As Raven opened up about some of the history that she shared with Nico's girlfriend he couldn't help but be interested in what this feral had to say. In truth he knew very little bout Janessa's life only what he had been told in the church he had taken her to on the first night they met all those years ago. He was actually a little embarrassed to admit to himself that he had never really questioned her life before he had met her other than what was relevant. After he had learned that Keelyn was still alive he had thought about how she had survived but only as to how it was relevant now. For someone who was as haunted and hung up on his own past and problems he had remarkably ignored Janessa's past. He was going to have to change that going forward. The fact that Janessa wouldn't like what Raven had to say only made him more interested to hear it.
Nico had never really understood the pack bond that Janessa had with Jason, truth be told he didn't understand a lot about how ferals worked with other ferals, that was somewhat understandable as many kinds of supers abilities could be enhanced by working with their own kind. He knew that was true for elementals at least, it was a dangerous, if not unheard of practice.
[b "You went after Boyd for what he did? You must have been close but even so that was a stupid mistake."] Nico spoke with all the wisdom of hindsight, he was barely an adult himself he just seemed older because of what he had been through. In a way he had absolutely no right to comment, he had done exactly the same thing when Jason had come for Kate's abilities. He had been young and foolish and wanted to help someone he cared about despite all the odds, it was luck that he succeeded and this pack of ferals didn't. Nico couldn't help but hear the bitter tone that creeped into her voice before she couldn't bare but look away from the dark elemental as Raven recounted her tale.
[b "Your Alpha...killed one of their own..."] From the little that Nico understood even he knew that that would be torture not just for Talon but for the rest of the pack as well. No wonder that the pack fell apart. It was a sad tale and Nico wondered if Janessa had moved past it, whether anyone really could move past something like that. As Raven took a moment to gather herself it was all too easy to see through the mask she wore, Nico himself had worn it himself.
[b "I don't know if this is good news or not but delta is fine. You'll see him when I take you to where Michael is. If I knew they had a history I might have paid him more attention. If you don't mind me asking how does the pack bond work, with the Alpha. Can it be broken, is there any way to sever it?"] Nico couldn't afford to be ignorant about Janessa's bond wth Jason any longer. He had been there in that training room and had seen the aftermath of when Jason had defeated the Tanners and had somehow bonded with Janessa. He was dangerous and unpredictable not to mention he was in the service of the Organisation. Nico wanted to trust Jason, he was one of Nico's oldest friends but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Raven confirmed that it was possible for an Alpha to kill a member of his pack...what if he did to Janessa what he intended to do to his own sister. It didn't bear thinking about.
[b "I don't feel bad, I'm doing what needs to be done. This will help her and I won't ever apologise for that. You're wrong by the way, she's better than I am. I do the things I have to so she doesn't."] Despite being told numerous times by all the people he cared most about in the world that he was a good man Nico still had trouble believing it. The truth was that he still felt responsible for Kate's death and trapping Jason in the shadows. He felt guilty for blinding Janessa. He didn't feel guilty about killing any more like he once did and that was what worried him most, he had wanted to kill Nightmare and he was afraid that he liked doing it. [i Tigress lost her pack once… she’ll do anything and everything to make sure it doesn’t happen again.] Those words stuck in Nico's mind, Nico felt the same about Janessa, he would do almst anything to protect her but...he had promised her that if the worst happened that Nico would trap Janessa in the shadows, he had meant it when the promise had been made but now...he wasn't sure he could actually go through with it.
[b "That building ahead of us is where Michael is."] Nico was glad that the remnants of the Sanctuary were there to change the topic of conversation as he didn't really want to dwell too much on Janessa. He needed to get these people home safe so that he could prove to Michael that he kept his word, then the Charmer would have to hold up the other end of the bargain they made. Soon enough Nico was howing the now freed supers back to those they considered friends and was once again speaking with Michael, Starform was by his side as always. He noted the spot of frostbite on her arm where he had hit her with shadow had not completely healed yet and the angry red burn on his leg where she had struck him with burning light reminded him that she was a dangerous foe. Right now she seemed well mannered, even grateful to the dark elemental for bringing back some of those that called the sanctuary home.
[b "Remember Michael you have your end of the deal to hold up now. I did what you asked."] With a gracious nod and an assurance that he would provide what Nico needed when the elemental asked for it their business was concluded. Nico was still tired but strong enough at least to get back home he thought about Janessa's past before turning to Raven.
[b "Looks like this is goodbye, it's been interesting speaking to you. Try not to get captured again, i'd hate for all my time to have been wasted here."] With a swirl of darkness Nico slipped away and was about to return to where he left Janessa with Andrew and the Tanners before he realised something. Nico stopped off at one of his other safehouses to grab the supplies that he told the others he was going out for before returning. As soon as Nico left the cold endless darkness of the shadows he was overcome with a wave of weariness as the tiredness he felt really hit home. He needed to get some rest but the sight of a Sarah tending Janessa's wounds put all thought of rest out of his head.
[b What the hell happened to you?"]
It did not sit well with Janessa that the Director so easily waved off her threat. He was right, in her current state she was no match for the entirety of his forces, especially if Hyperion was among them. She was currently standing on a tightrope with the Director, balancing herself as a valuable asset against herself as a threat. If she leaned too far in either direction, she would lose everything. Hearing that the Director was not above torture to get his information set the Feral’s teeth on edge, but as he already pointed out, there was little she could do about it without sacrificing her standing.
[b “Torture is a mistake.”] She hissed firmly, making her stance on the woman’s condition known.
[b “Even if she did talk under duress, you can’t be sure she’s telling the truth. Push too far and she’ll say anything just to get you to stop; she’ll lie through her teeth if she thinks that’s what you want to hear. Fear and pain will get you nowhere. The only honesty you’ll get from that woman is by keeping her safe and unharmed.”] Tigress noted. Threats obviously didn’t work with the Director so she tried her hand at reasoning with him. A heavy pit formed in Janessa’s stomach as she realized it didn’t matter. He would do what he wanted with the Mayor’s wife and she couldn’t interfere… not without risking her chance to save Hyperion. It was a hard reality to face: she was selfish – she’d leave this woman in the Director’s hands just so she could save her Alpha.
[b “I am loyal, Director, just not to you. My loyalties lie with my Pack. That’s not going to change until I know they’re safe. You’ve seen firsthand the lengths I’ll go to protect my Alpha. If you want that kind of loyalty from me, you know the price.”] Janessa stated firmly. Only Hyperion’s freedom would buy her trust; she wouldn’t deal for anything less.
Knowing that she was quickly outstaying her welcome, Janessa agreed to leave the Mayor’s wife in the Director’s care. She nodded her farewell to the manipulative man before backing out of the room and hitting the streets. Without the surge of adrenaline, her injuries were weighing on her. It would take her hours to get back to the safe house. As she arrived she had expected to meet the disapproval and concern of her boyfriend, but he hadn’t arrived yet. It didn’t take this long to gather supplies, so Janessa knew her suspicions of Nico were confirmed. Instead, she was met with the worry-driven fury of the Tanners who – having just lost a sister – were appalled that Tigress would stagger home in this condition without having called for backup. She evaded their questions of where she was and what she was doing, but allowed Sarah to start tending her wounds, starting by setting her dislocated shoulder back in place.
[#BB44EE “Nightmare? Hell, if you don’t want credit for that, I’ll take it. She deserved to die Shadow. Maybe you don’t see it, but Tigress sure as hell does. She wouldn’t be with you otherwise. Trust me on that.”]
Raven eyed Nico with amused curiosity. It was strange, conversing with someone who was clearly an important part of Janessa’s life these days, when a few years prior Raven had considered herself one of Janessa’s closest companions. Nico knew very little about Tigress’ past and Raven knew almost nothing about her present. As much as she hated the fact, Raven was genuinely curious to see how her pack’s life had turned out.
[#BB44EE “Tigress would be furious if I told you. If course, nothing pleases me more than getting under that girl’s skin.”] She claimed, maintaining her resentful, bitter tone at every mention of Nico’s girlfriend.
[#BB44EE “Well, it’s certainly no fairy tale. No happily ever after, that’s for sure. Back then the five of us were a force to reckon with. My brother, Talon, was our Alpha. Our Pack was close, we were a family, we took care of each other… which is why we all decided to hunt down the bastard that killed Tigress’ little sister.”] Raven explained. All of this would make sense to Nico. He had seen Janessa’s hatred for Boyd first hand and it should be no surprise to him that her old pack would want justice for Keelyn’s (supposed) murder.
[#BB44EE “Our pack was strong… but we were all so young. Too impulsive, too inexperienced, and way too damn arrogant. We didn’t know Boyd had hired Supers defending his Casino.”] At this point, Raven’s tough, resilient facade began to slip. She turned her eyes away in a subtle attempt to hide the emotion behind them – the same look she had when Nightmare attacked her back in the basement
[#BB44EE “We were ambushed. There was too many, too much going on. Absolute chaos. We couldn’t keep track of them all… couldn’t even keep track of each other. Sly got too close to Talon in the fight and Tal… It was an accident. An Alpha’s purpose in the Pack is to protect his charges. The fact that Talon had killed one of his own… it drove him mad with grief. A week later, Talon was dead too.”] Raven paused for a moment, reigning back her emotions and forcing her expression back into that cocky mask she usually wore.
