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Trigger Happy Jack

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51 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:30 pm

My hand clamps over my mouth as I hear the barked order, a harsh wave of sobs tearing through me as I try to silence my crying. Listening to Richard, I feel like every muscle in my body is taut with rage and confusion, the lack of knowing driving me unstable. My mind races to keep up with him, my breathing evening slowly as I pull my fingers from over my lips.

"He told me about you - how you just know things." I say weakly, "How you tear down every good thing in someone's life to own them. So if he left in the middle of the night-" My voice shakes as I try to still my shaking limbs, "It was to protect me. The only reason he'd be with you is because he loves me.


"So he didn't obey in spite of anything." I continue, inhaling deeply as my voice evens slightly. "He obeyed because of what he holds dear."

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52 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 6:46 pm

I laughed at that, a slow, heavy kind of laugh that almost betrays my breathlessness as I hover dizzily at the top of the stairs.

"Oh, I can see why he likes you," I coo playfully. "It's a shame, though, isn't it? If that were truly his motive, then his love for you must surely be wavering. You are right, of course. He made me promise not to hurt you if he came home. And I did.

"We've played this game before, he and I. He's protected whole families from my wrath with promises of obedience and affection - and he's always carried through on them, even if it took years to see them safe. But for you, his dear sweet Ljubie, for you he cracked and betrayed me within a day and a half of being home. Over a dinner party he disagreed with. So either he's grown weak over the years - and my Marnin is anything but weak - or he doesn't care for you nearly as much as you think.

"If he did, he wouldn't have betrayed me," I sigh sadly. "He would have endured - wouldn't have made you my new target. Ask yourself, Ljuba. Look around the room, at dear, sweet Teagan, at your handsome and somehow wealthy prostitute friend Jean, at the pretty Echo that used to work for me. Look at them and ask yourself: how could I know so much about what goes on in your lives?"

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53 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:04 pm

"You're lying," I whisper, my shaking worsening when there's a touch of static in the line. I don't know what comes over me as I sit up and stare at the phone, jerking the charger from the wall before taking it in both hands and twisting, the buttons groaning under my fingers as the touch tones fill the otherwise tense silence in the phone.

"Lju-" Teagan frowns, rising from her seat as the hinge finally gives and I kick the blanket off of me. With the phone in two separate pieces, I pour myself off of the couch and into the hall, my bare feet padding loudly on the floor as I head into the bathroom. 

I can hear all three of them hurrying behind me as I chunk each piece into the toilet, frantically flushing it time, sobbing as I beg it to carry each tainted part of the cell phone away from me.

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54 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:07 pm

*Cael*

"Ljuba!" I shout, staring wide-eyed and helpless at the toilet before I scowl at her. "That was our only means of contact with Marnin!"

Before anyone can say anything, though, I feel a buzzing in my pocket followed by a loud ring. I pale at the ringtone - one I haven't used in years - as all their eyes turn on me. Pulling it out of my pocket, I flip it open to see the screen, a single word plastered across it: Richard.

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55 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:12 pm

Color floods from my face as I look at Cael, the phone in his hand still ringing painfully as Teagan and Jean step away from him slowly. 

"Who is it?" I ask weakly, my voice cracking as I carry on. "Who is it, Cael? Why is he calling you, Cael!? WHY IS HE CALLING YOU!?" I scream, lunging towards him.

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56 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:20 pm

"He's toying with you!" I yell as I'm slammed back against the wall, my hands coming up to protect my face as she lashes out at me. "Ljuba, stop! Someone get her off of me!"

"No, I want to know why the fuck he's calling you, too!" Jean shouts as he tries to grab my phone. Panic sets in on me as he answers it, the loud earpiece letting everyone hear Richard's voice on the other end: "Kill her."

Jean is pale now, too, as he stares at me in shock before I shove Ljuba off of me roughly to snatch the phone away from him. The way he pushes me away from him, his fist clenching as he sidles closer to Ljuba, sets my teeth on edge.

"He's fucking with your minds!" I scream at them, my face feeling pale and flushed at all once. "It's fucking ridiculous, don't you see that?!" I wince a little as I glance at Teagan, guilt over my harsh language catching me off-guard. "Tell them, Teag! I would never do something like that - and even if I would, I would never hurt Ljuba! Not on Richard's order!"

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57 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:29 pm

Jean's body has shifted in front of me, the arm holding the phone hanging back around me as he marks his distance from Cael with the other. Teagan's drifted back into the hall, staring between us with wide, confused eyes as she stands there slack jawed. 

