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Three Berhs

Three Berhs 001: A Guard For Goldi

Goldi Locke is being escorted in to the witness protection program after seeing something she was never meant to see.

Goldi: [i]SLAM! CRUNCH! BANG![/i]

Her shit hole of an apartment looked even worse than usual. Even the roaches look liked they were fleeing amidst the flurry of activity in it. The short 5’4″ stature woman was bustling from room to room, emptying out drawers and cramming as much as she could in to a pair of suitcases. Who knew that she owned so much [i]stuff[/i]. When a couple of cops tell you to pack your most important possessions, you don’t realize just how many things you consider important.

[i]RINGRING! RINGRING![/i]

She dashed for the phone, snatching it up off it’s cradle and putting it to her ear. “Goldi Locke. Hello?”

Silence. [i]Click![/i]

They hung up on her. Goldi didn’t stop to think how odd it was or if it was a wrong number. She was in a rush and had more important things to worry about. Like her LIFE. Any minute now a cop was going to show up to escort her to somewhere safer. If she knew she’d suddenly have her life turned upside down, she might never have called the cops! Yet every day since it happened, all she could see was the face of that man, contorted and screaming. With three men standing over him and beating him to death…

Goldi zipped up her bag.

Vance: The breaks squeaked as he stopped the car. He had been ordered to come here in civies so he didn’t attract attention and it irked him. Sending one man to pick up a witness in a mob trial? It didn’t seem right even if you wanted to keep things ‘low key’. He sighed and pulled up the handbreak before he opened the door adjusting his collar before he mounted the stars of the apartment building and pushed the buzzer.

“Here to see Ms. Locke, apartment 35a.” he said before the door unlocked and he pushed it open. His first impression was one of squalor, not the kind of place he’d have expected her to like after seeing her picture. His second impression was he should have expected this considering the area, he was glad the safe house was somewhere you could actually walk your dog.

Up more stairs and down the corridor following the directions he’d been given until, stepping over a spot on the carpet where someone had left their trash, he knocked on her door. “Ms. Locke?” he paused listening to a crash on the other side of the door like someone tripping over something or something falling from a table. “Ms. Locke, this is detective Deckert, is everything alright in there?”

The detective was gone, more than enough time to get out of the van and walk over to the rusty undercover car and with a glance at the door of the apartments bend down and slip something out from under your jacket and clamp it to the inside of the wheel arch, passenger side. Having him come now was a blessing in disguise. Instead of busting open her door pretending to be him and tying her up with the thing on her chest theyd send a message to both the public and the police without even having to subdue the witness.

Goldi: At the voice at the door, Goldi froze. …After she nearly knocked a glass off her coffee table. Rushing over to the door, she peered out the peep hole. She couldn’t be too careful, right? The guy wasn’t dressed like a cop. Though he looked really impatient, now looking increasingly concerned the longer it took for her to reply.

Goldi finally swung open the door, stepping away as she crossed the messy living room to go grab her two bags. “Sorry, I just- it’s last minute and all, and I’m sure what all I was supposed to pack.” Even now she had a hair dryer in one hand and stack of cds in the other. …She stuffed the hair dryer in to her bag. Both of them already looked like they were about to pop.

“I got it all, I think.” Goldi really had no idea. Maybe she could come back for stuff later. Or send someone. She hefted one of the bags over her shoulder and shoved the second one in to the cop’s arms. He didn’t look pleased about it, but she wasn’t about to start arguing over her luggage when SHE was the one doing them a favor at the risk of her own life.

Vance: Having an overfull bag shoved into his arms and treated like a porter was about the last thing Vance expected to happen but overbalanced and barely able to get a grip on the bag before it crashed to the floor all he could manage was a heavy grunt.

“You do know going into witness protection means a new identity.” he said raising his eyebrow at the other equally full bag. “The more you have lying around the more there is to identify you by. We have new clothes in the safe house already.” but by that stage they were already in the corridor and heading for the stairs, it seemed Goldi placed a lot of importance on her possessions. “The cars waiting across the street we’ll be there in around half an hour, You’ll have a detective with you at all times and a squad car waiting nearby in case anything happens. Don’t wo….” he got no further as the bad he was carrying gave in and burst open the zip tearing itself apart and the contents cascading down the stairs almost followed by Vance.

