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⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

The realms where science and sorcery tend to exist in equal focus. This may also includes settings with only a few major differences from our world such as the existence of the supernatural. Examples: The Marvel Universe, Vampire the Masquerade, Supernatural (Series)

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⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by GamerScribe » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:33 pm

⸀AS⌟ Phoenix: Case 1. Specter at the Seven-Eleven______

Van Buren existed like an inky smear upon the otherwise gleaming steely silver buildings and faint amber lights of the downtown area. A street synonymous with disorder and seedy dealings that just so happened to brush shoulders with the high-rise apartments, investment banking firms, high-end bars and eateries and numerous convention centers and mega-hotels speckling the more wealthy and well-to-do parts of the city. Lots of bad things happened along the street... Drugs, violence and prostitution had been on the rise for years since the completion of the I-10 led to a fit of urban decay and the moneyed folk who had to pass by to get to their jobs did so in the relative safety of their vehicles or else at a hurried clip as they stalked purposefully passed the crowded light-rail station. At a word; the region was unsavory.

But mortal crimes and mortal criminals were far afield from the purview of Afterlife Solutions, and on any other day they'd have been just as content to leave the area alone. But any other day this was not. On this ceaselessly bright morning conference room A of the Afterlife Solutions Phoenix Branch Office was packed with a small subset of skilled supernaturalists and consultants all staring at city maps and photographs of the street. More specifically, to street-view images of a particular closed down building. An old seven-eleven.

"And in summation..." Overseer Cleary said with a solemn glower, pointing to the picture of the building once more as he prepared to give a brief overview of all the information he'd spent the last 20 minutes briefing them on.

"Our client, Miss Santiago has stated that the entity in question has been frequenting the location for several weeks, going on months now. While initial complaints are fairly light recent testimony which can be found in the case audio-logs states several individuals questioned by the client complaining of aches and pains reminiscent of those brought on by smoke inhalation and asphyxiation. A tightening of the chest, and a burning in the nostrils and throat coupled with constricted breathing and light-headedness. Furthermore these issues seem to be becoming more prominent. The physical affliction commingled with reports of the sounds of clanging chains and knocking about leads us to believe a poltergeist or other noisy ghost may be the culprit, however we cannot be certain of anything without on-site assessment. Especially seeing as there are no official records or reports of a death on the premises within recent accounting, and no prior evidence of spiritual activity." He closed his powder-blue eyes tightly for a beat and a half before continuing on, clearly trying to work through a migraine.

"Inside the dossiers provided you will find the address of the haunt-site, the address of the client, as well as her work address and a written copy of the victim testimonies she managed to record in case listening to the audio-logs proves too slow or challenging for any of you. Presently this is believed to be a grade two threat; dangerous, but not mortally so. That said you are, as ever, advised to be cautious in dealing with the case. You are cleared to access the archives and utilize the requisitions office as is necessary so long as you provide the proper signatures for such. Please keep in mind this is not yet a priority case so high-end assets will not be available until a prominent issue is proven and registered." Folding away his prepared statements and tucking them into one pocket of his pressed gray suit he turned to the assemblage and said simply;

"Any questions, then, before you are released to deal with the case?" He looked to each of the five assembled consultants thoughtfully, making sure to give them each a stare that said any questions they had should be as clear and concise as they could manage or he was going to become irate.
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by BrookeDi » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:55 am

Daisy was skimming through the dossier at the beginning of the meeting, so she missed most of what the Overseer had been babbling on about the first twenty minutes of their meeting. She figured most of it was in her folder, anyway. Tuning back into the conversation somewhere around 'asphyxiation,' her eyes rising from the documents in front of her to the irritated looking man standing before them all. She wasn't entirely convinced that there was a case; you give yourself the creeps long enough, it's possible to give yourself an anxiety attack, but Daisy wasn't quick to dismiss Miss Santiago's case, either.

Sometimes it's the little things that indicate a haunting, like the apartment they lived in when she was in grade school that had a harmless ghost that periodically stole her mother's keys and 'misplaced' them.

