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 COA III: The new IC

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Lyric
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 26 Jun 2012, 2:41 am

That stubborn bulge in her throat persisted until, like as with a broken dam, the torrent-like tears tumbled down scaly terrain of Agate’s face. Shooting stars they were, crashing to Earth.

The half-blood exchanged her waterlogged gaze between Aelirsa, Tem, and Kaldra. By this point, Agate was producing such an abundance of tears that windshield-wipers would be required if she wished to actually see clearly.

“Th--thank you,” she stuttered, wiping away an army of tears that would just be replaced a moment later with more. “To know that there are people who actually care... Thank you.” The dragon-girl’s smile was weak, yet it was there--earnest and eternally grateful.

Upon Aelirsa’s offer to aid the hybrid, Agate shuddered, then replied, “Yes. I figure I’ll need all the help I can get, especially with a dragoness like that.” In her mind, Agate scanned over a list of all the bullies who had ever picked on her, whether it was because of her tentative personality, dual parentage, academic gifts, or all the above. She shivered when she stopped at Aressa’s name. She was without a doubt the worst of them all. Her vibes that screamed, “You shall perish with your insides frozen over!”, were terrible enough. But it was the fact that the hybrid knew she could easily act on those vibes that scared Agate out of her scales. Yes, it was quite comforting that Aelirsa would be looking out for Agate.

Yet, worry stained the warm, mink blanket of comfort. Bullies feast on the weak, and the weakness of a victim is amplified when they became so pathetic they require the protection of stronger individuals. True, bullies leave their victims alone under such protection. However, the moment the guardian leaves, the bully strikes, even more relentlessly so. Agate’s gratitude for the three dragons was immense, but that didn’t change the fact that the Sweet Dreams Fairy would not be arriving tonight.

Still weeping, Agate thought to herself how ironic it was that those young years were also filled with tears. However, they weren’t born from the eyes of Agate. They were her mother’s tears. Avalon may have promised and given her a new life, Aurnia’s consumption transforming her into a dragon. Nonetheless, although they tried, they were unable to change the timid, awkward, depressed woman within. Agate provided her mother a shoulder to cry on.

The start of school brought forth taunts from many, and the dragon-girl needed more than ever the shoulder of her own mother and the favor returned.

But she wasn’t there, being too preoccupied with their expanding family.

Agate exhaled with a sigh that weighed more than Jupiter. She was willing to leave the Morning Spark now, with her final cinnamon roll clutched tightly in her paw. Although, it seemed Aressa needed to discuss something in private with Kaldra.

They’ve all been so kind to me, Agate reminded herself. So of course Kaldra and Aressa deserve some privacy with... whatever may be at hand.

She nodded to Tem. She joined this group of dragons for a reason, didn’t she? Yes, together they will dust away her grandmother’s mysterious murder and uncover a bastion of fact. And Agate was determined to be apart of that.


Last edited by Lyric on Sun 15 Jul 2012, 12:13 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 26 Jun 2012, 3:10 am

Aelirsa nodded, putting her arm softly around Agate's shoulders. Tears she understood quite well. Tears she had frozen to deny herself the pain that came with them, and the relief following. The latter never seemed to outweigh the former. Now was her chance to make up for the times she had shunned her emotions, perhaps it was her cold attitude that led to her birth in her current aspect. Another example of the power of the mind over the body.

Removing a napkin from the nearby dispenser, she carefully dried Agate's face with immense care. "You're a really sweet kid, who just needs a little understanding." Handing her a clean napkin, she ran her paw along her feathers. "We all have our faults and our advantages. The challenge is to accept both, something..." I'm yet to achieve myself...

She hugged Agate again, glancing at the pair. "Yes, we should return to the investigation, nothing helps to lift the spirits more than playing detective. Come what may, something has brought us together for a good reason, we're all to play an important part in this." Cupping her paws together, she breathed into them for a few moments.

Keeping one hand cupped, she reached for a water bottle and poured it in, blowing again. Satisfied with her work, she uncupped her hands to display a small ornament, shaped like a glistening Quetzalcoatl. She passed it to Agate with care. "It is frozen in such a way that it will not melt under normal circumstances. The chain will require a little more time to fashion, I feel that I am partly responsible for introducing your current discomfort, and I should do my best to relieve it."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 26 Jun 2012, 3:37 am

Tem lowered his head for a second upon seeing Agate's profound reaction to the group's offer to stay with her, feeling both bashful at witnessing so many sudden tears and quietly satisfied just underneath at having drawn such gratitude from someone through his words. It made him feel warm inside that his caring had touched her so deeply, and it reminded him distinctly of Kaldra's feelings, though he couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness as well since he could only imagine how much pain Agate must have endured in order to feel so grateful for such a relatively small gesture.

Much of his attention turned to Aelirsa once the ice dragoness started speaking to Kaldra, the formality still seeming no less odd to him. Then, taking him completely by surprise, Kaldra asked him and Agate to return to Fry's separately from her and Aelirsa. With his somewhat-widened eyes pointed straight into Kaldra's, he noticed the lengthy gaze she gave him and wondered what it meant. Hm? She's telling me something, I think, but what? Is it a passionate gaze, like she'd rather not have me leave, or...

"Um..." he got out awkwardly, as if to tell everyone in the least impressive way possible that he was busy thinking on the issue. His gaze fell to the table as he took a moment to turn Kaldra's request over in his head. ...no, it didn't look yearning...I don't think....No, more like...like she was trying to show me some...strength? Resolve? Like she'll...

