[5e IC] Hunters Chapter 2: Fontanelle

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« on: <05-18-16/1300:44> »
<<5 DEC 2074 2015>>

<<Welcome to Grotto1
<<Login: Mercer
<<Password: XXXXXXXXXX

<<Most Recent Posts

<<Poster: Flechette
<<Thread: A little optimism to start your day.
<<Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land, drawing no dividends from time's tomorrows.
<< -- Siegfried Sassoon>>

<<Poster: ShagWright
<<Re: A little optimism to start your day.
<<Blow it out your ass, flick.  So, is this place really dead, or what?>>

Mercer turns away from Grotto1 to find a new message from Nevermore on his link.  Hmm, this looks interesting.
« Last Edit: <05-18-16/1304:09> by rednblack »


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« Reply #1 on: <05-20-16/0153:03> »
Achak is not easily intimidated. His willpower is no better than average - his addiction to stims testifies to that - but he has a stronger personality than most, plus a steely nature honed by years of growing up with orks who were all substantially bigger than him. Achak can shoot a vampire in the face, beat a blood spirit to death up close and personal, and face down social situations with aplomb. But the loss of Stake, the sudden departure of Sister Rebecca, and the fact that he is now just much hunted as hunter has him distinctly unsettled.

"Doing a perimeter check," Achak announces, by which he means marching around his small Capitol Hill flat while wearing full body armor, trying to get a ping on some magical sense for something out of the ordinary. Mercer's cyberfingers tear at Achak's cheap furniture as he dreams of the quiet solitude of being buried in rubble.

The next day is a steady stream of questions and planning and deliverymen delivering noodles and Bucket Burgers for Mercer, plus TexMex that is embarrassingly below standards. Achak activates the small wooden cross that serves as a qi focus for his sustenance. With it active, he only needs to eat once a day. Man cannot live by bread alone is inscribed on the focus, which Achak rubs with his thumb at regular intervals.

For every deliveryman, Achak warily cracks the door openhis Crusader locked and loaded with APDS in case he needs to open fire through the door itself. The Amerind gruffly accepts the deliveries before vigorously investigating them with his nose, searching for any trace of poison.

Mercer intercepts Achak from popping some Long Haul. "What?" Achak asks. "We need to be vigilant."

"We need to rest," Mercer corrects him. "Listen, we'll split the shifts. You take midnight to noon, I'll take noon to midnight." Maybe that way I can get some peace.

"I just don't feel that safe," Achak admits. "Not without magical overwatch and not here. If they found Stake's place, they can find mine. This place is under my real SIN, for Chrissake!"

He regrets the swearing, but knows that it will convey his seriousness to Mercer.

"So let's relocate," Mercer suggests, welcoming a change of scenery and maybe a squat larger than fifty square meters.

"Stake had a couple safehouses," Achak says, thinking out loud. "One of them was a bolt hole but he never told me where. Needed at least one place where nobody could sell him out, I suppose. The other is a storage facility down near Tarislar." Achak realizes that Mercer might not know where that is or what that means. "Very southern tip of the metroplex. Elven enclave. Stake felt safe there because..." - Achak gives an airy wave - "he was an elf. The Ancients and the Laésa run the show down there. They'll be suspicious of outsiders, which gives us an extra layer of insulation if we can get in. We have Stake's commlink, so I figure if we broadcast his credentials and act like we know where we're going then they'll let us slide. Stake told me that he's paid through the end of February, so his accounts with the locals are in good standing.

"It ain't shiny and chrome, but there's plumbing, heat, and space enough for your Roadmaster. Plus we might find a bit of kit that Stake stashed away there. Seems like a good place to hole up while we sort out our support, and the Salish-Shidhe border is right there if we need to get out of town fast. I still remember a couple routes from the old days. At least one should still slide."

Achak fails to mention the storage facility's proximity to Loveland and thus Kadie's, the place of employment for his future girlfriend/wife/mother-of-his-children, Lola. He'd casually mention the possibility once they got settled. Maybe they could meet Spitfire there to talk biz, if Spitfire was even alive. Maybe he's a smear on the side of some cedar tree up in the mountains, Achak thinks. Or maybe he's camped out in an alleyway with no wireless.

Edit: Grammar
« Last Edit: <04-15-17/1612:50> by Tecumseh »


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« Reply #2 on: <05-20-16/1314:56> »
Achak sorts through the listings on his commlink, settling on what he's kinda sorta maybe sure is the most recent commcode he has for Spitfire. He makes the call.

<<@Spitfire Hoi, it's Achak. You in the Seattle area? I've got some easy work for you that could point toward a big payday.>>

He wonders how transparent to be. Most people - even hardened runners - would blanch if they knew that the Infected were involved, especially if the team were being specifically targeted.

<<Need some decryption done. I'm sure you can handle it. That should direct us to some lucrative targets. We could use the fire support. It'd be just like the old days, right?>> Achak gags a bit and hopes that Spitfire has started sleeping indoors sometime in the last few years, but somehow he doubts it.

Laying out on his creeper that he keeps in the garage, and usually sleeps on, making some adjustments to the GMC Universe SpitFire sees the message come across his AR display.  He mentally minimizes it while he finishes the tuning he's doing.

Kicking out from under the big van he looks over at Patsy hovering at a spot she could get a scan outside while still keeping an eye on the ork in case he needed something.  He pulls up the message and scans it quickly, surprised to see a message from Achak.  "Hoi Pats, looks like we might have some work here.  Howlongsitbeen since we ran with Achak and Mega-whatshis-dick?"
She spins her camera around to look down at him, if a machine could give a disapproving/dismissive look this would be it.  "Jason, you know full well it's been three years and two months since you and Achak did a run with Megedagik.  Why you continue to pretend to not remember everything is beyond me.  Will you accept the job?"

Chuckling that the floating dalmatian doesn't appreciate his wit, "Of course!  How else am I gonna be able to afford your upgrades?"

<<<@Achack [Spitfire] Achak?  It's been forever?  You still running with the BlackJacks? 
I'm holed up outside of Tacoma these days and in between jobs right now.  How big a payday we talking?  Ya know I don't believe in no Milk Runs.  Patsy and Punch got some upgrades recently, so they're good to go.  I could run some support fer ya.  Matrix meet or wanna grab a soykaf somewhere?>>>
« Last Edit: <05-20-16/1406:32> by Zweiblumen »
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« Reply #3 on: <05-20-16/1808:20> »
Achak is feeling significantly better about life. The storage facility in Tarislar is in a dangerous area - almost by definition, as gangs and organized crime are the local law - but the facility itself is extra secure. Inside, Achak and Mercer found a portion of Stake's stash, including ammunition and credsticks that we were both very welcome. Stake had obviously put some effort into making the place habitable, with blankets and space heaters to help ward away the December chill that seeps up from the plascrete floor. Achak used Stake's bug scanner to sweep the place for stealth tags and drones before declaring it clean. The rain drumming on the thermoplastic polyolefin roofing is now relaxing instead of antagonizing. Mercer notices the improvement in Achak's mood, which makes him more bearable to be around.