She had questions, of course, but Cleary already looked annoyed, and she didn't want to end up on his shit list so soon after transferring to the Phoenix location. Daisy focused on avoiding eye contact while she unwrapped a piece of gum, chewing it over thoughtfully as she glanced back down at the file on the table before her. She had already reordered the papers twice during their briefing, and she set forth to do so a third time as she waited to see if anyone else would speak up, brown eyes darting from her paperwork to her co-workers.

Her papers sufficiently rearranged, Daisy spoke up. "I'll research the archives if anyone wants to join. See if I can find any supernatural creatures make people feel like they're suffocating accompanies by feelings of heating and a crawling sensation."
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by Georgeanna » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:38 am

The staccato tap of a pen punctuated the end of Daisy’s question. These briefings always were so tedious; the monotonous percussion of a writing instrument was even more amusing. This sheriff turned supernatural investigator was eager for the actual going out. The pumping of adrenaline through his body, the way facts lined up in the field—all of it. But all the same, it had been a good opportunity for a quick catnap, which he had duly seized upon slouching in his chair. He had dozed on and off the entire meeting, occasionally turning a page over or nodding to prove his ‘attentiveness,’ but upon being addressed by the overseer his demeanor changed. The real work was beginning and he wouldn’t be caught sleeping now, his eyes trained on several details that stuck out to him in the dossier in front of him.

If he were not so recently transferred, Nestor would have his feet propped up on the table, much like where he rested his feet in the Nevada office. The scuff marks where the heels of his shoes naturally rested had all but left a permanent marking on his previous office’s conference table. However, Nestor decided to be content with leaning back in his chair, slumping down the slightest bit, and drumming a brief beat on the table while he thought through the issue.

“Well,” he said, the tap-tap-tap coming to an abrupt end, “I suppose the question that is most pressing to me is what sort of history does this particular area have? I highly doubt that the correlation between smoke inhalation and asphyxiation is a random choice of some jesting poltergeist, and no report doesn’t necessarily mean no occurrence.”

The investigator stopped, rubbing his chin, somewhat deliberately taking his time. “I think priority number one, for me, would be finding out what sort of history this place really has, beyond some measly records. So…” he rifled through the dossier that he had spread out in front of him in a collage of papers, “I think I’ll join you in the archives to find out what I can about K. Chapel and L. Richardson. Maybe look at some way of contacting them.”
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by ThreadWeaver » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:02 am

Pho's hand had been raised, having shot up as soon as Cleary had put forward the notion of questions. She'd kept it thrust skyward through the suppositions of the rest of the team, upon which she gradually came to the realization that, everyone involved being adults, there was no need to take turns or worry over nonexistent protocols. She sheepishly lowered the limb, clearing her throat to speak.

"Um... Each of the victims detail something similar with the choking but... It's also different? I can't tell if it's because of how they're recounting it, but Sar-... Ms. Oviatt's encounter; She described it being a lot more violent than it was for the other two. Do we know if hers happened before or after the others? Also they all mention a pressure but I'm having trouble understanding what that pressure means. Like... Is it a pressure from the outside, that's compressing their throats and lungs and stopping the chest from expanding? Or is it a blockage inside, or a gas, or...?"

She trailed off; Her questions had quickly deteriorated away from a semblance of structure. She felt she was shifting towards rambling. She'd never worked with Daisy or Nestor before, and had zero idea of how to read them if they decided to give her a look.

"... I guess we could find that out by just talking to them, huh?"

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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by GamerScribe » Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:10 am

Cleary gave Daisy a simple nod, approving of her sensible approach even if he didn't approve of gum in a conference room. As Nestor joined the bid for the archives the Overseer offered another brief nod and motioned to the door that they may feel free to be on their way. After this he scanned the others in the room with his gaze.

The archives, as those who had been around the Phoenix branch more than one case would know, weren't as neat and orderly as those at the main branch. In the three years the new branch had been afloat they had been shouldered with new cases nearly every day and sent all their resources towards supplies, consultant's wages and advertising.

