Family Values
GM: Slinger
Players: Orpheus.
Synopsis: Returning from his infiltration, Orpheus is tired. It's time to relax after the battle, fresh from his victory. Hostages rescued, bomb defused. Things are better. He indulges in a little training play with a couple of the younger Saints who have been left behind to guard things.

Spotting two Demons across the street along with the sound of screams in the apartment building sends Orpheus over to the rescue, with Chris in tow. They infiltrate the room, and Orpheus manages to bring down the ganger. Chris also shot him from behind, but it was Orpheus who delivered the final shot with gel rounds. The combination of his wounds was enough to send the Demon over the edge.

Orpheus works frantically to save the man, but cannot — the lack of medical skill and equipment dooms the Ganger… until a miracle happens.
Date: Aug 4, 2069

Part 1: Boys will be Boys

Well.. Orpheus leaves Gabe and the others to mess with that bomb for now. He mutters something about 'Old enough to fight and maybe die for your causes but not enough to smoke, huh?'. Whatever. As soon as hes out of sight of Gabe he just lights up another one anyway. He NEEDED one bad, about now.. after that mess of a run. Granted, it was successful.. but really a lot more.. involved, than he might have liked. Mostly that was because of Seraph. Orpheus is used to working alone.. solo. And only once in a while in groups, and even then often divided from the rest of the group because of who he was and what his specialty is. A loner, if you will..
Once outside again, Orpheus looks back at the old warehouse/apartments once more before making his way back to the pool hall. He takes his time about it.. He keeps his ruth activated as well.. Like that anonymous feeling it gave. Once hes inside the pool hall again, he turns it off, dragging off his cigarette and looks around at those gathered a moment to see if.. someone.. will say.. something. His eyes dare someone to do so, almost.

You get a few strange looks as you light up, as you draw the smoke into your lungs. The burn is familiar by now, almost pleasant after the stress you experienced, and the rush of nicotine into your warrior's body is calming, soothing. Even so, there is a trail of smoke seeming to come from nowhere each time you exhale; the ruthenium doesn't guard against that.
The Guerreras have one big advantage: they burn for a long time. You are only halfway done by the time you get back to the pool hall. It isn't quite deserted in here, but most of the able-bodied men have gone off to fight, leaving only the younger members, dressed in the gang colors, but without the armbands of a full member. As you slip inside, they look at you, with a hint of awe on their faces, when you remove the ruthenium. "Whoa," one whispers to the other. "He's the one who went in…"

Orpheus looks at those gathered.. these younger gangers. He cant quite make out their faces.. Why were they looking at him like that? Was it awe? Snide? Anger? Hes never been looked at like that before.. "Anyone got a problem with me?" he asks simply.. Seeing if any trouble was to be had here. He waves his cigarette in the air a bit, leaving a trail of smoke like letters written in the air.. He's almost taunting.. waiting for someone to say something about his cigarettes. Honestly, he was getting damn testy about being told not to smoke.. especially when he really wants one.
He looks around again.. "No one?" .. He slowly walks over to a lonely corner of the pool hall and leans against the wall, silently smoking his cigarette.. and thinks about Slinger..

Slinger is off in la-la land, right at the moment. The other young gangers slowly shake their heads. "No, sir," one of them murmurs, shaking his head. He gets up from his chair, and slowly approaches, smelling the smoke in the air. He's a boy perhaps a year younger than you — than your apparent age, anyway, perhaps fifteen or so. "Does Gabe know you smoke?" he asks hesitantly, with a hint of a grin. Not threatening in any way. Just curious, and a little excited to see it. Gabriel isn't here, of course; otherwise, the boy would never ask the question.
Another one comes from behind the bar, and he brings you a drink. A fizzycoke. One of Slinger's favorites. Though you sense that you could probably request anything and get it.

Orpheus takes a deep drag off his cig.. and looks at these ganger kids. Maybe younger than him. Actually likely.. though he looks probably about as young.. Still.. What the heck? They act so timid about something they should have every right to sieze.. or maybe they don't have the guts like Orpheus does..
"Yeah, he knows. Doesn't agree with it.." Orpheus taps some ashes off his cigarette when he says this.. as if saying 'and I don't care'. A glance to the coke.. another odd look from Orph. What is with these kids? "No thanks, amigo.." Orph doesn't think he could drink a coke right now. He was .. too 'tired' for it, if that makes sense.. he just wanted his niccotine.. of course, he could use some snuggles too, but Slinger wasn't reall avaialble..

Slinger sent you here, though… and there are three boys in this room, youths who were too young to fight, and in awe of the one who did. Rumors travel fast among the gang. "Yeah," says the dark-haired, slightly mousy boy. "Gabriel doesn't approve of it for kids. Even though he smokes. It ain't fair," he mutters, as he slides over to lean against one of the pool tables near you, then hops up to perch on the edge of it, watching you. "Anythin' you want? You're kinda a hero, 'n stuff. But you knew that."

He did indeed.. though Orpheus was flying blind essentially.. He knew why he needed to be here. He knew what he wanted to accomplish by being here.. but actually figuring out how to do so.. not nearly as easy. Social situations were just so.. difficult for Orpheus.
"M'no hero," he tells the youth, his own voice about as young as his.. Yet there he is, smoking defiantly while all the other boys can only watch and envy.. "Want?" Orpheus asks, looking at the youth a moment. What should he say? The one thing he really wanted right now was miles and miles away, meditating on his bed.. ".. Like.. What?"

The boy swings his legs from the pool table, while the other two move in as well. "You are! You saved like ten people's lives, and killed some badguys, and captured the bomb and everything!" You're getting credit for all of that, it would seem.
Another one pipes up, "Yeah, want. You know, somethin' to eat, or drink? Or… you know, somebody to talk to?" he suggests, with a wide-eyed grin of hero worship.

Orpheus doesn't seem to think so.. "I did," he agrres with the kid.. then adds, "An' so did the others," he adds.. Then, as an afterthought.. "So did Seraph.." In a way, upon reflection now that the mission is over and done with.. Orpheus might have a tiny bit of regret that he handed Seraph over so easily.. But at the time, that was what he felt was best.. his mind could shift that way.. from mission to personal with stark contrast between perhaps..
Orpheus narrows his eyes a bit, huffing down a deep drag from his cigarette.. the things still burned in his chest a bit, and he really felt them in the morning.. but he was still full of vitality in his youth and so smoked them proudly, here before the other boys. "Talk?" he wonders. Bout what?

The one on the pool table nods. "Yeah. Seraph is kinda cool, but he's… well, kinda a wank," the youth says, with a bright grin. "How old are you, anyway?" he asks, watching you take that deep drag of smoke, as he swings his legs a little, leaning forward. "So you like Gabe? You wish you hadn't started smokin', right?" he asks, with curiosity in his boyish voice.
One of the other boys is watching out front, just to see if anyone's coming back. "How many Demons did you kill?" that one — a boy with some Asian ancestry, asks.

Orpheus couldn't deny Seraph was a little bit uh.. Well.. Maybe extreme. But in a way, Orpheus could both respect him, and also distrust him completely. Quite awkward.. The question from the ganger though, throws Orpheus off.. He goes to answer him at first, "Me? I'm….." he pauses, his mind grasping for what should be common, simple knowledge.. easily accessible at all times at a moments notice.. yet the number.. doesn't appear in his mind.. ".. I'm uh.." Was it.. sixteen maybe? No.. eighteen? .. Twenty? .. Fourteen? "… U-Uh..M…" Orpheus' brain actually begins to ache as it often did when he tried to recall something about his own past.. something so simple.. so inocuous.. So difficult..
"S..Sixteen," he says finally. He LOOKED about that old, but it was hard to say, for Orph. He actually.. didn't know..
"Kill?" Orph thinks about it.. he certainly did a lot of damage.. But actually, he thinks Seraph did all the killing.. Orph doesn't recall landing any killing blows himself.. "Well.. None, actually," he explains.

The boys look a little disappointed at that, until the third one, the one nearest the bar who's washing some glasses, says, "I bet he's like Slinger. Slinger always says that if you have to kill somebody, then you already screwed the mission." The other boys blink, and then look at you with newfound respect. And the one on the pool table grins. "So you wish you hadn't started smokin'? Like Gabe?" he asks the other youth. "You're only a year older'n me!" he adds, grinning.

Orpheus nods to the one washing glasses.. "I made a promise," he explains, leaving it only at that.. he didn't mind being open about it though, in this case.. his actions already spoke for themselves anyway.
Then, back to table-boy.. "What? I guess if I was being a pussy, yeah," he warns. "Don't let me stop you.." he adds, then breathes in heavily of his cigarette, then quickly exhales in the boys direction. .. Thats what Orph would say to Slinger. I'm not a pussy! "I don't care what Gabe says," he says openly this time. "If he thinks he can stop me from smokin'.." he shakes his head..

An Oath. That just makes you that much cooler, it would seem, in the eyes of this teenager. He's been learning, of course, but untried, untested in combat — like a young recruit who has been through the exercises but never a live-fire mission. He watches your cigarette burn, exhaling in wonder as you do, eyes widening as you openly defy the gang's leader. "Cool," the boy says, and then slips off the table, padding over closer. "You think… you know, I could try?" he asks, glancing over at the others, shooting them a warning look. "I'm gonna start anyway, when I'm old enough," he adds, defiantly, to them, and then looks back to the Hispanic boy with pleading eyes.

