Part II

Eren, shopping for a gown? You'd have a better chance snipering a flipping coin at a street's distance. Eren wasn't the type to shop for anything but a weapon. She didn't have the patience for such a feminine hobby, but this was required of her for the mission. And about the mission; such a broad objective for such a demanding evening. If this wasn't the best time to complain, then stuff a sock in her mouth and toss her in a river because Julie wasn't going to hear the end of it. She knew she was under heavy surveillance, but she was a sniper, among other things. This assassin wasn't careless, approaching the apartment building in honest bravery that she was clear from wandering eyes. She ranged the apartment for a soul, anyone instead of those pesky four legged familiars. The sun was near setting, giving the living room an orangey tint and a soft undertone. As she squinted, she approached the two playing video games on the LCD TV.

"Where is everyone?" She questioned, standing there with her jacketed dress hanging by a hook around her finger over her shoulder.

Coe looked up, "I don't know, getting ready to head out? Vorse city is on the other side of Ganev." He jerked, snapping his eyes back to the screen. "Hey, you cheated!"

"No I didn't!" Master B bellowed defensively.

"You knocked me off the pause menu, you rat!" Coe slapped the controller from his clutches and jumped his alley, and they went at it like 'cats and dogs?'

"No, your clumsy finger slipped, dip wad! Get off of me!"

"Get off my ears, prick!"

"Your hand is on my face, jerk!"

She sighed, "I'll leave you lovers alone." Eren flashed in a sarcastic tone, walking over to Jeremy's room. Without a knock, she welcomed herself in, tossing her dress along side his tux on the bedding. She ranged over his very conservative room, very bland tasteless room-no wait, she was thinking of her own place. Not much furniture for someone who was forced out of her own little paradise! She huffed at the thought, sitting on her dress bag as she noticed the very extensive shelves and racks of magical nonsense protruding from the dark lavender painted walls. Relics, chains and minerals upon other things she couldn't identify dangled from his door, windows, and corner tables. Candles occupied every direction, on every thinkable surface. And the ritual circle beneath her feet…she wasn't going to question it. The man was a sorcerer, a very strange, optimistic, pretty sorcerer.

"Why are you sitting on your dress? Don't you like it?" He lifted his eyes to his mask as he kept it at eye level, allowing the sun to bounce against the gems along its edges. It was custom made, and he was perfecting it.

Eren turned to him, her swept bangs curtaining her irked straightened eyes, "Please." She crossed her arms, hissing with a snap of her head. "You know I hate these kind of parties! How everyone is expecting you to dress a certain way, to look like fucking Cinderella! And for what? To impress a bunch of stiff necked kiss asses who have nothing better to do but smoke Candanders in a pipe and get high in an elegant fashion. As if that makes them any better than the working class. I've stolen from a dozen of those pompous freaks in one night! And I got Dr. Lamont's bitchy wife's wedding ring to prove it!"

Jeremy chuckled, "Do you really hate them that bad?"

"Smph, I was an orphan for as long as I can remember. I didn't have the luxury like they did. I didn't have the option of splurging. Things were tough, and it was their fault. To nullify the upgrade protection of kids in such a town like this, just so they can have an extra wing in that mansion, or an additional dozen hovercrafts was selfish! It is sad how the high class can persuade our so called ruler so easily…money is a sin."

"I understand." He took a seat by her, a hand on her shoulder. "How about you forget all of that and concentrate on the evening ending in a fun slaughter feast! If Julie is right, you can pop all of their balloon heads off!"

She stifled a giggle, "Yeah, that'd be sweet." she deemed.

"So, do you have an escort? I'll be happy to take you." He offered with a cat grin arousing a long smile on Eren's face.

"Heh. I actually thought you'd be taking Julie. I haven't really though about—" She paused, her face dropping into a stun.

"What's wrong?"

She jumped, "Uh, nothing. I gotta, beat something…" More like beat someone. She rushed out of the door breaking her easy gait as she barged into Sophia's room. Expecting the worse, it seemed Michel wasn't in there, so she was sure to find him in Julie's room.