The situation further improves when Spitfire responds to Achak's comm.

<<@Spitfire [Achak] Glad to hear you're still on the right side of the grave. Not running with the BlackJacks anymore. Got a new gig now, way more more profitable, especially with an ownership stake.>>

The mention of 'stake' makes him wince involuntarily.

<<We can go into details in person, but what we need right now is some decryption expertise. I'm not a tech guy, you know that, but we have an offline database that we need someone to unravel for us. Give it a poke and tell us what it will cost.>>

Achak tried to quickly formulate some sums that sound enticing but that won't break the war budget. They need to know what the contents of those files are and soon, before the trail goes cold. Decryption wasn't Spitfire's specialty, but Achak was reasonably confident the ork could get it done in a day or two. How much would be fair for a day's labor?

<<If it's quick, you can make an easy ¥500. If it you have to flex a bit, we'll pay you more. Plus we expect that it will point us in the direction of a new score.>> He thinks of the Manet painting, even if they haven't technically sold it yet. <<The last one netted us over a ¥100k, split four ways. That pays for a lot of Patsys and a lot of Punches.>>

He wracks his brains, trying to remember what those names mean. He presumes drones, because that's just the type of person Spitfire is.  Hopefully Patsy isn't some sort of sexbot, he thinks, then adds, Hopefully Punch isn't either.

<<If you're in Tacoma, I know a place near Ft. Lewis where we can meet. They don't serve soykaf, but there will be music and dancers. That's good, because we need a place where the eyes and ears are on something other than us.>>

He shoots an ARO to Spitfire with directions to Kadie's, then a message to Lola to see if she can reserve a booth for the meet.

<<@Lola [Achak] Lola, love, can you book that dark booth in the corner for me? I'll be there on biz but I'd like to see you after or before.>> He tries to come across as cool and suave, even if his hands are shaking like he's dealing with a dragon. <<I'll bring a case of Sylvan Spring Water you like to sweeten the deal.>> Oh drek, are they even making Sylvan anymore after all those Shasta Shamen got geeked, what, 10-11 weeks ago? But this is Tarislar, right? There's got be some lying around. Laying, lying? Drek. I hope I didn't sign myself up for something I can't deliver.


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« Reply #4 on: <05-20-16/2050:50> »
Mercer nodded as Achak went over their needs again:
We need someone to try to crack the data in the briefcase.
We need more team members to provide fire support.
We need proper magical support.

He supposed it made sense to start the conversation off with a summary of where they were before bed last night, but it was a little redundant for Mercer as the Shiawase Labs Steel Trap® Elite he'd had installed a few years ago (November 23rd, 2072 he recalled, likely as a result of the self-same mnemonic enhancer) allowed him to recall facts with near unerring clarity. He wished he could say he felt a little annoyed at the needless recap, but he could only take note of the inefficiency. Though he often worried about the fading intensity of his emotions, he supposed he was grateful that he spent less time being irritated at the small things. Though Achak's propensity to prattle did occasionally get Mercer to feel a mild irritation. Which, paradoxically, made him strangely happy. It really was good to have company again after the long months hiding - it helped him to maintain his tenuous hold on his humanity.

And apparently a good night's sleep had done Achak some good, as he offered up an old contact he had remembered. Spitfire. Mercer liked the name, probably because he had spent way too many hours watching old war documentaries before he became a Hunter. And it appeared well chosen, as the man was a rigger. As Achak continued to describe him, Mercer is only mildly concerned about the man's propensity for sleeping in his ride - while Mercer hadn't had much choice but to spend the last six months homeless, he had found a certain freedom in it. Of course, he'd also slept in a proper bed in hotels (and worse) where possible, but with the right modifications, he could see the appeal of sleeping in a van. Heck, he'd even seriously considered an RV on multiple occasions.

And when Achak mentioned that this Spitfire knew a thing or two about the Matrix, Mercer almost couldn’t give his approval fast enough. Achak made the call, affording Mercer a few moments of silence, which he was pleased to discover also resulted in a genuine feeling of relief.  Almost immediately after making the call, Achak headed into the small area - little more than a crevasse - that served as the flat's shower. Mercer suspected that the man's skin had been crawling slightly ever since his mention of Spitfire's bathing habits. Mercer wrinkled his nose a little - such odors were unpleasant, but had much less effect on him after walking into the wide variety of unsettling stenches that the dens of the Infected invariably produced. When Achak finished, he dressed in his suit of full body armor and began a routine of cautiously peeking out of the windows every few minutes, an activity he referred to as a "Perimeter Check". Mercer rolled his eyes, then took his turn at the shower.

When he finished, Achak was still on "guard duty", and Mercer flopped down in a battered chair and watched him pace for a few minutes. He noted that the fly-spys were still working a patrol pattern, breaking to recharge every few hours, but when he brought it up, Achak pointed out that the drones were incapable of detecting magic, a rather useful skill that Achak possessed. And so Mercer got up and checked to see what the apartment's soy processor had available. He was immediately greeted with a sea of red lights - every ingredient was either out or expired so that there was no chance at making a proper meal. Achak looked a little apologetic, but reminded Mercer that the place had been unoccupied for a bit as Achak had been spending quite a bit of time at Stake's much nicer digs, and so hadn't been stocked recently. Mercer ordered some takeout, which Achak declined, stating that he typically only ate once per day. He didn't specify which meal.

They continued to discuss how they might move forward as Mercer waited for his meal, and after it arrived, Mercer suggested restocking if they were going to be here awhile, which then brought forth Achak's discomfort with remaining here.

"So, let's relocate" Mercer said matter of factly. He'd been feeling cramped anyway, being used to staying at motels or hotels that might be the same size as this flat, but which he hadn't had to share. And really, if Achak was uncomfortable, it would probably be less expensive to move than it would be to fix this place up enough to ease his fears.

Achak's face lit up as if a whole new world of options had presented itself, and he immediately began to talk about some places that Stake had kept. He seemed most excited about a storage space in the elven part of the town. Mercer was vaguely familiar with Seattle's geography, but the politics were much fuzzier. Achak did a good job of concisely filling him in on what to expect, and they agreed that once the Sister returned, they'd head there.

The decision made, Achak continued his patrol and Mercer finished his meal and started browsing Grotto1 for any potential candidates to round out the team - the magic support that Achak had mentioned earlier. He's disappointed to find that it was a virtual ghost town, only the most stalwart or desperate denizens still posting, and virtually all the conversations devolving into chaos. The virtual visit proved useless, and he gave up after only a few minutes. But his commlink showed a new message had been received and he noted that it was from Nevermore. Maybe some news on Sunrise!
<<@Mercer [Nevermore] I just got some dirt on Sunrise.  You still interested? I've also got a guy coming into SeaTac solo, with a major grudge against these guys.  Not a hunter.  But capable, if I'm to believe what I've heard, and so far it checks out.  I'm getting paid on the other end, so this one's gratis, if you owe me one?  Interested?>>
Mercer cursed under his breath. He was certainly interested in the information she'd dug up, but  having an ally show up unbidden the day after a major action against Sunrise? The bow seemed a little too pretty. But Nevermore was good people. If she said he checked out, he's probably legit.