Goldi: “I can’t just up and forget everything I am!” Goldi wanted to launch in to her prepared speech about her identity, but the cop managed to fumble her case and send all of her stuff careening down the stairs.

She scowled. Dropping her bag down by her feet and resting her hands on her hips. Goldi chewed on her inner lip, teetering between shouting at him or kicking him down the stairs after her stuff. “So much for being in a hurry…” she grumped.

With his help, Goldi rushed through trying to collect all the articles of clothing and other necessities that managed to roll their way all the way to the bottom of the steps. Running up and down the damn things was more exercise than she had done all week. Between the two of them, it was a struggle trying to fit everything back in to her suitcase. At his urging, she finally conceded to throwing all the clothes back in to her apartment.

“Those safehouse clothes better fit…” came another mumble. Goldi muttered a lot of things under her breath, not quite wanting to pitch a fit out loud, yet still passive-aggressively wanting to punish the guy for all of the trouble this was turning out to be. Sure, it wasn’t the cop’s fault personally. But he was still part of the whole process.

Vance: Their load vastly reduced and Goldi’s mood inflated they made faster progress back from unceremoniously dumping her cloths on her floor. She could nutter all she wanted, there was no reason for her to have six pairs of jeans and what looked like the Victorian undergarments. “I’m sure they will.” he replied automatically. “If not we’ll go and get more.” He was beginning to feel like this was a punishment assignment. What he didn’t tell her was he had his own overnight bag in the car. Orders were not to leave her alone until he was relieved, which could be weeks since most of the other detectives had wives and families.

He lugged her remaining luggage down the stairs and towards the door beginning to feel like a bellhop. It was also clear Goldi didn’t quite understand what getting a new identity entailed. “So after the trial, is there anywhere in particular you’d want to live, any city I mean.” he was trying to be friendly and make conversation and missed the white van pulling off as he turned back to her, “I’ve always wanted to visit other cities.”

Goldi: Goldi stopped on the sidewalk in front of her building, turning back to cast what could be her last look at her home. Not that it was very ‘homey’. She had been living in that shit hole for three years, with the same crappy job, same crappy life and until one little incident, he life hadn’t changed. Now that someone has asked her where she would like to live, Goldi was drawing a complete blank.

“I don’t know, really. I guess I haven’t thought about it.” She seemed a little perturbed with the thought, unable to even think of places she wanted to go when she was a kid. Was her life really that boring and predictable? Would she always be housekeeping for a hotel?

“Not like it matters, my whole lif–”

[i][b]KAAAAABOOOOOOOOOM![/b][/i]

Goldi didn’t even set one foot off the sidewalk before the cop’s car across the street exploded. Burning shrapnel and parts went flying everywhere. The boom causing most of the windows in the area to crack and shatter. Glass rained down above the two, who were now sprawled out over the concrete from the force of the blast.

Vance: As the explosion rocked the street and they were both sent to the ground the white van rounded the corner disappearing from sight. “Fuck..” was the only word that came to mind as car alarms screamed and faces appeared. He rolled onto his feet, his ears ringing but already his revolver on hand and his phone dialing the station.

“It was a trap, they bombed the car.” he said unable to hear the reply. “Locke is fine, we’re going to need a new car.”

The ringing in his ears abated enough for him to hear that two squad cars were on their way and that they should sit tight, he could already hear the sirens. Still being out i the open was a bad idea. “Inside.” he said ignoring the bag that had once again burst it’s zip. Last thing they wanted was a driveby.

Goldi: A drive by was exactly what the white van had in mind. It’s inhabitants shielded by tinted windows. Goldi was trying to grab at her bag before the cop her arm to drag her back towards the apartment. He didn’t have to drag her for long, as at the first sound of gun shots, Goldi was running!

Glass shattered with the first shots hitting the first floor windows. The building door was slammed behind them once they got inside.

“Holy fuck…! What the hell are we hiding in here for, they could blow up the building!” Goldi wasn’t sure if something like that was possible, or if they had it preplanned. But considering she was nearly blown to pieces and then shot full of holes, she wasn’t going to doubt anything right about now!

Vance: Flattened against the wall he ducked out and aimed his pistol but the van was already turning around and he grabbed her hand and dashed down the corridor. “I think that was their plan before I showed up.” he said stopping in front of the locked door and aiming for the lock. The bullet punched through steel and brass and be pulled the door open.

