The room was silent for approximately 0.8 seconds before Gulfstream started to scream and collapse to her knees, wringing her hands through her hair.
That was the precise moment the room erupted into chaos.
Necro launched up from her bar position immediately and started giving directions. “Everyone, stay calm! Proceed to the exit and do not go into the back!”
Time immediately ran up the stairs and hastily undid all the locks, Riri following suit and nimbly working out the locks, having more success than he. The door was soon enough flung open and the two immediately barged outside. Riri wasted no time dialing the police.
Nyx immediately made for the exit, but turned her head backwards to look and see if there truly was a fire. Sure enough, the wooden door into the back burst into flames and the fire started to drag around and into the room. Bixbite quickly scooped up the horror-struck Nyx and dashed up and out of the building.
Gulfstream had lodged herself in the corner of the room, trembling and yelling. “Make it stop, make it stop! This isn’t real!”
Luana rushed over. “Gulf, Gulfy, we need to get out. Now. Come on.”
Gulfstream had tears strewn all over her face, her paws tearing into the cheap wood flooring as she floored herself. “Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.”
The fear in Luana’s eyes grew as the flames rose. With the pulling motion of her arm, vines burst from the ground, lifting up Gulfstream, who was twitching in fear, her breathing pattern shallow. “We need to get out.”
Scurrying for the exit, the vines grew and followed Luana, Gulfstream in the vines’ clutches. Gulfstream did not seem happy, screaming and thrashing and begging for the vines to let her go, slapping and tearing with her paws at the roots to no avail.
Sirens blared as the rest evacuated promptly. The sound of gushing waterfalls of liquid pouring down onto the ablaze house melted out any other conversation.
Necro stared with horror at the remnants of her home, smoldering with ash and embers. A thin, scratchy blanket was wrapped around her shoulders, that being the only thing restraining her from digging her nails into her forearms. Tears streaked down her face from her eyes, wide with fury.
An inaudible exchange between her and a firefighter was made, Time watching from the side. All of the others had seemed to sit there…except Bixbite.
The tall vampire swiftly made away from the carnage, her pin-straight hair moving as little as possible as she whisked behind a building, standing face to face with a tall, red-haired teenager with a neutral expression upon her lips. A crisp, white button-down with a black suit vest was her choice of top, with a neon pink tie and a black suit jacket slung around her waist. Playing with a small flame in her palms, she continued to summon a small spark here and there, her lips flicking into a smile every now and then.
Bixbite sighed as she slid down the wall, her mouth opening and revealing her fangs. “…Rebel, you really went all the way with the whole fire thing.”
Rebel shrugged with a smirk twisted on her lips and snapped her fingers, the small flame evaporating. “You’re lucky I didn’t use blue fire. This place would’ve burnt down in a heartbeat, with everyone in it.”
Bixbite gritted her teeth. “Look, are we done here? Can I go back to my house now?”
Rebel nodded. “Just so you know, Corvus got Rosetta into Rhythm Access. The shortage was completed.”
“I heard over the P.A’s.”
“Good. Remember, if you choose to turn on the New Fate…”
Bixbite burst in frustration. “Yes, I know! My parents will be fired from their jobs and evicted. Are we done?!”
Rebel rose an eyebrow and nodded, placing a hand on Bixbite’s shoulder. With a sigh, she said, “Look. I don’t want to do this to your family. It’s the Mod’s orders. I’m really sorry you’re stuck in a situation like this.”
Bixbite was violently shaking, tears streaming out of her eyes as she frantically wiped them away. “It’s…It’s not your fault. It’s fine. I’m fine. I can deal with this.”
Rebel’s smile had faded a while ago, her face morphing into a sympathetic expression as she clutched Bixbite into a hug. “Hey, you’re strong. You’re one of the best fighters I know. You can make it through this.”
Bixbite nodded with a sniff. “…okay.”
Rebel nodded. “Good. Well, I’ll see you around when we have more orders…so tomorrow?”
