The English countryside was a beautiful place with lush green hills and winding one way roads leading to any number of beautiful places. It was the one thing that Maxine Dupont enjoyed about returning to The Hellfire Mansion. Zooming down the winding road in her vintage 1928 Coventry Eagle Flying 8 – her favorite, her neon pink “Hello Kitty” ear buds pumping one of her favorite road trip songs, she closed the gap between her and the house that had built her. She had been in Tokyo for a few months, hence the girly ear buds, enforcing a treaty between the black court and a prominent Yakuza syndicate, The Yamaguchi family. She had loved every minute of it. Yakuza gangsters operated with so much honor and reverence for each other that it was not unlike the Inner Circle of The Hellfire Club, but there was a level of respect among yakuza gangsters than there was in the inner circle. She had lived her life like a character in a Tarantino film while in Tokyo, using a samurai sword and starting a blood war. To be summoned from it all by The Black Queen herself with little notice, it had been annoying. She was enjoying the freedom that Evelyn Pierce had given her, and she didn't want to return to the land of lame cocktail parties and fluctuating estrogen levels. But freedom had it's price, and the black queen had helped her gain her freedom. She would be forever loyal. Gripping the handles of her bike, the sun reflected in her aviators as leaned forward, increasing the speed until she saw the gates of the mansion appear in front of her. The guards were well versed in how Maxine operated and as soon as they saw her appear on the horizon, the gates began to open. This was HER home, and she made sure that everybody knew it, and it wasn't just a metaphoric statement. The deed to the mansion had been in her father, Jean Luc Dupont. One of his smarter investments over the years. She may not have ran the inner circle, but when she came to the mansion everybody was at attention. She liked it that way, speeding even faster, she made it a point to appear she was going to drive right THROUGH the gates, like she always did before sneaking through smoothly just at the right exact moment. She watched the panicked look of the guards in the booth from her side mirror as she rode up the cobble stone driveway to the grand entrance, next to a giant fountain. Taking off her sunglasses, she tucked them in the pocket of her white black, sleeveless t-shirt and pulled out a pack of Lucky Strikes, lighting it using the heat could generate from her hands, as the giant castle like doors of the manor were opening by attendants. In the doorway, she made out the form of The Black Queen, the enigmatic Lord Ravena and the queen's most trusted aide, a woman by the name of Asha Kinatbe, a mysterious woman who was always at Evelyn's side, and spoke very little. The Black Queen had been settling into her role quite nicely. Over the last two years she had made the black court into an armed force among the inner circle, watching over various areas of the club's business and making sure that things ran smoothly. In Hellfire Europe, The White Court represented the political ideology of the club, The Red Court was in charge of new business and acquisitions, using their prominent social clout to lure prospective members and sources of revenue to the club. The Black Court was in charge of operations and ensuring the everything was managed and watched over meticulously. Evelyn was an excellent manager with an extensive portfolio herself, and being the middle man between both courts, she was almost able to know and see all that was going on within the inner circle. Lord Ravena was one of Evelyn's legendary lovers. The Black Queen enjoyed herself, but she was somewhat of a serial monogamist. She enjoyed passionate affairs, both of the body and mind, and she was known for her long and epic romances. Lord Ravena was a man that Maxine had seen for a few years. Just when she had forgotten about it, he showed up at the mansion and enjoyed Evelyn's company for weeks on end. Maxine knew little about him, but she did know that he was incredibly power, could hold his gaze over her own, and that made her respect him. Finally, as her gaze looked upon Asha, she took a moment of pause. There had never been an Evelyn without Asha by her side, or at least it seemed. She was a mysterious woman who would lay her life down for Evelyn, which made her all that much more mysterious. What had Evelyn done for her that caused that kind of loyalty and would Maxine eventually end up like her. So dependent, trading one life of servitude for another. She had killed her father so that she could live, and in the back of her mind, though she deeply cared for Evelyn, she often wondered when her debt would be repaid. When would truly be free? The three of them stood before her and she had smirk to herself. She never thought she would ever see so many people of color in The Hellfire Club at once. It was a testament to the idea that Evelyn could bring about change to an old and archaic, mismanaged system. Throwing the butt on the ground, smashing it under her thigh lengths black riding boots and embraced the woman in a deep hug. Evelyn always smelled like peony and plum. It was inviting, sexy and a bit dangerous, like the woman herself. Evelyn: “The Dark Knight returns.” “Begrudgingly.” Evelyn: “Please. There's