By now he didn’t care of she had her bags or not, in the back alley they were safe but not for long. They needed a fast way out before the goons came looking for them.

At the end of the alley tires screeched as a dull blue sedan screeched to a halt and the driver leaned across the passenger seat. “Get in. now they’re coming around the block.”

“Morrison, how did yo..”

“No time come on.”

Vance pulled Goldi towards the car and wrenched open the door as the detective inside looked behind them the sounds of an engine growing louder.

Goldi: In her head she was cursing a million different ways. First of all, her STUFF! How was she going to live without all of her personal items? Her passport? ID? Clothes that actually fit? Of course, she wasn’t going to complain to the guy brandishing a gun, shooting out doors, and dragging her along. That’d be crazy.

Goldi was [i]feeling[/i] crazy. Panicked and most of all, unsure of what was happening around her. Especially moments like this when the shit was hitting the fan. Everything felt unreal.

A car pulled out, and Goldi was just grateful it was someone the cop recognized. They both shuffled in to it. Goldi strapping herself in with the seat-belt out of habit. Goldi turned to look behind them out the rear window, so sure that they’d be followed that she was waiting for another rain of bullets to follow.

Vance: Morrison hit the gas and the car shot forwards as behind them the van rounded the corner. “Hold on.” Morrison said and turned sharply as the van began picking up speed after them. “They must rally want you dead.” Vance commented as Morrison turned onto a bridge and the van began to recede into the distance. “Hey aren’t he meant to head north?”

“Safe house might be compromised, I’m taking you to another one.” Morrison explained as Vance finally did up his seatbelt his revolver sliding into it’s holster “Wait so we’ve got a mole?”

“The Berhs have had someone in the precinct for a while, he were hoping he’d either be flushed out by this or not want to risk getting caught with everyone breathing down out necks…”

“Christ.. you sure the new house is safe?”

“Don’t worry, the only ones who knows where this one is is the chief and me.”

Goldi: That weird crazy feeling just wasn’t going away. The adrenaline rush mixed with fear had to be sending her over the edge. Things just didn’t [i]look[/i] right. Like the guy driving… something was off about him.

Goldi was holding on to the door handle and pressing a hand up against the roof of the car trying to keep herself sit in her seat. Every sharp turn would have her sliding in to the window or over on to the cop.

For Goldi it felt like they drove forever, though it couldn’t have been more than an hour or two. The ride was awkward, something probably all in her head. The two cops talked back and forth in serious hushed tones, while she stared out the window trying to keep herself distraction. She just couldn’t stand looking at the driver. It gave her the creeps!

The car finally stopped, they were far out in the busy suburbs stopped in front of a house that looked more like some crack shack than a safe house. Goldi climbed out of the car, rubbing her arms and giving her escort that [i]This is it?![/i] glare.

Vance: Vance got out after Goldi and stared at the house. “Doesn’t look like a nice place to lay low.” he commented turning to hear the cold click of the hammer on a revolver being pulled back.

“But the perfect place to hide two bodies, your gun Deckert…” Morrison reached under Vance’s jacket and confiscated his pistol.

“Why, Morrison…?” Vance was in shock from the betrayal and when Morrison stepped back and gestured inside with eh barrel of his gun he complied. “To the basement both of you. and don’t try anything.” it was all happening suddenly one minuet safe and the next with a gun in his back.

“How could you, How long have we worked together and all this time you were the mole?”

“Oh this is much bigger than a mob case Vance, but you won’t live long enough to see. Now both of you get moving.”

Goldi: If she wasn’t so freaked out, Goldi would be laying in to her escort in a major way with her complaints. So much for “being safe” and all that bullshit the cops fed her. Their own department was riddled with the bad guys, and now she was probably going to die anyway.

As they were led in to the house, Goldi was trying to think fast. She wasn’t the type to burst in to tears, and she had a feeling that begging for her life was going to get her no where fast. The guy had a gun, she’d be shot before she could run. And even though she was mad at her cop escort right now, she didn’t want to run off and ditch him to die either.

They were near the middle of the house in the hallway when she made a move. Screaming like she saw something down the hall, she grabbed the closet object she could find – a heavy table lamp – and chucked it at Morrison.