Of course that was it - the answer seemed obvious to Tem now. She knows me so well already! She wants me to know she'll be all right. And he'd definitely been worried about that. In fact, it was still the biggest issue in his mind. I can't just leave her here! We can't just split up all of a sudden! If I want to show I care, I'll stick by her side...right?

Then he imagined how that might go over - him hanging around because he insisted on it while Kaldra had a conversation with Aelirsa that one or both of the dragonesses might well prefer to keep more private. No, that isn't right. What does it say about me if I can't leave her to herself - no, not even that; with one companion instead of three - for what will probably be a tiny amount of time, in a place packed full of potential witnesses to whatever might try to hurt her? If I truly care about her, then I'll respect her wishes.

He raised his head back up, saw Agate nod her readiness to him, and then turned to Kaldra again. She'd better be right about being right behind us, or I'm going to be worried sick for this whole trip. "All right, since it looks like Agate's ready, we can go on ahead. Might as well check on them a little earlier, right?" He gave a little smile with his last sentence, hoping to stay positive. And hopefully it'll give me a chance to get to know more about Agate. He tried not to dwell on his fears, but he couldn't help but let some apprehension creep into him about what might be waiting for them outside.

Just then Aelirsa did exactly what Tem had not been expecting, showing an extreme amount of care for Agate all of a sudden. Come to think of it, the brief lack of formality was even more odd, at least coming from her. He watched with keen interest as she formed a beautiful ice ornament that she apparently intended to add a chain to. Tem was surprised, to say the least. It flickered through his thoughts that what Aelirsa had done could actually have passed for a show of deep personal affection, but it so outpaced even his and Kaldra's ludicrously fast relationship that he discounted the notion. She just wants to "relieve" her "discomfort," apparently.

He registered a second or two later that Aelirsa had used a water bottle, which he gladly used his abilities to pull into his claw, and then he raised it to his mouth and drank. The thirst he'd accumulated from the bland rolls ebbed away wonderfully.

It took him until then to remember that he still had a bag of rolls to take to the group at Fry's - he definitely wouldn't forget to take that with him. Kaldra's paw clasped in his, he found himself holding tight and taking in the texture of her black scales more intently than he might have expected. Then, after pushing through a mountain of reluctance, he let go. Just for now, he assured himself. He grabbed the bag in his left claw and climbed out of his seat, holding the bag above the ground while he stood three-legged. He looked up at Kaldra and couldn't help but smile upon seeing her face. "See you soon." A few steps away from the table, he paused for Agate and looked back, letting her take what time she needed in response to Aelirsa's surprising gesture.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeWed 27 Jun 2012, 3:11 pm

Kaldra stopped stock still; hand resting in Tem’s closed one. What should she do? She hadn’t planned on causing the young girl to burst into tears. What horrors had she endured to cause such a strong reaction at the mere idea of having someone to stick up for her? Had there been other… yes, there probably had been bullies in the past. Kaldra didn’t mean to judge, but Agate’s rather different appearance likely had acted as a beacon for those searching for someone to exact their inner rage upon. Then again, she’d had experience with that herself, although it had usually ended with the bullies in question fleeing once they saw her eyes.

But that terror won’t last, I will make sure of it… I will be her guardian. It’s what mom would want me to do.

But how should she comfort the weeping dragoness? She might have decided to protect her, but she was no expert on soothing someone. Her mother had been the expert on that subject; she’d had to comfort Kaldra as a youngling when she’d failed on a hunt, hurt her paw climbing the rocks alongside the waterfall, or that one time a mother bear had been none too happy to find a scaly little creature watching her cubs play. The bear had only roared, but that was more than enough to freak out the inquisitive youngling. The corners of Kaldra’s mouth twitched in the sort of brief image of a smile at the memory.

Then Aelirsa did what she could not and comforted Agate, even going so far as to use her abilities to fashion a little statuette for her. That was certainly unexpected. She shrugged, maybe the ice western was finally becoming accustomed to the group and her true personality was beginning to emerge. It was certainly a nice change from the formal and disapproving dragoness she’d appeared to be earlier. They already had enough on their hands, what with the investigation and that mystery of a creature named Aressa.

“That’s… beautiful, Aelirsa,” she said, unable to contain her awe at the little figurine.

She turned to Tem once again, mulling something over in her mind, “I promise we’ll be there in a few minutes, tops. Would you… um, make sure the others are… make sure Aressa is doing alright? She didn’t seem fully at ease when we were together as a full group and I wouldn’t want her… well, I wouldn’t want her to do anything rash at Fry’s.”

