The bar had just closed for the night. Obsidian was sitting in his booth in the back, cigarette burnt down to the filter still in his hand. He was casually scrolling through Reddit, looking up information on his potential new Friend, Cryptid. There were a few interesting rabbit holes that he’d been following to obscure websites with very little actual information. The information provided, however, lined up with all of what he had been told by the kid. So there was that. He smiled a little to himself as he thought about whether or not the kid would accept his invitation.
“Hey boss, we’re heading out. You want us to bring you back anything?” Lapis popped into Obsidian’s view. She was dressed in her usual sunglasses and blue jean jacket over her black cropped top. Behind her Hemie slipped into view, and then Rhody and Sulphur. He looked up at all four of them, his gaze heavy. Then he gave them an almost vicious smile.
“Bring me back a snack if you can find one. Otherwise, enjoy yourself.”
The two women rushed toward the door, arm in arm. Hemie gave him a nod of the head as he passed, as respectful as ever. Then, Sulphur stepped up close, leaning in. “I delivered the remains to Katherine. She wanted you to know she doesn’t blame you.”
Obsidian looked up, a sharp breath filling his lungs. His now only brother looked back at him with soft dark eyes. Then he also gave him a nod, and he strolled out the open door with the others. Obsidian waited until he saw the lock engage before he picked up his glass and threw it at the wall across the bar, where it exploded on impact.
That was the last thing he needed tonight. Katherine didn’t blame him, but he sure as fuck did. He should have gotten more information before sending Malachite in. He knew that now. He knew what had become of his brother. And although he might have gained a potential friend of all things from the situation, Obsidian– No, not just Obsidian, but Ethan blamed himself. He pushed up from the table, looking around the dimly lit bar, walked behind the counter, and opened the door to the store room.
Alcohol wasn’t going to fix his problem, but it would damn well help.
Mary had a string of, well, not 'bad luck' per se. More like 'terrible no good horrible bad luck.' Her bank robbery had netted a total of $4,512 dollars, barely enough to run operations for four months, four months if they were breaking even on everything else! Her attempt to nab a couple of cat's had fallen through entirely, and now-?
Well, now she was face to face with what was, probably, the owner of a bar she thought was abandoned.
He was a tall man with a flop of curly red hair on the top of his head and golden eyes, conventionally attractive all things considered. Not Mary's type though, and he looked really upset. Well, no, upset was the wrong word, he looked like he wanted to rip someone's head off and bathe in the blood that dripped from their jugular. And, of course, that look was focused on Mary. Mary, who was holding four bottles of the most expensive looking shit she could find.
Smiling, Mary made as if to set the bottles down, "Heeey~ Boss! Big boss! Wassu-ELDRITCHBLAST!" The word came quick and, without setting down the bottle, the burgundy beam arced from her fingertips like so much terrible lightning. Mary wasn't sure she was aiming correctly, probably a nat 2 on that aim. She just hoped her charisma mod was high enough to connect anyway.
Walking into the storeroom of the Diamond and finding a young woman who looked like she was about a hundred pounds soaking wet was not making Obsidian’s night any better. He hadn’t even had time to cover his face, so he was sporting his natural copper hair and unusual eyes. Well, that settled that. He was going to have to kill this one. Not like he would have done anything different if he had been covering his face, but having seen his face meant she needed to die.
He was opening his mouth to tell her how she had come into the wrong bar when all of a sudden a bright bolt of energy left her fingers. He pulled back around the corner of the stairs, and it breezed past him. He watched as it cracked the stone wall of the cellar. So she was a meta. Well, that changed things. Maybe he would just scare her into submitting then. After all, he had come to Pittsburgh specifically to collect as many meta-humans as possible to his side.
Obsidian moved quickly– he was down the stairs and halfway to her in the blink of an eye. He stopped right in front of her, reached out, and put his hand on her shoulder. He started to pull, searching for the flow of energy that rolled through the young woman. He would bring her down, just a bit, just enough to sling her over his shoulder and carry her to their interrogation room in the actual basement around the back.