[#BB44EE “Delta and I stayed together. We joined the Sanctuary and served under Michael. I don’t know what happened to Delta after the Sanctuary was attacked, but I can feel through the Pack Bond that at least he’s alive. As for Tigress, she left the day we lost Talon. Said she had to go it alone, that she’d never work with another Super – at least not in the field. I guess that didn’t last.”] Raven retorted, casting a pointed glance towards Nico. Tigress had in fact been on her own for years after her pack split up. Even when she found Tech, she kept him safely hidden away with his computers so he wouldn’t get hurt. It wasn’t until Nico appeared in her life that she started to trust again – a fact that clearly offended her old pack mate. That bitterness spikes several months ago when Hyperion became Janessa’s new Alpha and both Delta and Raven felt their bond with Tigress break. Still… as much as Raven resented Janessa, it was hard to sever that pack bond completely. She’d never admit it, but some small part of Raven was still concerned about the other Feral.
[#BB44EE “Don’t feel too bad about lying to her Shadow. If I know Tigress, she’s probably doing the same thing to you behind your back. Just a word of caution: you better make sure her new Alpha doesn’t have a habit of getting into trouble. Tigress lost her pack once… she’ll do anything and everything to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”]
[#ce0d27 "You are of course correct, you are outside of my influence and I can't force you to do nothing but you are just a single person. At my word I can have every super and agent down here in an instant to subdue you. I know for a fact Dr. Bennett is always eager to study subjects, I believe the two are acquainted. I of course want none of that to happen but consider this a friendly reminder not to overplay your hand in the future. If you wish to know I shall tell you, the mayor's wife has some information that I am eager to obtain and that I consider valuable. If it is possible I will obtain this without bloodshed, if not then I suppose that will have to resort to torture, a rather grisly business if you asked me but I have people that excel at that sort of thing."] The Director's voice was so matter of fact as he talked about torturing a woman it would be enough to send chills through most people, he looked at Janessa's ragged forms, bruises, burns and all sorts of other injuries and he knew that she would be worth the trouble in the long term, she had passed his test with flying colours. Maybe she was right, maybe she would be worth having in his power full time. The Director was sure that there was still a way to get both Janessa and Jason under his thumb without having to give up anything, all he needed to do was find a way to do just that.
[#ce0d27 "Go home miss Pierce, you need to rest and recover. I was impressed with your skills today but know that the thing I value above all else is loyalty. Trust me and I shall trust you, I know it may be difficult for you to do but it will go a long way to getting you waht you want."]
Nico listened to Raven as he limped along exhausted with the rest of the super's he had liberated from Boyd, hopefully it wouldn't actually take them that long to cross from Boyd's casino. So far he couldn't say that he was enjoying Raven's company but he was always interested in hearing about Janessa. A pack. that would make sense, Nico didn't really know what to make of the pack bond that she had supposedly forged with Hyperion, all he knew is that it made them both stronger somehow, if a group of ferals all joined together they would be a formidable force.
[b "I find it hard to believe you haven't heard about my reputation, I'm no hero. Even this...I'm doing for my own reasons. I just killed a woman and I think I enjoyed it."] Nico always hated when anyone ever called him a hero, even Kate, he never felt he deserved that title, especially recently. Yes he had done some good but he had also done some terrible things. One good deed did not negate an evil one.
[b "I have more secrets than most...yes she has no idea that i'm here and she doesn't need to know either. Michael and I came to an arrangement and this is one part of the bargain that I need to uphold. You lot are a means to an end, no more but even then I know what Boyd is capable of and I wouldn't wish that psychopath on anyone."] Nico was doing this for Janessa, he was doing it all for her, first to get her out of Michael's hideout a safely with the Tanners and hopefully not to cross the Sanctuary ever again. She wouldn't approve of what he was doing but whether she realised it or not it was necessary.
[b "What happened when your pack broke up? Tigress never spoke about her old pack. I'm curious about her past."]
The pain and fatigue were weighing on Janessa as they made the trek back to the Director, but as soon as they arrived, the Feral straightened her stance and hid the weariness in her expression. She couldn’t allow such vulnerability to show in front of the Director. This was her first of three favours – her test – and so far, Janessa hoped she had some something to impress the man. He may have used this little outing as a chance to measure her worth, but Janessa was taking full opportunity to prove she was a valuable asset. She needed the Director to believe it was worth trading Jason for her. If she couldn’t do that by proving she was a valuable ally, then she’d have to prove she was a dangerous enemy. Janessa wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done, but after Jason had practically begged her to back off, she was hesitant to follow through. Her resolve, thankfully, hardened after Jason left the room and she could escape his warning gaze.
As she was dismissed, a partially hidden smirk toyed with the corner of her lip. She knew the Director would be quick to excuse her, anxious to attend to his new guest, but in doing so, he gave Janessa an opportunity he probably hadn’t counted on.
[b “Actually, Director, what happens to the Mayor’s Wife IS my concern. I brought her here, meaning I’m responsible for her. I’m not going to leave her unattended with the likes of you. Unlike Hyperion, I’m not under your control. Outside your two remaining favours, I don’t have to do anything you tell me to. And since my first task is now complete, you have no authority over my actions now, unless you chose to use a second favour.”] Janessa stated boldly. She knew she was running the risk of pissing the Director off, but she wanted to emphasize how little control he had over her. He only had two favours left and it was clear this defiance wasn’t going to end any time soon.
[b “I’m not going anywhere until I know that woman is safe.”] She stated, crossing her arms and sharpened her glare, daring the man to order her otherwise.
[b “You know the lengths I’ll go for a total stranger, Director. Just imagine what I would do for the sake of my pack.”] She reminded him, once again reinforcing her unwavering stance on fighting for Hyperion’s freedom.
[#BB44EE “So Tigress didn’t mention me? Aw, I’m hurt.”] Raven pouted mockingly. The bitter edge to her voice gave away how little she cared about her fellow Feral at the moment. Tigress hadn’t been more than a passing thought to Raven in years and she expected the indifference was mutual. Still, catching her old friend’s scent on the Elemental did stir Raven’s curiosity. She was eager for some answers, but those would have to wait. Getting out of this basement was their first priority, there would be plenty of time to talk once that much was achieved.
When Nico opened the portal, there was an air of hesitation among many of the rescued Supers. Nico was a known enemy of Michael, making him difficult to trust, and the very fact that he was sending them deep into the shadows was more than a little unsettling. Many had heard the rumours of how Shadow had banished his own brother (Jason) to the Shadow Realm and no one wanted to serve themselves up as his next victim. Once again, Raven was the first to step forwards. Although she trusted Nico about as much as the others, she at least, could fall back on what she knew. She may not get along with Tigress these days, but she knew that Feral almost like a sister. She knew that hero-wanna-be wouldn’t associate with the kind of malice that would spring prisoners from their cage only to lock them away somewhere worse. For that reason, she took a bold step into the portage and beckoned for her allies to follow.
Once everyone was through, finishing with Nico, Raven and the others positioned themselves in somewhat of a formation. Any who were injured or weary were stationed near the center of the pack, while the stronger, able bodies surrounded them. Raven hung back to speak with the Elemental, just as curious about his connection to Tigress as he was of hers.
[#bb44ee “Well, it’s obvious why Tigress likes you. You sacrifice your own condition just to free a group of Supers that would sooner leave you for dead. She’s always been a sucker for the Hero-types.”] Raven retorted, with the same irritated attitude she showed in the basement.
[#bb44ee “To answer your question, I’ve known Tigress for years. We used to run together, not long after we all gained our powers. Our pack was small, but pretty tight-knit: Talon, Delta, Sly, Tigress, and myself. But I haven’t seen her in years. Truth be told, I thought she was dead.”] Raven answered, almost sounding disappointed at the fact that she was wrong about Janessa’s fate. Of the names she mentioned, only one besides Janessa’s would possibly sound familiar to Nico. Delta was the Feral that had been rescued along with Cody and Dylan – one of the ones that defended the Tanners after their sister was murdered.
[#bb44ee “We had a… falling out. Once the pack split, Tigress never looked back. Guess now I know why. Looks like Tigress is running with a new pack now.”] Raven stated, glancing at the Elemental with a judgemental gaze. Her shared past with Tigress was more complicated than she let on, but that conversation as better suited for more private venue. Walking through the city with a group of Supers was definitely not the time nor place for digging up the past.
[#bb44ee “Seems like Tigress isn’t the only one with secrets though. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say she has no idea that you’re here? There’s no way in hell that girl would let you face Boyd and his flunkies alone, especially with Nightmare around. So? Trouble in paradise Romeo? Or is there another reason you snuck out behind her back to save us?”]
Jason stood to the side and watched Janessa spring into action first assessing the situation and then as she worked to find a solution to the problem that had been put before her. This was the ultimate pressure test and if she made one wrong move she would die, it was an exhilarating test of strength, intellect and nerve. Her first move was to disarm the shotgun trap thereby neutralising one of the minor threats in the room, sensible choice. Jason found her next move to be fascinating, Janessa pulled the fire alarm prompting a full evacuation of the entire hotel, a noble endeavour but of no immediate use. It might not have taken Janessa long to evacuate everyone else but it was time that she could have used for another purpose, it certainly wasn't a move Jason would have made, other people weren't his concern let them burn for all he cared. Time was the enemy here and it would not wait, this was the perfect test and seeing it in full flow a small sense of pride filled the Empath as he watched what he had designed. A scenario that would push him to the limit let alone Janessa or anyone else, to see how she managed this would be a real treat.
Janessa freed the mayor's wife from her bonds and ever so carefully made sure that the pressure on the plate never shifted enough to force them all into an inferno before she gave Jason an instruction of his own.
