Raquel looked left and right from the alleyway, cursing at what she saw on the rotting street. Too many ghosts around here... way too many. If she picked this way to run she'd be seen for sure. Why were there never any other ghosts around when you needed them, but way too many when you didn't?
The answer to that could be puzzled over later. Right now she had a job to do, and too much was depending on one little detail: her survival until she could get the secret to the right ears.
She crept back into the alley, cursing her inability to shroud herself. Of all the things she'd neglected to learn on this side of things... stupid, stupid, stupid. She could have been there by now if she'd just sought out a Harbinger, but being a rebel in a Hierarchy town meant not being able to trust too many, and no one in her cell were allied with that Guild.
She could do some stuff, sure - raise hackles on the backs of the Quick, check up on her Fetters and monkey around with them a little. Heck, for the right price she could stick a new one on or rip an old one away, and that had given her some good oboli... but she'd have traded all that in for a good pair of wings and the way to rip open a nihil now. Maybe later, when this was all over, she'd indulge in a little recrimination of herself -
And then she realized it was too late; she wasn't alone in the alleyway anymore.
Several somethings walked out of the dank, still air of the shadowlands around her. They wore the blindfolds of justice, painted with odd, googly eyes... and wore the badges of the Happiness Patrol.
She was doomed.
"Going somewhere, citizen?" The more dominant one asked: "You look a little troubled..."
"Go to hell," she hissed, putting her hand to the knife it'd taken months of doing just to borrow: "I'll..."
"You'll do nothing," another one said, raising its hand in her direction and grinning oh so sickly. Her hand suddenly didn't want to go anywhere or do anything... and then she realized, for the first time in a long time, just how bad bad could get.
She stammered weakly, unable to move or speak full words. Her shadow laughed and laughed at her, driving her to further distraction. The rich, warm secret she'd kept in her head roared, demanding to be free, to travel into the ears of other renegades... but her mouth would not open to accommodate it.
"That's better, citizen," the leader said, taking her chin in his hands and 'looking' into her frozen eyes, "Now... I don't think you're happy about this. But that's okay. We can teach you to be happy, you know."
If the scream could have come, it would have.
The greatest lies are the ones not told.