A Smuggler's Wings (Supplemental)

2017...

"Holy SH*T! Sissy, where the hell did you find this thing!? It beautiful..."

"Hey, hey! Let's give credit where it's due, alright? I didn't "find" anything. I stole this queen from the U.S military themselves. Can you believe that they just left this poor thing under a tarp to collect dust? It was a freaking cinch, well, I had to leave some mercs behind in a firefight... But it was a sacrifice I was willing them to make!"

"...Jesus, Juno..."

"What!? Trust me, if I went back to try and help? I would have been just as dead, and I'm not throwing my life away to have a faux-hero moment. Look-Whatever! You're taking away from the main point, Dion! I have MY OWN SHIP!!! Do you know what this means? Juno Fei is going international, baby! This big lady is a flying money printer, just you watch."

"*Chuckles* Right, right. Well, you know what they say "A mother of fortune always provides..."

"...Wait wait wait... Say that again..."

The Present. The forests surrounding The Academy, one mile out...

Juno sat behind the steering wheel of her Van, nervously tapping on the wheel while looking out into the thick forests surrounding the vehicle. Even being near that Academy was enough to almost send her into conniptions. Flashes and blurred memories of that day, that incident which caused her no end of grief raced through her already occupied mind.

She tightened her fingerless gloves harshly, as a method of collecting her focus back to the task at hand.

It was almost a clean break, leaving this place after it all shut down. All of her caches of contraband retrieved, the debts collected from deadbeat students, contact information given out for further business down the road. It was all good, except for one glaring possession that had to be left behind. Her ship, her soul, her pride and joy. The Mother of Fortune. Without it, Juno wouldn't have been even half of the smuggler she was today. Countless jobs achieved, daring escapes pulled off, dog fights that would go down in history by those who witnessed them or survived them.

It was left hidden outside of the school grounds, as there wasn't really a way to efficiently hide a prototype military cargo carrier in her dorm room. A part of her actually felt guilt for the ship, a guilt that Juno rarely even shared in her fellow human being. The last time the Fortune took fresh air, it was during the daring caper orchestrated by the smallest, yet deadly assassin So-so.

Juno shivered at the thought of So-so, having troubles seeing any memory past those when the killer was under the firm control of Chaos...

"So..." Juno looked into the mirror, into herself. "We doing this or not? Let's go see how she's doing."

The smuggler stepped out of her Van, tightening her gun holster while standing tall. All it took was a few taps of her bracelet, and The Van's simple A.I took control of the vehicle. Slowly but surely, it reversed back the way Juno drove in until it was out of sight, it's coordinates would take it safely back to The Haven.

Once the Van's beast of an engine could no longer be heard, it was then that Juno could hear everything else in the forest... And she wasn't alone. Cautiously, she snapped the clip open on her blaster's holster, taking a few quiet step behind a tree with her ears twitching all the while.

"Walking. Marching boots. A lot of marching boots. Guns clattering, rifles, they're carrying rifles. Engines, heavy, definitely armored, radio chatter, can't make it out..." Juno's assessment was complimented by her enhanced hearing, her brow furrowing in confusion upon reaching a conclusion. "Uh... Who the hell is here? I thought these grounds were taped off after the Crisis...?"

It didn't matter, not now at least. Most of the noise was away from where the Fortune was hidden, so the smuggler sneaked through the branches to her destination.

After a decent amount of footwork, Juno finally arrived at the hiding spot, peering out from the treeline to see what was what... It wasn't great. "Oh... Crap." She muttered under her breath, letting out a sigh of confused annoyance. A small squad of armed soldiers surrounded the foggy lake that separated a ring around the forest. More importantly, the lake where the Fortune was safely submerged. It was the very same scenic spot where she made one of the best deals of her career, securing a contract with So-so for that mission.

"I really need to see if that girl's still possessed or not... Because that money source was sweeeeet- Focus, Fei! Money later, ship now. Speaking of which..."

Juno pulled down her trusted flight goggles, activating their higher functions with a simple tap on the frame. The lenses focused in on these masked men, thoroughly analyzing just who exactly these people worked for. As her father always said, "one can learn many aspects of a person from their preference in weaponry."

"Hmm. M127 IAR rifles, USMC bread and butter... Heavily customized, though. Those babies are done up like it's a firearm prom night. So, not USMC, cheap A-holes. Mercs? Nah, way too formal, way too organized. Privatized? Nope, no patches or ranks... Holy guns, I'm pretty sure these guys are a freaking ghost outfit..." The aviatrix pulled her goggles back up, scratching her cheek in thought. One thing was for certain, she couldn't kill any of them. The last thing Juno needed was to be on some blacklist for whoever these people were. That didn't help at all with Juno's objective of getting past them.

Sometimes, the classics worked best. Juno pulled a smart-grenade out of her pocket, clicking it a few times until it was on the right function. "Decoy. Distress protocol." She whispered to the grenade before pitching it through the trees next to her. It only took a few more moments before the gadget worked it's magic.

"Hello!? Someone!? Anyone!? I'm lost, and scared... IS ANYONE OUT THERE!?" The grenade produced a recording of Juno calling out for help, a convincing plea from the way it echoed out through the forest. Surely enough, the armed men heard the recording, readying their rifles with hand signals. Two begun carefully maneuvering into the forest, while one stayed behind to watch the spot, all while Juno watched safely from where she was crouched.

"Jesus. So really not the good guys." Juno's eyes widened, remarking towards the men with their safety's off, and a clear intent to shoot on sight.

Instincts kicked in, now only having to deal with one person as opposed to three, and so Juno went sprinting out of the bush with her arms waving wildly. "Hey! HEY!!! Have you seen my dog!?" She cried out, using her age and a fake innocence as a confusing veil. The guard instantly raised his weapon, but his aim faltered upon seeing that it was "just" some teenager running towards him.

"FREEZE! I SAID FREEZE! FINAL WARNING, CIVILIAN!" The man barked, flicking the safety on his rifle.

"PLEASE! He's just a puppy! His name is KNEETOTHEFACE!!!" Juno could barely hold back her laughter, having closed a sufficient amount of distance. Without hesitation, her rocket-boots activated, sending her flying forward at a blurring speed. It was enough of a shock where the man's aim was misplaced, firing a burst of rounds into the ground instead. Juno's knee went crashing into the stranger's masked face with brutal force, his nose crunching loudly on impact.

Using what momentum she had left, Juno rolled onto the clumped dirt beach of the lake, and quickly dived into it's murky waters before the other two guards could catch a glimpse of her, returning to see why there was gunfire.

The moment Juno was in the water, she pulled out a breathing mask and strapped it to her face, and started swiftly swimming deeper and deeper into the lake's depths. With her goggles on, it was easy to see through the murky waters with the provided filters on the lenses. Her eyes scanned about, looking for the beautiful shape of her beloved ship.

"Come on. Come on. Where are you lov- WHOA JESUS!" The smuggler let out a bubbling scream, as she sharply turned her head to be staring right into the face of some kind of... Robot? After regaining her nerves, Juno swam back a bit to get a better look at this thing. It seemed dead, or deactivated for that matter, it's spooky eyes giving off a very vacant and empty glare. So there it stood under it's own weight, on the bed of this lake...

"...Oooookay then, guess I'm not the only one throwing things into this lake." She mused, giving a wave to the strange and forgotten robot, then swimming off to continue her objective.

After what felt like an eternity, Juno finally caught the tail of The Fortune, her eyes lighting up in relieved joy while swimming energetically towards the ship. It took no time to find the air-sealed hatch on the top, knowing this thing like the back of her hand. Swiftly, Juno popped open the hatch and scurried inside, closing it to engage the filtration system.

The smuggler stepped out of the hatch bay, and into the main hull. With no one around, she felt no shame in shedding tears of nostalgic joy, gently grazing her open hand against it's cold metal. It was as if she had rejoined with her very soul. At a brisk pace, Juno arrived at the cockpit, sniffling and wiping away her tears while doing so. With a heavy breath, she sat down in the pilot's seat, instantly reaching under the seat for something. She pulled out a worn photograph, her fingers gently pressing against it's image. The picture was of Juno when she was a little girl, and her mother holding her with the smile of an angel as they posed for the camera. The very same pilot's cap that she wore on her head right now, was draped on Juno's head in the picture, and covering her eyes from how big it was on her tiny head. A sniffling chuckle escaped from Juno's mouth, which she promptly placed a hand over.

With her reminiscing over, it was finally time to take flight once again. She took great care in flicking and turning the priming switches, toggling on the fuel pump which let out a satisfying hiss as it's lifeblood coursed through the ship's lines. Next was the power, pumping the manual primer a few times before thumbing down on the heavy button. With a choked turn, The Fortune came to life, all of it's lights flickering on with a tried and true reliability. The COMM produced a static buzz before coming through with the nearest frequency, which just so happened to be the armed forces up above...