As such secondary personnel such as cleaning services and a proper archivist were a bit over-budget and a proper booktending was long since overdue. Still; what the records and legends of the Phoenix branch lacked in strictly mandated re-shelving rules it more than made up for in content. Having been built upon the collections of a half-dozen rather adept spiritualists the varying grimoires, diaries and ectopedias were a wealth of information on nearly everything from [Aatxe, Basque] through to [Zunbera-bō, Japanese] and a great deal betwixt and besides.

With a soft sigh he turned his gaze to the junior member of the team and offered a brief nod. Despite outward appearances he wasn't angry, merely... focused beyond the moment. Work made him serious. What he intended to be a reassuring turn to address her would likely come off as a quick and vicious snap of the head in her direction aligned with an intense staredown.

"You could, in point of fact, ask them; yes. That said the order of the three attacks for which we have recordings of the victims is Miss Santiago, followed by Miss Oviatt four days later and lastly Mr. Richardson later that same day." He adjusts his tie and clears his throat before continuing.

"However; if we account for reports of attacks in the area the timeline becomes one report from someone named Mr. Chapel, followed two weeks later by a report from an anonymous caller saying someone tried to grab them and they fled, thereby followed by a second anonymous call five days after which was prematurely halted after rambling about a panic attack and saying they had things under control and apologizing, three days from which Miss Santiago's experience happens or so she tells us, a mere two hours later another anonymous caller contacts the police about hearing an attack which is likely but not necessarily a late response to that perpetrated towards our client, and lastly four days after that Miss Oviatt and Mr. Richardson report their experiences.
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by Shea » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:28 pm

The dull scritch-scratch of a graphite pencil marked the previously bare portions of Emma's handbook as Cleary went along with his presentation. Her hand wandered along with her mind, and she doodled various illustrations of people, objects and things, all an entertaining, yet odd mix of things both real and fantastical. Down the outer column of one of the pages was a drawing of Cleary, with a tie that transformed into a talking furry snake, a smoking pipe dangling from it's wickedly smiling lips. The man himself had been fitted with exaggerated features, such as the set of dark, harshly angled eyebrows that made him look both insanely menacing and outright silly, and italicized phrases such as 'and in summation' had been rewritten into filigreed speech bubbles floating from his gaping mouth.

Emma carefully set the pencil aside, precisely one half centimeter from the edge of the closest paper and exactly five centimeters from the edge of the desk closest to her. Some of the other members had begun a round of questioning, and so she made an effort to sink back into her chair and perk up her ears, some of the audible information having already passed from her attention while she dawdled. But the more she considered what she had read and heard of the case the more she grew genuinely interested, and eventually she didn't have to concentrate so keenly. Her mind formed it's own queries, and soon she was an active member of the discussion; an action that seldom happened in meetings such as these.

She cleared her throat a little, her arms crossing tightly over her ribs as she leaned awkwardly forward. She wouldn't look Cleary in the eyes, her gaze pointed to just over his head at all times, like she was preparing to submit a line she had rehearsed.

"It sounds like those people are having symptoms related to smoke or fire," came a murmur. She moved her gaze to stare at the ground at his feet. "I would like to take a better look at the history of the seven-eleven and the immediate area. Maybe something happened nearby or before the building was the building. Thank you."
Last edited by Shea on Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by Georgeanna » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:31 am

Nestor languidly got up at the overseer’s gesture, stretching just slightly and shaking the sleepiness out of his joints. Rolling his neck, the man wandered to the door and opened it. His form slunk forward, relaxed, waving to the few people he saw wandering around the office outside of the conference room. As he passed door after door, strolling through the office for much too long (quite possibly because he had somewhat forgotten where it was), Nestor finally made it to the archive room. Good god.

In the Nevada branch, things were handled with more care; people were hired to oversee the archive and make it as easy as walking through a park to find the information the detectives needed. Not so, apparently, in Arizona. Whether this was a result of administrative incapability or simply underfunding, the prior police officer didn’t really care. What he did care about is the fact that he’d be in here for much longer than he had anticipated.

