216 House on Fire part one

    [Whisper: Beta to Chiba] You are one of the Pillars of a new house, right?

    [Whisper: Chiba to Beta] What kind of way is that to start a conversation?  Let's go drinking, and we'll discuss how respectable I've become.

    [Whisper: Beta to Chiba] Exactly what I have in mind.  Why don't you bring a few of your new friends and I'll bring you someplace fun.


    Nix walked casually down the cobbled sidewalks of Solomon City.  The streetlights were just starting to illuminate, the last light of day having recently faded.  He crossed a wide footbridge that hovered over the only river in Solomon City, pausing halfway, he turned his gaze north.  He could see the large empty lot where the Oasis House use to be.  After purposefully delaying for nearly an hour, he restarted his journey, walking directly to the front door of the House of Aquarion.

    With both his camo-overlay and the Ice artifact active, it was likely that nothing in Solomon City could casually detect his presence.  Nix waited patiently by the front door of the Greater House; it was less than another half-hour before he was rewarded.

    The door opened suddenly like someone used their foot to kick it. Two Aquarions walked out together; both of them wore smiles on their pale faces.

    "I will trust your judgment in this Bikto If she's as beautiful as you say..." The larger of the Aquarions spoke, his handsome face was marred only by a perfectly straight scar that ran down the side of his face.

    Nix lost the rest of their conversation when he slipped easily passed the closing door.  When the topic of Greater Houses was first brought up, he had asked Ronnie to research the details of the matter. Greater Houses were always at least three stories. You could always make additional levels later, but the first three were locked in during the development process.

    He explored the first level slowly, besides the occasional straggler, it was mostly empty.  Nix already knew that there were currently 19 different people in the house, their thermal signatures stood out even through the walls and floors.  It was easy to find the five rooms belonging to the Foundation members; they were always located on the 1st floor.

    After carefully choosing the locations, he set seven different fire traps on the first level.  The trick to setting a trap that wouldn't be casually set off?  Hide it on the ceiling.  Only one of the Foundation rooms was occupied.  The body heat from two separate people lying prone inside told Nix everything he needed to know, someone was getting laid.  Outside of this door, he put down the only floor trap, a shaped charge that would explode downward into the basement below.

    The trip to the second floor was a much shorter affair. As soon as Nix entered the house, he knew where the perpetrator was.  The essence that was stolen from Severance stood out like a raging beacon.  The second level of Greater Houses is where the Pillars reside.  Five of them were currently in their rooms.

    Nix watched the pillars movements through the door and concentrated on the steps he would need to take.  He waited until the pillar's back was turned and stepped in quickly.

    [Create Breach: Gemini Temple: Lower Level]

    Nix moved quickly into the room, a half dozen strands of Gemini Flame impaled the Aquarion's chest, before he could scream he was yanked forward, a flash of red steel removing one hand as he was flung into the Breach.

    A quick glance around through the walls and floor of the house told him that no one had been alarmed.  Nix bent and picked up the severed hand; he stared at it for a moment.  "Friends and family first..."


    A delicate-looking hand stroked the pale Fire Lord's face.  Shae's hair had come down during the fighting, strands of her errant red tresses stuck out in a dozen different directions.  "Hurry Nix... this old Lord isn't going to last ver..."

    Her words were interrupted by a breach opening a few feet away from her.  An object was tossed through, and then the breach closed.

    "Looks like someone is busy."  Shae pried open the fingers of the severed hand and removed the Essense stone from them.

    The Salamander placed the stone in her own lips and then knelt next to Severance. Shae held the cold face in her hands, bending until their mouths touched.


    Chiba frowned at the Albino and finished off the bottle she was drinking from.  "I thought it was going to be just you and me."

    Beta shrugged.  "Shouldn't you bond a bit with your new friends too?"

    "Let's be buddies, Chiba!"  Semmi had her head propped up on the table; as drinkers go she was definitely in the lightweight category.

    The old man sitting next to the blond was definitely not a lightweight, as far as Chiba could tell, he drank booze like it was water. The Fire mage offered a toast.  "To new beginnings!"

    Chiba clinked her bottle against his mug. "I'm the only one without a date, where's my apprentice when I need him?"

    Beta gave her an apologetic look.  She was happily sitting next to Wind and his adorable Gecko.  The tiny lizard had taken an immediate liking to her.  "Would I do that to you, Chiba?  Your date arrived a while ago."

    Chiba cocked her ugly head to one side before she turned in her seat to scan the other customers at the Blue Garden Tavern.  "Really?  Male or female?"

    Beta tried not to laugh when the little gecko patted her cheek.  "Edge of the bar Chiba."

    "Aquarions?" The old woman made a gagging sound and sat down her bottle.  "I wouldn't do an Aquarion if my life dep..."  She stopped when the closer of the two Aquarions turned slightly.  The old woman's eyes flickered dangerously.  "Hello, beautiful."

    "Beautiful?"  Wind looked up at Chiba's words, Lubo jumped back onto his shoulder when Beta stood up to follow the old woman.  "Where we going?"

    The pink-eyed woman looked over her shoulder. "You aren't really a resident of Solomon City until you've died in a tavern brawl."

    /Alpha Team: Semmi: Shit... here we go.

    /Alpha Team: Pon: Game on.

    Bikto frowned at the ugly old woman walking toward him.  He had noticed her stunningly attractive blond companion when he first entered the tavern.  Had it not been for the Albino sitting next to her, he would have long since approached them.

    "Avoid trouble."  His scarred companion spoke softly when he noticed the group approaching them.

    The old woman stopped a few steps away from them, her ugly face cracked in a wide smile.  "Looks like a reunion, Big Toe.  Did you miss me?"

    "We don't want trouble, Miss."  The Aquarion next to Bikto stood and turned towards them. The crease down the side of his face pulled his skin slightly, making his face look unbalanced.

    Chiba's smile did waiver at all.  She glanced at her albino friend.  "You give me the nicest things."

    Beta nodded. "Someone has to look out for you."

    "Is there a problem here?" Another voice spoke up from behind them, the scuffling of a dozen chairs showed that the Inferno group was outnumbered.

    Beta muttered a curse under her breath.  The mage must have entered when she was playing with the gecko.  She turned back to Wind and shrugged an apology.  "Time to earn your place here."

    Wind nodded, "you take the mage, and I'll take down those three guys behind her."

    "Hey... leave some for me!"  The blond Gemini thief waivered slightly.  "Those two bitches by the door are mine."

    Pon's old face looked like he wanted to cry.  "That only leaves five for me.  I thought we were friends."

    Beta kept her face expressionless.  They didn't know that the Aquarion mage would take all of them, including her and Chiba.  It was bad luck that Zeryn had accompanied them.  "Do your best; I'll take the mage."

    A low sultry laugh filled the room, the mage in question turned her alien eyes toward Beta. "I like it when my prey comes to me."

    The room seemed to grow suddenly still, a slight movement from Wind's shoulder drew everyone's attention.  A small gecko was standing there; its black eyes were locked on Zeryn.

    [Fear the King]
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