The Pain of War

Oracle

The Eye in the Sky
The Six
Real Name
Elizabeth York
Missions
362
Ability
Genius, Hacker
The Cemetery

It was like being in a daze. Sometimes she wasn't sure she could feel anything. And then the next moment she wasn't sure she could contain the hurt inside her. The energy she had been putting into planning the funeral and wake had been sucked away now that there was nothing left to do but mourn. She didn't even feel like she had the strength to push herself around. They could have left her anywhere, and she would have sat there all day in the same place, staring off into the distance.

Zach: “Mrs. Jerome, if you’re in need of pallbearers I’d be honored to volunteer.”

Zizi looked up. Zach really was the kindest person. Her red-tinged eyes glanced at Maggie, who managed a smile.

Maggie: "Thank you, Zach, that would be lovely. I'm sure Gabriel appreciated having such good friends."

Maggie dabbed at her eyes, and took a steeling breath as the group began to move towards the chapel. The vicar, a certain Father Thomas, pulled Maggie away from them and Zach broke away to assemble with the other pall bearers, leaving the other four of them to walk into the silent chapel and make their way to the front pew.

She heard the organ begin to play, and people turned, almost as if they were all at a wedding. But instead of a bride, it was a coffin coming down the aisle. It was Gabe. A sob escaped from her as she first saw it, and she quickly turned back in her seat to face the front. She covered her mouth with her handkerchief. This felt like a nightmare. This was a nightmare. It couldn't be real. Gabe couldn't be dead. He just couldn't be. But he was. He was in that box that they were setting down, just a few feet from where she sat.

The vicar said many beautiful things about Gabriel Jerome, told funny stories from his childhood that he had picked up somewhere, but Zizi barely heard any of it. She just kept staring at that box in front of her, wondering how this had all happened. How she had let this happen.

When the service was finished, they carried the coffin back the way they had come. Zizi wasn't sure if she had taken a breath the entire time it had been near her. The vicar then led the way to the gravesite, Maggie following behind him, then Zizi and the others. She stared silently at the coffin again, giant and black and with a wreath of white lilies on top.

What was she going to do now? Gabe had been with her her whole life. The only person she'd ever wanted. Her reason to get up in the morning. How could she go on without him?
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,086
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
The day was cold, as it typical was in England during the autumn season. However today wasn't as bitter to the touch; the temperatures unusually warm. Forecasters called it a 'heatwave' in November, though it was only about 50 degrees out. It was the least Ava could do knowing the funeral precession was to move outside after the church service. She watched from afar, high on a hill as men carried Gabe's casket on their shoulders toward his gravesite. Wearing her signature all black ensemble, she paired it with a deep red trench coat and matching pumps -- the color that caused so many people she loved to hate her. A role that painted her hands as red as the court she aligned herself with. Ava was out of Hellfire, but she wasn't free of it. She was still neck deep in the politics of the club, stretching as far as the European Branch, which was why she was in England in the first place. She was waiting on a call from Max giving her the green light to go to Rosemont Manor. Ava may have defected as Red Rook of the now crumbled American Branch, but she was still of duel membership and status. She had pull despite what happened in New York, and she would use that to her advantage in order to get the answers she needed about where Helena was....and where she was holding Alek.

The thought of Alek made her stomach drop, though her outward expression was stoic and even. Her midnight eyes watched as the men placed Gabe's casket on the pallbearers, but her mind was on the last moments of the battle of Hellfire. Running toward Delilah's wormhole. Feeling Alek's hand get yanked from her grasp. Turning to see Helena holding him in red coils of energy, before disappearing with him. Ava shut her eyes, exhaling slowly, willing her phone to ring, vibrate, anything. She couldn't lose him....she couldn't bare the thought of having to mourn him...of living without him. That was when Ava's eyes opened to see the funeral guests exiting the church and walking to Gabe's gravesite. She immediately spotted Gabe's mother, her already sick stomach turning. She saw Zizi, knowing very well she could be in her position soon...Then she saw Zach.

Ava's breath caught in the back of her throat, it being the first time she had seen him since almost killing him. Persephone had suppressed everything that had happened that day, but Ava was still there front and center for it all. That was the worst of situation of them all....to see her old friend so scared for her, wanting to help her, for him to only be lured into a trap set up by Helena to prove Persephone's 'loyalty'. To watch the knife plunge into his chest, knowing it was a part of her doing it. A part of her willing to kill her oldest and closest friend to save herself and her sister. Persephone did what Ava couldn't in that moment, but it didn't make the guilt and the pain and the hurt any less horrendous. It didn't make Ava's heart ache any less to know her relationship with Zach was killed in that moment.

Ava watched for a few more moments as the service came to a conclusion. Finally turning away, it was then her phone began to vibrate. Quickly grabbing it, she saw it was a text from Max.

Max>> The meeting is set up. You have an hour before the flakey bitch gets bored. Good luck, love.

>>I'm on my way.
 
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Orion

Ambassador
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Zachary Armani
Missions
639
Ability
Empath
The Cemetery

Zach offered to be a pallbearer. It was the least he could do, but it was something. Something to do, something to focus on besides the pain. Mrs Jerome thanked him, and mentioned that Gabe would appreciate having such good friends. Zach nodded sadly at that before he split off to help.

After carrying Gabe’s casket in, he went to sit next to Ash for the eulogy. It was nice, but Zach only heard about half of the opening statement. He was uncomfortably warm, not from the exertion of carrying the casket, but from trying to meter his absorption of the emotional pain around him. He reached for Ashley’s hand.

He was quite distraught by the time he got up to carry Gabe out, and to anybody who didn’t know his abilities it would seem he was grieving for a friend like anybody else. He wished that were the case, that he’d given Gabe a chance and not jumped to conclusions that one time. He felt a guilt that was entirely his own, but he also noticed an echo of that emotion off in the distance, away from the funeral gathering. He looked for the source, and saw a woman standing on a hilltop amongst some trees. Not just any woman.

Persephone, Zach thought. His heart stopped. He managed not to stumble, which was good because he was still carrying Gabe to his grave. They set the casket down on the lift that would lower it into the grave. Zach’s chest burned and he remembered to breathe. What if Cameron didn’t really cut Persephone out of Ava? Zach worried as he went back to Ashley’s side, his gaze trained warily on Ava. She stayed where she was on the hill in the distance. Clandestine’s rules of engagement were clear; no fire unless fired upon. Zach was on edge, but he trusted that the security team had already seen her. Zach leaned closer to Ash so he could whisper in her ear.

“It looks like a storm is coming.”
 

Oracle

The Eye in the Sky
The Six
Real Name
Elizabeth York
Missions
362
Ability
Genius, Hacker
The Cemetery

Zizi felt lifeless as the coffin was lowered slowly into the grave. Numb. She wanted to just slip into the hole, feel the soil enclose her. She stared blankly ahead. Zizi knew the others were there, but she couldn’t feel them around her.

Her eyes rested on a spot in the distance. Slowly the spot took form as Zizi’s fuzzy brain made sense of what she was seeing.

Bitch.