We need to get this issue sorted out soon; I can’t keep worrying over our members and watching our back for monsters, eventually I’m gonna miss something.

~~~~~

Aressa glanced behind the group and over at the door they'd entered through. Humans were going in an out, children gurgling in strollers or grasping at items on the lower shelves. Greedy little creatures, humans. She really needed this investigation to hurry up, she couldn't stand being out in the open for so long, much less surrounding by these scale-less... creatures.

Maybe I could say that I'm going out to see if the others are on their way and then sneak off to grab a quick snack... no, too suspicious.

She turned back to Kaden and the human, taking care not to meet the eyes of either. This place was beginning to unnerve her.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeThu 28 Jun 2012, 2:22 am

Miirik wrote:
I guess he looks nice enough. Well, here goes... “We were actually, um, wondering if we could somehow talk about Tom Espinoza’s disappearance.” Kaden kept from wincing in preparation for a possible chewing-out. She glanced behind her, searching for backup.

Instead, she spotted a frowning Aressa, who was tapping a frosty claw on the floor. Was that a sign of impatience from the blank-faced dragon? Apprehension? I haven’t been too slow, have I? The last thing she wanted to do was hinder the group’s progress, but she needed cautious words. Hopefully, Ted wouldn’t kick them out if she was careful.

Tap, tap. Unreadable as always. Why did the ice dragon wear a mask over her emotions? Whatever the reason, it made Kaden curious of what sort of backstory Aressa had.

Her eyes flicked over the rest of the dragons. Come to think of it, she didn’t know much about any of them. Truth be told, after a bit of thought, she decided that this actually gave her a mix of pride and delight. Hey, these were dragons that barely knew each other, working for a common cause!

Noticing this for (embarrassingly) the first time, she was given just a little hope. I need to be more confident. They’re putting their trust in me to handle this. Straightening slightly, she awaited a response from Ted--whether it would be a “Get out” or a chat about Tom’s disappearance.

The man nodded. "Yeah, Tom was my buddy. We'd been working together for the last year or so, but then about a week ago, he went AWOL. I've been worried about him, you know? With all this dragon stuff going on, I don't know if he's safe or..."

As if on schedule, a man walked through the door, buttoning up his shirt collar. His hair was wet, and his nametag read "Tom."

"Hey man, I still got a job?" he asked, looking at Ted.

Ted's jaw almost hit the floor. "But... But... What happened, where did you go? The police were trying to find you, and everything!"

"It's okay. I just had to get my life sorted out for a few days." Then Tom noticed Kaden and the group, and his attention zeroed in on them. His nose twitched, almost as if he were smelling them. His stare practically bored holes in the back of the group's heads. "Can I help you?" he asked most unhelpfully.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeSat 30 Jun 2012, 2:37 am

Once Ev heard that Ted knew the person they were looking for, he listened carefully to the man's answer, knowing that any information they could gather would be helpful. A week ago... so before Aurnia's... He let the thought trail off. But we don't know how long the creatures have been-

He was startled out of his thoughts by another man's voice. He quickly turned his head to look at the newcomer, noticing his name tag before anything else. Wait a minute... 'Tom' as in... the guy we're looking for? He would have dismissed it as wishful thinking, but Ted's reaction left no doubt that Tom Espinoza had indeed resurfaced right then and there.

Ev might have been glad about finding the subject of their search so quickly and easily, but Tom's demeanor was far from welcoming. The intensity of his gaze sent chills down the little Luong's spine. Ev was just starting to think that Tom's behavior wasn't too different from Stackpole's when the man happened to glance at him right as he was looking back. He immediately looked at the floor and took a couple of steps away in an attempt to escape the scrutinizing stare, but after meeting the man's gaze, he dreaded that he had already attracted a lot of Tom's attention.

Oh, God... he'll probably expect me to answer now, or something... Ev feared. It was likely an overreaction, but he tried to form a response anyway. "Uh... w-we... we, uh..." he started feebly. Under the burning stare, he couldn't collect his thoughts well enough to come up with an explanation, especially while fighting to contain his poison against the rising tide of panic that drawing even more attention from Tom was causing.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeSat 30 Jun 2012, 11:47 pm

Aressa felt her mane begin to bristle when the employee, Ted, mentioned how he was worried about Tom because of ‘all of this dragon stuff.’ She fought back a snarl, how dare he blame dragons for the disappearance of this precious Tom! Who knew, maybe the human was dead, killed by one of his own kind? Humans did have a taste for violence, blood, and for the feeling of being in control. They were all power-hungry, no matter how some tried to conceal it. Luckily her eyes only narrowed, no fangs actually began to show. Then Tom, the supposedly-missing man, came walking right through the door, asking if he still had a job.

What the hell?

She looked over at Kaden, eyes narrowed in confusion now.

What… I thought he was missing, possibly dead, some clue into this whole murder mystery that this strange group of dragons has decided to take on. Yet here he is, healthy and not looking all that pleased to see a bunch of dragons in his precious workplace.

With a quick tap of her claw, all the ice that had been coating it disintegrated. Evakylir seemed ill at ease, if the stumbled steps backwards were any indication. He obviously hadn’t been expecting this turn of events. They’d all been so sure of themselves, as confident as humans… and that was not a compliment.

Aressa took a short step towards Kaden, but paused with one paw raised. It met the ground again, but that was the only motion she made. She directed her next words towards the dragoness, tone dark, “Well, you’re in charge. How can he help us?"

This is a waste of time, I could be out there in the city… free of all this, full of food taken from a human wrapped up in their own worth.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeSun 01 Jul 2012, 1:44 am

What? I don’t--What on earth is--!? Kaden thought, completely caught off guard. This wasn’t going to end up like the Stackpole event, except with no ill dragons to vomit, was it?

