aeons_crackshot: (Talking)
Anybody who's done much cleaning has experienced a moment of 'Where the hell did that come from?' when excavating a closet, attic, or trunk. An item whose provenance is unknown and seems to have appeared there as if by magic. (Possibly, they come from the same dimension that socks lost in the wash go to.)

Annabelle is staring at such an item right now. She knows she didn't buy it and she's 99.999% certain Connor didn't either.

It is a mystery.
aeons_crackshot: (Concerned)
Her hands are going through the motions of taking apart and cleaning a Vickers Martini Mk. 1 Target Rifle when the dream begins.

She hasn't used one since she was 14, but dream logic can be strange.

"I should have known I'd find you working on a gun," says a very familiar voice, tinged with laughter. Annabelle's head snaps up in shock, face going pale as her eyes confirm who's talking to her.

"Mom?" she asks quietly, voice cracking. The pain and loss of an orphaned child is in her voice even now.

"Were you expecting the Easter Bunny?" her mother replies with a raised eyebrow. Her tone is dry, but there is laughter sparkling in her eyes.

Annabelle's mind is reeling so much that she actually says the first thing that crosses her mind, "But you're so small!"

Marie Lee Newfield laughs at that. "Oh my sweet, silly girl," she says with a shake of her head. "You've just gotten taller, that's all."

Annabelle doesn't remember crossing the intervening space, just wrapping her mother in a nearly bone crushing hug. "I've missed you so much, she says with a sniffle, head buried in her mother's shoulder.

"I've missed you too, sweetheart. So very, very much. I've missed so much of your life...."

Annabelle can't quite manage to speak around the lump in her throat, so she just nods.

"But I've taken advantage of a certain loophole, tonight," she says with a mischievous grin, holding her daughter tight. "So I want to hear about all the things I've missed..."

"Loophole?" Annabelle asks, confused.

"All Hallow's Eve," Marie explains. The walls between the living and the dead are a bit more...permeable than usual, tonight."

There is time enough for the telling of tales. Tales of her life as a hero, her death, her loves and her losses. Her new life and love at the Bar at the End of The Universe. At the end of the tale, her mother hugs her even tighter, and whispers, "I'm so proud of you, Annabelle. Prouder than I could ever say."

If they both cry a little then, well, there's no one to see. Both of them can feel the loophole closing, feel the sand slipping through the hourglass. "I can't stay," Annabelle says to her mother. "Not yet."

Marie nods. "No, not yet. You've got too much living left to do," she says with a fond smile. She reaches for something in her hip pocket, and presses it into Annabelle's hand. "Your Connor had best get around to making an honest woman of you, if he knows what's good for him," she says with a grin.

"MOM!!!"

"What? I'm not allowed to want grandchildren?" Marie teases. She hugs Annabelle tightly one last time, kissing her on the forehead. "Be happy, Annabelle. That's all I've ever wanted for you."

Annabelle wakes, then, curled up next to Connor in bed. There's something in her hand....

She unclenches her fist and looks at what lies within. It's not, monetarily speaking, terribly valuable. The brooch is only a thin layer of gold over brass, with a blue agate mosaic of forget-me-nots. The gold has worn off around the edges, and a few of the stones are chipped or missing. That sort of thing tends to happen to jewelry after it's been worn for a generation or two.

Her grandmother's brooch, the one that served as Grandma's wedding ring, and, later, Marie's. She doesn't know what to make of this evidence of a dream that wasn't a dream. Not yet.
aeons_crackshot: (Concerned)
There is no housekeeping like Loompa housekeeping. Everything that Alice may have touched, other than the weapons, has been replaced or thoroughly cleaned.

Annabelle and Connor have made their way up to the room, bypassing the chaos of the Bar below. Eventually, they'll have to find out what Alice got up to and fix any problems, but not tonight.

Warehouse

Jul. 19th, 2010 07:37 pm
aeons_crackshot: (Neutral)
As they step through the door, Annabelle sees the Warehouse for the first time.

It looks....like a warehouse, which is a bit disappointing. At least, it does until you get a look at the motley collection of brick a brack on the shelves.

From somewhere not too far in the distance is a whirring whine of a large vacuum cleaner...

