Once the men that were staring at her and her mark approached the bar, Platinum sighed in her head. Guess I should have known they'd be real stupid from the look of them.
As the man leaned on the bar next to her, Platinum turned away in an effort to keep her face covered. The stench still reached her though, it was enough to make her eyes water. As he touched her, it sent all kinds of creeps down her spine. They continued through her body as he traced his way down her back, the jacket not offering any protection with the pressure he was putting on her.
"Why don't you get lost, hot tits. This ain't no place for you."
For a moment, Platinum was almost thankful for the "hot tits" remark. The fact that her body still looked somewhat attractive, even in its current condition was a bit of solace after the earlier run-in with the drunk beggar. Still, the compliment came from the kind of scum who frequented the brothels on Friday nights and didn't tip, expecting a show for free. Plus he was disgusting. Great so what am I going to do about this? Let it slide like the old days? Actually take him on?
As she was debating herself, the smell of gunpowder in the air got stronger. Platinum glanced over and saw the source, the guns that the three men had decided to pull out on the gentleman with the robotic arm. This was worrisome. There were a few luxuries that Platinum's condition afforded her, but becoming bulletproof wasn't one of them. All right, OK, now what? They're all gunning for the cyborg, but what's to stop them from turning them on me for some playtime, or killing me once they find out what I am now? Where's Tiny when you need him? I gotta do something here, but if I leap at them, they'll just shoot me down. I need some kind of distraction other than the cyborg.
Platinum got her wish as one of the men took a shot from behind and was sent crashing to the ground. The other group of men that had been in the bar had apparently had enough and the leader blindsided a flunky with a sledgehammer. All I needed to get, thanks hun. As the other two turned, Platinum brought her hands out, claws as prominent as ever and jumped towards the other lackey. In a method similar to the one she used to take down some of the larger animals that served as dinner on the New Buffalo plains, she went right for the neck and dug her talons in as far as they would go in an effort to pierce the man's trachea. The sudden attack caught the man off guard, and both of them tumbled onto the floor of the bar. Once down, Platinum brought her other hand towards the vulnerable windpipe, in an effort to both finish off the man and give the others a chance to take out the ringleader.
The look of confidence from before quickly left Scorpion's face as he turned back towards Joel, who was now standing and positively towering over the rookie assassin. Scorpion didn't back down though, and moved his trembling hand, pointing the shaking gun at Joel's face.
"You think you're smart, huh?!" Scorpion spoke out, his voice was frantic and panicked. "You think these assholes will save you?! Well I've still got a gun to your face." Scorpion waved the pistol around the bar, pointing it at the carrier and the man with the sledgehammer. "NOBODY MOVE!" He shouted, "Or this fucker dies!" He pointed the gun back at Joel, who remained as stern looking as ever.
Suddenly, a shot rang out through the bar.
Scorpion fell on his back, screaming and grabbing his leg. There was a fresh, bloody hole where his kneecap used to be. Smoke came from Joel's gun, sitting at his side. He walked on over to the downed Scorpion and pressed his booted foot on the assassin's bloody knee, which caused him to scream out even louder.
"Golden rule of being a badass assassin, kid: Don't waste time talking to someone you're planning to kill." Joel stated as he let his foot off Scorpion's knee. He walked around to his head, and then brought his foot down on Scorpion's neck. "Now, who sent you!?" Joel asked.
"Andy..." Scorpion struggled to answer, "Mallone!"
Joel gave Scorpion one last look before shooting the rookie assassin in the head. "Of course he did," Joel said to himself as he stashed his pistol in the holster. He walked on over to the woman from before, now revealed to be a carrier. "Well you just got a lot more interesting," he said to her, in a tone more befitting casual conversation than the current situation.
"You got a name? Calling you 'girl' doesn't exactly roll off the tongue."
"My name... is Ilya." She said.
The only seemed to give her a shrug to the fact that she was a carrier and that was good considering the looks she gets from other not so sympathetic people. She guessed that the man might have had worked with people like her before but she didn't know in what kind of manner. For all she knew, the man could be one of the Baron's spies. She tried to shake off the paranoia but paranoia is what allowed her to survive this far.
"What's yours?" Ilya asked inquisitively although in her mind, she already began to list off all the things this kind man could be and whether or not he is lying. Sadly, reading a human being is a forte she wished she had when dealing with people. The only thing she could read successfully is if someone was being sarcastic or being contemptuous but this man seemed different.
Platinum removed her claws from the neck of the now suffocating man on the floor. His grasps to try and put some pressure on his neck were failing and the thrashing was slowing to a minimum. Satisfied, she got up and brushed the loose strands of her namesake-colored hair that had fallen into her face out of the way. I just stabbed someone to death with my hands I guess there's no need to hide for now anyway.
"Well you just got a lot more interesting."
"You want to hold that thought for the moment?" she told the cyborg as she looked over at the man still holding the sledgehammer. The rest of his drinking party were busy beating down the other flunky while he was watching the bodies on the floor. Platinum walked over to this obviously working-class joe. "I'm just going to borrow your hammer there for one second."
