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[5e IC] Sunt Venatores Venationem

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rednblack

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« Reply #135 on: (12:22:18/05-07-15) »
<<17 AUG 2074 // CAS-Denver>>

Mercer dragged himself into the sunlight.  It had been days, at least three he figured, from the effects of dehydration, but his comm had been busted in the firefight, and in the pitch black of the basement there had been no real way to tell time.  At first he had measured it in breaths, confident that after the next two, maybe eight, the pressure from is collapsed lung would override his autonomic nervous system and his brain starved of oxygen would simply shut down.  After that, he measured time in pints: the debris had wedged him down in an impossible position, and there was no way he could apply pressure to his torso, his abdomen, his right thigh, which leaked freely onto the basement floor.  But the bleeding too hadn't done him in, not like Rook who had called out to him maybe twenty minutes after the fighting ended, when he was sure the ambushers had left.

"Cuban, Daro, Mercer, anybody?" his corporal croaked out.

"I'm with you, omae," Mercer had answered.  Rook said that he'd been hurt real bad, that the shooting had been one thing, but it was really the rebar coming in on top of him that was the thing to worry about. 

"I"m stuck through like that Zeke on Downing Street," Rook said with a mirthless laugh, recalling the time a few months back when the young adept had run a particularly nasty vampire through from his crotch to his neck before the quarry even had time to turn around.  "Oh shit, Mercer, they sure got us this time didn't they?"

Mercer had told Rook to stay quiet, conserve his energy, but he was in and out of consciousness himself.  He'd nod off when Rook was talking about his girl, and he'd come to with Rook talking about how he was scared to die, how he didn't want to go like this, and he'd nod off again.  And then Mercer had come to, and Rook wasn't talking at all. 

And he never would again.

Three days, at least three days, Mercer had spent in that basement, and now here he was in the sun, pulling himself onto the sidewalk from just another collapsed building in the Denver Warrens.  Passer-byes gave him a wide berth, this broken, blood-crusted man with a machine pistol in his hands.  A few kids across the street posted up, no doubt waiting for him to die so they could loot what was left.  The armor would no doubt be useless, but a gun like that in a place like this could feed a family for a few months.

"Water," Mercer spat, pulling a credstick.  "Bring a doc and water.  You can have the whole thing, just bring a doc and water."

That complicated things a bit.  They could wait sure, the man was spent, but what if someone else hailed a chop doc?  Then that chummer would end up with all that sweet cred.  A young ork with a sideways Broncos cap and red tank hugging her slim frame took off at a gallop and returned with a scummy-looking Amer-indian and a bottle of water.  Mercer gladly handed over the credstick and drank greedily.  15,000¥ for a drink of water, and it was worth every last ¥.

His time convalescing was no less expensive, but it provided him plenty of time to think.  Pepper had disappeared that morning, not fourteen hours after the score of the year.  Then the comm had come in, another hit was imminent, another easy one, head on down to 15th and Lawson, take the side entrance to the basement, and they could plan the insertion from there.  So, Pepper had gone first, Mercer reasoned, and then was used as bait for the rest of the team.  Smart outfit, good ambush.  Hell, if one of those mages hadn't overcast and brought down the roof a little prematurely, he doubted he would've been able to crawl away from this one.  And now Mercer was alone.  No team, a kill squad would no doubt be watching the trix for any signs that they had not completed the contract to specifications.  So he went underground, stalked old contacts and colleagues so he could pop out of the shadows as they left the trid shows and sports bars.  He stayed off the comms, stayed out of the matrix. 

And old CAS military spider gave Mercer his first real lead, taken from a link he'd pulled off a corpse in the basement.  Some contact, obviously the team lead from how the spider had explained it, went by the handle Ikiryo.  Mercer leaned, he threatened, he borrowed until he got a bead on Ikiryo.  He tracked him to Spokane, where it seems Ikiryo had assembled a new team.  He became convinced he was dealing with a shadowrunner, and a good one at that.  There was a data steal, an extraction against Mitsuhama, and then nothing, with Mercer always a day or two behind, picking up the pieces, trying to find a restaurant, a safehouse, anything he could use to lay a trap.