Trapped

Jul. 18th, 2010 03:34 pm
aeons_crackshot: (Concerned)
There's no way to tell time, here. Hours, days? She can't even hear the beat of her own heart to mark the time.

There is nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to smell, or touch, or taste. She's hurled herself against the glass of the inside of the Mirror, for, well, she's not sure how long. She should be spattered in her own blood, would be, if she was anywhere but here.

The human mind doesn't cope well with prolonged sensory deprivation. People hallucinate, become anxious and paranoid. That's why Annabelle's not sure if the whispers and the things at the edges of her vision are real or not. That doesn't bring back pleasant memories.

Things are pretty bad when you can't trust your own mind.

She can feel something cold, hungry, and malevolent poking at her psychic shields. Stalking around the edges of them like a starving predator. It hasn't broken through....yet.

She's completely and utterly alone. There is no life here. But those we love are always with us, in a way. There are many people who are close to her heart. Friends, and more than friends, but all precious.

Those memories are her anchor, holding her up against the terrible tide of fear and despair. She will hold fast. She must.

This will not last forever. Someone will notice that thing wearing her body, and she will be rescued. She won't allow herself to believe otherwise....
aeons_crackshot: (bedroom eyes)
Annabelle and Connor are lying in bed, comfortable, relaxed and sharing secrets and moments of their lives in low voices. For the past half hour or so, they've been discussing Annabelle's rather...unusual and sometimes complicated relationship with Tanya.
aeons_crackshot: (portrait)
Annabelle comes back upstairs after yet another trip to Ellen's world.

At least she's not completely coated in blood this time? The armor, sans helmet is rather thoroughly spattered with things best left unmentioned though. That tends to happen, especially when your targets' heads explode.

She's not expecting company, thanks to a lifetime of being largely...unattached.
aeons_crackshot: (bedroom eyes)
OOC: Takes place after this.

Empathy and telepathy can be a very useful combination when neither of you has a good idea of what you're doing. Things were figured out eventually, and last night was good, very good.

At the moment, Annabelle is lying next to Connor, sleepy, sated, and faintly smug.

Aftermath

Jan. 25th, 2010 12:30 pm
aeons_crackshot: (Concerned)
She'd been too drunk to dream the night they came in, but there's no alcohol to drown out the memory tonight.

The earth shakes, and the world is full of the terrible sound of buildings being ripped apart and the air screaming as if in agony.

The wall of white fire chases them, hunting down its prey, and Annabelle knows that no matter how hard they try, they cannot run fast enough....
aeons_crackshot: (Sprite)
Annabelle is not in a good mood when the Game finally ends. The User was defeated, but Annabelle ended up looking really dorky and the Game's rules made her less effective than she should have been.

Thankfully, there's a potential cure for her foul mood waiting elsewhere in Mainframe. Enzo and Bob have gone home for the night, and Annabelle is traipsing through a not-so-good part of town. According to several scalawags at the hotel bar, it's also the haunt of large numbers of Neovirals...

Annabelle's guns were transformed into energy weapons with a stun setting when she was transformed, and she intends to put them to a very...thorough test tonight.
aeons_crackshot: (Sprite)
Annabelle had an interesting night at the hotel, including most informative conversations with the scallywags in the bar.

In the morning, however, her main priority is breakfast. Annabelle is looking intently at the menu and trying to decide what to order.
aeons_crackshot: (Default)
The results of a drinking contest between someone with a super-human metabolism and someone without are sadly predictable.

It's a nice suite, and the view from the couch includes Annabelle's wall of weapons, which may help Tanya figure out where she is. The arsenal includes the rifles Tanya gifted her with, a sawed-off shotgun, a small pile of grenades, the armored vest, and the re-painted Combine body armor.

The rest of the room doesn't provide much in the way of help, although Annabelle's pistols are slung, holstered, over one of the bedposts.

Someone appears to be in the bathroom, if the light under the closed door is any indication.
aeons_crackshot: (Default)
Annabelle doesn't recognize the halls she's walking, but she can't quite shake the feeling that she ought too.   In a fit of inspiration, she decides to let her feet guide her.  Her footsteps resound on the tile floor as she walks down empty halls.  Somewhere, a clock chimes the midnight hour of December 31, 2008.  She turns a corner and freezes when she sees Whitley Styles.
Am I dreaming? Does it matter?