He shares the news with Achak, including his concerns about the timing. He's about to discuss a meet in the evening after Sister Rebecca returns when they both get a message from the good Sister.

<<@Achak,Mercer [Sister Rebecca] I apologize for my absence this morning, but I'm afraid it is permanent. I have been reassigned. May the lord guide your hand.>>
"Well, it looks like our day just freed up." Mercer notes. Achak looks distressed, and he can only imagine that the young man blames himself for the Sister's reassignment. Mercer has some darker suspicions, but he keeps them to himself. It would be best if they abandoned this flat ASAP. "Let's grab what we need and head down to Tarislar. I'll let my contact know that we're wide open today for a meet."
<<@Nevermore [Mercer] Careful, love, you keep this up you might make me happy enough to crack a smile. Turns out I got enough room on my dance card for a meet. Does your guy have any preference?>>
« Last Edit: <05-23-16/1624:17> by Malevolence »
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« Reply #5 on: <05-21-16/1005:31> »
It's just so ghost-damned gloomy...

The thought really resonated. The way the sound of a kicked rock bounces along in a cave that hasn't been visited in years. As Jackson lay in the dark, the only barely reflective face of his 'link (as all 'links in the Tirs, it came with a low-light default that made it nigh on impossible for non-elves to read unless under bright, direct light) told him it was just past sunrise. He had rigged it up on the wall to serve as a clock - he couldn't risk using it in any meaningful way lest a record exist of his travels. He didn't think they were after him - not really, they knew he was no enemy of the state - but any trail would have to be followed. He sighed the same deep, weary sigh that had been the start of every morning for ten days, and rolled off his cot and began his routine of isometrics and stretches.

This was, by the brief glance at the navigation charts and his best guess, the day they would arrive. There had been one storm, and who knows if they made the right time? These eastern european cargo ships were all over the place, and if they were tightly monitored he wouldn't be there. He finished off his routine and settled onto the hard steel floor of the container, with a thought slotting his Inner Eye into place. As always, it was as though he'd just woken up...

Even on the lifeless barrens of a ship, there was still great colour. Reaching his astral perceptions outwards, he could pick up the rats scurrying through the pipes, the frantic energy of a rodent scavenging for food by instinct glowing as a vibrant reddish purple. A container on the eastern side of the ship, guarded by an armed drone, obfuscated the energies in a black mist - these were weapons of some kind. The three seagulls soaring over them with a lazy, dull blue aura of a bird simply gliding to pass the time. He fell back into his body, the brief excursion giving him the feeling of freedom that was so elusive these past days. With a deep breathe he sank into meditation..

Some few hours later, he was disturbed by the booming sound of the ship's horn, a startlingly blaring interruption to the steady vibration that had been his constant companion. He darted out of the container in his other self, a dark dull-green cloaked lithe form with a horn bow slung about his shoulders and a drab green kerchief across his face, appearing to race with long, loping strides from roof of container to roof of container until be perched on the very tip of the radio mast, his astral form balancing as easily as if he were on a sidewalk. The view was drastically different than the physical one, but there was no mistaking the bustling aura and glaring lights of the city. For better or worse, he was here. Time to get prepared.

Dropping back to his body, he quickly snapped his eyes open, and placed his hands together, index fingers extended, the rest twined together and folded against his sternum, channelling his will into manipulating the ancient flow of mana around him. As soon as the spells took shape, he folded into his imagination, the tranquil pool of his mind began to feed a small stream, and he wove the flow of mana into his unconscious mind's flowing stream, making the two into one, and allowing him to forget it. His instincts now magically honed, he shrugged on his coat, holstered the machine pistol underneath it, and blink-clicked his contacts on. He left the heavily-modified mask at the top of the duffel bag hanging from his left shoulder. He trusted Seamus with his life, and had for the a decade and more, but this was still nerve-wracking. The vast institution of the Tir Secret Services was no longer sheltering him, he only had one man's word. He trusted that implicitly, but the tools and power that man wielded may no longer support him...

The container was released, and he checked the time. It was 10:30 am local time, and his instructions had been clear - 10:40, there will be nobody between him and the west exit into the city. From there it is a 600 meter walk to the subway station, which the metalink in his pocket will automatically clear him and pay for. After that, it was 4 stops, a transfer, 7 more stops and a four block walk, during which he would tear the battery out of the cheap 'link, and dispose of it in three bins. Better get started.


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« Reply #6 on: <05-24-16/0227:27> »
<<6 DEC 2074>>

Achak breathes a sigh of relief when he finds an Ancient who has smuggled a case of Sylvan Spring Water out of Tir Tairngire. He gladly pays his "breeder tax" before the elf has time to rethink the price. As if on cue, Lola responds:

<<@Achak [Lola] Got the booth. Swing by before if you want to see me before my set. xoxoxo>>

He sighs contentedly, even if he logically knows that it is in Lola's professional interest to be a flirt. He clutches the tiny flicker of hope that he might be different and holds it close inside.

"What's this place like?" Mercer asks, driving his Roadmaster en route to Kadie's. Achak sits in the passenger seat, looking at the sheeting December rain outside while cradling the Sylvan Spring Water, lest it jump out the window and escape if he were to stop holding it.

Achak had been relieved that - in light of Stake's untimely demise - Mercer felt the same way about a buddy system. "A gentleman's club. The 'gentlemen' are all drunk and mostly violent. It's in Loveland, which is the vice district, mostly for off-duty soldiers and Metroplex Guardsmen from Ft. Lewis."


"Merry-go-round. Vory are trying to kick a toe-hold in from Tacoma, but the Gianelli family is fighting like a cornered rat. Not too many places to go if you get pushed out of Puyallup. This is the end of the road for most people, mafiosi included."

"What's SpitFire like?"

"Small for an ork. Taller than me, but not bigger. Maybe five years older, although Lord knows it is hard to tell with orks. Clumsy, but clever. Might have ended up a decker had there been wireless when we were young. Grew up in the junkyard, salvaging rigs. Not exactly personable. He's the type of ork who didn't learn Or'zet because that would just mean he would have to talk to someone. He is precise, although I suppose you have to be when you're fixing drones or slaloming through the night forest at high speeds. He told me once, 'If you want the chopper on the ground at exactly 04:37:17, it'll be on the ground at 04:37:17. Guaranteed.'"

Mercer nods as they pull into a parking spot outside of Kadie's. The face of the building is brick, slick and shiny with rain. There is a long row of motorcycles lined up out front and, despite the rain, at least two fistfights currently in progress. Achak watches as one of the fights escalates from Assault to Aggravated Assault as one of the parties breaks a beer bottle and begins to use it in an unfriendly manner. Kadie's bouncer, a troll with one horn on the left side and a generous dose of warts large enough to look like horns, looks on passively, content that the action is outside. The troll is improbably dressed a white dinner jacket, a bowtie, pinstripe pants, and a yarmulke.

