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 COA III: The new IC

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Lupus
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Lupus

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 29 Dec 2012, 11:36 pm

Kaldra nodded in agreement as Tem spoke of Aressa’s deep-seated need for comfort and just the simple act of having someone there to help hold her up when the trials of the world became too much for her to bear alone, whether she realized it herself or not. In the brief time she’d known the ice luong, Kaldra couldn’t really remember a time where she had truly smiled, like an honest-to-goodness, no-sadness-smothering-it, smile. Was Aressa ever truly happy? Could she expect her to be, after all she’d been through?

It’s a miracle that she hasn’t snapped and mauled a human in the time between her release from the DoD and now.

A twinge of guilt nagged her gut at the comparison of Aressa to some mindless beast. That was the very way that… that monster of a man had treated her. She had to fight to keep a snarl from slipping onto her face as she lay alongside the one who stood unceasingly alongside her throughout this whole confusing ordeal they’d been thrust into. She didn’t want him to mistakenly believe that the churning anger she felt building inside her to be the result of his well-meaning actions regarding the two damaged souls that had joined their group.

Kaldra met Tem’s gaze, silently cooling the embers that had begun to flicker to life. There would be time for that later. Tem had only meant to soothe the flames likely smoldering within the dragoness who had been so grossly mistreated for so much of her life. He had been brave to approach her, given how she’d reacted to the mere presence of a hybrid not too long ago.

As his lips pressed against the smooth scales upon her cheek, she couldn’t help the tears that gathered at the corners of her eyes.

Had Aressa ever had someone truly care for her?

She wiped the tears from her eyes and leaned against Tem’s comforting warmth. There was no way that he would discard her so callously. It had been foolish of her to latch onto that hidden worry. What he had done had been an act birthed of sympathy. There she rested, gathering her thoughts into a coherent reply. Drawing back so that she could gaze into his eyes, those beautiful eyes that always seemed to draw her in like a moth to a flame, she nodded.

“Of course, I believe you,” she said, smiling softly, “You have the mind of a leader and… the heart of a father. You couldn’t allow those near you to bear their yokes alone, so you gave them the gift of knowing that we were there at their sides.”

He was being compassionate.

“I understand why you did it,” she reaffirmed, nuzzling his neck. He was far too aware of the feelings of those around him, of her, to cruelly harm any of them with his actions. It wasn’t who he was.

"It's alright."
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Michangs
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSun 30 Dec 2012, 7:34 pm

Tem took it as a good sign when Kaldra leaned against him, but - had those been tears that she'd wiped away just then? Oh no, what did I do now? Unless they're tears of happiness or relief...

What she then said, smiling as she met his gaze, blew that concern completely away, and in fact most other thoughts with it. The heart of a father... He swooned as his heart began to race. He thought his eyes might be losing focus. The heart of a father... It was like he'd taken an electrical shock, in the very best possible way. Perhaps the simple phrase shouldn't have affected him so much, but at the moment, he didn't really have the capacity to worry about that.

His thoughts started to become coherent again as Kaldra nuzzled him and assured him of her understanding, which this time, he was sure, was complete and utter. A smile of wholehearted contentment adorned his dreamy face, both foreclaws now clutching Kaldra's, eyes comfortably shut as he began to ponder. Those words! They were so riveting to him because he'd never pictured himself that way before. Kaldra had tried to transform his self-image into something greater than he'd ever hoped for, just as he'd insisted that she was beautiful on both the inside and the outside not long ago. Leader? Father? I can't be sure...and yet...I trust her so much....If I can see beauty in her that she hasn't seen, then she just might be right about me, too. He supposed he'd given some good advice that she, as leader, had learned from and used. If she saw that much in him...if he really was the fantastic person she perceived...a wave of joy washed through his insides at the mere thought.

It was far deeper than that as well, though. A complex web of emotions had sprung into being inside Tem upon hearing Kaldra's words, and at the center was his throbbing heart, his passion, along with what those words held in store for it. A father. She probably meant something else entirely, his logical (or pessimistic?) side said; sure, she's saying how great you are, but she's not thinking that. Yet the rest of him said otherwise, that she was conveying a whole range of meanings. She didn't necessarily have to be doing so consciously; the promise was there all the same: I have a chance with her!!! She - she's willing to - she'd be willing to let me...be...a...

His heart rate spiked so high at the notion that he wondered if the other dragons could feel the pavement quaking. Of course he was getting way too far ahead of himself; of course anything of the sort would happen in the inconceivably distant future; and yet! The inkling of a chance, a tiny possibility, shown this early - he knew then that he'd spoken well, that he'd been treating her exactly right; and that confirmation made him swell with accomplishment and relief. A forming tear teased his eye, which he guessed only made sense after blasting himself with so much passion. And she must be a poet at heart too, whipping out phrases like "bear their yokes" and "gave them the gift of knowing." So amazing...She deserves everything I give her; she so completely deserves the love and caring that were taken from her.

After a second tear, his thoughts took another turn. Well, that does it. If giving others the affection they need nets me appreciation from her instead of jealousy, then she really must be perfect for me. He could barely believe how happy he felt, partly because he'd hardly expected any set of sentences to be able to extract such emotion from him. Then again, he could easily see how those feelings might have been pent up and just waiting to burst out once Kaldra confirmed how great she was.

At that point, he foggily came to the realization that he was resting his head on Kaldra's side (still smiling) and probably had been for much of the indistinct period of time he'd been dwelling on her words. His eyes opened with a sensation awfully similar to waking up from a dream. He lifted his head back up and fixed his eyes on Kaldra once more. He was a little embarrassed at having taken so long to reply with words, but, sounding breathy with passion, he told her with total sincerity, "Thank you, Kaldra...that means so much to me...." Since embarrassment was still the least of his emotions - in fact, he was surprised his joy hadn't made him explode yet - he couldn't help himself as he kissed Kaldra directly on the lips, without a thought just yet for the consequences, ready to continue the kiss for as much time as Kaldra would allow.

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Last edited by Michangs on Thu 13 Jun 2013, 2:51 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Remove the unnecessary word "literally" that I had put before "swooned")
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeWed 02 Jan 2013, 8:46 pm

From her current position, head nestled into the space between Tem’s jawbone and his neck, Kaldra could feel his heartbeat spike at her words. Mind drifting back to the words she had uttered to console him, she found those that had struck him the deepest. She’d called him a father.

Was I wrong to say that? I mean… I never really knew my own father; did I cross a line by associating Tem with the faint images of his presence? No… no, it was the truth.

Though it was true that she had essentially been raised by a single mother, she’d had plenty of time and opportunities to observe the familial interactions between fathers and their progeny. The boundless love shining in the eyes of fathers as they waited at the bottom of countless slides, gathering up their child once they came sliding to the bottom, and then swung the laughing child around in a circle by their arms. The loving embrace of two people reunited after an extended time apart and the tight embrace that followed. Then there were the instances of terror when loved ones weren’t where they should be, when toddlers were missing from their strollers, only to be found minutes later chasing an unlucky cat. The loyal affection and desire to protect shone through the actions of those fathers she had seen in her years as an observer.

That is what Tem exemplifies.