Bixbite nodded. “Tomorrow. After school, though.”
Rebel flared her nose in disgust. “Eugh. So glad I finished school early. Have fun, kiddo.”
Bixbite nodded. “Sure. Fun.”
The group from inside of the building collectively stared at the ashes before them: what was left of their sanctuary, the fight club.
Nova stared at the remains with a frown. “…don’t we all have school tomorrow?”
Necro whipped around. “THAT’S what you’re worried about?! School?! My house just got burnt down! All of my possessions are gone, and my job is too! Do you think I am worried about SCHOOL right now?!”
Nova looked stunned from Necro’s sudden outburst. “Uh, sorry…”
Necro lunged for Nova, burning fury in her eyes. “NO! Sorry will not cut it right now! I am currently homeless! All because of someone’s whim to burn—”
Time reached for Necro and immediately pulled her back with all of his strength, the latter foaming at the mouth with fury. “Necro, calm down. Calm down…”
Necro whipped around and started to hit Time repeatedly in the back, as if an effort for him to let her go. “NO! I will NOT calm down! No, no, no!!”
Her fury slowly started to break down, turning into faint sobbing as she clutched onto Time and continued to whisper the same phrase, over and over…
Two figures sat together in a café later that night. What little faux sun outside remaining was drowned out by the simulated nighttime, the beams of streetlights peeping through the windows of the rustic, earthy café.
The first figure retained a slender physique; his square jaw resting in his left hand, which held a tattoo of a black swirl upon it. He had blond hair with dyed-green bangs, raised up and out of his eyes. Wearing a black bomber jacket and a green hoodie underneath, he seemed to be fairly comfortable as he took a long sip from his vanilla cremé frappucino, quickly placing down his drink and stirring it with small gusts of air being manipulated by his pointer finger.
The second figurine had a mass of gray-and-blue streaked hair, the original color being black. Her fair skin shone a little in the lighting, from oils produced under her bangs drifting in her face. A light blue windbreaker was slung on a chair behind her, wearing a fitting, black, long-sleeve shirt and baggy black pants that shifted as she inhaled and exhaled. Her storm-blue eyes stared intently at the boy across from her, the former described above. With a sigh and a sip from her mocha, she placed down her drink and said to the boy, “Quasar, when is Swampy getting here?”
Quasar sighed. “Swampy said any minute now half an hour ago. She has a tendency to be late, remember?”
Thunderstorm sighed. “Yeah, I know, it’s just…”
Suddenly, a skinny girl wearing a rolled-up, bulky lavender blouse and a black skirt burst into the room, her wavy brown hair askew and her face flushed red, as if she had been running for half an hour.
“I am so sorry I’m late!!” she exclaimed, bowing her head down in apology to the two. “Ah, I got held up at my job again…”
Thunderstorm smiled in an understanding manner. “Your boss is kinda weird, Swampy. I don’t blame you.”
Swampy sighed in relief as she collapsed into a nearby wooden chair, the café legitimately empty except for one or two faces behind the coffee bar. “So, why’re we here again?”
Thunderstorm looked at both of them. “Well, the shortage at the arena, right? I know who caused it. I saw them.”
Swampy leapt up and slammed his hands on the table. “Shut up, who?!”
Thunderstorm pressed her finger onto her lips and made a shushing noise. “Be quiet!”
Swampy sighed and sat back down. Whispering, she said again, “Shut up, who?!”
Thunderstorm took another sip from her coffee and looked at the two again. “It was a girl with this pale-ish pink hair? She was really creepy. I was prepping for my Rhythm Flow round against Imagine earlier and I sat out in the arena early, because it was break and people were getting snacks. She just kinda sneaked under the screen through the technical work door. She wasn’t wearing a proper uniform or anything, and she somehow got past.”
Quasar rose his eyebrows. “…that’s suspicious. And they don’t have this on camera?”
Thunderstorm shook her head. “I tried to tell Sarae, but she called up an official and they didn’t believe me.”