Zizi said nothing out loud. She just started wheeling herself quickly to the path and towards Ava Cassadine. Her formerly lifeless eyes, tinged red from tears, now were aflame with anger. She didn’t look behind her. All her focus was on her destination.

She had barely come into Ava Cassadine’s orbit before venom began to spew from her mouth.

”How DARE you! How dare you come here!”

Zizi’s hands gripped the arms of her chair tightly as she stopped in front of Ava.

“How can you show your face here? How can you stand there, while he lies dead in the ground?”

Her voice caught on the word dead. A tidal wave of withheld emotion released from her tiny frame.

“When you stood by and watched while that woman killed him. Killed Gabe. While you did nothing! Nothing!”

Tears poured down her cheeks.

“Just so you could follow your sister on some ridiculous whim that accomplished NOTHING! How many people have to be hurt - to die - before the Six takes responsibility for their actions? You spoiled, self-centered BITCH!”

Zizi broke down then, sobbing, her face in her hands. She felt Ashley’s arms come around her.

“This shouldn’t have happened...he shouldn’t be dead...what am I going to do without him...”
 

Valkyrie

War
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Ashley Oldenburg
Missions
589
Ability
Ability to instill self-doubt, turmoil and intimidation
The Cemetery

Ashley didn’t understand these people’s funerals. It wasn’t the first one she’d seen, but that didn’t make it any less strange to her. Everyone was crying. Their priest got up and said some things about Gabe, but Ashley doubted he’d even met Gabe, let alone know him well. No one was sharing stories of Gabe’s exploits in life. No one wishing him well in the next life. Just...crying.

Zach sat down next to her once he had helped carry the casket into the chapel. Her hand slipped into his, and that made things better. She looked around her. This place had been here a while - it shared some of the characteristics of the places they used to loot back when she’d been in England with her father. A touch of a smile came to her lips at the memory.

When the priest finished, the people inside the church moved outside. Ashley followed Zizi to the grave, standing next to her. Ashley looked down into the dark hole as the coffin was put in the ground and shuddered. She would have to ask Zach to make sure she wasn’t put in the ground like that. He would make sure of it, if she asked.

Zach leaned in to her, his mouth close to her ear. She hoped he was going to whisper something dirty to her.

Zach: “It looks like a storm is coming.”

That was unexpected, and Ashley looked up, eyes keenly surveying the area to see what he meant. Zizi was wheeling away from the grave site before Ava Cassadine’s presence registered. Ashley followed behind her.

“I’ll kick her ass if you want me to.”

Ashley’s voice was gleeful, with a little too much hope in it. But no one was as shocked as she was when they reached Ava and a flood of anger came from Zizi’s lips. It was like someone else was speaking the words, not that Ashley disagreed with them, until Zizi came to the end, breaking down, herself once more.

Ashley looked at her friend, in so much pain, and did the only thing she could think of to help her: she crouched down next to the chair and put her arms around Zizi. Ashley looked up at Ava.

“I hope it was worth it.”

She looked back down at Zizi’s shaking form.

”Making Helena dead is the only way to fix this.”
 

Black Widow

Twisted Metal
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Haleigh Davidoff
Residence
Hellfire New York
Missions
2,494
Ability
Earth Elemental; Technokinesis; Strength, Resilience, and Immunity due to the TO virus
The Cemetery

Haleigh sat in the rental car, way at the end of the funeral procession. No one would notice her back here. She was too far back for security to even concern themselves with. She had no intention of getting out of the car. She was dressed all in white, for a meeting, not a funeral. She had no reason to be here except for her sister. She had an intense feeling of dissonance, sitting there waiting. She could remember Gabe’s execution in flawless detail, and she thought she should feel bad about it. She watched Ava from across the parking line, and she felt for her sister, who was suffering the loss of a friend. Her sister had suffered a great deal, and Haleigh did feel bad about that, but when it came to Gabe specifically, she felt....

Malice: NOTHING.

Nothing. She pulled out a pocket knife to clean under her fingernails while she waited for Ava. The text came in, the meeting was confirmed. It was time to go, but Haleigh heard some yelling coming in through the mic on Ava’s phone. She looked up from her nails. Zizi had rolled herself over to Ava and was reading her the riot act.

“Well, fuck.”

Haleigh said aloud, as she folded the knife and stuck it back into her pocket, bursting out of the car without turning off the engine or even shutting the door behind her. She raced up the hill despite a skirt and heels, coming up quickly to a smooth stop beside Ava as Zizi was accusing Ava of watching Gabe’s murder and doing nothing. Haleigh took a gentle hold of Ava’s elbow, in case she needed to hold her back.

“No, Ava wasn’t there. She didn’t know. She would’ve tried to help him, if she could’ve.”

Haleigh interjected matter-of-factly. Zizi was sobbing on, calling Haleigh’s decision to surrender to her mother a ‘ridiculous whim that accomplished nothing’. She cried as she asked how many more had to be hurt or killed, and she spat vitriol at Ava, using vocabulary that frankly Haleigh didn’t think her capable of saying out loud. Haleigh turned directly to Ava, giving her elbow a slight squeeze.

“She has no idea what she’s talking about, and probably doesn’t even know what she’s saying. She’s upset, needs someone to blame. What happened to Gabe is NOT your fault.”

Valkyrie: “I hope it was worth it.”

Haleigh’s gaze cut over to Ashley.

“So do we.

She replied calmly. Ashley went on to say that making Helena dead was the only way to fix this. Haleigh shook her head in disagreement.

“No. Going up against Hellfire is what got Gabe killed. If you people didn’t understand the risks you were taking before, you’d better wise up quick.”

She said sternly, looking from Ashley to Zach before her gaze locked on each of the others that called themselves Birds of Prey. Her eyes stopped when they got back to Zizi.

“You want us to take responsibility? Stay out of our way.

Her voice sounded cold, even to her. She made an effort to warm her tone as she turned back to her sister.

“Let’s go. We can come back later, after they’ve all left, so you can say your goodbyes in peace. They aren’t going to understand any better than Delilah does, and we shouldn’t expect them to.”
 
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Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,086
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Ava had already began walking toward her car when she heard Zizi from behind.

Zizi: ”How DARE you! How dare you come here!”

Ava stopped mid stride, her eyes rolling shut as the air slowly left her lungs. She knew she was being watched by Clandestine -- undercovers were scattered all over the cemetery and church. But she thought she would have a few moments alone before the alarms went off at her presence; to leave before anyone made the fatal mistake of approaching her. Ava slipped her phone into the deep pocket of her blood red trench coat, turning slowly to see the rage in Zizi's eyes mixed with pain and tears.

Zizi: “How can you show your face here? How can you stand there, while he lies dead in the ground?”

Ava's eyes didn't leave Zizi's as Ashley and Zach approached from behind. She looked down at Zizi, her face eerily calm despite the venom Oracle was spitting at her. However behind her cold exterior mirrored the hurt that radiated from Zizi deep within. She did mourn for her friend, but the truth was...he was collateral damage in a war that was long overdue. A war that would have killed MANY MORE people and caused many more funerals had Ava and Haleigh not done what they did. Gabe should have never been involved, a mistake that Ava would carry with her, but his death was a drop within a filled bucket of pain Ava had endured since her arrival at Hellfire, and her departure. She had yet to reflect on her own pain, her own traumas, her own mistakes beyond putting Gabe on Helena's radar. And THAT was the real reason she was at his funeral. Ava wanted to feel something other than her terror of Helena kidnapping Alek. She wanted to feel something other than the guilt of losing him...the guilt of being the reason why he was being torture or...killed. In a masochistic way, Ava wanted to be punished, and who better than the very woman whom was mourning the lover Ava helped kill?

