Bad Blood – Chapter XI – The Man with the Golden Eyes

Margot tensed at the sound of Roberto’s voice and the double-barreled shotgun cocking. She felt it on the back of her head, but felt no bloodlust coming from the hunter. He was detached, dispassionate. Just doing what needs to be done, is it? She thought to herself, but didn’t dare say it aloud.

Margot didn’t waste time grimacing. She knew if he fired, it would all be over quickly, so she just looked ahead, calming herself, lamenting everything she would leave behind unfinished. It wasn’t the case she cared about, though it nagged at her, but the bonds she had yet to mend, the vengeance she had still to savour. “Not going to beg? They usually beg at this point.” Roberto’s voice brought her back to the present.

“What’s the point?” She said without glancing back. “If you’re gonna do it, just do it.” She said, fighting to hide the shivers and shakes of fear from her voice. I’ve never let fear command me, not in public anyway, not about to start now. Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter XI – The Man with the Golden Eyes

Bad Blood – Chapter IX – Old Friends, New Enemies

“Let me in…” a man’s voice drifted in from outside the Leftover tent. Margot woke up to familiar surroundings, covered in the skins of animals with names she couldn’t even pronounce. The Underworld is home to ancient predators, but necessity and hunger make everyone prey. Margot checked around and saw her mended suit folded neatly in the corner, though it still looked tattered and torn. She lifted the covers, feeling the night air on her naked body and took a moment to check herself. There were cuts, bruises and sutures all over her frame and she winced with every movement. I can still move, and my head isn’t pounding. I’ll take it as a win, she thought to herself as she stood, crossed the tent and slowly put on her clothes. Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter IX – Old Friends, New Enemies

Bad Blood – Chapter VIII – Six Feet Down the Rabbit Hole

“Wake up.” A familiar voice said. Margot opened her eyes, expecting them to hurt along with the rest of her body, but she felt fine. No pain anywhere and her senses drew a blank. Something’s up. “There certainly is something up, now move it!” John William Spencer said and Margot scrambled to her feet on recognition.


“In the flesh!” He grinned. “Or your mindscape equivalent at least!” Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter VIII – Six Feet Down the Rabbit Hole

Bad Blood – Chapter VII – Where the Wild Things Live

Margot drove behind the Leftover jeep, saw them look back at her, turn back and gossip. She grinded her teeth in frustration. If I didn’t need you I would’ve smacked you by now…teens. She thought to herself, breathing deeply to vent, to not let it get to her. She could feel their curiosity, their admiration and it made her skin crawl. Sorry, kids, I don’t do fans.

They were so focused on her they didn’t pay attention to their searchlights, the only source of light in the deep darkness of the wildlands. If they had, they would’ve noticed the trail of upturned earth that moved alongside them and would have time to react before the barkhound burst from the ground and tore through their jeep, its sharp wooden claws tearing metal and teen to ribbons. Margot swerved violently to avoid the debris and, knowing there was nothing she could do for her companions, drew the magnum from its holster, opened the chamber and loaded the hellfire rounds, making sure she kept her eyes on the hound and the road and her TK on the wheel. Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter VII – Where the Wild Things Live

Bad Blood – Chapter VI – The Leftovers

Just as every society has its slums and its outcasts, so do all slums have its exiles, those that don’t function under the rules of their ruined civilisation. The Underworld is a place of greed and betrayal, where survival comes before friendship, love and family. So those that don’t abide by those rules, those that form mutually beneficial arrangements, they are quickly disposed of. Leftovers, they call them. Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter VI – The Leftovers

Bad Blood – Chapter V – Homecoming

Every city has slums, home to the dispossessed, the downtrodden and the derelict. Makai has several, each built on top of the other. The Underworld is the lowest, a place where despair strips humanity away, where the hunt for food and heat is constant, where eating your neighbour isn’t a crime but just the next meal. This is the place where Makai’s nightmares are born, its people joining experiments for that one chance to escape, be it to the outside or the release of death.

The Underworld gave birth to Psyclones. Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter V – Homecoming

Bad Blood – Chapter IV – Dead and Buried

The Mapmaker had a new lead, just not the one Margot expected. “How did you find this?” She asked, looking up from the crumbling parchment in her hands, meeting his eyes with a dubious glance.