Vance: Vance only just got out of the way in time before the lamp crashed onto Morrison and was on the other detective in a split second grappling the older man as the gun went off and his ear started to ring. He pushed Morrison into the wall and kneed him in the stomach as they fought over the weapon and it fired twice more.

“How could you…” Vance grunted through the stain, he was stronger but Morrison had the better grip on the gun.

There was no answer, their struggle had taken then to the open basement door and with one final grunt Vance pulled the weapon from Morrison and swung his elbow around cracking it into the side of Morison’s head the force of the blow sending him staggering back then a kickt to his chest sent him tumbling back.

Standing at the top of the stairs Vance watched him fall wincing at the loud crack and floppy motion his head made coming to lest at an unnatural angle against his shoulder.

Goldi: “Oh gods…!” That was sickening. She could feel the heebie-jeebies crawling all the way up and down her spin. Stepping up behind Vance, she took a look down the dark basement stairway and cringe. She could just barely see the outline of his mangled body. Lying there. Still and misshapen. Something just seemed to shimmer about him. Goldi chocked it up to shock and horror.

Almost in a sudden rush, Goldi moved away from the basement door in to the main area of the house. She was going to bolt! “We just killed a cop..! A dirty cop! I am so screwed! What am I supposed to do about this?! Go to the police?! Oh gods!”

Vance: Vance looked down at the man he had once called a friend. There was no glow to his eyes, just the twisted body with a familiar face. It disgusted him it had come to this… and for a minuet he couldn’t speak, only look down in horrid fascination at what he had done.

“We’re going to the safe house.” he said pushing the gun into his holster. “If he wanted us here instead of there it might still be safe, he… he might have been acting alone.” Maybe it was denial that more of his friends could turn on him. People whose hands he had shaken and wives he had met.

He descended the stairs and hesitantly as if the dead man would mind he reached into his pocket and pulled out his car keys. With on last look at the face he moved back up the stairs to find Goldi distressed. “Look there will be an investigation but it was self defense… I’ll call the chief when we’re at the house.”

Goldi: “And I’m supposed to just trust you after [i]that[/i]” Goldi stopped in her tracks, pointing behind him towards the ajar basement door. She was upset, with good reason!, but she hardly thought walking her ass to another ‘safe’ house that was probably being run by even more dirty cops was a good idea. Even HE might be dirty. It could be windy twisty plot!

Goldi took a deep breath. Okay. Double-triple backstabbing was probably way more convoluted than the badguys had planned out. This one seemed just as surprised to be betrayed as she did. Still, she was wringing her wrists and shifting on her feet. Inching herself closer and closer to the front door.

“I don’t think it’s such a good idea. Maybe we should get a hotel or something. Or just… drive out of town. Or out of state!”

Vance: He looked at her. “We’ll talk about it in the car.” was all her said. There was no way he was sticking around longer than he had to. There was no way to tell if there were more people coming. He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the car, she was freaked but so was he and he wanted to go somewhere he could sit down and get everything sorted out.

“Have you got money for a hotel?” he asked as he pulled open the car door. “Because I don’t. The envelope containing the week’s spending money was in the car the I got to your apartment in.” he realized he was shouting and took a deep. “Look sorry I yelled but I’m just a little freaked out by killing my own friend..” he looked back at the house. “In fact this whole neighborhood gives me the creeps.” Thats she he heard an all to familiar engine from the direction of the bridge and looked, his blood freezing.

“Down!” he yelled flinging himself into her and shielding her as the van came over the rise and gunfire began peppering the car and dirt around them. She stayed there between her and the bullets as glass showered them and the van roared past before beginning to turn around. “GO!” he said almost throwing her to her feet and heading towards the relative shelter of the buildings as the sound of more engines following the van became apparent.

Goldi: Goldi stopped her startled screaming as she scrambled up to her feet with his help and started running. Rain of gun fire smashed through windows, mailboxes, street lamps, cars, as they ran down the street. Even when she made a sharp turn down a corner, the van was gearing up to follow them. Guns blasting not far behind.

She kept running! Soon the quaint little suburban houses went from middle class to low class, to dirty broken up streets in the old district. Abandoned homes and trailers. Old closed down businesses and empty factories. Goldi nearly tripped over the train tracks as she pass over a street, making another quick turn. They were now in another abandoned neighborhood. Probably was once apartment buildings a lot like her own.