He doesn't look much older than he did when Annabelle last saw him, for all that more than half a century has passed. "Hello Whitley," Annabelle says with a sad smile.  He looks, she thinks with a faint sense of amusement, like he's seen a ghost.

"Annabelle?" he asks, with a faint tremor in his voice. "How...." he shakes his head, "I must be dreaming."

"I suppose that would mean I'm dreaming too, then," Annabelle replies, suddenly uneasy when faced with her old friend.  She remembers what Michael told her about the others' response to her betrayal and death.  She takes a deep breath, and says, "I'm sorry about the things that happened because of what I did Whitley, but I'm not sorry that I saved Michael."

Whitley Styles looks lost in memory for a moment, as if every year of his long life is weighing on him. "You know what's happened, then?" he asks quietly, "How?"

"Where I am now, time and space get a little....odd.  I've met and spoken with someone who lived through the aftermath."  There really is no explaining Milliways to someone who hasn't been there. She looks at Whitley, hoping that he'll understand, "I couldn't let him die, even knowing what I know now..."

Whit nods, he doesn't seem angry, so much as sorrowful. "There's no telling, now, how events would have unfolded without him.  For better or for worse, Michael has shaped the world in unimaginable ways."  He pauses for a moment, as if wanting to confirm something already suspected. "and you were in love with him," he says, quietly.

"I still am," Annabelle whispers. "It hasn't been nearly as long for me as it has for you.  I last saw you five months ago..."  Whit just stares at her in shock for a moment, mouth agape. "I told you that time and space are strange where I am now."

"There are more things in heaven and earth," Whit says with something that is almost a laugh as he drags his hand across his face.

"Beyond either, really.  I don't know that there's any explaining it until you've been there."

Neither of them can think of anything to say for a long few moments.  "This doesn't feel like a dream," Whit finally remarks.

"No, it doesn't.  If this is real...." Annabelle's voice is suddenly deadly earnest, "There are things you need to know Whitley, terribly important things.  Do you remember Max's Considerations for Moderation?"

"Of course," he replies, unsure what Annabelle is driving at.

"The war he was talking about....it wasn't World War Two."

He leans forward, "What war, then? he asks, suddenly feeling a terrible  sense of foreboding.

"A war that hasn't happened...yet."

"WHAT?"

"I've talked to someone who's from farther down the time stream, Whitley.    If events aren't stopped there will be a war between Novas and baselines!" Annabelle exclaims as her voice cracks. "I don't think I need to tell you what the death toll will be if that happens."

Whitley Styles goes terribly still for a long moment. 
Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. This can't be real. If it is, can you afford to fail again? You've seen the writing on the wall.
"I think," he says after the long pause," that I had better take notes."

*************************************************************
It takes quite a while for Annabelle to tell Whitley Styles everything that she can remember about the future.  Annabelle can't shake the feeling that she's running out of time. "Whitley, did they ever clear out a bank  account of mine in Switzerland?"

"You had a bank account in Switzerland? I don't think so, why?"

"I know that you believe me right now, but I have the feeling that, whatever this is, we're running out of time.  When this is over, you'll question the veracity of everything I've told you." She smiles wryly, "You always were the sensible one.  Go and look in a certain safety deposit box, 2342A, at the main bank in Geneva.  Hopefully, that will be proof enough that I'm not a figment of your, or someone else's, imagination."  On impulse, Annabelle leans over and hugs a rather surprised Whitley Styles "...I miss you all so much."  

After a moment, Whitley returns her embrace. "We miss you too Annabelle."  Whitley Styles is not cruel enough to mention that  Michael might not be among that number.

Annabelle says, sniffling a bit, "I am not crying, damn it."

"Of course you aren't," Whitley Styles replies, with mock solemnity. He's a bit teary himself.

"Prat."

"On occassion."

"Be careful Whitley.  You know the kinds of things that Proteus has done."

"I will.  I was experienced in espionage before any of Thetis's operatives were even born."

"You had better not end up dead any time soon, or we're going to have WORDS, Whitley Styles."

