RP Tag, You're It

Phoenix

Member
“Fire Opal, are you sure you’re ready for this? This is a big task. I’d understand if you want more time to prepare before you take on something like–”

“I’m ready, Obsidian. I’ve been working toward this for six years. Have some faith in me. Believe that I can do this. Please.” The man looked at her with soft eyes, eyes full of concern and love. A hand reached out and brushed her almost waist-length curls back from her face. Then it stayed there, holding her cheek.

Fire Opal knew what his hesitation was. She was small, she was young, and this meta was rumored to be particularly dangerous. But she was also the most powerful meta on their team. Sulphur didn’t have her combat skills, Malachite didn’t have her raw power, and Lapis could never hope to hold a candle to her ability to track. Fire Opal was the right choice for this.

But she was also his sister. His baby sister, not even eighteen yet. Obsidian was overprotective of her. She wanted to go out and see the world, to fight for their cause. They were newly formed, and they needed the power that a meta like this could offer. A meta who made people disappear so completely. And so violently, if the scenes were to be believed. Whoever this guy was, whatever he did, he could be useful. And Fire Opal could be useful. She could prove it.

She would prove it.

With a soft sigh, he finally let his shoulders fall in defeat. “Alright. Alright, I’ll trust you on this. Don’t die, understand? I can’t lose you, too, Opal.” She jumped up, her amber eyes bright in her freckled face. She threw her arms around his shoulders, giggling.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I promise, I won’t let you down.” He wrapped his arms around her shoulders in return, weaving his arms through her curls. “And I promise… I won’t die.”

The next three days were spent preparing her gear. Sulphur made sure she had all the cards and identifications she would need to get what she needed along the road. He made sure she had her nine mil, and was still up to date on how to use it. She didn’t need the gun, but she would take it to appease Sulphur, despite the hammer that would be strapped to her thigh. Lapis made sure she had the right clothes. Winter clothes, despite knowing that Opal would never be able to freeze to death. A heavy, fur-lined coat, heavy and thick denim jeans, long-sleeved thermal tops– but Opal knew she’d be wearing her leggings and a long-sleeved shirt and nothing else. Especially not the heavy winter boots she insisted on.

But Malachite was the most important for this.

“Now, show me again.”

Opal threw the punch at the bag, then jumped and slammed her heel as high as she could, using her heat and fire to propel herself high enough. Then she rolled when she dropped, getting behind the bag smoothly, hooking her ankle out at just the right space to take a normal human down. Then, just as quickly as she had rolled, she popped back up and dropped into her fighting stance again. Malachite clapped her on the shoulder.

“That was smooth. I think you got it down. I wish we had more time to give you more judo lessons as well, but you should be okay with just boxing. Now, kid, you promise you’ll be safe, yeah? Kathy and I wouldn’t know what to do if you died, and I doubt your brother could be consoled if you were taken out.”

His words were worrying, but his voice was light and playful, the smoothness of it carrying the twinkle of teasing. His honey-colored eyes watched her with delight, and he ruffled the top of her head. She laughed and slapped his arm away.

“You think something could get me? Me? I’ll cook them alive if they even try.”

“Now, tell me– what’s the most important thing to remember when you’re tracking?”

She smiled and chimed back, “Always have enough water, never stray too deep without my compass, and make sure they never get the drop on me.”

“Thattagirl. You’re ready for this. Don’t worry, your brother will see that when you get back safely.” Another hand on her head, this time smoothing back the stray curls that fell from her ponytail. She beamed up at him, a fierce smile that showed just the right amount of teeth.

“Thank you for believing in me, Mal.” Her raspy voice was soft then, and there was a genuine thankfulness in her eyes.

He smiled back at her, a much softer smile than her feral one. “Any time, any place, kid. Now get out of here. Go sleep.”

And sleep she did. And she dreamed of a snowy forest, and an epic fight. She dreamed of a faceless opponent, a monstrous man that she had to fight. She had to subdue him to get him to listen to her, and she was stronger, and faster, and when he got too close, she burned him. She dreamed of bringing him back, willingly and grateful, even, and she dreamed of her brother finally accepting she was strong enough.