Mary cursed as she watched the man dodge, his armor class was clearly too high with that dexterity bonus. Even in a life-or-death situation, Mary's mind still thought of everything in Dungeons and Dragon's terms. She wasn't even able to set the bottles down when he moved again, faster than her eyes could follow he went from the top of the stairs to
Her life flashed before her eyes as he reached out, her brothers, her 'friends,' the backroom deals, the failed relationships, the pact. The pact. As Obsidian reached out, Mary could feel a deep cold pull from the depths of her chest. She felt completely paralyzed. It wasn't fear, though she certainly had enough of that, but a physical paralysis. It was like waking up in the middle of the night and having your body refuse to respond as you screamed for it to move. He was doing something to her, he was doing something bad to her-!
She was going to die.
"Wrong bar, kid."
Mary reached hard with her soul, begging.
The room itself would almost appear to twist and turn as the words barely slipped from Mary's lips. Darkness eradicated all sources of light and the silence of the grave fell around like a dark curtain. SOMETHING massive and terrible reached down through the inky blackness. A hand, so large it seemed as though it might not even fit in the room, pulled itself out from the darkness. Gently, a single clawed fingertip, larger than a human body, brushed Obsidian's hand off Mary's shoulder.
A voice, quiet and soft like crickets in a crawlspace, whispered to Obsidian, "Hands off."
Everything was going fine until it wasn’t. Until a hand bigger than the entire room reached out of nothingness and brushed his hand away. For a brief moment, his hand was on the finger that shooed him away, and in that moment, his entire body lit up with energy. It was so much. It was too much. He quickly snapped his hand away, feeling a swirl of fiery energy fill his body. His heart rate skyrocketed, and he started to shake. That had been enough energy to feed him for days.
He looked up and around, and then back down at the girl. She was frozen in terror still, but nothing in her eyes seemed to say she had seen what he had seen, had felt what he had felt. But Obsidian knew the truth. The electric charge, his racing heart, the deep warmth in his bones told him everything.
But if she didn’t know that, he wasn’t going to be the first to tell her.
He straightened his clothes out, cuffing his sleeves. He was careful as he rolled it up around the tender and bruised injuries on his left arm, but he tilted his head to the side and smiled, all teeth, all monster, and he asked in a deathly soft voice, “Well, are you feeling like a chat now? Or do you wanna see how quickly I can kill you?’
She didn’t know that for a brief moment, he had been confused. For a brief moment, he had feared.
Mary stood frozen. One moment, the man had set his hand upon her shoulder and she had felt her lifeforce begin to diminish. The next- his hand was withdrawn and he was smarting up his outfit. Had Ci- her Patron saved her-? Or had this man simply changed his mind on destroying Mary? Either way, he was playing it like he had simply changed his mind.
So Mary wasn't going to push her luck. At least, not too much. Smiling nervously, she held the alcohol and responded as cooly as she could manage, "Th-that's y-yeah t-talking is g-good. Let's talk! Talk upstairs yeah? I-I'm keepin' this shit though, cause, I need it." 'Yeah,'Mary thought, 'that was good, assert yo-self gurl.'
She would step past the man at that point, or follow him upstairs, depending simply on his response or how fast he moved. Her shaking and clinking of the glass bottles together would only start to slow down once she made her way all the way up the stairs. Once up, Mary would ask, "So this place, I thought it was abandoned? What's you's doin' here? Runnin' guns or drugs or some shit?"
Obsidian looked at the bottles she held. It was some of their more expensive bottles, but wasn’t the bottle of Irish whiskey he had wanted, so he waved it off. He reached above her head and took down his personal bottle of Teeling Whiskey Co. Vintage Reserve, a bottle of single cask 24-year-old single malt Irish whiskey. It was the most expensive bottle in the entire cellar, not that that was obvious from the plain, glass container it rested in. He waved her up the stairs after him.
As soon as he made it upstairs, the tall copper-haired man grabbed a whiskey glass from the counter, filled it halfway with a large ice cube, then walked over to his personal booth and sat. He didn’t answer her question immediately, waving her over to sit down. He poured just enough whiskey to fill the rest of the glass. It was a tall drink for whiskey, but he needed it after what Sulphur had told him.
