Jump to content

World of Darkness: Attrition - A Mother's Love [Complete]

z-Wakiki Izumi

Recommended Posts

The Seers came for him just before dawn. Wakiki was going to get his ass tumbled out of bed in just twenty minutes by Whisker anyway, so his body was preparing to cycle into wakefulness. When the covers where wiped back, Wakiki jerked fully awake, his fingers reflexively curling around the handle of the gun he kept under the pillow. Before he could react further, something grabbed his ankle and pulled him off the end of the bed. He hit the floor with a thud, only the sheets already strewn on the carpet saving him from friction burn.

To his surprise as much as his attackers, when Wakiki rolled off his stomach, his Glock 9mm was still in his hand. He saw several shapes in the room and reactively fired at one of them. In the cramped quarters of his apartment, with no ear protection, the sound of the gun was an ear-killing roar. He saw the form spin away into the darkness but he was trying to focus on the next attacker.

A hand closed over his hand, shoving the gun down and clawing it away from him. Wakiki twisted toward his new threat, trying an off-hand punch that barely connected – he could tell it was useless. With a roar of outrage, he tried to get his gun back, only to have a fist connect to his face. The blow jarred him to the bone, leaving his jaw aching from the attack. It also left his senses swirling like water down the drain. His vertigo wasn’t helped when the bag was thrust over his head.

“No!” he shouted, but he might as well been speaking in Japanese for all it helped. In short order, he was tussled up into something; it felt like his living room rug. Whatever it was, it wrapped around him completely, pinning his arms, restraining his legs and making it hard to breathe. He felt someone pick him up and carry him; when he tried to shout for help, he felt like he couldn’t get enough air in his lungs anymore.

How long he was in there, sucking in and out stale air that stank of his floor, the young mage wasn’t sure. All he knew was that after he was put on the floor, something shoved him the side. He went rolling, and when he stopped, he ripped the hood off. He was lying on the floor and gasping for air in a room he’d never seen before. It was well lit with white walls and a white tile floor; his black and red rug was a garish mark on the floor. He wasn’t alone; he was surrounded by six other people. His first question, who the fuck these people were, was answered when the blonde women just in front of him said, “Hello, Atlantian.”

“Fuck you.” Only one group used that term with such scorn.

“Your mother says hello,” the blonde said, smiling at him.

“Fuck her, too.”

“For someone with your Shadow name, you really need to choose better words,” she told him.

“You aren’t worth better than ‘fuck you’,” Wakiki growled. He spat on the floor and suggested that she do something anatomically impossible in Japanese. “Eloquent enough for you?”

“You’re such a charming, young man,” the woman said, smiling. “I see why your mother is leveraging favors to have you returned to her.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Oh fuck. That was not what Wakiki wanted to hear. Mind racing, he frantically cast about for anything to delay - not that anyone was riding to the rescue. He didn't have a cabal or even close friends. By the time Whisker knew something was up, he'd be utterly mind-fucked, drooling on himself in a cell in Tokyo. Or worse. It was 'worse' that made him reach out desperately. "What's she offering?" he asked, keeping his voice somewhat casual.

"Oooo," the blonde woman purred, pursing her lips in a moue of delighted surprise, "are you trying to barter with me? What's your offer?"

Wakiki thought frantically - what could he offer a bunch of Seers without damning his own soul? "You said she's leveraging favors..."

"I did," the Seer grinned. "Are you offering favors to us? Perhaps a bit of information?"

Shit, this wasn't going to work. Wakiki couldn't offer them anything of value without being a traitor. "How about some entertainment?" he asked.

The insolent grin faded into annoyance. "Your mother is offering something of value, and you're offering fun? You must think I'm real dumb - or that you have an inflated sense of your humor value."

"I was thinking bread and circus type fun," Wakiki said quickly, even as he knew this was a probably dumb idea. Actually, it was probably an abysmally bad idea but he was desperate. "Something like.... an Arcane Duel? Would getting the chance to kill a dirty Atlantean be fun enough for you?" And he would rather be dead than with her.