With a sigh, Nestor bent down to look at the files that seemed to have some semblance of organizational structure. They ascended alphabetically by last name, but of course, when he got to the Cs, it all went to hell. Not one to be frustrated easily, Nestor just moved on to the next stack, finding a Kelsey Chapel and a Kent Chapel file falling sloppily off of the pile, matching the K. Chapel he had been looking for. Kent Chapel seemed like an alright guy, one run-in with the law that may or may not have ended him up on a golf course sobbing about an ex, but otherwise not too much else. Nodding, he placed the file in the crook of his arm and moved on to the next. Kelsey Chapel was far more interesting from a supernatural investigator’s perspective. Having a registered talent for palmistry and practicing it openly flagged her file, and Nestor automatically carried it with him.

It wasn’t long then until he found an L. Richardson, but he didn’t seem like he had any sort of record either, and not known for having any encounters with the supernatural. All the same, Nestor added it to the ever-growing pile in his arms.

Having nudged some files with his foot, and with three potential leads in his hands, the detective was all but satisfied, standing up and moving towards the door—that is until another pile in the corner caught his eye. This too seemed to carry files on persons of interest, though not alphabetically organized in the least. Sighing, Soulis set his files by the door and sorted through this last pile. As he filtered through the papers, Karel Chapel rose to the surface. Juvenile detention and charges of assault all jumped out of his file, but what caught Nestor’s eye was the supernatural possibilities that the file remarked about. Apparently treated for mental health issues, Karel had been experiencing visions and the company believed this might point to paranormal encounters.

Bringing this file along too then, Nestor grabbed the other three and huffed his way over to an empty corner and plopped down onto the floor. Glancing at his watch, he reckoned he had at least half an hour before he had to go any place, and he was just so tired…quietly he slipped off into a light nap, snoring softly.
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by ThreadWeaver » Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:23 pm

"Oh, right! Right. Then I'll um, get their addresses from the file and go out to interview them. Oh! I should also call ahead so they aren't too surprised, maybe? Let's see, they mostly live at -..."

Pho hesitated, reading over the addresses again. As far as she could tell, they were all only in reasonable driving distance. She'd expected this to come up eventually, but not on her first big case. She fidgeted, denting the sheet of paper with her thumbnail and clearing her throat.

"Uh... would it be possible to get someone to help drive me to their residences? If it's not too much trouble. You know what, I could just get a cab, it's no big deal..." She hurried on, trailing off as she made her way to the door of the meeting room.

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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by BrookeDi » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:01 am

The glance that Daisy gave Pho was brief, cursory. Daisy carefully gathered up her things, following Nestor wordlessly to look at the archives. Upon entrance, however, she gave a nervous sort of laugh. The unsightly mess gave her anxiety, and her fingers itched to start organizing. They didn't have that kind of time, however--that was relegated to employees with nothing more pressing on their plate which is why it never got done. She was in here with a purpose. "How does anyone find anything?" She couldn't help but complain to her companion. It seemed that Nestor had no problem plucking files from piles and spotting things that would catch his eye.

With a sigh, Daisy headed into the archive room. She found a random stack and opened the top file to be greeted with ghastly images of a more malicious and violent attack; shifting the picture aside she skimmed the report, determined that it was nothing related to the things she was looking for and quickly moved on.

She found a stack of reports that had to do with fire, but it missed the pressure or contact, auditory phenomena, and difficulty with breathing. Eventually, though, she found a shelf with stacks of files that were all creatures, entities, spirits, etc. These were much easier to flip through, even if they were in no particular order. She had a huge stack of files that had one or more of the four critical elements of the attack. Very few had all four. After briefly skimming the reports, she narrowed it down to six files--six possible creatures. The Night Hag she was hesitant on because they were more known to occur during sleep, but she wasn't so quick to rule it out just yet. Taking her six files and spotting Nestor dozing off in a corner, Daisy exited the archive room. There was no way she'd be able to concentrate surrounded by this mess. Once she crossed the threshold, the tension in her shoulders eased, and she could breathe normally again.

