When Love Turns Macabre

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Saphira flinched as the rock rolled back into place, a small squeak escaping her entirely muffled by the hoodie. Mako didn’t budge, glancing at the rock and shaking his head. The room was lit with several lanterns, a pair of stone face and cleanly dressed bodyguards stood with their arms folded beside a rectangular dark oak table. Smoke filled the air, both from the lanterns and from the “big guy’s” cigar.

“Hey, man.” Mako greeted the inhuman in the chair between them. The clawed fingers that drummed on the armrest paused, smoke billowing with his amused laugh. He turned to face the pair, sharp teeth shown in a tightly pulled grin, his sharp pupils flickering over the two.

“How in the world did you get a woman to join you?” He snickered. Mako rolled his eyes and sighed. Saphira tossed him a small laugh.

“I need your help, she needs a weapon.” He started, resting his hands on the table. The bodyguards stiffened at the approach. The inhuman waved a dismissive hand, directing them to leave. They slipped into the dark and vanished beyond through an unseen exit. He grinned and gestured to the empty seats at the end of the table.

“Please, sit. We’ll discuss it right away. Introduce yourself, madam.” He folded his hands and rested his pointed chin on them, his fanned ear flicking. They took the seats, Mako nodding to her as she took her hood down and fixed her hair.

“I’m Saphira. I got my sword confiscated. I can’t have just any weapon, either, I need that one.” She explained.

“Simple. I like it. You can call me Pirac. What exactly is this sword’s importance?” He asked.

“It’s crystal and special to my family,” she glanced at Mako, “It was made to d- I just really need it back.”

“Ah, I see. Well, if Mako is leading you around you must be in the same boat we are. Welcome to the inhuman club.” He chuckled.

“Er- thanks…” She cleared her throat and looked down. Mako grimaced, understanding her shame but feeling an irrational prick of anger towards the sight. Pirac raised his brow at the pair, drumming his claws and shaking his head.

“Who attacked you? Who are the people who confiscated it?.” He asked. Mako folded his hands on the table, curiously looking to her. Saphira tensed at the eyes on her. She didn’t really like being the center of attention with no information to offer.

“Well, we found out they were hired by the queen,” Saphira muttered.

“The queen?” Pirac arched, eyes widened to their full extent, a second pair of eyes revealed on his cheeks where the bone would crest, the subset pupil-less and pure white, “what did you do to piss her off?”

“Breathe.” Mako scoffed. Pirac gave a short laugh and cleared his throat, returning his surprise to Saphira. She shook her head, weakly gesturing to Mako and giving him an annoyed glare. Pirac stood, his reptilian tail whipped out from behind him and scratched his chin as he dug through the large bags behind his chair.

“I don’t know how much help I can offer. The queen,” he blew a heavy breath and shook his head. “That’s a pretty big mark on your backs… But I can send out some eyes to help you look. A box the queen is interested in narrows it down a little. Just keep an ear open and we’ll let you know if we see it.” He drew two small items from the bag and handed one to each of them.

Saphira tilted her head at it and flipped it over, looking at the many spirals, tracing her fingers over them. Mako took a glance and tossed it in his pocket. Pirac returned to his seat and clasped his hands together, chin on the knuckles, elbows on the table. He smirked, his teeth glistening, a subset of eyes narrowed.

Pirac held his own out and swirled his finger on the shell-like surface of it. The ridges of Saphira’s shell started to shine, light filling the swirling pattern. It emitted a quiet trilling noise that gave Saphira a slight shudder up her spine.

“These are Sirens. I’ll contact you through these. Just write my name into it and it’ll make mine do the same. P. I. R. A. C.”

“Alright, thanks… Uh,” She turned to Mako who leaned up against the wall and shook the shell in hand, “you heard him, yeah?”

“This isn’t my first time dealing with Pirac.” He grumbled, arms folded.

“Ah, don’t mind him,” Pirac put an arm around her and lowered his voice, “he just likes pretending he’s cool.” Saphira scoffed and made an annoyed, mocking face at Mako, pocketing her own shell with a huff. Mako knocked on the boulder, the oversized obstacle shuddering and moving out of place. Saphira threw her hood over her head and tied the drawstrings to keep it tight. Pirac returned to his seat and turned away, waving his hand as they left.

“Keep in touch!” He called as they left, the cave closing behind them. Saphira shuffled past the manager, wary of his burning glare. Mako bared his teeth at the suspicious human, causing him to flinch and step back. With a small smirk, he pulled his mask down from his crown and adjusted it on his face.

They laid low while leaving the slums, Mako covering their tracks as they ascended the dark hall and came back out in the alleyway of Miano. Evening fell over the city, the streets entirely empty. Saphira peered out from behind the brick building and furrowed her brow.

“Where did everyone go?” She whispered.

“Miano has a curfew everyone is required to follow. We need to be careful.” He hummed under breath.

“More so than usual?”

“Yes, they’ll kill us on sight without hesitation. Aleera is…”

The clatter of armor interrupted him. He put a hand over her mouth and yanked her into the shadows, the mask dimming his eye lights. A set of guards passed the alley, their swords at their hips and rifles in hand. Saphira whined into Mako’s hand, looking up at him silently. He waited for them to pass, crouching against the alley wall.

They made their rounds and marched away, clinking fading into the distance. Saphira gripped the porous bone and pulled his hand away.

“What is it with Miano and guns?” Saphira growled.

“Efficiency,” Mako craned around the bend, “Aleera is adamant no one leaves their homes after curfew.” He gestured for her to follow and shot out of the shadows to the other side of the road in a blur of shimmering green, pressing himself to the wall. Saphira waved the ephemeral swirls away and crouch ran to his side.

“Uh… poof.” She muttered, tossing dirt overhead in a makeshift flourish. Mako shook his head, a smirk broke his straight face for but a moment. Saphira sat on her knees and huffed, “What did I do..?” Mako glanced down at her, taking the second of respite to kneel beside her.

“What do you remember?” He asked in a low tone.

“I… It’s hard to think it’s so blurry.” She lowered her head.

“Anything before the attack?” He clarified, tilting his head slightly. Saphira studied the ground and shuffled some stones around, silent. She heaved her shoulders and nibbled on her lips, her brow furrowing nervously.

“I remember a lot of home. They’re actually swell memories.” She laughed softly. Mako breathed a sigh and offered a warm smile.

“Sweet, but is there anything… useful?” He urged.

“Uh, nothing that sticks out. I remember my family and leaving with the parcel, but nothing that would make me a target to anyone.” Saphira rubbed her chin and folded her arm, “I keep coming back to a memory of a key?” Mako rested his arms on his knees, his wings rattled in his ribcage, the noise startling her from her thoughts.

Mako stood and took her hand, helping her to her feet. Her eyes lingered on the grasp before she cleared her throat and took her hand back. Mako lifted his cloak and released his wings, putting his arm around her waist and lifting her into the air with him, landing on the roof of a nearby home. Her face started turning pale red. She tried hiding in her hood, extremely tense.

He didn’t immediately release her, his grip lingering as he made sure she was steady. She pushed away from him, sitting at the other end of the roof, walking carefully and quietly. Mako sat with legs crossed and wings folded, looking out to the streets. He let her have her distance, unsure why she was acting somewhat odd. It wasn’t an important matter for that night. If what he heard was true, they had something more important to take care of.

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