She grabbed the tool out of his hand and came back to the now stilled lackey. Standing over the head, she raised the hammer to about shoulder height and brought it down as hard as she could on the skull, cracking it open like a stale piece of crusty bread. As the contents started to ooze onto the floor, she shook the loose bits off the hammer and gave it back to the worker. "Thanks, hun," she said, winking at him in a recalled reflex from her old life. Obviously it did not work as well with no color behind the action.
Task done, she returned to the cyborg. "Sorry, last time I did that and didn't destroy the head, I had a zombie moose to deal with. Not fun." She went back to fixing her hair. If it was going to be uncovered, it was going to look as fine as it could. "Anyway, so now you know my condition, I've become interesting to you? You got some weird tastes there, hotshot."
"Ilya huh? A pleasure to meet you. Most people just call me merchant. That probably won't satisfy your curiosity though, will it?" Derrick said, mentally noting where they are and then figuring where his small locker was for this town. Relatively closed off from everything, because storing anything, even if it was worth very little, was a must for Derrick. Being a traveler meant you had to have spots set up to sell, not taking everything with you.
"There are a select few who would sometimes call me Derrick though. I imagine that would be more suitable for you. So, with that out of the way, what kind of trouble are you in? I figure some clothes would be worth knowing that." Derrick continued, finally making his way to the small locker he had. Approaching it, the locker was simple enough. A metal box, with a pair of locks on it. Nothing high tech or fancy, just combination locks. As he got to work, he couldn't help but chuckle. He had never sorted this locker out, so finding clothes would be a lot of hit or miss at this point.
"There are a select few who would sometimes call me Derrick though. I imagine that would be more suitable for you. So, with that out of the way, what kind of trouble are you in? I figure some clothes would be worth knowing that."
Ilya thought about what she was going to say, looking at the floor then the surrounding walls as if what she wanted to say was written there already. She pondered where exactly to start but she didn't want to prolong the silence any further. The man had risked his life to hide her and giver her clothing, the least she could do was tell the truth or at least answer the question.
"One of the guards killed my friend... he was a carrier like me..." She started. Ilya bit her lip before she continued, softening a whimper. "I followed him down here so I could... kill him but I panicked. Is that good enough?"
"Understandable." William said before turning to his group.
"I think he's had enough guys, just throw his ass out of here." He said as a few of them groaned as they wished he would have let them go on a bit longer.
"So what brings a carrier and somebody that it takes three armed men to even attempt to bring in to this bar?" He asked as he grabbed the hammer that was given back to him.
"And more importantly what makes ya so important?" He asked more to Joel.
"So what brings a carrier and somebody that it takes three armed men to even attempt to bring in to this bar?"
"Believe me hun. If I didn't have to be here, I wouldn't be," Platinum informed the hammer-wielder. "However, a few days ago, someone very near and dear to me was taken away by a bunch of assholes and I tracked their scent to outside this dust bucket until I lost it in the mix. I'm looking to find out where he is and bring him back home, or at least, to what's left of home after those dickless bastards slaughtered everyone and wrecked the place up."
She went back to the bar, to the coins that the cyborg had left on the counter and scooped them into the pocket of her jacket. Returning to her spot, she added, "Although now I guess I gotta get moving. Doubt I'm going to be too welcome here once people find out I gave some guy ten extra smoke holes." And what I wouldn't give to fill just one. Been so long since I've been able to have a smoke like a normal person...
The room was still hers, for now anyway. Hope sighed with content, but a little voice in her head was nagging at her.
So, Triumph huh? Haven't we been here before?
"Yeah, we have. What of it?" thought Hope to herself, annoyed both with the voice and with herself for even acknowledging it.
And lemme guess: after this we'll spend one night in a decent hotel, then head back out in the wilderness and live on our own again for a few months, is that right?
"Your point being?" thought Hope, squeezing out a wet rag over her head and enjoying the warm water trickling onto her face.
Oh nothing much. Just that it's the same thing we did last time we were here. And the time before that.
Hope was about to object, but the voice was not done yet.
In fact, that pattern right there is pretty much all we've been doing for the better part of a decade now. I mean, I like the great outdoors, making our own rules and eating spit-roasted rabbit as much as the next disembodied voice, but even you've got to admit it can't hurt to shake things up now and again.
"It's worked out well enough so far." thought Hope in what she knew was a futile attempt to shut up a part of her own psyche.
D'you really wanna live your life only to look back and say it was 'good enough'?
Hope had no answer to that. Finally, she replied with a question of her own.
"Well, what do you suggest?"
You're not a city person. Fine, fair enough. But you are a people person; more than you admit and more than this lifestyle allows. So maybe you should see if you can do some more with that: make some friends, go to a bar once in a while, maybe see if you can find a cute redhead to snuggle up to at night. My point is, you could stand to have some more human contact once in a while. Can we agree on that?
If this were a conversation between actual people, Hope would at this point have fallen meaningfully silent. However there's no such thing as silence inside the head of a woman neither dead nor Buddhist, so a reluctant "Yeah." swirled around her brain.
Okay then. Hop to it.
"After this bath." thought Hope sternly.