“This place isn’t even remotely abandoned. You’re just here after hours. We just reopened. This is a fully functioning bar, kid.” There was some annoyance to his voice, but he was otherwise impassive.
Mary watched the man reach over to grab something, but she didn't flinch. Her bravery was slowly returning, as were her wits. Following him upstairs and sitting in the booth he gestured to, Mary listened to the man's response as he poured an incredibly tall glass of whiskey.
She smiled and leaned on the table with her elbows, watching the older guy's movements told her a few things that he might not have realized he revealed. The tall whiskey glass, way too large for someone who ran a bar, meant he was drinking to get drunk. That meant either he was a raging alcoholic, or something was bothering him and it wasn't Mary. Then, secondly, he didn't answer her question, and Mary decided to point that fact out.
"So you's be doin' drugs and guns, interestin'. And you's just opened from a place that was closed, ah, sorry, 'reopened.' Heehee, funny. So what's ya shtick old man? You's touch people and they die? That's powerful, but I think you's won't get the wool over me again. Can you's do anything else, or what?"
Mary was overly confident. Her body exuded the authority of someone far more powerful than the scared little woman that had followed the barman upstairs. It wasn't that Mary was convinced her life had been saved. Rather, she simply thought that, because she understood the barman's power, she'd be able to counter it.
“No drugs, no. This is a legitimate bar.” Truth by omission. No, he didn’t run drugs– but he definitely ran guns. Not that this kid needed to know about that. Well. He wondered if she knew, if she’d be more likely to join up with Slate. He looked at his drink and threw back some, hoping the buzz would actually take for once. Getting drunk was hard for him, though he had no idea what made it so difficult.
“You got me though. I run guns. Just not from here.” A risk, for sure, but hopefully one that would pay off. “This is a real bar, and my family and I live upstairs. You actually just missed them. They went out to find me a snack– though I don’t really need one anymore.”
He wiggled his fingers at the young girl to emphasize what kind of snack he meant. Then, after a moment, he waved a hand and it was engulfed in shadow. He let it travel across his skin and clothing, passing the shadow to his other hand. The effect meant that half of him was visible, while the other half was a shadow. Then, he put it out. No point in abusing the power, even if it was right after he was fed more than he had been in years.
Mary nodded and nodded as the barman spoke. She listened to what he was saying but, more importantly, she listened to what he wasn't saying. He just admitted to gun running openly, but he also let drop the hint that he had many people working for him. Then, he showcased another usage of his power, but he also didn't deny or clarify Mary's initial observation of his abilities.
So he was a powerful man, well connected, with underlings who ran guns for him, and Mary didn't know who he was? That last fact was probably the weirdest bit because Mary also ran guns. Of course, Mary's operation was small, but it allowed her to learn a lot about the bigger movers and shakers who didn't see her as a threat. But she didn't know this guy. So either he was really small time, unlikely, or he had just arrived in the city, dangerous.
So Mary grinned, all fidgety curiosity and unearned courage. This could be a great opportunity if used correctly. Tapping the table, Mary asked a few more questions, "Your fam yeah? Little small time fam operation you got runnin' then? That's always nice, keepin' it low key right? Is all you's fam like you? Specifically like you's, I mean, with the shadows and the bad touch?" Mary specifically didn't reveal anything about herself, at least not yet. He hadn't asked either, so that made it less awkward to be secretive.
“They’re not exactly like me. Rhody can’t be killed because she regenerates. Lapis can make you feel anything she wants. The others are unique as well. But no one else is quite like me.” Well, that wasn’t exactly true. But Todd wasn’t one of them yet. He would be, soon enough. Acceptance was a heedy drug.
He looked the girl over as he took a long sip of his He wondered just how honest he should be. She seemed to genuinely be a small-time thief, especially for such a shoddy attempt at a B & E. He doubted she was a cop. She just didn’t have the air of “undercover cop” that nearly all of them had. He shrugged, making a split second choice.
“We’re not small time. We just moved from Philly with the intention of spreading further west. We supply guns to about half of the gangs in the city right now. My family and I run it together, but there’s quite a substantial amount of people under us.” That was the truth, and he hoped it might interest her. A meta who was interested in some not so legal ventures such as theft were usually interested in something that could pull them from whatever poverty they were in. “What’s your name, kid?”