a part of you that misses this place. You like being the peacock of a pigeon circus.” Evelyn eyed her up and down for a moment with a mixture of confusion and also approval. Maxine was always somewhat of an enigma with how she looked. She liked to play up her androgyny. She found power in not walking the world as immediately male or female. She was something else altogether, though depending on how she was feeling, she might play up either masculine or feminine sides to her. In short, she was gender fluid. Evelyn always seemed to find Maxine's style and presentation very intimidating and interesting. Evelyn: “Tokyo has done wonders for your aesthetic. Your hair looks as if it were cut by a computer.” “It was actually. There's a barber shop in Shimbashi that let's you create your own hair cut. Stick your head in a box with a bunch of mechanical blades and...well, here we are.” Evelyn: “Fascinating... Maxine, you remember Lord Ravena.” Maxine bowed her head towards Ravena in a knight's pose for a moment, before extending her hand to shake his. “Pleasure to see you, my Lord. Here for the upcoming festivities?” The Black Knight was referring to the “La Godda Davita” party that was happening in a few days around the mansion. Created by Evelyn Pierce herself, the event utilized the large and expansive hedge maze to create a Garden of Eden like atmosphere with a touch of a “Midsummer Night's Dream”. The party had few rules and many temptations, and it created the perfect environment to create new allegiances, engage in hedonistic debauchery and it was one of the sacred rituals of the club. With man like centaurs and nymphs running around, serving drinks and tempting party goers in a number of ways, Maxine actually secretly enjoyed the party. It was quite magical. Lord Ravena: “The prodigal daughter returns. The pleasure is mine, knight. And yes, I could not pass up an opportunity to be at one with my own nature, with a woman like the black queen at my side.” Maxine smirked. Though he had flirted with the idea of being the new Black King, he already was one and not symbolically. He was on another level of power altogether from The Hellfire Club, so to see that he aligned himself with Evelyn, it made Maxine feel like she had the right choice. “As long as you enjoy competing for loudest encounter.” She turned and nodded to Asha who smiled and nodded back, and that was the end of that encounter. Evelyn: “The mansion is buzzing with activity as well as some fresh blood. In honor of your return and to take an opportunity to have my entire court assemble together, your presence is requested for a black feast. I'm sorry, I said requested when I meant required.” Evelyn cocked a serious eyebrow before smiling. “Got it. Dinner with the family.” Evelyn: “I assume the backpack is all you've brought with you, but none the less, I'm sure you'll want to unpack and prepare yourself for your grand return. I've had your suite prepared to your specifications...and mine. I will see you in a few hours. Welcome back, dear.” Soon, the three vanished as soon as they appeared and Maxine was left in the main foyer of the mansion. Slinging her backpack over her shoulder, her boots clicked on the marble floors as she made her way over to the large and winding staircase that would lead to her room on the top floor of the mansion – the owner's suite. She took a moment to look around and exhaled deeply. This place had been a part of her life for as long as she could remember. Before her asylum, she had ran these halls as a little girl, investigating secret passages and convincing the chefs to let her help cook. There was a part of her that lived in these walls that she would never get back, and for that, she resented the place deeply. But it was comfortable. Familiar. Maxine had no family, but this place was the closest thing to it. Stepping on the first step she began to make her way up the stairs as she noticed a woman she had never seen before begin to make her descent in a beautiful crimson red dress. Maxine felt a charge surge up her spine as her ears began to tingle. While Maxine may have been very fluid with her gender, her sexuality was easily boxed up – she loved women. All women, but mostly women she could not have. She was a knight after all, and what were knights but conquerors. Maxine went after trophies, women that seemed out of her reach, or impossible and she was a great lover. She loved the shape of their bodies, the silkiness of their hair, the way they could look so delicate and yet so powerful, and the woman coming towards her seemed to be all of the things that Maxine liked about women in one. She had never felt an immediate attraction like this in her life. The woman was tall and statuesque with full and pouty lips, and the most gorgeous silken blonde hair she had ever seen. Her eyes were sparkling blue and they seemed to be looking RIGHT at her. The electric charge was incredible. ”Who is she?” The distance closed between them, as Maxine anticipated every step, her eyes glued to the mysterious beauty walking down her staircase. She smelled like a mixture of leather and lace, sweet and spicy. She knew it was crazy, even as she thought it in her head, but she saw something in the woman that reminded her of herself. Danger but in a different way, and the way the woman was silently sending signals back to Maxine while looking as if