"That big, ugly trog is Shur," Achak says, eyes narrowing. "He'll give me drek no matter what. I'm tempted just to sneak in the back, but I don't want to stand out in the acid rain while picking the maglock. At least there's cover if you go in the front."

Achak was wearing his suit and didn't want to ruin it. He had gone back and forth a dozen times, trying to decide what to wear. The lined coat would be most appropriate and would blend in the best, but wouldn't impress Lola. But wearing the suit meant that Shur would pat him down with his big, greasy mitts and probably rumple his suit badly, which would undermine the impression that Achak was hoping the suit would make.

"I'm not even going to try to smuggle in my Crusader," Achak sighs. "Shur will pat me down twice. If we run into some zekes inside, well... I'm pretty sure the furniture is made out of wood. I'll break a chair and beat the zeke to death with the broken leg."

Achak steps out with the case of water and makes a beeline to the awning covering the front door. There's a pink neon side flashing Kadie's into the dark night sky. Shur, with his thermographic vision, doesn't need it to see.

Encounter with Shur
[spoiler]"Ain't seen you in five days," Shur grunts. "New record, Mr. Fancypants."

"Miss me?" Achak asks, trying to say civil by strategically removing "you fragging inbred goblin" from the end of his question.

"What's that?" Shur asks, stabbing a finger the size of a sausage and the case of water.

"Gift for Lola," Achak answers through gritted teeth, feeling very defensive of the expensive present.

"Lemme see," Shur growls. He notices Achak stiffen. "Management orders."

"Who's management this week?" Achak asks, wondering if it might be useful to know at some point.

"Mr. Mind Your Fragging Business and his partner Shut the Frag Up."

Shur confiscates the water and, before a protesting Achak, opens a bottle and drinks it. Achak, unarmed, stares lividly at the thieving trog while wondering which of the martial arts allows a human to geek a troll with his bare hands. The troll drains the bottle with barely a gulp.

"That one was clean," Shur announces, tossing the bottle aside casually before opening a second and swallowing it in two gulps. "Had an extraction attempt last week. Gotta make sure everything coming in is clean."

Achak angrily seizes the remaining water back before being subjected to a rough pat-down, then a second one for good measure. Achak can smell the boutineer on the troll's lapels. Shur roughly pushes the Amerind to the front door. "Welcome to Kadie's," he announces. "Don't start no drek, won't be no drek." With that, he turns to inspect Mercer.[/spoiler]

Walking inside, Achak barely registers Shur's claim of an extraction attempt. He wasn't inclined to believe anything the troll said - or anything that any troll said for that matter - but he could believe an extraction attempt. Lola was their highest earner, by far. If the Vory or anyone else didn't want to go through the hassle of taking over the whole club, all they really had to do was take over Lola.

Mercer, wielding his Southern charm like a cavalry saber, emerges unscathed from his encounter with Shur. Inside he sees what looks like an old Western saloon. There's a thrust stage for the dancers with a bar around the perimeter for the patrons. Tables and chairs dot the saloon floor while booths occupy the wall. Achak walks through the low fog of cigarette smoke, past the neon Cold Beer sign, toward the reserved booth in the corner.

"Good sight lines here," Achak says. "Back to two walls. Should give you a good view of the place. I figure you're the paranoid type who won't get distracted, but if you're a fan of a dancer they have this set-up where you wire some nuyen and the waitress will bring you a stack of paper. You use this paper to tip the girls by stuffing it in their bikini strings; it gives you a good excuse to get close and personal. Good idea, not sure how they thought of it.

"I'm going to say hi to Lola."
He excuses himself, leaving with his bottled water while the waitress - a human female in a leather bikini and chaps - comes by to take Mercer's drink order.

Meeting with Lola
[spoiler]Achak is dressed well enough and is enough of a regular for security to look the other way when he slips backstage.

From a distance, he sees Lola getting ready at the end of the dressing room, sitting in front of the mirror and doing her make-up. Achak inhales sharply. There might be elves prettier than Lola, he thinks, but, if so, I haven't met them. She had the looks and grace of an elf, with chestnut French hair and mysterious Latina eyes, but the curves of an ork. To Achak, she was perfect.

"Hi," he says looking at her in the mirror over her shoulder, trying to conceal the mangled packaging of his gift.

"Hi!" she says with an easy, charming manner. Her face lights up in a smile as she jumps and hugs him gently, too lightly to be truly affectionate. "You look nice," she says as Achak mentally names their future children.

"I brought you this," he says, presenting the Sylvan Spring Water. "They're not making it anymore. Sugar Tits at the front pinched a couple bottles."

Lola giggles and accepts the water graciously. She opens a bottle and drinks happily. "Shur was just looking out for me. He takes care of me. His name means 'wall' in Hebrew, you know."


"So I thought all you Judeo-Christian types stuck together."

Achak just blinks.

"You said you are here on business. Did you bring your handsome friend? What's his name? Steak?"

Achak does his best to conceal his emotions, but the look of his eyes and the shake of his head is too sad to escape Lola's notice. "Oh, I'm so sorry," Lola says, holding a hand over her heart sincerely.

There's a long, awkward silence. Stake is cockblocking me from beyond the grave! Achak thinks desperately as he tries to salvage the situation. First he's the handsome one and now he's dead!

Lola places a comforting hand on Achak's. Her skin is warm and soft; she smells like vanilla and jasmine. He looks up, following the dotted tattoo that traces its way up from the edge of her hand along her forearm to her triceps then across her shoulders and down her ribs, hip, and leg. His magic sense is on fire; he knows that she uses it to dance and hypnotize, as powerfully and seductively as Salome danced for Herod. He, too, is spellbound.

"It's time for my set," she says apologetically, breaking the silence.

"Can I see you sometime?" Achak asks.

"Sure, come back anytime. Any weekday, at least. Today is okay because it's Thursday. Weekends are a madhouse."

"I meant would you like to go out?" Achak asks. He thinks of taking her to Duncan, of showing her Manet's 'The Surprised Nymph', which is rightfully (25-50%) his. He thinks of how the nymph in question reminds him of Lola, and immediately wonders how he could ever sell it.

Lola smiles slightly, having heard the same question every day, often every hour, of her adult life. "I'll call you," she says with enough sincerity to sound believable but with enough ambiguity to not provide a deadline. "Thanks for the water. It really is my favorite."

She gives his hand a small squeeze before standing and heading for the stage entrance. Achak hears whoops and hollers as the announcer preps the audience. He sees Lola bow her head, mentally preparing. Her tattoos flash and Achak feels the hot surge of mana even at a distance. Lola runs out on stage on her musical cue, sliding to the edge of the bar on her knees as the crowd erupts in pure mayhem. She sways her hips forward and back provocatively as the floor of the saloon turns into bedlam, men reaching and clawing and shouting ecstatically. Shirts are torn, hair is ripped, and teeth are gnashed as Lola lashes the crowd into a religious fervor with a few deft strokes of her derrière.[/spoiler]

Achak rejoins Mercer at the booth in the corner. The Amerind is quiet, uncharacteristically so from Mercer's limited experience. Achak doesn't say anything and stares out into the room, eyes occasionally glancing this way and that for the eventual arrival of Flickr and Spitfire.
« Last Edit: <05-24-16/1420:58> by Tecumseh »


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« Reply #7 on: <05-26-16/0154:10> »

The remainder of the day went by quickly. Within 5 minutes they were in the van and on the road. Achak hadn't spent much time there over the preceding months and so had few belongings to gather, and Mercer hadn't brought much more than a change of clothes and what he could wear (including a couple firearms, of course) from his van. Turned out Achak had some burners handy, which Mercer traded for some ammo and a c-note. He sent the commcode for the burner to Raven and it wasn't long before details of a meet were worked out:

<<@Mercer [Flickr] I'm new to the area, so you're going to have to pick the spot.>>

"What's this place like?" Mercer asked, figuring that Flickr would probably want to have an idea what he was heading into.