"Actually, I don't want your blood. It brings me no pleasure to kill you," she told him. She was silent, staring at him for a long moment. "Let's do the duel, but make it a friendly wager. If you win, you can go free. If I win, you go along quietly to your mother, no mess, no fuss."

"Let's up that a bit," Wakiki said quickly. "If you win, I'll come to your aid no less than three times in the next year. That aid cannot pit me against other Atlanteans or make me betray them. If I win, you leave me alone for that same year."

"Make it four," the Seer replied. "I know that's a bad-luck number for your people."

"Actually, it's bad luck for the Chinese," Wakiki told her flatly. Fucking dumb American.

The woman paused and shrugged. "Four is still what I want." Her smile widened. "One for each season of that year."

"Fine," Wakiki said. "And remember, I won't betray a fellow mage for you."

"Then we have a duel." The pretty woman's smile wasn't pretty at all. "You'll be shown to a room for a bit more rest. I wouldn't want you to call foul after I beat you."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

They were true to their words. He was given a room to sleep in; it had a bed that was not uncomfortable. It also wasn’t comfortable. It also had a small table with a chair, and that table had warm pancakes and sausage links. There was milk and orange juice, as well as maple syrup. “Breakfast of champions,” he muttered sourly as he picked up a fork. He preferred some rice and fruit; this meal was far too heavy. Still, he ate a third of it; he would need the energy.

After he was done eating, he rose and began a series of stretches. It was the same routine that Whisker had taught him. Though the Duel Arcane would be a test of his arcane and will, the ritual calmed and centered him. It also prepared him for battle mentally.

When they came for him, he was as ready as he got. Especially when going to war in his pajama pants. At least the black cotton was comfortable and wasn’t as embarrassing as boxers.

The room they lead him to was the same pristine room he’d been released from his carpet in. His carpet and the hood from yesterday were gone, leaving the room white again. There were the same six people here, and Wakiki had a faint hope that they were all that existed of this cabal. Six to one weren’t great odds but they were better than seven or higher to one. There was also the possibility – slim – that Whisker or Tree would find him.

The blonde was standing in the middle of the room, with the others making a rough circle around her. This cabal knew how to stage themselves Wakiki noted with carefully-constructed disdain. The only other women beside the blonde was wearing black gi pants and a black half-shirt. The five men all wore black gi pants and a black vest. His opponent wore red gi pants and a red vest under a black belt. He wondered if they always wore black like this or if it had been chosen because of what he wore.

He stepped into the circle, his mind empty of any thoughts. There was nothing other than Now. Not even the memory of his mother teaching him Now could shake him – he’d deal with the emotional fallout later. He was in control of himself, if nothing else.

“Imriel,” the blonde greeted him.

“You never introduced yourself,” he told her, standing with his feet at shoulder-width and his hands clasped in front of himself.

“Apotheose,” she told him.

“God-like, huh?” he snorted.

“It fits me,” she rejoined, smiling like Buddha.

“I thought you served a god, or some other being.” Make her mad. Make her careless.

“We serve the Exalts yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t gain as well,” she said chidingly. “If you were to cut your strings to the Atlanteans, you’d understand that They are the true Power in the universe.”

“Better to live on your feet than serve on your knees,” Imriel said lightly, putting on a smug smirk. It was the smirk that had enraged so many people. It was the smirk that said, Fuck you sideways. No matter what you say, I’m better.

“I will be a god when you’re dead,” she said, her lips drawing tight.

“You’ll still be on your knees, god or not,” he told her, “and I’ll be free until the day I die.”

“That will be today, if you keep talking like this,” Apotheose snapped.

“We both know you won’t kill me,” he sneered. “I’m worth more to you alive. And since you want all that power, you need me.”

“Gatekeeper, square the circle,” she ordered. One of the men stepped forward and began to cast. Her pretty eyes were sharp with anger as she said, “I might decide that I gain more pleasure out of killing you, so watch your tongue.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mind. Space. These were the weapons he choose, the ones that he always choose. One would be his shield and one his sword. After a moment’s consideration, Imriel made his choices. A creature of darkness and nightmares took his left side, long and lean and somewhat flat forming a barrier between him and Apotheose. Wakiki hefted his sword, a twisting piece of metal that had only one edge and twisted about impossibly.