But, - began the voice, but Hope cut it off quickly.
"You won the argument, so I get to have the petty victory. Bath first, life later."
The voice did not speak again. It knew a meaningless argument when it saw one. Incidentally, shortly hereafter, as Hope was trying and struggling to wash her back, she wondered aloud if it was healthy to resolve inner conflicts this way. She supposed it wasn't, but she supposed more strongly that she didn't care.
Derrick listened, finally opening the locker and getting out the odd box of clothes that he had. It wasn't particularly...organized, but it had a reasonable amount of clothes inside. Vests, dresses, pants, shirts...of a multitude of colors, sizes, and design. He slid the box, out, looking the Ilya over a moment. A killer huh? She seemed to have a long way to go before she could do that. Especially if it was one of the guards.
"Well, Ilya, here are the clothes I promised. You might want a bath before keeping them on though. No offense meant though, if that means anything to you." Derrick said, picking out a few odd vests and the like which wouldn't be suitable for her.
"And, if you are looking to do...that kind of business, I would suggest you do it away from town. Its a lot easier for guards to accept death out there, if ya catch my meaning. Perhaps hire someone as well? Not as....clean or private, but significantly safer." Derrick said nonchalantly, as if he were discussing what fine wares he had with any other individual. "But first, some clothes and maybe a bath to put you in the right direction. Not that you need my advice, of course."
Yeah, a bath might be a good start, especially if she was looking to hide. Looking...unkept always attracts attention, even in a place like this...Shouldn't be too far out of reach for such a populated place...
"But first, some clothes and maybe a bath to put you in the right direction. Not that you need my advice, of course."
"No!" Ilya spoke out. "I... need them. You seem like you know what you're talking about. I could use a bath..."
She eyed the clothes Derrick was getting her. Ilya was sure that they were of different colors, hues, and shades but they were all different shades of grey instead. Her vision didn't allow her to see the colors that regular people would see which would explain her dirty clothes and unkempt hair. The clothes he fetched definitely looked cleaner than hers and it was some time since her last bath. Washing yourself was a luxury for those who had the water to waste it on and to Ilya, water was the last thing you wanted to waste. Very little times did Ilya have the opportunity to do so and it wasn't like the wasteland had water but much of the water out there is contaminated.
"Do you know any places nearby to, you know, wash?"
Sapphire burst out laughing. Ruby's half-hearted attempt to capture a client with a shy "Hey there"...
"You're not going to make any money like that. I'm not going to hold your hand much longer. If that's all your going to do, I hope you dance better than you talk." She waved Ruby over, letting her sit down before setting Deschamps on her lap. Her leg had gone a little numb from the weight, but it gave her the opportunity to stretch. And by stretch, she meant subtly placing her arms under her long hair, and flipping it up and over her shoulder. Her hair was long enough to catch attention, and it caught the attention of the bodyguard. Even if he had only glanced over at the movement, it was enough for Sapphire to send a smirk and a wink. He might have turned away, but she knew he had already noticed them. He might have ignored her, but she knew he could feel her amethyst eyes undressing him with no hint of shame.
"What's your name, hot shot?" she cooed, sliding into one of the seats at the bar next to where he was standing. Whether out of being professional and playing nice with his employer's toys or out of interest, he ran a hand through his brown hair before replying with a short "Eli."
"Eli, hum? E-li~
I like the way that rolls off the tongue." she smirked, leaning forward and brushing a finger against his chest. He flinched back, making her fairly sure he either had a lover he was faithful to, or that he was insecure. Since he was a good-looking, muscled bodyguard, she assumed the first. But that made it that much more of a challenge. "You need to loosen up... Let me buy you a drink."
"I'm on the-"
"Job? So am I. It's just one drink. A big guy like you'll be fine."
She waved to the bartender. "Two Vodka Martinis, please?"
With alcohol in the mix, it didn't take long to have Eli sitting next to Sapphire, whatever sweetheart he had at home momentarily forgotten in favor of the beauty in front of him. Still, Sapphire had no intention of sleeping with him. Unless there were obscene amounts of money involved, her legs stayed closed. Flirting with Eli was just fun and games to the ebony-haired woman.
"Do you know any places nearby to, you know, wash?"
Derrick paused for a moment, giving her a small look before shrugging it off to being unfamiliar with the city after tossing a few things back into the locker so as to be done with the experience. Since she hadn't taken the time to grab....anything, apparently wracked with indecision or something, he grabbed some simple shirts and blue jeans that looked....relatively close to what was needed. With a small shrug, he decided that he might as well give her one more bit of help, even if it was a little bit...expensive. Of course, at this point he could consider it an investment at this point.
"Well, there is a public bath nearby, and I think that they will take...your condition into effect. Shouldn't cost much of anything if experience is any indicator. Do these clothes work? Because frankly I think that is the safest place for you right now. Especially if you are planning on taking my advice." Derrick said the last part wryly, not sure if he had picked up a student of his own, or had taken an act of charity way too far for his own good.