"BZZZT! TEENAGE FEMALE-ZZZT IN THE LAKE-LAKE-REPE-ZZZZZT INTRUDER WENT INTO TH-ZZ- LAKE."

"YES. YES. YES!!!"

Juno's lips curled into an ambitious grin while she continued priming the ship, clicking her tongue. "Well, looks like we're blitzing out of here in a real hurry, dear." She affectionately informed her ship, taking a pause before grabbing the main thruster toggle, finally jutting it upwards in excitement. The thrusters burned with life, creating a bubbling frenzy that surrounded the Fortune's exterior. "YES. YES. YES!!!!" Juno screamed in pure joy, tapping the lower pedals to awaken the lower thrusters as well, the Fortune now slowly rising through the depths.

"Let's give them something to wave to, what do you say!?" She asked, slamming down on the JATO ignition switch, causing every single lower thruster to give it their all to lift the many tons of experimental flying tech up at an incredible speed.

The soldiers up above weren't even close to prepared, with only their rifles aimed at the surface in anticipation for whatever was making that ungodly amount of noise down below. It wasn't even a second before the entire surface lit up with artificial lighting, and the Mother of Fortune herself breached the lake's surface with a triumphant roar of it's rocketed power. The ship was already a dot in the sky before the soldiers could collect themselves, they could only now watch as the ship boomed through the sound barrier and became an afterthought.

Juno Fei, was once again, going international...

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The Name of The Game (Supplemental)

"*Sigh* Juno Fei, August 11th, 2019... Data entry #73. It's been three weeks since I started again... Started living the life I swore that I'd bury after I left that school. Things are different this time, though. This time, it's MY choice to do this... Not HIS... Or at least that's what I'm telling myself right now. I'm actually happy for the first time since the Crisis happened. On my own, I mean, because Ven makes me feel like a queen... Heh... It's important, you know? Being capable of feeling satisfaction and pride when you're on your own. The Staff's been stirring again, getting restless. No matter. Ever since I figured out how to keep it... Ugh... "Fed", it's been more than happy staying in the bunker. Call me crazy, but I think I'm slowly figuring that thing out. I don't know...

Anyway! Very very productive day. I'm turning up a serious profit in this nothing State, guess I haven't lost my touch...

Farmington, Connecticut. 6:00 AM. The Road Ravens...

The Van neatly drifted Club House's parking lot, just as swiftly screeching to a stop next to the row of choppers resting in a row. Sitting on the porch was none other than Chapter Leader Sammy, looking like he had just come back from the dead.

Juno stepped out of her Van, perky as ever while giving a friendly wave to Sammy upon approaching him. "If it isn't my favorite scary biker guy. Thanks." The smuggler warmly teased, grabbing the cup of Joe that Sammy silently passed her while grumbling.

"And if it ain't the mouthiest brat dealer in the county, how the hell are ya, Juno?" Sammy chortled, slurping down his own coffee like it held the secrets of eternal youth.

Juno leaned against the wooden fence on the deck, looking out to the barren fields that laid across the cracked highway. "Can't complain. Just thought I'd get your stop out of the way first. Besides, there's always the free coffee." She smirked while holding up her drink and taking a sip. "Mm. I must say, I don't remember the last time I dealt with weed. Like, I stopped slinging that stuff when I was sixteen." The dealer gestured to her Van, and more importantly the product that sat inside.

Sammy gave a modest shrug, taking another loud slurp. "Someone's gotta run the grass in town. I ain't one to turn down profit, don't matter it's type."

Juno nodded her head in agreement, now gulping down the coffee since it's cooled down. "No denying that... Glad to see that gear worked out for you, I saw the news report last night. Wasn't expecting you to cut down a rival club that close to town, so count me impressed!" She chuckled, throwing her empty paper cup in the trash bin next to Sammy.

The biker did the same, standing up and cracking his neck. "Oh that? Sh*t. It's your gear that got us through that night, so that's a mutual praise." He gave Juno a sincere nod, grabbing the two-wheel cart he had handy.

The Ace silently gestured Sammy to follow, both of them stepping off the porch and making their way to the back of her Van. Popping the rear doors open revealed the vacuum sealed packages of weed, two hundred pounds worth, naturally unmarked. Without a word, Juno started piling them onto the cart straining from how tightly packed each bag was. "Holy guns! I seriously need to start thinking about a gym in my house or something." She sighed through her pursed lips, hauling more bags onto the cart.

Sammy just leaned on the cart and watched, lighting up a cigar just to drive the point home. "Yeah? You going to hit up the Meta-Mash Rings now? Crack some skulls? Heh heh..." He casually retorted, puffing away on the stogie.

Juno nearly dropped one of the bags as he mentioned the odd name, looking up at him with heavy breaths. "What did you say...?"

The Chapter Boss looked down in genuine confusion, pointing at her with his stubby finger. "Wait, serious? I thought you'd be all over those joints! They're fight clubs for freaks and people with powers, littered all across the countryside right here in CT. They don't let us regular a-holes in, but I hear they run some serious cash through that place. Sh*t, I'd freaking hope so, considerin' they fight to the death in those cages." Sammy laughed out cigar smoke, throwing a few faux punches through the air.

One could practically hear the gears in Juno's head turning at a locomotive's pace, her notoriously greedy gaze flaring up like a wildfire. "Sammy? I freaking appreciate you, you know that?"

Ten minutes later...

Sammy and Juno both closed the club's rear bay door, dusting off their hands now that they product was neatly tucked away inside. "So! 200lbs of "Californian Cat Eyes", 90718.5 grams. Sammy, my friend, that'll be a total of $5700 even. Maybe next time you can buy something like your last order, how's about?" She held out her hand, to which Sammy chuckled and gave her a moderately sized satchel filled with her cash.

"If I need to axe another rival chapter with guns and gas? You'll be the first on my call list, kid." Sammy gave her one final salute, with Juno returning it in kind before she walked back off to her Van.

"The near six g's was a decent payout, but it was the information that really made it all the worth while. Sammy's really shaping up to be a good client, plus he's just a standup guy to boot. I could actually see Ven even getting a kick out of his messed up humor. Viking types, am I right? Anyway! The intel of "Meta-Mash Rings" clattered around my brain for the whole drive on the highway. I was going to head straight into town... But then I thought I'd do me a little reconnoitering before I did that..."

Nepaug State Forest, twenty miles out of Canton. The Fight Club... 10:00 AM

Juno scraped and brushed through the branches, as she rocketed to the top of a tall pine with the help of her boots. Finally reaching the top, she narrowly grabbed onto a sturdy branch and planted herself firm in a perched position. When she deemed herself stable, the smuggler pulled down her flight goggles, the lenses shining with a digital red light.

With a few blinks of her eyes, the lenses magnified to the horizon, bringing a clear picture of what laid nestled int he forest. "Holy guns, Sammy... You weren't kidding..." Juno murmured, cupping her lenses to tweak the intensity and quality of the zoom. There was a brick warehouse down there in the woods, with no road dedicated as an entrance or exit. Even an experienced outdoors person would miss the building by half a mile. Hell, it was almost as concealed as the Haven.

Heavily modded jeeps and trucks loaded supply in and out of the warehouse, clearly getting things ready for the night, and not open during the day. It was tough to make out, since it was a dimmed neon sign. But it read "Valhalla's Shame." Juno sighed to herself, not impressed. "Couldn't think of anything more cliche, guys? She mumbled, letting her goggles swipe a few still images of the complex.

"If Sammy was accurate, no humans are allowed in there. What the hell are the guidelines for that? How do they know? Whatever, point is, I can't go walking in there. I can't really prove my "super good hearing" now can I...? But I NEED to get in there! Think about the business opportunities! Either I could run product through this place, adhering to the right clientele... Ooooor I could just knock it over and run it? Okay, calm down Juno, your 120lb butt isn't "knowing over" any fight clubs.... Oh... OH! Holy guns! I'm a freakin' genius!!!"

Juno silently cheered to herself, letting her body drop from the tree so she could expertly land on the ground below.

"THAT'S How I came up with the plan. You see, I could never make my way to the top of a fighting ring, not in a fair fight at least. But my sweetheart? The girl of my dreams? The strongest goddamn woman I've ever met in my life? Venilia? She could make it to the top, and I don't think she'd mind one bit either..."

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A Smuggler's Return

Tunxis State Forest, 28 Miles from Farmington CT, 11:00 PM...

The Ravens Ride
The Ravens Ride

The Forest Ravens rode for hours upon hours on an open road. They were more than familiar with these low traffic highways, some could say that they even owned them. Still, this was much more out of their way than usual for an arms deal. Normally they wouldn't even humor this kind of sudden contact, probably just some hick crackheads looking to set up a poor man's ambush, but it was the name behind the contact.