[#06b9ea "Suit yourself."] Jason wasn't going to argue with her, she didn't have time to think about anything else except the situation at hand and she had just stumbled upon one of the most important points of this test; know your limits. There was no way for Janessa to do everything that needed to be done but she wasn't alone either Jason was there to intervene if need be and Janessa believed it had reached that point. He loathed leaving her here in such a threatening situation, his instincts as Alpha screamed to protect her but not allowing her do do what was needed would cause even more danger for her later with the Director later.
Jason did as he was instructed and left Janessa on her own as he grabbed the mayor's wife with one arm and using a combination of his super strength and feral reflexes was easily able to take her down to the safety of the street below as he carried her down the side of the hotel. It was only a few moments after Jason himself had touched down on the street below that time ran out and the bomb went off, an eruption of fire and smoke filled the room he was in mere moments before as Jason's improved senses were assaulted by the noise of the explosion. He knew Janessa had survived, he could feel her presence but he could also feel her pain. Eventually Jason's eyes picked up on the stiffly moving figure as Janessa made her way back towards them and she was seemingly still in one piece. Jason couldn't help but be pleased that Janessa was safe but also proud that she had managed to figure out a way to pass the test she had ben set.
The odd looking trio set as quick a pace back to the Director as could be managed by the injured feral, Hyperion probably could have Shadow Traveled all of them back there immediately but after being trapped in that hellish prison Jason was extremely reluctant to ever touch that power unless absolutely necessary, as it happened there was no need and soon enough they were back at Organisation headquarters...and the Director.
[#ce0d27 "Back so soon, and successfully I see. When I heard on the news that there had been a terrible explosion caused by a gas leak at a popular hotel I feared the worst but I am glad to see that I had nothing to worry about."] The Director took in White Tigress' ragged appearance, her injuries and for the first time looked at the blonde with them, the one who Janessa had to go to so much trouble to procure.
[#06b9ea "You owe her a new sword."] The Director looked at Jason curiously, he hadn't expected the Empath to speak normally Hyperion stayed silent unless instructed otherwise.
[#ce0d27 "Of course, you shall have one soon. Hyperion take our guest downstairs and make her comfortable, I wish to have a chat with her...oh the plans I have for this one. White Tigress what happens after this point is none of your concern, consider the first of my three favours complete."]
Nico looked down on the still corpse of Nightmare and felt nothing for her, if anything he was glad she was dead, the world was better off without her. Nico stood unmoving as around him Supers freed themselves until everyone was out of a cell, Raven spoke and for the first time he got a good look at the woman who had saved his life...and in truth ended Nightmare's. Without her none of this would have been possible. At the mention of Tigress Nico turned his head and was snapped back to reality, his mind still partly on the visions Nightmare had shown him.
[b "How do you know Tigress?"] As soon as the question passed his lips he knew that it didn't really matter, all that mattered was getting out of here but there was no way he could just shadow travel everyone away, he wasn't nearly strong enough for that. No, he would need to think outside the box. Nico had one idea but he wasn't sure it would work, and it was still very risky. Nico reached into a pocket on the inside of his cloak and pulled out the last shadow stone he had, ignoring Janessa's ring but that was too special to break, and used it to infuse himself with the burst of energy he needed. Placing one both hands on the solid stone wall, Nico opened up a portal into the shadows, but with a twist.
[b "Go quickly, this will get you out of here...but I don't know how long it will last..."] The strain was evident in Shadow's voice as he tried something he had never considered before, he was attempting to shadow travel without actually going into that cold dark abyss. Once everyone else had gone through Nico dived through the portal in the wall at the same time that it winked out of existence and found himself on the outside of Boyd's compound. Nico knew he couldn't take them far with that method and truth be told he was amazed he actually managed to get them outside. A sheen of sweat covered the dark elemental's forehead as the effort of what he had accomplished caught up with him.
[b "We better hurry, I'll take you to Michael where you'll be safe."] They group weren't quite out of the woods yet. The whole group still had to cross the city by foot and avoid any of Boyd's patrols that would be watching the outside of his casino. Anything could still go wrong, and if it did Nico was too weak to do anything about it. Besides the trek to Michael's location would give him a chance to talk to Raven, he wanted to know how she fit into Janessa's life.
It was times like these where Janessa thanked the heavens she was a Feral. As soon as Jason broke the window, the scene struck her with such force, it expelled the air from her lungs. Her ears were flooded with the crunch of glass shards clattering to the ground three stories below, the racing pulse of the poor woman in the chair, the distant, muffled voices of other guests in the hotel. Her nose assaulted by the stench of ammunition from the shotgun, the hot, metallic smell of something wired beneath the chair, and the distinct scent of fear saturating the room. Her eyes darted to the gun at the door, the victim in the chair, and the otherwise empty room that – within the next five minutes – would be utterly consumed in flames and smoke. By the time an average human would be able to observe all of these things, the bomb would have gone off! But with Janessa’s Feral senses, she was active within seconds of stepping through the window.
Janessa first went to the woman in the middle of the room, not wanting to risk getting blown up by the impulsive-fear driven actions of their captive. She took the woman’s chin in her hand, forcing wide-terrified eyes to meet hers the contact seemed to capture the woman’s attention as intended, forcing the woman to hear and heed her words.
[b “You move, we all die. Stay as still as you can until I tell you otherwise, understand?”] Tigress ordered, not bothering to wait for a confirmation. There wasn’t time. She darted towards the gun at the door and severed the wire to deactivate the first trap. Reaching out into the hall, Janessa pulled the fire alarm to evacuate the rest of the hotel. Her conscience was far from clear having to work for the Director, but she still couldn’t bring herself to sacrifice all these innocent civilians just to prove her worth to that evil bastard.
The numbers 3:21 flashed on the bomb, telling Janessa her time was rapidly ticking away and she still had to find a way to get the mayor’s wife out of here safely. As talented as the Feral was in many areas, she had absolutely NO experience diffusing bombs! In the past, she’d always rely on Tech’s genius to guide her in situations like this. She knew she wouldn’t be able to stop the explosion; her only option was to get as far from that blast as possible!
Janessa darted to the washroom and ripped off her sister’s cloak, soaking it in water from the tub. On her way out, she dragged the mini-fridge from the corner of the room over towards the chair in the center. Finally, she pulled out her katana cut the woman’s binds and eased the blade between the chair and the pressure plate of the bomb praying this would work as well as she planned.
[b “Look at me.”] Tigress demanded, just as harshly as she had spoken to the woman before in order to capture her attention.
[b “You are going to stand up, slowly and I’m going to make sure this thing doesn’t go off.”] She insisted before looking pointedly at Hyperion. He was only supposed to intervene if things were getting out of Janessa’s control, things were rapidly getting to that point. At least of she delegated him a task, maybe the Director would see it as resourcefulness instead of a weakness.
[b “As soon as she’s out of that chair, get her out of here and away from the blast… Don’t come back for me! I’ll find my own way out.”] Janessa insisted, nodding to the woman as she began to stand. Janessa gently pried on her sword to increase the pressure on the plate as she mayor’s wife got to her feet. Thank fully, she was able to equalize the pressure and keep the bomb from detonating prematurely, but a quick glance at the device shows she only had 58 seconds left!
[b “GO!”] Janessa hissed, depending on Hyperion to get the woman safety outside while she devoted the rest of her attention to the bomb. Janessa pried the sword down and hooked the edge of the blade under the ledge of the hotel’s dresser to keep an even pressure on the plate. She upturned the mini-fridge and slid it under the chair in an effort to insulate the blast. She couldn’t stop the explosion, but she could contain it as much as possible… for all Tigress knew, the yield of this thing could take out the whole building!
In a last effort to protect herself, Tigress pulled the dampened cloak over her and sprinted for the shattered glass of the window. Grabbed the edge and swung herself outside with every intention of climbing safely to the ground. Unfortunately, she ran out of time. The blast was somewhat contained by her efforts, but it was still enough to consume that small hotel room and several of the rooms on that floor. Fire lashed across Janessa’s back forcing her to lose her grip on the window’s ledge. She plummeted towards the ground, three stories below. In a last ditch effort, Janessa let her instincts take over. Her arms snapped out and latched onto the second story window ledge, breaking her fall, but the sudden stop was enough to pull Janessa’s arm painfully form its socket. The pain loosened her grip yet again, but for a much less lethal drop. As she hit the ground, Janessa rolled to absorb the shock of the impact and took a several minutes to calm herself down and take stock of her injuries.
Janessa didn’t dare delay any longer. She didn’t want Hyperion to worry about her and she sure as hell didn’t want the Director to think she failed her test. Distracting herself from the pain with the task at hand, Janessa got to her feet and closed her eyes and tried to find Hyperion’s scent through the stench of smoke and rubble. Once she locked onto his trail, she followed . Janessa was a mess at this point. Dark, menacing bruises encircled her throat, her cloak was singed and torn, revealing patches of angry, burned flesh beneath. She held her dislocated shoulder, not having the energy to reset the joint herself.
Her body ached with every step but considering the night’s events, she was in much better shape than she thought she’d be. Janessa had certainly had worse, and after a few hours of rest and a chance to reset her dislocated shoulder, she would be well on her way to recovery. Despite her rugged appearance, as soon as she found her Alpha, she met his eyes with a victorious smirk.
[b “The Director owes me a new sword. I had to sacrifice my favourite blade because of his little test.”] She hissed, making light of the situation. Her eyes briefly scanned over both the Mayor’s wife and her Alpha, ensuring neither were hurt.
[b “Let’s get her back to the Director. My twelve hours are ticking by and I didn’t come through all of this just to miss the deadline at the end.”]