Down an alley, Goldi’s running slowed all the way to a slow wary step. Something was really weird here. At first she thought the place was abandoned but… There were people peeking out from the broken windows all over the place. Staring down in to the alley at them. Just. Staring. As she squint, she wasn’t too sure if they were people at all… which sent her heart pounding!

“…do you… see them?”

Vance: He followed her, sprinting away from the engines and gunfire. He though he might have been his a couple of times and once he was, hot lead grazing hie side but adrenaline, nature’s painkiller was working it’s way through his system. “See what?” he asked looking around. There was nothing there. Nothing down the alley, nothing in the windows, nothing in the doorways, nothing on the fore escape.

“Goldi, we’re alone… christ.”he looked down at the blood on his shirt but it was shallow and he just put his hand over it as Goldi kept looking at the windows. “Hold on I have an idea.”

He walked strait up to the rotted doors on one of the buildings and kicked it open. “In here.” he didn’t realize one of the figures was now standing righ tin the doorway as she stepped though it. “Cold in here.” he commented looking down the hallway. It was dark, cobwebs were everywhere but at least that meant noone had been though here in a while. “I see stairs.” he said. “He can hide in here.”

Goldi: Goldi stared. There was no way she was walking in there. NO WAY.

There was a screech of tires a couple streets down. She ran through the doorway with her eyes squeezed shut. Ice cold numbness ran up her spine and she shivered. Opening one eye and then the other, the figure was gone. Her hands patted her clothes and body to make sure she didn’t get herself possessed or something. What could make today worse?

Vance was already slowing making his way up the stairs and she was practically on his heels. This place was dark and she felt like the place had eyes. Goldi always hated that phrase. ‘The place has eyes.’ But damned if she didn’t feel like tons of people… or… something was watching them right now. He didn’t see the people in the windows. He didn’t even notice how weird this place was. She had to be going in to manic shock of something.

Her hand clung on to the back of his shirt as their made their way upstairs. “Christ, you’re bleeding all over the place!”

Vance: The first flight was bad enough but the second looked like a deathtrap so along the second floor corridor he lead the way until he found a serviceable room. It was a dump, boarded up windows, a carpet of dust and the smell of damp was overpowering, but it had a working latch on the door and there was no draft.

“Its a graze.” he said trying not to sound concerned. “We should see if we can’t find anything useful in here… I know I could use something to eat.” there was no chance of them finding anything edible here though so it came out as a weak joke. “I hope you can see you can trust me now.” he said taking his hand away from his wound to see if it had stopped bleeding, it hadn’t.

Goldi: “I don’t trust you as far as I can throw a horse..!” Honesty was the best policy. It was good to get that out there before they got any farther. IF they got any farther. Goldi was conveniently leaving out the fact that she like they were being watched. Stared at. Followed. And not by gun toting mobsters either. Even in the tiny, damp room, she could see presences. Incorporeal. He even kept walking through them as if they weren’t there.

Goldi focused on the one thing she COULD deal with. The blood made her queesy, but at least she knew first aid. Cursing under her breath, she took off the top blouse she was wearing and starting ripping it in to shreds. It left her in a sleeveless, strap camisole, but at this point having the guy not drop dead was more important than shielding herself from goosebumps.

She fussed at him until she got him to sit down in a rickety old chair. Then pressed the majority of fabric up against his wound to stop the bleeding. “Here. Hold that for a minute. I’m going to look for a first aid kit or something.”

Vance: He frowned at her, he was risking his life to protect her and here she was just about telling him to take a hike.. and right after that gave up her own top to give his first aid. “Hey I’m lighter than I look.” he joked not liking the was the chair rocked back on forth on it’s joints like nervous horse. The fabric in his hand was rapidly turning red and he unbuttoned his shirt and slipped the hand holding it underneath before wriggling his arm out of the other sleeve and changing hand to complete the undressing maneuver. He was proud to say he took care of himself with regular trips to the gym and a nightly walks combined with relatively healthy eating habits, for a bachelor. He was no strongman but he had the build of a middleweight boxer.

Goldi seemed skittish. He was on edge too but not as much as her, she kept looking at walls and corners where there was nothing there. “Try the bathroom.” he said as he lifted the cloth to examine his wound, it would close up easily enough if covered but the difficult part would be to clean it.