Across the circle, Apotheose was being encased in a suit of armor that was transparent yet Imriel knew would be strong – or at least as strong as she was in the Spirit Arcanum. Her right arm turned into a single, long slashing leg, rather like a praying mantis’ claw. Life, probably. It looked vicious, but Imriel knew that it was only as strong as she was.

She attacked first. The hooking claw raked over his shield; the beast of nightmares took most of the blow on itself but the tip caught his shoulder. Wincing, Imriel felt some of himself was torn away. Grunting, he swung his sword and grinned as he returned the favor.

Again, she lashed at him and this time the sword bit deeply. Even as he swung and had his sword bounce off, he mentally acknowledged that she was strong than he, and he was likely to lose. Don’t give up, he told himself, and the beast at his side roared in defiance. They continued their dance, with her feinting and then striking another light blow. Light or not, it still tore away at him.

Imriel changed his attack, using his sword to parry her blow and buying himself some time. He needed to think; she was winning. Then he decided to give it all he had; he returned to a defensive stance and took another blow – and when he struck back, he had the force of his will behind it. This time, he struck deeply, but he was far gone; he could feel the loss settling on his being.

“I win,” she said, grinning.

“Not yet,” he ground out, holding his sword higher.

“You want more? Real pain this time?” she asked.

“I’m still here.”

“Fool,” she hissed and stabbed at him again. This time, when she hit, he bled. It hurt, in a way that having his will torn away hadn’t hurt. Gritting his teeth, he swung at her again. She gasped as he cut her will again.

“I will kill you! I will do it!” she cried and he saw the weakness in her soul. She would have given up and laid down; that he wasn’t made her angry and made her doubt her own strength. Her claw bounced off his shield for the first time in the fight and he struck his own blow, his twisted sword slicing away more of her inner strength.

“Then do it, because I’d rather die than be forced to serve another,” he told her. “You find service the gateway to power, and maybe it is. But every crumb of that is not really yours; it’s granted by whatever being gives it. And so long as you’re a good little soldier, they’ll let you keep. But what is mine is mine! I don’t need to crawl to the Exalts to be strong! I am strong!”

She faltered, hesitating, and he struck again. This time, he cut her spirit and her flesh, and her blood joined his on the pristine floor. “Yield. I’ll take you with me otherwise,” he told her. There was no threat there, only truth.

He was probably hurt worse than her. She probably could still win. But he’d seen her fears of not being strong enough, and that allowed him to stare her down. “I… yield,” she whispered, and looked as though she wanted to take the words back the moment they were spoken.

Imriel felt relief surge through him, but he didn’t drop his guard. If they were going to double-cross him, it would be now…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the men stepped forward, his sharp Hispanic features giving him a natural tough-guy look. Imriel turned to face him, narrowing his dark eyes at the approaching man. “Figures that a Seer would go back on his word,” he spat.

The man smirked. “She promised, hombre, not me.” His voice matched his features enough that Imriel expected him to say “I cut you so bad you no wish I cut you so bad” or something else that was politically incorrect.

“How convenient. But nothing less than what I expect,” he replied.

“Let him go,” Apotheose said. Her voice carried through the room but wasn’t that loud. Despite the volume, there was a snap of command to it. “A year and a day, Imriel. No more, no less. When we come for you.”

Imriel gave her a lazy, mocking salute. “You better be ready,” he said angrily, “if you’re declaring war on me.” He was angry. He never asked for this attention. He had left his mother behind; it was she who had betrayed everything he believed in and now couldn’t let him go. She had to ‘win’, whatever the cost might be to others.

“This might very well be war. It wasn’t like we’re on the same side now,” Apotheose pointed out.

“But you leave me alone for a year and a day,” Imriel confirmed.

“A truce then,” she replied.