Zizi: “When you stood by and watched while that woman killed him. Killed Gabe. While you did nothing! Nothing!”

That was when she felt Haleigh's hand move to the crook of her arm. She didn't look at her sister, her eyes still focused on Zizi as she began to wail with pain.

Haleigh: “No, Ava wasn’t there. She didn’t know. She would’ve tried to help him, if she could’ve.”

"Haleigh, stop."

Her voice was low, though her accent slightly horse.

Zizi: “Just so you could follow your sister on some ridiculous whim that accomplished NOTHING! How many people have to be hurt - to die - before the Six takes responsibility for their actions? You spoiled, self-centered BITCH!”

Ava's arm tensed within Haleigh's grasp as Zizi screamed at her as maliciously as she was capable of, her hand tightening into a fist. Haleigh turned to Ava, though Ava's eyes remained focused on Zizi as Ashley kneeled down and embraced her.

Haleigh: “She has no idea what she’s talking about, and probably doesn’t even know what she’s saying. She’s upset, needs someone to blame. What happened to Gabe is NOT your fault.”

"It is my fault."

Ava stated with unwavering certainty.

"I contacted him for a job Helena needed me to do. I needed the best. He was the best."

Ava finally looked away from Zizi.

"I didn't think he would stay."

Ashley: “I hope it was worth it.”

Ava scoffed softly at that, shaking her head at how utterly in the dark these people were. How little they knew of what truly went on within that club. Of all people Ava assumed Ashley would get it. She had been there, seen how they worked, did what was ordered of her. She had spilt enough blood within the few years she was Red Rook to not cast stones, however there she was, casting them. Ashley left without being brutalized and tortured relentlessly day in and day out. Her judgements were shallow, and it infuriated Ava.

Haleigh: “So do we.

Ashley: ”Making Helena dead is the only way to fix this.”

"We already checked Diana and Ravena off the list. What have you done?"

It was the first moment Ava's tone showed any hint of irritation as her eyes flicked to Valkyrie.

Ironically Haleigh was playing the role of mediator while Ava was on the edge of losing her shit.

Haleigh: “No. Going up against Hellfire is what got Gabe killed. If you people didn’t understand the risks you were taking before, you’d better wise up quick. You want us to take responsibility? Stay out of our way.

Ava didn't add anything to that, Haleigh's words ringing true whether the Birds wanted to hear them or not.

Haleigh: “Let’s go. We can come back later, after they’ve all left, so you can say your goodbyes in peace. They aren’t going to understand any better than Delilah does, and we shouldn’t expect them to.”

Ava didn't expect anyone to understand the reasoning behind hers and Haleigh's decisions. She didn't expect anyone to empathize with them and what they went through to stay alive and keep others alive. She didn't expect anyone to forgive them. But despite all that, it didn't hurt any less.

"No...i'm done here."

Taking a step back toward Haleigh, Ava's eyes finally met with Zach's for the briefest of moments, purposely avoiding him prior. She then looked back down at Zizi, knowing her next words wouldn't be received well despite the sincerity behind them.

"I'm sorry for your loss."
 
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Orion

Ambassador
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Zachary Armani
Missions
639
Ability
Empath
The Cemetery

Zach was uneasy, not just from the emotional torrent at the funeral, which had already given him mild chest pain, but also he grew anxious because he’d spotted Ava in the distance. He tipped off Ashley, just in case things were about to get worse. He saw Ava look at something she pulled from her pocket and then turn away as if too leave. He was almost relieved, until he felt the anger bloom from Zizi, who was furiously wheeling herself in Ava’s direction. Ash followed, and so did Zach.

Ashley: “I’ll kick her ass if you want me to.”

“OR we could just let her leave...”

He tried, an effort to de-escalate, but there was no stopping Zizi. Her anger washed over him, making his heart race and adrenaline flood his veins. Thankfully though, Zizi spent her anger all at once, and Ava didn’t blow up in response. Haleigh didn’t either, as she arrived to intervene. Zach stood behind Ash and Zizi, paying careful attention to the emotional response coming from Haleigh and Ava.

Haleigh focused on consoling Ava, largely ignoring Zizi’s sobbing. Zach could understand why. Ava was in pain too, even if she kept it off her face. Ava disagreed with her sister, saying that Gabe’s death was her fault, that she’d involved him, putting him on Helena’s radar. Haleigh was emotionally deadened, shaking her head as she offered a gentle correction.

Haleigh: “Ava, he didn’t die because he helped you. He died because he helped them.”

Zach made a gruff noise, like he’d been punched in gut. Haleigh didn’t even glance his way, she just told Ava that this was ONE instance where their presence at Hellfire had no impact on what happened. Ashley interjected to say that she hoped ‘it was worth it.’ Ava was irritated by that immediately, but Haleigh was clearly desensitized.

Ashley: ”Making Helena dead is the only way to fix this.”

Ava: "We already checked Diana and Ravena off the list. What have you done?"

“We helped destroy Hellfire. We helped free you both.”

Zach said defensively, not liking the tone Ava was taking with Ash. The way Haleigh looked at him was unnerving, and as he stared at them, he realized quite suddenly that they were still wearing those colors. Colors that neither of them naturally wore outside of Hellfire. The recognition made his blood run cold. Haleigh discouraged them from going after Helena, as if they didn’t have a stake in avenging Gabe’s death.

Zach prepared his rebuttal, but Haleigh looked at Zizi and told her that if she wanted them to take responsibility then stay out of the way. Ava seemed to silently agree with that. Zach watched Haleigh try to convince Ava to leave, that they could come back later, and that they couldn’t expect anyone to ‘understand’. Haleigh’s emotions were extremely suppressed, but Zach got a hint of her pain now.

Ava said she was done, and finally glanced at Zach after avoiding his eyes the entire time. Zach could hardly withstand anymore, he reached for the back of Zizi’s chair to steady himself with on hand, as he rubbed his chest with the other. There’s too much pain here, he thought desperately. Ava turned to Zizi and said she was sorry. Zach was gripping Zizi’s chair so hard his knuckles were white, and the color had left his face too.

“She is, actually. Let them go, please...”

He managed to say hoarsely.
 
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Valkyrie

War
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Ashley Oldenburg
Missions
589
Ability
Ability to instill self-doubt, turmoil and intimidation
The Cemetery

Ashley offered to kick Ava's ass for Zizi. After all, it would be a pleasure to do it for her.

Zach: “OR we could just let her leave...”

Ashley waved a hand behind her dismissively towards Zach.

"Bah!"

Sometimes, he was no fun.