How lucky she was to have found someone like him, even during such uncertain times as these. Actually, especially during times like they were living in now. While the world seemed to be quickly falling into a tailspin with no happy ending in sight, she had found her own personal candle to light the way to a safer future. Mom would be looking down on both of them with pride.

The feeling of Tem’s scales shifting along hers brought her out of her own thoughts. Kaldra looked down at him out of the corner of her eyes (he’d been leaning back against her flank) as he lifted his head up to her level. He thanked her for her comfort and, before she could say anything in reply, pressed his lips against hers.

Sparks darted along her lightning-filled spikes, a visible expression of the figurative electricity bursting to life within her chest at his touch. She returned the kiss, almost hungrily. After so much sadness and regret, expressions of such infinite love were as welcome as food was to the starving.

~~~~~
Aressa watched the exchange through her half-lidded eyes, unable to hear the words being said, but still able to decipher the meanings being traded by the body language and facial expressions of the two in question. At least Tem’s reaction to her sorrow hadn’t driven a wedge between the couple. It was a small grace. Her eyes drifted closed just before the two began to kiss. She was certain that the others would alert her when it was time for the group to leave for their next inquiry.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 11:31 am

The conversation between Tem and Aressa was clearly one she didn't have much to contribute to, at least that was called for. He knew what he was doing, it would be rude to interject her own ideas, and to try and nudge Aressa towards answering. They didn't need treatment like that. There were others however, who she wouldn't have qualms over pushing them to give answers. She hadn't met them of course, but she knew she would...

Aressa settled down again, keeping more to herself this time it seemed. Comfort was comfort in any circumstance, what could be the worst result of offering it to her dear friend? Aelirsa carefully placed her arm around Aressa to draw in the warmth between them. Maybe she was projecting her deceased friend onto the ice luong, trying to cling onto a memory from her former life, her friend reborn as she had been.

Claws tightened for a moment as she caught the sight of a kiss between the other two out of the corner of her eye. It still didn't seem right to her, deep down at least. Not so much the familiarity this time, but the alienation of others. Was it really necessary to do that in plain view of Aressa, who had suffered so lonely a life? It was of no personal concern, save for the welfare of others. Her dilemma between wanting to be alone, and wanting companionship didn't have to stretch to the others.

The turn of her head was enough, she didn't need to see it if she didn't want to. Her world could just be Aressa, protecting her from the pain and suffering of the world. She could protect her, she wouldn't die in front of her. "I'll keep you safe Aressa. I promise..." Sleep came at long last, made easier by the soft mane of the luong. Just a quick break from thinking. She needed a clear head and sharp wits for the next witness. The others were too kind to humans, she had been one. And she no longer was one. She didn't want to be one again...

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Miirik
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 11:47 am

“You’re welcome.” Kaden smiled gently, but she couldn’t help but giggle a bit when Ev talked with his mouth full. “It’s okay, silly!” She quickly finished her cinnamon roll and had to struggle to resist licking her paws of any excess crumbs.

She rested her head on the ground in front of her paws, and she might have dozed off if she didn’t catch the conversation between Tem, Aressa, and Aelirsa. She half-opened one emerald eye and flicked her ears a bit to better hear what they were saying. She knew that she shouldn’t poke into other people’s business, but it wouldn’t hurt to know how things were going, right?

She could practically taste the awkwardness between Tem and Aelirsa when Tem suggested that he healed her. Judging by the intimate relationship between Tem and Kaldra as well as how...personal Tem needed to be to heal Kaldra yesterday, she could see how this could be.

And then, seemingly out of the blue to her half-listening ears, she heard crying. She opened both eyes to see that Aressa, of all dragons, was crying. She couldn’t quite wrap her mind around it. Aressa always seemed so tough and icy, but there she was, tears running down her cheeks. Kaden was completely bewildered to hear that she was frightened.

Tem calmed her down, thankfully, but Kaden was now on edge. Even Aressa is scared, she thought with despair. What chance do we have?

She flinched ever so slightly and wrapped her tail around one herself, the tip twitching. Her eyes narrowed slightly. She didn't exactly feel comfortable when Tem and Kaldra starting kissing in front of everyone, but it wasn't her place to say so. After all, she might do the same thing if she ever...no, no, now wasn't the time. She swallowed tensely.

She tapped her claws together in silence. Well, this is a start at least. If we can fear less and be at peace with each other, we can get there. She swished her tail to her side and raised her head. She didn’t want to disturb anyone, but they had probably rested for too long. They could still use the rest of the day productively.

“Umm...” she started, flinching at how loud her voice sounded in the silent alley. “I was wondering if we might have missed something somewhere. I mean, both the captain and Tom showed up at exactly the same time as we went to investigate. It could be coincidence but...” She chewed her lip slightly. “I don’t feel like it is.”

She tapped a claw on the ground, and her tail twitched behind her. “So...I think we’re missing something.” She looked down at the ground before adding flatly, “Or it’s a dead end.”

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COA III: The new IC - Page 9 Tumblr_lxt0i10jud1qam1cxo1_r1_500COA III: The new IC - Page 9 Tumblr_mkfqcvm74e1rgg76fo1_500
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 4:38 pm

((M-M-M-Megapost! ...Okay, I don't really know where that came from. Seriously, though, prepare for a lot of reading - this is a really long one.))

Ev was immensely relieved that Kaden didn't mind his mistake. "Oh! Um... okay," he replied, smiling sheepishly for a moment. As she fell silent to finish her roll, Ev couldn't help but do the same; though he had the impression that it would be disrespectful to say nothing to Kaden when she was right next to him, he was completely devoid of ideas.

He took another bite of his cinnamon roll. He had been too frantic about doing things right with Kaden to really notice the first time, but now he acutely felt the abrasion of the food against his raw mouth and throat. He winced as he managed to swallow it. Great. I can't even enjoy this very much after Agate- But he stopped himself, feeling guilty about placing blame even before the thought was complete. He didn't think it was right to resent others' actions without considering the reasons for them, and he knew the hybrid had had good reason to defend herself. Why do I have to keep reminding myself of that? I shouldn't need to. Remembering that Aressa was responsible for sparking the incident, he turned his head back to look at the Luong and see how she was doing. He was relieved to see Aelirsa talking to her. Oh, good. She needs some companionship right now. Hopefully we can help her get better, for her sake and ours.

Ev turned back to Kaden. Seeing that she was just about finished with her roll, he started hurrying through his own despite his sore throat. As he ate, he renewed his attempts to find something to say. Oh! Maybe I can ask her if she's from this area, like I thought of before. Wait... that might seem a little random. Darn. Maybe- no, no.... Hm... hey, what if I ask her why she doesn't mind my poison? He was rather worried that bringing up his poison might dampen the mood of the conversation, but he couldn't think of anything he more strongly wanted to know. He swallowed his current bite and played out exactly what he would say several times in his head. Just as he was about to ask, though, Kaden laid her head on the ground. Oh. She probably wouldn't want me to disturb her with a question right now. Ev dejectedly finished off the last few bites of his cinnamon roll in silence.