Tucking her files under her arm, she considered going to the place and seeing if she could have a similar experience, narrow it down herself. Or, maybe she could go and speak with their witnesses, get a better account of what happened so she could compare it to the entities that she'd narrowed it down to.

The young girl, that new one--she mentioned going to speak with the victims. Daisy hurried to the conference room, nearly running into Pho. "You!" She pulled back to prevent from full colliding with the girl. "You were going to speak with our client, right?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Great. I'll ride with you."
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by GamerScribe » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:51 am

Cleary settled his stern look upon Emma and gave a singular nod as he considered her input. He had, over the course of the briefing, noted the fact she seemed more intent on doodling than on actually paying attention. Even so it was in his nature to accept this lackadasical outlook from people as long as they got results and minded their manners. The thank you and the fact she spoke to him in clear statements of intent as opposed to bogging him down with questions actually went a good way towards putting her into his favor.

"The prep team have gathered records dating back to the settlement of this city in modern America yet no listings cite any fire or smoke related injury, death or noteworthy event on the premises. You can search through the archives for any events in the surrounding area if you'd like or if you believe there could be an event in the site's history from a pre-documented span you can fill out form 34-A, which can be found in the chartreuse bin in the records office, and turn it into one of the clerks. That will get your team permittance to perform an on-site seance. You could try and contact some earlier settlers in that way and get yourself better informed." He offered a secondary nod of acknowledgement,thoughtfully considering whether he had offered the most pertinent information he could.

Turning his head to face Pho he pondered her question and the smallest of frowns settled onto his features. Young... not even a license holder, and out investigating and sometimes coming toe to toe with dangerous spectral entities. He pictured his nieces and nephews and felt a cold chill run down his spine at the thought. As with every other time he'd felt concern or pity for his fellow employees he stifled it and reminded himself that they did this, they dealt with these things, so other people didn't have to. That Pho's actions were both necessary and heroic.

"If..." He started to say, intending to offer to call a cab for her on company credit because it did technically count as a work expense, only for Daisy to suddenly spring back into the room and whisk her away. Nodding silently he blinked his eyes and turned to those who hadn't yet set out.

"Will that be all?"






_Interstitial_
The clattering of chains. The soft sigh of a sun-seared civilian making their way to work. The patient hum of power gathering in the dark and dingy corners of an abandoned building left barren and broken from disuse and time. Ruins rummaged through by scavengers both human and beast with every spare inch of space covered over with a fine layer of dust and housing no life save the ever-present populace of vermin found in every empty space in the world. The scrape of steel on stone and the low growl of a predator stalking prey. The soft squeak of sneakers on pavement skirting just shy of the boundary line to the property. A single shoelace's aglet skips over the salient stone marking the edge of the 7/11 parking lot and leaves it blackened and smoking slightly, it's wearer none the wiser. Too eager. Power spent. The entity retreats.
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by Forge » Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:03 pm

Ben Wyatt wasn't burdened with his colleagues' deficit of engagement when it came to briefings, even those as dry as the ones delivered by Overseer Cleary. It wasn't that he was a particularly diligent employee - you could likely paper a wall with the citations he'd been given for playing fast and loose with company policy at the Nevada office - so much as the fact that he spent the time between cases waiting with the brittle patience of an addict anticipating their next hit. Ben envied his colleagues for their ability to step out of the office and back into some semblance of normality; to relationships, families, amateur softball leagues and weekend barbecues. He'd tried it - the Nevada branch had insisted, in fact, that he make an effort to engage in some sort of social activity - but after a month he'd wanted to scream. The world outside of AS felt washed-out and thin, and pretending to be Joe Average made him want to scream. He'd given it a week or two more, then resorted to lying during his performance reviews. So when a new case came his way, Ben approached it with the demeanour of a starving man wandering into an all-you-can-eat buffet. The packet of information that came with the start of a new incident was the best part of the day.

