Discord Ch. 9: Cracking the Code

[Discord is a very old passion project I have long since abandoned due to a severe amount of plotholes. I’ve been slowly posting edited versions of the chapters.]

(This isn’t an April Fool’s prank, I promise!)

        And so, they left the restaurant and creepy alleyway to wind up in yet another creepy alleyway. The only significant difference was that it was creepy on an entirely different level. Instead of being covered by a hard stone ceiling, there was a series of colorful translucent cloth above them. Sun peaked through them and painted the ground below in a strange rainbow. The walls were further apart than in the previous alley, and the floor was littered with objects ranging from cigarettes to broken glass. Colorful graffiti covered the walls depicting indecipherable lettering. In addition, there was the occasional clanging and skittering that gave passersby a feeling of cold dread. Who knew a place so full of color could make someone so filled with fear?

        “Do you think Snake is back from his…trip?” asked Max in an attempt to take his mind off of the tension.

        David frowned as if the scene around him didn’t bother him as much as it bothered Max. “With our luck, probably.”



        “I was wondering…what species are you?”

       Lurk’s step seemed to falter at this, a motion Silvia and David both noticed. The latter, cracked a grin as he held back a snicker.

       “What?” he asked.

        “It’s…a bit impolite to ask someone their species,” Silvia explained.

        Lurk glanced at Max’s embarrassed expression. “Does your friend live under a rock or something?”

        Silvia hesitated before saying, “Well, Maxwell here is a human.”

        Lurk began to laugh uneasily, but after noticing that Silvia was serious, his voice trailed off. “Oh- you’re not joking? He’s actually-” he watched as all three of them nodded, “-Well, I guess I’ve had my full dosage of surprising news for the week.”

        “So what’s the plan?” David asked Lurk.

        “Well, the Toxics are likely to be threatened by weapons or more than two people, so I guess I can take the girl and-“

       “My name is Silvia. We’ve gone over this.”

       “Look I’m sorry. I’m bad at names. I’ll take Silvia, and the other two of you ca-“

        “Max and David,” Silvia interrupted again.

       “Ugh. Names!,” Lurk groans and lets out a long sigh before picking back up, “Whatever. Max and David can hide in the shadows and be ready to attack if any tension happens to spark.”

        “And David can do his blackhole thing.”

        “I already exerted so much energy. I don’t think I want to faint mid-battle,” David sourly explained, “But I have some lighter spells, don’t worry.”

Silvia crossed her arms and huffed to Lurk, “No offense, but why am I going with you?”

        He rolled his eyes. “You have a lot of comments don’t you, Purple?”

        “It’s Silvia.”

        Lurk dismissed it and informed, “It’s because the Toxics aren’t threatened by women. They think of them more like y’know…objects, pretty faces. “

        She scowled. “Gee thanks.”

“That’s just how they are. On the bright side, you get to prove them wrong and kick their-“ Suddenly Lurk stopped causing the other three to crash into each other, one by one, like dominos.

“What was that for?” Silvia growled.

“A warning would have been nice,” chimed David.

        “We’re here.” Lurk stated, “Mentally prepare yourself because this is going to be…annoying.”

        The scene around them was littered with even more trash. The continuation of the alleyway was blocked with a thick layer of multilayer clothes that created a unique complex curtain with a symbol of a skull on the front. Not ominous at all…

        Lurk folded his arms with a serious frown. “Okay, stick to the plan. Silvia stays with me. Maybe change your appearance a little. Mack and Daniel can climb to the fire escape ladders and wait until my cue.”

        Both boys looked upward to the stairs and ladders on the side of the buildings on the right and left of them. They nodded and crept their way to the former. Meanwhile, Silvia took her glasses from her pocket and put them on, the blue mirage on her eyes glimmering. She unclipped her cloak and let it fall to the ground, and finally pulled her hair into a messy bun before nodding as well.

    “This good?” she asked.

“Perfect,” Lurk replied solemnly.