“You asked me to find places of power, so I did…” He leaned on the stall’s counter, and pointed at the parchment. “I started with the usual places, the big bad power-zones, where the big and really bad live and I noticed it.”

“The blackout.”

“Precisely.” He nodded, his brow furrowed. Starting to look like you worry, J.C., Vance thought to herself, making sure it didn’t show on her face. “Those places are bright, Vance, they shine on the maps, all those powerful beings. But now the light’s dimmed, cut off and died out. It’s…”
Continue reading Bad Blood – Chapter IV – Dead and Buried

Bad Blood – Chapter III – Tale as old a time

If you only knew how many abominations and demons lived in Fallen Square, you wouldn’t wonder about the name. The most opulent of the districts, built right on a ley line, you need to be rich not only to afford the housing, but the wards to keep your neighbours on the other side of the door.

Margot grimaced when the whiff of sulfur hit her nostrils as she stepped from the alley between two of Fallen Square’s high-rise condos. She followed the stench to a host of drunken unconscious imps lying next to a dumpster. She stepped past them and across the street to the fabulous Black Spire Hotel. Chiselled out of pure obsidian from the eight circle, the hotel was the best Makai had to offer and even the most ridiculously wealthy in the world could barely afford a couple of nights.

Lillian and Don Carpenter owned the top three floors.

Margot pushed through the lobby, ignoring the protests from the staff. She cracked the security behemoth in the chin and stepped on the elevator. With just a glance from her, the imp inside pushed the button she wanted and leapt out of the elevator. The problem with demons is you have to remind them you’re dangerous, Margot thought as she rubbed her aching hand. Even increasing the density of her bones didn’t help the pain of hitting a behemoth. It would stay out of her way next time.

With a familiar ding the doors opened to the Carpenters’ penthouse. Margot felt something off, an ominous presence. Great, they warned him…time for the pissing contest. She stepped lightly off the elevator, keeping her eyes and other sense open but as soon as she did, something took her off her feet. She crashed loudly against the far wall, through an ornate armoire. She didn’t even have time to harden herself.

Her vision swam, and it took all she had to stay awake. Margot shook her head and saw the monster stomping towards her. Abaddon…shit. She pushed herself off the armoire and faced the demon. He’d changed since the last time she saw him. No longer an obsidian angel but a crimson-skinned demon with ebon nails, ram horns, a lashing barbed tail and enormous bat-like wings. “Give it a rest, Abaddon.” Margot mumbled.

He chuckled and reached for her throat so fast Margot had no chance to react. Her vision blurred even more as he picked her up and squeezed. He was enjoying it, taking his time and making her suffer. Demons…oh screw this! As her consciousness drifted away, Margot pulled from deep inside herself to where her power laid, not the one she’d borrowed, but her true ability. She could hear Abaddon laughing and it just made her push harder. Through his skin she felt for his core, the source of his powers and with mental push cloned it.

Abaddon’s laugh ended abruptly and his gaze turned to horror as Margot’s skin turned crimson and her eyes topaz yellow to match his own. She clutched his wrist and crushed it effortlessly. As she landed, she gripped even tighter and threw the demon over her shoulder. Abaddon pushed himself off the floor, ready for a fight, his wrist already healing but before he could do so Margot was on his back, one wing in each hand. “No! I yield!” He said desperately.

The sound of his screams filled the Black Spire.

Abaddon lay there, holding himself tightly and shaking, his body returning to his obsidian angel form. “Told you so.” A voice came from the other end of the room. Margot hadn’t noticed Lillian sitting on a sofa, a glass of wine in her hand. She’d cut her hair since the last time they met, and dyed it a deep shade of red, striking against her tanned skin. She looked neither afraid nor impressed. “Hi Mar.” she nodded.

“Lilly.” Margot grumbled, pushing Don’s power away, her skin and strength returning to normal. “What the hell is his problem?” She nodded towards the former demon, now crawling towards his wife.