His enthusiasm for procedure, however, rarely extended further than the conclusion of the initial proceedings. Whilst Ben agreed with research on priciple he preferred to take a hands-on approach to learning, and the concept of poring over archived records (particularly in the Phoenix office's record room) was utterly soul destroying. He kept his mouth shut as Daisy and Nestor volunteered themselves for the onerous task, instead thumbing a lump of chalk he'd discovered in one pocket and letting everyone speak their piece while he mulled over the information they'd been given. Whatever kind of nasty this thing was, its sphere of influence seemed.. erratic. People closer to the site experienced stronger symptoms, which was fine and dandy, but Cleary's list of those further afield who had potentially experienced similar effects was almost as long as their list of victims at ground zero. Which either meant they were dealing with an absurdly specific coincidence, or something out of the ordinary was happening with this particular entity. Emma and Pho seemed to be thinking along the same lines - speak to the client, investigate the area - but before Ben could co-opt the pair of them, Daisy stormed back into the room and absconded with their youngest recruit. Wyatt swallowed an expletive, then drummed his hands against his thighs loudly.

"Figure it might be helpful t'get that seance done, boss. Take Ms Holden and Nestor along,see if we can't scare up some of the local wildlife," Ben wiggled his fingers near his own temple in a gesture that was, presumably, intended to convey the Sight. "See if anything 'bout the area sets off the old hocus-pocus while we're at it."
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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by ThreadWeaver » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:42 am

Pho gave a start, so inwardly focused on the potential for embarrassment that she hadn't registered Ms. Holt at first and, thus, embarrassed herself. She turned, opening her mouth to speak only to see Holt already making a decision.

"Oh, uh, yes!"

She scampered off after Holt... and then bolted back into the briefing room, desperately shoveling her scattered papers into her arms, which she'd forgotten.

"I'm so sorry please excuse me Mr. Cleary sir." She blundered out, rushing back out and shutting the door behind her - a peculiar feat, as her hands were occupied keeping her paperwork together. The flustered clack of her shoes on the tiled floor faded into the distance, ebbing with her departure.

She rejoined her senior in short order. Daisy Holt... she scavenged through her memories of her first day, the antagonistic swelter that it was. They'd made brief, highly professional pleasantries; introduction, elaboration on skills, and then not much else. The other woman had struck Pho initially as distant and umbral, and the tension relegated to mustering up an approach to her seemed too great an obstacle piled on top of the other stressors of navigating the new (to her) office environment. Now, however, Holt had snapped her up for a joint effort on assignment. She would have to make an effort, and give it her best. Slightly out of breath, she turned to address Daisy.

"Hey! Um, so... This seems like a pretty nasty spirit, don't you think?"

Oh god oh hell oh damn what was she doing.

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Re: ⸀A⌟fterlife ⸀S⌟olutions; Phoenix Branch

Post by Georgeanna » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:24 am

The shuffling of papers was soothing, keeping the ambient noise from getting too loud as to be obnoxious and keeping away any silence. But soon enough he heard the steady clip of someone walking out of the records room, and then nothing. The papers didn’t move and there were no footsteps any longer, just the numbing dearth of sound that made his eardrums recoil in alarm. Nestor didn’t do well with silence since the incident with…well, best to leave such things behind. The hair raised on the back of his neck and he sat up, blinking.

This must’ve been the fastest Nestor had moved in a while, his normal gait replaced by manic shuffling and white knuckles wrapped around his finds. Once out of the chamber, he hurriedly scampered back to the conference room, looking a bit disheveled, his hair undoubtedly mussed, and a bit of drool still on the corner of his mouth.
Forge wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:03 pm
“Take Ms Holden and Nestor along, see if we can't scare up some of the local wildlife," Ben wiggled his fingers near his own temple in a gesture that was, presumably, intended to convey the Sight. "See if anything 'bout the area sets off the old hocus-pocus while we're at it."
Remembering himself, the ex-cop put down the files, ran a hand through his hair, and used a sleeve to wipe his face. Might’ve not been the most professional, but he didn’t exactly care either. Just like that, the panicked expression left him and he leaned against the table with ease. All the while, his insides churned. Not now, Nestor, dammit. Not now.

Coughing slightly before responding, Nestor replied “Uh-yeah. Sounds good to me. Can get a good feel for the place, and maybe narrow down this stack of names.”
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