I can never think of anything quickly enough. I mess up if I don't plan everything out, but doing that takes so long that I mess up anyway by not acting when I have the opportunity. It's not fair. It's always my stupid poison distracting me, or.... He stopped short when the thought of his poison made him realize something. His breath had been clear for several minutes, but he didn't feel the usual strain on his mind. Oh my God. Oh my God! Am I really- But then he noticed that there actually was a bit of mental pressure, and that it was gradually strengthening to its normal level. He tried not to be too disappointed. Still... this is very good to know. I had no idea I could force it down hard enough to not bother me for a few minutes. I guess I've never had a strong enough reason. He looked down at Kaden's head and let himself smile for a moment.

The discovery gave Ev a level of hope about his condition that he hadn't felt in years. That, combined with his idea that following Kaden's actions would help improve his appearance to her, let him find the courage to lay his head down next to hers. He hesitated a few times, then quietly settled onto his forelegs and put his head between them. It might have seemed a small action to anyone else, but to Ev, even that much intimacy was nearly unprecedented in his solitary dragon life. His heart raced as he turned his eyes sideways to see Kaden's head resting so close by, apparently with her eyes closed since he couldn't see the one she had opened halfway. He noticed her ears moving to follow the others' conversation, though, so he knew she wasn't asleep. Ev shut his eyes and listened alongside her.

He heard Tem, Aressa, and Aelirsa discussing the ice western's injury, some quieter conversation between just Tem and Aressa, and then Tem and Kaldra's hushed voices. He didn't catch much out of the later exchanges, but he comprehended basically what was going on. He couldn't help but be amazed by Tem's willingness to help where needed and Kaldra's acceptance of what some dragonesses might have interpreted as disloyalty. Did they really just meet yesterday? I mean, it feels like it's been forever since then, but still.

Ev's eyes popped open the instant he heard Kaden's voice. He raised his head and looked at her attentively while she spoke. Then he looked back down as he pondered the problem she brought up. Considering their investigation again made him feel somewhat guilty that he'd been thinking about relationships instead. Although his poison had come back to full force and was taking some of his mental effort, he managed to form a response.

"Well, maybe..." he started only loudly enough for Kaden to hear. He cleared his throat and began again at a higher volume so the group could hear him. "Well, it seems like both might be true right now. Both of these guys have been weird, and in a really similar way, so I don't think it's a coincidence either, but... we haven't learned a whole lot from them. I guess we could check the list for another lead, but we don't really know who to - I mean, whom to pick...." Right then, however, trying to think of important names led Ev to recall the one he had seen on Tom's phone. "Uh, well, actually... this probably isn't going to help, but, um... I remember seeing, um, when that Tom guy was leaving, that, uh, he pulled out his phone and started, uh, texting or calling... I don't remember which one... but it was to some guy named 'Dan.' That's all it said... no last name or anything. So probably, um, worthless, but, um... just... thought I would mention it...." His voice dwindled to a mumble by the end; he felt terribly self-conscious about bringing up a lead that sounded more and more useless to him by the second. He looked down at the spot where the wall next to him joined the concrete ground, ashamed that he couldn't be more helpful.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 4:58 pm

There was a bit of discussion going about the interviewees, finally they seemed to be making some sense of what was going on. Much as she hated to admit it, they did seem to be too easy going on the attitudes of humans. Quick to deceive, always ducking and dodging questions. And Ev brought up a key point, they were in some form of communication. Obviously that could mean anything, but there was a very real possibility that she had to point out.

It pained her to wake up from so short a sleep, but she had to be harsh on the truth in this matter. They needed to face the fact that things could very well be deliberately working against them. Her head raised up higher in order to better project her soft spoken voice. "It's hardly a coincidence. They clearly know the plans you put together, and thus... They are adjusting their responses accordingly. From what little I know about the latest one in particular, avoiding questions is something that seems to be a common theme."

Again, she reminded herself not to project past events and people onto the current situation. But it was hard, and it felt right to project. If it strengthened her resolve and stopped her from backing down, then what harm could it really do? "I do hate to say it, but we need someone who isn't going to accept a paper-thin response paws down. I can only treat this as a conspiracy, we cannot afford to let the only witnesses stop us in our tracks every time we catch up."

She usually didn't say so much. It wasn't like her. Small, well thought out sentences. This was a full blown drive to motivate the other dragons to her view on the matter. There was no guarantee it was the correct one, or if it would even have any positive result at all. But it was certainly better than rolling over and letting things slip by surely. And if worst came to worst, she'd head on alone. If something were to go wrong, what good would bringing down the others be?

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Jalines
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 6:12 pm

Ev listened to Aelirsa's thoughts on the matter. Somehow it hadn't occurred to him that the timing with which the men had arrived might indicate knowledge of the group's activities, but it made a frightening amount of sense. He looked around the alley and upward to the rooftops for any sort of surveillance in the area. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but he stepped ever so slightly closer to Kaden in order to feel like they were both better protected.

Ev didn't take to Aelirsa's next idea so well. He couldn't interpret it any other way than an insult to those who had dealt with Stackpole and Tom, which included him and Kaden. He would have guiltily accepted the remark if he felt it was deserved, but it seemed highly unfair based on his memory of what had happened. He was incensed that she was judging their performance without knowing the actual details. He raised his head again to look straight at Aelirsa, his eyebrows creased.

"What, and you think that's what we did? For your information, I didn't accept Tom's answers, and we lost the lead because of that! Maybe if you'd actually been there to confront either of those creeps, you'd know that aggression isn't going to get us anywhere. We're doing the best we can here, in case you didn't realize."

Ev was extremely surprised by his own outburst, as he was sure everyone else would be in a moment. He couldn't stand false accusations, especially where Kaden was concerned, but he hadn't expected to become so vehement against these ones. And that was if Aelirsa had even been accusing them at all; Ev was afraid he might have overreacted again. He instantly wanted to apologize and explain himself in a more considerate manner.

"I... um... I'm sorry," he said quietly a moment or two after his previous speech. "Just... what I meant was, um... you should know what you're talking about before you pass judgment. It just... seemed unfair to say what you did, when... I-I don't think we've been doing that. S-sorry...." With that, he looked away from everyone and shrank from their gazes, burning with shame and regret. Why can't I do anything right?

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 7:26 pm

There was a whispering in her mind, warning her to back off the path she was trying to take the group on while she had a chance. Yet she felt that her statement had been misinterpreted, she didn't want any of the others to think she looked down on them. "Ev, you must believe me when I say that I meant no disrespect. I am merely trying to remove any doubt that taking a firm stance is the way to go. There is no need for anyone to be physically threatened, but sometimes the victims must be forced to do things for their own safety."

Like becoming a dragon for example... She was projecting, no doubt about that. No, Rayne was dead, a distant memory and nothing more. At worst, it was imagining she was someone that no longer existed. "I wouldn't make strong accusations without knowing all the facts, let that be assured." That formed a circle, she couldn't make accusations against the others they were looking for without knowing what caused their evasive behaviour, but the only way to progress into that area would be by getting answers from them.

She settled down again for rest, hopefully it would relax the tense mood somewhat. Sometimes it was necessary to bring up controversial points, it promoted discussion and prevented underlying feelings from remaining in the dark. What good would she be to the group if she didn't give her full input? Just a plain ice dragon who tagged along, and slowed down the group. That was it, she was a loose cannon. She had injured herself, and now made statements that were taken as offensive.