She leaned forward a bit, scrutinizing him. Was that really Tom? Maybe it was an illusion or something. Was he sniffing the air? His hair was wet, too. Why walk into an electronic store with wet hair, knowing that water and electronics didn’t mix? Her eyes narrowed. Maybe--

Her thoughts were interrupted by Aressa. Oh, gosh, she sounded angry. Really angry. She wasn’t sure which one was scarier--Tom or Aressa. She gulped. Somehow, a feeling that this wouldn’t end well crawled in her throat.

She wasn’t the only one feeling dread. Ev looked even more frightened than she was as he shrank back and stuttered. She could see panic etched on his face.

“We were wondering,” she tried to complete Ev’s response in a casual manner, “if you were sorting out stuff--sir--how come you needed to avoid the police’s attention, too? Ted’s right--they’re looking for you.” Kaden managed to sound a hundred times more confident than she felt, which was a good start. Not that that was saying much about her confidence.

She sniffed the air. Did he smell like trash, too? She observed him as furtively as possible, trying to take as many mental notes as possible.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeSun 01 Jul 2012, 7:41 am

She stroked Agate's feathers again softly. They were really quite lovely, it was a terrible shame that their natural colour had been washed out. Perhaps she should investigate ways to help Agate restore them to their former glory. She retracted her paw, patting the shoulder of the trembling hybrid.

"Agate, despite what you may think, you are a very pretty girl, with a lot of potential. While many choose to ignore that, I cannot as a friend." She made her way towards the door, keeping it open to allow the others out. "In the meantime, try not to think of Aressa, and bad feelings in general. I'm sure that Tem is a very good conversationalist, among other things."

Drawing the cold breeze that was blowing in the direction of the door towards herself, she shook herself to avoid excessive frosting as they made their way through. As long as they could avoid sarcastic remarks about the door being open, she didn't mind.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 03 Jul 2012, 12:41 am

Agate blinked through her entourage of tears (the Morning Spark’s napkins were going to be in danger of extinction), not processing what had just occurred, and what was now presented before her. With her miraculous powers, Aelirsa had molded a piece of art that was ornate in its delicate beauty--a quetzalcoatl born from ice. The light in the restaurant filtered through the adornment, a burst of erratic hues occurring as a result within. An array of colors waltzed, shimmering as Agate turned the creation over in her hands with care. It resembled her mother, a quetzacoatl herself. Admiring the frozen figurine in mute awe, she felt the blood of the quetzacoatl stir within her. She wasn’t just a pathetic, outcasted loser. She carried the blood of a powerful race of dragons, the dragons who gave rise to the legendary Mayan serpent god. Why live in constant fear of bullies when she was descended from such creatures?

Finally, the quetzalcoatl hybrid forced herself to tear her eyes away from the gift that could have only been crafted from the heart. Riveting her gaze to Aelirsa, Agate was still unable to produce a single sound as a way of thanking the ice dragoness. Not even a squeak was emitted. It was if her brain had been bleached--she couldn’t seem to recall a single word from English.

Fortunately, it seemed that an oral response wasn’t mandatory, for Aelirsa proceeded to run her paw tenderly through the dragon-girl’s matted feathers. As wonderful as this sudden turn of events were, it was a bit unnerving for Agate. Here was a half-dragoness who was accustomed to people yanking her feathers, regularly even pulling them out by the handfuls. And now there was this dragon that she scarcely knew who actually cared about her. Agate’s own family never even displayed this much love. They rarely saw the nerdy hybrid, for she was normally cooped up in a lone room, examining rocks all day.

"Agate, despite what you may think, you are a very pretty girl,” the snowy dragoness had told her. Pretty girl?! The foreign phrase (at least directed toward herself) bounced around in Agate’s head, until she thought it would break through her very skull. Amethyst was the pretty girl, even the gorgeous girl. She was the girl that was the subject of every male’s dream, human and dragon. She was a rising star, ascending the heavens, for Amethyst was quickly gracing the covers of multitudes of magazines, television, online, and other assorted advertisements and shows. Despite having a dragon mother and a human father, Amethyst was adored and admired by all. Many claimed that her dual parentage made her even more attractive than one of solely a single race.

But Agate Armstrong knew she wasn’t like her sister; she was, in fact, her opposite. While Amethyst was a ravishing, elegant snow leopard, a Agate was a goblin shark. Agate? Pretty?! No way. She appreciated the present, but Aelirsa’s sight surely must have been tempered by the odd lighting in the café.

These thoughts continued to pester her like persistent flies that never left your food alone, even as she exited the Morning Spark with Tem. She always let others' remarks puncture her mind like this, never letting go as if the thoughts were the jaws of an alligator. But this was different. Instead of the usual insults, Agate had received a compliment! A real, tangible complement! How to process this? Her mind reeled. How would she react?!

As she headed towards the others and Fry's, Agate pressed Aelirsa’s magical gift gently against her heart, overwhelmed with sheer blissfulness that she had finally, finally found a friend.

That's how she would react.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 03 Jul 2012, 4:30 pm

Kaldra addressed Tem one last time before he left the café, giving him even more caution about Aressa and asking him to pay special attention to her when he got back. "Of course," he replied. "And...take the time you need to with Aelirsa, though I do hope to see you back with us as soon as you can manage." He burned with that desire a lot more strongly than he let on, but he knew it was best not to pressure Kaldra out of a useful discussion just because of his own wishes.

Tem might have been surprised that Agate didn't offer a verbal response to Aelirsa for the gift, except that the look on her face said enough. Given how Agate had burst into tears over a few acquaintances being courteous enough to not abandon her, he knew she wasn't ungrateful, but rather so grateful she was left speechless. He was happy for her, and he would have smiled, but he was reminded a little too strongly of how sad it was that she'd received so little kindness in the past.