**************************************************************
After that, everything fades, and Annabelle finds herself sitting in a chair in her room at the End of the Universe.
aeons_crackshot: (Default)
From the journals of Whitley Styles:

The last of the monstrous spiders spasmed once and lay still, but we had not yet achieved our aim. Annabelle Newfield was still in the hands of a madman who had stolen the face of Sir John Tavers, a long time friend of AEon, to lure her here. What we had found in our attempt to ascertain her fate was a man who, fancying himself a Sorcerer, had transformed the island to suit his own twisted fairytale vision. The spiders, though horrible to look upon, did not trouble me as much as the guards we had dispatched earlier. They had been men once, before the horrors that had befallen them at the hands of this madman. We had not heard them speak, though whether they remained silent because they could not speak or because they had forgotten the tongues of Men I could not say.

In our battles with the various monstrosities we had found both Annabelle's weapons and a prisoner by the name of Lord William Weston. Weston had shed some light on Annabelle's fate, although he had little reassurance to give us. It seems that our "Sorcerer" had drafted her to play the role of Damsel in Distress while Lord Weston's nephew was picked to play the role of Knight. There had been other prisoners, all of whom had been chosen to play one role or the other. None had returned. Lord Weston reported hearing the sounds of some great beast, at whose claws he presumed those unfortunates had met their ends.

We had, thank God, arrived shortly after Lord Weston's nephew had been chosen. We were presently racing through these labarynthine passages, hoping to reach both of them while they were still alive. As we reached yet another fork, fate took pity on us. We suddenly heard Annabelle's voice echoing clearly through the passages," OVER HERE YOU MISBEGOTTEN SPAWN OF A BAT AND A LIZARD!" followed by a terrible roar.

"That would be Annabelle," Tallon remarked dryly as we changed course.

"She's fighting that thing!?" Lord Weston interjected. (We had not dared to leave him alone with so many creatures wandering about.)

"I would have expected nothing less," Max told him, "our would be sorcerer made a rather unfortunate choice for his Damsel in Distress."

I could not help but smile a bit at that. Annabelle Newfield was perfectly capable of killing a man with tableware and mad enough to try and kill the creature with whatever was at hand. However, even with her considerable talents she was still in mortal danger. We finally reached the arena and beheld the terrible beast that our "Sorcerer" had created. It appeared to be a dragon in every way that mattered, including the ability to breathe fire. Indeed, we arrived just in time to see Annabelle dodge a burst of flame and stab the creature in the eye with a spear. It bellowed in mortal agony, convulsed and lay still.

Our "Sorcerer" had been watching the fight with an expression of horrified disbelief. "Inconceivable!" he shouted as the Dragon ceased its convulsions. He had not thought, yet, to set any of the guards that were present on Annabelle. We intended to see that he did not get that chance....
aeons_crackshot: (Default)

Annabelle has decided, after half a bottle of whiskey, that knowing the future is most certainly a curse and not a blessing.


 Forgive me Lord, I know not what I do.


She hadn't thought that she'd come back alive from her last desperate mission to save Primoris's, now Michael's, life.  She had believed that her own blood would be the last shed as a result of that particular Devil's bargain.  It wasn't...


Midwife to an age both  terrible and great.  What have I bound,  and what have I unleashed?


Annabelle had listened with growing horror and despair as Michael had told her of the events that happened after her death. Her death had spurred his desire to control the world, to make it be what he thought it should be.  With the terrible clarity of hindsight, she could see how Michael's pride and desire to better the world had twisted into arrogance and a certainty in his own rightness...


Should I have known you'd scribe your name in blood and fire across the face of the world?


It was no surprise then, that it came to blows.  AEon, after two of its founding members had betrayed it and one departed for parts unknown, had become the very thing it had long fought against.  The Society had sought to control Inspiration, to make the world forget that it had ever existed.  Then Michael had decided to create something that would be impossible to cover up. 

He had found a way to create others like himself,  more powerful than the Stalwarts of her own lifetime.  The Novas were his children really, for all that they were not his by blood.  The things his children would do....diseases cured, wars and famines prevented, unspeakable massacres, disasters and devastation...


We are too small to comprehend the consequences of our actions.


AEon had tried to control the Novas, even rendering them sterile.  Michael had gathered Novas to himself and proclaimed them outside of humanity and unbound by its laws.  Michael might not have ordered the atrocities some of his followers committed, but he hadn't tried to stop them.


Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.


Annabelle had asked him if there was anything left of the man she loved...


A monster can wear a beloved face.


quite forgetting that she'd never said those words to him before.  Some small shred of pride had kept her from telling him for fear of being rebuffed.   The look on his face...  It had been answer enough. 

That had prompted Michael to explain his own feelings.  She'd known that her love was unrequited, of course. She wasn't blind.  Michael was in love with Max and had been afraid to admit his feelings to the man he loved.


We were two damaged souls.  The difference between us, in the end, was that you turned the knife upon the world, and I upon myself. 


She supposed it was some small mercy that the rejection had nothing to do with her personally.  She'd plead tiredness shortly after that, most likely not fooling Michael in the least.  Annabelle had never been in the habit of showing weakness in public.  Anger came to her far more readily than grief, but it was simply too much.


Tell me, would you pay the price again? 

Yes.



Annabelle put her head on her knees and wept for her own broken heart.







aeons_crackshot: (Default)

"We've got to stop meeting like this Miss Newfield, people will talk," said Dr. Gregory Moore.

Annabelle Newfield made a pained noise and without opening her eyes replied, "I don't get injured like this on purpose Dr. Moore."

The head physician at the Emily Mercer Memorial Clinic in Chicago had become Annabelle's unofficial doctor, much to the relief of the other physicians on staff.  Perhaps they felt that since Dr. Moore had grandchildren who were older than Annabelle Newfield he was better qualified  to handle the deadly 14 year old.  (Annabelle still maintained that the unfortunate physician who had tried to physically restrain her had been lucky to only wind up with a broken nose.)

"Considering how much you hate convalescence that was never in doubt," Dr. Moore replied as continued his examination of his rather woozy and disoriented patient.  "Dare I ask what it was this time?"

"Dunno, bloody giant plant thing.  Tried to eat Stefokowski and the plane."

"Mhmm.  Any difficulties other than the pain at the moment?"

Annabelle looked at Dr. Moore with disoriented misery, "I don't like hearing colors..."

"Synesthesia... lovely," Dr.  Moore replied sarcastically.  "Nurse, please see if you can get a hold of Mr. Whitley Styles.  Yes, that Mr. Styles.  He might know what species it was before someone started mucking about with it.  It would be nice to have some idea of where to start with treatment for a change."

He turned back to his patient, "I will say this for treating members of the AEon society, it's never dull."

OOM

Aug. 12th, 2008 02:11 pm
aeons_crackshot: (Default)

August 12, 1938   5 p.m.  Rome, Italy


The various thugs that had been hired to guard the underground laboratory were twitchy tonight.  It was clear that something was going to happen shortly.  Annabelle was willing to bet that  some of the thugs that had been hired to protect the laboratory were loyal to factions in the Contedorri that would like to see the project fail.  Hopefully they'd kill each other and the resulting shortage of personnel would give her a shot at Zvarich without a large number of mooks breathing down her neck.  


Sure enough Marconi, the greasy, pot-bellied waste of space, got a bullet in the back 10 minutes later. Luckily,  Annabelle hadn't lived this long without being as adept at dodging bullets as she was at firing them. 

From an experienced point of view the firefight that followed was a pathetic affair.  Annabelle didn't even need to "help" any of them into the path of oncoming gunfire, they managed that on their own.

"Honestly, would it kill you lot to hire someone with more than two neurons to rub together?"  Annabelle asked the three surviving thugs.

The young blond gunman in the back shrugged and said with a smirk "It's a shame there was only one survivor."

One of the other thugs who was slow on the uptake confusedly began "What you talking about Edward, there's four of us.." only  to have Edward put a bullet between his eyes before he could finish his question.   Annabelle and the other remaining thug moved to get out of Edward's line of fire.  A bullet passed by Annabelle's elbow as she rolled behind a stack of crates, but the other thug wasn't so lucky, taking a hit to the heart.  Edward grinned like he'd won a prize.

"It looks like it's just the two of us now Miss Newfield.  I didn't want to kill them, but I couldn't have them contradicting my version of events.  You see, I'll tell Zvarich that you turned on us and I finally brought you down after you killed all these poor devils.  He'll believe that you did it easily enough.  Some of them," he gestured to the bodies of the thugs," call you the Angel of Death.  Your reputation is such that killing you will make me a god in their eyes."  Edward grinned ghoulishly " I can't wait."