It wasn't until late November that his big break came.  It seems one of Ikiryo's new hires is less security conscious that Ikiryo himself: a troll street sam, of course his name was Tiny, who had a habit of never rebooting his cheap knockoff personal comm.  He had a penchant for bragging as well.  This was good as gold, and worth every penny he'd spent on that decker.  On a rare sunny morning in early December, Mercer followed Tiny into a nice little noodle shop in downtown Seattle.  Once, the troll laughed so hard and so suddenly that Mercer almost had his guns out before he realized the troll's companion had just told a joke.  Tiny slammed his fists down on the table, spilling noodles on his companion, who stood up and chastised the brute to keep quiet.  "This is a nice neighborhood.  You're going to scare the locals," he said.  Then the man left.  Mercer watched the mirror behind the counter, as the man exited the restaurant, crossed the street, heading toward a nice apartment building on the other side.  And then he was gone.  Not, walked somewhere gone, like one minute he was mid-stride and then he was nowhere to be found gone.  Chameleon suit gone.

Twenty minutes later the man returned, said something about "they're keeping watch now," and then "Ikiryo will meet us on site."

#

This is it, Mercer thinks, following the pair into the barrens.  They think they're going to lay a trap for some poor hoops.  Wait'll they get a load of what's coming.

<<3 DEC 2074 // Stake's apartment // 1345>>

As they're about to head out the door, Achak and Sister Rebecca receive a team comm.

<<@Team [Stake] Where the hell are you guys.  I think we've been compromised.>>
« Last Edit: (12:24:40/05-07-15) by rednblack »
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Tecumseh

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« Reply #136 on: (14:31:21/05-07-15) »
Achak's stomach leaps at the message from Stake, then flips upside down and drops again. Isn't this what he had hoped for? But that MARK Granted and Rescinded business was making him second-guess everything, even a welcome sign from the team leader.

Someone could have a mark on Stake and spoof a message, or could have Stake's commlink.

He decides on a small test. His written Spanish is simplistic, and anyone with a linguasoft could decipher it quickly, but maybe the delay would be telling.

<<@Team [Achak] Estamos bien. Estoy de acuerdo. Vamanos a lugar seguro.>>

What would Stake know that someone else wouldn't?

<<@Team [Achak] ¿Stake, dondé nos conocímos la primera vez?>>

rednblack

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« Reply #137 on: (15:07:05/05-07-15) »
Achak receives a ping back almost immediately.

<<@Team [Stake] Lugar seguro comprometida.  Ven aqui>>
<<Attachment: Location Pin.>>


A second comm comes through a moment later, though it doesn't address Achak's question.

<<@Team [Stake] Rapidamente!>>
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Tecumseh

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« Reply #138 on: (16:50:07/05-07-15) »
Achak closes his eyes heavily and exhales.

<<@Team [Achak] 60 minutos. Te vemos pronto.>>

Stake hadn't even said goodbye in the morning. Achak tries to remember the last thing they said to each other last night.

But it was time to be sharp, not sentimental. Stake could be fine yet; maybe it was just his commlink that was compromised.

"That's not Stake," Achak says. "Time to go."

There was a nagging sense of loyalty that ate at him, a howling complaint in the back of his head. He wanted to go to the Barrens, exploit the trap, track it back to Stake.

He reboots his commlink again, unsure of whether it's really necessary, but symbolically to wash the fake Stake away. Once it's up and running again, he slips into silent mode and fires off some messages.

<<@Megedagik [Achak] Need to get out of town for business. Salish-Shidhe is fine for a layover but eventually we're headed to the CAS. Two passengers who can travel legally, plus some personal munitions that cannot. Can I get a price check and timelines on ferrying our goods, with or without us? Dallas-Forth Worth.>>

He looks at Sister Rebecca, sees her attachment to the Blade of Gabriel. It reminds him of his connection with his gunstock war club. She certainly wouldn't tolerate being separated from it. But the weapon foci weren't the issue. The grenades and the grenade launchers, including the Alpha, were the real problem. The jammers and some of the ammo were problematic too, as was his B&E gear. Still, it might be cheaper to ship it all separately without them attached to it. Budget conscious as ever, maybe they could fly commercial.