Orpheus looks at the other gangers in the room a moment.. feeling their piercing gazes falling upon him. Even Orpheus isn't lost on the hint.. but.. at the same time, who is he to deny this young boy his desires? Slinger never did that to him after all.. but then again, Orpheus feels he truly EARNED the right to smoke.. He braved that fire, and he fought for it, and spat in the face of those who would deny him.
"Tell you what," Orph says calmly.. "If you can beat me in a fist fight, I'll give you the rest of my carton," he tells the kid cooly. "I'll teach you how to smoke," he adds. "Do that, and you'll have proved you can handle it. Comprehende?"

The younger boy looks at your body immediately, and then back at you, and scowls a little bit. "I dunno. You're bigger'n me," he points out. He glances at the other boys, who proceed to smirk and make clucking noises — enough that he finally scowls angrily and hops off the table, watching your plume of smoke. "Frag it. Sure. First one ta hit da floor?" he asks, tossing his head, sending his short hair back out of his eyes. He's not wearing any visible armor, really, other than what little protection that armor will offer him.

Orpheus nods, and nudges himself away from the wall. He even removes his camo jacket, leaving only the baggy pants on. the jacket is set gently in the corner.. His ruth cloak joins it, leaving just the hispanic boy in his pants and a muscle shirt.. he gently brushes a bit of hair from his own eye and stands there looking at the other younger ganger boy.. He takes one of his cigarettes, an unlit one, and holds it up for the boy to see.. Then clasps it in his hand and motions for him. Honestly, this was out of character for Orpheus.. but he remember Slinger mentioning that he might have to do something like this.. maybe this would be a good way for him to prove his good-ness.. somehow. He hopes.
"Don't hold back," he warns.. "I won't. And if you fail.. I'll make you try harder next time.. and again.. until you do it." He places his hand behind his back - the one with the cig.

The young ganger grins, gazing at Orpheus, aware that he's on the spot. He reaches up to push his hair back out of his eyes, and grins. "Man, you're gonna be sorry you made that bet," the youth says, posturing, psyching himself up, some would call it. He watches what you are doing with the cigarette, giving him a chance, and he nods once, grinning broadly — and then steps forward, bringing up his hands to defend himself. He's not trained in martial arts, but you can immediately tell he's been in a few fights, the way the mousy-looking boy uses his hands to defend himself. And then he darts forward, delivering a quick jab toward your solar plexus. Just testing you.

Since the attack is so choreographed, Orpheus has little trouble stepping off to the side and brings his synthetic arm up and quickly shoves the striking jab up and away from himself.. the force of it might likely be enough to throw him off balance a little. Afterward, he steps quickly toward the younger boys side, setting himseld up in a good position for a counter-strike, but leaves plenty of time for the boy to make another move before he does anything himself.. meanwhile his real hand rests at the small of his back, still holding the cigarette in it..

The boy is indeed thrown off balance, despite his attempts to dodge. He's relatively quick, though not as strong as you are, and unaugmented. Nonetheless, though, he isn't about to give up, circling around more warily now. And when he steps in this time, it's with a quick flurry of blows, delivered toward the side that you have so conveniently handicapped, a more serious attack this time, which he follows with a kick to you midsection.

Despite the handi-cap, Orpheus does managed to actually block several of the blows directed at him, though one does slip through, clipping him in his colar bone.. it stings, but isn't in danger of knocking him out.. he regains his composure enough to step away from the kick however, and uses that opening to step into the boys zone of defense and goes to press his hand up against the boys chest.. palm flat.. and would simply shove hard while he goes to slip his leg around the back of the boys own leg.. this would knock him down of course, provided he doesn't slip out of it.. Orph has no intention of outright striking the kid with his cyberarm.. that would be… excessive.

The boy lands a blow — which seems to encourage him, and he grins — just before he cries out in shock as you trip him, send him sprawling backwards, staggering as he tries to regain his balance. He's nimble enough that he doesn't quite go down, though he's breathing a little harder, now. Eyeing you carefully as his eyes narrow, his nostrils flaring. He's starting to get a little angry.
The other two boys are issuing cheers, both for him and for you, having moved closer to watch breathlessly. This is all in fun, yes, but it's also a battle for dominance, and privilege, and something they wouldn't dare do, not yet. The youth finally ends up against the wall, which gives him the chance to right himself, and he launches himself back off that wall, attacking again, fiercely, perservering.

In this way, Orpheus truly did have the advantage however.. not just in training, or skills, or augmentations.. Orpheus was calm.. collected. He wasn't breaking a sweat even, simply because his movements have been so economical, reserved.. While his quarry angered slowly and wasted energy in being so.
Orpheus lifts his free hand up and positions it in a simple, almost listless arc.. loose.. his whole posture was fluid and relaxed.. he could simply shift his body movements in any direction as fluidly as water flows accross the pebbles of a stream. This little excersize.. actually took Orpheus back somewhat.. to his training in what seemed so long ago.. hand to hand combat training with the other academy boys. Zeta, again, always being the best.. but Orpheus was often second so.. partly because of his hidden powers aiding his cunning..
As the kid rushes in and swings his fist in an arc during his furious attack, Orpheus makes a slight movement.. such a small movement.. simply bringing his hand down and gently deflects the punch off to the side and away from him and simply sticks his foot out in the path of the boys charge which.. once again.. would trip him if hes so careless.

And this time, the boy goes sprawling to the ground, skidding a little bit — unharmed, but definitely enough that he loses this round. He slowly picks himself back up, turns back toward you, the anger dissipating to be replaced by a sheepish little grin, as he walks back toward you. "You're pretty good," he grudgingly admits. He's not a bad fighter for his age and lack of any real training, of course. But you have the benefit of true military training.

The other two boys send jeers to their friend, teasing, grinning at him. "How's the floor taste?" one calls, grinning impishly. The other just laughs softly, clapping his friend on the back, though neither quite dare approach the two of you.

Orpheus lets a smile slip out from his lips.. one of the first since he came. "No, you did good. With training, and focus, I think you could be a good fighter," he admits.. He brings his hand back out from behind his back showing the kid the cigarette again.. teasingly.. then puts it onto his own lips as if to say, 'Whenever your ready.. I'm still here'.
Orph looks around the room as well at the others.. "I wouldn't be so crititical of him.. he did have the cajones to fight me after all.. Would any of you like to try?" he offers.. Not even mockingly or jeeringly. Calmly.. almost matter-of-factly.. but deep down.. yeah. He knew these kids couldn't handle him. But that was okay.. in a strange way he might not fully realize yet.. he could relate to these kids.. they.. sort of reminded him of what he always wished he could be.. so free spirited.
Orph lights the cigarette in his mouth, huffs, blows.. Waits.

The youth watches you light up the cigarette with clear envy in his hazel eyes. Your smoking is more than just an addictive habit; it is a symbol of your strength, of your accomplishments. A symbol of superiority that you so brazenly wield — you can smoke, he cannot. He gets himself back up, shakes his head, and slowly approaches, offering his hand for a fist-bump and then a hand-clasp, a gesture of welcome among the gang. "What'd I do wrong?" he finally asks, with a sheepish look of chagrin on his face. He knows you were holding back — perhaps to teach him. And he's looking for more, accepting his loss with grace as he steps into you cloud of smoke. "I'm Christopher," he adds, giving his name within the gang. "That one is Spirit," he says, indicating the half-Asian boy. "And that's Hiero." He indicates the youth who was behind the bar. "They left us behind, to watch things, while they went off to fight," he adds, grumbling.

Seeing as no one takes his challenge.. hes satisfied. The youths offering of a fist-pump is looked on with a sort of.. odd look for Orpheus. He's never done a fist pound before after all.. but with an awkward attempt, he manages to sort of limply perform the hand gesture offered..
"I see," Orpheus says in his calm, hispanic accent. "My names…" He pauses, then, remembering the only non-callsign name he can think of.. ".. Chico," he finishes. And he hopes no one here knows any Spanish or they might jeer at him for the obvious meaning behind the name(small boy). ".. But you can call me Orpheus. Anyway, it's good that you stayed behind. Someone needs to watch things around here while everyone else fights.. besides.. don't be so eager to rush to your potential death. You need more training," he says bluntly.. and if the others boys lack of courage to take him up on his previous offer is any indication, the same goes for all of them..
"As for what you did wrong, well.. Today's lesson is: don't get emotional," he warns.

The youth nods, grinning. "Maybe I can try again sometime," he comments. "I just joined up a few months ago. Gabriel says I'm smart," says Chris. "Some of the other guys been teaching me some things. I just… yeah, got worked up. How do you do that? Stay calm when things get tense?" he asks Orpheus.
There is a sudden crash from across the room. Hiero is standing there, shards of a glass at his feet, a cloth in his hand — and he is staring out the window, eyes wide. "Did… did anybody else see that?" he stammers, taking three steps toward the window, shocked, clearly more than a bit frightened.

Orpheus smirks, "Smart, huh? Well, good.. a smart soldier is a soldier that stays alive," he says. Lucky for Orph.. he was no slouch himself. No genius or anything.. but cunning in his own way. Part of why hes managed to live this long despite it all.. "The way I do it, I-" Orpheus stops mid-sentence as the glass shattering intrrupts his train of thought.. he glances out the window where Hiero was looking and quickly, lithely paces himself over to the window to peer out.. "What? What did you see?" he asks. Whatever it was, he must have missed in entirely..

Part 2: Demonic Intrusion

«OOC» Slinger says, "Perception, TN 8."
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Intelligence vs TN 8:
1 2 2 5 5 = 0 Successes

Hiero points. "Up there. Third window from the left, on the… fourth floor," he breathes, his breath quavering. "Maybe… maybe I just imagined it," he says, shaking his head, as he bends down to try to pick up one of the fragments of glass. His cheeks are red, embarassed to have caused such a fuss. Chris is over next to you, hanging in the aura created by your cigarette smoke, and he leans around, peering over your shoulder. His young body is warm, not quite touching you, but enough that you can smell his boyish scent lingering in the air around you.

