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 Post subject: Meeting the Puppetmaster
PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 9:03 pm 
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Location: ...Tracking...please wait...
For a long moment, Zan was in a very, very enclosed space. Little more room than a small closet with thick stone walls enclosed him, with barely the room to stand up. Then, a moment later, he was... elsewhere.

Elsewhere, it seemed, was a small room with a door, four walls, a floor, a ceiling, and a single occupant. Aside from himself, one figure stood, a guard of honor position beside the door. Marionette Guardian, the figure they had only met once before.

He had arrived.

(ooc: This is the short thread for Zan. Zan, we'll discuss your first post over AIM.)

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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 9:37 pm 
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With a unanimous decision to take the brown path (Zan's mind doing the best it could to stay clean after such a thought), the group was soon on its way. The walk itself was quiet and notably boring, no one really speaking up and no real side conversations sparked. The group as a whole, to Zan anyway, seemed to be preparing for whatever possible nastiness was up ahead. The werewolf kept his senses keen and focused, intent on catching any would-be ambushers if they had the call to appear. It wouldn't exactly surprise him, really, if even the 'correct' path was riddled with reasons not to be there. When they emerged from he path (one that disappeared behind them, no less) unscathed, the lycanthrope let his guard down - if only a little. They had come out in a similar place of clear wilderness as the path itself, with a singular exception not too far off in the distance. The structure was Greco-Roman in design and, from what Zan's honed sight could see from his current distance, led downward. It wouldn't be unlike the Elites to hide some menacing boss in a place that looked like the correct path, but the Heavy Blade was fairly certain they had found the next place on their metaphorical list. Sure, said boss might still be in there, but such things were expected anywhere in The World.

The group slowly but surely making their way down the staircase, Zan had to admit he was surprised at how well lit the hallway they found themselves in was. The room it led into wasn't anything impressive, but it gave them all breathing room. Zan was about two seconds from being grateful for that when Nall's voice boomed. Nall wasn't generally the one nice enough to give them fair warning, so the fact that he did spelled trouble. Without another thought, the werewolf was bolting through the room with all the speed his Infection and his level brought him, ignoring the odd deflection of the swords that had started to fall around him. No doubt Nall was being twitchy and protecting them from being skewered by the trap. Worked for Zan. The lycanthrope waited for everyone in the next room, his heart thudding slightly in his chest as the rest of the Freedom Fighters poured through and the door slammed shut behind them. Again. A quick head count showed that one was missing, however, and that individual wasn't hard to figure out. Nall. The bastards had taken out one of their biggest hitters. Could he get through the door, could he--...and the next challenge presented itself. An oddly angled stream of Rai energy burst towards the group, spelling out what was probably death for any it came into contact with. Zan had only a moment to be annoyed before Silver was saving them, something about the way he casted his own Ani column holding back the power of the Rai Don. So that was his hack. A breath later and they were separated from him as well. God damn it.

Flashmail!
To: Zan
From: Marionette
RE: cluE

holD uP thE dooR.

Flashmail! End


Uh? The Lycan had a moment to wonder what in the holy hell his 'favorite' puppetmaster was talking about before the hallway that undoubtedly led to their next progression began to lose an entrance. Oh, that door. Mustering up all the strength he could in his human form (as inhuman as that strength was, he still wasn't sure it would be enough to hold up a slab of descending stone), Zan positioned himself in its way, both hands slamming up to stop the fall. Grunting past the weight of the damn thing, arms beginning to tremor, he could only hope everyone would get their collective asses through in time. Lucky enough for his increasingly screaming arms, they managed. Sad thing, however, was the Lycan's inability to follow them. The way he had placed himself in the threshold gave him no time to roll forward or get out of the slab's way, should he choose to try. All he could do was step back, let it fall, and hope his Garou had the strength to knock the thing down. It was a bit early to be pulling out the Rage Form, the War Form, but it seemed a proper time to use the tools he had. Stumbling backwards and watching the stone crack down, Zan began to prepare himself for the change.

Which, of course, part of the wall freaking swallowed him up and he found himself in pitch blackness.