The next morning came and went with a bit of fanfare. Everyone was there when she arrived in the garage. Sulphur, with his hawkish face and fluffy blonde hair and three-piece suit. Lapis, with her soft smile and her fashionable dress and her four-inch heels. Malachite, standing broad and smiling and dressed in his typical jeans and leather jacket. And finally, her brother. Obsidian, standing there in his button-down and slacks, a worried smile on his face. They were all there when Sulphur handed her the keys to her Kia and she hugged each one of them goodbye. They were the last thing she saw of the Emerald when she backed the car out and took off.

The drive out to Michigan was long, but she made it there in what she felt must have been a record time. Thus began her search. She would spend an entire day looking, and then catching up on her heavy diet at night. She brought full backpacks of food with her on her expeditions. She made sure she always had food in her hands as she searched.

It was seven weeks and two states when she found the first trap. A pitfall trap, nearly covered up by snow. She looked at it, dusting the snow off of it. Light and powdery, and not compacted at all. Artificially covered up judging by the disturbed snow around it. And the setup looked very new. Either she was in the territory of a psychopath, or she was close to finding her forest-dwelling meta.

She continued on her way, following a path of traps and avoiding them easily, thanks to Malachite’s training. She followed them, as they marked the way. It was the dead of January, almost two months since she had started this hunt. The entire time had been spent driving from forest to forest, eating at diners, and sleeping in her car. She was thankful for her ability to sleep only four hours and be completely well-rested. She was less thankful for her metabolism complaining about food every five minutes.

But finally, the hunt was almost over. She could feel that she was closing in on him, whoever he was. They had some reports, of course, of the horned monster in the northern woods. A territory that spanned from Vermont to Montana, making it difficult, if not impossible to catch him. But Opal would. Opal would catch up to him, and she would bring him home. She could do it. She could be the one to do it.

Finally, she started to see real tracks. They were light, and strange, and clearly not animal. They were barefoot marks from a human, but they barely sank into the snow. This was definitely her guy. They were following a trail of much deeper marks, tracks like Opal’s own, despite her attempts to leave as few marks as possible. Her hollow bones and own bare feet helped to keep her from sinking too deeply, but she knew there would be no running once she engaged with this meta.

She started to push forward with renewed vigor and hope. She left her snacks in the bag, keeping her hands free to draw her hammer from its holster should she need it. She hoped she needed it. She wanted to fight, to prove herself against someone strong and powerful.

Then, she made a choice. Now that she had a real trail, it would be quicker for her to catch up by air. She took a few running steps and launched herself up. She wrapped her body in heat and allowed it to carry her. She moved high, high into the trees, and started to follow the trail, using her eyes to telescope out and follow the tracks.

It wasn't long before she found him.

She found a blood trail, then a man. A man leaning over a body. Opal flew just slightly past him and landed in a tree, high up, and looked down. And she immediately felt her blood run cold for a moment before warming back up. The man she had found had a head of black curls, a halo of them, topped with another halo of antlers. They were curled back over his head like a crown, branching beautifully off into long segments. His skin was tan, naturally, and placed him somewhere in the ethnic range. He had a broken nose, and sharp features underneath a short, curly beard.

None of that was what made her blood run cold. No, that was solely due to the fact that he was crouched low over a body, and was actively eating it. It took her by surprise, and for a moment she was unsettled. But her own brother was also like this. He had to kill people to live. It wasn’t cannabilism, but it was close enough for her to be able to relax. She watched him for a long minute, trying to decide the best way forward.

She could take a picture of him. That would be the smartest thing to do, to have photo evidence of him to show the others if he bolted on her. But she didn’t want to do that. Something in her gut was telling her he wouldn’t run once he saw her. Something was telling her to show herself to him. She swallowed.

Whatever this feeling was, it was strange. She felt like he was safe for her, despite the fact he was halfway through eating a body, and had cracked open the chest and stomach, and was actively eating some organ. He had an axe nearby. He could be a threat.

But he wasn’t. She knew this instinctually.

So with that, she made a choice, and Opal was nothing if not dramatic.

She stepped off the tree and dropped, using heat to guide herself to the ground with just enough weight to crash into the snow, but just enough protection to keep from breaking anything. She looked up, her loose curls splayed red across the snow, her black clothes a stark contrast, and made eye contact with the man.