Nightmare was convinced she had finally won. Shadow was down, beaten, consumed by grief and pain for a crime he didn’t even commit! After the weeks of painful recovery Nightmare endured from her last encounter with Shadow, seeing him like this was far too satisfying. But her victory made her cocky. Even as Raven divided her attention, Nightmare was arrogant enough to believe Nico was beyond help. She assumed he’d never recover from her induced visions in time to actually fight back… Nightmare paid for her arrogance with her life.
Focusing all her attention on making Raven suffer for her interference, Nightmare didn’t notice Nico’s recovery until the shadows swirled around her. She turned on her heels, facing the Elemental just as those solid spears of darkness pierced her chest. Nightmare’s eyes widened with sudden terror before the life drained out of them. The steady veil of dread and that eerie chill of fear that permeated the basement faded until all that was left of Nightmare was the motionless body at Nico’s feet and the blood tainting the floor.
The captive Supers, now entirely free from Nightmare’s influence, were no longer helpless. One with Super strength was able to pry open the bars of his cell, while another with phasing abilities similar to Cody, simply walked right through. Those that were able to free themselves then worked to free the others and the Sanctuary’s captive inhabitants were soon gathering around their rescuer, waiting for instruction. It was one thing to break free of their cells, but slipping out of Boyd’s buildings unseen was an entirely different story. It was clear not everyone was fully prepared to trust Nico yet and it was out of frustration and annoyance at her fellow Supers that Raven was the first to speak.
[#BB44EE “You’re Shadow, right? Name’s Raven. Smells like you and I’ve got a mutual… acquaintance.”] Raven observed, having to stop herself from using the word “friend” to describe White Tigress. She hadn’t seen the other Feral in years and they were far from friends the last time they met. Still, Raven knew Tigress well enough to know her tastes. If Janessa was working with Shadow, he must be a better person than his reputation states. Raven couldn’t care less about his morals, but she wouldn’t pass up information that she could use. The thing about heroes? They were predictable. Shadow wouldn’t have come all this way to leave them trapped here. This was a rescue attempt and Raven wasn’t about to pass up way out of this hell.
[#BB44EE “And since I saved your ass back there, you can tell Tigress that she owes me. Bet she’ll [i love] you for that.”] Raven hissed sarcastically while the others gathered around.
[#BB44EE “So what now [i Hero]? You got a way out of this hell?”] She asked, trying to hide the urgency in her voice with her attitude. Raven and the others had heard bits and pieces of Boyd and Bennett’s plans. She was eager to get back to Michael and gather whatever reinforcements they could. Shadow may have liberated Boyd’s captives, but Bennett still had her test subjects stowed away in the Organization. This place was a dream compared to what the others would face once Bennett started her experiments.
Jason watched as Janessa seemed to study the closed door before moving away from room 324 and moved to the next room along. Jason followed Janessa without a word and followed the feral to the window and out onto the subsequent ledge with a three storey drop to the hard concrete of the street below. While Jason had the abilities of a feral his general larger size made it harder for him to stay out on the ledge than Janessa who was undoubtedly much more lithe than her alpha. As Janessa looked in the window an interesting sight greeted her, and it was immediately apparent that not going through the front door to the room was a trap just as Janessa had suspected. Facing the door with a wire attached to it was a shotgun sitting on a rest that would have fired had anyone opened the door. It seemed that Janessa had made the right decision after all. That wasn't all that was apparent. A normally glamorous blonde woman, the Mayor's wife, was bound and gagged to a chair unable to move but with a worried look on her face as her eyes darted around the room. It would appear that Janessa's feral instincts had indeed led her to the source of information that the Director wanted.
With his increased strength Jason hit the glass in the window causing it to shatter so that the feral and her Alpha could enter the room and claim the director's prize. Jason slipped inside the room and stood over to the side so that Janessa could also get inside the room with the mayor's wife. It would appear that the shotgun trap wasn't the only test for Janessa in this room. Under the chair that the mayor's wife was on was a pressure plate that was connected to a rectangular metal device...a bomb. As soon as anyone entered the room a remote signal was triggered that started the countdown to the explosion. If Janessa moved the mayor's wife in any way the shift in weight would set off the pressure plate and cause the bomb to detonate, if she did nothing, the timer would run out and the bomb would detonate. Judging from the timer, Janessa only had five minutes to decide what do do, otherwise her, Jason and the mayor's wife would be blown to pieces.
Nightmare had exploited Nico's weakness perfectly, she had finally beaten him and he was at her mercy. The dark elemental couldn't tear his eyes away from the terrible things he was doing to his friends. He was killing everyone he cared about, destroying anyone who put their trust in him. He was nothing but death. Nightmare had Nico at her mercy, she could flee, she could bring him to her boss, she could even kill him right now and there was nothing he could do about it, to Nico Nightmare didn't exist it was only him among the corpses of his friends. Nico didn't thin what happened next was possible but somehow it was, the visions and hallucinations actually got worse. Not only was Nico killing his friends that wasn't enough for him, he had to imprison them in the dark abyss of the shadows. That could be a fate worse than death, he had robbed Janessa of his senses and he was about to do it again.
As Raven attempted to distract Nightmare Nico wasn't aware of what was going on, he was still horrifyingly enthralled with the dark images before him. That was until Raven diverted Nightmare's attention in order to make a small enough dent in Nightmare's illusions to start to notice what was real and what was an illusion. With Nightmare's attention now divided the cracks in her illusions were visible, Janessa had the wrong colour of eyes, the scar on Jason's face should be on the other side, Dylan's hair was slightly the wrong shade...
[i "FIGHT BACK"] Those words managed to get through the haze of fear and grief that had consumed Nico. That voice was right, he needed to fight back, those weren't his friends, that wasn't Jason or Janessa. None of this was real. The illusions started to fade and everything was revealed for the sham that it was, it was all just Nightmare toying with him, doing what that parasite of a woman always did. None of it was real.
[i “Kill her! Kill her Now! End this!”]
Nico took those words to heart, Nightmare was a dangerous foe that had caused them trouble time and time again, and no doubt would do exactly the same in the future. As long as Nightmare was alive, no one was safe, not Nico nor Cody, Sarah, Jason, Dylan or Janessa. Tonight was proof of that, Nightmare had just proved that she could easily incapacitate Nico and who knows what else she could do if needed. She needed to be put down. Strengthening his ill the dark elemental gathered as many shadows around himself as he could, sharpening them into weapons of deadly intent. Nico would not let Nightmare hurt anyone else. With a mighty thrust Nico did what he knew he had to in order to keep those he cared for safe; He stabbed Nightmare through the chest and watched her slump to the floor blood splattering her body.
[b “I forgot how exhilarating this was… hunting as a pack. No matter how well our team seems to work together, nothing ever seems as effortless as running with a pack of Ferals.”] Janessa mentioned as they made their way, talking from experience. It was refreshing, working with Jason, but the thought also brought with it a few doubts about her plans. She was constantly aware of her Alpha, since their pack bond could always lead her back to him, but if their positions were reversed – if she was the prisoner and Jason was free - would be have the same ability to track her? He was only a Feral as long as Janessa was nearby. Short of killing another Feral and taking their abilities, there was no way for him to keep these abilities once she left. That would certainly throw a dent into her plans. Janessa knew that if she could convince the Director to trade Jason’s freedom for hers, her Alpha would have the knowledge, resources, and freedom to take the Director down, hopefully before he forced Janessa into anything unforgivable. That would be infinitely harder if he wasn’t able to track her or the Director once he was freed.
Janessa’s thoughts were set aside as soon as they arrived, knowing that the task at hand was what demanded her attention. The fight had delayed her longer than expected, and tracing the scent of the mayor’s wife was annoyingly complex. The Director had obviously made this task far more challenging than it had to be. So far, however, Janessa was meeting each hurdle and rising above them.
As they reached room 324, Janessa paused before entering, allowing herself time to read her surroundings. The scent was strongest here; clearly the mayor’s wife was inside. Janessa didn’t doubt there was another obstacle waiting for her just beyond that door, and knew Jason wouldn’t give her the curtest of a warning. Instead of barging in, Janessa decided to play this a little more cautiously. She gave Hyperion a pointed look – [i There’s no way I’m walking blindly into a trap] – and turned to the next room. The untouched door hanger hinted that this room was empty, and Janessa swiftly picked the lock and let herself inside. She moved to the back of the room with determined steps and opened the window. Even on the third floor, the height didn’t seem to hinder the Feral as she climbed out onto the ledge to get a good view of what was happening in the next room. At least this way, she could see what was going on and it would give her the element of surprise. In the very least she hoped it would prove to the Director that she wasn’t the type to impulsively stumble into a trap.
With a last assuring glance towards Hyperion, Janessa peered through the window to see what sort of scene the Director had set up in preparation for her arrival.
With Nightmare’s focus centred on the Elemental, the other prisoners were granted a brief reprieve. No longer affected by fear, Nightmare’s previous victims stared at the two clashing Supers with invested interest. Having not been notified of Shadow’s recent deal with Michael, many still say the Elemental as an enemy, but almost all of them seemed to be routing for him regardless, driven by their mutual hate for Nightmare. It was true what the old proverbs said: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. It seemed to be the general consensus that while Nioc wasn’t ideal, he was far better than Nightmare.