Orpheus looks intently where Hiero points, but.. sees nothing out of the ordinary. Still, his skin tingles just slightly, and feels a little uneasy… ".. Lesson two," he says slowly, ".. You never just 'imagined it'," he says. A good soldier gets a gut feeling for a reason: to warn him of danger. Every soldier had a sixth sense.. some were more refined than others. Whether Hiero's was or not, Orph couldn't say. Better to be safe than sorry though..
As Orpheus turns around, Chris is standing right there in front of him and the two boys are inches apart.. Orpheus eyes him a moment, maybe awkwardly.. "Uhm.. Sorry," he says, then gently sidesteps the boy and heads toward the corner where he put his camo jacket and ruthenium cloak.. he begins slipping back into them.
"Maybe I should go check it out.." .. Then he considers.. that he wouldn't want to leave all these boys here alone either..

Hiero nods, his young face pale under his blond hair. "I… I saw one of the Demons, movin' past that window," he says, pointing. "And I thought I saw 'em draggin' someone. I… it was so quick, though," he admits.
When you mention checking it out, Chris stands up as well, nodding. "We'll go with you," he says bravely. He wants to prove himself, so much. "We got weapons. Got guns."
And then you see it, out of the corner of your eye. On the third floor, instead of the fourth — or maybe in addition to. Two faces, painted in that way, moving through that apartment building… and then, there is an unmistakable sound of a scream, heard through your audio enhancements — to which the boys are oblivious.

Orpheus dons his armor and cloak, then slowly paces back to the window again, peering thoughtfully.. his brow arches a bit when he hears the screaming. He does his best to keep a straight face though.. he doesn't want to alarm the boys or anything like that.. In fact, he would prefer they not know at all.
Turning toward the gathered ganger boys, Orpheus waves his hand, as if dismissively. "Nah, it's nothing. You guys stay here, alright? I'm just going to go check it out.. I need to stretch out a bit anyway, ya know." Orpheus puts on his best grin, then gently waves his hand and.. activates his ruth cloak.. hopefully him going invis will deter any of them from trying to follow him. He steps out of the pool hall and cautiously looks over the building again as he slowly approaches.

Now you can see it. There are at least two of them, moving through that building across the street. Having fled from the scene of the battle, perhaps, or simply opportunistically taking advantage of this situation to cause mayhem. The Demons are unpredictable, but now they are moving through this building, up on the third and fourth floors. And there is no one here to protect the residents; they are all off fighting, doing mop-up, clean-up, taking advantage of having the Demons on the run to perhaps expand territory.
No one except you. The door to the building is closed, but slightly ajar, not fully fitting into its hinges. A wooden door, with a camera above it, hanging from its wires, probably staring at nothing except the ground and part of a well. Perhaps recent, perhaps just in poor repair.

And as you exit the pool hall, Chris is there with you. The other two boys are staying behind. He can't see you, of course, but you can see him with a look of grim determination on his face, slinking over toward that building, with his gun out. No ruthenium, but he is at least moving well, using cover — a parked car, a trashed cardboard box… using those things for cover as he watches for opportunities.

Orpheus is slinking toward the building, stealthily monitoring, listening … watching. Then he notices Chris who.. as far as ORPHEUS is concerned, blatantly exposed in the middle of the open. At least in comparison with himself. Grunting, the young elf quickly canters over to where Chris is.. he sneaks up behind the youth, watching him.. he isn't sure what to say. Obviously, he was determined. Could he really make him leave?
Orpheus kneels down and looks about, trying to make sure no one can see Chris.. make sure he isnt wandering into anything dangerous.. at least for the moment, Orph will make sure no ill befalls the youth while he trails him.. at least til he thinks of what to do to get him to go back.

The boy is murmuring to himself, chanting, almost, focussing his young mind. His heart is beating a mile a minute, but he does not see Orpheus. And then, once the Demons disappear from view above, he darts forward, moving surprisingly quietly for one without formal military training, and then reaches the door, glancing around carefully. And then he peers through the broken window next to the door, his gun held in both hands, at the ready.

Orpheus continues trailing directly behind Chris, watching him intently.. protectively. He isn't sure how he would feel if Chris got himself killed while he was right here like this.. Actually, he's seen boys killed before, in the academy.. and it.. never sat well with him.
Orpheus speaks suddenly, his voice coming from nowhere behind Chris. "If I were an enemy, you would have been shot and killed by now," he says, and gently places a hand on the boys shoulder. His real hand.. ".. Please, go back. If you get injured, I…" He can't finish the sentence.. his feelings on the matter are too confused for him to work them into words properly.

Chris is startled by the voice and the touch, whirling around — and then he makes out your form, just barely, just a faint outline that he would never have noticed on his own. But at your words, he shakes his head fiercely. "These are my people," the youth whispers. "I'm a Saint, even a Junior one. These people pay us for protection. I have to go," he insists, determined. "And if you were an enemy, then you would have saved me from you." Convoluted, but it makes sense. He gives you a warm, fleeting, trusting smile, as he leans against that hand with a hint of affection — fleeting, just like that smile. You are an ally, a strong one, in a tense situation. "I'll open the door, let you go first," he suggests.

Orpheus sighs, then nods.. "Okay, since I can't talk you out of this.. But if you come, you follow MY lead and you stay back from me.. if we draw fire, I want it focused on me; not you…" Considering.. Orpheus removes his ruth cloak and gently drapes it over Chris' shoulder so he can take it and wear it. Expensive loner item!
"Stay low, stay safe.. follow in behind me. Do not engage targets unless I do, go it? Do you have a taccomm?" he asks then, tuning his own internally a moment.. and already feels a bit naked without his cloak on.. but, on the other hand, Orph was quite sneaky even without it. With that done, he'll head to the door and wait for Chris to open it, quickly, stealthily sliding inside..

Chris nods once, swiftly. "I do as you say," he agrees. "And I won't get emotional." Even though he's clearly scared out of his wits, the boy is keeping it together, keeping himself in control. He wants to make you proud, but as you suddenly fade into visibility, he blinks, confused, looking at the strange thing you are holding. But as you start to put it around him, he shakes his head. "No. You wear it. I'm your backup," he whispers, with a bit of a grin. "They won't be expecting me. Or even you." He's speaking fast. "But if you have a spare comm, I will use it," he adds, just a quick nod of agreement.

"It's a ruthenium cloak, it'll keep you invisible and from getting shot at," he says, insisting.. Orpheus does indeed have a spare comm unit.. his old personal one, which he shouldnt need now that he has the nice new one. Likely crypto isnt needed here, so he has no problem handing the comm unit over to the boy. "Here.. this adjusts the frequency.." Orph shows him, the digital readout changing numbers until he reaches their operational frequency.. He then sets the headseat over his head.
"Alright.. You okay? You sure you don't want the ruthenium?" he asks.. he'll wear it of course, he might make better use of it, but.. he probably needed it the least.

Commlink-Chris> Chris says, "You read me? And yeah… it's yours. But you'll go first, all right?" There's a sheepish grin in his voice and on his young face.

Orph quickly drapes his cloak back on since the kid insists so much.. which he finds.. a little odd actually.. "Well alright.. But make sure to stay a good distance behind me. Do not walk anywhere that I have no walked," he instructs.. with that, Orph turns the cloak on and slips inside the building more fully, listening intently with his ear mods for any sound..

The building is silent, eerily so. Which in and of itself is the worst part. There is the sound of a crying baby from the level you are on, down the hallway — which is instantly silenced by a frantic adult shushing.
From upstairs, though, when you turn your attention tht way, you can hear something new — the sound of a muffled whimper, and then a thump, equally muffled. Two floors up, maybe three. It's hard to tell.

Orpheus comms then, »Okay. Stay six meters behind me. We're going to go up," he says.. with that, Orpheus will begin looking for the stairs leading up toward the noises, doing his best to try and get a better idea of what hes up against.. it didn't help that the place was so dark and eerie.. even the dust motes seemed.. sinister here. Plus, he had Chris' safety to look out for now.. Orpheus didn't consider himself much of a baby sitter, but..

Dark and dreary. But that can work to your advantage, as well, as stealthy as you are. Chris responds back with a nod, staying behind you, keeping a lookout with those hazel eyes of his. Breathing a little harder, but eager to impress his new hero.
The stairs are not hard to find. Right in the center of the hallway. They lead upward, with frayed carpet that provides a trip hazard to anyone in a hurry, with a rut worn in the center, bare floorboards exposed to make stealth a little more challenging.

«Plot» Slinger says, "-1 penalty on your Stealth roll."
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Stealth for "R6 Ruth, -1 terrain":
1 3 3 4 5 9

Once the stairs are in sight, Orph looks up them from around the corner, listening, watching.. no one seems to be immediately up there.. so he begins slipping up the stairs now, trying his best to avoid creaking the dusty old floorboards as he makes his way up..
»How you doin' back there?« he asks the youth, and chances a glance back behind him to make sure Chris is okay.. another glance.. another.. he's almost paranoid now. It was a new and unfamiliar feeling to feel so concerned and worried about someone elses safety.. but he really felt like it would be his fault if Chris gets hurts and he doesn't want to deal with that at all.

Commlink-Chris> Chris whispers, "I'm here. Your six is clear." Trying so hard to impress. It's adorable.