With that blackness came the claustrophobic knowledge he was in a space that was...cramped, for a lack of a better word. Barely able to stand up in the proportions it gave him, his hands brushed along stone, making out a space that was hardly fit to be a closet, let alone a place to hold a Heavy Blade. Zan's senses, not surprisingly, gave him absolutely nothing to freaking work with. They only told him what his hands had already figured out. So was this Marionette's plan, to cut him off from his group and whisper in the darkness of some closet about their dealings, their contract? It seemed a little unprofessional, to tell the truth, but Zan still felt better off than Silver and Nall. At least, theoretically, the Hub Guardian would allow him to get back to his group afterward. They still had Rayo, however, so they weren't exactly lacking in power. The high-leveled Mage would keep them safe. He had faith. That wonderful little bout of nervosa taken care of, the lycanthrope simply waited for the voice or the flashmail to come. Technically Marionette could have flashmailed him without trapping him in a dank box, but the guy was a little off his rocker. Indulging himself in a yawn, eyes closing to only more darkness, Zan froze when the same eyes opened to light.

And Marionette's Guardian.

The room he found himself in was simple enough, a door past the Guardian promising progression. Did the door lead back to his friends after he had a little chat with Marionette's bitchboy? Maybe. Zan had personally been under the impression that he'd get to meet the infamous man in person during their meeting, but perhaps that had been expecting too much. No one in the Freedom Fighters was even sure the bastard had an actual body. He could probably conjure one up for him to use as an avatar, should he ever need it, but had the Elites really programmed him with any sort of actual physical representation? Would the puppetmaster use some telepathy or something similar to talk to him or through the Guardian? The sheer number of possibilities was too dizzying to imagine, so Zan figured the best way to find out was to simply press on. The Guardian didn't seem to want to elicit any sort of battle, so that worry was more or less nil. Besides, if the Guardian wanted to fight, Zan would probably get owned. The git just had that air about him.

Zan eyed the Guardian in the middle of the room, caution tight over his posture as he approached the figure. "You. Why didn't Marionette come himself? I don't want to be making deals with a middleman."

Guardian bowed, not comically or mockingly, but almost reverential. "You shall not deal with me; I am here to welcome you to my Master's presence. I only require one token from you before you may pass."

What caution had been instilled in the werewolf before now grew tenfold, the idea of needing some sort of token to proceed not boding well. What with, you know, him not having one. "And this 'token' is?"

"A sign. A gesture of goodwill, of trust." The silver cane was raised, its end pointed at the wolf man. On it's bottom was a raised, and rather ornate, 'M'. No larger than a quarter. "You know what silver does to you, I'm sure; my Master doesn't ask for this to be obvious. Merely a simple sign, somewhere on your person. Where, is up to you."

Zan paused as the Guardian's wish registered, the lycanthrope's Beast trying to run away under his skin, to bail at the prospect of being burned by the Cursed Metal. For a while he simply stared at the man, the creature, both deciding whether or not it was worth being actually branded like cattle and just where he was going to allow it to be. Finally, he simply sighed and removed the fingerless glove of his left hand, offering up the back of it as he stepped closer. "Do it."

With a nod, Guardian pressed the tip of the cane into the back of the man's hand. A slight hiss, perhaps the smell of burning flesh, would follow. Only a few seconds later, the cane was removed, and Guardian bowed again. "The scar will not be permanent; it will be erased once our contract has ended. Worry not of carrying our sign to your grave."

With that, Guardian stepped back and bowed once more. He swung open the door, revealing a long hallway. Ornate carpet covered the floor, a series of pillars leading away into the distance, each with a torch on it. Outside the pillars, far to either side, was darkness. The path was clear. Guardian set off at a moderate pace, expecting the werewolf to keep up.

Zan gritted his teeth against the pain, the feel of the metal as itchy as it was agonizing, his wolf scrambling in a frantic panic. Slipping his glove over the mark for now, not sure if Marionette needed to see it or what not, ignoring the jolt of pain from the leather's contact, he took in the sight of the revealed hallway and hesitated for only a thought. He straightened the collar of his trenchcoat and moved his eyes from pillar to pillar, darkness to darkness, anticipating some sort of ambush through his rising paranoia. Why so ornate? Why so flashy? For now, though, the lycanthrope stayed silent, finding no reason to make small talk with the Guardian. All he could do was stick close, hope the Guardian didn't run off giggling and lose him in a maze of some brand of madness or another, and breathe. If the lycanthrope really was on his way to meet Marionette, he'd need as much of his wits about him as he could gather. He had no idea what to expect. Just as easily as Marionette could be a woman or some flaming homosexual man, he could be buffed out muscleman or grotesque gargoyle. Too many possibilities for Zan's tired brain to contemplate once more.