His gaze had turned a little sharper on her. If she lied about her name the conversation would be over. He’d send her on her way. If she gave him her real name or moniker, then that would be a sign she was interested. Obsidian wanted the girl. She would make a good addition, even with just the… had she called it Eldritch Blast? He knew what an Eldritch deity was, and that would make sense given the vision he had had.
Mary tapped the table, seemingly focused on the best way to shove the alcohol bottles into a little messenger sachel she pulled out of her pants. Perhaps she had the thing on her the whole time, perhaps it only appeared when she needed it, either way, it seemed bigger on the inside- but not big enough. While Mary nodded her head, seemingly uninterested in what Obsidian was saying, Mary still responded.
"Interestin'... A whole fam of metas runnin' guns, ain't heard that before. I could get in on that, if'n you wanted. I run a few myself, nothin' big though. Ain't got the time to be big right now." Then, stopping her movements with a sly grin, she added, "My name? Only if i'ma get yours as well big boy."
When Obsidian acknowledged her request, Mary would then answer honestly. "I'm Mary, Mary the Warlock. A pleeeeasure to meet you, and a greater pleasure to meet me-" Laughing, she held out a hand momentarily as if to shake before flipping it back as a joke. Of course she wasn't going to touch this fucker, she remembered what he did less than an hour ago. Wringing her hands, she added, "Tell me big boy, what'cha really in? A gang boss runnin' metas, that ain't surprising, but a meta boss running metas? What's that about?"
Mary was stupid, she truly was, but behind all that stupid there lay a devious little monster just begging to get out. If only it could carve out all the niceness that laid in the way.
Obsidian smiled at her and after she finished speaking, he lifted the glass to his lips. He threw back what was left in the glass and then gave her a wolfish grin. “My name is Obsidian. It’s the name I chose for myself, and it’s the name you get to have.”
He set the glass down and reached into the pocket of his pants. He pulled out a lighter and a pack of Dunhills. He tapped one of the cigarettes halfway out and then caught it with his teeth. He slipped the pack back into his pocket and then flipped open the zippo lighter. As he lit the cigarette, he looked the young woman over.
He didn’t quite like the fact that she had compared him to a gang leader. But then, he supposed what he did was closer to a mob boss, if he had to think about it. With the different divisions of Slate, with his legal businesses, and with his family. He sighed and took a deep inhale of the smoke, leaving it in his lungs before breathing it out in a long stream through his nose.
“I don’t run other metas. I offer them… opportunities. I offer them jobs and shelter and safety. I offer them power, both new and personal. I don’t run a gang. I run an organization.” He smiled as he took another, quicker hit off his smoke, then tilted his head back and breathed it straight into the air. Alcohol might not work on him, but cigarettes sure took the edge off. That, and being well-fed. “If you wanted to be part of something bigger, we could sure you use firepower like yours.”
Mary laughed when the man introduced himself, she couldn't help it. What kind of name was 'Obsidian?' Who did this guy think he was? Some sort of comic book villain? 'Oooh better be careful or the lava glass man is gonna get you's!'Mary thought with a smile. Leaning back in her chair, she continued to listen while he described his organization.
And, he presented her with an offer.
She sat up at that, her face dropping the ridiculous nonchalant grin and taking up a far more serious expression. Now sitting straight, she waved the smoke from the air and spoke, "You's offerin' me a job? I'ma have'ta pass on that ol' boy. Not to disrespect you's, of course, I'm sure you's organization is powerful. But, maybe you's be willin' to hear a counteroffer?"
Flicking her fingers, Mary sparked burgundy electricity between her fingers and set them on the table. The scent of cooked flesh wafted through the air as her finger burned marks into the table before them. Mary began the process of inscribing an encircled pentagram, perfectly formed, in the table between the two. Looking at Obsidian as a sort of flex while her fingers moved, she spoke as she added runes to the points of the shape, "I ain't interested in anythin' big. But I'm workin' on a new thing and I think I've almost got it down. Assumin' I get it down, how's about you's pay me for that power, and you's don't decide that section 8 ever becomes a blip on you's radar, ok?"