“He has plenty of them.” She said dismissively, taking another sip. “But in this case, the lobby called about an intruder, didn’t say it was you honey.”

Don’t ‘honey’ me, Margot thought but held back. “Sorry about that, you know demons.”

“Gotta put them in their place!” They shared a smile. “Anyway, help me with this?” She pointed at her husband.

“Sure.” They carried the trembling fallen angel and lay him on the sofa. Lillian sat down and placed his head on her lap, stroking it tenderly.

“What are you doing here, Mar? This isn’t social, is it?”

“Nah, not this time. King sent me.”

Lillian raised an eyebrow. “You…working for him?”

“Missing persons case, lots of them, so he’s stumped.”

“And what makes you think we can help?”

“Because one of them’s The Illusionist.” Margot said flatly. Lillian’s eyes widened and she dropped the wine glass, but Don caught it before it crashed.

“When’s the last time you saw him?”

“Last week…our session…” Don moaned. His wings were already regenerating.

“Tell me about it.” Margo sat opposite them.

“We’re not about to discuss our therapy with you, Mar.” Lillian said sternly, taking the cup from Don.

“I don’t need to know your details; I know all of that already. You’re both too honest, not surprising when you shared body and mind once. Some white lies are good.”

“No they’re not.” They said at the same time.

“Then stop being so bloody sensitive about it all then!”

“We’re working on it…” Don replied.

“Tell me about JWS. What was he like?”

“Calm, collected, annoyingly so, and very understanding and patient.” Don said. “The usual.”

“He seemed distracted.” Lillian said.

“How so?” Even Don gave her a quizzical look. Not surprising the ex-cop picked things the demon couldn’t.

“He acted normal but I could tell his mind was elsewhere. It was scary, almost as if he were back in his Illusionist days. He was here but he wasn’t either.”

“Did he mention anything to you?”

“Not during the session, but I did ask him afterwards. I used to be a cop, I’m nosy!”

“That you are…ow!” Lillian reminded her husband not to speak out of turn.

“And?” Margot said, ignoring the marital display of discipline.

“He said something was coming…”

“That sounds ominous…” Margot said, frowning.

“He said it was something we should’ve taken care of years ago, coming back to bite us in the ass.”


“Of course, I can’t talk like him even if I tried. Too old-school aristocrat!” They all shared a smile.

“Anything else?” Margot said, the moment passed.

“Yeah, he said he was going to see Peter. Oh, and he didn’t want Weston to know.”

“Why not?”

“No clue, but you know how those two were, buddies one day, conspiracies the next!”

Margot nodded, remembering her own days with the two of them. “Any clue where Peter hangs out these days?”

“All over the place, really. He’s the wandering hero.”

Margot sighed, shaking her head. “He should leave the job to the Fixers.”

“He’s never been your or Weston’s biggest fan.”

“It’s gonna get him killed someday…not that it’s anything new for him.”

“You should go see Julie.” Margot raised an eyebrow, going through her mental notes but finding no memory of the name. “Julia, Julia Stiles. Weston’s niece. She has a restaurant in the docks and she’s been on and off with Peter for years. They fight more than we do!” She and Don shared a look and giggled.

“I’ll do that then. Sorry for the armoire.”

“My fault, don’t worry about it.” Don said. He pulled himself off Lillian and turned towards the broken furniture. With a flick of his wrist, it disintegrated and remade itself. “Destruction and renewal, my specialty!” He grinned.

“I’ll walk you out. “ Lillian said.

“Sure, see you around Don.” The Demon nodded. “Oh, and next time put on some pants, there is only so much of you I’m interested in looking at!” She glared.

“Sorry, Margot, I’m a taken man. You can look but not touch!” He grinned even wider.

Margot growled but left with Lillian.

“Why don’t you just divorce him, Lilly?” Margot said, leaning on the elevator wall as they descended.

“I love him, simple as that.”

“But you’re always fighting?”

“I didn’t say it was healthy, but…you wouldn’t understand!” She shook her head.

“Really? I wouldn’t understand love?”

“Not what I meant, but if we’re getting into that, your track record is terrible. First you go with…”

“Let’s leave it there, honey.” She said the last word harshly.