His thoughts were still hovering around her as she left the Morning Spark with him, and he couldn't help but stare at her as he traveled back to Fry's at her side, hoping her appearance might offer a few clues to satisfy some of his curiosity. She's definitely unusual-looking, which I'm sure other people have picked up on....Knowing humans, some of them were probably mean about it. He couldn't say if they'd actually been so straightforward as to bully her about it, or if they'd simply shied away or shot her dirty looks. Either one could be very hurtful. But has no one appreciated her at all? Not even her family? He could scarcely imagine a family being so unsupportive toward one of its members when she was so clearly troubled by her treatment in life. But then, given that she obviously had some dragon parentage, she certainly could have lost family members. That sounds more likely...and really, really sad. In a way that made his heart ache, Agate reminded him of Kaldra; someone who deserved caring and kindness was denied it because she looked strange and had lost the only people able to see past that. Or if her family isn't as supportive as it should be, she could have lost them simply by growing distant rather than any of them dying. He wasn't quite sure which would be worse.

Except now there was one other person who cared. Kaldra had found Tem, and now Agate had stumbled across Aelirsa - strikingly, only a day apart. And with the way Aelirsa had been stroking her feathers...he couldn't bring himself to believe that the ice dragoness had found herself that attached already, and yet part of him insisted that his eyes and instincts were right. I guess we'll see how Aelirsa acts later.... It was touching to see Agate hold the new ornament to her chest; he actually did smile this time. It left him a little troubled that Aelirsa had so rapidly turned from being unpleasant and antisocial to being caring and open; she seemed highly unpredictable. But then, the change had made her much more pleasant to be around, and besides, her muttered message about old wounds clotting might offer a reason - being friendly to her had opened her up, and the older persona was just a hard exterior she'd realized she wanted to abandon. Tem figured he had much more pressing concerns.

Like maybe - oh God! He realized that he hadn't been watching for anything at all during his thinking time; something horrible could be about to kill him and Agate and he could have known about it sooner! He frantically scanned around with his water sense to see if anything out of the ordinary was nearby. I should have known I would forget already. He'd try to be at least a little more alert as he proceeded along.

In the meantime, should we talk about anything? He thought it would be odd and unwelcoming to keep silent, especially after Aelirsa had more or less volunteered him as a "conversationalist," but he wasn't sure what to say. Figuring he'd spent long enough silently staring at her - who knew how that looked to her, innocent and non-judgmental as his intentions had been - he said what quickly came to his mind. "It was nice of Aelirsa to make that for you," he commented, throwing in a smile. "I'm glad you've found someone with that kind of caring. It's a special thing." He certainly knew about that; maybe he'd be able to go on to chat about his feelings for Kaldra. Assuming he didn't fall strangely mute under the surprisingly potent, pressing nervousness he suddenly felt from speaking his mind on such a tender subject.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 03 Jul 2012, 6:55 pm

Her mind was wandering unlike her body as both Tem and Agate made their way across the block in search of Fry's, and the larger body. It was tranquil enough, not with the silent air of an incoming ambush many seemed to feel, more the ambience of a suburb. Her mind however wasn't so tranquil. A long waged war between her conscious and sub-conscious had been given new life, new fuel... The short walk to return to her seat seemed to drag on for hours.

You're projecting Her onto Agate. Using that poor girl as a way to escape your survivor's guilt. You do know how disappointed the others will be if they discover this is the real reason you care for her...

That is enough. I saw a girl who was in severe need of genuine caring, the fact that such abuse through neglect still exists is shameful to say the least. And Aressa is no different, she needs to be shown that there is help at hand if she needs it.

The one thing more dangerous than a gun in an enemy's hand is a gun in a friend's...

She shook her head ever so slightly to dispel the continued arguments. A flash of a skinny bloke, dressed in the Dallas police uniform raced through her mind before she fully returned to reality, occasionally flicking her head to keep an accurate observation of the room. None of the humans seemed to be paying attention to the remaining dragons, perfect. What she had to discuss with Kaldra was better left unheard by their ears.

"Natural born ice dragons have a proud nature. From her markings, I can only assume that pride was stripped from her at one point, she may be trying to recover it by asserting dominance over humans." She kept her gaze steadily ahead. "I studied psychology in my former life briefly, trying to understand the nature of my growing madness if you're wondering. She needs a better way to reclaim her proper nature, all we have to do is provide it." Without ruining another dragon to do so...

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeTue 03 Jul 2012, 11:52 pm

As Tem walked away with Agate, Kaldra felt a powerful urge to run after him and envelop him in her arms. She didn’t want to be left here; she didn’t want to have to talk about another dragon, even one like Aressa, as if they were an enemy. It just felt wrong. But she couldn’t run away from this, this constant worry must be stopped, they had enough enemies without adding one of their own to the mix. She nodded and turned back to Aelirsa.

She remained silent throughout Aelirsa’s moment of speech, mulling it over as she stood with her eyes scanning their surroundings. The crowds seemed too preoccupied with their own problems to care about two dragonesses talking. That was reassuring; it would make this painful task a little bit easier.

Something was certainly done to Aressa during her younger years… that marking on her neck, it isn’t some birthmark. It looks like a wound that was repeatedly reopened, never being allowed to heal completely, and those lines on her back…

Kaldra waited for Aelirsa to finish and then said, “I see what you’re saying, but maybe we should try and speak to her also. It doesn’t seem like a simple exercise of dominance… she didn’t try and force anyone to follow her orders, didn’t attack anyone or force them to submit, she was just… angry. It must have something to do with that band of scar tissue around her neck.”

Wait, trying to understand the nature of her madness? What happened to her? No, that’s not the focus now; I can worry about that particular piece of information later. Aressa is the main concern right now.

