even a man.  Mana thought about explaining that it is impossible, maybe nearly impossible, to get a job when you don't have an address, a phone, a set of clean clothes, any documents, identity, and on and on, but one look at the woman immediately stopped Mana from making any defense.  
    And then there was that other woman--jeesh, where had she come from?  Mana would have sworn that 1) there was no one else in the store, and 2) no one had come in behind her (no wind chimes chiming).  And the first words she spoke had Mana jumping almost out of her skin.  Then, when that question had come, oh, what a question: "what do you like on your pizza, and don't say anything… because I can get very creative."
    Biting her lower lip nervously, Mana decided she had no choice but to answer.  The woman was blocking her exit through the door and though Mana wanted to get as far away from the creepy telephone repairwoman as possible, as fast as possible, she was not able to.  Thus, what came next was a mostly knee-jerk response--from when her sister used to ask her that question (what seemed like generations ago).  Back then Mana would say the following, just as she was doing so now: 
    "No tomato topping, instead mayonnaise, then eggplant, seaweed, nori--not any other kind, and pickled ginger and octopus."  Now, when Mana had made such responses to her elder sister, she got a laugh, and that was just about the only times she and her sister got along so well.  "Hey, did you know that the Japanese invented pizza?  I bet you didn't."
    The really weird part was that Mana wasn't being weird--that was a really typical Japanese pizza--and the funny part was her sister understood, while not a single American friend could (little things like that bonded Mana to her sister).  But Mana's sister was probably dead, just like Madam Benz.  Mana's next thought was: what did she mean "she can get very creative?"  Creative like with body parts, human hearts, fingers, toes?  Truly, there was something eerie about the short-haired woman.  
    Mana, however also did sort of notice some connection between the two, though they didn't remotely look like sisters--maybe best friends.  Mana's next utterance even surprised herself:  "Do you need an employee?"  Mana looked at the cold one behind the counter, not having even the faintest idea of what she could possibly do here (that was the problem--Mana didn't have any marketable skills).  Still, Mana was being totally sincere.  She would do anything.   Plus, Mana figured the woman was right about one thing, Mana hadn't really tried hard enough to find work--her post-Labor Day resolution was to now find a job.  
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    She had to grin.  Remington was not like a normal human.  She had qualities about her that made her a little less… desirable. Where a normal person might feel a tread of compassion, Rem was stone cold.  That suited Raci just fine, because, as it was known to Rem, she no longer had a shred of human compassion either. So while most people would be appalled at the 'suck it up' speech, Raci only shifted her weight and crossed her arms.  She was listening, but in reality she was reading vitals on Mana.  


    She smelled human but that did not mean she was entirely human.  All it meant was that she was neither fae, vampire, or werewolf.  Even if Raci's sense of smell failed her, Mana surely would of taken notice of a vampire in the room.  She was too unalarmed.  Clearly, she did not know what was prowling just behind her.  


    Racine could feel the hunger.  Not the growl of her stomach for thin crust pizza, but the insatiable craving for blood.  She couldn't help it.  She could try to ward it off, but it only made it much worse.  She was a monster now, and monster had to be tamed or else they went mad.  Normally, she wouldn't come around Rem on a night like this, but she'd forgotten herself in the quest for the killer they were hunting.  Her tongue lightly ran against the larger canines.  She could feel venom, taste the warm toxin in her mouth.  


    As Mana gave a strange list of ingredients, Raci felt a light growl escape her throat.  She was starting to see things through a narrowed vision.  She needed to distract herself before she became dangerous.  Closing her eyes and inhaling deeply, the vampire tried to gather herself.  There were only two humans in the room.  One was her beloved and the other… Raci opened her eyes, a violent hue burning within them… the other had just appeared.  A sob story with a bribe.  She'd never answered the question.  What did she want?  


    She wasn't sure if it was the police instinct, the vampiric tendencies or the strange form of love she felt for Remington that fueled her now… maybe a combo of the three, but the vampire was suddenly aware of everything around her.  She was getting hungry and that never helped.  Why had a stranger just come in here, so close to closing, with no real agenda other than to talk to Rem?  Her eyes narrowed as she looked the Asian over.  Small, seemingly helpless, she knew the name to drop… a big name from LA.  Raci had spent time in LA growing up, her parents had a house there.  She'd found Remington.  Was this their Nexen?  Or an agent of him?  If she was, if this Asian girl was playing them, Racine would sure send her back as a weapon.  A feral vampire to hunt Nexen down.  She had that ability.  But until then, she had to calm herself.  


    [Nexen Suspect?  Can you see her on any other cameras in the city?] she text Rem and then waited for a response.  While she waited, Raci did what she was good at… she played the vixen.  She had been blessed with one ability, aside from being a vampire, and she used it so well on so many people.  She could be a siren, call people to her, and attract them to herself.  It was more than charisma, it worked better than charm, it was almost a small infatuation she could cast on someone.  It was a predatory ability, thus, she swore she would never use it on Remington.  


    She eyed Mana now.  "No.  I did not know that.  However, I do know that none of that shit is going on my pizza.  Just the usual then, Rem." She walked closed to Mana now.  Gently, slowly, like you would approach a skittish animal.  Her voice dropped lower as if to coax one out of hiding.  The first step to Raci's wicked ability.  "Shhh, now.  Don't worry.  We will feed you and then, then we will talk about employment.  Pardon my lover over there… she doesn't spend much time with the human race." Boy, that was actually true.  Her communications were through the computer screens and a vampire… "What is your name, gorgeous?"  Her voice was soft and gentle enough to coax a wounded dog from its hiding place.  She was luring Mana to her.  Much like Kaa, the legendary snake of the Jungle Book.  She would lure her in with conversation, use her ability to render her prey, and find out what she wanted to know.  If this girl were thinking of hurting remington… she would devour her flesh and soul.  


    After all, the use of an ability did make someone so hungry. 

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    • 2 weeks later...

    Sept. 5th at the Fried Circuits shop in NYC (jumping in hoping to get something here moving)


    "Mana," Mana blurted out.  "Mana Aizawa."  Mana was confused.  It hand't been more than a second or two ago that Mana had concluded that the woman was not in the least attractive.  Yet, something had happened.  Mana was feeling compelled to move toward the woman.  In fact, Mana was feeling thoughts that simply didn't make sense: the woman was incredibly attractive.  The woman was amazingly beautiful.  The woman was so incredibly beautiful that Mana was now questioning here heterosexuality.  


    What was it?  What was happening.  Mana felt like she not only could tell this woman anything, but in fact, she wanted to tell this woman EVERYTHING. 


    Wow! Mana could not remember ever being so totally enraptured by a stranger before.  


    And now she was being promised food and there seemed to be the unspoken promise that something even grander was in store.  


    Mana was no longer even thinking about her old and smelly clothing, her unwashed hair, her noisy, rumbling stomach.  Mana was moving closer and closer to the woman, feeling like if nothing stopped her, she would, in fact, being kissing this woman, running her tongue across her "now" perfect neck, and giving herself totally to this total stranger.  


    Mana was feeling like she had entered an altered state of being.  And strangely, she wasn't even a tiny bit frightened.  More strangely, she wasn't even a little bit worried about her impending display of affection.


    The other woman was amazingly totally forgotten, the shop owner, the cell phone repairwoman.  So much for looking for a job.  So much for being polite in other person's shop.  So much for common courtesy.  Mana was presently oblivious to all her surroundings except this amazing person in front of her.  

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