Ashley not-so-secretly hoped Zizi would run Ava over with her wheelchair. Or even better, suddenly be healed long enough to stand up so she could punch that bitch right in the mouth. And then maybe kick her while she was down. But as she beheld the stream of anger coming out of Zizi's mouth, Ashley decided that was definitely worse than being beaten to pulp.

Haleigh: “No, Ava wasn’t there. She didn’t know. She would’ve tried to help him, if she could’ve.”

Of course the other one wasn't far behind. It was like the gods were teleporting Haleigh around just to piss Ashley off. Her eyes slid to Haleigh as she knelt next to Zizi's chair.

"The way she helped Zach?"

Ashley's arms went around a sobbing Zizi as Haleigh continued to blow some bullshit up Ava's ass about how this wasn't her fault. Even when she was out of her mind, Zizi miraculously still spoke the gods' truth. The Six NEVER owned up to the stupid shit they did, always justified their losses with some trumped up piece of crap reason like "destiny". Assholes.

Still, Ashley allowed one kindness this year on her part and told Ava exactly what she needed to do if she wanted forgiveness - not for her, but for Zizi, who needed to give it, that's just who she was. But of course, The Six were the Six, so they decided a half-assed attempt at belittling them was the best response.

Ava: "We already checked Diana and Ravena off the list. What have you done?"

Zach: “We helped destroy Hellfire. We helped free you both.”

"You're wasting your breath."

They didn't care about anything but their precious team and making sure everyone bowed down to them. Well, fuck that.

Haleigh: “No. Going up against Hellfire is what got Gabe killed. If you people didn’t understand the risks you were taking before, you’d better wise up quick. You want us to take responsibility? Stay out of our way.

"Don't worry, next time we'll happily leave you to rot. Maybe Helena will toss your bones next to Alek's."

Haleigh: “Let’s go. We can come back later, after they’ve all left, so you can say your goodbyes in peace. They aren’t going to understand any better than Delilah does, and we shouldn’t expect them to.”

Ashley stood and faced the two ungrateful bitches. She wondered if they had been taken in by the Amazons since she'd last seen them: it would fit.

"Don't come near my people again."

Ava: "I'm sorry for your loss."

Ashley opened her mouth to tell Ava what she thought of her pity.

Zach: “She is, actually. Let them go, please...”

Ashley's head swiveled to Zach, the strain in his voice apparent. He was holding on to Zizi's chair like it was holding him up. She clamped her jaws shut against what she wanted to say, and instead let the sister bitches go. Then she heard a quiet voice between sobs.

Zizi: "Haleigh was right. He died because he helped us. Helped me. It's all my fault."

Ashley looked from Zach to Zizi, then crouched again, this time facing her friend.

"He died because he was brave. And because he knew Helena needed to be stopped. It's not your fault - the hour of our death is already written when we are born. There is nothing you could have done to stop this."

Ashley put her hands on the arms of the chair so she could look up into Zizi's face. After a pause, a questioning look came onto her face.

"I don't understand this grief you feel."

Her eyes flicked to Zach and back again, a silent message.

"Don't you trust me?"

Her eyes searched for Zizi's, compelling her to answer.

Zizi: "Of course I do."

"Didn't I take Gabe to the next world myself? You know for a certainty what all these other mortals don't: that Gabe waits for you, in Odin's Hall, the same way that Zach will one day wait for me. Do you think Gabe is saving a seat next to him for Ava Cassadine?"

Ashley's face looked incredulous.

"No, he is keeping a warm seat and mug of ale for you. Human life is but a drop in the bucket of time, and it will not be long before you are together once again. And then until the last days."

Ashley stood up, dropping her arms to her sides.

"So no more tears. Gabe would not want that for you."

Zizi sniffed, and shook her head, her body visibly steeling itself. Ashley saw in the distance John and Andrew shepherding the mourners back towards the cars on their way to the wake, Steel offering his arm to Gabe's mother. Zizi looked up at her, wiping her eyes on her handkerchief.

Zizi: "I don't know if I can go to a party right now."

"You can, and you will. It is time to celebrate Gabe's life, and honor his death."

The corners of her mouth turned up into a smile.

"And I will make you a drink that will make you feel like celebrating until the wee hours."

A half-smile lit Zizi's puffy face, and she nodded again and turned her chair around, beginning to wheel herself back towards the gravesite, more slowly this time. Ashley deftly slipped into the gap of the chair beside Zach, slipping her arm around his waist. Zizi stopped and turned her head back.

Zizi: "I'd like a moment alone with him, if that's okay."

Ashley nodded, watching Zizi move silently away from them.

She rested her head on Zach's shoulder, until Zizi reached Gabe's grave. Then she moved around to face him, her arms still around his waist.

"I lied to her, you know."

She looked up into Zach's eyes.

"I do understand her grief. If that was you..."

She turned her head towards the grave for a moment, before finding his eyes again.

"You won't have to wait a human lifetime for me to join you, I promise you that."
 

Black Widow

Twisted Metal
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Haleigh Davidoff
Residence
Hellfire New York
Missions
2,494
Ability
Earth Elemental; Technokinesis; Strength, Resilience, and Immunity due to the TO virus
The Cemetery

Haleigh intervened, because there was no way she was going to sit patiently in the car while her sister had to face the handicapped girl crying at her with prejudice. Ava told her to stop, but Haleigh wasn’t going to let Ava take blame she didn’t deserve. She reminded her sister that what happened to Gabe wasn’t Ava’s fault. Ava pushed back on that, through reasoning that she’d involved Gabe in the first place, but Haleigh shook her head.

“Ava, Gabe didn't die because he helped you. He died because he helped them.”

She said, ignoring Zach’s grunt of protest. It was the truth, it didn’t do anyone any good to shy away from it.

“Everything that recently happened to everyone is not our fault. This is ONE instance where us being at Hellfire had no impact on the result.”

She added, as Zizi devolved further to sobbing and Ashley knelt to console her. Zach’s new trophy wife declared that she hoped it was worth it. Haleigh felt Ava tense in her grasp, but didn’t react herself. She replied calmly that her and Ava hoped it was worth it too, without explaining long-form what she meant. She didn’t owe Valkyrie an explanation, or anything else. If Alek’s ex girlfriend didn’t understand what they went through, none of them would, but with the exception of Zach and Viv, Haleigh wouldn’t bother justifying herself to the Birds of Prey.

Ashley had it out for Helena, but that was only going to lead them to more funerals. Ava was irritated, and asked what exactly Ash and the Birds had done, while Persephone took out Ravena and Haleigh faced down her mother with the help of Cam and Delilah. Zach replied that they’d helped.

Haleigh studied him, trying to assess whether he REALLY believed that Hellfire was destroyed, or that she and Ava were ‘free’. She strongly advised them to stay out of the way. Ashley was feeling spiteful and unwisely decided to comment. Haleigh moved bodily between Ashley and Ava, just so she could stop her sister from going berserk on Zach’s rebound girl.

“She sounds like she never really left Hellfire either. It would be amusing to watch her pretend, if it wasn’t so pitiful.”

Haleigh commented coldly, more to her sister than anyone else, but she didn’t say it quietly. She tried to convince Ava that it was time to go, that they could come back later when the place was empty, but Ava said she was done, and Haleigh didn’t blame her. Ashley tried to play tough now, telling them not to come near ‘her people’ again. Haleigh rolled her eyes at that.