"So, if you want, you can change now if you are worried about being found, or we can have ya change after getting a bit cleaned up at the baths." Derrick said, trying to roll over what he is going to do with this...individual. "You know, I can't even pinpoint what you are up to at this point, but I figure I might as well help you look a little better. Perhaps some wares to sell or something if ya plan on...surviving."
Well, if I'm going to be doing something, I might as well put her on track for SOMETHING to be handy for in the future. Maybe she'll get good at it, or something...
Sonia watched as Cybille struck up a conversation with Deschamps' bodyguard... she made it look so easy. Just a flip of the hair, a wink and a smile had been enough to pique his interest. It was almost unfair, comparing Sonia's attempt to Cybille's. She supposed that was why she was still at the bottom of the metaphorical ladder: the cheapest girl on the Sparrow's list. She was still quite inexperienced.
The younger girl glanced down at their client, who was still asleep with his head in her lap. She felt rather uncomfortable in such close proximity to Deschamps. Clearly Sapphire didn't mind being in such a situation, based on Sonia's memory of the journey to Triumph. Sonia, however, wasn't entirely okay with being hired by an older client; she preferred to work with people around her own age. She wondered whether she should have reconsidered the offer... there was no point in thinking over that now, though, she reasoned, since she was here and wasn't about to up and walk out. That would be stupid.
So Sonia turned her thoughts to other matters at hand. "You're not going to make any money like that. I'm not going to hold your hand much longer. If that's all you're going to do, I hope you dance better than you talk." Cybille's comment ran through her head, as she began thinking over what it meant. Was it that she needed to practice talking to people more? Or that she needed to let go a little, and just enjoy it?
Maybe it was both. Whichever it was, Sonia made a mental note to try to talk to Cybille about it when the two of them had some spare time.
Ilya took the clothes and tried once more to try and understand the colors. They didn't stand out like some of the other hues but it wasn't as dark as she wanted. They merely looked simple and at this point, she had to trust what Derrick was giving her.
"So, if you want, you can change now if you are worried about being found, or we can have ya change after getting a bit cleaned up at the baths. You know, I can't even pinpoint what you are up to at this point, but I figure I might as well help you look a little better. Perhaps some wares to sell or something if ya plan on...surviving."
"I...I've survived fine in the wasteland. Not here..." Ilya left Derrick's presence for a tad bit, finding an isolated place to change. It took her a few moments but soon she walked back holding her old clothes in her hands with the new ones stinking of dust which was preferable compared to most odors. She felt like she shed pounds off her skin. Ilya dropped her old clothes in Derrick's locker. Right after that she crossed her arms, trying to conceal as much of her infected flesh as possible but it was fruitless. Since she was going to the baths, the least she could do was feel comfortable in it but there was a reason why she wore so much clothes. Ilya held her odd-colored skin next to Derrick's trying to see the difference which was not so subtle.
"All the scrap metal I scavenge I already sold but I know where to get more even other things too like rubber tires, glass, and even bullets."
Derrick patiently leaned back against a wall while Ilya went to change, and seeing her come out he nodded, She looked...less like she had just been dragged from the dirt, at least. Though for some reason she seemed to keep looking at them, like there was something hidden about them. Though, when she stood next to him looking back and forth between them he got the feeling that she didn't exact...interact with many people. Understandable, though it was somewhat odd with his previous experiences having him work with weathered hunters and trackers, and not...well, someone who seemed so curious about things that he had offered.
"If ya want something larger, I could get ya a coat or something. help cover ya up a bit more...." Reaching in, he grabbed a longer coat. It wasn't exactly the thickest of coats, and it was just a plain black, but it was large enough to probably cover her up, which seemed to be of some concern to her.
"There, that should work out just fine. Guess we can get right on going then..." Derrick said, as they got to moving and he quickly realized that they were not all that far from the baths. "So, you scavenge then? An alright way to survive, I guess. But I must ask ya, is there something wrong with he clothes? You keep looking at them oddly...And metals and stuff is handy stuff, so I bet you are doing just fine like that then. Though, what are you going to be doing around here then? Can't just...do whatever ya want in the city. They have all these guards for that particular reason."
Derrick looked at the pair who seemed to be watching the entrance to the baths, obviously a business style pair, and they both looked him over quickly. Obvious that they were also not happy to be on this kind of duty, but were doing their work all the same. Though, he figured he would stop a bit further away before speaking with them, to see if Ilya had anything to say about this particular...experience.
"Speaking of which...ya know what to do here? Cause to be frank I would hate to spend this kinda cash and then you wander in there and wander out." Derrick said, quickly counting how much it would cost. The amount was...acceptable. In this kind of populated town, it wouldn't be as much as the higher style baths in other cities. The perfect place for this kind of goodwill, really. Perhaps that would explain his more giving mood, with everything around here being much more acceptable for anything in his budget.
"I can only see a few things that I'm sure of like metals, dirt, cloth, rocks, rubbers, people and the infected... not colors." She said as the two of them passed into the bath house. Ilya's nostrils soon began to fill with the smell of cleaning products, steam, and safe water. The place looked clean enough and it had to be of course given its business. People began to give her looks but it was a fact of life now and if they didn't look and gossip then Ilya would have something more to worry about. It was impossible not to hear their whispers with the hearing she was given but it took her years to learn how to ignore them but then the reflective tiles at her feet brought her back. It was hazy but it was short and sweet.