"How about this, the next interview, I shall merely observe for myself. It will give me a chance to note every reaction, flinch and mannerism I can catch. Hopefully it will provide a far more useful insight into what is motivating them for the time being. Will that suffice?"

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 12 Jan 2013, 8:49 pm

((I seem to have copied your feat, Jalines.))

At that moment, the entire world consisted of Kaldra and nothing else.

Tem would have been thinking of the most golden praise for her, except that no thoughts could hold together coherently, nor did he want them to. Instead, they melted into raw happiness and washed over him like the soothing waves of a gentle stream. Although his eyes were closed, he was acutely aware of the black dragoness he adored, of the brief snap of electricity along her back that went in stride with the hot flare of passion within Tem's chest, of her scaly lips accepting the touch of his own, of the blood he could sense racing around inside each of them. He half-noticed his tail twining itself around hers in a tight, affectionate grip. The water inside the bottle was rippling from an unseen force.

He released her foreclaw from the grip of both his paws and wrapped his forelegs around her neck, heedless of the minor risk the spikes posed. With his mind set on embracing her, he unconsciously let the water coating his scrapes slide along his body and forelegs until it was flowing between her spikes and over her shoulders, a cool caress not unlike that of the river where he'd healed her. The already considerable electric tingle in his forelegs only intensified with the addition of water, but it felt strangely good to him, so he didn't mind. Since much of his breathing was through his nostrils, he was constantly taking in his beloved dragoness' scent. She smelled like nature, like a forested place Tem was unfamiliar with - undoubtedly Yellowstone - in addition to the usual undertones that dragons in general carried. The aroma was, like everything about her, quite wonderful.

At some point during this experience - probably about a hundred years or so had passed - a voice entered the edge of Tem's perception. He was aware of it, but it was like someone was trying to talk him awake while he was in the middle of an especially absorbing dream. When the voice changed, his curiosity was piqued just enough for his mental faculties to clamber their way up to consciousness again. As his memory of where he was seeped back into his brain, the motion of his lips and the fire in his giddily pounding heart gradually eased off. Still holding Kaldra's neck, he pulled his lips only a half-inch away and blinked his eyes open in time to comprehend Ev's saying the name "Tom" and explaining about the man's phone and this "Dan" character. Tom...oh - oh! The investigation! Of course. Although he was now listening, he was still gazing at Kaldra's face, looking somewhat bewildered. When he noticed a little water dripping off the front of Kaldra's body and a mild flare of pain from his belly scrapes, a good helping of embarrassment found its way into his facial expression.

"Um..." he uttered quietly, wiping a running drop from Kaldra's chest onto his clawed finger. He would've apologized if he'd been focused enough, but he didn't have time before Aelirsa spoke up. He hoped his expression would speak for him.

He slipped his foreclaws from Kaldra's neck to a rather tamer position on her shoulder as he listened to the ice dragoness. Her forceful words surprised him, and not in a good way. "We need someone who isn't going to accept a paper-thin response paws down." He didn't need to be one of the dragons who'd gone after Tom to feel offended - she'd just insulted them, called them incompetent! She wasn't even there! How can she know how they should've handled it?

Ev then surprised him even more by standing up for himself and delivering the arguments Tem was roughly thinking of himself. Naturally, the poor luong was ashamed afterwards, but Tem knew he didn't have to be. When Tem heard Aelirsa's next couple statements, he was even more sure that it was worth challenging what she was saying. "For their own safety"? What the...and she did just make a strong accusation without any of the facts!!

Luckily, her final suggestion seemed more reasonable, and it gave Tem time to cool down. He started formulating a calmer response. She was technically talking to Ev, of course, but Tem thought he knew the luong well enough that he wouldn't mind letting someone else take over for a moment. "I agree, it would be good to look for non-verbal clues, and it'd also be best for you to quietly take in the facts, Aelirsa, because Ev has a point."

There was a definite edge to his voice, so apparently he wasn't completely calmed down, but he didn't mind - she'd just advocated a "firm stance," after all. "Those are big conclusions to make when you didn't see how the conversations went over with either of the men we spoke to. I agree with you on the conspiracy idea at this point, but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that they all know what we're doing. We've only just started, and we didn't ask the police chief all that much anyway." Because he was too busy freaking us all out, he thought, but he didn't add that. "We can try to be more insistent, but that'll only get us so far before we start looking even more suspicious than they are. All I'm saying is, we should take this carefully. We won't give up, but that doesn't have to mean we'll be aggressive about it - not when attracting these guys' anger is exactly what we don't want."

At that, he stopped and took a deep breath. He started registering his embarrassment about kissing Kaldra in front of everyone, but the good thing about this conversation was that it took a lot of attention. If he simply avoided mentioning it, they might not be so irked about it anymore - even though he hadn't looked for their reactions, it was easy enough to guess that his behavior had been annoying. And rightly so, he had to admit. They were good enough people, he thought, that they wouldn't mind the idea of the relationship, but picking such a public place to show their affection (and not for the first time) was rather harder to get away with.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSun 13 Jan 2013, 9:19 pm

Rivulets of water meandered down the surface of Kaldra’s ebony scales, trailing through the lines created by muscular composition and faint scars left from years ago. A good number were minute scratches running from an inch to three inches long. But they were mainly from her first ungainly attempts at flight in her toddler years, so no concern necessary. Two weights wrapped around her neck, two warm brands, her own special suns that spread their touch over the surrounding peaks and valleys of her neck and shoulders. It was a glorious sensation.

His scent filled her nostrils, the scent of… home. It was the rolling hills of Yellowstone, the calling of the birds, the creaking trees of the glades; it was nature at its most beautiful. She could sense the scrapes of his earlier tumble as his body leaned into hers. But then, it all halted. The sound of a voice shooting through their soundless song like a discordant note ended it.

Tem pulled his paws away and rested them on her shoulders. The change in position allowed her an encompassing view of those speaking. Aelirsa’s comment about the interview’s failings brought her ire forth, but Ev spoke up in defense of how it had been handled and how things should be handled in the future. He had certainly grown stronger in himself, although the stuttering was still evident, it didn’t stop him from voicing exactly what he thought. Good for him.

She waited for the others to say how they felt and said, “I agree with bits of what everyone has said.”

“I do see how going ‘too soft’ on the witnesses could impede our hopes for gathering intel, however, I also see how becoming too harsh could cause even more suspicion to surround our movements. Keep in mind, our group is now out on the internet for all to see, so those we are trying to gather information from, if they are as against us as Aelirsa believes, may very well have been forewarned.”

She paused nervously clicking her claws a few times, “We must simply try to come off as civil as possible. People are more likely to open up when they feel they are being respected and treated fairly.”

Like Tem, the realization of how they’d both acted in full view of their companions had sunk in. Embarrassment coiled around her thoughts, effectively shrouding them in self-doubt. She had spoken earlier of trying not to get lost in each other’s eyes and keeping the rest of the group as a top priority, yet had gone and done exactly that, lost herself in Tem.