Goldi: Goldi stepped in to the bathroom. Just as cautious as she had walking in to the place. The bathroom seemed to be void of the shadow people, though. She looked under the sink first, digging around in abandoned cleaning items and other miscellany. As she stood straight, she froze in place. Gurgling up from the sink was something black. Gooey. Goldi tried to ignore it and reach over it towards the vanity above the sink, but the stuff actually [i]smiled[/i] at her.

With a sharp gasp, she scooted back several paces. The thump of her back hitting the wall might’ve been heard in the other room. “I-I’m okay…!” she called out before the cop wondered what she was doing. Gingerly, she stepped back to the sink. The black goopy blob having oozed it’s way out to plop on the floor and trail it’s way across the bathroom to the stained tub. Her hands shaking, she pulled open the vanity door and jumped back again, in case she had to defend herself.

Nothing but bottles, make up, and thank gods, a small first aid kit.

Goldi snatched it off the shelf, rushing back in to the other room. Her hands were still shaking as she struggled to get the box open. Her face as white as a sheet, even as that annoyed frown was still sitting on her lips. “So you don’t see anything in here…” she mumbled. Perhaps barely even loud enough for Vance to hear. She didn’t want to look around and see if the shadows were still there.

Vance: She was shaking like a leaf, worse that when she had gone into the bathroom. He had almost gotten up when he had heard the crash and now he was worried for her. “Theres nothing here but us.” he said gesturing around the room before placing a bloody hand on Goldi’s shoulder in an attempt to comfort her. His would would scar over no matter what and he wasn’t in danger of bleeding to death so he put her well being above his own. “We’ll be safe here for a little while and once its dark we’ll head out. Until then… just try to rest.”

He kept his eyes on hers, he was always told he had the safe calming blue his mother had “If it helps you feel any better I probably have enough for a couple burgers in my pocket once we get out of here, theres a diner not far from here. We’ll eat them we’ll get far away from here.”

Goldi: “You sound like some action hero in a movie…” She muttered, finally getting the box open and digging through the contents. At the humor of it got her to relax a little bit. Even if she was still apparently seeing things that he couldn’t. If this was a nervous breakdown, then maybe she just needed to calm down and try to deal with it. The better she handled it, maybe it would all start disappearing.

Goldi pulled out a few alcohol pads first. She used the ripped up pieces of her shirt to clean away most of the blood, then the pads to get the wound cleaned off. All that blood had her seeing spots, but at least once it was cleaned up, she was relieved to know that the wound really wasn’t as it first seemed. He was right and it was just a graze. Once cleaned, she carefully added some gauze and a bandage. It definitely wasn’t professional work, but it did the job.

She set the kit aside and let out a slow, shaky breath. Her hand ran through her tangled mess of hair trying to smooth it back out. “I guess rest is a good idea.” Goldi cast a look at the room. There was a broken and dusty bed, but at least it didn’t look like it was covered in bugs or other critters. The shadows had seemed to lose interest in them as well, having slinked away to where ever they seemed to go. She got up from kneeling on the floor and moved to sit on the bed. Waving her hand and coughing when a plume of dust floated up in to the air.

So much for having a safe life.

Vance: “We just killed a man who yesterday I would have trusted my life with, given my life for, what part of this isn’t like an action movie?” he asked with perhaps more dryness than he intended. To break the mood he looked down at her crude dressings and managed a smile. “Thanks…” with everything that had happened in the span of a couple of hours he was surprised he wasn’t seeing things, but he had some comfort. They were still alive, she was unhurt and they had a place to hide at least for tonight. He didn’t realize it but his hand was on the gun he had taken from Morrison. Yes, they would be safe.

He stood from the chair and paced the room a couple of times, he wanted to stay awake a while and make sure they weren’t followed, his arms crossed, his fingers brushing the mahogany handle protruding from his shoulder holster. But with the blood loss and stress of the day he couldn’t last long, better to rest his head and be up early in the morning. Pulling a dusty blanket from a cupboard he laid it on the floor and using a cushion for a pillow closed his eyes. Everything would be better soon. It had to be.

By Vaydia

Vay and Diana do terrible, terrible things! Generally involving grimdark settings, lots of trauma, or the polar opposite of sickening adorable and comic mayhem. Most developed settings would be the Descendants universe and the Ties universe!

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