Fei

Biker gangs were very far from an exception to the criminal underworld, and just like every other scrappe of scum, they too heard that the notorious Juno Fei had flown under the radar. Some whispered that is was for good, others saying it was part of some long con on her behalf. Some even spoke of a million dollar bounty on her head, courtesy of her own father, "Boss" Fei. The Raven's couldn't care less about the bounty, as they knew what kind of heat and reputation that would bring down on their heads. No, they were merely interested in purchasing guns from a reputable source. Nothing more...

The bikes revved and roared through the treeline, Chapter Head Sammy's GPS pinging positively as they reached their destination. "HOLD UP BOYS! We're here!" Sammy informed his brothers, the gang dismounting and stretching their legs.

It was certainly a beautiful meeting spot. Lush greenery smothered the gang's proximity on all sides except one, where a sheer cliff presented the State Forest down below in a breezy nighttime view. Sammy walked over to the cliff, sparking up a cigarette and took in the sight. His right hand man, his comrade and his brother Jared walked on over beside him, silently grabbing a smoke from his captain.

"We really doin' this?" Jared looked over while taking a drag.

"We've been on the pavement for six hours, and now you're asking a stupid question like that?" Sammy snorted along with his question, spitting off the cliff.

"No, no. What I mean is... Well this might not even be her, you know? She's supposed to be ghost, so what the hell makes us think she's showed up in antique buttfunk hell Connecticut to do business with us... Isn't she supposed to be a funking globe trotter-?"

"That's what I'm supposed to be at least!" A familiar voice called out from the bush. The dozens of bikers present pulled out their pistols and SMG's towards where it came from. Sammy sharply turned around, pulling his revolver out of it's holster, and tugging on the hammer with his stubby thumb.

"Show yourself! If you're who you're supposed to be, you got nothin' to worry about!" Sammy shouted into the forest, his revolver cautiously raising by the second.

None other than Juno Fei casually stepped out of the bushes with her hands held high, a mocking grin stuck on her plain face. She was dressed head to toe in her old smuggling gear, almost unrecognizable from the gothic style she had adopted as of late. To these bikers, however, this was exactly how the smuggler Juno Fei was said to look like.

"Evening boys!"

"Evening boys!" Juno grinned at the many weapons pointed her way, her raised hands producing points at said barrels fixed on her person. "Don't suppose you could get those out of my face? Otherwise you all spent a really dumb amount of cash on gas money getting here." The smuggler's tone never broke from pure confidence, only amplified when the biker's complied with her demands.

Sammy shoved a few of his men out of the way, stomping towards the Dealer aggressively. Juno mirrored his approach all the same, until the two were face to face. After a brief moment of uncertain tension, they both spat into their palms and slapped their hands together to form a firm shake. "So, you're Juno Fei, huh? Or are we callin' you Ms. Fei for business?" Sammy sneered, to which Juno cracked a grin in retort. "Juno's fine, "Ms. Fei" is for someone a lot sexier and tougher than you, big guy" She chuckled, giving Sammy's hand one more shake before taking a step back.

The Raven's captain looked around, his hands gesturing out to their forested surroundings. "Well I see you here... But where the funk is the product?" He asked sincerely, even underlined with caution, as these were normally the first signs of an ambush.

Juno picked up on those fears, easily reading his body language like a coffee table pamphlet, and waved her hand dismissively. "Calm down, baldy. Your product? We're standing on it."The smuggling witch stomped her boot on the ground firmly, to which everyone else looked down at the branch covered floor as well.

Sure, it was disrupted soil, but it didn't look like anyone had dug a pit anytime recently. This is exactly what Sammy was thinking, looking back at her with a raised brow. "You pullin' some kind of funking prank here? There's no freaking way you dug a hole big enough and covered it up this good. Not without an excavator or somethin'." He pointed to the ground in annoyance.

Juno rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue, looking at Sammy while twiddling her fingers theatrically. "What if I told you I did it with maaaaagic, oooooOoooOOOoh!"She burst out laughing, knowing these goons had no clue that she quite literally did just that.

No Caption Provided

Her humored uproar was cut off, however, as her ears perked up at a noise far out of earshot to an average person's hearing. "Huh..." Juno stood upright, her eyes wandering off to the sky as her mind tuned to her other enhanced senses. "Hey uh, Sammy right? Any chance you brought some backup in case this went south? Or am I lookin' at everyone you brought on this powwow?" Juno put her hand up as a sign to relax, carefully drawing her grandfather's Blaster out of it's holster.

Sammy picked up on her cues, giving his boys a nod of his head to ready their weapons. "Can't say I did, Fei. You're lookin' at everyone...."

"Neat, neat, neat... Soooo... Yeah... Duck and shoot..." Juno pursed her lips almost awkwardly, slowly getting to a crouched position with her ears still tensed. There was a very unsettling silence, with only the cricket's song as ambience before...

*SNAP*

All it took was the breaking of the smallest twig, and Juno fired off a searing hot blast from her energy weapon. It burned through the treeline, scoring someone enough to make them yell out in fatal pain.

"COOK THESE MOTHER FUNKERS"

Another voice screamed from the trees, just barely cut off by an uproar of orchestrated and lined gunfire from all directions. Both Juno and Sammy dropped to the ground in an instant, each of them firing off as many shots as they could before getting pinned. Bikers left and right dropped like rocks. The rest of the men that weren't cut down by the immediate barrage took cover behind the thick oaks that dotted the meeting spot, returning their own fire in kind for their fallen brothers.

"FUNK ME! It's the goddamn Road Headers!" Sammy shouted over the ruckus, emptying the chambers of her revolver to reload.

"SHUT UP SAMMY! I'M COUNTING!" Juno casually punched Sammy in the arm, her lips flapping quietly. Little did the Raven's leader know, the smuggler was counting down to when these shooters were going to run out of ammo.

She finally counted down the remaining seconds on her fingers, leaving just three fingers stretched before grabbing the Biker Captain by his leather vest and getting up to their feet. "Up and Adam, baldy! You can't pay me if you're dead!" She screamed, shoving Sammy to safety behind the largest tree nearby before she leapt off of the sheer cliff, turning around to grab hold of it's ledge.

Her eyesight might be better than any average person, but there was no defeating the veil of night itself. Slamming her blaster to the soil, she continued to utilize all of her hearing to locate these mooks, and fired off blaster round after blaster round in the trees. Bullets kicked up the dirt around her, not being able to penetrate the entire cliff her body dangled off of for cover.

She could use it at any second. She could just summon the accursed Staff of Blodam itself and end those who tried to end her transaction right here and now. Yet, Juno chose not to. No, she wanted to prove to herself that this was her game, and her world. Besides, risking the possibility of serious blood loss wasn't an option right now.

Instead, Juno reached into her satchel, pulling out a handful of circuited orbs. "Spider drones, search and destroy protocol!" She verbally commanded the tech she held before throwing them blindly over the bikers and into the tree lines. The little orbs sprung and shook to life, sprouting tiny mechanical legs that allowed them to crawl about in the dirt, seeking and destroying.

Almost simultaneously, sizable explosions erupted from the trees, coupled with wails and screams of those who were caught in their blast.

A hush fell over the bikers as the dust settled, carefully stepping out of their wooden cover to see what the hell just happened. Juno Fei is what had happened, and she felt good about it. She crawled back up from the cliff, getting back to her fight right beside Sammy, who stared at her with impressed awe.

"Goddamn, kid." Was all he could mumble, his head nodding along with his words.

"Oh, you think that was cool? Check this out." Juno replied with an absolutely giddy tone, reaching out her hand to her side to everyone's mutual confusion. It wasn't until five seconds later they'd switch to utter shock and bewilderment as The Staff of Blodam flew through the sky and breached the opening of the cliff, gently yet firmly placing itself in Juno's extended palm.

The smuggling witch slammed her Staff's bottom to the ground, peering through the golden circle to gain focus. "Show me the goods."She commanded, her voice becoming slightly distorted in tandem with the Staff's sudden obeying glow. All it took was the minor cut on her hand from the forest's debris when she clung to the cliff, the Staff sucking up the required blood payment to return a spell in Juno's favor.

The ground suddenly started shifting aggressively and unnaturally, with something rising from it's soil at a slow but powerful pace. Juno didn't even wait for the spell to finish before sending the Staff flying back up into the air at a bullet's speed, now walking over to the petrified Sammy and resting her arm on his shoulder.

"Twenty Spas-12, riot model, full choke shotguns. Thirty Mossberg pump action "super shorty" models. Both batches have their serial numbers eliminated, that's an extra charge. Five crates of shells, one crate of fragmentation grenades and ten kevlar vests. Sammy my boy, you're looking at a final price of $134,539.00. Now... Cough it up..."

Twenty minutes later...

"WHOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!" Juno stuck her head out of the Van's window, the flaps of her pilot's cap flapping in the wind as she sped down the empty highway. In the back of the Van was sixteen duffel bags stuffed full with cash, cash she earned. "I DID IT! I DID IT I DID IT!" The smuggler slapped her hand against the steering wheel. Her amber eyes looked at her own face in the rear view mirror, looking at herself in her attire she buried weeks ago after the Academy... After she changed...