<<@Duncan [Achak] We've had a security breach. Stake may be compromised and I wouldn't trust electronic communication from him. Please be advised and put appropriate precautions into place. We may need to accelerate the transaction that we recently discussed. Please acknowledge.>>

Achak swaps out the clip in his Crusader, loading it with silver APDS instead. He slings bags over his shoulders, doing his best to maintain easy access to his concealed holster while also positioning the bags so that they can be dropped easily if there's a confrontation.

He opens the front door, scans the hallway, then leaves Stake's condo.

Poindexter

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« Reply #139 on: (17:45:44/05-07-15) »
<<@Team [Stake] Where the hell are you guys.  I think we've been compromised.>>

Her blood runs ice cold when the message pops up. It's not the first time she's gotten a misleading message from a dead man's comm, but it's the first time she didn't have any autonomy in such a situation. If she were alone, she'd certainly walk right into the trap, daring the father of lies to try and take her. But she's not on her own this time. She's here as support. She follows orders, especially from a Christian male. This isn't her show. She looks to Achak, who almost looks excited to hear from his late friend. The icey terror in her veins at the moment is tinted with pity for just a moment. Oh dear. It hasn't sunk in yet. You poor poor giant, you.

A flurry of messages in spanish go by, during which the hopeful expression slowly erodes from her companion's face. Rebecca watches Achak send one last message, then reboot his comm, so she follows suit and does the same. During the few moments of silence, he speaks.

"That's not Stake," Achak says. "Time to go."

She nods somberly as he speaks, then shoulders the various sacks and cases he layers onto her and follows him outside the apartment. The overloaded little demon hunter with the helmet on waits until they're a few meters down the hallway and the comms have rebooted before she asks, "Where are we going? If it's to the CAS, I know a smuggler who usually ferries my ArmTech. I'm sure he'll move whatever you need as well." She lets him ponder for only a moment before she adds, "But if we're on our way to walk into the darkness in hopes of rescuing your friend, you shall have my light beside you." She makes as close to eye contact with him as one can make while wearing a mirrored full face helmet.
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Tecumseh

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« Reply #140 on: (02:15:38/05-08-15) »
Achak comes up a bit short when Sister Rebecca announces that she knows a smuggler who does the exact thing that he was thinking of at that moment. He nods.

"Give him a call. I know one too but we need options, and maybe some competitive pressure to keep the prices down.

"We need to get out of town, and that's as good of an option as any. Might as well go somewhere sunny."


Is it sunny in Dallas in December? Achak didn't know, but it seemed like a fair guess. He resumes walking down the hallway.

"If we can ship our gear separately, you and I can catch a suborbital out of SeaTac."

Of course, the danger is that we'd be traveling publicly. He sighs to himself as his commlink requests an elevator. Is staying public the greatest risk or the greatest deterrent to risk? It would be his call to make now. The icy memory of Yohan, dead due to Achak's "leadership", reaches up and grips his heart. Would he make the best decision? Almost certainly not. Would he make a reasonably correct decision that wouldn't kill either of them? That was the goal.

"It may come down to finances," he says after they step into the elevator and the doors close. "If we can't afford to go incognito then we'll fly commercial. We can decide once we're somewhere quiet and safe."

The elevator deposits them in the lobby. Achak signals for a cab. He's tempted to get a town car but most of them avoid Puyallup, even on a Sunday. But the rain will keep the gangers indoors! Achak argues silently, finding only agreement in his head.

He stands in the lobby, waiting for the cab.

"Stay here and keep watch with me. Watch, and pray."

Poindexter

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« Reply #141 on: (12:46:50/05-09-15) »
"Give him a call."

She doesn't wait for him to complete his thought before composing and firing off a quick message to a contact.

<<@Saahir [Sister Rebecca] Moving again. CAS. Mine plus another. Today or tomorrow. Quote?>>

"If we can ship our gear separately, you and I can catch a suborbital out of SeaTac."

She nods. "I've found it's best that way." she says, while pushing the ARO to summon the elevator.

"It may come down to finances," he says after they step into the elevator and the doors close. "If we can't afford to go incognito then we'll fly commercial. We can decide once we're somewhere quiet and safe."