It was her mother, taller than the a tree, walking her inside the bathhouse back in the Kingdom. It was the last time they ever stepped foot in one but it was Ilya's first time in one. It smelt like velvet and freshly cleaned blankets and looked like a maintained church with the tiles that made her slip. Her mother always caught her even when she jumped in the bath. This was when the colors were still there and everything looked like what they were supposed to look like.
"I.. I know what to do. Thank you, once again." She was led into the locker area where she once again shed her clothes. She put them in the locker and wrapped herself in the towel they provided. These ones smelled like the fruit at a rare fruit seller's stands. Ilya made her way to the back where the baths were. They all looked occupied and even if they weren't the people there made it so it was for the likes of her. She resorted to making her way to one of the ones that was closed by a curtain. Ilya could see a lone, uninfected figure through the curtain either in a unshakable meditation or calmly dozing.
Ilya carefully moved her body into the closed bath, preferring to keep the curtain closed so that it would shield her from the looks so far. Making her way into the bath was when Ilya could see the woman closely. She could tell she was a hardened woman the wasteland spit out. The scars on her made her wonder how she could have survived them, her hair was black like hers, and she saw something shimmering beneath the water. The shimmering was where she expected to see legs and it just happened upon Ilya that the woman was a cyborg. She didn't stare at her woman's legs but merely wondered how it happened to her because cyborgs were the last people you wanted to stare at anyway.
The warm and clean water made her shiver from the temperature. She wasn't used to its temperature as the water she always encountered in the wasteland was always hotter than it looked. This water was nice and serene much like the woman in front of her. Ilya made somewhat of a small splash when she fully entered the water but it still didn't wake up the woman which surprised her. With the bar of soap provided, she scrubbed all she could off her body and she saw the grime leave her own and into the water. The last part was her hair and it was difficult to clean considering its length when wet. Her hair was down to her back but she brought it forward to scrub until she could scrub no more. Ilya recalled how some women flipped their hair with a jolt of their neck to get some of the suds off. Ilya tilted her head downwards and brought it up in a quick motion, inadvertently splashing the woman and the other side of the room with water. Ilya gasped as the woman awoke.
"I'm so sorry. Please I really am." Ilya squeaked.
Hope had dozed off in the pleasant warmth, her legs in the water from the knees down, but when Ilya entered the room she had vaguely been aware of someone coming in. She didn't really mind. These rooms weren't private, after all. Even the faint splash of whoever it was going into the water didn't much bother her.
The significantly less faint splash that she subsequently got in the face did bother her.
Just a bit.
Looking over to what she expected to be a rambunctious pre-teen brat, she was somewhat surprised to find a young woman seeming to be about in her early twenties and looking rather frightened. About half a second later Hope also saw she was a carrier.
Hope had seen enough of the world to see her fair share of carriers, but she could honestly say this was the first time she'd seen one naked. She made a mental note that Four Finger Freddie in Orjova owed her 10 bucks (they did not have spiders where their bellybuttons ought to be), took a deep breath and calmed down. The initial irritation from getting splashed had been shrunken by the sight of a naked carrier and now she was more curious than anything else. The girl did seem awfully nervous, though.
"Try to keep your voice down." Hope said, lowering her arms in a calming gesture.
"If we make too much racket we'll get thrown out."
"What's your name?" she asked, casually wiping some of the suds off her cheek.
"My name is Ilya. I'm sorry for waking you up. I promise I'll be quick." Ilya scrubbed faster, trying not to look at the woman's cybernetic parts let alone her face. The calm was gone and a slight panic mixed with embarrassment. She thought she could get away with washing her body without the woman seeing her for her. She was never naked in front of anyone recently let alone another woman. If she could blush then she would be bright red.
"And more importantly what makes ya so important?"
"It's only one idiot who thinks I'm important," Joel explained, "Andy Mallone. Bastard hires me to kill his brother so he can take his place among the nobility." He looked down towards the newly dead Scorpion, "Now it looks like he's trying to have me killed to cover his tracks... Smart move; not smart enough to use an intermediary to hire his mercs for him though."
He walked over to the bar alongside the carrier woman. As she grabbed his coins, he reached for the bottle of booze, and swigged down the last of it in one gulp. "I'll have to pay him a visit at some point." He spoke out loud, though his tone of voice indicated it was more of a mental note for himself rather than a declaration. Joel placed the empty bottle back on the bar and walked over to the other two.
"Although now I guess I gotta get moving. Doubt I'm going to be too welcome here once people find out I gave some guy ten extra smoke holes."
"That's probably for the best," Joel said to the woman, "I should get going too." As he began to leave the bar, a sudden beeping could be heard.
beep, beep, beep.
William knew beeping meant one of two things, either it was an explosive or somebody had a communications device. He waved to his group and they got behind the bar just to be safe. In their line of work it wasn't uncommon for a beeping to mean all hell was about to break loose and so they would know to take cover.