"A gentleman's club. The 'gentlemen' are all drunk and mostly violent." Achak replies.

<<@Flickr [Mercer] Place called Kadie's. Little bit of country, whole lotta mosh pit. Say, 6?>>
<<Attachment: POI>>

Mercer received a message from Flickr agreeing to the meet, and Mercer and Achak continued the drive in silence for a bit, with Mercer's occasional questions providing brief counterpoints. "Who owns Kadie's?" "Tell me more about this Spitfire fellah." "Who else there might recognize you, and what should we expect?" Before long, they arrived at Stake's digs and scoped it out before heading in to set up shop. Soon they were situated and Achak relaxed a little and took some time to find a gift for one of the dancers he knew who was swinging them a booth at the club. Mercer strongly suspected there was more to the relationship than Achak had admitted, but opted not to pursue that suspicion.

The hours passed and soon it was time to head to the club. The ride was uneventful and before long they were pulling into the parking lot. True to Achak's intel, the place was a cross between a biker bar and a strip club. The trog bouncer - Achak identified him as Shur - was disarming people at the door, so Mercer switched to a pat down friendly configuration - shock gloves hidden in his deep jacket pockets. He also sliped his mask into his coat - not so much to hide it as to just make it less obvious. Ballistic masks were like ski masks that way - not illegal, but people tended to get twitchy if you just wore them into the store to pick up some soy milk.

The troll gave Achak some trouble and Mercer was about to step in on the poor man's behalf when Achak grabbed what was left of the case of water out of the meta's hands and was finally allowed in - after some aggressive patting. Mercer smiled as he walked up to the troll and commented on the cut of his suit. You didn't often find trolls wearing fancy threads unless they were paid to, or they had some level of pride in their appearance. Judging the book by its cover, he didn't expect that Kadie's had a dress code for the bouncer other than "intimidating", so Shur must have been in the latter category. The troll, being professional, didn't soften much, but he did soften. Mercer kept his hands in sight while Shur followed Mercer's compliment with some detail about the thread count and the guy he knew that tailored it for him.

"He does fine work. Good eye you have to find such a skilled tailor. My own threads" which weren't un-fashionable themselves "are getting a little worn. Your guy do jobs for us little folk?" The comment was intended to get Shur to focus on his own size advantage, Mercer verbally prostrating himself before the massive meta. Tiny was feeling quite relaxed with Mercer now, and was a little distracted during the rather light pat down as he assured Mercer that "his guy" did tailor for plain old humans and to be sure to tell him "Shur sent ya".

"Much appreciated." Mercer drawled as Shur waved him through. The inside of the club was a little like the old western saloons on the westerns you see on the trids, which were in turn like the saloons in the westerns made before the trids. And, Mercer noted, very little like a true saloon. Wooden decor, sure, but way too large and open, and decorations that were way more ornate than the saloons of old where the clientèle simply came to drink, gamble, and (in some towns) screw, and didn't much care what the place looked like. Most old timey saloons distinctly lacked a woman's touch. And a stripper pole (or four).

Achak guided them to the reserved booth. "Good sight lines here," Achak said. "Back to two walls. Should give you a good view of the place. I figure you're the paranoid type who won't get distracted, but if you're a fan of a dancer they have this set-up where you wire some nuyen and the waitress will bring you a stack of paper. You use this paper to tip the girls by stuffing it in their bikini strings; it gives you a good excuse to get close and personal. Good idea, not sure how they thought of it." Mercer was about to fill him in on the concept of paper money, but Achak continued without missing a beat, "I'm going to say hi to Lola," and wandered off.

Achak was right about Mercer being the type that doesn't get distracted. The women were beautiful, and their routines borderline pornographic. Scratch that, he thought as he observed an orc dancer violate one of the poles in an obscene fashion, border's been crossed. But even so, a combination of age, respect for his dead wife, and his diminishing humanity all combined to mitigate the effect such displays were meticulously crafted to provide. So he seated himself at the booth and scanned the crowd. The crowd was diverse - while mostly human and almost all male, there was at least one of each type of metahuman you'd likely encounter in an urban metroplex. No exotics that stood out, but most everything else. And they ranged from obviously SINless to corporate types living the easy life. As Achak had mentioned, the customers tended toward the combat trained - soldiers and security - which made Mercer both relaxed and uneasy. If anyone tried anything funny, any sober patrons could handle themselves, so this was a fairly safe place to meet new people. By the same token, a bunch of hardened combatants getting liquored up could spell trouble. Mercer had visions of the mead hall in Valhalla as lusty warriors drank, ate, fucked, and fought.

None of the folks looked out of place, however. The sober ones looked alert and moved like the warriors they had been trained to be. The drunk ones looked like pretty much any other drunk person. He noted at least one other person scoping the crowd and watching the door - likely here for business as well - but it didn't look like they were prepared to start any trouble. He ordered a bourbon, got a strange look before the waitress let him know that they didn't serve that, and changed it out for a beer. Saloon my ass, he thought, and wondered if they at least had tequila. Not that he'd order it - synthetic alcohol was bad enough, but synthetic tequila was downright criminal. The beer arrived along with one of the dancers, which he politely declined. He took a sip of the beer and wondered how anyone in here was drunk since it was more water than beer. He slouched back a bit in the booth in a way that hid his head in a darker part of the booth so it became difficult to see where he was looking and also gave an unconcerned appearance. Achak returned only a couple minutes after he'd left, and it was obvious both by the brevity of the trip and Achak's demeanor that things had not gone particularly well.

Lola hit the dancing pole like a lightning bolt hits a grounding rod. Mercer was utterly absorbed for a full minute before he recalled Achak mentioning something about her channeling magic into her act. He hadn't felt such lust in his veins in years, the magic winding its way into his system, past his past, around the holes in his humanity, bringing back youthful desires. He could certainly see Achak's interest in the woman. It took an effort of will to pull his attention away from the dancer and back to the front door. And a continuous application of that willpower to keep from looking back at the act lest he be sucked back in again. After an eternally long 15 minutes, her set was done and she left the stage. Achak was, awkwardly, still cheering almost thirty seconds after she had disappeared. He wasn't the only one, and he prayed that Lola didn't do encores. Of course, if this was like most such establishments, she'd be out after a costume change to work the crowd and drum up some private dances. He hoped she didn't turn on the mojo for those or this was going to be a real problem for the meet.