One in particular seemed enticed by the confrontation. A young woman, with dark hair and dark skin, laced with intricate tattoos. Her eyes were bright in the dimly lit basement, giving her a primal, almost nocturnal look. It was clear just by her unwavering focus and the readiness in her stance that she was a Feral, itching for her own pound of flesh. Just as Janessa was fiercely protective over her own pack, this Feral was ready to tear into the woman who dared torment her own allies. But it wasn’t just a vengeful soul that caught her interest. There was something about the Elemental that nagged at her long lost memories. Something about his scent… or at least, the scent that lingered on him. The feeling was baffling – at least until a familiar name slipped past Shadow’s lips.
Nightmare was oblivious to the spectators as she channeled all her energy into the illusion. As soon as Nico fell to his knees, she knew she won. She should have taking that moment to run – flee from the basement and alert Boyd’s men, bringing reinforcements, taking Nico into custody while he was vulnerable… of course, Nightmare was far too arrogant for that. She took too much pleasure in Nico’s please, especially after the damage he had done to her the last time they met. Ignoring her better judgement, Nightmare twisted the illusion to a far darker scene. One by one, the shadows devoured Nico’s friends. First Sarah and Keelyn, the Cody, and finally Dylan was smothered by the dark tendrils and left to drop limply to the floor – their eyes, still wide with fear, staring lifelessly towards the Elemental they once trusted. Taking her illusion one step further, she conjured the illusion of a black void behind her, reminiscent of the Shadow Realm that threatened to swallow ‘Janessa’ whole. Her bright Feral eyes grew dim, like they had been months before when she was blinded, and the terror consumed her features. She took a fearful step back as the shadows wrapped tightly around her, dragging her towards that void.
[b “You… you murderer! Traitor! Monster! I never should have trusted you! YOU killed us all!”] Janessa’s shaky, fear-stricken voice cried out before her voice was cut off by the thick tendrils of darkness as they threatened to smother her.
Unable to see the twisted images that were meant only for Shadow, the prisoners watched in alarmed fascination as the Elemental was defeated. Unable to stand on the sidelines any longer, the Feral, Raven, ignored the warnings of her friends and decided to intervene. She reached through the bars of her cell and grabbed the woman by her hair, ripping her back into the bars with a savage force.
[#BB44EE “Don’t listen to her! The Feral… White Tigress? She’s not here! Nightmare’s toying with you! FIGHT BACK!”] Raven growled, provoking Nightmare’s wrath to focus back on her, giving Shadow a moment to recover. The illusions around him began to fare, the bodies disappearing from the floor, and Janessa’s appearance twisting back into the scarred features of his enemy.
The wave of fear that struck the Feral was nauseating. Her hands shook so badly, she lost her grip on Nightmare’s hair and it took every ounce of her sill power not to shrink back in terror from the sheer force of it. Images dances around her, drawing on the pains of her past and the dreads of her future to subdue her, but Raven had at least achieved her goal: now Nightmare’s focus was split between two of them. She tried to muster strength to her voice, but sadly her words came out as more of a terrified whimper.
[#BB44EE “Kill her! Kill her Now! End this!”]
Jason watched as the men attacking Janessa were easily dispatched, he knew that she was a fierce fighter but seeing her so thoroughly in control was exhilarating. Jason felt pride well up in him at seeing a member of his pack fight so well. Two men from the initial attack group peeled away from Tigress and made their way towards the large super. Darts flew towards him but Jason simply raised a hand and called upon one of his many abilities that he had acquired over his time working for the Organisation. The darts burst into flames and were instantly incinerated and a smile appeared on the Empath's face almost an exact mirror of the one on Janessa's. With almost no effort at all Jason threw one of the men into the other with a single super strong throw before lifting both men up by the front of their shirts and slamming their bodies together with a single sickening crunch and both men went limp.
Apart from standing his own ground Jason made no move to interfere with he rest of the combat, he merely watched at Janessa, very capably, fought off the would be assailants. As one man finally broke through her defences in a meaningful way and managed a powerful grip on her throat. Jason locked eyes with the choking member of his pack and as he moved to help Janessa out of this bind, something unexpected happened, Janessa...smiled? In what seemed like a flash White Tigress had completely turned the situation on it's head and had not only snapped the man's arm but had completely immobilised the assailant as a threat. Already the bruises around Janessa's neck were beginning to darken, it was going to leave a nasty mark for quite a while yet but neither of them had any time to waste.
[#06b9ea "Lead the way."] The two supers tracked the scent across the city with their enhanced feral senses. This feeling used to make Jason want to kill Janessa, he wanted to be this aware all the time, not just when it was convenient for the Organisation, his pack bond had dulled his desire to spill Janessa's blood but there was still part of him that yearned to be a feral properly. Tracking the scent of their target was no easy feat, Jason had deliberately instructed it to be so. There were various dead ends, backtracks needed in order to finally track the Mayor's wife to where she was being held. It looked to be a regular, still in use hotel. Jason and Janessa followed the scent to the third floor and to room 324 where the scent was strongest.
Nico watched Nightmare with like she was a lion, ready to pounce at any moment. This was an exceptionally dangerous foe, one that he couldn't lose focus around for a second otherwise everything could go south very quickly.
[b "I won our last fight because I'm better than you. It's a simple fact..."] The dark elemental was cut off by Nightmare's hateful rant and the worrying assessment that she had made. She was absolutely right, in the past his reaction hadn't been to be afraid, it was to push through that fear with anger and rage. Nightmare had him all figured out. The shadows flickered around the dark elemental as he wondered about making a move, but was too scared of what might happen if he did. Clearly Nightmare had given much more thought to their last meeting than Nico had. He had tried to forget the whole ordeal but Nightmare had laboured over those events looking for a way to beat Nico the next time they met and it looked like she had found it. At the mention of having his friend's blood on his hands Nico faltered for just a second before desperately regaining his composure. That slip up was all it took for Nightmare to see that she was right.
[b "Nightmare don't do this."] That was all Nico could do before fear overtook him. He was helpless against this wave of fear as the world transformed into a nightmarish imitation of itself. Nico found himself standing over the cold corpse of his best friend, his one time brother. he didn't even know how it had happened.
[b "Janessa, I didn't mean to...Please don't look at me like that."] Janessa had fear and contempt in her eyes at the despicable deed that he had committed. Nico had finally done it, he had killed his best friend. There had been a time when he had come close to doing just that but even in his darkest moment he had found a way to avoid doing that. The horror didn't stop there though, Nico was going after Janessa next his dark tendrils begining to snake around her neck as the young Jackson shrieked in the background. Everything Nico knew had fallen apart and he was ready to destroy everyone he cared about. Nico had already killed Jason and now he was going after Janessa, who was next? Cody? Dylan? Jackson? Nico had tried so hard not to be the evil persona that so many thought he was but after what he had done now...maybe he was a monster.
[b "What have I done."] Nico dropped to his knees, a broken man completely at Nightmare's mercy.
Janessa’s reflexes were sharp, her movements swift and agile, and her actions guided by the perfect meld of both instinct and training. Not only did Janessa have her Feral abilities to rely on, but her background in martial arts as well, making her far more skilled than any standard Feral. Despite the evident danger and the imposing timeline, Janessa seemed almost immune to the pressure. A barely notable smirk twisted the corner of her lips as their attackers burst in and opened fire and Janessa was ashamed to say she was almost looking forward to this! With so much pent up grief, anger, and pain, the Feral needed a good fight to release the tension and for the first time in a very long time, she felt free to fight completely unhindered. It was liberating to fight on her own again with no need to constantly check over her shoulder for the sake of her team.
Although each member of her group was skilled and powerful in their own rights and cold certainly take care of themselves – Nico especially – Janessa couldn’t help the constant fear of something happening to them in battle. In every one of their recent fights, the Feral had felt bound to her team, keeping a constant eye on them during the fight, not daring to stray too far away, or allowing many threats to slip past her to where her team mates could be vulnerable. Fighting with Hyperion was different. It wasn’t that she didn’t care – in fact her Alpha meant a lot to her, probably more than he knew – and it wasn’t necessarily the powerful abilities Jason had at his disposal. Their Pack Bond allowed Janessa to keep tabs on her Alpha subconsciously, offering constant reassurance that he was alright and would alert her immediately if he wasn’t. With the fear of her teammate’s lives no longer limiting the Feral, Janessa was free to fight unhindered.
As the darts soared in her direction, Janessa evaded them with ease, but instead of retreating to the shelter of the hallway, she chose to advance on her targets. Closer quarters would make these ranged weapons useless against her and it played more to Janessa’s skills. She sprinted towards the nearest attacker, ducking low at the last second to avoid the darts that flew from weapon. From her low position, Janessa thrust the gun up to the ceiling, pivoted in front of the man and uses the momentum to hurl him over her hip and into a second nearby gunman. Before the two had reached the ground, Janessa was moving on to the third, using the weapon as leverage to twist the man’s arm until a sickening crack echoed through the room. Manipulating the broken limb, Feral shoved him into the fourth man, continuing her fight through the encroaching crowd.
Martial Arts had taught the Feral about the importance of special awareness; Feral abilities made it only too easy. Sensing every strike before it landed, hearing the subtle steps and shuffles that betrayed an incoming attack – not even the metallic stench of blood could distract her from the surrounding soldiers. Most of the discarded men were left either unconscious, suffering from shattered bones, or victims of their own tranq darts . Growing wise to her techniques, the men began attacking two, three, even four at a time, trying to catch her off guard, but Janessa was keeping pace. She thanked her years in Jiu Jitsu for the experience handling multiple attackers. She wasn’t entirely unfillable – no one could block every attack and very often she had to sacrifice a landed punch to avoid a much more severe injury – but even with a few bruised ribs, minor cuts to her forearms, and an unpleasant gash to her left shoulder, the Feral never missed a step. Using a combination of throws, kicks, locks, and sweeps, Janessa whittled away at the imposing number until there were only a few left.