~~~~~

The rumble of voices disturbed Aressa’s almost-slumber.

“I can only treat this as a conspiracy, we cannot afford to let the only witnesses stop us in our tracks every time we catch up.”

Of course those creatures are consorting with own, the lying little… stop.

But it would be so simple; just track down a witness without many companions and then corner them if they fight back and force them to divulge the secrets they’re hiding!


Aressa’s eyelids twitched, the only sign that she was awake. Well, unless Aelirsa could pick up on the fact that her breathing wasn’t as slow as that of a sleeping person (or dragoness).

“…aggression isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

Agate had franticly pleaded with her to realize that not all humans were as vindictive as her Master had been. However, these current humans were impeding the group’s investigation and, quite frankly, were rubbing her entirely the wrong way in the manners they went about doing so. Considering the point her patience was at as a sort of starting point, lessening it further was a poor move indeed on the part of said humans.

She opened her eyes at Aelirsa’s suggestion that she merely observe the next interview in order to better examine the mannerisms of the subject they were interrogating. Perhaps she should follow suit. Or better yet, maybe she should just wait outside. With her past so close to the surface, she couldn’t be certain herself how she would react to another antagonistic, unhelpful, disgusting… stop.

Straightening up, she said, voice slightly less hoarse than earlier, “I think I’ll just wait outside for the next interview.”
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 21 Jan 2013, 5:02 pm

Tem was mostly expecting Aelirsa to speak next, so he turned his head toward Kaldra, intrigued, when she began talking instead. He was happy to hear what she said, since it was prudent and wise, he felt, as well as mostly in agreement with his own thoughts - although her reminder about the internet exposure did send a little jolt of anxiety through him. Good of her to consider more facts than I did...Aelirsa could be a little more reasonable, then. Still, he smiled at Kaldra's last statement. Hers was definitely the route he preferred: getting what they needed by gentleness rather than hostility. With it, they'd leave comfortable cooperators in their wake instead of wary enemies, and if it wasn't already clear after refusing to abandon Aressa, he put sentimental value in taking the kinder option as well.

While Tem was formulating something to say, Aressa announced that she wouldn't participate in the next encounter. He thought briefly. Part of him would have liked to let her feel more included, but mostly he would rather go along with her preferences - no telling what it might do to the poor unstable luong if she was pressured with anything against her wishes. He nodded, "Okay, whatever you're more comfortable with, Aressa." He hoped his expression looked friendly enough.

He turned back to Aelirsa and, after several seconds, found what to say. "I agree with Kaldra," he started, unable to help smiling at the thought of her. "Like I was saying before, we should be diplomatic instead of aggressive. I don't want a bunch of people feeling threatened as we go; whether they're in on a conspiracy or not, that could mean a lot of trouble for us. We can get forceful if it starts looking necessary, but by no means should we start off that way."

He nodded very slightly, satisfied with what he'd said. He was relieved that Kaldra felt much the same as he did. They could have talked it out if she hadn't, but still, it saved them both some strife that they probably didn't need right now. One of his foreclaws stayed on her shoulder, but he let the other slide down her foreleg and grasp her paw for about the fiftieth time. He kept his tail tightly wound with hers. He had plenty of emotions left to digest, so, resting his head against her side, he took some time to ponder with his eyes closed.

We just kissed almost as passionately as we did at the river, in front of everybody, and it probably seemed anywhere from an overreaction to completely at random, depending on how much they were listening. So...why don't I feel more ashamed? True, his face was approaching ignition point, but he quite frankly would have expected himself to be shrinking down in humiliation and staying nervously silent in an attempt to draw as much attention away from himself as he could. Was it what Aelirsa said? It had definitely helped to suddenly have a discussion he fervently wanted to add to - something to distract him and maybe everyone else. It was also relieving that Kaldra didn't seem to have a problem with the water. Still, the most obvious explanation hung over him. I've stopped caring how much they see. Something in me is telling me not to be ashamed of affection...not when we have such bigger problems, not when I honestly feel everything I'm expressing to Kaldra.

That was very likely. What was less clear was how he should feel about the change. Maybe I should be ashamed...I'm going to such an extreme, and they definitely don't want to see it....But then, assertiveness is empowering too. How much does a little sight like that matter in the face of everything else? Is it more important to do all of them a courtesy or to keep Kaldra and myself satisfied? But although the questions came easily, the answers didn't.

He squeezed her paw a little, thoughts meandering down a slightly different direction. We obviously have a lot of...energy for each other. As if to confirm it, he tightened his tail's hold on Kaldra's, only half-voluntarily, and enjoyed the warm touch of her black scales and the slight tingle of her electric spikes. We're supposed to keep it down with the others around, but it never works. How to lessen the pressure their desires put on them? We need a big chunk of time to ourselves, time to just be together and get it out of our systems, but with the investigation on, we'll most likely have to wait until we stop for the night at the earliest. He was unhappy about that, but he wanted to see this task through almost as ardently as he wanted time with the dragoness at his side. Besides, it would be important for both of them to develop that kind of emotional strength. Tem just hoped he would actually manage it.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSat 02 Feb 2013, 1:48 pm

Keeping his gaze pointed between his feet the entire time, Ev nodded shamefully each time Aelirsa finished a sentence. Some of her points sounded odd after a moment of thought, particularly the idea that 'victims must be forced to do things for their own safety,' but he didn't dare argue for fear of disrupting the closer relationship they had developed a matter of minutes ago during their conversation outside the alley. If only I'd remembered that before I snapped at her.... Ev's face burned with regret, even though parts of his mind still questioned the wisdom of the ice dragoness's advice.

He only half-listened to Tem's response until, to his total surprise, he realized that the water dragon was actually taking his side. Wait, what? He looked up at Tem and lifted his eyebrows in amazement. The little Luong didn't think he could speak emotionally and reasonably at the same time, yet now someone else was supporting exactly what he said. Hm... I still think I was too mean about it, he reflected as Kaldra began presenting her opinion, but maybe I really did have a good point. Ev felt more confident in that conclusion when Kaldra agreed that the group should be 'as civil as possible.'

Thinking of the recent connection he had made with Aelirsa, though, he felt bad about teaming up against her. Didn't she say she had trouble saying things the right way, like me? Maybe this is another one of those moments, and she didn't express her actual opinions quite right. He didn't know very much for certain about the enigmatic dragoness, but he was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt after she had done her best to help him and Aressa.

"Um... yeah, I think they're right," Ev began, looking rather apologetically at Aelirsa. "Being civil, um, does seem like it would work best.... But thank you for, um, offering your opinion. It's, um... helpful to have you thinking so fully about this." After an awkward pause of trying to figure out what else to elaborate on, he continued, "Um, I guess you can stay back and observe, if you want... oh, and you too, Aressa."

Ev meant everything he said, but he realized a moment afterward that 'thank you for offering your opinion' was the typical consolation given to people whose advice wouldn't be used. He really hoped the standard phrase wouldn't make his words seem more hollow.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeFri 08 Feb 2013, 10:34 pm

Aressa nodded in acknowledgement of Tem’s words. It would be best if she stayed out of the most intimate parts of the investigation, at least for now. She simply wasn’t built for the artful methods necessary for interrogating a possible witness without actually seeming like she was interrogating them. It just wasn’t who she was, nor was it how she was raised (if you could call it that).

“Thank you.”