"I hope that's not what I think it is. But if it is I suggest taking cover." He said loud enough for the room to hear as he moved rather quickly.
The beeping sounded like it was coming from Scorpion's body.
beep, beep, beep.
A faint blue glow could be seen coming from under his shirt, flashing in time with the beeping.
beep, beep, beep.
Platinum was a little hesitant to head right out with the other men, there were enough of them there to permanently take her out if they so desired, but the noise. That noise was driving her crazy, and it was coming from the guy who's head the cyborg turned into a candle holder. She crept up close, noticing the blue light blinking underneath his clothes. Oh no. What is this now?
She tentatively lifted up the man's shirt, hoping against hope to merely find a maze of shitty tattoos, but instead the logical explanation turned out to be the correct one. There was a reason that such a shitty mercenary would be dispatched to try and take down another dangerous man. They wouldn't be missed when the failsafe suicide vest went off. One with beeping that was starting to pick up the pace.
Fuck! Platinum took the little time she presumed she had to starting running for the exit. She shouted at the other men, "You boys might want to get the fuck out of here!" as she slid by towards the door.
William and the others made way to get out of the building as well, not being too far behind Platinum after the saw the vest and instinct told them the bar wouldn't be enough.
"Yea don't need to tell us all twice." William said as he ran.
The carrier and the group of workers ran out the bar, Joel took a last look at the flashing device before he followed suit.
Exiting the bar and stepping out into the streets, Joel and the others were greeted by a group of around twelve armed men, a few of whom were city guards, pointing rifles in the direction of the bar's entrance. "Well, shit," Joel cursed his luck.
A figure in an opaque black mask stepped out in front of the group. He was dressed in an elaborately decorated overcoat bearing Ritheen's colors, something only granted to important people in Rithinian society, or to those who can steal them from said important people. It was difficult to tell due to most of his body being covered, but the metallic hand coming from the right sleeve marked this man as a cyborg.
"Perhaps you would've been better off staying in the bar," the man spoke in a noticeably thick french accent, warped by the helmet he was wearing. "Did you really think that Mallone would only send Larry Prince and his goons? No, he was an idiot, we sent him in knowing full well that he was going to die, and according to his vital readings, he did." The man said, while beginning to pace back and forth, clearly not considering any of the people before him a threat, "I'm surprised that none of you were able to tell the difference between a bomb and a monitoring implant." He stopped in his tracks and looked over the crew who emerged from the bar, "And what have here: A bunch of working class sludge, and... one of those infected creatures. Well well, it would appear fortune smiles on us today boys," he said while glancing back at his men.
"Come on, you damn thing." Deckard slapped the side of his computer - lightly, though, it was a delicate machine. He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his face, noting to his displeasure the scratchy growth on his cheeks. Five days he'd been working on cracking this code. Five days of minimal sleep and shitty takeout. His apartment smelled horrendous, primarily because he hadn't been showering for these five days. Every time he tried it, his algorithms and programs came up empty.
The computer beeped. He jolted upright as the scrambled text was translated into English. This had been the strongest encryption he had ever seen, stronger than anything he had ever dealt with. The text came up.
"Drink your Ovaltine."
"...What!? What the fuck does that even mean!?" Buried in some corner of a city database had been -this-!? Deckard had already checked and tripled checked for any signs of tracers or viruses or some other trap. So what was this, someone's warped idea of a joke? "God dammit!"
Five days wasted, all because he was certain that nothing with this tight of security could be anything but valuable. Five valuable days, and now he was going to have to go buy scented candles and scrub his body with steel wool to get the stench out of his home and off his body. And that didn't even factor in the slick feeling of grease and MSG coating his mouth and guts. He stared at the empty paper noodles packet like it was personally responsible for all of this.
He padded to the bathroom, stripped off his reeking clothes - noting that burning them would probably be the best approach to take - and stepped into the shower, letting the hot water beat down on his body. If he wasn't so angry he probably would have fallen asleep in there. As it was, he just stood there and fumed, barely resisting the urge to beat his hands bloody against the dented and scratched tile wall.
He groaned and slumped against the wall as he finished scrubbing himself clean of the layers of sweat and dust that had cocooned his body for the last several days.
Deckard really needed to pay better attention to his instincts.
As he got dressed, he made up his mind. Get out of the apartment. Get a drink, maybe find a girl. Just calm down before you get back to work. He noted in the back of his mind a bar fairly close by, GunShotz. While a part of Deckard found the name rather offensive, it was at least a place where he wasn't known, and the last thing he wanted was to be recognized right now.
Not that -that- was a concern, he noted as he looked in the mirror. Deckard looked like hell, deep bags under his eyes and a layer of scruff on his face that really did not suit him very well. He shrugged and got dressed - even at his best he wasn't going to win any beauty contests - and headed out the door, making sure to lock it behind him and sliding his gloves into his pockets as he walked.
About ten minutes later he turned a corner, seeing GunShotz ahead, with a bit of a gathering forming around it. Something was going on. And whatever it was, it was nothing good - it never was in this city. He slid his gloves on surreptitiously and stepped in closer to listen to whatever the hell was going on.