This fight was beginning to drain her, but the Feral didn’t dare show any signs of her fatigue to her enemies. She kept her breath even and her stance strong as the last of the men stepped forwards. Eager to finish this fight and get on with her mission, Janessa advanced on her targets, letting a liminal snarl escape her lips. One of the men opted to use his gun as a blunt, swinging the heavy object towards her face at an alarming speed. Janessa dropped to the ground to evade the strike and swept the man’s legs out from under him. As she climbed back to her feet, the heroine managed to block the first few strikes, but regrettably felt a pair of hands close around her throat. The grip was strong, driven by rage and bloodlust as it forced her back against the wall. Her airway was completely severed and the fierce, vice-like grip that clenched around her pale neck was sure to leave a ring of dark, nasty-looking bruises on the young woman for days.
Janessa made eye contact with Hyperion over her attacker’s shoulder, but instead of beckoning for his help, the Feral gave her Alpha a confident smirk. With a sudden twist, Janessa feigned to the side, twisting the man’s arms with her. Attacking the elbow that was now directed towards the ceiling, Janessa linked her hands above the joint and brought them hurling down in a fierce blow, instantly snapping the elbow and eliciting a sharp cry from the strangler. The first blow was followed by a rough uppercut to her jaw and a well-deserved kick to his ribs. As the man fell back, Janessa picked up a discarded tranq dart from the floor and jabbed it into the man’s neck, rendering him unconscious.
Allowing herself mere moments to catch her breath and rub a soothing hand over her already-darkening throat, Janessa shook off her fatigue and met her Alpha’s eyes once more.
[b “Well, that took a little longer than expected. We should go if we want to meet the Director’s deadline.”] Janessa stated, a little displeased at the lingering hoarseness to her voice. Cuts and bruises could be explained away, but the dark handprints forming on her throat would be harder to excuse. Nico was going to be furious when he saw her.
Leaving the painful moans and groans in their wake, Janessa stepped out of the now-dismantled mayor’s house and closed her eyes. She sorted through the multitude of scents – sifting past the armed men, the familiar tones of her and Hyperion, the stench of blood, exhaust, and nearby cigarette smoke, until she locked on to the scent she was looking for. The same scent that was so prominent in the house.
[b “The mayor’s wife was this way.”] Janessa stated confidently, tracking her target with barely a chance to recover from the fight. If the Director was somehow unimpressed with her deduction or her ability to fight, at least he couldn’t complain about her dedication.
Nightmare faced Nico, matching his every step like some sort of twisted dance. As he shifted forwards, she shifted back, never allowing the distance between them to close. Her cruel features, still scathed from her last encounter with Nico, twisted into a flinch as the Elemental reminded her of that fateful collision. He may have been bluffing, but it was convincing enough for the fearsome woman. She had no intention of allowing Nico to “finish what he started”.
[#ff00ff “You only won our last fight because I underestimated you. Don’t make the same mistake with me Shadow, or you will live to regret it.”] The woman hissed, her eyes darting around the cells in search of an easy escape.
[#ff00ff “You’re harder to ready than I thought… I assumed your greatest fear was losing the people you loved, but that’s not entirely true. Fear… pure fear… it’s crippling. Paralyzing. But you weren’t frozen with your fear, you were enraged by it. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting that. But I can adapt.”] Nightmare elaborated, watching Shadow with intent. Her next move as a dangerous one… one that might very well result in her death, but she had little choice in the matter. If she left now, Nico would free the prisoners and Boyd would have Nightmare killed for her failure. Either way, her life was on the line. If this was her last stand, she’d give it everything she had.
[#ff00ff “Last time we met, I made you watch as I killed your girlfriend. But I’ve learned from my mistakes Shadow. So tell me, what frightens you more? Losing the people you love? Or having their blood on your hands?”] Nightmare questioned darkly. She withdrew her ability from the rest of the room, giving the other prisoners a brief reprieve. Instead, Nightmare focused all of her powers on Nico, forcing him into another of her fear-driven illusions:
Imaginary versions of Cody, Dylan, Sarah, and Keelyn surrounded them – each of Nico’s friends forced against the walls of the cells by what appeared to be Nico’s own Shadows. Baby Jackson’s crying echoed through the room as a haunting backdrop for the scene, coupled by the gasps and please of Nico’s friends seemingly begging [i him] for mercy! Taking the illusions one step further, Nightmare conjured a vision of Jason’s lifeless body on the floor at Nico’s feet and altered her own appearance in this illusion so that she looked exactly like Janessa. The only thing that lingered was the true terror in her eyes as she looked at the Elemental before her. Nightmare’s only protection was that simple hope that Nico would be too enveloped in the illusions to remember it was her. If Shadow believed she was Janessa, he wouldn’t dare hurt her… right?
[b “You… you killed him… You really are a monster…”] Janessa’s voice sobbed as the imaginary Shadows began to curl around her, circling her arms, her legs, her waste, and eventually her throat. Nightmare was throwing everything into this Illusion, desperate to stop Nico in his tracks, at least until one of Boyd’s men discovered them and sounded the alarm. If this didn’t work, the prisoners would be freed and Nightmare would be as good as dead!
Jason listened as White Tigress reasoned out that this was all an elaborate test. Jason stayed silent for the most part, not wanting to intervene. He knew what happened after all. This wasn't his test. She was doing well so far. Janessa was acting quickly, logically and efficiently and Jason had to force himself not to nod along to the observations that she was making. If she kept this up then she would work out where the Mayor's wife was in no time at all. Jason's enhanced, feral senses picked up the same sounds that Janessa's did. Having feral abilities was always a beautiful feeling for Jason, being able to see and hear things other people couldn't it made him feel even more powerful than he already was. He heard the fall of footsteps as the men they belonged to rushed to their positions and attempted to surround the suspect in the mayor's house.
Jason smirked, this was an undercover Organisation team, not wearing any of the usual gear or identifying markers that would usually tip anyone off over who these men were. They had been instructed not to hold back. As soon as they saw Janessa and Jason they opened fire, powerful tranquilliser darts designed to put down any super and bring them in. With their enhanced feral reactions both Jason and Janessa were easily able to dodge the darts aimed at them. It looked like Janessa was gearing up to fight this threat before tracking the scent she had of the Mayor's wife. Jason would have to report that back to the Director, she had a choice, fight now or find her target first. Her decision to attack first instead of pursuing her objective would be very interesting to the Director. She had almost worked out the real crux of the test. She said it herself and she was so close, she just needed to make one more connection before she could pass this test. Finding the mayor's wife wasn't enough.
She wanted the Director to see that she was invaluable, she needed to show him what Janessa Pierce could do for him. The Director could snap his fingers and have a feral working for him but that wasn't enough. That was all he had time to think as the men started to fan out and attempt to subdue both Jason and Janessa, their orders had been very explicit; make this as real as possible and don't hold back.
Nico dragged the unconscious guard into a side room, so as to not be discovered by the others on patrol in the compound, as he kept saying to himself stealth was his greatest asset. As the dark elemental delved deeper into the underground tunnels he could tell that something was wrong, it wasn't just that he was on edge and wary but it was altogether more. His heart started to beat faster and his palms grew sweaty as he realised why this worry was worming its way into his mind. This fear was not natural, it was Nightmare. He recognised her distinct ability anywhere, having fallen prey to her abilities before. This just got a whole lot more dangerous.
[b "Nightmare, I thought it was your vile abilities I felt coming here. You sound a little scared of me...how ironic. I'm sure I don't have t remind you what happened the last time we met."] Nico was putting on a brave face but sooner or later his nerve would leave him. He had been safe from nightmare before due to circumstance and blinding rage, neither of which he hd right now. He was bluffing and he was hoping with every fibre of his being that she didn't call his bluff. He took a few steps forward.
[b "You know your abilities don't work on me, we've done this dance before. I'm a creature of darkness and there is far worse than the likes of you lurking in the shadows."] Nico knew he could beat Nightmare in a physical contest but he might not get that chance, he needed to be smart, he needed to use his wits against her, he needed to make her believe she had already lost. If she decided to use the full extent of her abilities then he would be a broken mess. His only priority was freeing those captured supers and returning them to Michael, that was all he needed to do. If he couldn't hold up his end of the bargain then everything he had done would be for nothing.
[b "Stand aside Nightmare, don't make me finish what I started."]
[b “I’m choosing my words very carefully Jason. I said what I said so that you and the Director would know exactly how serious I am. But if you think I’m doing this just to take my turn…”] Tigress let her argument drop with an offended snarl. She wasn’t doing this because she wanted to. The very thought of being used like a weapon for the Director’s gain – even so far as to hurt the people she cared about – it sickened her. Janessa had a strong aversion to that loss of independence ever since Michael manipulated her feelings towards Nico back at the Sanctuary years before. To offer someone else that same type of control was revolting and had Jason known her better, he’d understand just how much this meant to her.
[b “This may be selfish of me Jason, but not for the reasons you think. You’re too dangerous Jason. If I was pitted against anyone in our group, I could hold my own. I bet I could even give Nico a challenge if it ever came to it. But you? You’ve got a dozen different abilities at your disposal, and without your conscience to stop you, it would take minutes to wipe out everyone I care about. If you would kill me – your own pack – the others wouldn’t stand a chance.”] Janessa admitted, trying desperately to hide the way her voice strained when she spoke about Jason turning on her. Even though she knew it wasn’t something he could control, the thought of her own Alpha betraying her like that was hard to swallow.