Small talk would have gone unanswered, anyway. Before too long, they arrived at the other end of the 'hallway'. Another ornate door was opened, to reveal an opulent room no castle could match. The floor was coated in crimson carpet, bordered with gold scrollwork. A vast selection of furniture, aged wood inset with jewels and covered in velvet, was scattered about. The walls seemed plastered with solid gold, for wallpaper. Paintings of pastoral scenes, replicas of fine art, and jewel-encrusted mirrors hung everywhere. Plush pillows lay flung about the room in piles, blankets and quilts equally everywhere. Strangely, no weapons were present; nothing on the walls, not even in the paintings.

Once Zan entered, Guardian swung shut the door, closing it with a simple click. Not of a lock, just a well-made doorknob. Zan would hardly notice, though; what would stick out in his mind is the figure he had come to meet. Marionette, in all his glory, lounged on an opulent couch.

Zan was not one to simply glaze his eyes over a new area. No, he liked to absorb the details with all the definition he could and, well, this particular room was almost too much. Things were so fucking shiny. It wasn't hard for the lycanthrope to feel underdressed and under...classed. At all. However, never one to feel inferior to those with more monetary capabilities (though such things hardly mattered in The World anyway), he didn't hunch. He didn't make any sign of discomfort. Which was when his eyes fell upon the figure that could only be the infamous Marionette. Clad in a sleek white suit with black, triangular decorations circling the bottom of his shirt and the cuffs of his sleeves (and, a look down told him the bottom of each pant leg as well). An odd rose design, a crest of sorts perhaps, was imprinted on the front pocket of his shirt and the top of his white-gloved hands in turn. Wearing what could only be described as a solid jester's hat, three 'ears' curving into purple-rose-tipped spikes behind him, he looked too clean-cut to be comical. No, the strong and exaggerated jut of upward-curving, black-spiked chin held its own brand of elegance. Yellow and black clashed in a number of shapes on that hat, the top of it painted with a similar purple rose to the ones that actually hung from the three previously mentioned 'ears'. Mostly-black shoes pointed sharply upwards, but they only distracted Zan from the fact that Marionette was holding a yellow flower and had a fucking purple-rose-tipped black tail. Every time Zan tried to find the creature funny, he just found himself more intrigued, more fascinated.

"Please sit." The Guardian spoke, almost startling Zan.

Pausing for a moment by a chair inset with emeralds and rubies as big as his fist, a part of him choosing whether or not to defy the Guardian's request out of simple ego, Zan sat. "Marionette." Need he say more?

"I aM indeeD." While the face on the mask didn't move, the voice didn't seem to come from the figure at all. Nor was it one voice alone. Rather, it was as if many voices were played at once. Some high and feminine, some low and masculine. Some were fast and some were slow, some even seemed to stutter or -- as if it was possible for one stuck in the game -- lag. So the odd formatting wasn't just for flashmail; it was really how he talked. "wE meeT iN thE flesH aT lasT. whaT havE yoU tO saY?"

With his lycanthropic senses nitpicking at every change in octave and frequency, pitch and tone, hearing the figure speak was just this side of painful. A headache seemed to be steadily growing already, but Zan ignored it. There were more important things to be discussed. "I think it best we set down some terms of agreement as to what this 'contract' entails, don't you?" Zan continued on just the same. "What I ask of you is that, in exchange for whatever it is you need from me, you watch over us as you had in the last field. Protect the Freedom Fighters from both the Elites-" He paused then, leaning back in the chair, arms settling on the armrests as his right ankle came to rest on his left knee. "And from you. Whatever the Elites have you doing, if they have you doing anything at all, stop. Or at least draw it back to a minimal. Do whatever you can to see that my friends and the Freedom Fighters as a whole stay alive and well - and free - for as long as our contract is binding." Zan took a breath. "And you, if these terms on my side are acceptable, what will you need from me in return?"