Ava took a moment to be the bigger person, offering her condolences to Zizi. Zach suddenly remembered he was a diplomat, and convinced his harpy woman to leave them alone. Haleigh firmly guided Ava away from her potential murder victim and towards the car so they could get to their meeting.
 
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Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,086
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Ava stood silently as Zizi railed into her, blaming her for Gabe's death. The reality was, Ava was well aware his blood was on her hands and didn't need Zizi's words to remind her. She had reached out to him for help getting Cassadine Enterprises out from under Zenith Group on Helena's behalf. In turn, Ava put Cypher on Helena's radar, adding to the fact he was dumb enough to stick around and link up with the Birds of Prey. Haleigh stated as much, saying that despite Ava reaching out to Gabe, it was Gabe's involvement with the Birds and Zizi that ultimately killed him. She knew Haleigh was trying to help curb her guilt, but at this point, Ava was becoming numb to the situation. She had come to his funeral as a means to punish herself on some level, but her emotions toward the situation were becoming detached.

It was when Ashley spoke up about killing Helena being the only way to rectify the situation that pissed Ava off, causing her to snap at the bitch asking what SHE had done consider Ava killed Ravena and Haleigh took out Diana. That was when Zach decided to speak up saying they helped destroy Hellfire and rescue them. Ava didn't acknowledge Zach, only shaking her head negatively at his comment as she rolled her eyes and looked away. They were standing in front of him in Hellfire colors. How the hell did he think they were out of this game? How the hell did he think it was over? Rescued? Destroyed? Those were words of a man who was incredibly naive to how Hellfire truly worked, and the fact his new whore didn't school him on it made her hate the bitch even more. SHE was going to end up getting Zach killed.

Then she opened her fucking mouth again.

Ashley: "Don't worry, next time we'll happily leave you to rot. Maybe Helena will toss your bones next to Alek's."

Ava's head turned quickly, her eyes as dark as obsidian, but glowing with fury.

[under her breath] "Bitch."

Ava lunched forward, ready to grab Valkyrie by the throat and tear it apart. The necklace that held the ring Alek gave her moved into view from under her black blazer as it laid low on the front of her chest.

"Say his name again and i'll drag you to Valhalla myself..."

She growled with murderous intent. It was only Haleigh's body that stopped Ava from going forward, her sister wisely stepping between herself and Ashley, preventing Ava from getting any closer.

Haleigh: “She sounds like she never really left Hellfire either. It would be amusing to watch her pretend, if it wasn’t so pitiful.”

"You never leave Hellfire."

A warning to Zach that his precious new fling was just as knee deep in Hellfire shit as she and Haleigh were, yet he was treating her like some virginal princess that could do no wrong. Ava was still pushing her weight into Haleigh, wanting so fucking badly for her sister to step aside to show Valkyrie why Persephone was known as QUEEN of the Underworld.

Haleigh: "Lets go. We can come back later, after they’ve all left, so you can say your goodbyes in peace. They aren’t going to understand any better than Delilah does, and we shouldn’t expect them to.”

Ashley chimed in about not coming near her people again. Narrowing her eyes at that, Ava released her weight from Haleigh, done with this bitch and the whole situation.

"No, i'm done here."

Looking to Zizi, she offered her one last apology for her loss. Zach confirmed Ava's sincerity. She glanced at him to see he was struggling badly with all the emotions but then felt Haleigh's hand on her back, guiding her away from the Birds. As they made their way down the grassy hill toward Ava's rental car, she tied her crimson trench coat shut tight.

"I will NOT end up like her [Zizi]."

Ava affirmed with a heated passion. She was NOT going to be burying Alek. She was NOT going to mourn his loss. Ava pulled the door open to the drivers side.

"Get in."

Getting into the car, Ava revved the engine as Haleigh got in. Putting her foot on the clutch and shifting into gear immediately, Ava peeled out of the cemetery, speeding down the winding English countryside toward Rosemont Manor.
 
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Orion

Ambassador
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Zachary Armani
Missions
639
Ability
Empath
The Cemetery

Zach defensively reminded Haleigh and Ava that the Birds had helped them to escape and destroy Hellfire. They didn’t exactly deny it, but their reactions implied they didn’t agree, or at the very least to the help they’d gotten for granted. Zach uncomfortably noticed the colors they were wearing, but that was an observation to discuss another time. Ash suggested that next time the Birds wouldn’t bother to help, albeit in a slightly more derisive way.

The comment was like a backdraft to Ava’s anger, creating a flashover that made Zach move closer to Ash, in case he needed to intervene. Haleigh stepped in, saying that it sounded like Ash never left Hellfire either. Ava added that ‘you never leave Hellfire’, and Zach’s mouth tightened in concern. He said nothing though, as he sensed the anger fading and an overtaking grief. Ava finally looked at him, and Zach reached to steady himself on the nearest thing, Zizi’s wheelchair. It wasn’t just Zizi’s pain he was feeling anymore.

Haleigh pulled Ava away, and Ash shifted to consoling Zizi, who was saying that Haleigh was right, that Gabe had died because he’d helped the Birds. Zach reached for Zizi’s shoulder and drained away the guilt she felt while Ash talked to her. Ashley actually had a fairly convincing argument of her own, and Zach could immediately sense the change in Zizi. She wasn’t completely over Gabe’s death, and wouldn’t be for a while, but she was beginning the healing process.

Zizi began to wheel herself back towards Gabe’s grave, asking for a moment alone with him. Zach nodded, feeling better himself as soon as Ash’s arm wound around his waist and her head rested on his shoulder. He took a deep breath as the funeral began to disperse a bit and the heaviness lifted some. Ash moved to face him and he looked at her curiously as she told him that she’d lied to Zizi. She went on to explain that she did understand the grief. Zach pulled her close as she glanced at the gravesite.

“Shh, my love—”

He started, but she continued, to assure him that he wouldn’t have to wait a human lifetime for her. He felt miserable, because he couldn’t promise her that he was going to live forever. And yet, he felt warmed by her affection, because he knew she meant every word.

“Well for the record, I would wait a Valkyrie’s lifetime, if necessary.”
 

Black Widow

Twisted Metal
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Haleigh Davidoff
Residence
Hellfire New York
Missions
2,494
Ability
Earth Elemental; Technokinesis; Strength, Resilience, and Immunity due to the TO virus
On the Way to Rosemont Manor

Haleigh was able to prevent a massacre at the cemetery, and convince Ava to leave. There was an instinct to let Ava attack, and a personal urge to pop Valkyrie right in her impudent mouth. Yet she held Ava back, and controlled her own impulse, not as a favor to anyone there, but because she didn’t think violence was an appropriate response, and because she didn’t want to give Ashley the power to provoke her. The woman simply wasn’t worth the energy.

As they walked away, Ava declared that she wouldn’t end up like York, and then told Haleigh to get in. Haleigh slid smoothly into the passenger seat of the red coupe, drawing her knife from her pocket again and flicking the blade open as Ava laid rubber on the pavement in her effort to leave the cemetery. The car was a classic, and it was exquisite, but the classics lacked the technology of GPS and onboard traffic intel. Haleigh would have preferred to drive, but she didn’t mind navigating.