[b “And you… you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself Jason. The minute you killed me, you’d gain my Feral abilities permanently. You’d never be able to shut it off. That grief, that self-loathing… betraying your pack goes against every natural instinct a Feral has and it’s so much worse for an Alpha. It will drive you mad Jason. I’ve seen it happen…”] Janessa shifted uncomfortably, revisiting a flash of her past that she had thus far kept hidden. Not even Nico knew about the pack she ran with in the years before he met her nor the tragedy that ended it. It was hard to tell who had the worse fate: the dead or the ones that killed them.
Janessa thought going into this that she could eventually reason with her Alpha. She thought by twisting her words forcing his hand and explaining her motives, he’d see that this was the only way. But she wasn’t the only one who knew the power behind certain words and with Jason’s plea, the heroine’s confidence evaporated. She turned her eyes away, visibly flinching at the words. She knew she couldn’t back down, not without sacrificing Jason’s freedom and putting everyone she loved at risk. But ignoring that genuine plea still felt like a betrayal against her Alpha and it [i hurt].
Without another word, Janessa fled, not daring to speak again until she reached the address. Burying the weight of her decision behind a wall of focused determination, Janessa settled in her mission. She allowed her senses to take over, feeding her wave after wave of information within seconds of entering the house. Janessa briefly wondered whether the Feral senses were still overwhelming to Jason. He had taken on her abilities often enough, but it was always temporary. To Janessa, interpreting these senses was as natural as breathing. She stood in silence for less than a minute before her eyes narrowed behind her mark and an unimpressed scowl marred her face.
[b “He’s testing me.”] It wasn’t a question, rather a pointed observation. She knew this mission would be the Director’s opportunity to taste her skills, but now she felt like a rat in a maze. Well, if the Director wanted to see what she could do, Janessa would give him exactly what he asked for.
[b “The house is empty – has been for a little less than hour. The last person here was the cleaning staff, judging by the lingering blend of citrus and chemicals. That smell is distracting… but not entirely deceiving.”] Janessa stated as she stepped carefully into the next room. Her piercing eyes flickered from the photos and newspaper clippings framed and hung on the wall, to the discarded envelopes in the mail basket on the table. She passed from room to room swiftly, taking only as much time as she needed to gather her evidence. As she went, she narrated her deductions to her Alpha, knowing it was Jason’s job to judge her in this and it would be easier on both of them if she complied.
[b “The woman’s a socialite; wealthy, well-connected, not the type to sit home alone. Her home décor, private cleaning staff, and wardrobe are evidence to that, as is the fact that she was gone before her husband returned for lunch and he clearly wasn’t alarmed.”] Janessa explained, judging from the fact of the man’s scent mingled with delicious smells of his meal, far more recent than the wife’s scent. No note was left, no messages on the answering machine, meaning the man had no explanation for the empty house but ate his lunch and returned to work regardless. The woman probably did this often enough that he wasn’t worried.
[b “Of course, this wasn’t a social visit. You would know, Hyperion, you were here.”] She stated, glancing towards her accusingly Alpha as she caught the very familiar scent still hovering from early that afternoon. It was nearly as faded as the wife’s leading Janessa to believe Jason was more involved than he let on.
Continuing her walk, Janessa paused before one of the framed photos on the wall, featuring the owners of the house as well as another couple posing together at what seemed to be a charitable fundraiser. The man was tall with blonde hair and familiar eyes, while the woman’s darker hair framed such similar features that Janessa could have been looking in a mirror. Admittedly, she hadn’t seen any photos of her parents since their deaths two years prior, so it was natural for this one to catch her off guard.
[b “They knew my parents…”] She stated, turning around for a second glance at the images, reading the information with fresh insight. When she realized who she was looking at, Janessa’s eyes snapped back to Jason’s in a defiant stare.
[b “What does the Director want with the Mayor?”] She demanded, not liking where this investigation was leading: the woman had been removed from the house, leaving no explanation for her husband. If there had been a struggle, the evidence had been unknowingly wiped way by the cleaning staff mere hours ago, but Janessa highly doubted it a coincidence that one of this city’s most powerful and influential wives had disappeared just as the Director was seeking his new source of information. Though she hadn’t the time to dwell on that notion for long as a more pressing thought entered her mind.
[b “The Mayor’s house should have alarms, security systems… I doubt a man of that status would be careless enough to leave the window unlocked. The cleaning staff would know better than to leave the premise unsecured, which means they weren’t the last ones here. That cleaner wasn’t a coincidence, it was a distraction.”] Janessa growled, her ears twitching at every sound as she fell back into a more defensive stance.
[b “I don’t know if these are the Director’s allies or his competitors, but they knew we were coming and they’re ready for us. There’s a group closing in from across the street. I guess your Boss will get his chance to see how well I can fight.”] Janessa hissed, standing her ground. The only way to find the Mayor’s wife from here would be to follow her scent, but tracking over distances like that takes time… time she didn’t have if she was being chased by whoever the hell was approaching the house. She and Jason would have to deal with this threat first.
<<I wasn’t really, sure what your intentions were, so I hope I’m not messing things up. Just thought a good fight scene might be fun. If you want me to edit anything let me know.>>
[i “No, NO! Get it away from me! No! You can’t! NO!”] The shrill cries echoed around the basement walls, lacing each word with utter terror. The entire atmosphere of the basement was poisoned by the eerie chill of fear and whimpers could from several of the prisoners kept there under lock and key. One victim in particular had the misfortune of drawing a little too much attention to himself. A few defiant words, a bold act of brave heroics, and an unwavering loyalty had landed this poor soul in the sights of one of Boyd’s few chosen guards. A guard who made it her mission to ensure the prisoner regretted ever daring to speak out against her.
Nightmare stood in front of the cowering man looking just as ominous as always. There were fresh stitches marring her skin, as well as several lacerations and bruises that hadn’t quite healed yet, making the woman look even more terrifying than usual, not to mention, any small shred of patience or mercy that the Super once had was now gone. It had taken far too long for her to recover from her nearly fatal beating at Shadow’s hands and now the woman was eager to lash back… even if her current victims had nothing to do with the object of her anger.
With Nightmare’s keen sensitivity to the element of fear, it was blatant when the room was breached by someone so far untouched by her terrifying influence. She instantly switched her focus from the man and turned to face the newcomer. She couldn’t see him yet, but the way the shadows danced along the walls was enough for her to know exactly who was approaching, and for once, it was Nightmare that showed true fear.
[#ff00ff “Shadow… Here to finish the job? I am not going to let you kill me. I swear, if you come anywhere near me, I’ll show you just how paralyzing fear can be!”]
[#06b9ea "You're damn right I disapprove but there's nothing that can be done about it now. You're not a child and can make your own decisions, I just hope you realise that there are always consequences."] Jason wasn't an idiot, he knew that Janessa would stick to her plan and try to free him regardless of all logical arguments to the contrary, she was far too loyal, much like Nico in a way. Janessa wanted to free Jasona and Jason wanted to keep Janessa as far away from the Director and his influence as possible, it would be interesting to see who would be successful in their endeavours. There was no way both of them could get what they wanted.
[#06b9ea "I'm sorry"] Jason didn't really know Emma to be bothered by his death and he had no particular love for any of the other Tanners either, the only real rwasn he cared about what happened to Emma was that Janessa seemed to care and her emotions bled into him through the bond they had. It was a peculiar notion realising that what you felt was the result of someone else's emotions and Hyperion wasn't entirely sure that he liked the sensation. At hearing that Nico had made an accord wth Michael Hyperion actually snarled, that was almost as bad as making one with the Director! No doubt Jason would have to bail Nico out of this mess as well, that boy was going to get himself killed if he wasn't careful and what made it worse was that Nico already knew that Michael could absolutely not be trusted.
[#06b9ea "I appreciate the effort you're going through Pierce, I do but this sin't something you want to be a part of and for God's sake pick your words carefully. If you ever credibly threaten the Director in my earshot again I will have to act accordingly. I don't have a choice in the matter. Of course I'm going to have to tell him this...which is exactly what you want but it won't always be so easy to twist the conditions that I placed myself under. I can't force you to stop but I can ask. Please don't do this. Please."] Everything the Empath said was true, if Janessa ever truly threatened the Director Jason would have no choice but to put her down like an animal, he didn't want to but his desires had very little say in the matter. Hopefully Jason's sincere plea would get through to Janessa more than his rage or disapproval. As Janessa launched herself at the buildings, scaling them to travel on the rooftops of the city Jason followed suit if a little inelegantly but of course the longer the two traveled the better Jason became as he mimicked the abilities of his Feral ally.
It didn't take long to reach the address, a large home of an undoubtedly wealthy family, seemingly unguarded. The two supers found an open window at the rear of the house and slipped inside without any issue and that's when the real test began. Jason of course knew a few details that Janessa was unaware of, it was up to her to find them out without his assistance, he was to intervene only if their lives were in serious danger. Janessa would need to scour the home for the relevant information and act accordingly, the source of information wasn't a laptop, document or any other piece of information, it was the woman pictured in many of the photographs displayed in the home. She would need to recognise that this was the home of the Mayor and his wife and that she had been taken away from here at some point this afternoon, Jason knew as he had been there for the incident. This was all just an elaborate riddle set up by the Director to see if Janessa was intelligent enough for him to put time and effort into. Solve who this woman was and where she had been taken using the subtle clues left carefully in the abode, then get there in under twelve hours would be the first step to whether or not the Director even considered her offer of a trade.
[#06b9ea "You better find whatever information he wants, the clock is ticking..."]