"To hell with it" She told herself days ago, coming to an assertive realization. It was Venilia, her partner, her confidant, the woman she loved who gave her the confidence boost she needed to do what she just did. It wasn't going to stop here, not with just providing for her family, her Outcasts. No, Juno decided that she wasn't going to run from who she was. She wasn't going to run from this uniform, or her blaster, or her ship. They may have been things that her abusive and terrible father, Xiang, gave her and clung to their presence. But it was Juno who was going to own them. Not only that, her mind was finally made up...

She was going to kill her father, and take his empire...

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The Staff of Blood and Thieves: Part two. "Communion"

The Haven's Forest...

"FREEZE!" Juno commanded her Staff, pointing it at the nearby pond. As usual, the artifact obeyed while squelching out it's bloody payment from a fresh cut that Juno made on her palm. With a passive glow from it's golden circle, the body of water froze solid in a matter of seconds. A sly smirk formed on her charcoal lips, looking down at the Staff with approval. "Not bad, not bad at all..."

It had been a few days since she stole these ice spells from the punk sorceress known as "Frigid Bridgette", already testing out the many ways these versatile ice magics could be used in the future. A modicum of pride coursed through her mind, feeling like she was in control of this infernal Staff for the first time since bonding with it. With any luck and a little time, the young witch would have the powers needed to stop anything that would harm her friends.

Very carefully, she stepped onto the frozen pond and pulled out a written list, going over it's details while now casually sliding on the ice.

  • "Frigid Bridgette"
  • Grigori of Vilhelm
  • "The Shadowed One"
  • Mister Surreal
  • Mari (?)

The smuggler took out a red marker, crossing Bridgette's name off the list.

The plan was a simple one. Every month or so, Juno would track down the next person on her list. When she would finally manage to locate them? Steal their magic at the most opportune time. Her prideful and mischievous smirk faded into a frown the longer she thought about this little operation of hers, now hastily folding up the list and stuffing it into her dress pocket. Juno decided to not let Venilia know about this gambit, something that still wasn't sitting right with her.

"Ugh..." She grumbled, feeling like the guilt was literally coming down on her shoulders, now crossing her arms while still sliding about. "It's for a good cause! I just want to protect all of you... And I KNOW you'd all try to stop me if you found out! I'm not just some wounded girl, I can fight just like the rest of you! I INSIST I fight for Venilia... I mean... all of you..." Juno woefully rolled her eyes and sighed, even her own thoughts getting tongue tied at the mention of her partner. "They'll understand. They'll understand. I am balanced. I am centered...?" The goth's mantra trailed off as she looked through the trees, noticing something in the distance.

After stepping off the pond and inspect further, Juno was now approaching what looked like a derelict little rosary hut. "Huh, they must have been Catholic..." Juno surmised, walking even closer. It was oddly comforting, the chipped white paint on what was once fine oak. It even had tiny stained windows on it's sides. Someone clearly took their time and passion to build this small place of worship.

With a little bit of force, Juno managed to tug the door open and crouch through it's sunken entrance, now huddled in the wooded Catholic domain. The soil had breached through the floor a long time ago, more moss on the walls than paint. At the far wall of the hut stood an altar, with a statue of the Virgin Mary herself in a mournful posture. Hanging off of her cracked hands were musty rosary beads, must have been from whoever called the Haven home before they all claimed it's abandoned estate. It was another eerie sign that it's previous owners had seemingly vanished from the premises, as who else would leave such a personal affect behind such as an article of worship and forgiveness?

The witch managed to huddle closer to the alter, now looking at the ground below Mary. "Wait, is that..?" She let out a chuckle, seeing that there was seemingly a bowl of holy water at the statue's feet.With a bemused grin, Juno reached her hand into the oddly clear water. "Oh good, maybe these will get rid of that weird mold in the basement-AH! AAAAAH!" The dealer cried out in pain, the water now smoking with her hand submerged. It felt like she had just stuck her hand in piping hot water, pulling it out to inspect the damage. It wasn't just a sensation, Juno's hand was literally burnt. Not to a serious degree, fortunately, but still reddened and painful.

"Wha- Wha-!?" The witch hastily shuffled back from the altar, glaring at Mary one last time before hastily leaving the shack. Waiting outside for her was the Staff, having left it there since there was no room inside. As soon as Juno could, she grabbed onto her Staff while crawling out and hurriedly stood to her feet. "GRAGH! CRUSH!"She aggressively commanded, her Staff summoned forth a telekinetic force that flattened the quaint shack with utter ease.

After a few shaky and sharp breaths, Juno looked down at her reddened hand once more, both sorrow and confusion stricken on her face. "Did that holy water seriously just hurt me...?" She looked up to the sky in frustration. "What is this!?" She shouted, questioning anything and everything out there. Juno then looked to her Staff, casting it aside with disgust. "Leave me. I need time alone..." She ordered, the Staff actually complying as it floated off deeper into the woods.

With her previous pride shattered by this enigmatic revelation, Juno crossed her arms with a sniffle and started walking back to the Haven.

Meanwhile...

Blodam sat upon his onyx throne, using his fist to rest his crimson cheek. His bare brow raised with intrigue, however, as he brought up his hand for further inspection. The demon's clawed and scrawny hand was changing, actually looking fuller and a slight mortal pigment to his flesh.

"Mmm... Right on time..."

The blood demon grinned, his fangs slowly receding into a more human shape...

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The Staff of Blood and Thieves: Part 1

Los Angeles, California...

"SH*T SH*T SH*T!" Bridgett shouted while racing through the night sky, sliding along on an ice slide of her creation. "Who the hell is this b*tch!?" She also found herself asking, looking back to see of she was still following her.

It all started about an hour ago. The punk cryomancer known as "Frigid Bridgett" was just having another night out on the town with her gang of misfits, knocking over bars and looking for fights. That's when the witch showed up. The stranger started interrogating the punker about her magic, and where she learned it. Suitably annoyed, Bridgett laughed off this girl's questions, sending her big friends with even bigger fists at her, only for the witch to completely beat the hell out of them with magic she'd never even seen before. That's how she ended up here, light tears in here eyes and panic on her breath.

The young ice witch found herself thankfully above L.A's infamous viaducts, her final destination in this escape from her pursuer's clutches. The look of relief on her face would only last half a second, however, as she looked back and saw a golden glimmer speeding towards her through the black sky. "What-!?" The Staff of Blodam zipped right in front of her, shattering her ice trail like it was nothing. Now in a free fall, Bridgett could only let out a slew of curses while descending down to the viaducts.

"Come on! COME ON!" The punk clenched her fists tightly, frost forming around her knuckles slowly. At the very last second, the ice queen was able to fire a beam of frost, creating a slide right in front of her to soften her blow, then sent her back up onto 6th street that ran alongside the viaduct. Just barely landing on the soft lid of a dumpster, Bridgett rolled off with a pained groan, her eyes fixing on an auto shop just across the abandoned street.

With frenzied haste, she sprinted across the road and went directly for the locked door, quickly freezing the door handle to kick it open without breaking stride. Now inside of the closed down shop, Bridgette wasted no time, and slammed her fists against the ground. Liquid ice formed around her, coursing around the floor until it found it's way to every wall of the building. Within a matter of minutes, all entrances were sealed by at least several inches of frost, now properly sealed off from the outside world. Sealed away from that witch.

"No. F*cking. Way!"

Finally able to catch her breath, Bridgette slumped to sit on the ground, fumbling around her leather jacket for a no doubt crushed pack of cigarettes. "Here's hoping you aren't one tenacious b*tch... Doesn't matter, cops will be here by the time you get through that ice..." She chuckled to herself, flicking her lighter open to ignite her cigarette.

Just as Bridgette took her first pull of that smoke, something caught her attention from the corner of her eye. Sparks were popping out of thin air, taking a circular shape after a few seconds. The ice punk got back up to her feet, taking a few cautious steps back while her eyes grew wider and wider. "No. F*cking. Way!"She shouted in a complete rage, realizing that it was a goddamn portal. She was so distracted by the display, that Bridgett didn't even realize that another one was forming right behind her.

"You know, swearing every two seconds isn't a requirement to be a punk..." Juno informed the cryomancer, stepping out of the portal behind her.

"AGH!" Bridgette exclaimed, frost forming on her feet so she could slide away and get some distance between the two. The punk spat at the ground, now getting a better look at the goth that was chasing her around all night, even feeling a bit silly for being scared of this girl before her. "Alright you Wednesday Adams looking mother f*cker, you want my magic!? COME AND GET IT!" Bridgett screamed like a wild animal, tomahawks made out of ice forming in each of her hands.

Juno rolled her eyes, flouring her Staff so it was tightly against her own back. "Oh for the love of-"

Bridgette made the first move, sliding towards Juno with both tomahawks swinging downwards. Juno spun her Staff in place, able to block them with the center. Now in a lock of sorts, the two glared at each other, only for Bridgette to notice the Blood Witch's sly smirk, and then looked up at their respective weapons. The Staff appeared to be absorbing the energy from Bridgette's tomahawks, causing her to grunt and knee Juno right in the stomach.