        His eyes were filled with fear and uneasiness. He looked small- no more than a rodent sneaking into a restaurant. However, as took a deep breath he easily put on an assured smile. At that moment, it was obvious that he was just a charismatic street rat looking to do a little good- a coward hidden by a mask of confidence.

  “Let’s go.” With those nonchalant words, stepped through the curtain and strutted down the alley as if he owned the place. Silvia followed him, taking in her surroundings.

        There were about half a dozen industrial-sized trash cans around the space, some knocked over, some upside down. Here, there was even more trash than from behind the curtain, and cloth on the floor like a mix-matched carpet. It ended after about forty feet at a wall and a door engraved with an ornate design of a skull. Surrounded by pillow chairs, a shallow box lay on the floor with cards and poker chips strew on the inside. Three men were playing before they were interrupted by the newcomers. Two other men stood around Snake who sat on a trash can near the left wall with his arm around a woman in a black dress sitting next to him who he whispered and laughed with- that was, at least, before Lurk’s arrival.

        Snake slowly looked the two up and down. Exasperated, his arm slithered away from his entertainment and to his side. He glanced at his two buddies who nodded. Then he glanced toward the poker players. “Go back inside, and stay there until I need you.” As the three left, he motioned for the woman next to him to follow them. She loyally obeyed after a smile at the three gang remaining members.

       “I’ll do the talking from now on, okay,” Lurk whispered to Silvia. She nodded solemnly.

       He turned back to his buddies and muttered, “AV, Blood Rock. Stay here in case I need backup.”

        Upon the ladders of the fire escape, Maxwell and David watched in the shadows.

        “Who are those two?” Max whispered. He pointed to the two discords standing behind Snake. One looked like an anthropomorphic cat with dirty white fur covered by a black leather jacket. The other one was also a cat but looked more like Yuka or Jaiden. He had dark red hair and dressed like it was winter rather than summer with a dark turtleneck and snow cap. 

        “They’re Snake’s right hands. That one right there with the fur is Alec Vincent or AV. He used to live in a nearby Animorph town, from a rich family and a fuse short than Silvia’s. Then the one with the hat is Florvan Well, more commonly known as Blood Rock. A shy and silent guy raised by a witch. And both can beat practically anyone in a fight- so I’d suggest you don’t go fist to fist with either.”


     With a scowl, Snake rose to his feet. “Oh, look who it is: the cute little thief that stole my gem. How are you Lurk? I see you brought your girlfriend.” His slitted eyes shot to Silvia. She almost flinched at the intense evil that glinted in that sickly yellow. “She looks kind of young. Not your type, I’d say.”

        “Silvia here isn’t my girlfriend,” was all he said, keeping his tone suave and cool, “She’s an acquaintance.”

        The gang leader frowned and narrowed his eyes at her. After a moment, Silvia realized that her disguise might not have worked. Perhaps she showed that uneasiness in her eyes, for he spoke up and snarled, “Hey isn’t this the chick that saved your ass earlier?”

    Lurk glanced at her in casual puzzlement. “Silvia? No, that wasn’t her. Didn’t that girl have two friends- and I think some cloak. Something like that.”

  Snake didn’t seem convinced. He made his way over to her and lifted his hand. Silvia and Lurk immediately acted. Silvia stepped back and spat at him, “What the heck do you think you’re doing?” While Lurk stepped forward in defensive anger said, “Hey, back off!” But in this commotion, she was quickly grappled by AV and Blood Rock.

    David jumped at the hostility and positioned himself to jump off the fire alarm. With his eyes full of hateful fury, he growled, “Oh that slimy son of a-“

    But Max put a hand on his shoulder. The boy’s head snapped to him with hostility but Max kept his voice steady. “He said to wait for the signal.”

    To this, he still seemed upset, but he stepped back from the railing in bitter relent.

    Meanwhile, down on the ground, panic rang in Lurk’s eyes and he quickly whipped around to shout at them, but Snake shoved him aside and snatched Silvia’s glasses without hesitation.