Quasar sighed. “As normal. So, how is this relevant anymore?”
Thunderstorm tapped on the table to gain the two’s attention. “What it MEANS is that there might be someone trying to sabotage Rhythm Access and their fighters. Which could be dangerous to the government, you know—”
Yet another girl burst through the front door, but this one had blonde hair. Her mouth flew open as she caught her breath, her long, frog-like tongue rolling out and back in.
“Guys,” she breathed, her blonde-and-green hair swept out of her eyes. “The fight club burnt down.”
Quasar leapt up. “WHAT?! Pineapple, is Necro okay? Is everyone okay?!”
Pineapple nodded, fixing her hoodie and skirt. “Yes, they all got out safe. Everyone is fine, but it wasn’t an accidental fire. It was caused with nymph magic.”
Thunderstorm raised her eyebrows. “…nymph magic?”
Pineapple nodded yet again, almost as if she was out of words…she wasn’t. “Yeah. Crimson flame, so it’s a purebred fire nymph.”
Quasar flinched at the term “purebred”. “Could you…not say purebred that loosely?”
Pineapple immediately realized her mistake. “Oh…sorry, Quasar.”
Quasar grinned weakly. “It’s all good. Don’t worry about it.”
Pineapple nodded, her tongue flicking out as she sat down. Reaching up so her arms could graze the tabletop, she looked at the trio with a tired look. “So, yeah, that’s what happened. Now, if you’ll” — she yawned — “excuse me, I’m gonna 'nap' here.”
“Suit yourself,” Thunderstorm and Swampy responded in unison.
Quasar looked at the clock above the door, drumming his fingers nonchalantly on the table. 5:00 already, huh?
Pineapple’s stomach growled louder than a bear and Thunderstorm turned to look at her. “…Pineapple, have you eaten anything today?”
Pineapple looked taken aback by the question. “What—Yes! I have—”
Another loud growl.
Pineapple sighed. “…no, I haven’t.”
Thunderstorm stood up with a determined look upon her face. “I’m taking you to my house and making you two grilled sandwiches. You’re gonna eat both, ya hear?”
Pineapple nodded with a small “okay”, leaving Swampy and Quasar alone in the room. Swampy softly coughed and Quasar scratched the back of his neck, both visibly uncomfortable.
With a sigh, Swampy spoke up. “Hey, since they’re going off…want to get a burger?”
Quasar bobbed his head to signify his agreement, blushing slightly. “Sure, why not.”
A large while away from the small café stood Rebel and…a teenager with ibex horns. He seemed fairly muscular for his age (from close up, he looked 18), wearing a gray, hoodless sweatshirt and black sweatpants, with no shoes on to fully reveal his goat hooves for feet. He grinned shamelessly as the two conversed, Rebel seeming to loathe every second.
Rebel groaned as she placed her head in her hand, cocking her wrist ever-so-slightly. “Murdoc, stop flirting. I am here to converse for work, and not for fun.”
Murdoc only grinned more, his eyes narrowing. “Come on, you know it’s fun to flirt.”
Rebel pulled out one of her pistols: the red one with black designs, and pointed straight for him. “Does this look like fun now?”
Murdoc’s eyes widened, the grin disappearing. “…okay then.”
“Now, will you tell me if Corvus delivered the package to Rosetta or not?”
“He did, he did. Sheesh…”
Rebel sighed and stashed her gun in her belt, once again summoning a small flame and playing with it in her hands. “Okay. The club has successfully been burned down, and the board’s wiring was messed with as planned. Attack should prove useful tomorrow.”
Murdoc shrugged. “Okay. Rosetta know all of this?”
“No. Pass it on, tell her. Okay?”
“‘Kay.” Murdoc spun on his hoof and made for the other end of the street.
Rebel hesitated for a second before calling out, “Hey, Murdoc,” her voice rising in the end.
Murdoc spun around, a look of joy apparent on his face. “Yes?”
“You forgot to pay me back for the cheesesteak sandwich I bought you.”