This close, she could tell he was young. Maybe her age, if a little older. He was still a kid, too. His curly hair was a deep black with brown highlights. And his antlers were even more impressive up close, the bone colored pale against his features, but with a soft brown tip. None of that was what caught her eyes and held them, though. His own eyes, blue like looking at the dawn through ice, were what caught her attention.

She felt a curious warmth blossom in her chest. Her world felt like it had suddenly snapped into perfect clarity. He blinked at her, and she felt the warmth spread through her body, and she hummed softly at it. It felt good, whatever it was, and it compounded on the idea that she could trust him.

So it was with a smile that she addressed him. “Hi. Whatcha doing?”
 
Tonight’s hunting had been good. It was a pleasant surprise, given the state of the prey when he found it in that pit trap. This one was a hiker, underprepared for the harsh winter. The blizzard probably hadn’t helped, the one that brought in an extra three inches of powdery snow to hide the disturbances around the pit. And to hide the trails that would otherwise be well-blazed.

Frozen half to death though the man was, he still had plenty of fight in him. He had only known that there was a hand offering him a way out of the freezing hole in the frozen earth. It wasn’t until after, until he’d caught his breath and actually looked at his savior, that he saw the black sclera and branching horns.

For a half-dead man, he was fast. It was probably the adrenaline and the rising hypothermia, but both of those were allies to the predator that followed him. Adrenaline clouded his thoughts, hypothermia guaranteed that eventually, he’d go down. He went down swinging, but he did go down. He’d needed to hit the prey hard with the ax to get it to stop thrashing. He didn’t kill it, though. He needed it to stay at least a little bit warm for as long as possible. Human hikers weren’t the only ones who felt the cold, after all.

It came back around about halfway through the right arm. It was too cold to do anything more than make pitiful little cries by then, which it somehow continued as he used the ax to leverage the rib cage open. As far as the hunter was aware, it shouldn’t attract too much attention; almost everything else was too smart to come out into the cold like this. Even if the storm was gone and the night was clear, the world was still almost silent.

Silent enough that he heard the rustle of the nearby frozen tree as something heavy landed in its branches.

He didn’t look up at it, though. He had dinner; anyone that saw him at this time of year would have trouble recognizing him when he put on a human face again in the spring. He felt whatever-it-was in the tree watching him, but he had food for tonight. If it wanted to be a problem, it would come down and cause a problem. Though, how it could’ve even gotten up there…

There was a dull thump on the snow near him, and he lifted his head to look at the figure now on its back in snow that was melting away from it in a fast-retreating line. A small, delicate female human, without the heavy clothes he’d come to associate with other people, lay on her back and smiled up at him. Her face was sprinkled with red freckles, her hair was a huge mane that spread out of her head against the white blanket beneath her, her eyes were the gold of an afternoon sun on the lake. She was very pleasant to look at, pleasant enough that he made up his mind not to brace for a fight or growl out a threat.

“Eating dinner,” he said, like a slightly twitching but mostly frozen human was a perfectly normal dinner to have. He looked at the torso, then back at the girl in the snow. She didn’t seem bothered by the cold. She looked… happy.

Happiness was something rare out here. He reflected it back to her, his mouth soaked in blood that was cooling as soon as it touched air. He looked at the torso, and then laughed, softly. He remembered enough of normal good manners to make a quiet joke:

“Want some?”
 

Her smile burst into a full grin, and she laughed, a soft and ringing sound like bells. She pushed herself up and into a sitting position, keeping her heat tight to her body to avoid melting all of the snow around them any more than she had to. After all, it was so pretty out here, in the dense white with the red splatter on the ground. And still, she didn’t feel like she was in any danger, even being so close to the young man across from her. "Actually, that doesn't look like the right meat for me. I prefer roast beef."

Her curls were dusted with powdery snow, clinging to them and making her look like she was part of the forest, despite her black clothes. As though she had sat there for long enough for the falling snow to have coated her in a fine layer of soft white. She brushed a loose strand back from her face as she looked him over, and what he was doing.

She pushed herself to her feet, her thin body on display with her tight black clothes. She was small, smaller than she should be. That much was obvious even to herself. Opal ate far too little and did far too much for someone who required a six-course meal at every opportunity. She walked the few feet to where he sat, and then she sat down in front of him, maybe three feet away.

“But feel free to keep eating. I won’t stop you.”
 
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