Even now in the elevator, Rebecca's still too much on edge to take off her helmet, or even talk at a normal volume, still using the sub-vocal. The fact that Achak is talking at a regular level is starting to unnerve her a little bit. She nods, uncomfortably. "Agreed. Let's find shelter first, then make informed decisions about the future." A few seconds later, and the two of them are deposited in the lobby. Achak pops up a quick taxi service in an ARO off his comm, swipes at it once or twice, and closes it right up again.

"Stay here and keep watch with me. Watch, and pray."

She stands behind Achak and a bit to the right, still reaching out into the astral with her senses and keeping her hand near her sword, despite all the bags she's carrying.
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rednblack

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« Reply #142 on: (12:46:23/05-11-15) »
@Achak and @Sister Rebecca

A rather short ork with her hair in a loose ponytail comes around from the driver's side of her cab to help place the bags in the trunk.  Achak is ahead of her, though, lifting the trunk lid as soon as it was opened, and he and Sister Rebecca have their gear safely stowed, leaving the cabbie to shrug a bit, as an expression crosses her face, as if she's wondering whether these do-it-yourselfers in this neighborhood means that she's going to get stiffed on the tip.  Careful to do what she can, the cabbie opens the door for the pair to enter the Americar, and comes around on the driver's side. 

"Where to?"

As the cabbie pulls away from Stake's apartment, Sister Rebecca and Achak both get comms from their respective contacts.

<<@Sister Rebecca [Saahir] Ya know, sometimes I wonder if you're a bit more of a worldly woman than you let on.  CAS from Seattle is quite a hike, omae.  I can get you +1 down the pipeline.  Probably take a few days, 2k>>

<<@Achak [Megadakik] I can get you a couple days in the Salish for 700.  Nice spot.  Secluded.  Romantic even.  Gear to DFW, next day delivery for 1,500.  Double that if I need to get hoops across with the munitions.>>


@Magnus,

Mercer tries to keep his Roadmaster at a safe distance, while monitoring the near-constant slew of texts from Tiny's comm.

<<@Peg [Tiny] Prolly a runer team frome the looks of em.  From the vid feed in the aparmtne t tey were hitting the pipes prety heavy last night.  1 laste bit o fun b4 tey go i guess>>

<<@Tiny [Peg] Kik 1 n the teeth for me.  Thuoght we was gonna have a trid day.  MIght jst have 2 start wachin Alley Hoops w/o u>>

<<@Peg [Tiny] Best wachit girly.  Eyell beet that ass>>

@Tiny [Peg] Promises promises.  Big talk form da man on the job.  Bliss is looking mihty gud abot now>>


The Shin-Hyung suddenly crosses three lanes of traffic to hit an exit going north.

<<@Peg [Tiny] Got2 go afk.  Some other hoop wants 2 gt on my bad side.>>

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Tecumseh

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« Reply #143 on: (19:47:46/05-11-15) »
Achak lifts his bags into the trunk of the taxi while he considers the situation.

A) We're dressed for church/business, if you exclude Sister Rebecca's headware.
B) We've got enough bags to be going on a long trip.
C) We called a cab instead of a town car. Probably should stick with the church angle instead of passing ourselves as corpers.


Achak looks approvingly at the Ford Americar. If you need to ferry four metahumans from point A to point B, a Ford Americar is probably the most straightforward and anonymous way to do so. It’s not flashy, and it’s not stylish, but sometimes flashy gets you killed, especially in the Barrens.

He gets in the car, going through a list of destinations in Puyallup that wouldn't be too off-putting for a cabbie.

1) Archie's - Fun novelty store. Loveland, though. We don't look dressed for Loveland.
2) Bump & Sleep - Brothel. Might be worth it to see Sister's face.
3) The Bishop's Corpse - Small family restaurant. We could be going out for brunch! ... with six duffel bags each.
4) The Good Samaritan Hospital - Plausible, but it's next to Ft. Lewis and we need to be deeper in town.
5) Hell's Kitchen Tours - Pose as rich types flying over the lava beds? They're known to make discrete drop-offs for a price. Might not make sense to be going on a sightseeing tour in the rain in December though.
6) Underworld 93 - Presumably closed and cleaning up from last night.
7) District Courthouse and District Hall - Closed on a Sunday, mierditas.


Finally he decides: "Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, please."