“Oh, no,” he said, waving a finger at her. “No, no. Your friends can still come after me and mine after you. I after you, too. If you want a real truce, you need to agree to that.”

“You aren’t as dumb as you appear,” Apotheose smirked. “So that’s where we stand. I can’t strike directly against you but otherwise, all bets are off.”

“Yep. Now, let me go,” the young Japanese man said.

“Take him back to LA,” the Seer in charge said with a smirk. “Release him.”

Imriel noted that she didn’t specify in what condition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The handcuffs were so tight his fingers went numb almost immediately. They hit him a few times getting him outside and into the mask, and Imriel bit back a cry of pain when they bodily dropped him into the truck of the car. Only when they had closed it and the car was in motion did he allow himself to groan. Weakly, he tried to follow the twists and turns, but he wasn’t exactly in great shape. He may have fallen asleep for a couple of moments, as well – he didn’t pass out, really. He was sleeping.

The car stopped and the truck was opened. Imriel was pulled out of the trunk and dumped onto the ground. He did cry out that time; the pain of landing on his bound arms was too much to remain silent. He heard feet walking away, and then the car doors slammed. They’re leaving me like this. Wonderful, he sighed. Carefully, he rolled to his left side and then attempted to get to his knees. The first time, he overshot the mark and ended up on his right side; the second time he caught himself with his face and a shoulder.

He heard feet approaching. Panicked at the thought of facing unknown attackers bound and blind, he started to shake his head, trying to dislodge the hood. That didn’t work of course; the ties were too tight.

“Son, you’re going to want to stop that.” The voice that was speaking was older and firm; it was the kind of voice you trust even if you don’t know the person.

Still, Imriel was his mother’s son, and his body was tense as he asked, “Who are you?”

“I’m Pastor Monty, from the God Provides Foodbank,” the voice told him. “Here, I’ve called the police, but I should get you inside and stop the bleeding. Come on, son, let me get this off.” The pastor couldn’t untie it, and Imriel had to allow himself to stumble along blind as he was led inside. Once there, Monty found some scissors. By the time the EMTs and the police arrived, Imriel was sitting on a chair, wrapped in a blanket and able to see again.

The cops undid the handcuffs and took them; Imriel watched as they bagged them. He didn’t have a chance to see much else before the EMTs had him on a stretcher and were loading him into the ambulance. Imriel felt safe, marginally, anyway. He fell asleep again – he definitely did not pass out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was written off as a home intrusion. It wasn’t uncommon for people to break into apartment buildings, especially given that the Seers had looted his place. His computer was gone; the TV was too large to take and thankfully they hadn’t messed with the keyboard. His rug was gone, of course, along with a few pieces of jewelry like a ring and his cufflinks. Imriel wasn’t too upset – he was alive and healthy, or would be healthy once his cuts healed. There would be no permanent damage, other than a week’s worth of work on his songs that he hadn’t sent to Kevin yet.

Whisker wasn’t happy. It wasn’t the damage to him, it was the boldness with which the Seers had operated. They had blatantly come for him, and she wasn’t so sure that they would keep their word. “What if they come back?” she asked him.

He shrugged. “I’ll fight again,” he answered.

“You didn’t fight your way out last time,” she reminded him.

“I talked my way out,” he said, his smile sardonic as he said, “I’m a Mastigos, after all.”

“I know,” Whisker said, and she didn’t sound too happy about it. “That’s why I worry about you. I don’t trust them.”

Neither did Imriel, but frankly if he worried about it, he was going to turn into a paranoid nutcase. So he didn’t dwell on it. His landlord changed the locks, added a chain-slide and Imriel filed all the insurance paperwork to replace the laptop and jewelry. Then the young mage put it behind him as much as he could.

Three weeks later, he came home from work to find his rug had been returned. “Shit,” he said with feeling, because there was no sign of forced entry. There was also a vase on his table with dead roses in it. “Shit,” he said again, because he felt better cursing about it.

Flipping open his phone, he called Whisker. “Hey… how do you feel about getting an apartment with me?”

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...