Annabelle used his little speech to get into a better firing position.  He was just a kid, hardly more than sixteen (and when had that age become young to a warrior whose career began at 14) but he had the mannerisms of a rabid dog already.  He was probably Inspired himself and thought he was the best to ever hold a gun.  He wanted to become a legend, but the only thing he was going to become was a corpse.

Annabelle called out "You don't want to pick a fight with me boy, I was killing more dangerous things than you when you were still in short pants!"
He didn't listen, they never did.  Annabelle somersaulted out from behind the crates firing both Hell pistols as she rolled.  The poor son of a bitch never had a chance.  He fell to the floor dead with a surprised look on his face.

***************************************************************************************************************************************

"What happened?" Zvarich asked Annabelle as she entered the area of the Tesla earthquake generator alone.

"There was a bit of a dust up."  Annabelle replied "Apparently some of your associates have taken a dislike to this little project and hired some mooks to solve the problem with gunfire."

"All of the guards that were inside are dead?!" exclaimed Zvarich as he stopped fiddling with something that crackled with electrical energy

"It's not my fault you hired incompetent help."  Annabelle snapped  " The goons that wanted to stop this project are dead and no one from outside has gotten inside the lab to wreck that damn machine.  That's what I'm here for."

"Yes, yes I know that." Zvarich muttered as he fiddled with one of dials " I was just surprised that's all.  What about that nice young fellow Edward?"

"He took on more trouble than he could handle."

"Ah, a great pity that.  Are there any more guards that we can pull in to guard the machine itself?"

"Not without leaving the rest of the complex practically unguarded."  Annabelle replied honestly.  Admittedly, Zvarich's problems weren't going to come from outside the room, but he didn't know that.  Zvarich grimaced and gave her a speculative glance.  He clearly believed that Annabelle had sent some sort of signal to AEon and that the society would be showing up to crash the party.  As if they'd trust me now after what I've done,  she thought bitterly.

"Yes, well we can't have that now can we?"  he said with a smirk "I'll just have to trust in your considerable skills and leave the guards to deal with any... visitors."

Annabelle walked slowly over to the machine and pointed to a piece of the machine that was spinning wildly and making an eerie humming noice.  "What does that doohickey do?" she asked.  

Zvarich winced in horror at Annabelle calling the whatever it was a doohickey.  Zvarich strode over to Annabelle and away from the device that could be used to call in the guards, precisely as Annabelle had intended, with indignation plain on his face.  "That 'doohickey' Miss Newfield is the gravitational capacitor, and I would ask that you refrain from touching it."

"I wasn't planning on touching it." Annabelle replied as she eased a throwing knife down into her hand.  Zvarich must have sensed the danger, as he made a move toward his radio device.  He wasn't fast enough.  The knife hit him in the throat and he collapsed to the floor.  The blow should have killed him instantly, but it appeared he had made some modifications to himself as Hephaestia had done.  

"I'll give you anything you want!"  Zvarich rasped in panic as he lay bleeding out on the floor gazing up at Annabelle, who had a fey look in her eyes now. "Anything!"

Annabelle laughed then, a sound bitter and sharp as broken glass.  "You can't give me what I want" she told him sadly.   Annabelle twisted the knife to ensure the job was done.

The machine whirred and spun oblivious to the death beneath it.  Annabelle gazed up at it.  The device was far too big to move and once the Contedorri found out what happened they would likely use the machine immediately.  Annabelle couldn't, in good conscience, leave the thing intact.    Annabelle drew her pistols and began to fire at anything that looked delicate or important, including the gravitational capacitor.  

At first the machine buzzed like a swarm of bees and towards the end it screamed like a living thing.  As the machine finally began to tear itself apart the underground complex began to shake and Annabelle could hear the stone in the surrounding rooms caving in as the electrical lights went out.  Annabelle heard the machine finally die in the dark.  Then, she heard the several tons of scaffolding that had been holding the machine tear loose from the walls.  There was pain and the sound of wings and Annabelle Lee Newfield found herself somewhere else entirely.