He mentally checked the time. 17:58. "It's almost showtime." he said, mostly to himself, though he figured Achak's enhanced hearing would pick it out, even over the noise of the bar. As they watched the door, it occurred to Mercer that if this guy was half as paranoid as they'd been told, he'd probably been been here at least as long as they had. Had he been watching from the outside as they entered or had Mercer missed him when he'd looked over the crowd earlier? Or was the man perhaps turning over a new leaf and throwing caution to the wind? Or was he showing up at all?

The mental read out of the time flipped to 17:59.
« Last Edit: <05-26-16/0235:35> by Malevolence »
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« Reply #8 on: <05-26-16/1518:00> »
Flickr settled the strap of his duffle bag across his shoulder, eased his pistol in the holster tucked into the small of his back, and synced the time on his wristwatch.. "3, 2,1, Time. 10:40. Time to meet Seattle." He glanced over the cargo container, even though he knew he had forgotten nothing and left no trace, but the splash grenade filled with C-Squared would wipe any bio-signs he left, and the astral signature would be shot in a few hours. No trace.

Stepping into the sun, he gave himself a breath to let his eyes adjust, and looked over the port. It was horrible. A wretched mass of dirty concrete and rusting steel, with an air of smog and desolation so thick it clung to his skin. He walked straight through the stacks, the red and blue worn steel walls towering to either side, looming like testaments to the conquering titans of industry that ruled this world. The few people he saw, at a distance, were weary, trudging along the worn out paths they've been walking for years. Even the supervisors only halfheartedly flogged their men to temporarily bolster their half-hearted mediocrity. To an elf connected so deeply to the natural world, it was somewhat disturbing, in an offhand way. The wasted potential of the sea and the workers was like seeing a beautiful painting covered by an old sheet in an attic and forgotten. He waited while a truck rumbled through the gate, ducking through before it closed and walked down the road.

In the city proper, he continued to feel the slow pulse of the workers walking the familiar routes to the daily grind. It wasn't new to him that this was the way of the world, that the corporations drained the will from their workers and beat them into little more then livestock, but this corp-run life wasn't permitted in Tir Na Nog. It strengthened his respect and love for his nation. No wonder they fought the megas off.

The trip was filled with sights of AR ads flitting over his contacts, trying to convince him how badly he needed make up and surgery, or how Soy-A-Mari is the best calamari substitute available in the world at only 4 nuyen a box. He eventually switched the 'link to ignore, with some difficulty, and simply kept his eyes flitting from person to person. He saw more then one person eying him, but he soon realized it was because he was an elf. He was only two stops from getting out of the subway, and he'd only seen 4 others - a group of gangers dicing and smoking. Plenty of Orks and dwarves, but so few of the fair folk. Another detail to curl his lip. The city was everything he'd been promised, indeed.

He made it to the address, and paused at the door. Seamus hadn't let him down, but this is the best spot to clean him up, if they decided to. A bomb linked to the door, and that's the end of him as a problem, with nobody ever knowing. He sighed, realizing that if that should be the case, he had offered his life before, and that conviction stayed with him. He opened the door and walked in. There was a dossier on the desk next to his main 'link, and a locked trunk in the den, which the other key on his ring opened to reveal his body armour, his rifle, and the other myriad possessions he needed to make a living with his skills. Standing over the desk, flipped over the first page in the dossier, and his mind snapped to such a razor focus he almost lost his spell. It was him. Kreutz. Seamus had been busy, and dug up a huge amount of technical data on the vampire's activities. CRISPR genetic recoding, turning these orks into what? Better thralls? Designing his own private army? Whatever it is, his story ends a tragedy. At the bottom of file, there was a small profile on someone named "Nevermore" who could help him get started. There were plenty of risks, particularly in making contact with strangers in the underground of a foreign nation, but he was the best. If nothing else, he sure as hell wouldn't be killed. He kept murmuring to himself softly, almost missing the light chime of his 'link.

<<@Flickr [Mercer] Place called Kadie's. Little bit of country, whole lotta mosh pit. Say, 6?>>
<<Attachment: POI>>

<<@Mercer [Flickr] Done. I'll find you.>>

After that, he went over his gear, oiling the weapons, loading his spare magazines, and setting up his guns around the apartment. They'd probably be missed by a cursory search, but any professionals would get it all. He would need a bolt hole soon. He spent a good two hours fine tuning the armour from storage, getting it ready to be donned in a hurry, and syncing all the systems up with his contacts. It was definitely comforting to know he could see the majority of the open concept place at the touch of a button.

By 3, he was ready to go. As a meticulously careful operator, he planned on getting there quite early to scope the building. He grabbed a satchel that matched his earthy green coat, and took his natural gesture of calm, turning his mind's eye to the Aether, and raising a hand slowly,palm upraised, as if lifting something flat up to his shoulder. As his hand raised, so do did a flaming hound, wreathed in smoke, unfold from the ground. Flickr simply made a dismissive gesture, and the spirit disappeared into the astral. He commanded the being to follow him with some courtesy, but the firm confidence of the man in complete control. With that done, he tucked a few reagents into his satchel, eased the pistol in his holster, and left.

The trip was much the same. The nondescript mass of steel and concrete, crudely plastered with graffiti and the cheap advertisements of indiscriminate AR. He soon found his own eyes glazing a little as his cab drove through the streets. It became more and more obvious why the people here were so... lifeless. The overstimulation of the meaningless colours and constant bombardment of cliched marketing numbed even his sharply tuned mind. The road simply slipped by, and before he knew it he was pulling up to the apartment building two blocks away. He paid using his transit pass, linked to the new identity. He got out, and began a brisk, spiralling walk around the club. There were no traps he could see, physically or astrally, and security was light. The big troll out front seemed professional, patting everyone down with practiced ease, and there were a surprising number of awakened energies inside, but nothing anywhere close to powerful enough to worry him. Pulling his holster and pistol, he tucked them into his satchel and let out a whistle through the mana flowing around them, calling his spirit. "Take this, and be ready to bring it to me immediately if I call. You are to be prepared to support me if things go south, but if not you'll be free when I leave the area. Wait on the roof."

Having no weapons, he cleared security without a problem, and upon entry was immediately turned to by the attractive woman behind the bar. "Welcome to you indeed, handsome. Vino to warm you up, honey?" He smiled, but it never touched his piercing eyes, and nodded, surprised that he was seen to so quickly. She grabbed a bottle of cheap facsimile of a Tir cabernet merlot, and poured it right in front of him. He had his stick ready to pay, but she smiled, said "This one's on the house, honey" and gave him a lascivious wink. He stammered out a thank you, quite taken aback. Back home, he was on the lower scale of attractiveness, being considered rather average for an elf, though the hard edge he had was quite uncommon, and considered attractive to those with a taste for the dangerous types. Here, however, the mere fact that his ears were pointed put him in the upper end of the field. It was off-putting, to suddenly face so much attention. As he considered this, a rather pretty young brunette wearing far too little, no matter how strategically placed, sashayed over to set herself on his lap. "Hey there pretty boy, how about some company to loosen you up?"