And there he was, adjusting his black vest. She was relieved, and it showed in her stretched out sigh. With the lack of bedrooms, she thought he'd be dressing up in Sophia's room—oh how she'd like that.

"Michel." She furthered herself in, pulling the V collar of her sweater nervously. God, she needed to stop. Any sign of nervousness, and her cover's screwed. She noticed her loitering, so she hooked her hands around the waist of her sweatpants, tilting her head to the side. Now how could this be any more believable than it already was… "So you're wearing a mask too huh? A half side mask, that's nice, yeah, very creative, but that won't cover you for long. If demons are hosting that ballroom party, we need to blend in with the disguise. You need an escort!" She demanded, pointing at him with a silly waving finger. As she approached, she crossed her hands and slipped on a cocky smile, "Don't worry, comrade. I'll allow you to escort me. Can't walk into a ballroom without an escort, that's a red flag right there! You don't want to blow your cover so early in the game now do you? Good, so it's settled. You'll be my partner for the night!" She reached over and pinched the corners of his bowtie for a straightening. All the anxiety peaked through her fingers in a cry to escape the tension, in such a way that left Michel scarce of oxygen. He grabbed her wrist, locking an eye shut and grunted.

His voice cracked as he curled up a convincing smile, "How can I escort you dead?" He teased, watching how her face lit up in utter embarrassment.

"Eheh, sorry about that."

"Am I interrupting something?" An angel in disguise—a double mouth drop was in order. The two stood and ogled the fair lady in a white dress, veiled in heavenly grace. The mask over her eyes was dotted on the side with black gems and white soft feathers. The black strays of fiber were pasted down with a black butterfly over woven white lace. There the design of her mask matched with the trim of the frills bowed to the side of her dress, while the rest of the silk skirt fell smoothly down the dome below her waist. Frills ran around her low boat neckline trimmed with elegant etchings, and the same design ringed her elbow length sleeves. And to top it off, a flowery lace falling by her waist to the rim of her dress with the large bow as its crown. She was certainly in the mood, matching the black and white dress and mask with white glossy pumps and black painted fingernails. From the threshold of the door, she strutted her way to Michel, who was still stunned to see her in a new persona. She seemed more…upfront, from her swaying hips to her flirty stance.

"Sophia…you look—"

"Amazing? I know." she giggled. "You don't look too bad yourself, Michel." Her arms slipped around his waist as she pressed herself into his midriff. Looking up, her bright ocean blue eyes mirrored his knightly gaze and his confused expression as he continued to stand there stupor, mouth agape. "Would you escort me to the ball, my dashing prince?"

Eren gasped.

"I'd love to…ugh," he turned to Eren, "you don't mind, do you?"

Eren choked, jerking back with a hand to her chest, trying to hold that fake nervous smile, "N-no! Not at all!" Wait, what am I saying?

"Good. Not like you had a choice to—" Sophia muffled her closing words as Eren stepped a foot in between the two, practically prying Sophia off of Michel.

"Fuck that! I asked Michel first!" she stood before Michel, hands to her hips, ready to beat that damn hussy with her shiny downgraded Cinderella shoes. "Didn't you see us having a conversation?! Butting in like you're some hot shit right off of Kondondra's Court!" She rolled her sleeves, closing in on that pretty little face in front of her. "I'll gladly escort you to hell!"

"Why, you have some nerve!" Sophia pouted, the shaking fist of an angry woman not a threat to her at all. Although she did step back in defense, a greater defense grabbed Eren's arm before she threw a punch straight into her face. She watched as the tug on Eren's arm drew her back into the defender, Michel. Sophia reddened with jealousy.

"What's all the ruckus?" Julie appeared in a black towel around her person.

Eren snatched her hand back, and walked out with rage.

x-x-x-x-x

Can't believe that Michel…after he just agreed to take me to this stupid dance. Hmph. Can't wait to get out of this shit hole. She was an hour into this classical shindig, and Eren couldn't stand another minute in the stiff tight neck air. She never liked being in such a crowd since she couldn't fit in. Not that she would want to blend in with the higher class, after their tainted laws practically gave the poor to the mouths of demons while they sipped their high end teas and ate their fancy croissants. Thank god for an open bar; free drinks up the wazoo was more than enough to keep her distant from the cigar smoking pack. The hostess seemed to be lacking in her rounds. Eren was keeping an eye on her from the barstool as the bartender ogled her chest pushed up against her sweetheart neckline. She didn't bother wearing another mask, losing the original on the way here. It was a perfect Dartmouth color, a similar shade of green as her hip hugging flared dress.