“As I thought. Not every day you see a Demona around here,” he sneered, “So the rumors are right. I’ve never seen such a vibrant pink.” She reeled back as his hand reached for her. Before he could touch her, his scaly wrist was held back by Lurk.

    “You sniffed out my lie, congrats. Now let the girl go,” he told him, his expression cold and serious.

  There was a moment of silence as the two adults stared each other down. A few seconds passed by before Snake broke eye contact and his eyes flickered to his two right hands. He nodded at them and they released her grip on an upset-looking Silvia who muttered curses and dusted off her clothes as the two make their way back to their leader’s side.

        “And the other two?”

        Lurk paused for an excuse, so Silvia quickly stepped in to cover his hesitation. “At the orphanage.”

        Snake raised his eyes in surprise. “Refuges huh? I’m guessing Demon Girl here is one of those, huh?” Silvia nodded stiffly in response. “You two looking for a fight?” he asked.

​​​​​​        Lurk waves his hands in protest, “No, no, no. I’m here to…make a deal.”

    “Why kind of deal?” he snarled.

    The two exchanged a glance- a last warning. It was a silent “Do you really want to do this?” from Lurk. Silvia nodded without hesitation. And so, Lurk turned back to the gang leader and asked simple, “Can you read Assassins’ Code?”

     “Assassins’ Code, huh?” Snake said clearly interested in their offer, “Yeah, we can read it, but…”

       “But, what?” asked Lurk.

       Snake grinned showing razor-sharp lizard teeth. “What price would you be willing to pay for it?”

       Lurk nodded slowly. Of course, there was payment. He reached into his pocket and placed a few coins on the table.

        The reptile’s smile dropped to a scowl. “Don’t play dumb with me. You know what I want.”

        With a sigh, Lurk slowly and reluctantly took back the money and retrieved a bright blue crystal from his pocket. Everyone around him, even Max and David, stared at it in awe of its beauty. The light sparkled in Snake’s eyes, and he smiled with pure greed as Lurk placed it on the overturned trash can. Snake claws carefully wrapped around it like a winning play in a prize machine. Slowly, he lifted it to his face and examined it. His grin widened as his red eyes turned crystal blue from the dazzling light it shone.

       “Are you sure?” asked Silvia.

        Lurk nodded, “It’s fine. Your quest is more important than a little extra gold.

        Snake looked up from his prize. “A deal’s a deal. Give me the paper, and I’ll decode it.”

        Silvia and Lurk exchanged an uneasy glance. Should they give him the map? It was far from the ideal option considering their plans with it.

        Lurk cleared his throat nervously and asked, “Do you happen to have a key or a paper with the translations? The map- I mean the paper -is supposed to be secret being in Assassins’ Code and all…”

        Snake gave a dry smile. “Well, that requires an extra payment.”

        “You’ve got to be kidding me,” mumbled Silvia miserably

​        Lurk glanced at Silvia and without hesitation told the gang leader, “I’ll give you the girl. Take it or leave it.”

​​​​​        Silvia’s eyes went wide in horror as Lurk pushed her towards Snake. Snake leaned forward and examined her. He glanced at his client who said with a smirk “Go ahead” before he put a scaley hand to her chin and turned her head left and then right. Silvia immediately pulled away in disgust only to bump into Blood Rock, cornered. Instinctively, her hand reached for her satchel to retrieve her dagger but she found it gone. Her head whipped around to Lurk who held the bag up at her and gave her a snide grin and a maliciously condescending wave.

  “What..” she muttered. Her eyes were wide with shock as she tried to make sense of this.

        “She’s in good enough shape,” Snake continued, “I think she’ll do great in this gang. We can put her to good use.” Then he looked up at Lurk with a satisfied gin and said, “You have yourself a deal, thief. Blood Rock, hold the girl. AV, go get the key.”

        AV nodded and left as Blood Rock grabbed her and pinned her hands behind her back as she struggled in his grasp.

    “Hey, let go!” she screamed, “Lurk, what are you doing? I thought we had a deal!”