The blood rushed to his face. Sexuality was very open and uninhibited in Tir, with women and men both being forward and unashamed of sating whatever appetites overtook them. The difference was, of course, that money never came into it. The concept of paying to have someone pretend to want you was abhorrent, a true crime against his morality. He stood up, brushing her off with his hands upraised but held back to avoid contact. "N-no, no thank you. I'd just like a moment, please." He snatched up his wine and fled to a side table, with clear lines of sight to everyone else and the doors, and began mentally cataloging. Three exits, one would become untenable if the troll enters, one was clearly illegally locked, but his spirit could easily have it open in a flash if he needed it, and the clouded, draped windows. He could easily get high enough to make it out there if he needed to.

The patrons were clearly those who could handle themselves. Ex-military and tough guys. They were here to blow off some steam, but nobody was going to be able to focus if trouble stirred - those types always jumped in, even for fun. A few were regulars, the easy back and forth with the staff gave that away, and they presented some added free security. Overall, an awful place for an ambush, but a hard place for anyone on the bad side of the house to get out of. Having scoped it all out tactically, he began to absorb more of the vibe of the place. The women were... Aggressively sexual. There were plenty of nude dancers and artists in Tir, and it wasn't that part of it that was so... distasteful. It was the way they cheapened it. The human form is beautiful, the lithe grace and poetic ballet of bodies gliding through the air, twisting and swaying in time with the rhythm of the music and the beating of their heart, and he appreciated the art of it more than most. This though, this wasn't art. This was a blatant attempt to sell sexuality. It was cheap, and used up, and brought no beauty. It was lust, and lust alone, and Flickr fought to keep the grimace from touching his face.

A little later, two potentials entered, matching the description of this Mercer and Achak duo, but waited. They clearly had business of their own besides, him, after all, they got here more then an hour early. So, Flickr watched under the brim of his hat, as Achak made an exchange with the nicest dancer in the place, which seemingly went well. She got up to perform, and even Flickr was impressed. She was the closest to artistic, and even wove magic into her routine. He saw through this immediately, of course, his intense counter-magical training being more than a match for basic manipulations, but the subtlety she used was perfect for a performance, insidious enough to leave impressions long after she stopped, without alienating her fans by prying into their minds. She really was quite good. The thought brought a sigh to his mouth, as with some proper training and a shift in perspective, she could even compete with the proper dancers of home.

After watching for the first few songs, and noting the two men he was meeting were paying more attention to the dancer and the door, he watched the time tick to 17:59, and strode over, coming to a stop with one hand resting lightly on the table's edge, ready to upset it and cause a distraction should they try anything. "Evening, gentlemen. I believe we have an appointment."


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« Reply #9 on: <05-26-16/2005:17> »
Achak watches Lola's performance with an unusual detachment. His elaborate gift - thoughtful, personal, expensive - had been politely received but hadn't seemed to distinguish him in any way. But is that why we give gifts, he chides himself, so that others will like us better? Or do we do it to make them feel good, and that is its own reward? He sighs in the middle of her set, distracted.

Achak is not immune to Lola's gyrations, but his awareness of her magic does make him more conscious of what is going on. Man, what is she doing here? he wonders. Why isn't she doing this for kings (or queens) or presidents or CEOs? He reflects on what he knows of her background: blue-collar parents, daughter of a longshoreman and a maid. Dancing must have seemed easier, more profitable, and less likely to be replaced by a drone. Is she here out of habit or lack of imagination? Does she not know how much better she could be doing? Why hasn't some billionaire scooped her up already? Or a talent scout from Charisma Associates or Pathfinder Multimedia? Achak shakes his head, hopeless but unable to give up hope.

Lola's set ends and Achak applauds and cheers because it would be weird not to. He settles back down and scans the room while Mercer counts off the final minutes to 18:00.

An elf appears and says, "Evening, gentlemen. I believe we have an appointment." Achak first hears the accent. The introduction is more polite than a "hoi, chums" or "time to die, roundears!" A certain level of refinement was not a surprise from an elf, especially an Old World elf.

The man looks alarmingly thin and wiry. The armor jacket conceals some of it, but Achak immediately presumes that the elf isn't a street fighter. That's fine; Mercer and I can cover that. There is some concern that the elf might actually be a banshee, which are known to be gaunt. Achak sniffs. He detects... red wine on the man's breath. That lowered the odds of him being a banshee, although it was possible that he was devious enough to drink some wine even knowing that it would make him sick within an hour.

Achak reaches out with his magical senses. There's a spirit on the roof - Achak can't get a good read on it, but he knows it is there. The elf is also carrying a magical focus of some sort, but Achak's radar is a bit on the fritz after Lola's performance. He can't tell what kind of focus or how powerful it is, but it's a good sign that this chummer is the one they came to meet and not some audacious Laésa punk trying to score a meet with a guy in a suit.

Achak glances at Mercer and nods once, agreeing that this is the appointment they were waiting for. He decides to let Mercer take the lead, as he was the one communicating with the elf earlier.


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« Reply #10 on: <05-27-16/1932:20> »
No sooner was Mercer finished mulling over the possibility that Flickr was already in the club than a simply dressed elf sidled up to the table. "Evening, gentlemen. I believe we have an appointment." The elf was to the point, but vague, and Mercer was half tempted to reply with "Flickr, I presume," but thought better of it. Mercer matched the commcode he had used to message Flickr to a device the elf was carrying, and Achak seemed to agree that t his was the right person. Not that Mercer knew what hoodoo Achak used to come to his conclusion, and not that this elf couldn't have simply stolen the 'link from their contact. Mercer sighed and half-heartedly initiated Raven's standard, if not so secret, sign/countersign, "Is there balm in Gilead?".

The elf, for his part, took the question in stride, either unfamiliar with the works of the great poet or simply not caring at the obviousness of the routine. "Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore'," he replied, and Mercer indicated for him to take a seat. It occurred to Mercer that in the elf's rumored line of work, he probably encountered much more ridiculous "handshakes" and was professionally required to deliver them with a straight face.

Mercer takes stock of the man. He appeared healthy - good complexion, no outward signs of illness - but bordering on gaunt. He slid into the seat with near mechanical perfection, so, like so many elves, Mercer expected that he had good reflexes. He expected that the elf could handle himself in a firefight but probably wouldn't be packing any heavy equipment.

"I've been told we have a common problem. Nevermore's been a little shy on the details, though." Raven had mentioned that this related to Sunrise somehow, but had left it at that. Hopefully Flickr could fill in the blanks. Mercer was also keenly aware that this might not be the best place to discuss such particulars. Maybe they should switch to comms.