The ballroom itself was nothing of her taste, riddled with golden frames and interlacing elegant designs that looked like ancient Dangathian script. In the moldings, she swore she translated something along the lines of; "wealth is power". The grand room was heavily populated with mirrors and windows embedded in white grainy walls above a red and gold carpet. And over every arch stood an oval piece of artwork with some kin to some wealthy family, and the portrait's eyes seemed to follow Eren's every move. There was an elusive vibe coming from such an exquisite place; it gave Eren a slight increase to her guard. The classical volume seemed to rapid fire across the vast room throughout its corners all of a sudden, and when the music from the orchestra amplified, the party quelled down and swayed in perfect unison.

"Pfft." Eren huffed, chugging down a glass of Scotch as she slouched against the bar counter. She was getting to that mellow side pretty quickly.

In the balcony, Michel lounged against the wallside, simply gazing up into the night's sky. It was clear blue, a celestial gift from the gods. The stars shimmered brightly in the canvas of the moon, yet owned by that dark essence seizing it. Michel knew about its secrets, sadly. It haunts him every waking day, and every dire night. The bloodbath it causes, and the ill deliverance of demons to enslave this world somewhat mummified him. He was deeming over his past and about the near future. Nothing seemed right…nothing in Dangathe ever did…

"May I join you?"

Michel looked over to the side where the crimson drapes opened with the glass doors. He smiled, nodding gently allowing her to accompany him. He erected his posture, hands still in his pockets as she approached him modestly. She was so...upfront earlier, and surprisingly enough, Michel noticed it. He was usually oblivious to such things. Her eyes looked up as she stood by Michel before the circular (French) railing as her hand grazed over his white glove against the steel black barrier.

"It's lovely, isn't it?" She leaned her head on his arm, stroking him gently.

"It is…"

"Michel…I'm dying to tell you something, but it wasn't until recently did I find the strength to tell you."

He looked down to her as she removed her mask, baring her lovely silhouette. And there, in an instant, he felt a certain warmth that teemed into his chest. He heaved, a tingling in his fingers dropping his hand to his side. Michel ignored it, more attentative to Sophia who was leaning into him with her palms gently lying on his chest. She was awfully assertive, not that he was bothered by it, but it was out of her comfort zone. He took her by her shoulders, "Sophia…" He whispered, tenting his brows slightly as he noticed the eagerness in her body language.

"Michel, I've never met anyone like you. You're caring and gentle, yet mysterious and reserved. Not to mention, brave…and the most handsome guy I've ever bestowed my eyes upon. I'm not worthy to be around such a prince such as you, and I cannot keep my emotions to myself any longer. I want you Michel. My body is yearning for your presence every minute, every second of the day! I cannot bare it any longer! The passion, the lust, the envy. I want you all to myself! I want you to carry me away in your strong loving arms, and keep me forever. Michel…I love you…"

His chest tightened, not only because she was grabbing onto his tux, but the sensation he was brushing off prior made its way back into him with a stronger wave. There was something outlandish about this entire affair, and he fell dormant to the power and was forced to embrace it. He gently squeezed her shoulder as a pair of puckering lips drew closer to him. He'd meet her halfway, taking her lips with his in a soft kiss. Her innocence was gone, but Michel wasn't aware of the foreign aura engulfing them both. Caved in with a carnal appetite, he pressed into her, shoving her back against the railing as his arms swallowed her petite hips into him. He ravished her tongue into his mouth, nibbling gently on her plush soft bottom lip that sent a jerk between her legs. She ran her fingers up his silk raven black hair, totally lost in the moment, so lost that she didn't notice someone bursting in.

"Bitch!" The barrel of her silver pistol kept Sophia locked as her target. "You dirty little slut! So that's why you took my escort, so you can rail fuck him on the balcony?! I don't know what's gotten into you, but you're so dead! I'm gonna' have a sweet ol' time blowing your fuckin' brains out!"