The path behind you is covered by Chris, and he steps just as carefully as you do, avoiding those bare patches, staying close to the wall where the chance of floorboards creaking is at its lowest. The second floor is as eerily quiet as the first. But the third and fourth, that is where you saw them through the windows.
Again that whimper, louder now. Closer. Coming from above you, muffled by the intervening floor and walls.

Ascending, ascending.. It's slow going, having to move so quietly and slowly.. So he talks with Chris in the mean-time, drilling him some more.. »If a fight breaks out I want you to take cover and stay safe.. Don't stick your neck out if you don't have to.. Be careful, take measured shots.. If ANYTHING happens signal me, okay?«… Up up.. You know when you paid attention, you could learn a lot about a building by it's stairs.. the kinds of people who have walked here, how well the place has been kept up.. stairs wear out faster than almost anything and when they arent cared for, it showes.. they also creak a lot and it's damn annoying..
»What kind of load you got in that gun? Don't start shooting all crazy if we fight.. I don't want you blowing away anyone.."

Part 3: The Body

Chris is staying behind you, half a flight behind you, just as stealthy to the ear, and to the eye he is doing well at using whatever cover he has — which is not much. « I got EXEX, » the kid admits. « We captured a big shipment of 'em. We got more of 'em than we do regular. » At least he's not under-armed, though the youth doesn't show any signs of having a Smartlink.
The next floor is immediately obvious. There is a young woman who tried to reach the stairs — her sightless eyes staring toward it, as if still yearning for it, still thinking she can make it. Gashes line her body, showing she was grabbed from the rear and brutally hacked to bits. Chris hasn't seen it yet.

Orpheus stops a moment when he sees the body. He's mostly hardened to the sight of death and dead people.. it wasn't pretty, but it never made him lose his cool. Chris, though? No telling.. Orpheus puts his hand up to stop Chris.. »Wait, don't move,« he says.. He fights with himself a moment.. they could go down again and try to find another flight of stairs heading up on the floor below them, perhaps, sparing Chris from the sight.. on the other hand, perhaps it would be a learning experience for him.. or it might make him lose his cool too.. Orpheus.. isn't sure what to do..
»Okay, just hold it a sec, I'm listening for something,« he says, half-lieing.. He was listening intently for noises.. but thats not all.

Noises… there is another sound — a groan, muffled, coming from your right… and then a muffled thump from that direction as well. Another one, the sound of somebody attacking the walls, perhaps. Smashing them with something, from the crunching sound that follows the impact.
Chris stays silent as ordered, not even daring to move, though he does come part of the way up the next flight, keeping you just barely in view — and keeping himself hidden from anyone who might be coming along from the second floor.

Orpheus listens carefully.. The sounds were definitely an assault of some kind.. or something similar.. no good.. they couldn't take the time to go around now, they needed to act now.. He turns and looks back at Chris again.. »Whatever happens. You need to keep your calm, stay silent.. Stay close, okay? I'm going to be honest, theres a dead body up here.. Try not to look if you can..« With that, Orph carefully steps up and around the body, trying to determine the location of these sounds and heading carefully toward them.

« I'll be cool, » Chris promises. And then he heads up the steps behind you, staying low and quiet as he ascends the stairs.
Just like the other floors, this one presents a 'T' near the stairs. The sounds are coming from the right. The left is just as eerily silent as before. There are four doors down that hallway, plus a window at the end — which is currently open, admitting a faint breeze with the smell of the Warrens carried upon it.
Behind you, you hear a sudden gasp, and then a soft whimper over the comm. « Jamie, » Chris whispers, over the comm, with a mix of sadness, hurt, and a hint of rough anger, in his voice and on his teenaged face.

Orpheus edges forward a bit, looking down both ends of the hallway.. but keeps his eyes peeled mostly right where he suspects the murderers must be.. He is about to continue forward when he hears the gasp from Chris.. a spin on his heel and he looks the young boy in the eyes a moment, seeing that boiling anger in him.. perhaps preparing to consume him.. so much for keeping cool..
Lightning quick, Orph goes to step in close to Chris, trying to get a hand on the boys shoulder and nudge him away from the girl.. »Hey.. Hey, come here.. Come on, don't look. Look at me,« he says, trying to get the boys attention.. get him to look him square in the eye.. »I need you with me, alright.. I need you calm. Remember what I said? Control..«
If he had to.. Orph would subdue the boy if he suddenly got out of hand..

Chris stares down at the woman, even as you touch him, even as you tug at his shoulder. But when he lifts his gaze to look at you, you can see the anger in his eyes. « She used to babysit for me, when I was a kid, » Chris says, his voice roughened. But he's still in control. « They're gonna pay for this, omae. Promise me they're gonna pay for this. » His eyes are twin pools of fire right now. You can see the rage there, carefully damped, looking for a target. But he's still in control, this fiery boy. He nods once. « I'm here. I'm with you. Let's do this, before they hurt anybody else. »

Orpheus looks long at hard at the young boy.. Thinking, calculating.. a torrent of thought going through him. On the one hand.. he promised Slinger not to kill. Even if it killed HIM. Even in THIS situation, Orpheus can't decide.. if it would be okay to kill the murderers. He perhaps wanted to do so.. but was it the right thing? How could he be sure? And so he didn't want to kill them.. yet he knew if he brought Chris.. they would wind up dead by the boys hands, even if Orpheus subdued them.. He considers telling Chris that if he intends to kill them, he has to carry out that vengeance on his own and play no part.. but that recklessly endagers the boy.. Or.. .. He could subdue Chris and go subdue the killers himself, preventing Chris from killing them..
Orpheus's face is a mixture of confused emotions as Chris will see.. Watching the young hispanic boy fight with his inner voices on the matter.. What would he do?

Chris is breathing harder, now, watching the conflict on your face. And perhaps he misunderstands it. « You aren't one of us. You don't understand. We gotta protect these people! » he says, his voice risking rising toward audibility, as he threatens to move past subvocalization. You can hear him over the comm and right in front of you. « They… they killed her. They killed her for tryin' to get away. She was gonna turn eighteen next month. But we gotta stop 'em. If you won't, I will! »

Oprheus finally chooses the latter option.. he didn't really like it, of course, but it was the option he felt best at the time he chooses it. It would probably forever label him as a 'bad guy' in the boys eyes, which is unfortunate.. because Orph thought maybe there could have been potential for a freindship growing here, but.. part of being who he is, gives him the chance.. the ability to do what he must.. what he feels he must.. even if it means he looks bad in doing so.. because if he doesn't do it, who else would?
»Sorry..« Orph says truthfully..
Orpheus looks Chris squarely in the eyes.. his body twitches just a bit.. he knows, in his own mind, what he needs to do.. Put Chris down and go take care of the situation himself.. but he can't really bring himself to do it.. to beat this tender, young kid.. Not right now..
»I'm sorry. I know it's hard. Life is hard, you know? For everyone.. An' we all have to make choices.. an' believe it or not, I make choices every day that I don't like,« he explains, the forshadowing in those last words deep in his commed voice..
»But we have to make choices we don't like sometimes, because.. it's the best thing to do. You know.. you only ever get one chance to make the right choice; then it's gone. Forever.. I've learned that..«

Chris nods, takes a deep breath. « You tell me what to do, I do it. I promised you that. As long as we stop 'em from hurting anyone else, » he says, with a sense of urgency in his voice. There's another *thump*, another whimper, a cry of pain, muffled — and Chris looks toward it, twitching — but then he looks back to you, his breath catching in his throat. Waiting for your signal.
He's not that much younger than you, but his experiences have been totally different. Never seen real combat until right now… but he wants to do the right thing. A blank slate, in a sense, for you to write upon, just as Slinger has been shaping you. And at this moment, he is devoted to you.

Orpheus looks toward the sounds.. then back to Chris.. "Okay.." he whispers, off-com, but very, very quietly to the boy.. »Same as before. Follow my lead. Do not shoot to kill.. at the very least, we should leave them alive to be question..« he says. He had a hard time honestly thinking of reasons NOT to kill.. because it was in his nature to simply do so.. but there was always that..
Orph nods to Chris.. »Come on..« With that, and satisfied Chris isn't going to go berserk.. he'll begin moving quietly toward those muffled noises.. but now in the back of his mind was this niggling phobia that something might go wrong.. Chris became an X-factor in his mission from the start.. and Orpheus hated X-factors.. perhaps he would have to learn to live with them.