“Ok, leaving it there.” Lillian raised her arms in surrender. “But Don and I…we were one, you know? Literally so. I know him best and he knows me best, and we love each other even through that. But even after so many years it’s so difficult to say the things we used to share in thought and spirit.”

“And they all come out wrong when you do say them…” Margot said absent-minded, thinking of her own past, of apologies said and taken wrongly.

“Exactly!” Lillian said.

The ding of the elevator brought them face to face with the behemoth. It snarled at Margot, who simply cracked her knuckles. “She’s with me. If you ever stand in her way…” she left the threat hanging, glaring not only at the massive bouncer but also at every member of the Spire’s staff.

“Impressive.” Margot leaned in to whisper.

“You don’t get to be queen of this hellhole without some authority!” She whispered back.

“Hellhole? You know there’s people who’d kill for this place, right?”

“They can have it. Noisy demons, neighbours and tenants always trying to possess and corrupt, it’s annoying!” She said and then sighed. “But it’s home.”

“You’re weird.” Margot said aloud and left before Lillian could reply.

Profile: Peter Ng, superhero. Formerly known as Tiger. Violent tendencies and disregard for authority. Magic level…extremely high. Likelihood of a fight? High. Margot thought to herself as she walked towards the docks. It was a long walk but there were only so many times she was willing to use the Alleyweb in one day. She was aching from that fight with Don and the web can sense your weakness.

“This is turning into a tour of all the big names in Makai. That can’t be a coincidence.” She said to herself.

Just hope they don’t all want a piece of me…there’s only so much I can fight…


Despite her complicated relationship to the King, Weston Stiles, Margot had never met Julia. She’d only heard her name in passing. Maybe I’ll get her profile from…nah, never mind, he’d only get in my way if he knew I was visiting his niece, she thought to herself, remembering how protective the King was of his family and friends. It’s one of his few good points, Margot allowed herself a melancholic smile.

Julia’s restaurant, The Golden Arch was perhaps the most famous Chinese restaurant in the Dock area—mostly because it’s the only one. As Margot approached, she noticed it was full. Rush hour, dockworkers on lunch and new arrivals. She stretched, her joints popping, and then focused on keeping her expression as steady and calm as possible. She might not know Julia, but everyone knows a Fixer and always want to hide stuff from them.

She pushed the door open and it creaked loudly. If Margot were one for the stealth approach, she’d have worried about it. As things were, she just hated the sound it made. As was the case with good restaurants, the smell of the cuisine hit her nostrils, made her mouth water and her stomach rumble. She realised then she hadn’t eaten anything.

Taking that as her excuse, she requested a table. “What can I get you?” The waitress said.

“Scotch, neat then a glass of water and Singapore Noodles!” She handed the blonde girl the menu back. “Oh, and I need to speak with Julia Stiles.”

The girl dropped the menu on the table and gave Margot cold eyes and in them, she could see the girl’s uncle. “Great…” she sighed.

“What do you want with me?” Julia said, crossing her arms.

“I’m working for your uncle…”

“Tell him my personal life is none of his…” She interrupted and raised her voice so much she was making head turns.

“Hey hey!” Margot interrupted, waving her hands in front of the ranting girl. “I don’t give a damn about your personal life or your uncle for that matter. I’m looking for your boyfriend!”

“What the hell do you want with Tiger, Vance?”

I didn’t tell her my name. “How’d you know who I was?”

“Everyone knows Margot Vance, Fixer extraordinaire!” The sarcasm dripped from her lips.

“I need his help.”

“He’s out!” She said flatly and left. Margot saw her heading to the bar and pour the scotch and water. “Here you go.”

“I still need Peter’s help, Julia.” Margot said flatly, glaring at the girl.

To her credit, she didn’t flinch…at first. But Margot’s stare pierced whatever defense she had and she soon looked away, trembling, fearing the restrained violence she saw in the Fixer’s eyes. “He…He’s out patrolling.”

“Then I’ll stay and wait.” Margot said, her tone cold and harsh, to make it certain she wasn’t going anywhere. “How long until the noodles are ready? I’m starving!” She said lightly, smiling, throwing Julia off guard. No need to be mean the whole time, she thought.