~~~~~

Aressa remained silent now; the paw that had once been coated in ice was now positioned so that the claws were digging into the floor. She tried to focus on what Kaden was saying in an effort to keep her boiling disgust contained. Kaden seemed to distrust this human, she kept sending subtle hints that she believed he was lying about everything. That was probably quite likely, humans enjoyed veiling their true intentions in nice words and sympathetic looks. It was disgusting.

Her tail lashed to the side and she straightened her paw so that the claws were detached from the floor. Damaging this store, this example of human wealth and wasteful manners would likely annoy the owners of it. Her mind began to wander as she scanned their surroundings again. A little child off to the right was pointing at some little gaming device and whining at his mother, crying something about what a horrible person she was because she wouldn’t get him the little gadget. He probably wouldn't want it anymore once the newer version came out in a month or two, but that didn't matter to the tiny demon-child.

Stupid, wasteful little monsters, all of them!

That human, Tom, even smelled like trash. How fitting.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeWed 04 Jul 2012, 12:25 am

Kaldra certainly seemed to have a good mind for diplomacy. "Of course, I was merely considering further steps. She has obviously clashed with humans badly before, I'm not sure if it's possible to relieve that at all, at the very least our focus should be on ensuring Agate's well-being. Knowing peeps, I don't think they'll be surprised with a moody dragon." So long as she doesn't go and eat them...

Another flash. Her teeth gritted, not good. She only had a flash every few months, to have two in just the space of minutes, because she opened up about her secret, and now the memories were returning. Blocking the face of the middle aged woman, she returned to pondering the plan with Aressa. Planning! She's one of my own kind, are we really plotting against her?

Pity there weren't really any dragon psychologists in town, even then they really didn't have time. All they had was her basic knowledge of the human psych, and Aressa was an abused Ice with little temperament. Her claw traced around the table again. Why were they sitting here? Shouldn't they be talking on the way, if none of the others knew how aggressive Aressa could be to Agate...

She took a deep breath, relaxing her mind again. It was exactly why they were sitting, to prevent over-reaction. She needed it right now, her calm, formal tone, not worrying about jumping to conclusions or making rash decisions. Like you did back then... She turned her head aside for a brief moment to throw off her balance. A most effective technique for dispelling guilt speak.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeWed 04 Jul 2012, 11:24 am

Kaldra nodded when Aelirsa agreed with her statement, maybe this whole thing would go better than she originally thought it would. Then the ice dragoness gritted her teeth and her eyes went kind of foggy, like her mind was somewhere else. What was wrong with her? Aelirsa dragged her claw across the tabletop, leaving a shallow line on the surface and a small bit of residue on the nail. Was it something she said?

Before she could think twice, Kaldra reached out a hand and laid it over Aelirsa’s. She was trying to get her attention, draw her out of whatever thoughts were causing her such distress. She knew from experience how painful some memories could be and how they could trap you helplessly in their grip. Memories were a minefield for one with a past such as hers; sometimes you would be safe to revel in a vision of old beauty, but other times you’d be drowning in a quicksand of emotion in only a few seconds. Apparently the two new additions to their group knew that all too well.

“Hey… hey, Aelirsa, are you alright?” she asked, quietly enough so that it wouldn’t draw attention from the people going about their business, “Do you want to start walking, get somewhere less crowded?”

Aelirsa threw her head sideways, like she was caught in a nightmare and struggling to break free. Kaldra knew that feeling too, recognized it from many nights spent flying over the trees because she couldn’t trust her mind once she fell asleep. Mom wasn’t there to chase away the bad dreams anymore.

“Is something wrong?”
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeWed 04 Jul 2012, 6:35 pm

She breathed in again as her own voice melted away. Outside help was a definite trump. Returning her gaze to the table, she nodded slowly. "Yes. I just have worries about Agate and Aressa." She didn't really need to explain more, Kaldra probably had a better view on the situation than she did. Pessimism was one of those degrading flaws she couldn't shake.

Getting to her feet, she wiped her paw over the table to clean it of any shavings, doing the same with her claw afterwards. Compared to some of the things scratched in, a simple line couldn't be too bad. "I get the feeling however, that they will just be one of many concerns we shall soon be faced with." Like owning up to what you did... Will they kick you out, or just turn you over to the police...

Hiding physical signs of mental anguish, she made her way over to the door and held it open, this time facing outward. A quick sniff was all she needed. The general mood was that of uneasiness. Kaldra was probably a decent fighter, and she had the guts to face up to almost anything. Really, quite a good pair they made if faced with danger.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeThu 05 Jul 2012, 12:32 am

Kaldra nodded, that Aelirsa would be worried about Agate was understandable. From how she'd just acted around the dragoness, it had almost seemed like she felt some sort of connection to her. The way she ran her paw through the feathers resting along her scalp, the thing with the quetzalcoatl figurine, just the general change in mood... maybe Aelirsa had once had a younger sibling. That would certainly explain the change in behavior once she started focusing on one of the more vulnerable members of their group, a sort of motherly instinct maybe.