She remained silent after that and sat like an obedient statue observing the conversation of the group, ears twitching as they followed the sounds of their voices as her azure eyes observed their body language. It was intriguing, all of these interactions, so carefully well-mannered.

~~~~~

Kaldra tilted her head slightly at Aressa’s request, a tingling sense of worry twisting her gut at the honest admission that something just wasn’t right. Sure, the past events had made that plain as sunlight on a cloudless day to all of them, but the ice dragoness didn’t seem like the type to… admit something like that. It was just a request to wait outside, but it bespoke uneasiness and doubt. Tem had already spoken up by this point, going along with Aressa, so she nodded her head once as well.

Speaking of a tingling feeling, she could feel something akin to sparks travelling over the tips of her spines, all originating from one spot, namely her foreclaw. Peering down without moving her head, a flash of teeth glimmered between her lips. Tem was resting his paw protectively over hers once again. Little things like that got her, reminded her of why she’d fallen for him. For that’s what she’d done in reality; tumbled straight into his ocean eyes, gotten utterly lost in the benevolence that filled his being to the brim, and reveled in it. It was glorious. It was also quite consuming, seeing as she’d managed to lose her focus completely in mere seconds. Pulling out of her thoughts, she discovered that she’d been staring openly into his eyes. Shuffling her wing self-consciously, she looked over at the others.

Did they notice that?

Mind wandering, Kaldra found herself pondering how her mother had felt when she’d encountered the dragon who would become her husband all those years ago. Had it been like this for her? The world had been embroiled in conflict then too, albeit of a slightly different nature. Now that she thought about it, maybe it hadn’t been all that different in the end. Back then the dragons and humans had been distrustful and vengeful towards each other. Now they appeared to be falling into that territory again, after so many years of progress. They were regressing.

But there are still bits of mutual understanding… at least, I hope there are.

Murderers were universally despised and that was what whoever (or whatever) killed Aurnia was. Taking a morsel of comfort in that thought, she leaned into Tem’s reassuring warmth. A part of her yearned for time for just the two of them. They could speak freely, love honestly, express all of the emotions they’d been containing. But that would have to wait, at this period of time the investigation had to come first, however much she might inwardly long for that not to be the truth.

Focused back onto the information-searching the group should be doing, she said, “Yes, thank you, Aelirsa. Thank you, everyone,” she paused briefly to organize her thoughts, “We should probably start considering our next course of action, now that we’re on the subject.”

((Well, that got a bit longer than I intended. I tried to ease along the plot at the end.))
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeTue 19 Feb 2013, 2:17 am

Tem was still leaning his head against Kaldra, like he'd been doing for all of his most recent thinking break, when Ev's voice prompted his eyes back open. He raised his head, keeping one of his paws on Kaldra's claws, but moving his other foreclaw from her shoulder to farther down her foreleg. He took his time sliding his fingers across the rich texture of her dark scales to get there.

Although poor Ev stuttered as usual, Tem was satisfied to hear that he agreed as well - Aelirsa's idea wasn't quite the best option, but her input was valued regardless. Wondering if there was anything he could add, Tem didn't notice that he was already looking at Kaldra again until she returned his gaze, meeting his bright blue eyes with her pure red ones. After a quick blink, he continued staring into the crimson depths, half-aware of the emotions they were stirring within him. They're creepy on their own, aren't they? If he tried to imagine them on a more menacing dragon...yes, they were intimidating, even to him. But they belonged to Kaldra, the sweet dragoness with whom he shared an unforgettable bond, and if he stopped forming other pictures in his mind, the eyes didn't scare him at all. But is it just because they're on her? Does everything else about her make me ignore what would be a negative? Have I actually accepted those eyes...without pupils, colored like blood? Or would I prefer something else...

The strange thoughts that had hardly begun to form dissipated instantly once Kaldra turned away self-consciously. Tem did the same. Of course I'm fine with her eyes. When have I ever found anything wrong with her? Things always got more difficult when he went deeper, though, closer to less conscious, controlled feelings.

After a matter of seconds, Kaldra leaned into him warmly. He smiled instantly, unashamed to do that much, however concerned he was about sinking into her gaze so easily. It's not even a bad thing, in and of itself! It's just that the situation demands that it wait. No wonder it's so tough to get my crazy brain to cooperate for a while.... Then Kaldra began speaking, which grabbed his attention. He nodded a little when she brought up what the group should do next. Yes, best not to wait any longer.

"I agree. I'm not sure what else we can do besides investigate another missing person, so I propose we do that. We can look at Kaden's list again." His eyes flicked to the food bag, which he knew wasn't empty yet. "Oh, and while we do, anyone else who'd like some food can help themselves." He added a welcoming smile as he gestured to the bag with a foreclaw.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSun 03 Mar 2013, 3:48 am

Ev couldn't help feeling relieved when Tem and Kaldra moved the discussion away from Aelirsa, since he was afraid the ice dragoness might resent his disagreement with her even after he had attempted to console her. He hoped moving on with the investigation would help divert attention from the argument until he could think of how to deal with its worst-case aftermath.

Then again, Ev was also reluctant to leave the alley since he would also be leaving behind an incredible chance to be so close to Kaden. Or could I just walk beside her afterward? No, that would probably seem weird... too clingy, or something like that. I think she just came over here as a nice little gesture anyway... nothing major enough to justify me staying with her the whole way, probably not even saying anything, just looking up at her all nervously and weirdly. Ugh, that would ruin everything. He shook his head and closed his eyes for a moment, not wanting to think about destroying their tenuous mini-friendship through his typical awkwardness. Come on, get your thoughts back to the investigation.

As he mentally went back through Tem's words, Ev recalled that they actually knew of one missing person without having the check the list. "Oh! What about - er, what was his - oh, Luis DeLeon? The kid we saw a flyer for earlier? We never ended up looking into that, did we? I, uh, don't remember the address or phone number or whatever it had, but, uh...." he trailed off. He was instantly worried that speaking out without thinking beforehand might have caused him a problem yet again. At least he couldn't find anything glaring in what he said this time. Oh, but Kaden has the list, and I cut in before she checked it... will that be bad? Hopefully not.... At best, I may have saved her the trouble of getting it out, but that's only if she would consider it trouble....

At this point, even Ev was getting tired of making such complicated deliberations, especially while holding back his poison. You know, these guys have probably realized by now that I'm hopeless at speaking coherently, so maybe I don't need to worry so much about messing up every time. It is still best to think about what I'm going to say when I'm trying to cheer someone up or talk about something important, though, because I'll probably offend them by accident if I'm not careful. And yet I do need to speak up quickly to get what I want, so I often can't do that.... Ugh, there I go again already, trying to puzzle out the best thing to do. I really am hopeless.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 11 Mar 2013, 7:40 pm

Tem was browsing among the assembled dragons for a response when Ev gave a sudden enough "Oh!" to make the water dragon flinch slightly and swing his head back in that direction. As soon as Ev said the boy's name, Tem remembered that he'd been vaguely thinking about that possibility himself. I've been curious about that little loose end.

He nodded in agreement. "You're right; that's a good idea," he said, keeping his tone encouraging in case Ev felt badly about trailing off. In a strangely impulsive decision, Tem added, "I'll come and take a look at the list for you, Kaden; no worries." He gave Kaldra a nice, firm paw-squeeze with a smile, and then before he knew it, he was on his feet, taking the few strides necessary to get him up to Kaden. Luckily, he could get a glimpse of the list right at the top of her bag; it would have been awkward to have to dig around in there. He opened the bag as lightly as he could and slipped it out with relative ease, though he still felt uneasy about rushing into Kaden's possessions. Is there any kind of effort I'm actually saving her? Well...hopefully they'll interpret this as chivalrous anyway....

Whatever the case, he had the list in hand now, so he might as well be quick about his work. He sat on his haunches and hastily scanned the paper for Luis's name. "Here we go..." He read the address aloud. "I might know this street. I think some part of it is near the library." Well, if he could be useful in that way, it might make his weird move go over better with everyone. "If no one has a pressing reason to stay here, it's probably best to set out as soon as we can. We seem to agree that giving more time to whatever's against us isn't the best idea...." He frowned a little and felt heat rush into his cheeks. Now he was in the middle of everyone after doing something a little strange, and Aelirsa, with her injured leg, had just come to mind again. Was it best to stay still for her sake? She seemed intent, perhaps stubborn, about pressing on, at least, even if her condition was more dubious.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 01 Apr 2013, 1:45 am

She didn't need further hints to realize that they carried a rather different mindset to her own. Perhaps they were right to play things safe for now, but if they continued to meet with failure... A time would come where they had to step up their game, then they would see how her plan would be more effective. It would come, just not right now of course. Aressa seemed to be the one most likely to agree, but there was always a use for remaining silent. If she went along for now, it would help her to avoid future confrontations like that.

So, her mouth remained firmly closed. Aressa herself had changed positions, for whatever reason she didn't consider important enough to ask for. Tem seemed eager to get moving again anyway. Aelirsa couldn't quite decide if she wanted to as well, or not. Whatever trouble her leg might give didn't concern her a great deal. Pain was tolerable, being ignored wasn't.

Her hind paws gripped tightly onto the ground with a slight grate. The uninjured paw did the same, allowing all three legs to push her back up without slipping accidentally. This time she allowed her other paw to rest on the ground, but made sure to avoid putting weight on it. "Let's go then. If, of course everyone else is also ready." She remained by Aressa's side while awaiting the response.

The other dragoness she could trust. They had similarities far deeper than the surface. Aressa probably didn't know all of them, it didn't matter too much. At least there was one she was absolutely sure would back her up in any situation.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 22 Apr 2013, 2:33 am

As if on cue, Aelirsa stood just when Tem's wandering, slightly nervous gaze had settled back on her. He smiled slightly, satisfied that she was more or less able and definitely willing to walk despite her injury.

He nodded in affirmation at her prompt to go. Since she had the most reason to wish to stay in one place, Tem was now fairly confident that the group was ready enough to move on. Looking around and seeing nothing pressing going on with any of them, he would have been a little surprised if anyone else had objected to leaving the alley.

He turned his head forward again, took in the address one more time, and then began to put the list back. "Thanks, Kaden," he said, with a friendly but slightly apologetic smile and another little nod. He tried to be as careful as possible when returning the list to the air dragoness' bag. He winced a little when, despite his efforts, he scrunched it against her other things at first, but he was able to slip it in without further trouble once he folded it in half. With a nervous grin, he closed the bag again and quite eagerly pulled his clumsy claws well away from it.

As far as Tem could see, there was nothing to do now but head there - whatever was left in the food bag could be eaten on the move - so he, too, rose to his feet. "Since the street runs next to the library," he announced, "I'm pretty sure I can get us to Luis' house. Unless anyone has a pressing reason to stay here, we can head out immediately." He turned his head to the exit from the alley, listening and water-sensing for any activity beyond their little alcove.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSun 28 Apr 2013, 11:25 pm

Kaldra gave a quick paw-squeeze in answer as Tem stood up to glance at the flyer about Luis DeLeon. Finding another person to check into was a good move at this point, staying too long in this alleyway would be detrimental. It caused too much inactivity and as a result left too much empty silences in which minds could stray onto less-than-helpful avenues.

As he spoke up about the address and its proximity to the library – helpful, as it meant that they wouldn’t have to risk getting their images out even more by stopping for directions – she noticed Aelirsa getting to her feet. She seemed largely steady, although there was a slight lightness visible in how she held the injured limb, as if she were avoiding pressuring it unnecessarily. It was understandable and she trusted that Aressa would give the ice dragoness aid. The two appeared to have become close in their short time together.

With a quick shake of her tail to loosen up, Kaldra got to her feet, strolling over until she stood alongside Tem.

“As soon as everyone is ready, we should head out. Make sure to stay close, just in case there’s been any commotion since the electronics store… incident.”