He flips an ARO to the driver. It's probably deeper in the Barrens than she would like, but hopefully the fact that it was a church (combined with Achak's respectable suit) will help set her at ease. It's the church that Achak attends regularly. He didn't know the new pastor well yet, but he still tithed steadily and was pretty sure that they wouldn't close their doors to him.

He receives Megedagik's response and wordlessly slides it over to Sister Rebecca, then does his best to watch their surroundings without looking like he's watching their surroundings.

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« Reply #144 on: (00:21:35/05-12-15) »
Mercer waits until the Shin-Hyung gets about a block before easing the large van into traffic and taking up pursuit. Neither Magnus nor Mercer had ever been an instrument of stealth or precision. He was more of the kick down the door kind of person, but he recognized the need for subtlety at times. He knew this was such a time - if he was to find out where they were going, he'd need to follow them. He fiddled with the autopilot for a moment, trying to get it to do the work for him, but the dog brain insisted on only working if he'd give it a destination. Back in the day, the police cruisers would easily follow the order to, well, follow. But civilian vehicles seemed to miss the concept of travelling as a convoy. Like stealth, these things were not his forte.


So he found himself doing what he could to keep the car within sight while also not crashing, or looking too obviously out of place. After nearly drifting into an adjacent lane for the third time, he was pretty sure he'd been seen. The comm message simply confirmed it. "Slot it all!" he barked, and reached for Vera, his Terracotta Arms AM-47 sniper rifle - if she could see 'em, she could hit 'em. He just had to hope that inconvenient things like buildings or pedestrians didn't get in the way. But years of Hunting had branded into his mind the need for fallback plans. It wasn't enough to have one contingency, or two, really, but sometimes you couldn't count on more. He gave the mental command to send one of his Fly-Spy drones out the passenger window so Tiny wouldn't see it exit. He marked the troll's car with an ARO and instructed the tiny drone to keep it in sight. The drone darted out the window and rapidly ascended into the cloud of drones that constantly crisscrossed the city, becoming lost in their seeming chaos as the stealth routines kicked in. Plan B was in place.


He sent a mental command to Vera to eject the clip of APDS that he'd kept loaded - she was a one-and-done kinda gal - and popped in the clip of tracker rounds he kept handy. Tracker rounds were a bounty hunter's best friend, and next to sawdust grenades, a vamp hunter's best friend too - so long as you could keep the creeps from getting all misty-like. Tracker rounds kept the nasties from getting away, but more importantly, they kept them from sneaking up on you. If you could start a running fight with a tracker round, you could avoid impromptu ambushes. And if you got really lucky, Vera could dust a zeke through a half a foot of concrete with nothing more than the tracker's ARO to aim at. And sometimes, if the crazies had appeased their God sufficiently, you could follow some misguided lost boy back to their nest. Keep a drone or two posted on it until daylight and the bounties would keep your crew livin' large for months.


The same philosophy also worked with thralls - spook one and hit 'em with a tag and he'll lead you right to his maker. Mercer was mostly sure that this Tiny was some ganger that was well out of his league, but this Ikiryo he worked for was either a whip or a zeke. Either way, Tiny was going to introduce Mercer to some new Hunters today, and he was betting that they'd be more than happy to get a little revenge on Ikiryo with him after he pulled their asses out of the fire. Peg, unfortunately, was going to be watching Alley Hoops alone tonight, and for some time to come.


He carefully lined up his shot, careful to compensate for the van's motion as it struggled to stay within the lines. As he mentally controlled the vehicle, the road ahead overlayed on his vision, he couldn't help but think "look Ma, no hands!" as he mentally squeezed Vera's trigger.
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rednblack

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« Reply #145 on: (12:17:07/05-12-15) »
@Sister Rebecca and @Achak

Finally he decides: "Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, please."

"Puyallup Barrens?" the cabbie says with a grimace.  From where she's sitting, Sister Rebecca can see the cabbie switch her autopilot off and take manual control.  Looks like she's preparing for the worst.  "Well, alright then.  So long as yous know you're looking at a 20 premium on top of the meter."