She hid the growing unease she felt when Aelirsa mentioned that Aressa and Agate's current incompatability might be the least of their worries. She was right though.

"Yeah, we should probably get back to the others... they might even be finished with their questions by now," Kaldra mused as she walked towards the open door. A quick smile in acknowledgement as she went through and waited on the other side. Her tail swished across the ground briefly, sending a few leaves skittering through the air in the small rush of air sent their way.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeThu 05 Jul 2012, 12:50 am

Closing the door softly, she stood beside Kaldra for a few moments, touching tails as a manner of reassuring her well-being. The flashes were dying down for now, much to her relief. Distraction in this phase could prove quite dangerous. "That would be quite a relief. I once purchased a laptop from a different store. Needless to say, I would not do so again."

Crossing the carpark and the road with little hesitation, she paused on the other side for Kaldra. Apprehension, uneasiness. Something was definitely stirring the aura of the people at their destination. Whatever it was, she didn't like it. Up until this point, all she knew about the investigation was what she heard. If something new had developed, that was one more thing to add to her hands on catch up.

Closing her eyes, she let the larger snowflake embedded into her forehead draw water from the gutter towards her, glowing faintly as it did so. The water that trickled up her body was already cleaned of any impurities, freezing into the places she wanted it to. Covering up the overlap of her scales, weak points if someone were to attack from behind with a long, flat weapon. Just a precaution after all...

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeThu 05 Jul 2012, 12:35 pm

Kaldra began walking once Aelirsa came through the doorway, staying alongside her as she walked. She didn't relish this sense of solitude, despite the fact that she was with one other dragon she was still very exposed. There were cars running down the streets, children laughing, parents scolding. It was the chaos of a town.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw water snaking across Aelirsa's body, solidifying withing various chinks in her scaly armor. That was a useful skill, one that would likely come in handy if this investigation went badly. Her bloodred eyes scanned their surrounds, it was becoming almost habit now. Sparks skittered across the surfaces of the blue spines running along her body, her own form of protection.

I just hope the others are alright in there.
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeFri 06 Jul 2012, 3:24 am

Re-opening her eyes, she shook herself carefully to avoid damaging the ice guards she had so recently formed. Kaldra was by her side still, much to her relief. Now that they were alone, she was less distracted by what to get, able to weigh up their different strengths. She was built for running, prominent spines and back fin, light body, longer claws.

If anything, Kaldra was certainly intimidating by looks, especially with those eyes. How fitting, she got to play the one who had to run and get others for help. You didn't seek help back then... She smiled as a vague quote comparing her to some ancient dinosaur floated through her mind. Such a shame that distant cousins lived so far into the past.

"Sorry, just got the jitters." She proceeded onward, treading lightly. Her tail swished from side to side as she proceeded, another of her little techniques to keep her mind busy. Moments of emotion let those thoughts break out, and she didn't need emotion given what lay ahead. Either Aressa could turn violent and attack, or something else could...

Perhaps she should brush up a bit before taking such an unpredictable course of action. If the group stopped by a library, she could spend her time reading up on psychology to refresh her memory. At the very least there had to be at least a book or two specialised for dragons. Anything helped in this case, they had more power to act on emotion by nature.

"Kaldra, do you think it would be a good idea, to resume studying psychology?" She continued walking at her casual pace, focus all dedicated to her response. "I mean, I'll still stick with the group, just brush up on what information I can when the opportunity arises. Did quite a bit of research in my first life, so maybe it'll help." There was always the chance she wouldn't approve, or be concerned. She had deep respect for the dark dragon's judgement.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeFri 06 Jul 2012, 5:10 pm

Kaldra could see Aelirsa glancing over at her out as they walked. It was to be expected, she’d been glancing at her companion only a moment ago. Such an interesting pair they made; a blue-scaled ice dragon and a black and blue storm dragon with eyes the color of blood. The only blood she’d ever spilled had been that of animals. She’d never had to actually face any slayers in those dark years, never even seen them. Mom must have scared them off, disposed of them, or simply hidden them both away from prying eyes. A mother with a young hatchling would have been an easy target… or maybe not, a mother would have the drive to fight until her last breath. Her mother had been a formidable huntress; that much she was certain of.

She was a great teacher… patient, always had an encouraging word.

There was that aching wound again, grief, sudden to strike and slow to leave. A quick shake of the head to clear her thoughts and she glanced over at Aelirsa. Oh, she was talking. It was something about brushing up on old psychology studies, sounded interesting. She’d never done any real studying herself, sure Mom had taught her speech and writing, but that was about the extent of her ‘school-learning.’

“Yeah, that would probably be alright,” she smiled, maybe understanding more about how peoples’ (and dragons’) minds worked would help their group mesh better, “That would actually be pretty helpful, if we can find time for you to do that. I mean, the main investigation comes first, but I’m sure the others wouldn’t mind having some more diverse skills added in.”

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeFri 06 Jul 2012, 6:27 pm

"I wasn't avoiding anyone," Tom said. "I was out camping alone, and I was off the grid. Didn't realize everyone was going to have a cow over it, sheez."

He did smell like trash, but more faintly than Stackpole had. He also had a fairly recent scent of shampoo and soap, which combined with the wet hair would mean that he'd showered almost immediately before arriving.

"Really, if you don't have anything to buy, return, or exchange, there's a line."

Looking behind the dragons, the "line" consisted of one other man holding a bag of circuit board parts. Almost immediately, someone on the line to their left waved him over, leaving no line at all.