“T-t-t-ten minutes!” Julia said shrilly. She left the room looking back at Margot a few times as she did.

Gotta love the effect I have on people…not great on my love life though. Margot shook her head, remembering a string of one-night-stands. Beautiful women, smart women, bubblehead men, she’d tried them all but the job, the fixing always got in the way. It was a dangerous life, and rarely do people regard or remember Fixers with anything but abject fear.

A few minutes later, a young man brought her the plate of noodles and sat opposite her. “You scared Julia, Vance!” He said coldly, his glare almost as harsh and unforgiving as Margot’s…almost. She didn’t bother returning it. I need him to talk not run.

“She was being difficult.” Margot shrugged.

“She can be sometimes!” Peter nodded, relaxing. “It’s the one thing I wish she hadn’t gotten from her uncle…well, that and the Osteomancy! It’s a pain in the ass to argue with her!”

“If it’s such a pain, why stay together?” She realised it was the second time she’d asked something like that today.

“’Cause I love her, and when you love someone you love every bit of them, the good and the bad, the psychotic and the right-down murderous!” He smiled and it was genuine, there was happiness in it, and hope for the future.

Tale as old as time, morons in love…or is it love that turns them into morons?

“So, what do you need?” Peter said, turning serious.

“You were the last person to see John William Spencer, right?” Peter nodded. “He’s missing.”

Peter seemed unfazed by the news. “You’re not surprised, are you?”

“I saw him vanish.” He admitted.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“Because he asked me not to make a fuss!”

“Where was this? Where did he go?” Margot rose from her chair, her hands planted on the table and she leaned forward. She could smell the noodles and despite her stomach complaining, she pushed the hunger aside.

Peter raised his hands. “Ok, ok! Relax! He told me he was searching for Fixers, some had vanished!” He looked concerned.

“Try all of them…except me of course!” Peter’s looked shocked.

“I didn’t know it was that bad. No wonder I haven’t seen you lot on my patrols!” He said, mostly to himself, scratching his chin.

“So, where’d he go?”

“He said he wanted to check the Necropolis and the Underworld.” The two places Fixers have no jurisdiction over.

“How’d he get there?” Margot asked. I hoped never to return to the Underworld. I hope you have a good reason for all of this, JW.

“He’s the Illusionist, he can do anything!” Peter said, baffled at her question.

“Ok, how’d you do it?”

“I’d open a spirit portal or go through the Alleyweb, the Mapmaker knows where the right doors are.” He explained. “I’d rather use the portal, I don’t trust that guy. Too shady, even by this island’s standards!”

“Yeah, but portals aren’t my specialty, not unless you’d like to help me?”

“Can’t, Vance.” He stubbornly crossed his arms and shook his head

Margot raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Told you, promised JW I wouldn’t get in the way!” He said calmly.

“You said ‘not make a fuss’, you didn’t say anything about not helping!” Margot was losing her patience, and her appetite.

“You know how he is; better assume that’s what he meant!” He smiled nervously.

“Yeah…speaking of, did he seem weird to you? I mean more than usual.” She sat down and ate her noodles, almost absentmindedly.

“Not more than usual, no.”

“Weston’s concerned he might be reverting back to the Illusionist.” Margo mumbled with her mouth full.

“That’s impossible, Weston’s just paranoid!” Peter chuckled.


“Because he’d need to lose his soul for that, and he’s not letting go of it anytime soon!”

“What?” This is why I hate Makai’s founders, they all know each other’s histories but never share.

“Ask Weston, he’ll tell you!” Peter seemed to have read her mind, and grinned.

Margot grumbled. She finished the plate and left a stack of money on the table large enough to pay for everyone’s meals, for the rest of the week. Peter whistled, looking at it. “Didn’t know Weston paid this well!”

“I took his super-wallet!” Margot grinned and left another stack. “For the help, and for the contact number you’re giving me right now so I don’t have to scare your girl again!” Margot said in what she assumed was a reasonable tone.

Peter scribbled something on a note and handed it her. “Use this then.” He said and took the money from the table. “Have a nice day!”