It's a bit difficult to place her accent, but from the globetrotting that both Achak and Sister Rebecca have done, they think she must be somewhere from the northeast.  Perhaps up Manhattan way.  They can't really be sure, though, as she doesn't speak much for the remainder of the drive, lost in the flow of traffic, and keeping an eye out for the go gangs.  When she pulls up at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, she pops the trunk and says, "We'll call is 85¥"

@Magnus

The rifle's muzzle report is effectively silenced, but Mercer can feel Vera's familiar kick like an old friend, and sees the ARO follow the Shin-Hyung as it kicks up in gear and makes increasingly erratic lane changes as it pulls further and further from Mercer's box of a Roadmaster.  Content that he won't lose his bead on Tiny or the yet unnamed accomplice, Mercer drops back and watches the ARO on a map display as it first heads east into the Redmond Barrens, and then doubles back, heading south.

<<@Peg [Tiny] Alright, sweet pee, luks like im bak.>>

And then a few minutes later.

<<@Peg [Tiny] drek. thes fraggers r heading the wrong way.  may b late.>>
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Tecumseh

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« Reply #146 on: (14:14:42/05-12-15) »
Achak spends the cab ride trying to focus on his surroundings while not being distracted by the lady ork. Having grown up with orks, Achak had a soft spot (or was that a hard spot) for ork women. The ponytail wasn't helping either, nor was the fact that Achak associated Puyallup with his crush, Lola, also an ork. She was an exotic dancer at Kadie's, a club in Loveland, one of Achak's frequent haunts.

But Puyallup also meant dealing with Rusty. He was the leader of the BlackJacks, the gang in charge of the turf around Holy Trinity and the dilapidated building where Achak goes to lay low. Rusty and Achak used to be friends until they had a falling out over Lola. They were still acquaintances but things were cooler now, more business-like. Achak paid the gang ¥100/week for protection for situations such as this, even though Achak lived downtown. He alerts Rusty to the situation, per courtesy and custom.

<<@Rusty [Achak] Dropping in with a guest. We'll be around for a night, two at the most. We could be trailing unexpected company. If you could run interference, that would be wiz.>>

Achak momentarily wonders if he's getting Rusty into more than he could handle. Rusty's a troll, and this is his turf. He can handle himself. There was also that time when Rusty punched out Achak over Lola, which bruised Achak's ego as much as his jaw. So, yeah, frag Rusty. Stupid trog.

Achak feels a bit better when he sees Holy Trinity. The cab fare was not as bad as he had been expecting either. Been taking too many town cars, he thinks to himself. Getting soft. He transfers ¥100 to the driver, the difference being the tip. "Thank you."

Standing in front of the church, Achak is reminded how out-of-place his suit looks in the Barrens. He sees the eyes of the locals drawn toward his ¥1,500 suit and his six duffel bags. Many of the locals knew not to mess with him, both for the charitable work he does with Holy Trinity but also for his self-defense capabilities, but there's always the chance that someone new to town won't know any better.

"Let's get inside and change," he says to Sister Rebecca. Then, lower, "No need to be inconspicuous here. If anything, a display of strength might keep trouble at bay. If you want peace, prepare for war, or so they say."

He heads inside, intending to don full body armor. He whispers, in deference to the church interior and the sensitivity of the topic, "I have a squat nearby, just a block or two. It's not nice, but it's safe."

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« Reply #147 on: (12:49:10/05-13-15) »
@Achak and Sister Rebecca

By the time they pull into the church, Achak has already received a reply from Rusty.

<<@Achak [Rusty] Wiz.  Me n the boyz r dwn a the clubhouse.  Come pay your respects when u got a moment.>>

When they walk inside the church, Minister Llewellyn catches sight of Achak and visibly brightens.  "Hoi!  I could really use your help here for a second. You can place your bags in the east antechamber.  They'll be safe there.  My acolytes skipped out after the morning service, and I really need to prepare for tonight.  Say, who's your friend? he inquires of the woman in the helmet.

@Mercer

At a distance, Mercer keeps tabs on the Shin-Hyung as it makes its way south.  He keeps careful tabs on his rear-view mirror in case the Knights are out looking for the guy who shot a fucking sniper rifle out of his car in downtown Seattle, but all he sees is the regular Sunday travel.  And then, he's crossing into Puyallup, where the Shin-Hyung exits the highway and starts trawling the streets.  Things could work out after all.  Amid some talk about popular trids and a little light sexting, he notes one comm in particularly of note from Tiny.