Chris is an X-factor, but he is also an ally. A potential ally, anyway. And he stays behind you, letting you get a few meters ahead of him, while he watches your back, watches those stairs. There are smears of blood on that wall, from somebody hitting it and sliding along it, but they are nowhere to be seen. And four doors. The sounds, you think, came from one of the right hand two. One door says '307', and the one on the end says '3 9'. One suspects the missing digit is a zero, but there is no evidence of it. Both doors are closed. Maglocks beside each door are in various states of damage. Possibly functional, possibly not, but both missing their covers.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Intelligence + 5 (SSF) for "-5 for sound triangulation(amp, high freq, triangulator)":
1 2 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 10

The door does block some of the sound, but there are at least three people in there. No, wait. Four people. One is unconscious, another is trussed up and gagged and very frightened. One is angry, and moving aggresively around the apartment. And the fourth… the fourth is hidden somewhere.
A male voice snarls, "Where is she? Where the /FRAG/ is she?" suddenly, enough that your damepener ends up kicking in, as high as the gain is on your ears right now.
A rough, slick, wet sound follows, an impact of fist against flesh, or something else. A muffled shriek of pain and agony.
And as you look, even Chris hears that, and his fingers twitch on his gun, though not near the trigger. He wants desperately to do something about this, but he's watching you, waiting…

Orpheus could see Chris as an ally perhaps.. though that concept was at war with the part of Orpheus who saw him as a liability.. that part of Orpheus which Slinger wanted to purge so badly.
As Orpheus listens in, his powerful hearing mods virtually painting a picture for him on the other side of the door.. he can almost see it in his mind, actually. One problem was the lock on the door.. if it worked, he was cirtually helpless to crack it open.. unless he wanted to try punching the door down.. but he can't wait too long.. not to mention Chris might break through the door himself if it goes on long enough..
»There are probably at least two enemy targets in there,« he explains to the boy.. »Two victims.. If we bust in now I can take the one pacing by surprise for sure.. not sure.. exactly where the other one is..« Orpheus considers… Looks at Chris. »You carrying anything on you besides that gun?«

Chris hesitates before answering the question. And then he pulls something from his pocket… it's an Electronics toolkit. A crude one, hardly the best. But it does look functional. Just the very basics. « I can get the door open. You want it open? » he asks, his hand shaking just a little bit. But maintaining his cool.
The way the boy looks at you, though — that trust. That hero worship in his eyes. He would lay down his life for you, that much is certain… even if he has no idea what that truly means. He would still do it. He's got far more bravery than sense.

Orph saw no other course.. he could attempt some form of trickery.. maybe lure the enemies out toward them.. Well. Maybe he could? But then they might lose the element of surprise? Orph considers.. »Maybe.. Though, if we could lure them out of the room.. away from the victims, it might be better.. even if we lose some of our surprise element..« Orpheus balanced the advantage of bringing the fight out of the room versus having it within the room.

There another muffled thunk, and then another cry of pain. "Bitch! Where the frag is she? You're gonna tell me, or I'm gonna find her. Or I'll burn this place down and wait for her to come out of hiding! Now where's my fraggin' daughter!" the rough male voice demands.
Chris hesitates, looking toward the door, then back at you. "We gotta save her," he whispers, not even over the comm. He is already getting pieces out of there. "Please," he murmurs, the emotion making his voice quaver, even as he crouches in front of the lock.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 4 (Electronics) vs TN 3 for "R2 (effective) lock due to damage, +1 for inadequate toolkit…":
2 2 3 7 = 2 Successes

Orpheus rubs the bridge of his nose.. then nods, "Okay," he says softly.. and prepares to breach the room the moment the door is open. »Remember. Follow after me. Keep 'em alive.. They are more useful that that.. afterward…« he leaves the sentense open and for debate..
Orpheus looks intently at the door.. he already has his eyes mods prepared to kick on, his cyberarm tensed, motors siezing.. his legs twitch, muscles preparing for the sprint to come in moments…

The boy is working fast, a bead of sweat running down his brow, spurred on by the sound of another could of blows delivered, sobbing. "I don't know, I don't know, she's not here!" Incoherent sobbing and babbling, as the man tries to beat the information out the woman…
And then, there is a soft *click* from the door, almost inaudible. Yet it sounds horribly loud to your amplified hearing, your heightened senses, your adrenaline-driven consciousness. « Got it. Just push it open. »
The door will open inward, away from you.

Orpheus places his soft hand on the door, waiting to push it open as he rests his cybernetic one behind him, waiting to lunge forward.. he looks once more to Chris.. Nods.. »Okay. Stay safe.. Be smart..«
With that.. Orph listens carefully one last time, making sure he hears no one approaching from behind them, and listens again inside.. and then.. nidges the dor open with his real arm and prepares to lunge forward at a rapid pace, intent to break the jaw of the first person he sees who doesn't look beaten and bloodied.

Part 4: The Intruder

The Demons really, really have to stop using that facepaint. It may /look/ cool and badass, but it makes them absolutely perfect targets. Because there's one there, in the room, when you enter, leaning over a woman who is indeed, beaten, bloody, bruised. Her nose is swollen, maybe broken, one eye is puffed up, she's not in good shame. One of her arms look broken, from the angle she's at.
The Demon in question is holding a baseball bat, though you might not have a clear shot at him. But as you enter, he notices the door opening, and turns to face you, startled…
And that's when the closet door opens, and a small child — perhaps four years old — bursts out of it. "Mommy!" the girl shrieks, trying to reach the bloody woman on the couch…

The trouble is, the Demon is right between the girl and her mother…

It didn't change much.. except Orpheus really needed to be careful about not getting the girl hurt.. Orpheus ponders in that split second.. is this Demon the father of the little girl perhaps? Orpheus considers pulling his pistol and taking a shot instead.. but hes already in mid-sprint.. He quickly tries to slow his momentum before slamming into the guy, perhaps halting in the middle of the room.. still invisible of course..
"GET DOWN," Orpheus demands.. and already he's preparing an attack if he must..

«Auto-Judgekn» Slinger (#69) rolls 1 (to no one) for "+5, demon reaction.":
«Auto-Judgekn» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Initiative with a result of 7.

The ganger is surprised, but he's reaching for the girl. Not gonna work to actually shoot him — too much risk of hitting her. But you can reach him — you, with your speed, and your cloaking. You'll have a shot at taking him out… but there is a risk to the girl if you don't take him down — hard.

The ganger moves just a hair faster, and grabs for the girl, grappling and struggling with her as she wriggles to get free. She's screaming bloody murder. "MOOOOMMMMMEEEE!" she cries out, kicking and screaming, trying desperately to get free even as the ganger tries to bring her around, to use her as a shield against his unseen attacker…

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Pentjak-Silat + Combat Pool: 4 + 1 (KP) vs TN 5 for "+1 for awkward aim 10M+8S":
1 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 7 = 4 Successes
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Pentjak-Silat + Combat Pool: 4 + 1 (KP) - 4 vs TN 5 for "+1 for awkward aim 10M+8S 2/3":
1 1 2 2 14 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 4 (brawling) + Combat Pool: 3 vs TN 8 for "Ganger tries to defend himself using kid. +2 TN for wriggling kid -2 TN partial cover. +4 TN from visibility. Final TN is 8.":
1 2 2 3 4 5 15 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 6 vs TN 8 for "KP 1":
1 3 4 5 8 11 = 2 Successes
«OOC» Slinger says, "2 net successes to you."
«OOC» Orpheus says, "So, 10S and 8S at half"
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (body) vs TN 7 for "Resisting 10S stun…":
3 4 4 4 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 4 vs TN 7 for "KP 2.":
1 3 4 13 = 1 Success
«Plot» Slinger says, "He takes M from that."
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (body) vs TN 7 for "Resisting 8S stun…":
3 4 5 5 10 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 4 vs TN 6 for "KP 3":
1 2 3 10 = 1 Success
«OOC» Slinger says, "And another M."

Orpheus barges into the room and the events play out in slo-mo.. the kid running..the ganger trying to scoop her up.. The events happen in such an awkward way that Orpheus has trouble adjusting his movements in time.. he does avoid hitting or harming the girl, but he has to pull his punches just slightly.. The ganger gets hit hard regardless, but not enough to send him sprawling in one shot.. Meanwhile, Orpheus has to juke and dive off to the side to avoid colliding with the ganger and girl.. he ends up in a half-kneel when hes done, cyberarm still crackling faintly with electrical energy. Fuck.. He's still standing, thinks Orpheus.. Trying to be Slinger really sucks.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Initiative with a result of 8.
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 1 for "+5 ganger init, -3 wounds":

«Plot» Slinger says, "Your TN will be 8. 4 base + 4 partial cover."
«OOC» Orpheus says, "Would a called shot circumvent the cover"
«OOC» Slinger says, "I'd allow that."
«Plot» Slinger says, "TN is 4 (short range), -2 SL II, +2 called shotSL 2… aim, fire? Makes it TN 3."
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Pistols + Combat Pool: 5 vs TN 3 for "Called Shot, SL2 lowers TN penalty to +2, and another -2 for the SL2. -1 TN for aiming action. 7M weapon code.":
1 2 3 4 5 5 5 7 11 14 = 8 Successes
«OOC» Orpheus already had it typed out and waiting. : p
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Pistols + Combat Pool: 5 - 8 vs TN 3 for "Called Shot, SL2 lowers TN penalty to +2, and another -2 for the SL2. -1 TN for aiming action. 7M weapon code. 3/3":
3 8 = 2 Successes
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (body) + Combat Pool: 6 vs TN 2 for "6 ballistic armor, TN 2.":
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 7 = 9 Successes
«Plot» Slinger says, "End result: he takes another M stun, is at 9 boxes."

Orpheus, after recovering from his roll, quickly surveys the situation.. he could try to engage in melee again, but he greatly ran the risk of endangering the girl that way.. on a snap descision, he reaches down and unholsters his pistol, operating entirely by wire now.. a small aiming reticule pops over his vision and paints right at the gangers face.. it's a somewhat tricky shot, trying to shoot AROUND the girl as he is.. but he manages it.. the pistol jumps just once, and a shot issues forth.. a single gel round errupts from the chamber and quickly smacks the ganger right between the eyes.. it's not entirely unreasonable then, that Orpheus is surprised when the ganger is STILL standing, though certainly with a horrible headache by now..
.. I can't fucking believe it, he thinks..

The ganger howls with rage as you quickdraw your gun and shoot him with the gel rounds, but they're ineffective at this range. And the ganger reaches up with his hand and wraps it around the little girl's throat, cutting off her screams. "Back off, or she fraggin' dies," he snarls… and you can tell that he'd have a chance to do it, no matter what you do. That he'd have a chance to react. "This's a private, family matter. Isn't it, /honey/?" he demands of the sobbing woman at the door…

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Initiative with a result of 7.