~~~~~

Aressa’s ear twitched as Aelirsa’s claws grated quietly against the pavement as she made her way to her feet, steadily as she was heartened to see. She felt a kinship with this ice western, a kinship deeper than the fragile connection of their shared elemental affinities. They were similar in the parts that truly mattered; their temperaments, their inward scars, their slowness to trust.

She got to her feet as well, carefully easing to the side so that she stood next to Aelirsa’s injured limb, should the dragoness require support. She would be too… well, prideful probably wasn’t the right term, but still she would not outright ask for assistance. It was not in her nature to rely upon others. Moving to provide assistance was Aressa’s quiet way of showing thanks for earlier and providing a brand of repayment.

Her tail lashed once, ears swiveling, searching out any noises that didn’t mesh smoothly with their surroundings. Kaldra’s comment about the incident had brought buried fears to the surface. With that violent outburst earlier, she had likely put herself back on the DoD’s radar, which was not a good place to be for someone trying to remain on this side of their building.

If this next investigation didn’t end fruitfully, Aressa decided she might just leave this group. This group empathized far too much with humans to outright accuse them of lying, they lacked her knowledge of the innate evil within all humans, however those humans tried to conceal it beneath thin smiles and empty niceties. They lacked the conviction to do whatever was necessary to get the answers they needed.

For now, she would follow them quietly and not become embroiled in the actual investigated. Artfully crafted questions weren’t her style.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeWed 12 Jun 2013, 7:31 pm

Dan? What could that mean? Does it stand for something? Is it on the list? Kaden mulled it over in her head. Then she frowned. His phone? His phone... Didn’t Tom say...?

Her eyes narrowed when Aelirsa said that they mustn’t take excuses “paws-down.” Did she have any idea how hard this was? If they acted suspicious, then they’d never find the killers of Aurnia!

But then, to her surprise, Ev refuted Aelirsa’s claim. He ended it with his usual sheepishness, of course, but for that one moment, she’d felt...proud of him? Happy? Ugh, there was no telling.

She remained silent for the time being, continuing to think and listen. What could it mean?

She was disturbed from her thoughts when Tem suddenly snatched the list from her bag. Wait, what? She looked around for a bit, but no one really seemed to mind. He must’ve asked first, then. Man, I’m out of it today!

Everyone seemed to be preparing to leave now--for Luis Deleon’s? Ah, hadn’t Ev mentioned that earlier?