As Cael yells, I manage to pry the phone out of Jean's hands, backing into the bathroom again as I hold each end in my hands, readying my grip to snap it when Cael turns his attention from Jean back to me.

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58 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:37 pm

"Ljuba - don't -," I start, Jean quickly getting in my way to block me from her. Anger and panic flares inside me as I hit Jean in the throat with an open hand, my magic crackling as it drops him to the floor so I can scramble over him to slam Ljuba back into the corner in front of the toilet. My nails claw at her hands as I pry the phone from her fingers.

Once I have it, I press my arm roughly into Ljuba's collarbone to force her against the wall so I can check that the phone is undamaged. A feeling of relief passes over me before I scowl and shake my head at her.

"I am Marnin's friend," I snarl at her. "Above all others, his orders are the ones that I follow!"

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59 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:44 pm

My hands pry at Cael's arm as I stare at him angrily, my feet scrambling underneath me to accommodate the pressure he's applying to me. 

"Then why does he have your number?" I hiss, "How does he know everything!?"

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60 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:55 pm

"Because!" I scream, fearful and guilty tears coming to my eyes as I let her go and step away from her. My heart is pounding in my chest as I try to think of anything that might seem convincing - but I've got nothing.

"It was the only way to protect him," I finally admit, the words coming out broken as I feel my face flushing with shame and relief. "When I got him out of Orlais, I was still under the influence of Richard's fucking magic! I had no choice but to eventually break and do as he said. But I held out long enough for him to agree to let Marnin go, just so long as I updated him every so often on what he was up to. But I never revealed where he was! You have to understand - it was the only way to keep Richard from calling Marnin home years ago!"

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61 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:00 pm

I can barely see through the wealth of tears flooding down my cheeks.

"He trusted you!" I scream, stepping towards him to shove him angrily. "He trusted you!"

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62 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:04 pm

"I know that!" I scream, shoving her away from me as I back up, nearly tripping of Jean's stirring form in the doorway. "Don't you think I haven't thought about that! I hate myself for having to do it, but it had to be done! He was so happy with you in Old North. I couldn't stand to betray him and refuse Richard and then see him dragged back there! It was the lesser of two evils."

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63 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:08 pm

"Don't JUSTIFY IT!" I scream at him, shaking as I realize just how cornered I am. "You already betrayed him! This is your fault!"

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64 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:13 pm

"How is any of this my fault?!" I demand, scowling angrily at the accusation. "I'm the one who's managed to keep him at bay ever since the two of you left to go on this crazy vendetta of yours! The moment the two of you left Old North, he started circling like a fucking buzzard, just waiting for the right moment to swoop in and get his hands on the both of you! I've kept him three steps behind us at all times to protect Marnin. And don't even try to say that he wouldn't have known without me because I never breathed a word about you two leaving! That's what his other agents are for!"

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65 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:19 pm

"I don't care about the OTHER AGENTS!" I yell at him, "You're HIS FRIEND!"

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66 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:35 pm

"I'm STILL his friend!" I yell back at her, shaking my head angrily. "You wouldn't understand. You've never had to deal with Richard - you don't know what he's like, what your stubborness gets you when you refuse. You told him yourself, how Marnin obeyed to protect you. Well, I do the same for Marnin. I would rather see him angry and betrayed than dead or worse in that estate of theirs."

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67 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:46 pm

"Does he know?" I ask stiffly, my shoulders squaring as i stare at him. "If you're so comfortable in what you've done, does Marnin know?"

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68 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:50 pm

I can't answer that question. Instead my hands come up in front of me to fidget with my phone, a guilty weight resting in the pit of my stomach as I fight back the lump threatening to form in my throat. Or maybe it's nausea. I don't know.

"I couldn't tell him," I say quietly, guiltily. "He hates Richard. If he knew... I'd lose the only real friend I've ever had. And then Richard would come for him."

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69 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:01 pm

"Don't-" I say roughly, skirting the room around him as I look at Jean moving slowly to his feet. "You didn't do it because you're selfish. You lied to your friend because you knew you were wrong."

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70 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:06 pm

"We can't all be fucking saints like you, Ljuba," I practically snarl, more because I know she's fucking right than anything and I hate her for it. Marnin would never have a foul thing to say about her, but me on the other hand? I'm what they so elegantly call a piece of shit. I'm always letting someone down.