“Fat chance of that!” Margot left the restaurant.

Time to meet JC again and see what he has for me. Then off to the Necropolis. I’ll leave the Underworld for when I’m really desperate.

Bad Blood – Chapter II – Appraise the Lord

Margot left her office and took a turn into the first alley she could find. It didn’t matter where you were in Makai, all alleys led to the Alleyweb. She firmly held on to the image of the Mapmaker as the world around her slipped away, replaced by hundreds of branching alleys, the bustle of the city around her dying out instantly, leaving only the eerie feeling of being watched. With a snap of her fingers and a measure of the King’s magic, she made it stop, hearing bones crunching in the distance. Margot allowed herself a chuckle, “So you can be useful…” she hoped Weston could hear her even from across the island. Knowing him, it was very much a possibility.

She strode on, her step confident and her gaze hard. She knew where to go, where to find the informant. You need to know what you’re looking for before you head into the web. This isn’t a place for empty hopes and vague dreams. It’s a tool and a beast, and it’ll swallow you if you’re not ready. The web doesn’t distinguish between prince and pauper, Fixer or Psyclone.

Taking a right on the next crossroad brought her into the core of the Alleyweb, where the mapmaker held court and did his business. He saw her approach and had only disdain in his eyes, but she see could see the fear past them. JC had never been a strong man, just one with a big mouth and none of his counterpart’s powers. The modern world was too full of sceptics for an alternate Earth Jesus Christ, especially when he didn’t have the juice to back up his claims. Immortality gained through magical means was his only ability.

“Ms. Vance!” He said, the words dripping with contempt as he curtsied for her from behind his stall, a simple wooden shack with maps and documents nailed to the walls, the images in them always shifting. Forced upright-position, shifting eyes, trembling clenched fists, grease-matted hair, red eyes, Margot took everything in, her training sifting through the possibilities, the meaning in what she saw. Fear, exhaustion—hiding, paranoid. Likely holding important information. Related to my case? She analysed the situation, her hard eyes meeting his. “W-w-what can I help you with today?” He leaned on the stall counter, his shoulders sagging as he did and the smile slipping from his face.

“I’m looking for twenty missing Fixers, JC.” She said flatly as she approached him, tensing her muscles, her expression threatening violence, exploiting his state of mind. He backed away from the counter, his arms raised defensively in front of him. “You know everything that moves through the city, so don’t even bother telling me you don’t know!” She barked, and he flinched, backing into the far wall and pressing himself into it, as if he could pass through.

“I don’t know!” He said, desperately, but Margot didn’t believe it. With a flick of her wrist, she cracked his and he fell to the ground screaming in pain. “H-h-he put you up to this?” He sobbed, realising where the power came from. “You’re going to kill me…for him?”

Exploit paranoia, establish rapport. “You know I don’t take orders from the King…but he is paying my time right now.” She said callously, no emotion in her voice and eyes. “I don’t want to use his power, JC…please don’t make me.” With practiced effort, her eyes watered as her expression softened.

Different emotions passed through his face—hope, fear and suspicion. But JC always knew when an opportunity presented itself and he clung to this, his expression turning confident even through the n. Thinks I need him now, apply pressure. And so she broke his other wrist, the hands now hanging limply from his arms and pain shooting through his body. “You sadistic bitch!” He screamed.

“Watch your mouth, Oh Saviour…” She said cooly. She leaned on the counter as he’d done before and watched him with a curious expression. “I can keep this up, JC. Tell me what I want to know, no nonsense, and I’ll fix that up and be on my way. I might even throw some change your way.” She said calmly, sounding as reasonable as possible.

“Alright, alright!” He said. He raised his hands to head, begging her for help. With another flick of her wrist, she mended his. “You b…” She raised an eyebrow and he fell silent.

“Where did the Fixers go?”

“I don’t know, Vance.” He said flatly as he rose to his feet. “I’ve tried to find out, but they’re just gone!” He looked around him, at all his maps. JC raised his hands and brought them together in a wide arc and all the maps lining the walls fused together in front of him, creating a three dimensional version of the city. “See…” he pointed at a sphere floating above the island. “This is the web, see the anchors to the city?” He pinched the image, spread his fingers and the sphere expanded, zooming in. “This is where we are. There’s you and me.”