“Alek will NOT end up like Gabe. Turn right at the next intersection. Continue North for 5 miles.”

She replied calmly, going back to the task of cleaning her nails as Ava raced through the picturesque English countryside.

“First of all, he’s a hardy son of a bitch. I broke plenty of his furniture, but barely even bruised him,” She reasoned dispassionately. “Second, Helena’s too emotionally attached to actually kill him. She was going to name him Prince, if only he’d kill you. She’s angry because she’s hurt and jealous that he chose you.”

She added, and then she looked over at her sister.

“Third, Alek is clever and cunning. Don’t count him out just yet, and turn left at the light. Destination on the right in two miles.”

She finished saying. She adjusted the traffic control network to allow them an unobstructed route to Rosemont Manor as her sister navigated the roads. She was curious what Gabe would think of that, not because she cared, but she recalled him employing a similar tactic during the Birds’ mission that ultimately led to his death. Would he still have done that, if he’d known it’d get him killed? There was no doubt Zizi would have refused his help if she had known. Haleigh considered how unfortunate it was (for the Birds) that they did not heed the warnings Persephone had tried to give them.

In all the attacks, on Zach, Maxim, Simon, Vivica, the Clocktower, the Sanctuary.... how could the Birds NOT come to understand that they should avoid any and all opposition to Hellfire’s agenda? How had they not been beaten into submission? Haleigh and Seph both had held back, to their own detriment, allowing their ‘victims’ to survive in every case. Anyone ELSE from the Inner Circle would have been even more brutal, and ensured fatalities. Still, they chose to stand against Hellfire. It was either bravery or stupidity.

Whatever it was, the curiosity faded from Haleigh’s mind as they pulled up to Rosemont Manor. It was quite an impressive English estate, half a castle in Haleigh’s estimation. A valet came down to open their doors and take the car, while the girls themselves were met by a man in a full tuxedo who welcomed them before he introduced himself as ‘the Warden’.

“Black Widow, White Queen.”

Haleigh began with a smirk, before gesturing to Ava.

“My sister, Persephone. She’s the Red Rook, for now. I believe your Queens are expecting us.”

The Warden: “Ah yes, the Americans, lovely. If you’ll follow me, the Queens are in the Library, having tea with the White King.”

Haleigh glanced at Ava as they moved to follow their guide.

“I hope he’s more fun than the White King we had...”
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,086
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Ava shifted gears, zooming out of the cemetery and to the main countryside road. Her eyes were laser focused on the road ahead, but her mind was everywhere. She had wasted way too much time dealing with the Birds, dealing with that bitch Valkyrie. She should have left the cemetery as soon as she got the text from Max. What if her window had closed and the Europeans had no interest in meeting with them civilly any longer? Ava's only back up plan was to storm Rosemont and kill everyone until she got the answers she needed. But that would waste even more time that Ava didn't have.

Haleigh: “Alek will NOT end up like Gabe. Turn right at the next intersection. Continue North for 5 miles.”

Haleigh's voice rang out evenly, snapping Ava out of her blood thirsty thoughts. She down shifted as she came to the intersection, peeling around the turn with an expert ease before shifting once again, picking up speed.

Haleigh: “First of all, he’s a hardy son of a bitch. I broke plenty of his furniture, but barely even bruised him,”

That made Ava's eyes narrow, remembering exactly why they had broken furniture.

"I'm aware."

She shifted her irritated gaze to the side to look at her sister before returning her line of sight to the road ahead. Haleigh seemed detached about the memory, but it still vexed Ava.

Haleigh: “Second, Helena’s too emotionally attached to actually kill him. She was going to name him Prince, if only he’d kill you. She’s angry because she’s hurt and jealous that he chose you.”

"Helena's a vengeful bitch who acts like a child when she doesn't get what she wants. She'd kill him just to spite me...she'd rather bury him than let him love another woman."

Haleigh didn't see the utter rage in Helena's eyes when she ripped Alek from Ava's grasp. Even if Helena had no plans on killing Alek NOW, if he didn't comply to her wishes and loyalty, she would eventually be pushed to that point.

Haleigh: “Third, Alek is clever and cunning. Don’t count him out just yet, and turn left at the light. Destination on the right in two miles.”

Ava slowed as she approached the light, just enough to take the turn without skidding into the field. She looked over at Haleigh, finally a sign of fear visible in her eyes.

"I'm not. But I also know our time is limited."

She had no doubt that Alek was sweet talking Helena to the best of his ability. Trying to smooth the situation over, trying to get her to let her guard down. Doing what Alek was BROUGHT into Hellfire to do. But she also knew that Helena was aware of his tactics and tricks. She may falter to some, but not to all...and that's what worried Ava.

Looking to the road once again, Ava saw Rosemont Manor afar, the massive castle like estate sitting on top of a grassy hill surrounded by wrought iron gates. Pulling up to the gate, Ava slowed as it opened, pulling around the large drive way until coming to a stop. Her driver side door was opened for her, stepping out just as Haleigh did. Rounding the car, she and Haleigh were greeted by a man who called himself The Warden.

Haleigh: “Black Widow, White Queen.”

Ava lifted up a brow to that, looking at Haleigh casually as she gestured at Ava.

Haleigh: "My sister, Persephone. She’s the Red Rook, for now."

Ava looked at the warden with a cold stare, not bothering to acknowledge him. Red Rook. The title made her nearly groan in contempt.

Haleigh: "I believe your Queens are expecting us.”

The Warden: “Ah yes, the Americans, lovely. If you’ll follow me, the Queens are in the Library, having tea with the White King.”

The warden began to walk forward, Ava glancing at Haleigh once again as she whispered.

"White Queen? Don't expect me to bow."

She teased evenly, a smirk tugging on the corner of her lips. The title was actually quite fitting for Haleigh, despite everyone believing Hellfire was made of pure evil. The reality was, Hellfire was for those who had power and didn't shy away from using it, whether for 'good' or 'bad'. That was the definition of who Haleigh and Ava were. It was Diana, Helena, Kelly, and Ravena who made Hellfire into a complete circus of torture and pain. Regardless, it was an interesting notion, to claim the title of Queen. And an even bigger one that Haleigh suggested Ava were only Red Rook for now.

Haleigh: “I hope he’s more fun than the White King we had...”

Ava didn't respond to that, her feelings regarding Ravena still fresh. Continuing through the corridors until finally reaching the library, the warden opened the door revealing the large room.

The Warden: "Your majesties. The White Queen of Hellfire America, and the Red Rook.

Ava knew despite her quip about not bowing to Haleigh she would have to keep up appearances and bow to the royals of the European Branch given her lower status. It felt like the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard as she bowed her head in 'respect', once again, slipping into the roll of Red Rook seamlessly.
 

Hex

Black Queen
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Brienne Shaw
Missions
115
Ability
Witch
"America is in shambles, Jules. I say we kill the bitches and become bicoastal."