"Eren, stop!" Michel commanded as Sophia took cover behind him.

"Oh, I'm not taking orders from your ass! I asked you first, and then you turn around to agree to her proposal? How could you do something like that?! I'd understand you not considering how long we've known each other, but that's just common courtesy you jerk!"

"And killing her is going to resolve this? I apologize, but that's just it. We have known each other for a while. This is Sophia's first mission."

"To hell with your excuses! You can't cover this Michel! Step aside!"

"You'll have to go through me first, Eren…"

Eren choked, her eyes stinging from the salt water trying to pour out. "Is…she really worth it, Michel?"

"I know you're still unsure about her motives, but I promise you, she isn't a threat to Everit. Why can't you just accept that?"

You oblivious dipshit! That isn't what this is about! A grating spark chasing darkness wrapped Eren's head with a foreshadowing. She turned to her right where a panic broke out. The lights were out, but it was something more than that…

A bad omen shadowed over Eren. With her gun unmoving, she looked inside the ballroom as Julie tried to calm everyone down. Eren wondered, with a mansion as grand as this one, why the back up generators were out of function. There should only be a ten second hiatus, and nothing more. It's leaning into the second minute. By now she left the lovers, walking into the ballroom as some of the guests tried to pour out. As they gathered around the door, it was clear no one was coming in, and no one was going out.

Eren chuckled, addressing Julie, "Hah! Well isn't this a party? Where is our esteemed hostess?"

"We fell right into a trap, it seems…" she whispered back to her.

"All right! All right! Everyone calm down! Find any light source for now and let's find a way out!" Jeremy centered himself in the crowd with a trio candleholder. The light from the flickering candles wasn't enough to illuminate the entire room, barely 1/5th of it, but it was enough to shine light by the exit.

"Screw this. Everyone stand back!" Eren shoved her way to the front of the door burrowing two shots into the slot beneath the door handle. Expecting to be steam rolled with gratitude, the crowd steam rolled her to the floor, knocking her to the side with a sharp thrust. "Wait! Can I at least get to the other side?! Can someone open that other door?! Morons!"

Julie jerked, "Do you smell that?"

"I think that citrus bastard tried to grope me…" the disheveled Eren vented as she encountered Julie, tucking her chest into her dress as she tore the side of the skirt. She turned to Julie, lifting her nose in suspense. "What's that—"

-CRASH!-

Julie and Jeremy rushed out the door, but couldn't break through the packed hallway. The screaming and the flying rage of hands in the air blocked their vision of what was happening a few yards down. In the front of the pack there was a growling and the piercing death cry followed by a hush. In an instant, Julie caught the scent of blood, and everyone scattered. As the path cleared out down into the foyer, the soft orange light from the candle coated what seemed to be a cannibal feast. As the reptilian lanky demon finished off the gut of his victim, it snorted, lifting up its faceless head as it sensed another meal. Fangs coated and caked with blood, it lunged at Julie, talons erecting at the motion with its tongue gliding against the corner of its large gaping mouth.

Jeremy tossed him one, putting him in his place. Back to the nether realm it went with a flame ball thrown into its chest before it tasted Julie's flesh. She turned over, nodding to Jeremy. "Thanks." She looked down at the twitching demon before her feet, shooting her heal into its throat.

"Should I summon your knives?"

"Seems like I am going to need it. Eren and Michel can guard from within, on the higher levels. These demons are leaking from somewhere, and we have to find out where they are coming from."

"I'm sure everyone is out by now."

"Come on."

Eren figured as much. At least the night ended with something a little more than mindless dancing. She forwarded to the balcony where Sophia and Michel were just heading out. Hand in hand, Eren glared at the two, arching her brow with a disgusted curled lip.

Michel spoke out, nearly out of breath, "There's a horde of Sessni's minions outside. We have to-"

"Yeah, not gonna happen." The barrel locked on Sophia before Michel could utter another word. And this time, Eren wasn't merciful. "You have about three seconds to step aside, Michel. I knew there was something off with her. You're just too stupid in lust to notice the change. She has something to do with this. Don't you feel it? The chi around her isn't the same. I knew she was a spy. Too bad for her, I'm a pro assassin."