<<@Peg [Tiny] Whoevr herd of bible-bangin shadowrunners?  Luks lik i mihgt be home for trids after all.>>
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« Reply #148 on: (17:20:04/05-13-15) »
Achak blinks slowly as he considers the Llewellyn's request. Does my presence here endanger the church or the staff? After a moment of internal debate he decides that the middle way is best.

"Certainly, Pastor," he says, in response to the request for help.

He thinks about the proper etiquette. Generally one speaks to the woman first and the man second, but someone with a title generally overrides the convention.

"Pastor Llewellyn, please meet Sister Rebbeca. Sister Rebecca, this is Pastor Llewellyn. Sister Rebecca is a coworker who is in-town for the weekend on business." He sidesteps the inflection on friend.

Achak doesn't really know how much Llewellyn knows about his work. Pastor Paul, the previous pastor recently relocated to L.A., knew all about it, but Achak doesn't know if that information was informally shared. Certainly Llewellyn must know that men with ¥1,500 suits don't worship in the Barrens. But did Llwellyn think he was a drug lord or an arms dealer? Achak wasn't sure, but Llewellyn was going to see Achak in his full work outfit before long.

"Get ready," he whispers to Sister Rebecca. "I'll watch the front of the house while you change."

Achak puts down his bags and moves to help Llewellyn prepare the altar for evening worship. He runs a wet cloth over the altar to remove any dust or drops of wine from communion. He repeats the process for the candle shelves, then inspects the banners, paraments, and acolyte robes for dirt or stains. He grabs the communion chalice and disposes of the blessed wine from the morning service by stepping outside to pour it on the ground. While doing so, he scans the streets, alert to anything unusual (after adjusting for the Barrens' very low bar for "unusual").

Malevolence

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« Reply #149 on: (18:46:08/05-13-15) »
Bible bangers? Damned crazies? Mercer cursed his luck. Hunters, like Shadowrunners, were naturally a suspicious bunch. Where Shadowrunners faced a wide array of opposition and objectives, Hunters were more focused. All of their targets were either faster and stronger than they were, or civilians that had to be neutralized non-lethally where possible. It meant that there were no milk runs. It also meant that caution was a prime virtue. You just didn't run into that dark room chasing after a fleeing blood sucker. You didn't quote the Bible at the top of your lungs while clearing rooms. You waited to separate a group of infected until you could get them alone, or at least in manageable chunks.


Crazies did the opposite of all that. Their Lord protected them. Right into the afterlife. And then the plans came unraveled. The element of surprise? Lost. The carefully laid traps? Blown. The defensible fallback position? Overrun. Crazy got you killed - not just the crazies, but the whole team.


He calmed himself with a short breathing exercise and considered his options. He needed a team. So far as he knew, Grotto1 was compromised - he couldn't figure how else they were geeking Hunters. He'd heard the rumors before it had happened to his team, but he figured it was just sheer sloppiness. The old timers hadn't had their cards punched, just the young, eager ones. But when the roof came down on him six months ago, he knew. He knew that the vampires were hunting the Hunters. Sure, it wasn't the first time - every Lost Boy thinks he's going to change things, he's going to find a way for the vamps to walk into the light of day - either figuratively or literally. And every time he tries, he maybe gets lucky against a few young Hunters with more adrenaline than brains, but sooner rather than later, a proper Hunter comes along and shuts him down.


Anyone can hire Shadowrunners with a little money. Corp execs turned ash-piles-in-waiting were notorious for ganking Hunter teams every now and then. But the level of orchestration that was being exhibited here was magnitudes beyond that. Zekes weren't known for banding together. You'd find them in small groups - maybe up to a half dozen on rare occasion - sure, but as they aged they became more solitary. They became craftier, sure, but they worked through their armies of thralls and other intermediaries. They were like Dragons that way. But even so, they were more likely to fight each other than work together. I guess they were like dragons that way, too. So, the most likely scenario was that there was one fang at the top of this rash of Hunter slayings, probably with some significant pull. Maybe a Methuselah - one of the first vampires from the first generation of Infected. If they could stay alive that long, they could amass quite a bit of wealth and power. In addition to the craftiness that had kept them breathing all those years, they were dangerous foes indeed.