She nodded, but Kaden couldn’t help but think that going after the magician would be more helpful, giving the list one last glance before she stuffed it back into her bag. Maybe she should’ve mentioned it after all, but then again...she didn’t really want to crush Ev’s idea.

She could plod along for now.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeSun 23 Jun 2013, 3:41 pm

From where they were starting currently, the walk/flight to Luis' neighborhood took roughly fifteen minutes. Single-story brick houses on quarter-acre lots lined both sides of the street, the occasional old car (most being around ten years old) parked out front. A dog they passed started barking at them when they got to the next house over and didn't stop barking after that. Luis' house wasn't too hard to find; it was about two-thirds of the way down the street, with a blue bike sitting on the porch. The curtains moved subtly as someone peeked through to see what was causing the ruckus. Seeing a roving band of dragons evidently wasn't what they were hoping for.

From a few doors down, the barking dog went quiet with a yelp.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 24 Jun 2013, 3:50 pm

Just because the street ran next to the library didn't mean it was awfully close; it was a bit of a long road. The library was only hazily visible in the distance once the group was at the house. As they had passed Junehall, Tem had glanced over to see if someone might have noticed the signs of their little sleepover in the basement, but he hadn't seen anyone moving around outside, nor was the shelter-like outdoor entrance open. He hoped it was a good sign. Maybe we can stay there again tonight.

Although he was walking, he flapped his wings nervously now that he had finally spotted the house number written on the list. He hadn't flown much on the way there, but he didn't mind the extra time. Only on the street could he read the addresses easily, and staying low was a little less conspicuous besides.

He turned his head with incredibly obvious concern contorting his scaly brows when he heard the dog's barking silenced. That's a bad omen if there ever was one...but we didn't come here to be scared off by dogs.

He came to a stop and looked over the house while he took a deep breath to collect himself. When he could see that the group was more or less assembled in front of the house, he moved his gaze over each of them, inevitably lingering on Kaldra first, before apprehensively getting out the question, "Should I go up, or does someone else want to?" He suddenly remembered the electronics store and added, "In fact, more than one of us can go at once." It eased his still-visible nervousness to know that if he did do the talking this time, he probably wouldn't be alone...and it also helped to look at Kaldra a little longer, mustering a faint smile. She always made things seem brighter.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 24 Jun 2013, 5:10 pm

When you’re a dragon of air, walking can get a little tiresome after awhile, but Kaden said nothing as she traipsed along. A dog they passed by started barking, and she promptly shot it an irritated glare. Really, did it have to bark? No.

But they finally reached the house they were looking for. Kaden sat down in the midst of the group, straining to look at the house while trying her best to not look suspicious to any onlookers. She could see curtains move in the window. She noticed the blue bicycle and realized, with a small pang of sadness, that it was probably the missing kid’s bike.

When the dog yelped from a distance, she whipped her head around to look. Okay, okay, calm down. What’s got you so jumpy, Kaden? Its owner probably took it inside, or told it to shut up, or...whatever. Doesn’t matter.

She reflected on Tem’s offer for others to join him on going up to the door, but stayed silent. She could wait this one out and leave the investigation of doom to the others for now.

Well, if no one volunteers, I guess I could go... she thought reluctantly, craning her head to look around at the other dragons. Tem did look pretty nervous about going alone. Or if Ev goes, I guess... She turned a little red under her scales. Where the heck had that stupid thought come from? Well, duh, of course. Ev was so meek, she kind of felt like she should look after him. Yeah. That was...probably it.

Maybe.

But it would be so much better to stay outside, where she could keep an eye out for anything suspicious. She’d been pretty pathetic during the interview (Or maybe it was an interrogation?) of Tom, anyway.

Okay, admit it. You’re still edgy about that dumb dog. Ugh. She continued to occasionally glance over her shoulder at the direction of the dog, but otherwise did nothing.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 9 I_icon_minitimeMon 24 Jun 2013, 9:41 pm

Ev didn't mind the walk, even with the soreness in his legs. He was scared of trying to duplicate his first success with flying, and of course, he could stay closer to Kaden on the ground. Not that he was really close to her during the trip; he restricted himself to the back and side of the group to avoid troubling anyone with his poison, as usual. Still, he hovered behind Kaden when he could, hoping it wouldn't seem out of place after she herself had gone so close to him in the alley.

Since Ev didn't recognize Junehall in the daytime, couldn't quite remember the address they needed, and was busy with his thoughts anyway, he didn't realize they were close to their destination until Tem stopped outside one of the many similar-looking houses around them. He almost bumped into Kaden before he noticed that the group was coming to a halt. The little Luong blinked to get his thoughts back in order.

He saw the bike in front of the house, which must have been Luis's. It reminded him of how important it was for them to find these missing persons. We can't bring Aurnia back... but maybe we can help repair some other lives. Ev looked solemnly down for a moment, struck by the group's equally divided opportunity and responsibility in seeking out the dragon queen's killers. Then he took a quick breath and looked back up. Hmph. Leave it to me to make a simple thing so serious....

He also noticed the dog's barking again - which had faded to white noise after annoying him a little when it started - just in time to hear it cut off with a yelp. Alarmed, he snapped his head toward the sound's source as Kaden, Tem, and probably most of the others did. Apprehension and fear filled him as he instantly imagined the monsters from the forest closing in, dispatching obstacles like the dog along the way....

Whoa, settle down, he chided himself. That could have just been the owner being rough. Or a lot of other things. Nothing is going to attack us while we're all together, in the middle of a neighborhood, in broad daylight. Ev released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding, some of his tension draining out of him. Still, he couldn't shake all of his suspicion. He was wary of potential threats now, and he glanced around for anything unusual while Tem asked who would go inside.

Ev was more than reluctant to enter another delicate speaking situation, yet for some reason he always felt a little guilty about doing nothing whenever someone asked for volunteers. At least he had pretty good reasons this time: everyone knew how nervous conversations made him by now, and his contribution to the last interview hadn't exactly worked. He avoided Tem's gaze, hoping the water dragon and the others would understand his silence.

Then he noticed that Kaden was still looking back toward where the dog had been interrupted, seeming worried. Feeling a surge of protectiveness, Ev decided that keeping watch outside might relieve some of her anxiety. He was so glad to have a way to help her that, as no one had answered Tem yet, he found the courage to speak up. "I... I think I'll stay outside. If... something bad comes by, I can... warn you guys, or... maybe delay it with my poison. Um, not that that's, uh, very likely, but, uh... you know... just in case..." His voice grew quieter and quieter until he trailed off like he often did.

Right after he said it, Ev remembered that Aelirsa and Aressa planned to sit out the next questioning as well. Aelirsa wanted to observe how they went about it, which he took to mean that she would probably enter or stay close to the house anyway, but being left near either of the ice dragonesses worried him. They were both so... intense, he wasn't sure how they would treat his typical meekness, especially when he had been the one to challenge Aelirsa's ideas about their investigation. He felt bad about distrusting his fellow group members, but he still didn't feel completely comfortable around Aressa, who was the most likely to join him. Well, she has gotten better already... just look at this as a chance to get to know more about her, whether she talks with you or not. It shouldn't be so bad. And if something really does come after us, she'll be great to have in a fight. He would have to be content with that.

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