"You didn't just-" Bridgette was cut off by Juno's own words. "Frozen harvest."The witch commanded her Staff, and with another flourish a scythe made out of ice formed at the opposing end of The Staff's golden circle. Caught off guard and by surprise, Bridgette barely dodged Juno's ice scythe as it swung for her legs, chucking one of her tomahawks at Juno's head, which she effortlessly dodged with a head flick due to her enhanced senses. "Well then, good to know." Juno tilted her head, giving her Staff a nudge to melt the ice scythe. Her amused smirk quickly snapped into a focused glare at Bridgette, who was trying to subtly prepare some kind of ice blast.

"Splash zone."

"I didn't want to do it like this... Splash zone."The Blood Witch pointed her Staff at Bridgette with a command, a portal forming next to the ice witch just as she released the charged ice blast. The portal unleashed a torrent of ocean water right on Bridgette, her own spell working against her as the water froze instantly upon contact.

When everything was said and done, Bridgette found herself frozen in a chunk of ice, with only her head exposed at the top. "No! NO!" She screamed and struggled, Juno slowly walking over to her with her Staff still held out in front. "I'm sorry, "Bridgette", but I'm going to need the rest." Without any more words to spare, Juno gently placed her Staff's golden circle against Bridgett's head, a violent crackle of crimson energy emanating from both the Staff and the punk as a result. Bridgette let out a defeated scream, feeling her magic being copied and ripped from her very soul....

And yet, Bridgette was still able to weakly open her eyes to see Juno walking away from her. "Wha... Why didn't it...?" The punk weakly mumbled, Juno turning around with an annoyed look on her face. "What? Kill you? Because if you listened to me in the first place, I was trying to tell you that this doesn't kill you. It only copies what it needs. You've seriously been watching too many movies." She explained herself, to which Bridgette could only respond with a weakly disgusted expression.

"It's... It's not fair. I gave everything to learn that magic... What the f*ck makes you so special that you can just take what I fought for!?" Bridgette started to regain her senses, struggling more than ever to break free from the ice.

Juno could only frown solemnly, apologetically even. "Not everything is fair in life... I'm just using what I've been given to protect the people I care about... If that's any consolation for what I did here. Goodbye, Bridgette." The Blood Witch gave her a respective nod and walked over to the mounted phone on the wall, dropping the handset so it dangled and called 911. After that, Juno made herself a portal, this time straining as the blood from her self inflicted cut on her shoulder was sucked into her Staff, and stepped through as the portal as it closed behind her.

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The Dion Dilemma: Part 2

"Sissy! You've grown so much since the last time I saw you!"

"..."

"...You don't talk much, do you?"

"...Father says I only speak when he tells me to..."

"Oh... Well, he's not here right now, is he? I mean, I won't say anything if you won't."

"Heh! Okay!"

"In fact, you don't have to worry about anything when I'm around, okay? I'm your brother, after all. Wouldn't be much of one if I wasn't looking out for you. Come on, I found this perfume you'd totally love-"

"<JUNO! Get away from that bastard this instant!>"

Bridgeport, Connecticut...

Dion was rocked awake as the bus came to a sudden halt, the raw emotionsassaulting his mind the second he opened his eyes. It had been a long trip, clearly having sobered up while asleep, if his splitting headache was anything to go by. "Oh... Oh please shut up." He groaned to himself, sitting up in his seat while clutching his head.

This was the curse of his powers, every single occupant's feelings on the bus flowed through him like a conductor, picking up on their deepest fears and desires. As he rose up groggily, his bloodshot eyes scanned the bus, everything becoming more coherent. The old lady sitting in front of him felt immense guilt, the kind one feels from taking a life. The man in the far back had shame, the potent shame of someone who was wearing their girlfriend's underwear and was scared of someone finding out. "Ohoho! That's actually funny!" Dion chuckled with a slur, pointing at the man while seeming like just another crazy person.

The empath finally stumbled off of the bus, dropping his bag in the process. "Sorry! Sorry! Not exactly feeling... Myself..." Dion mumbled to no one in particular, giving a feminine wave to the bus driver just before he slammed the door and sped off. He looked up at the dreary sky with one eye shut, fumbling around his fuzzy coat at the same time. "God, what a pleasant sh*t hole. Freaking degens from upstate..." Dion grumbled, a cheeky smile forming on his face upon pulling out a pill bottle and his cigarette case. "Hello my darlings, come give daddy a kiss." The reject laughed affectionately, kissing the container before lighting up a cigarette.

Dion shook a few percocets out of the bottle, not seeming to care how many laid in his palm before chucking them into his mouth. With a loud crunch, he started walking down the sidewalk and took in the quaint little street. "Oh yeah, that's muuuuch better." He stated in a sing song tone, his empathic powers fading with each second the drugs flowed through his system.

This wasn't Farmington, and certainly no special Academy, but it was somewhere that Dion felt he needed to stop first before continuing on his journey. His clairvoyance told him this much, having used his insightful touch on a few of Juno's belongings before he left New York, gaining faint visions of the Smuggler stopping here just as he now did. Even just standing in this town, Dion felt the familiar trace of Juno's essence, like someone's distinctive scent.

After wandering around town for ten minutes, Dion finally narrowed down Juno's "tracks" to some dive bar, the junkie standing outside while taking a long pull off his cigarette. "Ha! Weird, you never liked drinking, Sissy. What sort of mischief were you up to?" He pondered to himself out loud, finally strolling through the entrance. Dion didn't receive a warm welcome from what waited for him inside, as this was most definitely a biker bar of some sort. Almost all of it's grizzly patrons looked up from their drinks, each of them giving a glare of absolute disdain for the cross-dressed Dion, who just stood there with his hands on his hips. "Afternoon, boys! Don't suppose any of you wants to by little old me a drink?" The oracle gave them just about the cheesiest grin, all of them grumbling at looking back down at their drinks after a few moments.

Dion shrugged in nonchalance, jogging over to the bar and leaping to sit on one of the stools. The large barmaid looked over from her work, giving Dion a stare that wasn't too dissimilar from the one he received when he walked into the joint. "Christ, kid, you looking to get your head kicked in dressing like that?" She questioned the young adult, to which Dion just smirked while resting his chin on his head. "What is this, 1975? Bikers don't do that kind of crap in broad daylight anymore. Give me something strong and cheap, will you dear?" The vagabond smiled, lazily waving his finger at the display of bottles.

"I am going to ask you a few questions, okay?"

The barmaid rolled her eyes, grabbing something that looked more like paint thinner as opposed to liquor. Just as she set a shot glass down, Dion grabbed the bottle out of her hand and started chugging, slapping down fifty dollars while doing so. After what seemed like forever, his lips parted from the bottle and let out an obnoxious sigh of relief. "Ahhhh! That's the ticket. Now that I've properly wet my lovely whistle, I'm going to ask you a few questions, okay?" Dion spoke with utter confidence, the barmaid giving him an appropriately bewildered glare in reaction.

"That hooch must have hit you pretty hard, barkin' orders like that." The woman sneered, looking him up and down. "Eh... Isn't like you could be a cop, anyway. Alright kid, what do you want?" She reluctantly agreed, setting her rag down and leaned on the counter.

Dion grinned with glee, now resting his chin daintily on the back of his intertwined fingers. "Oh you are positively a gem! Now, a girl came through here sometime recently, yeah? Seventeen, Asian, tall as hell, dresses like Amelia Earhart. Ringing any bells?"

The barmaids passive disdain became fully realized as the question unraveled,Dion sensing her fear and panic like a sudden shock wave. "Get out." She stated in a hushed tone, staring right into Dion's eyes.

"...What now?"

"I said get out, now. Take the bottle and go, if those boys back there hear what you just said... You need to leave." The barmaid spoke almost in a plea, Dion giving her an amused eyebrow raise and nod to go with it.

"Alright, alright! You have yourself a pleasant day..." Dion took a swig of his bottle while standing up, backing out of the bar as much sass possible for one person.

The empath found himself back outside of the bar, rubbing his temple with one hand while swirling the bottle with the other. "Okay, okay... Doesn't have to be a dead end! She was hear, I just have to think of her... Think of her being here, come oooooonnnnn...." After tapping his head a few times, an echoing voice called out from down low...

"Alright... I think that's her, come on."

Dion furrowed his brows, cranking his neck while looking down at the pavement. "Who now?" He wondered, holding his palm out towards where the voice came from.

"Alright... I think that's her, come on."

Pay dirt. The voice was emanating from a discarded cigarette butt on the ground, Dion crouching down next to it for closer inspection. "A whoo hoo, is that a mother freaking clue?" He chuckled, reaching down and grabbing the litter. With considerable focus, Dion's fingertips started to faintly glow with a blue light, with the trash doing the same. Before he even knew it, everything faded to black around him...