If Grotto1 was compromised, then he had limited options for recruiting. At this point, these Hunters he was about to play calvary for were the only ones he could likely trust to not be some fake name on the Matrix. Even the hunters he'd known for years could be dead or a marionette. Or they could even be buying sunscreen in bulk for themselves if they'd ended up on the wrong side of a fang.


No, he had little choice but to try to make it work with these Hunters.


Hunters. Tiny had called them Shadowrunners. So he didn't know what they were, which meant he was just hired muscle. This was good news as it meant that Tiny could be easier to get information from. He'd have less, to be sure, but thralls were notoriously tight-lipped. Mercenaries were less likely to know who their employers really were, and that knowledge, if you could convince them of it, usually loosened their tongues. Ghoul rights might be popular these days, but no-one liked vamps, or any other Infected for that matter. Being professionally associated with one could be bad for business.


Sometimes, the enemy of your enemy really was your friend, or a close enough approximation to exploit for intel.


Well, Peg, it looks like you and Tiny might be bumping ugly uglies again after all.


Once making the cross over into Puyallup and relative lawlessness, Mercer broke out his troublemaking gear. The Stick-n-Shock in the Crusader on his left hip - Joey, after his eldest son - was swapped out for APDS. Sean - named after his youngest - kept the gel rounds. He cross drew, so Joey was his right hand man, and he was the rough and tumble one. Sean was always the kind one, the merciful one. Just the way he remembered them. The shotgun, Yoki, named after his wife, of course, was slung over his shoulder and carried its standard load out. The drum had versatility, which made it a favorite of his. It held four different types of shells - standard flechette, APDS, sawdust flechette, and a couple capsule rounds loaded with Wolfsbane in suspension - and could switch between them in less than a second. To start, it was primed to fire the standard flechette rounds as it was unlikely he'd be facing any vamps while the sun was up.


The assault rifle went over his other shoulder. It didn't have a name yet, bring new to his collection. His old rifle - an AK-97 he had named Brimstone - hadn't made it out of the rubble with him. It had served him well for years, but it was a reminder of the days when he still believed in an order to the universe - a Heaven and a Hell and a God that put the creatures that roamed the Earth in their right place. That belief had died with Yoki and Joey and little Sean. The new rifle, an Alpha, had a new toy - the underbarrel grenade launcher - that he was still getting used to. For now, it only carried sawdust grenades.


He took a small selection of spare clips, grenades, and other essentials, putting them in the pockets of his armored suit for easy access. He took mental stock of himself, vaguely aware that he was dressed for war and heading for a church, but he didn't care. The house of God was just another house to him, and as a Hunter, you were either a walking arsenal or pop-top for some Infected beastie or another. And in a lawless zone like this, one couldn't discount the intimidation factor of coming fully loaded. Which reminded him - he loaded 500¥ onto a credstick and placed it in another pocket. If the local gang decided to take umbrage to your presence, he found it more expedient to bribe them into leaving you alone for an hour than to fight on two fronts. They were usually more than happy to take some free cash and not get shot so long as you cleared out after an hour or two and didn't cause too much trouble.


Before long, it became apparent what church the Troll was heading to, and Mercer entered in a final destination into the van's pilot and sent the second drone out to pre-scout. He kept Vera close - he had the feeling that he'd want to lead this fight by tagging that fragger in the sneak suit before he had a chance to vanish. He also kept a clip of APDS and Stick-n-Shock handy for her in case things started off on the wrong foot. Vera had gotten her name from an old trid he'd watched ages ago. She'd been with him since before he became a hunter, and the name was whimsical more than apropos. Same with his old shotgun, Bessie, who'd met her fate while he was hunting his first stake-eaters, the ones that had taken his family. These days, your weapons were as much a part of your team - your family - as the people that wielded them. The people watched your back, but the arsenal kept you alive. And in the last months, they were all he had had.


With everything at the ready, he put his mask on, and waited, keeping a wary eye (or three) out for trouble.
« Last Edit: (01:33:47/06-23-15) by Malevolence »
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