 

aeons_crackshot: (Default)
The trouble with helping mankind achieve its full potential was that people had the potential to be complete bastards. When Hammersmith's machine had exploded and released its AEtheric radiation it hadn't selected any one particular moral character. While AEon had gathered many who worked for the betterment of all mankind, other organizations had been focused on personal power and profit. The resulting global gang war between the Contedorri and the Ubiquitous Dragon Tong had led to the grim circumstances Annabelle Lee Newfield was facing in the Emily Mercer Memorial Clinic in Chicago.

AEon had battled both criminal organizations for years and the Contedorri had managed to land a telling blow at last. Dr. Primoris had been stricken by a malady that AEon's best had yet to cure. The Contedorri were attempting to blackmail AEon with his life. They would provide the means to drive their engineered malady dormant  so long as AEon  let them have their way. AEon stood for the betterment of mankind, they could not allow the Contedorri to grind the world beneath their heel. Annabelle had seen the strain on everyone's faces as they weighed the life of a dear friend against the fate of thousands. They had hoped for so long that they could find a way to save him without accepting that devil's bargain, but it was becoming horribly clear that they were running out of time.

It was unsettling seeing him lying there pale and unconscious. Primoris had shrugged off poisons that would kill a hundred men and blows that could cut a man in half, but this invisible foe was slowly claiming his life. It was hard on all of AEon's founding members to see a dear friend brought low, but Annabelle was losing the man she loved. She'd never told him that of course, as it was clear he did not return her feelings and likely never would. Nevertheless ,she reasoned that he knew.  Anabelle grimaced, subtlety had never been her strong suit and she feared her feelings for him had been glaringly obvious.  It was a wound that wouldn't heal and sometimes she wanted nothing more than to be able to hate him instead. 


They say that love is blind


She couldn't hate him, not for that.   Dixon hadn't slept for days, trying to find a solution, and Annabelle had gone to visit Primoris after yet another unsucessful treatment.  She thought she could almost feel Primoris's life slipping through her fingers as she rested a hand on his arm. In the end it didn't matter if he felt the same way. She couldn't let him die, even if the price was everything. 


I will make a deal with the devil for thy sake. 


Primoris needed time and Annabelle would buy it by making her own deal with the Contedorri. She would betray AEon, her second family, to save the man she loved. They say that deals with the Devil are signed in blood and Annabelle suspected that dealing with the Contedorri would be no different. The only question was who's blood and how much of it would be required to meet their price. 


Is bending a sign of weakness or of strength? 



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August 12, 1938,


A deal had been struck in the end. The Contedorri wanted a device that could create earthquakes, a device that had been in the hands of the Ubiquitous Dragon Tong. Annabelle had assisted in its acquisition and now only its final setup underground remained.  The Contedorri didn't trust her of course, they would have had to be fools to trust a traitor . They did have leverage in the form of Primoris's life, and that had reassured them enough to have her  help guard the machine while it was being assembled by Dr. Zvarich in its new location underneath Rome. Unfortunately for Dr. Zvarich,  Annabelle had made another bargain.

She wasn't entirely certain how Marcello had found her, but he had made an offer that she could not refuse. He was thin and delicate looking, with an uncanny knack for getting into and out of places without being seen. Annabelle had nearly shot him when he seemed to appear out of thin air shortly after she arrived in Rome. She remembered how the angry and bitter young man had made his offer.

" I do not trust money, but I will make you an offer for blood. A life for a life. Dr. Zvarich took my sister from me, take his life, and I will see that your young man gets the true cure for what they have given him."

Marcello wouldn't say what Zvarich had done to earn himself a spot in Hell, but Annabelle could guess. The lives of the poor and indigent were cheap,and more than one scientist had done unspeakable things to other humans in the name of research. Marcello had joined the Contedorri to gain information on his sister's killer only to find him within their ranks. Marcello claimed he could get into the laboratory with the cure easily enough (they had no reason to suspect treachery from him) while the Contedorri would destroy the cure rather than let Annabelle get anywhere near it. In return, Annabelle's skill in battle, which Marcello lacked, would give her access to the lab and Zvarich. 

Annabelle checked her weapons one last time before heading underground. One way or another Zvarich would be dining with the Devil tonight. 





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