Upon opening his eyes, the vagabond found himself standing in the exact same spot as before. Only, everything was drained of color, with only greens, reds and blues standing out among the black and white pallet. Why? Because Dion was now inside of a memory, from whoever discarded the cigarette he now held in his fingers. Remaining silent, he watched the memory unfold...

"Alright... I think that's her, come on." The biker nodded to his associate, flicking his cigarette to the ground and then nodding over to a black and red armored van that pulled into the alleyway behind the bar. The duo of thugs walked casually in the night, slipping into the alley while making sure no one saw them.

Juno stepped out of the van, looking back at the bikers with a small smirk. "Didn't think you guys would show up, both of you seemed pretty weary when we met." She walked over to the back of her vehicle, starting to undo the elaborate lock on the rear doors.

One of the bikers sneered, huffing in the process. "Oh yeah, we were shakin' in our boots from some little girl. Let's just make this snappy, alright? We ain't supposed to be dealing outside of the bar as it is..." The other chuckled at his friend's lame joke, pulling out his phone as it vibrated in his pocket and checking his texts.

"All in due time. Trust me, I don't want to be talking to you morons any longer than I have to. I got everything you requested. I must admit, this is a lot of gear for your kind of operation... Mind you, isn't exactly my place to ask..." Juno muttered, reaching into the van for the crates of weapons.

The one biker holding the phone subtly nudged the other, holding his phone low down to show him the message he just received...

Dion casually walked over, hands in his pockets and invisible to the remnants. Upon leaning over to inspect the phone, his slick eyebrows raised in surprise, letting out a chuckle. The screen showed a picture of Juno, with a detailed reward of a million dollars for her immediate capture. The bottom of the screen showed some Chinese characters, Dion didn't have to be a translator to know that is was related to Juno's dreadful father, Xiang Fei.

The thug looked over at his friend, mouthing the words "Are you serious!?" To him, reaching into his back pocket to pull out a small club. "Yeah, well we're in the business to make some serious cash... Not to get patches on a freaking vest." The goon started slowly approaching Juno while she was still rummaging, brandishing the club and ready to knock her out.

Little did he know, Juno was subtly glancing in the rear-view mirror at the front of the van, seeing the entire thing. "Hm. Maybe you should have stuck with the patches." Her plain lips curled into a devious smile, a plasma bolt burning through the side of her vest and right into the club wielding biker's chest. He was dead so quickly, that he didn't even make a grunt while falling over. The other biker was already fumbling for his gun, Juno stomping over to him with her blaster in aim.

"SH*T! WAIT WAIT W-" The remaining thug's words were cut off, Juno blasting a hole clean through his skull. She clicked her tongue in disappointment, holstering her weapon. "Ugh, I knew that sale was too good to be true..."

Dion walked over beside his sister, a proud smile on his face. "Oh Juno, you never learned to not take a bad sale, I see." He looked over at the same time his sister's remnant did, both of them looking at the phone on the ground...

Juno saw the bright light from the biker's phone on the ground, silently walking over to pick it up. After a quick read, her expression sunk into one of grief and terror. "<You goddamned bastard!>" The dealer cursed out in Mandarin, throwing the phone to the ground and stomping on it with her boot. She quickly rushed back to her van, speeding out of the alleyway and down the empty street. She had to get to that Academy, and fast. It was a mistake to think that Xiang wouldn't still try to find her, even after faking her own death.

The memory ceased, the color bleeding back into the world around Dion. Now in the present once more, he stood in the alleyway where it all went down, the crime scene's chalk outline of the two bodies still present. The vagabond pulled out a cigarette, lighting it while concern took over his expression. It was much worse than he or his mother realized. Despite faking her death, Xiang was still trying to hunt his daughter down, sending the message out to every corner of the criminal underworld. "God damn, I am not drunk enough for this conspiracy sh*t!" Dion shouted, storming out of the alleyway to go look for someway to get to his next destination...

Farmington, Connecticut. The Academy...

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The Dion Dilemma

New York City, three days after the Mari Crisis...

The office doors swung open with a gentle kick, two burly Russian enforcers carrying a person with a bag over his head inside. "<Is the bag really amust!? I know this office like the back of my hand!>" A muffled voice whined from the bag, speaking their tongue fluently. "<Apologies, Dion. You know your mother has a thing for... Theatrics.>" One of the enforcers bluntly stated, the two of them almost throwing Dion in a chair in front of an silver plated desk. "<Gah! Yup, definitely just landed on my nuts...>" Dion chuckled through his pain, almost sounding like he enjoyed it.

The bag was swiftly removed from the vagabonds head, his bloodshot eyes blinking harshly at the sudden exposure of light. The two enforcers swiftly left the office, knowing whatever came next was going to be unpleasant. Once his vision refocused, he would be looking right at the Russian Mob's greatest attorney, Maggie Sobol, his mother.

Maggie simply sat there in silence, slowly crossing her arms while taking a long drag off of the cigarette that draped from her rouge lips. Dion stared right back, his eyes slowly widening as a nervous, cheesy grin formed on his pasty face. "Soooo... Is this about that little drug bust in Brooklyn? If so! I swear that I was keeping a lookout, yeah...? It-It wasn't my fault that the cops came storming through the back! I only have one pair of eyes, you know. Before you even say it, yes, I might have possibly been high but that was to enhance my vision! How else do people stay up for ten hours straight, coffee!? It isn't like I could just wear a camel back of coffee and slurp on it to stay awake... Actually, that sounds like a brilliant idea. Where was I going with this again?" The prodigal son daintily rested his chin on his hand, looking up to collect his thoughts. All the while, Maggie just continued staring a hole through the boy.

His smudged, shadowed eyes darted to the smoke in her mom's mouth, cautiously opening his to speak. "There isn't a chance that I could have one of tho-" The ruthless attorney finally snapped, throwing her cigarette case at Dion, smacking him right in the forehead. "OW! SH!T!"

"You idiot!" Maggie shouted, her voice was so coarse, like she ate sand for breakfast. She held her hands up, clutching the air in frustration. "Do you have any idea how many of our guys were arrested in that sting!? Those people have families, Dion! Now I have to accommodate said families while their husbands and daddies do hard time, that's twice the money we've lost from YOUR screw up!"

Dion rubbed his forehead as his mother raged, delicately opening the cigarette case and pulling out a cancer stick. "Mm! Then don't give me such an important job! You're the one that insists I do this kind of sh!t, mom!" He shouted cigarette smoke at Maggie, taking a moment for another drag to cool his nerves and smooth out a hangoverfrom the night before.

The lawyer sighed, apologetically looking at her troubled boy while also puffing on her cigarette. "I know, I know. I just don't want you to end up on the streets again! You know I love you, and I'll always provide a means for money... But you need to understand that those means aren't easy. Just because it's there doesn't mean you should take it, you know, think about someone other than yourself for a change?" Maggie looked at Dion with a comforting glare, quickly furrowing her eyebrows as he whipped out a flask from his fuzzy jacket to take a quick sip. "...Which is why I have a new job for you. It's... It's about your half-sister, Juno..."

"What could sissy possibly have done..."

Dion almost choked on the cheap vodka at the very mention of the name, looking at his mother in shock. "I'm sorry, did I hear that right? You want me to check on "perfect daughter" Juno!? I thought you never worry about that fly girl, at least that's how you come off whenever you go off on a praise rant about her..." The junkie rolled his eyes, flapping his lips mockingly like the diva he was. "What could sissy possibly have done for this kind of worry, I wonder?"

Maggie rolled her eyes, slightly hurt by Dion's sassy words. "Hey! I love you both equally, don't you ever think otherwise. Juno... She just happens to have a much clearer idea of what she wants to be in life, don't even think of telling me that I'm wrong." She raised her brow, reaching into her desk to pull out a folder, chucking it towards Dion.

Dion caught the folder, opening it with to read the details. It contained details on Juno's enrollment into some kind of Academy for gifted students, something Dion scoffed at as soon as he read it. "Oh my my my! Isn't that just adorable. You think they all wear cute little school outfits? How come this is the first I'm hearing about this? What if I wanted to go to school! I have powers too, you know." Dion sarcastically expressed jealousy, femininely twiddling his fingers in the air.

"You wouldn't last two days in a school, Dion. Last time I checked, they don't exactly tolerate kids running around buck naked, fighting statues while tripping on LSD." Maggie rubbed her brow, getting horrid flashbacks of picking Dion up from that nightmare.

"Oh, that was just one time! I swear to... Whatever you worship... That the statue was threatening to cut my nipples off, I was merely trying not to be the first ever victim of a statue hate crime!" Dion could barely get his words out through the giggling, continuing to flip through the folder. "Okay... So why am I looking at this? I thought this is where she was supposed to go to get from Xian- Oop! Sorry! Your *Ahem* "former, smuggler sugar daddy?" The young man threw up rapid air quotes, his eyebrows raising suggestively.