she couldn't have cared less, well it drove Maxine a bit crazy. For the first time in her life, she felt almost paralyzed, her over the top confidence faded, and her strength all but turned to weakness. As the two crossed paths, the woman brushed her shoulder gently as Maxine stepped dead in her tracks. The mysterious woman in red smiled at her and placed her hand on Maxine's collar bone gently, sending a deep sensation throughout Maxine's body. The two made deep eye contact. Woman: “Mademoiselle. I apologize!” “Uh..don't worry about it.” The woman laughed the most beautiful laugh that Maxine had ever head before continuing to make her way down the stairs as Maxine gained control of herself and reached the top of the staircase, looking back at the woman as she made her way out of the front doors of the mansion. Voice: “Lesbo.” Maxine turned her head back towards her front as she was met with the face of Daniel Reed, The Red Bishop. He was a mostly harmless omega level empath who was one of the few members of Hellfire who maintained dual membership to both American and European branches, though he was The Red Bishop of Hellfire Europe only. He was an incredibly polished and well dressed man with a refined level of boredom and money that was unmatched. Growing up in this place, she knew a socialites, but Daniel Reed was the actual definition. His live was divided over several continents which he spent as much time as he liked at. A constant and permanent vacation. He was not Maxine's type of person, but she secretly enjoyed his catty and disdainful nature for most of the things around him. He did it in a far more colorful, GAY way. She shook her head. “Well if isn't Patty Simcox.” Daniel: “How's my handsome girl?” He stuck his tongue out at her. “Who exactly...was THAT?!” Maxine had to know who the woman that she had just seen was. Daniel: “That would be Danielle Baptiste. The new Red Knight. Devastatingly fabulous, isn't she? Though you don't have to tell me..I can sense exactly how you feel about her.” He smirked at her mischeviously. Daniel: “Surprising to say the least. Though I'm not sure why. The Red Knights of all courts tend to have that effect on people. For fighters, they sure are lovers.” Maxine rolled her eyes. “And how is Cruella? [The Red Queen] Finally find enough puppies to make that coat?” Daniel: “She's moved on to more ambitious prey.” “Fascinating. Are you here for long, Daniel? Sure this isn't some Fire Island drag brunch you might miss?” Daniel: “Oh bite your tongue, she beast. Like I would be caught dead on Fire Island. I'm a Reed. We winter in the UK and summer in St. Barts.” “Oh don't worry. I believe you. In fact I'm sure those aren't the only two locations you like to dock in.” Daniel: “A boy has needs.” “And history finally has an answer for all it's meaningless wars. Good to see you, Daniel. Somewhat.” Daniel: “I return your lukewarm salutations, Domino. I like your hair. Tell me, are you joining The Black Eyed Peas on tour right away or only for their European engagements?” Maxine gave him a light hug. She thought he was clever, but she didn't want him getting the wrong idea. They weren't friends. “Are you sticking around for the party?” Daniel: “Are you kidding? Half naked men dressed at centaurs? Of course I'm there.” “I look forward to hating whatever it is you choose to wear.” Daniel: “Likewise. Whatever, loser. Welcome back. I'm going shopping with Rebecca. She just got a black card and I just realized that I'm seriously lacking in the statement pieces department.” “Eat your heart out, Pippa Middleton. See you around.” Daniel: “Oh god, don't get crazy.” And with that Daniel passed by Maxine and began to make his way down the stairs. Shaking her head amused, she began to walk up another flight of stairs, and then another, before being led to the biggest room in the mansion; her bedroom. Evelyn had prepared the room in a luxurious and spectacular manner. Platters of fruit and other things to nibble on, a black silken robe, and a closet full of beautiful black dresses that Maxine would most likely never wear. Still, despite all these comforts, she couldn't get the woman from the stairs out of her mind. Danielle... What a beautiful name. Taking her clothes off, she smoked a cigarette naked on her balcony, soaking in as much Vitamin E as she could before taking a long and piping hot shower. Drawing the black velvet curtains of her suite, she laid down on her bed in her silk robe, taking in the smell of her sheets, trying her best to clear her mind. She needed to center herself. Two minutes back and she was already planning on getting into trouble. This place made her crazy. She had forgotten that while she was running wild in Japan. Here, she was faced with every single bad thing that had ever happened to her. Here she was not just a mysterious and deadly woman. She was a legacy member of Hellfire Europe. She was the woman who had decapitated her father and used his head to secure her freedom. She was The Black Knight. But right now, before she put on some dress she hated and strutted down the stairs, she would just be Maxine Dupont. She was just human. The shadows of the room cascaded over her body as she thought of the days to come and the prospect of being in Danielle's presence again. ”You kill everything you touch.” But maybe she just hadn't found something strong enough to survive her.