Janessa took note of the vacant chairs set out before the Director, but made no move to sit. She could feel Jason’s eyes on her as she entered and allowed her keen Feral senses to compensate for her sheer refusal to look at him. Jason’s scent seemed normal, not tainted by the metallic tint of blood that might give away any injuries but his heartbeat seemed a little faster than usual, as if he was anxious about something. The Director, on the other hand, seemed perfectly at ease despite the two deadly Supers in his presence. Janessa knew she had to play this carefully. She had been potting her methods for weeks now, piecing together her plan to get Jason out from under the Director’s control. Her plan as far from perfect, but being unable – and unwilling – to enlist Nico and the Tanners, Janessa would have to make do with her own resources.
The first step to her plan was simple enough. She was going to entice the Director into making another deal. Tigress would take every opportunity on this mission to show she would make an invaluable asset to the Director, while maintaining an arrogant rebellion just to prove how little control he had over her for now. She needed the Director to consider trading someone as powerful as Jason for herself… not an easy feat, but it would be the only way to dig Hyperion out of this trap. Once he was free from the Director’s commands, the rest would fall into place. But for now, Janessa had to play up her part.
[b “I beg to differ. In my eyes, you’re still the enemy here, Director. As I told you before, Feral’s don’t take kindly to their Alpha’s being kept on a leash. If you don’t want the hostility, maybe you should reconsider my other offer.”] Janessa stated, making clear reference to her offer to take Jason’s place. She didn’t dare restate the proposition aloud in front of Jason, knowing her Alpha would be furious. He had warned her not to make this first deal with the Director, no doubt he’d adamantly disapprove of her second offer. Afraid of what she might see if she glanced at Jason, Janessa kept her defiant eyes fixed on the Director.
[b “It sounds like you don’t have much confidence in me, Director. This mission will change that.”] White Tigress asserted. She had no intention of failing these orders, especially since this was her first chance to prove herself. She needed the Director to value her if she was ever going to convince him to bargain for Jason’s freedom. Behind her own ulterior motives, however, was a far more frightening truth: she couldn’t fail this mission because the Director ordered her not to. Getting this information source was the first of his three favours and Janessa couldn’t deny that request any more than she could refuse to meet with him here tonight.
Glancing at the written address, Janessa committed the words to memory before watching the memo burn out of existence. So far, this mission seemed pretty straight forward: arrive at the address unseen, slip into the building to locate the information source, and return to the Director without causing too much of an disturbance, but Janessa highly doubted it would be that easy. Still, the ominous foreboding that hung in the air did little to dissuade the Feral. She was equally suited for both stealth and close combat, so this mission shouldn’t be any more than she could handle. Janessa doubted Hyperion would need to intervene, although the thought did strike her – this would be one of the first occasions she and the Alpha would fight side by side. Ferals were powerful and imposing as individuals, but that was nothing compared to what they could accomplish as a Pack.
With the time constraint in place, Janessa accepted her orders and the Director’s dismissal and exited the room, sensing Hyperion’s presence behind her. Regretfully, the Feral realized she couldn’t just ignore the Empath for the duration of their mission. She’d be forced to confront him eventually and it as probably better to clear the air before they arrived at their target. Once they were far enough from the ears of the Director, She finally dared a glance towards her Alpha.
[b “I know you disapprove, Hyperion, but I know what I’m doing. I swore I’d get you out of this, and I have every intention of keeping that promise. Especially now…”] She stated, slowing her pace slightly as her shoulders sagged and her mouth twisted into a heavy frown.
[b “We lost Emma. The Tanners are crippled from her death and Nico was forced to make some sort of deal with Michael just to ensure our safety. I won’t lose anyone else. As long as you’re bound by that deal, it puts their lives as well as your own at risk. I won’t stand for it.”] Tigress admitted, picking up her pace once again as they created distance between themselves and the Director’s office.
Janessa wished she could put the rest of her plan into action without involving Jason, but the Director clearly didn’t trust her. She needed someone to vouch for her… someone who was compelled to act on the Director’s best interests. It was manipulative and unfair – enough to caught a knot of guilt in the Feral’s chest, but she had no other choice. She just hoped Jason would forgive her when… [i if] this all worked out.
[b “Last time we spoke, you told me that if you had to choose between me and the Director… you’d choose him. So choose him. Protect him. Do what you know is best for him. I can either be a great asset for the Director, or a dangerous threat. I will kill if I have to… if it’s the only way to free you. Which leaves the Director with only two ways to stop me: either make me a deal or kill me.”] Janessa stated, knowing exactly what weight her words carried. She had been thinking through this for weeks now and finally came to the conclusion that this was her only chance. She had to show she was too dangerous to ignore, but too valuable to lose.
[b “I’ve set up contingencies. I’ve put things in place if I don’t make it home. Right now, I’m the only one who knows about the Director’s hold on you and the only one out for blood if he doesn’t release you. But as soon as I die, every one of my allies will know. Nico, the Tanners, the Vigilante’s I ran with before I even met Shadow, and several other Supers I’ve made contact with over the years. If I become a martyr, the Director won’t just have one rogue to worry about, he’ll have dozens out for his head. It’s in his best interest to keep me alive… to keep me in line.”] Janessa stated, laying out the truth of the situation. She wanted both Jason and the Director to understand: his life was at risk so long as she was alive, but that risk only grew if he tried to have her killed. She wanted him backed into a corner, where his only option as to strike a deal. She needed to make herself more valuable to have than Jason. Hyperion had both the power and the knowledge needed to take the Director down, but he could only do it if he was free.
[b “I won’t make a move until I’ve paid my debt. Once the Director’s three favours are used up, I’ll start my hunt. He had until then to take my deal.”] Janessa admitted. The adrenaline spurred by the weight of her conversation had built to an almost unbearable level. Knowing that their twelve hours were ticking away, Janessa let the conversation fade for now and focused on reaching her target. Letting that adrenalin guide her, Janessa launched herself at the wall of a nearby building, springing off the wall for added height and momentum as she agilely climbed to the roof of the building. Unhindered by traffic, obstacles, or pedestrians, Tigress was able to move with a lot more speed and agility along the rooftops, allowing her Feral instincts and abilities as well as her own athletic conditioning to guide her across the city center with ease. It wouldn’t be long until they reached the address the Director had given them and Janessa’s first mission would truly begin.
Nico embraced the endless void of the cold darkness in the world that he alone had power over, it was refreshing knowing that at least in here no one was his rival, not Michael, not Pascal, not Bennett nor Boyd. With so many other parts of his life out of his control it was an almost zen like peace that he felt here where he could literally mould reality to his whims. Drawing a long deep breath of cold air that filled his lungs and was so cold that it seemed to burn Nico finally slipped out of the world that so many others seemed to despise but he found such refuge in and excited outside into a dingy back alley in one of the least reputable parts of town and in front of an all too familiar building, one he had endured hell in; Boyd's casino. This was the place where Kate had died to save him, the place where his life had changed. This was where many of the Supers that neither Michael nor Cody had managed to save were being kept, dozens of them, possibly even hundreds. The Sanctuary was a large haven and many had called it home, if even half its citizens were prisoners then Boyd had a lot of prisoners in his compound. Luckily Nico had a few tricks up his sleeve.
From his previous trips to this godforsaken place he knew the general layout but it looked like security had been increased somewhat unsurprisingly but Nico had a job to do and no amount of added goons would make a difference. Using the shadows to his advantage as only a dark elemental could he managed to slip past the first group of Boyd's guards as they patrolled and made his way to the perimeter. He needed to be careful if he gave himself away then he wouldn't stand a chance of fighting his way out of this complex. Stealth was his best weapon for now. Creeping through the compound was slow work, but necessary and he even had a bit of a lucky break when Nico heard that the prisoners had been moved and were being held in a couple of basements. That was good, Nico was pretty sure it would be easier getting into basements than into some of Boyd's special holding cells.
The Director sat in his chair waiting for the inevitable moment Janessa Pierce walked through unable to resist his call. Hyperion was already waiting inside, saying nothing, standing stoically instead of taking one of the empty seats on the other side of the large wooden desk. The Director had Hyperion's loyalty, if only because he had forced it out of the Empath but that was irrelevant, a vow had been made and was unable to be broken.
[#06b9ea "She's here."] That was the extent of Jason's contribution, he wouldn't admit it to the Director but he was nervous for Janessa, he was her alpha and ultimately he held himself responsible for her regardless of what she herself thought. As if on cue Janessa opened the door and pointedly avoided making eye contact with her alpha.
[#ce0d27 "Greetings Miss Pierce. No need to sound so hostile, this is nothing to be so defensive about. It shall bring no harm to your friends as per your request. What I want is for you to acquire something for me, a very sensitive source of information that you will find at this address. Hyperion shall be accompanying you this evening, primarily as an observer but should you fail to act accordingly he shall step in and ensure that what I need is handled appropriately."] The Director slid over a small piece of paper with an address written on it in a very nice part of the city, letting both Janessa and Hyperion look at it before Hyperion caused the paper to combust and turn into ash, no need to leave unnecessary evidence around the place. This operation was a simple one, and the Director could have sent any number of his loyal followers and know that the mission would be successful but he was curious about the young woman in front of him. This was an audition of sorts to not only see what she was physically capable of but how she performed under pressure and to unexpected circumstances. If Janessa could successfully deliver this source of information then maybe the Director might have to think of a more permanent way to keep her a part of his plans at the Organisation.
[#ce0d27 "One last thing you have only twelve hours to acquire this, otherwise this chance will be lost and I will be most displeased. You two better get moving."]
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