The red headed mediator sneered at her son, ready to throw something else at him. Instead, she lit up yet another smoke and answered his (annoying) questions. "Yes, it is where she's hiding. As far as I know, Juno's still in the clear. If "you know who" found out her location, I'd be the first person to hear about it. That's not the problem, she hasn't given me so much as a call since she got to that school..." Maggie frowned, knowing that her concerns sounded silly, and looked over at Dion, knowing he was going to call her out on it.

Which is exactly what he did, slapping his cheeks dramatically with a shocked expression to go with it. "GASP! Your seventeen year old daughter hasn't called you!? Stop the presses! Next you're going to tell me that sex makes babies!" He put his wrist on his forehead, pretending to almost faint. "Let me guess. Knowing what little I do about sissy dearest, she's not one to just go ghost like that, and you think that something happened.... Oooooh! And you want ME to go and see what all the fuss is!" Dion finally stood up, clapping his hands in excitement. "Oh I do hope they have raves in Connecticut... Like... Crazy farmer sex raves? I don't know, but I'm going to find out..." The vagabond tapped his chin, looking at his mother who was simply giving him a nod of acknowledgment.

Maggie leaned over her desk, placing her hands together and pointing them at Dion. "You would be correct. Dion, please don't mess around on this one, I'm begging you. She may be my daughter, but she's your sister all the same, get it? Go right there, check up on her, and then come right back. And for gods sake, avoid using your powers for once..." She sounded as sincere as possible in her plea.

Dion attacked his mother with a hug from across the desk, kissing her obnoxiously and rapidly on the cheek. "Say no more, mum! I'll be back before you realize... Well, before you realize." He parted, now stepping out of the office backwards. "I'm sure nothing terrible will happen in the slightest!" The boy jinxed his own journey, thoughtlessly slamming the fine wooden doors on his way out.

Maggie let out a massive sigh, realizing what she just did was totally insane. "Be safe, sweetheart... Annnd he stole my cigarette case.... And my visa..." She groaned out loud while patting down her suit, knowing that hug was too much, even for her bizzare son.

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"I am balanced. I am centered."

Juno sat at the end of her bed while hugging her knees, her gaze meeting that of the infernal Staff. The bags under her eyes were much more apparent, having not put on any makeup this morning, she had been spending her first hours of the morning doing exactly what she was doing now.

The Staff just floated there, mere feet away from the witch. It’s silence was unnerving, ready to stalk Juno as soon as she would get off that bed, watching her every move. It was starting to madden the dealer, this horrific and mysterious artifact observing her like a leech at every waking moment, every sleeping moment for that matter. It had robbed her of sleep entirely, for every time she tried to shut her eyes, Blodam’s otherworldly gaze could still be felt, The Staff making a habit of floating directly over Juno as she tried to slip away into sleep.

Today, though, she wasn’t having it. It was her day, and this Staff wasn’t going to get what it wanted, even if for this one day. Juno slowly placed her bare feet onto the old wooden floor, the Staff instantly floating closer in intrigue. That’s when the goth quickly stood up straight, shoving her palm out directly to the Staff, seemingly floating an inch back in surprise. “No.” Juno commanded firmly, standing her ground. The Staff started to shake, almost like it was ready to throw a tantrum. Juno flinched, but only for a second before regaining her nerves. “Stay!” She shouted, her stern words echoing through her room. After a single second, The Staff stood itself firmly onto the wooden floor, now impossibly standing there by itself.

“...” The smuggler squinted with doubt towards the artifact, wondering if that seriously just worked. Remaining cautiously quiet, Juno tiptoed towards the door, her eyes glued to The Staff the entire time. Seeing that The Staff apparently obeyed her command, she quietly closed the door behind her. A relieved breath escaped through her pursed lips, which formed into a meek smile right after. “I am balanced. I am centered.” She murmured to herself, making her way to the loft with a confident pop in her step.

Now it was time for the real challenge, an operation so delicate that Juno had waited for the first chance to have the Haven to herself so she could achieve her goals unabated.

Feet, bare. Face, plain. Hair, tied up. Clothes, minimal. Supplies? Sufficient.

Juno carted her mops, brooms, cleaning product and rags into the middle of the foyer. She placed her hands on her hips, looking at how filthy this place was, but remained undeterred. “Okay then! What horrors do you have for me today?” Juno called out to the house, only met with her own words echoing back.

"One down..."

The witch started in the kitchen, a truly horrendous crime scene. The sink was filled with what could best be described as a primordial soup, with what was no doubt a rat’s skeleton floating around in it. Juno grimaced, sharply cracking her neck while approaching it.

It took two hours, but the kitchen was now spotless from her efforts. The dealer wiped her brow, making sure not to get any of the filth on her plain complexion. “One down… Like, twenty more to go…” She rolled her eyes, moving on to the rest of the Haven.

Not only was the filth astounding from the time it had been sitting, her fellow Outcasts weren’t helping the cause. Such infuriating highlights of Juno’s crusade were finding cigarette butts burnt into the living room’s couch, no doubt from Will. Countless fist-shaped holes in the walls, courtesy of Venilia expressing her temper. The ants, though, were driving Juno the craziest, uninvited tenants that were of course brought in by Reed. All it took was a generous trail of sugar throughout the house that led to the hidden front entrance, the ants following it in a massive migration to freedom.

While Juno was sweeping up the sugar trail, she noticed a little pile of ants squirming around in the corner, perhaps fighting even? Curious, the goth walked over to see what the deal was, gasping at what she saw. A posse of overly aggressive ants were giving it their all to kill a single house spider, which was desperately trying to crawl up it’s broken web to escape. “Shoo! Shoo!” Juno hissed, slapping her broom down onto the floor to gust the pests away from the spider, who was now free from the gang attack. The witch knelt down to the spider, gently scooping it up into her palm to get a better look at it. The poor thing had one of its legs bitten off, now curling up as a defensive instinct. “Aww, it’s okay little guy.” Juno spoke in a soft, high pitch that no other person alive would ever hear, nudging the spider with her finger.

Taking a break, Juno poured herself a cup of coffee back in the kitchen finally glad to have some clean dishes. She walked over to the long kitchen table, sitting down and looking at the glass placed in the center. The spider she rescued earlier was already busy creating a web inside, something Juno couldn’t help but smirk at. “Look at you go, lost a leg and already back to it? I respect that.” The dealer scoffed to herself with a smile, realizing she was having a coffee chat with a spider. Juno herself didn’t stop working either, taking one more sip of her coffee before grabbing the shotgun she was cleaning back onto the table, running a brush through it’s barrel. She glanced back over at the busy spider, then back to her work.

After the break was over, Juno said her goodbyes to the spider, having let it back out into the forest so it could hunt it’s way back to health. The final touch on her cleaning crusade was propping the shotgun she cleaned up above the front entrance, placing a box of shotgun shells next to it.

Juno waltzed back into the middle of the foyer, looking around at a job well done. It might still be a derelict ruin, but at least now it was a tidy one. The Goth’s smile faded a bit after a moment, raising her hand out beside her. After only a few seconds, The Staff came zipping through the corridors, placing itself directly into Juno’s grasp. She looked over to it’s golden circle, giving it an eyebrow raise. “...Thank you, for leaving me alone…” Juno gave it a nod, walking back to her room with The Staff in hand.

There was no way in hell she was going to let any of the group see her in these cleaning rags.

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Blodam watches. Blodam waits. Blodam stirs.

Opening week of the Academy...

There Blodam stood, examining his Staff and the case that entrapped it, both existing and not existing simultaneously in this wretched mortal realm. It seems the Sorcerer had moved him underneath to some sort of place for learning. It was intoxicating torture, being below so many blood bags walking about, their youthful crimson unscathed from time and tribulation.

"Is this my punishment, Surreal? Placing me so intimately close to what I desire, forced to watch as the years pass by? I must say, you're creativity in torture is lackluster to say the least..."Blodam pondered to himself, now slowly pacing around his case. This wouldn’t do at all, it was time to go browsing.

Like the specter he was, the Prince of Blood floated up through the ceiling, now flying about the school grounds to examine it’s potential prospects.

“Look at all of this young blood! Wasted on these aimless souls. “Teens” is what they call them now, I believe. Why, if I still had my power, all of these wretches would be first on the bloodletting altar…” Blodam exclaimed, floating down into the dorms to investigate further.

His first stop was Alex West, who was racing about the school to introduce himself to his peers, the demon spinning around him and matching speed, looking like he was shopping. “Hmm. Incredible power, frail morals, a sizeable ego and as brash as any other boy.” Blodam sniffed at the teenager, almost recoiling in disappointment “No greed! All this boy lusts for is approval and flesh, he isn’t suitable to become Chosen… No.” The demon tisked, floating away.