After Derrick had watched Ilya go in, and he had paid a reasonable amount for the opportunity, he found himself leaning back against the wall with the guards, simply watching individuals go by and enjoying the day as it passed by. While there was the odd off chance that something was going to happen, he imagined there would be nothing other than awkward stares and some annoyance from the other patrons shown to her. She would be fine.
With his business largely done, and not thinking of doing much other than to see how Ilya actually looked when she wasn't covered in the outside world and all the dirt to roll in, Derrick decided to chat idly with the guards, or random passerby, or even offering small wares or trinkets that he still had on himself. While it was mostly a waste of time and there was little going on, there did seem to be some kind of commotion going on somewhere else as the crowds seemed to shift about in a different direction, with some heading towards and others seeming to be more pushed to run away. However, Derrick was under no pressure to head towards the danger unless it was in the more...prominent parts of the city, if only because he might actually get something, and that there might actually be people he wanted safe around there.
"So, she yours? Good for hunting down trinkets and things like that?" One of the guards asked him, trying to pass the time as well.
"Hm? Oh, its more of a business arrangement. She finds me things like these trinkets and things, and I treat her out to things like this. Works out in my favor, I would think." Derrick replied, deciding to play along for now.
Sapphire giggled softly as Eli whispered in her ear. His breath on her neck made her shiver. She sipped a little more of her drink, keeping an eye on Ruby and Deschamps. He would wake up soon, she imagined, so she had to be careful. "Come on, Eli, we're both working right now, remember?~" she cooed, putting her hand on his leg.
Poor sap probably had a heart of gold. He also had pockets with gold, though, and that was more important. Sapphire draped her legs over his lap to hide the fact that she was rummaging through his pockets, leaning forward to give him a small kiss.
"Sorry, Eli, I gotta get back. But..." she pulled his collar. "If you want to visit me later..." she licked her lips, briefly brushing her fingers down his stomach and pulling his belt.
She winked and went back over to Ruby, sitting down beside her just as their benefactor woke up. "Good Afternoon, mi'lord." Sapphire smiled, nudging Ruby to do the same. He got up and checked the time, straightening his suit.
"Come, we will head to the Behari estate. We're a little early, but that gives us time to enjoy ourselves!" he laughed loudly, slapping a hand on her ass.
The Behari estate was one of the larger, richer chunks of Triumph. It was owned by Lord Gadin Behari, a rich businessman who funded a lot of the current governor's term. He made his money off the arena in Bludstadt, buying, training, and selling super-star gladiators and the occasional infected opponents. Sapphire had seen a few of his choice pieces, like an infected bear that tore through a whole army of peasants that sold their lives for pennies. No doubt there'd be some of that fun at the party.
The mansion itself was sizable, made of pink stone, with several pointed domes and thick columns. It looked very open and airy. From where they were, anyways. Why can't this stupid city have a tram system put in? There must be a million people here. Money had bought them a small drawn carriage, and even if it gave her a little distance from all the common people, she was still uncomfortable. She couldn't help it if they were dirty and disgusting. It was her business to not be that.
Finally they got inside the walls of the noble's properties. The crowds had disappeared, and there was green grass. Now they walked on foot, but she didn't mind. There were beautiful flowers and statues. It was all very calming. The dirt road slowly gave way to a stone path, which led to a sunken garden in the shape of a flower. Flowers within a flower. She picked one as they walked by, a sprig of purple morning glory, and started braiding it loosely in her hair. "In the language of flowers, the morning glory represents a vain love." she said to no one in particular. "They're an invasive species, very damaging to crops if you're not careful. But they grow everywhere. Even in the middle of the cities."
As Platinum went to make her dash for the exit, her mental plans to leap from the doorway in preparation for an explosion were rendered moot by the presence of a rather sizeable posse outside the bar. For fuck's sake, really? They looked official, similar to the guards who used to patrol Baronstadt, but with different colors. It appeared that Triumph was just as corrupt as Baronstadt was. The obvious leader stepped forward, looking like quite the ponce.
"Perhaps you would've been better off staying in the bar." Oh and he's French too? Lovely. Couldn't have guessed that one. His constant pacing confirmed that this was a man who loved to talk simply for the sake of talking.
"I'm surprised that none of you were able to tell the difference between a bomb and a monitoring implant."
That was a shot, one Platinum was ashamed to have to take. She didn't study the device thoroughly before making her decision to flee, but in those kind of situations, with a dead man and a blinking thing strapped to him, it was better to be safe than sorry. Didn't make her feel any less stupid however.
"And what have here: A bunch of working class sludge, and... one of those infected creatures. Well well, it would appear fortune smiles on us today boys."
That feeling of shame was quickly replaced with one of anger. How dare this bastard insinuate such a notion! That she was somehow beneath a human being! He didn't have the right to say such a thing! That smug prick. Who cares was he says!? Oh right the guns... well fuck them! I'm not getting brought in for a dog and pony show just to be sold off like some slave. I'd rather die!