Fine. Orpheus will call this ganger on his bullshit and says as much. "Bullshit, hombre. You won't do it," he insists. "You gonna kill your own daughter?" he asks, basing that statement entirely on assumption, however well-infered it might be. "'An even if you do, you think it would stop me from taking you down?" he continues, aiming the weapon right at the gangers face.. or close to it. He knows this guy has to have a splitting headache right now.. And Orpheus? Just might be crazy enough to say fuck it if he had to in the end. Unless of course, Chris managed to pull something off.. no ones really looking in his direction yet.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 3 (pistols) + Combat Pool: 3 vs TN 3 for "Short range, aiming…":
2 2 2 4 5 5 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 3 vs TN 4 for "KP 1":
3 3 3 = 3 Successes
«OOC» Orpheus says, "Like.. FLEXIGEL. Lightweight enough to be propelled at extreme range, but becomes rigid and hard the moment of kinetic impact. Yup.."
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (body) vs TN 4 for "Resisting 4M physical, 6 succs.":
3 3 5 10 11 = 3 Successes

From the doorway, from that direction forgotten by everyone but you — there is just the briefest flicker of movement visible from the corner of your eye. The ganger is facing you — leaving the back of his head exposed. Kris is there, taking aim carefully, controlled — and he fires, sending a round right into the ganger's back. It's a Heavy Pistol, but where it hit it lacks the power to send the round all the way through the guy.
And that's the instant where his arm relaxes just enough that the girl can wriggle out of the way, toward the floor, giving you a shot while the ganger begins to bleed from the wound in his midsection…

And that gives you a clear shot.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Initiative with a result of 11.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Pistols vs TN 2 for "No modifiers this time.. Trying not to kill here. 7M again":
1 1 2 3 11 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (body) + Combat Pool: 5 for "He doesn't want to go down…":
1 1 1 2 4 4 5 5 5 5
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Pistols vs TN 2 for "No modifiers this time.. Trying not to kill here. 7M again again":
2 3 4 4 17 = 5 Successes
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (body) vs TN 2 for "resisting damage…":
1 1 3 4 4 = 3 Successes

Orpheus is a little surprised to see a fresh and decidedly FATAL looking wound appear in the ganger.. and he knows it was Christ that did it and he TOLD the kid not to use lethal methods. Just a tiny bit more is all he needed.. this was pointless. He even suspected he could have talked the guy down maybe. But now it was too late.. worse yet.. it was from HIS parting shot.. he watches the ganger go down HARD, slamming to the ground and ushers a blood-curdled sigh as his potentially last breath leaves him.
Orpheus eyes go a bit wide and he looks between Chris and the ganger.. and for a moment fears.. no anger; that would come later. Fear.. fear that he failed, here, already.. on his first day. Even if his own expectations were set unreasonably high, he failed nontheless in his own eyes.. He quickly drops on his knees down by the ganger and looks down at him, stupified. Then.. up at Chris..
"What did I fucking tell you?" he demands.

The ganger was in the process of reaching for the girl again, trying to grab her, aggressive, with a snarl. And that's when your shot hits him, right in the torso, just at that exact point where pieces of armor overlap. And he goes down, the shock and trauma to his body too much. Chris is pale, trembling, his gun falling down to his side as he rushes into the room. "Kelsey," he whispers, as he reaches out for the girl, checking her for injures.
"Mommeee!" the girl says again, and Chris releases her. "She's fine," he breathes, with obvious relief. And the girl toddles over, climbs up next to her mother on the bed, and embraces the young woman, staring with big eyes at the two men who have saved her.
"I had to do it," Chris breathes, looking nauseated. His first kill. He steps forward, trembling under your wrath, his eyes wide. "I… He was gonna kill Kelsey…. I couldn't… I couldn't…" Tears are coming to his eyes.

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Orpheus (#3849) rolls Intelligence vs TN 14 for "Defaulting to int for biotech, poor conditions, no medkit.":
1 2 3 4 5 = 0 Successes

Orpheus looks down at the dying ganger.. he had no love for the guy.. but in his death throes, Orph could see his own highly-lofted ideals and dreams dying with him.. it was unfair to himself to do this, but he does it anyway.. Orpheus fumbles stupidly as he attempts to recucitate the man.. to no avail.. no medkit, no training, dark, dank, dusty room.. it's too much.. Orpheus tries HARD.. and even when it's obvious that hes failed, he keeps trying.. He breathes into the mans mouth without holding his nose.. tries to perform CPR but in the entirely wrong area.. Within moments.. hes dead.. Orpheus says something strange then..
"W.. Why.. Why is it so hard to make him breath?" he asks, as if.. entirely mystified. In all his years he has killed.. it was so easy to make people stop breathing.. Why, why so hard to make them breath again? "Why can't I make him breath?" he asks. It's a sort of pseudo-epiphany for Orpheus, and another stark reminder of just how mortal man was, how bound to the chains of fate we could be.. how easy it was to die, and how hard it was to preserve that life.. He looks at Chris, almost mortified, then lunges up to grab the kid and yank him down to the ganger..
"You helped me kill him! So you try! You fucking try!" he demands, pointing at the dead man.. just one dead man.. not even a very innocent man..

«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (Chris's Intelligence) vs TN 14 for "Chris's attempt…":
1 1 4 5 7 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[kn]» Slinger (#69) rolls 5 (Chris's Intelligence) vs TN 14 for "Chris's attempt… KP 3":
1 3 5 7 10 = 0 Successes

Chris is terrified by the passion from you, yet he stands close, keeping an eye on the door. There might well have been one more out there, one more ganger. This, though — this is important to you. Very quietly, Chris removes the woman's bonds, and gazes at her, murmuring quietly, while the young girl — Kelsey — snuggles up against her.
When you grab him, though, Chris lets out a cry — but then he is down there, doing what you do. His own training was never about preserving life, but about fighting. The man's flesh is still warm — it took you only a few moments, while the blood drained out of him.
But after a few moments, he is having no more success than you.

Orpheus watches, but.. it was no good.. Chris can't do any better than him. It was no good.. it was futile. "He won't breath.." Orpheus murmers, voice almost trance-like. Orpheus just stares at the dead man for many moments without another word.. just looks at him.. studying the body.. its like Orpheus is seeing a dead body for the first time; or rather, for the first time in an all new light. What he saw was ugly.. terrifying.
"FUCKER! I'm telling you to fucking breathe!" he shouts, then.. a sickening metal-on-metal sound errupts from the boys cyberarm as his hand blades pop out.. a moment later and Orpheus plunges the metal things deep into the dead mans stomach, splattering him faintly with blood.. Obviously, this does nothing more to help recover him.. The act only seems to anger Orpheus more, in fact.. He could kill a man with these so easily, yet they were powerless to do anything else.. and it angered him. Another thrust, this one at the throat, hitting an artery. "Why?"
Orpheus feels a tiny pang of fear again.. that same fear he felt when slinger hunted him down after he euthanized the girl.. He knew it wouldn't happen again, yet the niggling feeling was there… then, in this crazed stupor, Orpheus' head slowly pivots until his eyes fall on Chris again.. his gaze is piercing.

Part 5: Kelsey

Chris stares at Orpheus as you plunge your blades into the man — and if he was not dying before, he is clearly doing so now, as his throat is sliced open, as his midsection is torn asunder. He gets up to his feet, taking a step back, and then another. "Whoa… omae. I… I tried to aim low, like you said, but… but I couldn't… I couldn't just let him kill her!" There's real fear in his eyes right at this instant, as he stares at those hand razors as you stare at him.
"Daddee!" Kelsey suddenly cries out. Swiftly — fast enough that her now-freed and grateful mother cannot stop her, the girl slips out of the woman's embrace - and she runs over to wrap her arms around the body of the dead Demon. Or… perhaps not, quite, entirely dead… even after your injuries.
The tiny child wraps her arms around his corpse — despite the efforts of her mother to retrieve the girl. And before your eyes, miraculously, the man's injuries begin to knit themselves together. And a simple glance at the mother would show that her injuries, too, are already fading.
"Kelsey is special," Chris whispers, his voice full of reverence, awe, at the sight before him.

Orpheus watches this.. the sight of it though.. he can't really comprehend. Seeing this tiny child do what he could not. As though.. it required no effort. All his pain and anguish.. it was just worthless. This small, little girl showed Orpheus what he was not. "HOW DID…" he shouts at the young girl.. his eyes darting back and forth.. his mind a torrential flux of indescribable emotions.. Slowly, Orpheus comes to his feet and stumbles back a few feet, watching those in the room.. Looking to each one in turn.. stumbles back again.
"It's all nothing.." Orpheus mutters incoherantly.. he slowly turns away from those in the room and stumbles out of the door, looking left back down the hallway. Almost in a sort of dream-like state he walks away, slowly pacing away from the room, unable to know how he feels.. unable to be sure what he was even doing. The concept was just.. too much for him to understand now.. it was as though a river slowly trickled through a dam, only to be beaten and thrashed upon by a massive, torrential tsunami.. He just walks away without another word to Chris, or the family. He simply can't bear to look at them.. Much less the saved ganger.

The ganger is breathing — raggedly. He'll be unconscious for quite some time. But he is breathing, and the little girl looks up at you as you scream at her, uncomprehending. She doesn't know what she did to upset you, to turn your world upside down. And as you flee, confused young eyes follow your departure. She can heal wounds, but souls are far more difficult to heal, and that pain is visible on her young face, in the small sobs that erupt from her throat.
Chris is there, though. Chris is coming with you. Staying with you. Another ganger in the colors of the Demons flits past on the staircase, running downstairs, fleeing from a woman who throws a beer bottle at him, which he narrowly ducks. Apparently, he met his own match.
Chris, though, is not leaving your side. Even if he is frightened of what he has seen. Even if he is ready to retch, he is with you. Saying nothing, just hanging his head in shame.