Brienne stated with a cocky distain. The European Black Queen, known for her ruthless nature and spoiled outlook on life. She grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth after all, her mother being the Black Queen before her, and her grandmother before that. Hellfire ran in her blood. Courts, dynasties, legacies, everything within the realm of Hellfire was embedded within Brienne, learning from the best and becoming the best. She may have been young, but there was a reason she was Queen aside from her bloodline.

"That branch was dying. There has been no word on Diana's whereabouts, Ravena is MIA, and the only indication that Helena and Kelly are still alive is that meek little transmission we received from the middle of the Panama Canal asking for assistance. ASSISTANCE! If they're asking us for help, you know this is the perfect opportunity to overthrow them."

Brienne found the American Branch to be extremely old school in their ways -- emphasis on old. Diana, Kelly, and Helena believed they were the end all be all of Hellfire, staying top tier for years because of their power. But that power was matched with a cockiness that rivaled even Brienne. And while Brienne was no doubt a cocky bitch, she knew her limits and when to keep herself in check for the well being of her court and branch. Diana did not and Helena and Kelly went along for the ride. What America needed was fresh blood within their walls. Blood that was loyal to Europe.

The double doors to the library opened behind Brienne. She didn't bother to turn.

The Warden: "Your majesties. The White Queen of Hellfire America, and the Red Rook."

Now THAT made Brienne laugh out loud.

"White Queen?"

Turning with gin martini in hand, Brienne laid eyes onto the infamous Black Widow, a broad smile of amusement overtaking her face.

[to Juliette, eyes not leaving Haleigh] "Did we miss the memo, Jules? A new Queen has bestowed us with her presence?"

Brienne took a sip of her martini, her eyes sliding over to Persephone--the Persephone of mythology--who had bowed her head. Comical how someone as infamous as Black Widow could stoop as low as to becoming a Rook.

"At least your sister knows her place."

Brienne's eyes narrowed now, the situation becoming a little too murky for her liking. It was one thing for the White Princess and Red Rook to come as a liaison for their Queens, but to outright announce herself as the new White Queen made this meeting go from casual to unpredictable within seconds.

[evenly] "Where is Diana, Princess?"
 

Juliette De Lacroix

Sanguine Queen
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Juliette De Lacroix
Missions
74
Rosemont Manor — The Library

The library was her favorite room in the whole estate. The cedar bookshelves were pleasantly fragrant. It was two levels high, with more books in a single collection than Juliette had come across in decades. The drapes were thick enough to block out the harmful rays of the sun when they were let down, as they were now. The chandelier was bright enough for reading, and the fireplace kept the whole room warm. Juliette liked the warmth, and so she sat in the arm chair nearest to the fire, listening as Brienne spoke. She did like the notion of killing the American emissaries, but she didn’t reply just yet. Brienne was convinced that the request for assistance was a sign.

“And now ve are ‘earing dzese rumors of dze fall of Ahadi, after dzey so ahbruptly cancelled dzeir long-planned visit last veek... Cherie, I vill certainly agree dzis is dze opportunity for some dzing.”

Juliette said, as she watched the Liam stir his tea. He said nothing, but she could tell his mind was calculating. She lifted her wine glass to her lips, pleased that the proximity to the fire had warmed the blood somewhat. Liam looked up as the doors behind Brienne were opened, and Juliette shifted her gaze as well. Their warden announced the Americans, which made Brienne laugh and Juliette’s right eyebrow lift. The White Queen?

It was not Diana, but her daughter that arrived, with Persephone, Greek goddess of the Underworld. Juliette set her glass on the side table next to her chair as Brienne asked her if they’d missed a memo.

“Vell, it seems Ve may ‘ave been left out of dze loop, so to speak.”

Brienne: “At least your sister knows her place.”

Haleigh: “Don’t take it for granted. That’s likely the last gesture of courtesy you’ll ever be given by the Queen of the Underworld. She’ll be claiming her own Hellfire crown soon enough.”

“Vill she now?”

Juliette asked, her curiosity piqued. This girl who called herself Queen was beyond bold. Brienne wasn’t shy either, and asked the Princess where Diana was.

Haleigh: “My dearest mother is Diamond Dust, dead and done. You can call me Princess all you like, but you’ll only succeed in being obstinately discourteous. Do you Europeans prefer ‘Your Grace’, or ‘Your Majesty’, or can we all be a bit less pretentious?”

It was Liam’s turn to laugh.

Liam: “Long live the Queen.

He said in a husky tone, sitting forward a bit and gesturing for the two women to sit on the open sofa across from the fireplace. He introduced himself, and in return Haleigh gave her name and Ava’s. Juliette did not grant such familiarity just yet.

“Vhat ‘as become of your recently coronated Vhite King?”
 
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Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,086
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
And so she bowed, once again a Queen playing the role of a Rook as they were introduced to the European royals. The Black Queen began to laugh, questioning Haleigh's title as White Queen and whether they had missed the memo. Then the snippy little bitch mentioned Ava falling into line, which caused her to lift her midnight eyes while her head was still bowed, glaring at the blonde.

Haleigh: “Don’t take it for granted. That’s likely the last gesture of courtesy you’ll ever be given by the Queen of the Underworld."

To which Ava sadistically smirked as her head slowly lifted defiantly.

Haleigh: "She’ll be claiming her own Hellfire crown soon enough.”

"A hiccup I plan to rectify."

Juliette: “Vill she now?”

That was when Ava's eyes slid to Juliette, as cold and dead as the bitch she was staring at. It didn't matter whether Juliette was a direct spawn of Ravena or not, she was still a vampire which was a creation of that vile man. Ava had a long history with vampires, one that lead her to detest them and anything like them. Her history with Ravena solidifying that.

"She will."

Ava's tone even yet with an undeniable confidence.

That was when the White King laughed, though his was far less condescending and showed more amusement. He offered the couch to both Ava and Haleigh as a servant held out two glasses of cognac to them as they took a seat.

Juliette: “Vhat ‘as become of your recently coronated Vhite King?”

"I killed him."

Ava stated pragmatically with a slight growl to her tone as her eyes never left Juliette's.

"I tore his soul into a thousand pieces and scattered them throughout the underworld for my demons to feast on."

Taking a sip of her cognac casually.

"He deserved worse."

Ava knew that would light a bit of a fire under Juliette's lifeless body. But, unfortunately her goals were not to cause an issue with the White Queen. She still needed answers about that transmission and if there was any further communication between the Europeans and Helena. So Ava put her distain on the back burner for the moment, becoming a bit more diplomatic.

"Ravena and Diana weren't planning a simple friendly visit to your club. They wanted to destroy your branch, and we stopped them."

Ava glanced at Haleigh, knowing she would elaborate.
 
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Black Widow

Twisted Metal
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Haleigh Davidoff
Residence
Hellfire New York
Missions
2,494
Ability
Earth Elemental; Technokinesis; Strength, Resilience, and Immunity due to the TO virus
Rosemont Manor — The Library

Haleigh reassured her sister about Alek. She did not miss the hint that Ava didn’t like being reminded of the sexual history between Haleigh and Alek, but Haleigh could address that issue some other time. Right now her objective was to convince her sister not to give in to her fears about Alek.