"Hey, frog-fucker," she said. "Why don't you take that oversized lunchbox off your ugly face, stop relying on your whipped little lackeys and come a little closer. Find out how lucky you really are."
"I have to agree with the woman. Easy to be a tough guy when you got a bunch of guys with guns behind ya. Also I'm not much a fan of the fact you seem to be in love with your own voice." William said with hammer in hand. He felt like an idiot for not recognizing the object with his background but then again he wasn't much in the business of strapping explosives to his chest or making bomb vests. Also in this town you couldn't be too careful.
"I mean you wanna stand there talking about how you are gonna kill him, fine whatever. Mustache twirling evil and all. But can you spare the rest of us here that and just skip to the part where you try to prove how great you are by either actually fighting yourself or sending out your burliest motherfucker back there to do it?"
The man brought his hand up to his mask in a pensive gesture, even without being able to read his face, it was clear this act was just for show, and not at all sincere.
"I think not," he responded, "call it cowardice, or lack of honor, or whatever you like, I call it pragmatism. After all..."
While the masked frenchman was pacing once more, distracted by his own speech, Joel quietly spoke to the man with the sledgehammer, "Hey, Hammer-Guy. You're construction, right? I don't suppose any of your guys happen to have some explosives on hand."
The masked man stood in place once again and sighed, "But, such is life. Men!" On his word, his troops raised their guns towards the group at the bar, "Kill the cyborg and anyone standing in front of him, but bring me the monster... alive if you can; there are certain people who will pay very handsomely for her."
As they were all about to face the firing squad, Joel quickly spoke to the construction worker once more, "If you do, now's the time."
Sonia followed Sapphire's lead up until the carriage ride. During the trip through Triumph's streets, she caught sight of the crowds of, well... commoners, was the simplest way to put it. I used to be like them... my situation was a bit worse, though. Bludstadt cared little for an orphan girl sleeping on street corners and back alleys, with nothing but a knife and the clothes on her back. Cybille changed that for me: gave me a home, food, friends, a paying job. Even if it's not as much as the other girls earn.
She was brought out of her reverie by the feeling of a man's fingers on her leg. Sonia giggled and playfully tapped Deschamps' wrist with one hand, sliding the other about his waist and settling closer to her client for the duration of the trip. "Just a little bit longer," she whispered into his ear, hopefully the same way she had seen Sapphire do it. She tried not to betray the fact that she felt a little uncomfortable with being in such close proximity to the older man... then reminded herself that the three of them would most likely be getting a lot more intimate later on. It was part of the job. So Sonia just grinned and bore it, for the moment.
Deschamps had one arm around her shoulders as they exited their carriage. Sapphire's commentary on the flower she had picked was almost entirely lost on Sonia: she didn't quite understand whether the older girl was trying to send a message or something. It was her choice of words that made Sonia think about it: "They're an invasive species, very damaging to crops if you're not careful. But they grow everywhere."
The rest of his group heard what he said and checked themselves subtly, as did he himself. All of his group had taken theirs off, but William found he had brought one on accident.
'Well thank god I'm not good at making sure I took everything off myself.' He held the explosive behind him and got his detonator out.
"I suggest hiding." He said low enough only the group would hear him before throwing it forward aiming for the middle of the group.
"I do know what an explosive looks like." He said as he pushed the detonator, he and his group started running down a back alley.
"Follow me. I know how to get us out of here!" They would run down a few alleys then there should be some way for them to get underground and move under any perimeter they created.
Most of the mercs, including their leader, got knocked down by the force of the blast. The masked man tried to pick himself up as quickly as he could, a large crack had appeared in his black face plate. "KILL THEM; KILL THEM ALL!" He shouted, as the mercs began to collect themselves and started firing in the direction of the group.
"BRING ME JOEL'S BODY, AND THE CARRIER BITCH... WE CAN STILL CLAIM A BOUNTY FOR HER HEAD!"
The now disheveled and dust covered mercs began pursuing their targets, firing on them as they ran. Joel took up the rear of the group, and with a quick gesture from his cybernetic arm, two metal plates retracted outward from the forearm. Joel raised up his shield as bullets could be heard plinking off of it.
The merc leader stayed behind, still brushing off the soot from his coat. The face plate on his mask retracted upward, around the back of his head. He surveyed the situation with his own eyes, looking down at the two dead men who took the brunt of the blast. With nothing more than a quick second of contemplation he spat on the ground in a show of contempt, and then took off in another direction, leaving his men to fend for themselves.
So much for my drink. He ducked behind cover as the bomb went off. "Jesus Fuck!" With that, he scrambled out of the dumpster he had covered behind and took a turn down an alleyway. These lunatics generally had a MO of leave no witnesses, so it'd be best to clear the hell out of here as fast as possible. Up ahead he saw the group that had been getting attacked by the thugs heading along another alley, heading perpendicular to him. Gunfire was coming from down the same path they had come from.
"Okay, not going that way." He turned around, only to see a pair of the goons had circled around to try and cut them off. And now they were raising their guns, presumably thinking he was one of the runaways. He bolted, scrambling around the corner behind the fleeing group. Oh shit oh shit oh shit I am so fucked.