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71 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:32 pm

I'm to the door by the time he's finished, darting out and past Teagan as quickly as I can. I nearly stumble over when I careen into the living room, scooping up as many of Marnin's bags as I possibly can before I hear Teagan and Jean exiting the hall behind me. (Two. I got two bags.)

Clutching the bags clumsily, I jerk the door open, the odd tingle of magic sparking in the air as whatever wards were guarding the house falter when the seal breaks. I don't wait to consider what might happen if I pass through it, instead running out and pulling the door shut behind me. My feet ache as I run through the streets of the capitol, everything a blurry haze as I gulp down air to try and calm the pain in my chest. I take every turn I come across before finally stopping to rest my feet, sinking to the ground as I clutch what little I have left of Marnin. 

**Teag**

The door slams ahead of us, leaving Jean and I to stand in a silent stupor. I can't even make sense of what's just happened, the chaos leaving my head reeling. And the wine. I'm sure the wine we'd been sharing has something to do with it, as well.

"What d'we do now..?" I ask weakly, twisting back to head to the hall. "Cael- What d'we do now..? We have to go get her, right?"

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72 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:55 pm

"Of course we have to go get her!" I snap sharply. If my heart weren't pounding so hard with the possibilities of what might happen to her out there, I would feel bad for my snappy response. As it is, though, I'm already scrambling through the house for my things so we can run after her. I doubt we'll be getting her back here.

Jean and Teagan are slow to catch up as I hurry out the door to follow the faint trail of magic she's left behind. The spell wasn't part of Marnin's plan, but it's a creative twist I'm glad I'd taken. Part of me still feared Ljuba as a flight risk even with her knowing that I'm a friend, and sure enough, my paranoia has paid off. I'm able to find her without much difficulty, though she certainly tried her best to make her route as confusing as possible.

What I find at the end of that route, however, offers only a moment of relief before my heart stops cold. Ljuba's gaze is on me, her expression twisting in anger at me finding her. She doesn't see the car stopping at the other end of the alley.

"Ljuba, come with me now," I say quickly, panic in my voice as I start to run toward her. I recognize the other Echo instantly as I start to cloak the area in dense, dark mist in an attempt to make Ljuba and I disappear, the inside of the cloud appearing only slightly distorted with a purplish haze of magic. The moment I've closed my hand over Ljuba's startled wrist, however, a resounding boom blows the shroud of mist away, knocking every loose bit of rubble in the alley loose as a shower of debris rains down around us. The boom is at such a low frequency, you can't even hear it, only feel it hitting your eardrums and your chest, vibrating your insides. It hits me so hard, I'm knocked backward, my head cracking against the pavement as my ears begin to ring.

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73 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:12 pm

Cael's grip on my wrist is lost as soon as we're knocked back, my arms struggling to keep their hold on Marnin's things as I slink to the ground heavily. There's a sharp pain in the back of my head, my vision blurring as I fumble over onto my knees, my fingers moving to search for the source of the pain. 

I haven't even made sense of what's happened before I feel strong hands gripping my arms, my hands scrambling to grasp at my bags as I'm dragged to my feet. 

"Cael," I growl, jerking in his hold as I barely manage to get my feet, trying fruitlessly to twist in his grip when I notice Cael hunched over further down the alley. "Cael!?"

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74 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:28 pm

"Ljuba!" I scream after her, struggling to get my feet under me as the tall man drags her back to his car - van - whatever. "Let her go! Please!"

Panic swells in my chest as I manage to get to my feet to chase after them. Before I can get close, he's shoved Ljuba into the van before turning to throw something at my feet. My eyes widen when I see it, my heart skipping as I skid in the alley and turn around to scramble the other way. I hit the wall at the end of the alley and just barely make it around the corner before the grenade explodes, shrapnel flying in every direction. When it's safe to come back around the corner again, it's too late.

The van is gone.

**********

*????*

Adrenaline fills my veins as the grenade explodes, the shrapnel hitting the wall of magic I'd erected immediately after throwing it. The dark-haired woman is pounding on the door of the van, fighting to get it open again as I climb into the driver's seat without a word. She's thrown backwards as I hit the gas, her belongings scattering everywhere as her bags go sliding on the floor with every sharp turn it takes me to disappear in the traffic of the busy Capitol.



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75 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:49 pm

I don't even know what I'm screaming up towards the front of the van as I struggle to brace myself as he drives recklessly through the streets of the Capitol, my hands frantically scooping up whatever's been strewn from Marnin's bags before I settle into the back corner of the van.

"WHO ARE YOU!?" I finally manage to scream coherently, clutching Marnin's bags to my front.

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