      Lurk simply smiled at her, thinly. “It’s Mean Street, Purple. You should know by now not to trust anyone. Don’t you know how much value your little map has to me? It’s of much more value to me than a simple crystal.”

Max and David watched from above, just as surprised. They bent themselves over the railing watching intently, one worried, the other scowling.

“He- he lied?” Max muttered, betrayal shining in his eyes.

That’s Mean Street for ya,” David hisses, “We should have known better, Silvia and I especially.”

“What are we standing here for, let’s go and save her.” Max placed a foot on the railing to jump, but this time the roles were reversed and it was David who held him back.

“If he had this all planned out, we would be playing right into his hand. My guess is that he has some excuse planned if we intervene that would turn the Toxics onto us. When they part ways, I’ll take the gang and you can get Lurk. Something tells me he’s all bark and no bite.”

“David, you can’t beat up three grown men.”

In response, the boy smirked. “We’re trying to overthrow an empire. I think I can do this. Besides, I could still pull out a shadow portal if I’m fine with fainting. As long as Silvia is safe…”

      Back on the ground, AV made his way from the building and to Snake with a small book. He placed it in Lurk’s hand and proceeded to sit next to his leader who was watching Lurk and Silvia’s exchange with interest.

    “A map?” he asked, “In Assasins Code? Of what? If it’s better than the pay, I’m curious to see why.”

A flash of panic showed briefly in the charlatan’s gaze as he realized the mistake he made. “Oh, nothing of material value. It’s merely for personal reasons.”

But the lie was already crumbling, and Snake saw right through it. “I’ll be having that book back. And that sentimental map of yours.”

Lurk swallowed the lump in his throat. He glances at AV who was slowly making his way to the entrance to block it. He was cornered, and he knew it. Shakily, he regained his smile. “Y’know now that I think about it…” His fist suddenly shot toward him and connected hard with Snake’s jaw. “I am looking for a fight,” he snarled.

        Snake growled holding his bruised jaw. “You’re going to be sorry you even came here.” The lizard kicked Lurk in the gut causing him to crash against the right-hand wall.

        “That’s our cue,” said David with a grin. He faded into the brick behind him, leaving his evil-eyed shadow. It flew down the wall until David reappeared in front of Blood Rock in a fighting stance.

        “Wait, we have to jump?” Max called from above.

​​​​​​        Lurk stood staring at his hand, red from the impact. David was right. He didn’t like to fight. He was built for running and jumping, not brawling.

       “Maybe help me before you start pulling punches,” Silvia shouted, flailing in Blood Rock’s hold,

      David curtly nodded. He shadow-transported behind the gang member and yanked him onto the ground in a chokehold. This allowed her to break free of the cat’s grasp and run to Snake who was staring over Lurk, kicking him relentlessly. She shoved him away, but not before Snake kicked the screaming man in the nose with a sickening crack.

        Meanwhile, Maxwell looked down from the fire escape at the chaos with worry. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before finally saying, “Here goes nothing.” Before he could talk himself out of it, he jumped. With a terrified shriek, he landed on a pile of trash bags near the entrance. When he looked up, groaning in pain, he was greeted by Alec Vincent looming above him.

        Max chuckled nervously. “Umm, just dropping in?”

[10 pages]

(Fun fact: Snake was born in Mean Street- a handsome and popular street rat. He supported a great deal of anti-refugee riots, and as he got older, he would bully and harass the refugees in Mean Street. He developed a group of followers and created a gang called The Toxics that enjoy stealing, beating up refugees, flirting with women, and overall just stirring up trouble. He’s also able to shift into a small lizard, but he sees himself as weak when he does so he never shifts)

(This one was definitely a doozy to edit, taking multiple weeks in shorts bursts of limited free time. I changed a LOT about this one. Lurk was actually never going to fully betray the others- as it was his plan all along to lie to the Toxics and act like he was. But I reanalyzed his character and realized how selfish he was, so I decided to commit to the betrayal twist. Of course, that was only one of the MANY changes I made to this, and I’m very proud of this one.)


The amazing owner of WRandR!

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