Orpheus says nothing to Chris.. just keeps walking. His movements are very deliberate.. each time he steps down the stairs his entire body weight just slumps with each step. It takes a good two minutes just to reach the base of the stairs again.. and never with a word.. Orpheus' face just looks.. passive. Maybe a part of him has just shut down.. perhaps the part of him which is logical, the part which is trained by Aztech, just leaving a confused, frightened boy with fledgling feelings and comprehension of the world around him.. every simple thing almost like.. a wonderment to his eyes.
"He breathed," Orpheus says finally, toward Chris once they are on the bottom floor.. He looks at Chris then, disbelievingly. Almost looking THROUGH him.. Shakes his head.. then turns on his ruth cloak and continues to amble away.. out the door.. bound inevitably toward the pool hall but with no special purpose or meaning in mind. Maybe it would take a good several minutes for the troubled boy to clear his head.

Chris is right next to you, the whole way. He listens, but those two seemed to be the only threats. And the woman who threw the bottle seems to have things well in hand. She sees Chris and shakes her head quickly — everything is all right upstairs. And with Kelsey and her mother… the ganger will be out a long time, long enough that the 'real' Saints will be back and can deal with this particular domestic dispute.
When you speak, Chris nods, and actually leans against you for a moment. Even with you in your ruthenium, he stays close enough that he knows where you are. He's freaked out as well, his heart still thudding in his young chest. "Yeah. He did. And you… you were amazing," he whispers. "And scary. But… you did whatcha had to do, and then you… you worked so hard to save that guy. Right up until the end," he says, with a hint of tears forming in his eyes. He /still/ worships you as a hero, despite what happened at the end.

Eventually, Orpheus finds his way back to the pool hall. Despite if anyone can see him or not, he goes and takes the same spot he was at previously. He sort of ignores Chris.. maybe not intentionally.. but he has no words for the admirerer. Anything he says would probably just sound inane at this point anyway while his brain was still chugging along, trying to pipe the data he absorbed in his mind.. sort of like a 386 PC trying to run Windows 7 - if you'll excuse the nerdy reference.
Once inside the hall, Orpheus leans against that corner of the room he was in before departing for the little set of apartments accross the way.. his ruth finally de-activates, revealing him to everyone else who hadn't already seen him.. his face is sort of.. troubled.

Part 6: Denoument

The pool hall is nearly empty. Hiero is in here… but he's hiding, for the moment — he can see the look on Orpheus's face when he enters. And a tiny headshake from Chris makes it clear that he should not approach. Chris stays with you, not saying anything more. Just materializing next to you and leaning against you, devoted, but quiet. You will say something when you are ready to. Before then, all he can do is be there for you.
He's warm, this boy. His heart is beating; you can even hear it, with your sound filters. A heartbeat is precious — once it stops, someone ceases to be. Such a fragile thing, a heart.
You could still that heartbeat right now. You could crush it. You have the skill, the power. It is within you. But it is not within your power to restart it again. That power, that ability, is granted to those like Kelsey, or even Slinger. Those who bear that particular gift.

Many awkward, quiet moments pass with Orpheus just blankly staring accross the pool hall.. hes not looking at anything. In fact, his eyes kind of look THROUGH everything. It's actually Chris' heartbeat that sort of snaps him out of it finally.. his brain begins to reconstruct, the world around him realinging back to it's more sensical, logical format.. that heartbeat sort of connects him with that world.. the world where this young, hero-worshipping boy was pressed so close to him in a show of affection.. Affection Orpheus figured he maybe didn't deserve.. but..
"I want you to remember, Chris," says Orph suddenly, breaking his minutes-long silence at last.. ".. Remember what you saw today.. Think about it like I've been thinking about it.. Somewhere in all this.. theres a lesson to learn. A lesson that.. could change the world, maybe.. I dunno.." Orpheus nudges off the wall and looks at Chris a moment.. they are so very close.. Orpheus can't help but let a faint blush take his cheeks.. then, he awkwardly steps around the boy.. "Shit.. I need something to drink," he says truthfully.

Chris lets you around him, standing up a moment later, trailing along behind you. Less like a puppy now, once you let a bit of what you are thinking show through. "What matters is that Kelsey is safe," the youth murmurs. "She's the innocent one in all this." Innocent. Slinger used that term, himself. "She's never hurt anyone. And her mother… her mother's a decent woman. Tries hard. Came over here after the first time that Harrick beat her — that's the Demon's name. I… I almost wish he'd died there," he adds, with a hint of venom in his voice. "I… I sorta wish he had. Then those two would be safe, you know?"
Hiero is behind the bar, with wide eyes, making a show of organizing a cabinet down there that let him stay out of the way. You were offered whatever you want, and it's not hard to see into the beer cooler where there are beverages galore, alcoholic, non, the Saints in their role as simple bar-owners. And harder liquors along the back wall.
"There's a room for you upstairs," Chris adds, quietly. "I could show you the way."

Orpheus looks at the drinks. Doesn't know what almost all of them are. He wasn't allowed to drink alchol in Aztech, after all.. he knew what alchol was bes never had it before.. "Eh.. Fizzycoke?" he asks. Slingers old stand-by. He didn't know much else.. "N'less.. you got orange juice," he adds. Health foods! Orpheus was so healthy..
"Turning to look at Chris, Orpheus responds quickly. "Don't say that. Please…" Simple as that. Chris saying that.. almost like spitting in his face.. after how hard he tried to revive the man.. all the anguish he went through seeing his death and subsequent re-birth.. "Life or Death.. Maybe it's not for me to decide," he suggests. He looks Chris squarely in the eyes.. "I don't have the power to bring back life where it's been destroyed; like that girl.. An'.. I can't take life, neither. I.. can't.." He shakes his head.. ".. It's not my choice anymore. If I let it be my choice.. I might choose poorly," he says. Some of thise is said as the two walk to the rooms upstairs that Chris suggested.. after he grabs his water. Or OJ. Or whatnot.

Chris grabs a fizzycoke for himself, and there's a big bottle of orange juice — partially gone. Used for making drinks, most likely. The cooler is closed, and Chris nods to Hiero really quickly, surreptitiously. The youths are accustomed to being almost invisible, but they see everything, apparently.
The back of the place leads through twisting corridors. On the left is the kitchen — which despite being cramped and somewhat old in terms of equipment, is actually spotless, maintained to the best of the gang's ability. Gabriel does not accept anything less than the best that is feasible. To the right is a small, narrow staircase that leads up into the inner sanctum of the pool hall, a place for visitors and guests, and office space for the stuff that makes the Saints run. Along that narrow hallway, Chris approaches a door, does not hesitate, but turns the knob.
It's a simple little apartment, without any sort of kitchen. Just a room, with its own bathroom for privacy. It's not attractive, but it is clean and comfortable, with a bed wide enough for two only if they are friendly. Despite the fact it's not entirely spartan, it's easy to think of a barracks — or perhaps BOQ. A place for visiting warriors to sleep. Comfortable, but devoid of anything overly extraneous.
Chris hovers at the edge of the room, perhaps expecting you to dismiss him. "You… you did the right thing, trying to save him. Life matters," Chris finally blurts out. "I… I never seen anybody do that before. It was… it was what a /hero/ does. Even though you killed him, 'cause you had to, to say Kelsey… you still tried to save the guy, even though he was scum."

Orpheus watches as they head through the various rooms.. he catalogues them via ultrasound as they go, drawing up a simple map. You never know when you might need it.. Once they are inside the room, it seems perfectly fine to Orphs liking. It certainly wasn't like the apartment he lived in with Slinger, but.. it was comfy.. comforting, even, in it's familiar.. so enclosed.
Slowly, Orpheus circles the room and eventually ends up sitting on the bed with his fizzycoke in hand.. sips. "I'm not hero," he says once more to the youth.. "Someone like me.. who has to.. fight, to understand things. Slinger, though.. he is hero," suggests Orpheus. He thinks about his lover then, picturing the beatiful elven boy in his mind.. wishes he was here now.. but instead, Chris was here.. Orpheus suddenly thinks to himself, when he thought about that contrast(Chris vs Slinger), that it was sort of.. wrong.. to think about it in those terms.
Actually, Chris sort of reminded him of himself long ago.. when he idolized a certain boy.. Zeta. "Anyway.. I still don't agree with it, but.. thanks for coming with me. I hope the experience.. was good for you," he says, looking at the boy.

Chris shifts uncomfortably as your manner, your attitude changes. "You saved a life today, I think. That makes you a hero," Chris says, and he means it, his blond-streaked dark hair tossing a little as he shakes his head, disagreeing with you. I just… I wish I'd done better with my chance. You know… to show you what I can do. Instead I just disappointed you. An' I'm sorry." He chuckles. "I sorta hoped I'd earn myself a cigarette or somethin'. But… maybe you'll give me another chance, sometime." He has his voice low, and glances out into the hallway, as if expecting that somebody might overhear.
"I think… I think Slinger'd be proud of you," the youth adds. "I got to meet him once, not real long. But… everythin' I've heard, he'd be proud. Gabe is always confused by him. Doesn't really understand him."