Next was the curiously disturbed Mari, who laid in the medical ward in the company of the little assassin, So-so. “Much finer specimens! Oh, I can smell the bloodshed on the little one, a fine killer indeed.” His clawed finger traced the aura of the assassin, then the bedridden handler. “What’s this now? Is that a demonic energy I sense? Terribly powerful, too. Damn, it seems I’m looking at two dogs who already have a master… This might complicate things. Questions for later.” Blodam sneered at Mari one last time, his fangs bared as like a dog approaching another’s territory, then floated on through the walls to continue his search.

The demon thief found himself in some kind of training room, yet another two youths sparring furiously below. X and Shawn. Blodam tapped his chin, more focused on X as opposed to the Brute. “Another blooded assassin, hm? Quite an interesting establishment you’ve involved yourself in, Surreal. I seem to be pushed back even at this distance, their wills are far too refined for my manipulations… Shame, I always preferred my Chosen to have some meat on their bones…”

Blodam continued his search for days, visiting the rest of the notale youths and coming to the same conclusion. Everyone here was exactly what the demon was looking for, he always was too picky in deeming who is worthy.

Finally, though, as if smelling a grand feast, Blodam looked down to see a blond Amazon storming through the school grounds. “Oh. Yes….” Blodam’s red lips curled into a sadistic grin, now floating about the warrior with thorough intrigue. “Aren’t you a beautiful specimen! Your trauma is palpable! The blood on your knuckles, still fresh. Such a delicious scent! You’re aura is absolutely barbaric! However…” Blodam frowned, placing his clawed finger against the Amazon’s impenetrable glowing aura, his finger slowly burning from the contact. “Divine heritage. What a waste of potential, child, you should be walking with the demons, not gods…” The thief pulled his finger away, frowning in mild disappointment. He noticed the warrior’s blood started positively racing, then he looked over to what she was looking at, and fell in love almost instantly.

Juno Fei, counting money at her van, selling vices as if they were candy. Without a word, Blodam floated through the crowd and now towered over the Smuggler.

“My word… You’re damage, the fragility of your soul, the GREED that runs through you like a virus! Oh, child, I believe I have found my Chosen…”

Blodam followed Juno from then on, watching her fall in love with the Amazon at first sight, then followed her up the the dorm room, watching her undergo a transformation into the Goth everyone now knows her as.

As Juno delicately applied her charcoal lipstick, Blodam tapped his finger on her forehead, and invisible sigil belonging to the demon now etched into her soul, with the Goth none the wiser. She continued on getting ready for Surreal's first class, having no idea that her future master was watching her in the reflection.

"You're all mine, Juno Fei..."

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The Staff of Blodam (CVNU Magic Artifact)

Origins and present events:

The Staff of Blodam
The Staff of Blodam

The Staff of Blodam belonged to an ancient thief demon of the same name, a name given by the post-Germanic cults that worshiped him. Fitting, as Blodam was one of the many entities that introduced blood magic to the human realm, in exchange for blood sacrifices that increased his insatiable power.

Like many demons in the dark ages, however, he faded from this realm and was forgotten by history, losing the ability to manifest his corporeal form and continue manipulating humanity into more bloodletting rituals.

Though Blodam had faded, his Staff remained. Passing through many hands and seeing many societies rise and fall, sometimes with the use of the Staff itself. Eventually, it ended up in the possession of the Sorcerer Supreme, Mister Surreal, where it remained captive among his many forbidden artifacts...

Not trusting to leave the Staff of Blodam unguarded, Surreal brought it with him to the Academy after beginning his tenure as a teacher. This would prove to be a grave mistake, as the Staff is drawn by people's greedy and opportunistic natures. Specifically, calling out to Juno Fei the moment she set foot in the school grounds.

Blodam went on to "mark" Juno as his Chosen wielder of the Staff, then simply waiting for the smuggler to bleed a significant amount to bond the Staff with her.

During "The Mari Crisis" where Juno and three of her friends were pursued by the assassin So-so, she was seriously injured from some broken glass, lacerating her arm. The resulting bloodshed was sufficient enough for Blodam to summon fourth the Staff to Juno's soul, warping out of her chest and sealing their fates together for eternity.

Juno was now officially the rightful wielder to the Staff of Blodam, and by extension, Blodam's unwilling servant for his nefarious and hidden agenda.

Properties, Powers and Nature:

Properties: Bloodletting and powering the Staff

The Staff was created as a conduit and amplifier of blood magic, meaning that every use of it's power requires some form of blood to be "given" to the Staff. The guidelines for this offering are incredibly flexible, with many different ways to offer blood. The more blood that is offered, the more complex the resulting spell can be.

  • Wielder Bloodletting (Basic): The original method for using the Staff. The wielder of Blodam can cut, prick, poke, stab or use any other form of bloodletting themselves for the Staff to absorb. This method is the most common for new wielders, as the bond with the Staff isn't strong enough to allow for the more complex offerings.
  • Wielder Blood Leeching (Advanced): When the bond between the wielder and the Staff has strengthened with enough blood offerings, they'll find this method possible. Negating the requirement for wounding ones self, the Staff will actuallyabsorb the wielder's blood through skin contact.
  • Blood Manipulation and Absorption (Complete): Only a true wielder of the Staff is capable of using this method. By merely using the ambient energy of Blodam, the wielder can manipulate the blood of others. The main purpose of this ability is to literally force the blood out of people's pores and absorb their blood. This embodies Blodem's status as a thief demon, now allowing the wielder to utilize a power he naturally had.

Powers: "The Staff of Blood and Thieves"

An accurate way to describe the Staff's powers, is that it doesn't really have any "powers" of it's own. The thief demon was greedily obsessed with stealing and copying other magics, so he created the Staff as a sort of "collector" of magics and spells.

This means, any magic tome, artifact, spell, hex, curse or blessing the Staff comes into contact with, it can absorb and copy it's energies. Once that has happened, the Staff will then be capable of performing whatever magic it has absorbed.

What's even more dangerous, the wielder often doesn't even need to perform the techniques or rituals related to a certain spell, only needing to even vaguely command it by voice. The Staff translates and does the rest from there. This can even be extended into interpreting a command to use multiple spells to create one complex effect.

Even with such an incredible ability, the Staff does have limits to absorbing spells.

The Staff only absorbs the exact spells or magics that has been cast. It does not absorb or copy the entire knowledge of different arts or magics. (If it absorbs a fireball spell, it can only recreate that exact fireball spell).

  • Basic and universal spells (flight, freezing, pyromancies, illusions etc.) are permanently stored within the Staff upon being absorbed.
  • Far more complicated or specially designed spells (Healing, divine blessings, empowerment, memory erasing, reality warping etc.) are not permanently stored within the Staff. These spells only have one use per spell before they either are absorbed again, or lost forever.

List of spells absorbed/copied by the Staff of Blodam (Maintained)

  • Flight (Permanently copied from Mister Surreal's Cloak upon finding the Staff.)
  • Arcane Shields (Permanently copied from Mister Surreal casting the spell upon finding the Staff)
  • Portal Creation (Permanently copied from Mister Surreal casting the spell upon finding the Staff)
  • Arcane Blast (Permanently copied from Mister Surreal casting the spell upon finding The Staff)
  • Telekinesis/Wish fulfillment (Permanently copied from an unknown time. Legends say the magic was taken from Merlin himself. Given the nature of the Staff, and how the wielder commands it, a multitude of phrases can be said, with the staff using it's magic TK to a very fine and specific degree. This gives off a display that almost looks like wishes being granted, within the confines of telekinesis that is.)
  • "Erase" (A rare spell temporarily absorbed from an unknown time. Erases a single living being from existence (Undead, gods and other creatures not included) . Uses left: 1)
  • "Heal" (Temporarily absorbed from an unknown time. A miracle spell that heals all ailments of a single living being. However, the spell cannot be used for the wielder themselves, spawning from the nature of the spell being a divine, "selfless" miracle. Uses left: 4)
  • "Commune spirits" (Temporarily absorbed from an unknown time from a voodoo shaman. The spell grants the ability to see and speak with ghosts and spirits. Uses left: 2)

Nature: Blodam's essence and sentience from within

The staff serves as a vessel for Blodam's demonic essence, but only to a limited degree. This makes the bond between the wielder and the Staff much more like a manipulative partnership than pure possession. Once bonded to a host, the Staff will forever know the location of said host, often floating in close proximity of them. However, much like a pouting child, the Staff will sometimes disobey the wielder if it has gone long enough without a blood offering, sometimes even sticking itself in the ground until it is satiated. On the other side of this logic, if consistently satiated, the Staff will summon to the hand of the wielder without so much as thought.

The Staff is violently protective of the wielder, and will attempt to kill anyone who threatens their life. Though, as a floating staff that can't use any of it's own stolen magic without it's wielder, the results vary. This protective nature is also very one sided, the Staff normally intends on latching onto a wielder for as long as possible, especially if it's a good match. This means that the Staff will even go as far as to prevent a wielder's suicide if need be. Legends even speak of preventing the wielder from aging...

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