"Don't be a fool sweetheart… Killing your ally? Now that's no way to end a lovely evening." A phantom like essence spoke, and a white cat emerged. Eren couldn't make out what, or who was talking to her until a paw broke into the moonlight teeming on the marvel floor. Was a cat addressing her, or was she going insane? A shape shifter has graced them with her presence, Eren thought, as she transformed into her true self.

"Who the hell are you?" She kept her weapon on Sophia.

"I am Viola, member of Dhampir, and I have been sent on an execution mission. You see, there is no place for barriers, little annoyances along the way to slow us down. You're getting in our way of our ultimate goal. So here is where I step in."

"Kudos. I must have dropped my guard. Even in your mask of purity, you should have stuck out like a sour thumb."

She chuckled. "I am a master at what I do, dear Eren. And Sophia…my love…" She reached out her hand, and with a flick of her wrist, Sophia dropped into Michel's catching arms.

"Sophia!" His voice trembled as he dropped to a knee cradling the unconscious.

Eren chuckled, "You are one crafty feline."

"And it gets better." Her eyes flattened, red piercing from her pale eyes. Instantly, Michel erected his posture, standing stern and captivated by Viola. "Kill them. And…I want the head of your gunwoman." She smiled, fading into the innards of the unlit room.

Anxiety took flight in Eren as she turned to Michel, breathless. She caught herself holding her breath, mouth agape as each step echoed into her throbbing ears. For the first time in a long time, she felt the sense of fear riding down her chest. Michel…a force to be reckoned with; there's a reason he's one of the star fighters for Everit. The air fell cool, staggering along side his powerful aura. The silvery moonlight glinted off his blade as he drew it before him from the hidden spine sheath. He was beckoning her to make a move with the crookedness etched on his face as a hushed chuckle emitted from his cocky smile.

Eren dropped her shoulders, "Fuck…"

With a cheetah's leap into her chest, Eren was pinned to the wall with a blinding blade quaking against her drawn dagger. Michel was aiming for her throat, but her sudden loss of balance before he suffocated her with his weight gave her a slight advantage, and time to pull out a blade from her thigh belt. A quarter way deep into the wall, his blade fought its way out. "You gotta be shitting me! Michel, snap out of it!"

She tensed up, head jerking back with pain as she grunted at the instant his blade sliced into her shoulder. Heaving out a hot breath, she tightened her eyes, feeling the trickle of blood trail down the side slit of her dress. Suddenly the room danced, and a flashing light zipped down between their parting bodies.

"Eren, are you all right?"

She sighed in relief, veering over her wounded shoulder to see Jeremy with a hand aflame. Rolling on her feet, her back facing Michel was soon punished with retaliation, but Jeremy's summoned barrier glass wall took the blow for Eren. The burst of energy from the erupting wall pushed her back, enough distance from her opponent to give her a breather while she finds her lost strength. For years, she was taught to fight to survive. Here, there was no difference. Fight…but she forgot how to, or, didn't know how to strike a friend.

"Michel stop!" She pointed her pistol at him for the first time. Her arms couldn't stop shaking—adrenaline? Terror? Did she have the power to impale Michel? From the dust and debris, she watched as he rose, barbaric looking, almost demonic with those eyes. Such a mix of emotions fluttered in her head, numbing her limbs as he approached her in a riot of abhorrence. Again, the desire to survive fled Eren's thoughts. She was denying that he would, he could, and eagerly wanted to kill her. Jeremy flung another arm, and a force field sprouted from underneath Michel, encasing him. It was too juvenile for the likes of him, easily breathing the shield, and rushing to Eren once more. This time, he was charging at an unmoving target who was ready to take the blade head on.

"Eren, shoot him!" Jeremy pleaded, no, ordered.

Her eyes widened, tears nearly streaming down her flushed cheeks. Closer and closer he approached her, until the true Eren stepped into play.

"Shoot him, Eren!"

She tightened her hold around the grip and focused on her target. Eyes, sharp as an arrow… "You don't have to tell me twice…"