"I barely understand him sometimes, myself," says Orph, smiling faintly.. slinger was hard to understand, but mostly because he was, in essence, the very opposite of Orpheus in many ways. already his influence was shaping him. Would Orpheus have that effect on Chris? If so, what sort of impression was he giving the boy with his current attitude?
Orpheus reaches a hand up and rests it on Chris's shoulder gently.. "Hey don' think that at all.. I know I.. Probably scared you a little maybe, back there.. but that's.. That's not me. No, I think you did good. You were quiet, sneaky.. and the way you got that maglock open.." he nods.. "That was real good.. I'd be glad to have you as my backup sometime," he adds, hoping his words will ease the boys mind. It was a little weird saying stuff like that to another guy, but.. he just thought about the things Slinger has said to him and ways he made him feel.. drew from that inspiration.
As for the ciggy.. "Well.. Maybe soon. Real soon, huh? You already proved a lot to me today," he says with a grin.

Chris grins as you say that, and some of his former spunk is starting to return. He feeds off of your attitude, in the same way that you are driven so much by Slinger's. His eyes slide over your face — and what he sees clearly is someone that he likes and admires and wants to emulate. "Yeah," he admits. "The… the way you looked at me, I was really scared. I never wanna see somebody look at me like that, again. 'Cause… 'cause I figure it's the last thing I'll ever see. You're really awesome. An'… thanks for holdin' back, not humiliating me too much in front of the guys," he adds, with a faint flush to his cheeks.
He's clearly pleased with your praise, though, and takes it as an invitation to sit down with you on the bed. "I bet you can smoke in here," he says. He glances over at the nightstand. "Was prolly Spirit who snuck an ashtray up here. Gabe might notice, but he won't say nothin'." There's that little grin on his face again, that sly, mischievous little look that makes him look adorable.

Orpheus smiles, "Not from me.. I wouldn't do that," he promises. "And if anyone ever tries to do it to you, I'll beat them down, promise." He grins, looking at the young boy as he sits so close. It's a little uncomfortable for him, but in another way, nice.. he can feel the heat coming from the other boy.. that warmth.. the faint smell of juvenile testosterone after a tense, strenuous event like the one they endured.
Orpheus clears his throat suddenly, and with it his mind. "Yeah, maybe.." he thinks.. he listens carefully with his ears.. switches on his ultrasound, thermals.. Definitely makes damn sure no one is around.. then, he brings out his geurerras and extracts one of the sticks.. moments later and it's lit, sitting on the edge of his lips. "Why you wanna smoke so bad?" he asks Chris suddenly, expectedly waiting for his answer..

Chris seems to relax as you make that promise. A promise from you means something, in his mind. You did everything in your power to save that Demon, and in the end, it worked. You told him you had promised, and he watched you go to great lengths to keep it. When you tore into the guy… he could see how frustrated you were, how angry. It was a show of passion, of strength, not of evil or aggression.
He watches you pull out that pack, gazing at the bold red-and-white-and-black package, written in Spanish. Watches the fire lick over the end of it. He's seen men smoke before, but seldom one your age, so close to his own age. At least not so openly. "I… well, I know it's bad for you. But most of the gang smokes. The older ones, anyway. Even some of the younger ones, when Gabe can't see 'em. I mean… I could go steal a pack or somethin'. But… I dunno. It seems like it oughtta mean somethin', you know?" He looks back into your eyes shyly, to see if you understand — or will laugh at him. He hasn't dared admit this to anyone before.

Orpheus was indeed passionate in that moment.. perhaps over-whelmingly so. Chris kept his cool though.. "Yeah.. Thanks.. for keeping your head during that."
While the youth watches Orpheus smoking his cigarrete, watching him crave it, desire it.. Orpheus smiles, taking a deep drag off the thing. He didn't cough very often anymore, taking those big, deep inhalations.. he lets the smoke saturate his lungs a moment, then gently blows the smoke into Chris' face.. He grins. "I know how you feel," he assures the boy, and rests his hand thoughtlessly on Chris' thigh.. It lingers there a moment, then awkwardly finds itself on his shoulder instead with a bit of a blush somewhere in-between.. "I was like you, at one time you know.. not even that long ago. The thing is.. to smoke.. to really smoke.. to earn the smoke.. you can't just want to do it cus others do it.." Orpheus leans in close to the youth, in a scene not unlike the one he and Slinger had months ago.. ".. You have to want it.. Every part of it.. The smoke, the pain, the fire. Smoking is more than just a 'fad' or a 'thing' you do.. it's part of you. That's why.. I won't let you smoke one of mine until /you/ are ready." He smirks.. "It's a personal choice.. One you have to make."

As you exhale the smoke into his face, the young Saint breathes in — just a little — but enough to make him cough, make his eyes water. Just a little, but enough to impress upon him how much stronger you are. Your very breath makes him cough, and the boy finally has to look away, before wiping his eyes on the back of his shirtsleeve, embarassed at his own weakness.
The touch to his clothed thigh makes him flush, a small shiver running through him — but it is a shiver, not a shudder, and he does not pull away in the slightest, before your hand finds his shoulder instead. And he gazes into your eyes, watching that slow inhale, the way you let it remain in your chest. "I know," he murmurs, when you mention that it is more than a fad. "I know it hurts. I know it'll bad for me. But… I know I'm not gonna… not gonna really be a man until I got the courage to do it, you know?" he asks, averting his gaze. And then, a bit of curiosity. "What… what does it mean to you?"

Orpheus hadn't really meant to rest his hand there.. or, maybe he did? He isn't sure.. it was already done though. He does his best to smile for Chris though, not laughing at his coughing or watery eyes. True, Orph thought he wasnt quite ready for a good smoke. Certainly not one of HIS smokes.. smokes which he himself had to brace a gauntlet of ashe, fire, and pain to get accustomed to. Even now they still burn his lungs a bit.. especially in the morning.
"That's good. Remember what you said.. Remember that it's bad for you.. only when you fully understand what smoking is - what it does to your body -only then can you really appreciate them. Like me.." He grins, licking his tobacco-stained lips a bit..
"Me?" Orph thinks about it.. for him, smoking was quite important to a lot of things in his life.. "A lot, really.. Smoking for me.. it's.. well, it sort of symbolizes -for me- all the things in my life I felt I was denied." Which was A LOT of things.. he won't elaborate for Chris right now though.. "Every time I smoke, I can think of the faces of all the people who tried to keep me down.. and I can laugh at those faces while I knowingly burn my lungs and taste the fire.. See?" Orph sucks down hard, the embers on his cigarette flaring wildly, audibly crackling.. He slowly exhales again. "Cigarettes are like fire.. you draw strength from that fire.. strength gives you courage, and courage gives you the ability to do anything."

Chris watches the thing smoulder in your fingers, the smell of it enveloping him. Dark tobacco smoke, spreading through the room, marking this as the domicile of a man, of a strong young warrior who is dangerous, yet strong and mature at the same time. The touch to his shoulder he leans into, relishing the physical contact wih the other boy, while he tosses his hair again, but his eyes are drawn to your lips, noticing the faint markings there on them. Almost imperceptible unless one is looking for them.
"It's bad for your lungs," the youth murmurs. "An' it smells bad. Makes your heart beat faster, makes you cough… makes your voice rough like Gabe's, when you get older. You gotta be brave."
But as you speak again, that is when you truly ignite the passion in this boy. It was something he wanted as a status symbol, perhaps, at least in part. A token of manhood to take for himself. But it is that fierce inhale, the look on your face, the hint of pain that you inflict on your body. And your words about courage, that transform into a look of longing, of desire on his youthful features. "I… I want that. I'm gonna start… when you think I'm worthy," he whispers.

Orpheus smiles down at the youth, so much like himself in so many ways. How could he deny him a cigarette? He wouldn't.. not for long anyway. Maybe just a day.. to watch him, maybe see him in action again perhaps.. he'd be satisfied with that. He isn't sure he could keep them from Chris though. He wanted to give him one now, but he wanted to be sure.. sure in the same way Slinger would have wanted..
"It's bad, yes.. Kills you slowly. But also makes you stronger." Another grin, another gentle squeeze on the boys shoulder.. he leans in real close to Chris' face, their lips(and the cig) just inches.. He blows smoke again just slightly.. "Soon, kay?" He grins.. then, feeling his features flushing a bit, he breaks away from the intense gaze and lets his tired body fall back onto the bed.. his body bounces up and down just a bit before coming to rest, cigarette carefully held between his fingers and making sure not to burn a hole in the sheets..
"Been a long day for me.. Sorry if I look all worn out.."

The ironic thing is that it sounds like a paradox — but Chris knows that it is not. Strength today, death maybe a little sooner. The way warriors are built — taking risks, never letting fear stop them from their passion. He slowly nods, understanding. And the boy's eyes are eager, hopefully — not just for tobacco, but for your acceptance, your approval. It has come to symbolize that to him, as well. "I know… I know that once you begin, you cannot simply give up. That it is a choice you make… a change in yourself forever," he whispers. He knows that, does not fear it.
As you lean in closer, as your lips approach his, Chris hardly even dares to breathe. Your warm smoke, the scent of your breath and your lips is so close, so masculine, yet so young and soft at the same time. Tensing — he wants it. He desires it so much… your closeness and approval.
But as you make that whispered offer, he slowly nods, that impish, mischievous, lopsided grin coming back onto his features. And as you admit to being tired, he lets out a sympathetic smile. "Yeah. I understand… You did a lot today." He stands up from the bed, lingering behind only to offer to get you anything you need before he departs.

Orpheus can think of nothing right away.. but offers for Chris to come back up and make sure he didn't fall asleep.. maybe in a few hours after hes had time to relax a bit and reflect a little on the days long, long events..

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