Ava: “I’m not. But I also know our time is limited.”

“Yeah, there’s no denying that. However, the elimination of Malice is a game-changer, if Cameron can make it stick. I mean, the Queens are in hiding. They cut their losses and ran from us. And we will never EVER allow them to regain the power they once had over us again.”

Haleigh finished, with a certain grit in her tone at the end as she pocketed her knife once more and got out of the car. She exchanged greetings with a man calling himself the Warden and introduced herself as White Queen, making sure to affix a temporary asterisk to her sister’s title. Ava teased Haleigh quietly about the title, telling her not to expect a bow. Haleigh gave Ava a conspiratorial smirk.

“Oh no, sister. I have much higher expectations for you than that.”

She replied, before commenting that she hoped this European White King was more fun than the one they’d had in the American Branch. Ava didn’t reply, giving Haleigh the impression that it was still too soon for jokes. Luckily it wasn’t too long a walk to the Library. Haleigh assessed each of the Europeans in turn. Brienne made some comments, including noting that Ava ‘knew her place.’

“Don’t take it for granted. That’s likely the last gesture of courtesy you’ll ever be given by the Queen of the Underworld. She’ll be claiming her own Hellfire crown soon enough.”

She asserted nonchalantly. It was an audacious claim to make, she knew, but it was part of her initial shock and awe campaign. She wanted to put them all on notice that condescension would have its consequences, and she also wanted to pick the world up and drop it on their heads, to rock whatever assumptions they had. It seemed to be working. Juliette was clearly intrigued, while the handsome White King apparently could not stop staring. Brienne’s gaze narrowly sharply as she asked about Diana.

Haleigh’s tone was carefree as she delivered the news that Diana was done. She told Brienne that she could call her Princess if she wanted, but would only prove herself to be obstinate. It was a statement without venom, making it obvious that she really just didn’t care. She reiterated that point by asking the Europeans in the politest way possible if they could all stop being so pretentious.

The White King laughed, saying ‘long live the Queen’, and gesturing for them to sit. Haleigh noticed a shift in the manner of his stare, and smiled wickedly at him as they exchanged first names. Juliette played it a bit cooler, asking about the American White King in her thick French accent. Ava sent a shock and awe volley of her own, as Haleigh reclined comfortably on the sofa, her still locked with Liam’s. She didn’t have to have her mother’s telepathy to know what he was thinking.

Juliette: “He vas useful to me.”

The vamp said, locked in a glare with Ava. Haleigh swirled the Cognac in her glass slowly.

“He was useless to Helena, which is why she put the hit out on him, giving Ava the order to carry out and allowing a rare bit of retribution.

Haleigh interjected, her eyes shifting to Juliette for the moment. Juliette glanced her way, and then looked pointedly at Brienne.

Juliette: And she ‘as dze NERVE to request assistance??

Haleigh chuckled.

“Yeah, she desperately needs it. We cleaned house back home. Well really, we burned the whole damned house down. It will be better to just start anew and rebuild.”

She replied before a sip of cognac.

“I hope you understand, Kelly and Helena are not interested in treating anyone as their equals. Help them if you wish, but it’s a waste. They would have spent their whole visit here talking to you as if you were children walking around in your mother’s heels.”

Haleigh told them, and she could tell the suggestion rankled them. She continued on:

“They would have made sure to remind you how new your titles were. They’d have implied your seats were tenuous, your sovereignty fresh and unproven. They would have done their best to manipulate you with their offers to help you cement your thrones, just to keep you under their control.”

She paused to enjoy a little more cognac.

“If you didn’t comply, they would’ve killed you and replaced you with more agreeable puppets. I’ll bet that’s still their long term strategy. They might pretend to be grateful at first, but they will not let the dynamic appear to be to your advantage for long.”

She added, but then she gave a congenial smile.

“Ava and I aren’t interested in playing that game. We want to remake Hellfire America, as you all have done with Hellfire Europe. We want to work with our worldwide branches, not above them. We won’t pretend to be your superiors, we only wish to be recognized as your equals.”
 
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Liam Forbes

White King
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Liam Forbes
Missions
55
Ability
Nuclear mastery (fusion, fission, transmutation); Gravitational manipulation
Rosemont Manor — The Library

Liam sat in an armchair near the empty sofa, next to Juliette and across from Brienne. He listened to them discuss the American branch as he mixed a healthy splash of The English 11 year single malt whiskey into his Earl Grey. A little honey, a squeeze of lemon. He stirred the mixture and blew on it softly to cool it. He loved a hot toddy, but hated burning his tongue. He didn’t chime in to the discussion, as he wasn’t one to wildly speculate without careful consideration.

The Warden came in, announcing the American White Queen and Red Rook. Liam looked up to see a pair of positively gorgeous women. Brienne responded with her usual sass, while Juliette was more reserved. The dark haired beauty dipped her head in mild deference, while the redhead was intrepid and feisty. Liam watched her contend with Brienne, something most would shrink from. Liam found her quite amusing, and laughed.

“Long live the Queen.

He said, indicating with his left hand that they should sit on the sofa near him. He introduced himself, and the redhead gave him a rather naughty smile as she returned the favor and sat down. Oh this was going smashingly. He fancied this new White Queen much better than the last. He fancied even more the news that she had no King, because her sister had offed the loathsome Lord Ravena.

Juliette was dismayed to hear of his demise, but Liam was not the least bit surprised. There had been certain allegations floating around here about Ravena, unsubstantiated but nonetheless disturbing. Liam was pleased to see the man leave for American aspirations. Even without the accusations of impropriety, Ravena was obnoxious. Ava stated that Ravena and Diana were planning on destroying the branch.

“Well it sounds like we ought to be expressing our gratitude then.”

He replied over the rim of his teacup. Ava was slightly more standoffish than her sister, who shrugged her shoulders.

Haleigh: “That would not go unappreciated, but it’s unnecessary. We acted in our own interest. My mother was domineering, Ravena was manipulative. The other Queens are no better.”

She said, and then went on to explain just what could be expected from Helena and Kelly. Liam’s title wasn’t new, his reign had a decade of tenure, but he didn’t doubt he would have been targeted as well, if Haleigh and Ava were being truthful. They seemed to be very straightforward, which was refreshing. He considered why they might be sharing so much.

“I gather it would be your preference if we withheld assistance from Helena and Kelly.”

Haleigh: “Oh definitely, they want us as dead as we want them. But I think you’d find Ava and I are much less despotic, and much more conducive to mutual gain.”

“I see. And what does Heidi think of all this?”

He ventured casually. Juliette drank deep from her glass of spiked blood at the mention of Heidi’s name. Haleigh didn’t seem to notice, just gave a soft sigh before answering.

Haleigh: “Unfortunately Heidi was very enamored with Ravena, and Diana showed her an egregious amount of favor. I lost track of her after our coup, I’m sure she’s with Hel and Kel now. That’s unfortunate too, they will no doubt keep her subjugated. I don’t want her to die for them, I would like the chance to win her over, but I don’t know if that will be possible.”

Liam smiled slyly at the opportunity.

“Perhaps I could help...”
 
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