"Okay, there was a line. Point is, I don't have a lot of time to chat."

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeFri 06 Jul 2012, 11:41 pm

Nodding gratefully, she continued on in silence. Perhaps her aura sensing was a result of delving into the mechanics of the living mind. Did she really want that sense to grow, given every step she took towards Fry's didn't remove the bad air around it? Probably, it was a valuable tool, being able to sense if someone was in distress.

It would prevent her from misjudging people like she had done back at the Spark. First impressions weren't her strong point, that had to change quickly. Her tail continued to swish. The urge to run crept into her mind. For reasons she didn't really care about, she had never pushed herself to run as fast as possible.

No, that could wait for later. Kaldra had it spot on, there was an investigation to be done. Swallowing to refocus herself, she continued on in her solemn state, keeping out the images she couldn't bear to face.

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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeSat 07 Jul 2012, 12:57 pm

Kaldra could see Fry's off in the distance, it would probably only take a few more minutes to get there. Her mind began to wander again, straying to worries regarding the group like usual. They sure seemed to be on her mind a lot. Maybe this was how a mother dragon felt, always fretting about her brood, trying to safeguard them from every obstacle the world would throw at them. But life had a way of thwarting even the best efforts.

I won't fail them... I will keep this group together.

There was so much about them that she didn't know though. Really, that was probably understandable, those who she'd known the longest had only been travelling together for a day or two. She couldn't expect them all to get along perfectly. There were varying personalities, ways of thinking, and backgrounds. They were lucky that there hadn't been any clashes before Aressa and Agate's.

But it will be resolved all the same.

Then there was the matter of the investigation, a constant weight on her shoulders. There were so many variables, so many possibilities for failure... it was unnerving. After so many years on her own, it was a little strange to have to depend on others again.

~~~~~

Aressa stared coldly at Tom as he spoke. He was being openly rude to them, even going so far as essentially telling them to get out. It was the typical behavior of humans, if they couldn't find the courage to talk over a problem they tried to shove it away and pretend it didn't exist.

I bet he'd be a lot more likely to pay attention to us if I froze his stupid little feet to the ground.

But that wouldn't go over well. The police might get involved, the dragons with her would freak, and she'd have to strike out on her own again. Wasn't like she couldn't take care of herself though, humans were careless and she was opportunistic. But all of this... waiting and listening to humans be their normal, obnoxious selves was not making keeping her cool any easier.

Where is that group that went to the cafe?
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PostSubject: Re: COA III: The new IC   COA III: The new IC - Page 3 I_icon_minitimeSat 07 Jul 2012, 2:54 pm

Ev's panic began to abate when Kaden stepped in and continued from his stammering attempt to speak, mostly because it redirected Tom's attention away from him. The dragoness's confidence surprised but encouraged him - and made him admire her even more, naturally. If she's standing up to this guy, then I can too, Ev thought. He took a breath to steady himself, then turned to face the unfriendly man directly. He settled into a somewhat sturdier stance, with his legs straighter and his head higher. It didn't hurt that Kaden was still a couple of steps closer to Tom, but it was certainly an improvement to Ev's demeanor.

Then Tom gave his impatient response to Kaden's question. Ev paid less attention to the dismissive part, focusing instead on the explanation that he had supposedly been out camping. He thought the man's story was fishy even before he caught a whiff of him, which carried the distinct smell of garbage under some kind of shampoo.

Ev's eyes widened. I knew he had something to do with Stackpole! Looks like he tried to cover up the smell too, he observed, noting Tom's wet hair and shampoo smell. Now I'm certain he must be lying... but how to prove it? Ev's mind raced, searching for holes in the man's story, until he thought he had one that seemed fairly solid. His next thought was that he needed to confront Tom about it. Somehow, rather than dwelling on all the possible reasons why he shouldn't speak, he didn't hesitate to start thinking of what to say.

When he had some idea of how to address Tom, Ev took another breath, looked up at the man... and lost his nerve. He lowered his gaze once more, feeling his panic from before start to return. Then he looked at Kaden and recalled her confidence from a moment ago. Don't be scared, he told himself. Just focus. He's going to leave soon if you don't speak up, so go now.

Ev cleared his throat to buy himself an extra couple of seconds to collect his thoughts. He had to keep looking at Kaden while he began, "J-just answer this for us, sir." His heart was pounding, his legs were starting to shake, and he really wished his voice was deeper, but he managed to gradually move his gaze up to the man's face. "I-if you were out camping, like you say..." He inhaled deeply before continuing. "...why wouldn't you tell anyone about it? Why... why would you simply walk away from your job so suddenly and completely that the police would consider you missing? Why wouldn't you let a single person know where you were going, not even your close friend, so that he wouldn't worry about you?" Ev briefly indicated Ted with a foreclaw. "Even if you did need some privacy to 'sort your life out,' you didn't need to tell anyone exactly where you were going, just that you would be gone. But instead, it seems you chose to disappear so mysteriously as to worry your friends, coworkers, and the police. Could you explain that for us, sir?"

Ev was trembling from the tension of maintaining such a steady speech without pausing too long or fumbling words, but now that he had succeeded despite all of his own expectations, he was able to keep an even gaze with Tom. He had used his logical skills well and, even better, somehow managed to communicate them into an effective challenge to the man's explanation. Ev was quite proud of himself.

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