<<@Achak, Flickr [Mercer] Here's my personal link. Due to the sensitivity of our discussion, we might want to stay vague on the verbal side of things. So, you hate vamps in general, or you got a more specific enemy in mind?>>

« Last Edit: <05-28-16/0115:50> by Malevolence »
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« Reply #11 on: <05-29-16/0322:23> »
Achak sees the message comes through the image link on his contacts and does a mediocre job stifling a sigh. Comms could be hacked. Personally, Achak would feel more comfortable with an area jammer and trusting in his senses (and Flickr's) to confirm that the vicinity was clear of eavesdroppers. Plus, he couldn't get over the idea that trodes would look dumb with his suit. He wondered if he should pull out Stake's white noise generator, but dismissed it as completely redundant with the music and crowd noise of the club. Plus the random rolling sounds tended to make him motion sick - the hazards of high-pitched hearing.

The club... he thinks, suddenly reminded of the Yakuza nightclub in Redmond where he had been last weekend. His thoughts turn to the painting, and the tracker device it hid. The fact that none of them had thought to scan for bugs still stung him, so he resolved to do better. There was no guarantee that Mr. Awakened Elf here was tech savvy either; perhaps he was unwittingly carrying a bug (or even wittingly, but Achak wanted to think better of a Nevermore referral). Achak removes Stake's bug scanner from his pocket, flips the wireless on, the let it scan.

Once complete, Achak takes out his Fairlight Caliban and texts a quick message to Mercer.

<<@Mercer [Achak] Spirit on the roof and a focus of some sort on Flickr here. Safe to say he's Awakened.>>

Message complete, he scans the room to see if anyone has taken interest in the meeting while monitoring the chat stream between Mercer and Flickr via his image link.


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« Reply #12 on: <05-29-16/1413:04> »
Flickr was keenly aware of the two humans sizing him up, and didn't bother flexing or making any childish attempts to puff himself up. Let them judge him, his physique meant nothing. The chromed man gave him a line from Edgar Allan Poe - admittedly good taste, being one of the few poets of talent from this side of the world, if a little uninspired in context - and gave him the correct reply, and took a seat with them. "I've been told we have a common problem. Nevermore's been a little shy on the details, though." said Mercer, though his 'link chimed simultaneously.

<<@Achak, Flickr [Mercer] Here's my personal link. Due to the sensitivity of our discussion, we might want to stay vague on the verbal side of things. So, you hate vamps in general, or you got a more specific enemy in mind?>>

"You could say that. As I understand it, we share some interests, and I think we can help each other." He said this somewhat distractedly, since he was typing away at his link under the table. These two were cautious and leery of strangers - both traits he appreciated.

<<@Mercer, Achak [Flickr] The noise in here should cover fine. The riff-raff have been keeping to themselves.>>

Returning his attention to the matter at hand - he  often had some trouble multi-tasking when sustaining more powerful spells, particularly heightening his awareness of his surroundings - he briefly scanned around to ensure they were private enough, and he'd been here long enough to notice anyone planted to eavesdrop paying too much attention for any length of time. He didn't make the rookie mistake of leaning in or lowering his voice - looking sneaky is the worst way to sneak - but rather just spoke in a normal, low conversational tone. "You need a certain set of talents, and I'm the best. You don't need to worry about my motivations just yet. I fulfill my contracts." His musical accent added a soft, lilting tune to his voice, but did nothing to hide the hardness behind his words. "As Nevermore has told you, I can provide the full range of support you need, and more besides. My... Experiences on the job have left me with a certain set of skills that are exceptionally effective. One or a hundred makes no difference, and I should be able to keep you on your feet to boot." He left that hanging. In his experience, nothing was more attractive to illicit groups then the prospect of someone keeping them alive. Most medical professionals made a far, far better living on the other side of the law, working for the privatized hospitals then actually treated them fairly well in order to retain them.

Hopefully these men recognize the value. I need this work, and if they prove trustworthy I'll need hunters to take out Kreutz. They might not be Gal'adrian and Sean, but if they've made it long enough to have a rep, they'll be useful. Maybe they'll even know a few things. He waited for the response. He would never provide any references to his skill, since it was all classified, covert work, and doing so would put lives at risk and prove the accusation of traitor right. Incredible that my resume is worse then a stuffer shack cashier. What a world...


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« Reply #13 on: <05-30-16/0222:23> »
Riff-raff? The expression catches Achak's attention. He looks around the room, at the soused off-duty Metroplex Guardsmen; Achak can practically smell the collective blood alcohol level rising. On duty and elsewhere, the Metroplex Guardsmen were a peacekeeping force. Off-duty in Loveland, they were a hellraising force, a black eye to any State of Seattle politician and often to each other. Achak didn't necessarily disagree with the riff-raff judgement, but he still felt defensive about the men who were in the same place as he was, doing the same things he was, especially when the criticism came from the lips of a rawboned foreigner.

Still, in the interests of diplomacy, he lets the comment slide. He can't do the same for the evasive answer about motivations though.

"Every chummer has his story, and his secrets," Achak allows. "We don't need the full picture, but we do need to understand your motivations. In my experience, doing what we do, it either starts as business and becomes personal, or starts as personal and becomes business." He pauses, reflecting. Sister Rebecca would not fit neatly in that dichotomy, but she was an edge case that he could ignore for the sake of keeping his argument neat and snappy. He inhales and exhales once before adding, "Perhaps I am the former."

The elf has him thinking about Stake. Lola put Stake in his head and now Achak can't get him out. Other than being elves with accents, Flickr and Stake are not terribly alike. Stake was chromed and intensely charismatic, almost otherworldly with his elven allure coupled with his tailored pheromones that addled Achak's heighten sense of smell. Flikr, in contrast, is Awakened and no more charming than your average human, let along your average elf. Still, Stake was dead and Flickr was not, which was decidedly in the Flickr's favor.

"There is no shame in the profit," Achak says. "A man must eat, after all. But what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? In this business, we must very literally protect the latter.

"So, to revisit my colleague's question, do you hate all zekes in general or is there one Szechely in particular?"


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  • Omae
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« Reply #14 on: <05-30-16/1744:21> »
Flickr was paying close attention, and kicked himself for the riffraff remark as soon as Achak scowled. To his credit, the man covered well, and if he hadn't been beyond enhanced, he never would have noticed. As the man targeted his story, the young elf bristled. Such presumption! In the Old World, a word was the bond, and needing more than a contract was tantamount to spitting on someone's honour. His almond-shaped eyes narrowed, but he bit his tongue rather than spit and walk out or even fight him over the accusation that he was scum. The man was shaken. He was off balance dealing with such an unknown, and that's not unreasonable, and he needs a true sorcerer, which presumably means he'd lost one. Grieving, in some way or another, and across from a stranger who demands trust in ways completely foreign to the world he lived in. His eyes relaxed, and he released the breath he'd unconsciously held in preparation to storm. He is doing what he knows, and perhaps I owe a little leniency for the first team I'm to work with. I'll give them something, but I'll double it by the end...

"Very well then. My who, and the how, are stories I will not be telling. I will, however, tell you some of the why. One of them caused a situation, which harmed everything I am devoted to. He will be taken care of. In the meantime, you hunt, and you know my prey. A wolf does not do well at hunting owls." He stopped, shrugged, and returned to eye contact. "Business, until such a time as I am able to make it personal. Deeply personal. You have some skills and the funding I require, and I have skills and abilities that you need, if you plan on being successful. As I have said, you will not find better."