Marionette seemed almost disinterested in what the werewolf was saying. He knew it all already. While Zan was speaking, he was toying with the yellow flower in his fingers. Nor did he look one when Zan was done. "I havE nO desirE tO seE youR partY killeD. I aM guardiaN oF thesE sO-calleD hubS, buT mY tasK iS overrateD. I tirE oF thE taskS thosE abovE givE tO mE. mY risE wilL sooN comE. yoU, I tesT. youR fighT wilL servE mE welL." He paused. So far, so good? "I havE noT alerteD thosE abovE tO youR presencE. theY maY havE noticeD youR succesS iN thE firsT huB, buT iF sO, theY diD noT investigatE." And that did it. With those few lines, it seemed the leader of the forces arrayed against them was agreeing to everything. But what was the catch? "I wilL noT causE mY minionS tO leavE yoU bE, howeveR. whilE I dO noT wisH yoU deaD, iF yoU cannoT besT thE remaininG twO, yoU servE nO usE tO mE. aS foR thE pricE yoU alonE wilL paY... yoU wilL bE mY messengeR tO youR grouP. iF yoU managE tO besT mY minionS, I wilL havE A goaL foR youR grouP. iT wilL falL tO yoU tO convincE theM tO gO. iT wilL furtheR botH oF ouR fightS."

Zan wasn't exactly fond of people blowing him off while he was talking, but it would do no good to make a fuss about it. He wished he could have acted as completely bored by what the array of voices were saying...but he wasn't. Damn it. "So after the next two Hubs, you'll have a place for us to go to and it's my job to get them to go? Is that the extent of what you need from me?" It was easy. Not to be cliche...but almost too easy? Sure, that was assuming the group just went right along with the idea, but...well, he'd worry about that later. It still seemed all too simple.

"essentiallY, yeS. dO noT geT mE wronG, howeveR. whilE I holD nO personaL animositY towardS youR grouP, iT doeS noT meaN thaT I wisH yoU alL succesS. I maY nO longeR wisH tO bE A pawN tO thosE abovE, buT I knoW welL theiR poweR. yoU anD yourS wilL bE foR mE A distractioN. oncE yoU havE broughT youR grouP tO mY choseN destinatioN, ouR contracT wilL enD."

Zan felt what little tension he had lost return, the fact that Marionette had just basically said 'I'll be your enemy soon enough' not settling well in his stomach. Hopefully his contract with the creature wouldn't be discovered by anybody else, especially if this 'chosen destination' ended up fatal. The lycanthrope didn't need anymore guilt. Feeling no reason to be polite with the bastard anymore, however, Zan stood. "Alright, jackass. It's a deal." A glance was given to the door behind him before eyes returned to the puppetmaster. "We done?"

"wE arE. howeveR, tO returN tO youR grouP noW woulD bE suspiciouS. foR thE momenT, yoU havE A choicE. yoU maY staY iN quarterS herE temporarilY tO resT, oR I maY returN yoU noW tO thE prisoN iN whicH I holD silverbladE anD nalL. yoU wilL bE ablE tO breaK freE foR thE battlE, thougH theY wilL noT. iF yoU choosE mY quarterS, I wilL returN yoU tO thaT samE prisoN momentS beforE youR grouP enterS; eitheR waY, yoU wilL avoiD suspicioN."

The werewolf thought about that for only a minute or so, mind weighing the perks of either option. Going straight to Silver and Nall would get him away from the sonuvabitch, but he wanted more information on Marionette. Especially, of course, because the creature had made its ill intentions known. Not that staying in its quarters would give him anything, but one could never be sure. "I guess you're 'quarters' will be fine."

And with that he waited to be taken, waited to be immersed further in the world of Marionette, the puppetmaster.

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2007 5:42 am 
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Location: ...Tracking...please wait...
Marionette's quarters were nearly exactly the same as the room where the pair had met. Different art, slightly different furniture, but the same overabundance of opulent wealth. It seemed that Marionette, presumably trapped in the game (if he was ever human to begin with), surrounded himself in what he couldn't have on the outside.

It didn't take long for Zan to have settled in and realize that he was bored. Despite the wealth of the room, there was really nothing to DO, not for an agitated mind, worried about everything.

Thankfully, he didn't have to wait long.

"It is time."

And, before Zan knew what was happening, he was... elsewhere.

He found himself directly in front of Marionette's newest guardian of the hubs, facing the group.

"So you managed to break free.... I knew my bonds were a little weak for you. Ah well, no matter. One more against me changes little. So, have at you!"

Zan was back for the final showdown. Only... what was that? In the werewolf's hand... A small golden coin, no larger than a nickel. It seemed to have no real function, but something nagging told him not to throw it away...

(ooc: sorry it took so long. But eh, nothing much really happened. You're back in the main thread now.)

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