“Why am I a red dot?”

“That’s how Fixers show up. Red for you, Purple for the UIs. You can go over the map if you want, there isn’t a single red dot on the entire island!”

“How about the world outside?” She asked, frowning, panning through the island map and looking at the multicoloured dots representing the myriad of supernatural beings going about their businesses.

“It’s the first thing I tried! Nothing!” He said desperately, running his hands through his hair.

“I you don’t know jack, then why’re you so fidgety?”

“Because I knew one of you would come eventually!” He snapped. “And if the big bad king was behind this, with how many of his UIs are now in Fixer territories, he wouldn’t want me around to spill the beans, now would he?”

“He’s not behind it…” Margot said, annoyed that she was defending him.

“You believe him?” The Mapmaker looked shocked.

“Yeah…” She took a moment to consider her options. “I do, because there’s something else, someone else who’s gone missing, JC.”

“I don’t like the look on your face right now.” He said, worried.

“J.W.S.” The mapmaker’s jaw slacked and once again hundreds of emotions passed through his face, only this time they were all shades of fear.

“Shi-i-i-i-i-it. I’ll check the map.” He leaned into the map and tore the image apart, looking through every piece of Onigashima with inhuman speed and attention to detail. Margot wasn’t the type to hope, but this time she did. “Nothing.” he muttered and both their spirits deflated.

“Don’t look for him or the Fixers then, look for traces!” Margot said, something clicking in her mind.


“Fixers and JW-fucking-S are some of the most powerful supernaturals in the entire world. If they were taken, they didn’t go down without a fight.” I wouldn’t and I’m the sensible in the group, Margot thought to herself. “So find me traces of their power, signatures, lights in the sky, whatever it may be!”

JC frowned, racking his brain as to the meaning of it all, then a thought struck him and he gave Vance his most trusting smile. “This is gonna cost ya!” He beamed, having found a step to stand on and get control back. While the threat of the King’s power still scared him, he forced himself to smile.


“Yes, really!” He smiled. “You need me to read the maps, the people and find out everything, so you’re gonna have to cough up!”

“I could break you again.” She said, locking her hard eyes with his. He flinched for a second and Margot had to fight down a smile. She liked intimidating people more than she cared to admit.

With a dismissive wave of his hand the map disappeared and he leaned on the top, so his face was inches away from hers. He could smell her bath oils and she his cheap whisky. “Not if you want The Lord and Saviour to look at the maps!” He grinned with yellowed teeth.

“How much, JC?”

He thought for a moment. “Ten million.”


“Dollars, dear, dollars!” He said, condescendingly slow.

Little bastard…on the other hand I do have an all-expense purse. “Deal.” She said casually. She put her hand in her trouser pocket, opened the clasp and willed ten thousand dollars to appear in her hand. “Here’s ten-K, to start you up. I’m not paying you fully unless you give me something to work with and I find my target.”

“Where did you get so much money, Vance?” He said, curious, his eyes following her hand, pocket to stall.

“Wouldn’t you like to know? Do we have a deal?” She said confidently.

“Yeah, sure, why not?” JC said amicably. “I’ll let you know once I have something.”

“You better, and no talking to anyone else, not even the UIs, you hear me?” She said as coldly as possible.

“Would I do that?” He said, with a sleazy look on his face. It quickly turned into a grimace as she grabbed him by the scruffy shirt and lifted him up effortlessly.

“I hope you don’t, JC!” She twisted the shirt’s collar, forcing it into his throat and choking him. Coward, violence drives point home. He shook his head furiously as his skin went from red to a fine shade of purple. Margo dropped him.

He coughed and wheezed. “Okay, okay! Got it! Now go bother someone else!” He pulled himself up using the counter as support and scowled at his new client.

As Margot left, the image of Abaddon and Lillian firmly in mind to guide her through the web, she heard JC’s whisper. “Psycho cu…” is as far as he went before she broke one of his ribs.

Margot whistled a calming tune over the sound of his screams.

That’ll teach him.