"Him, and you two? I didn't take you for that kind of man... but we are gainfully employed, and if our employer does not approve of a little menage a quatre then I'm afraid we cant help you. Not right now anyways." she grinned, leaning over the arm of the couch and hooking a finger on his belt. "Maybe later?" she tugged.
There were a variety of things that ran through Sapphire's mind as she stared at this stranger. First of all, why did he choose to approach them now? He had likely been there for the past hour, and only now interrupted Deschamps. Second, why Deschamps? It was safe to assume that he knew that the three of them were together. Why them? If there was something wrong, he clearly was not that concerned about Deschamps. She glanced back at Ruby. The man had been stealing glances at her for the past hour. Maybe flat chested teenagers were his thing. Still, "I need to get him and you two out of here now" wasn't the pick up line of the century.
She looked around. Nothing suspicious about the party so far. No one else seemed to be panicked, or in a hurry to leave. She looked at the man again, this time going over with a fine toothed comb. Anything out of the ordinary, anything that would lend a bit of credence to his warning. She wasn't naive enough to think that nothing would ever go wrong at these kinds of parties, but running at every hint of trouble wouldn't be good for business.
The subtle hints of frustration creeped onto the young man's face. The clock in his mind was rapidly ticking down; he was quickly running out of subtle ways of trying to get his point across, and the patience to keep at it. "Damn it!" he thought to himself before approaching the woman again. "You're not getting it," he said to her in a more direct tone of voice, "I'm not interested in hiring you. The guards were tipped off about that little display in the pit back there. They're on their way right now to shut this party down. You need to get clear from here before that happens."
"Well I don't particularly care if my company is a bit unconventional Alli. So long as we don't start swappin' body fluids I don't see why I should treat her any different than anybody else in this city. We're all in it together aren't we?"
"Damn right!" Allison proclaimed as she raised her beer before taking those last few gulps.
Simms was keeping track of his men's movements. The squads he had called in to handle the Behari party were quickly converging on their location. He received word from B5, investigating the attack at GunShotz, "Sir," a voice cracked over his comm system.
"Yes?" the captain replied.
"We're continuing our search around the bar, but we found the bodies of two of our boys, Norris and Lasky. Looks like they were taken out some sort of industrial grade explosive."
There was silence as the captain glared at his screen for a few seconds. "Keep searching the area," he finally broke the silence, "I want these murderers found by the end of the day, do you hear me!?"
"Yes sir," the guard automatically replied.
Simms turned around in his chair and looked out towards his view of the cityscape again. Things appeared to be falling to hell today in such a short amount of time. He half expected a full scale riot to break out at this rate.
"Fine..." Sapphire sighed with boredom, releasing the man and sitting up. "You've piqued my interest. But I have a single question that you can answer in one breath. Why are you telling us this?" She motioned for Ruby to stand up, but remained seated. He looked at her again. And that's when Sapphire saw it. Under his dark hair, wedged in his ear, was what she assumed was a communication device. He was too young to be wearing a hearing aid, and it wasn't an earplug. Satisfied, Sapphire stood up, flipping her hair back.
"And you really should reconsider, love" she winked, leaning forward to put her arms around his neck. "We could have an amazing night."
As she watched the conversation, Sonia affixed the stranger with a look that was a mix of curiosity and confusion. Who was this man? How did he know about the things he was saying? And why was he looking at her so much, even when he was talking to Sapphire? She didn't understand. Was he speaking the truth, and trying to get the girls out of the building before guards stormed the place? Or was it some sort of scam to have them both to himself?
Sonia remained silent even when instructed to stand, occasionally shifting her weight or trailing a finger through a stray lock of hair. She let Sapphire do the talking - and the flirting - while she began a close examination of the stranger. He came very close to fitting in with the rest of the nobles hanging around. But she picked out a few details that set him apart. For one thing, there was almost no sign of ostentation about his person. No fancy jewelry, no bloated coin purse hanging from his belt.
No, this individual was up to something. Sonia was half-guessing and making up for the other half with her observations.
"My apologies, I'm William. My friends call me Will. Guess I got to caught up in running and getting you settled in."
"Hey, it happens hun. Getting names hasn't been a part of my daily interactions since long before I acquired this lovely permanent paint job, so I wasn't expecting it to be offered to me. I was just busting your chops a bit. But thanks. You can call me Platinum."
Seeing who she assumed was Allison enthusiastically downing the rest of her beer made Platinum curse draining hers so quickly. "So what do you guys do? Just try and take down the system wherever you can? Because I can get behind that. As long as kick up enough fuss that it gets me out of here and towards the man I'm trying to find, then I'm all for you guys."
"And you really should reconsider, love. We could have an amazing night."
"Well, if we don't get moving shortly, we're gonna have one anyway in a couple of minutes," Saber replied in a sardonic tone. He looked around near the back of the mansion, and back to the entrance, where the guards were likely to swarm in. He quickly sighed and said to the woman, "I can't tell you everything, but I'm working with some... important people, and they might have an interest in your friend over there," he gestured to the younger girl. "She's the reason I'm here; I only went through the old man because I thought it would be easier and that I wouldn't have to explain all of this... but it wasn't, and I do, and time is very quickly wasting; and unless you fancy getting worked over by about two dozen guards, I suggest we leave, now! I'll explain more later."
"As long as kick up enough fuss that it gets me out of here and towards the man I'm trying to find, then I'm all for you guys."
"I can put in a good word with the big guy for ya," Allison said while leaning back in the couch, trying to get comfortable.
"We'll see," Redding was quick to correct her, "We can't promise anything."
Sapphire huffed, taking Ruby's glass and her own, and throwing what remained at the man's suit. "Unless you have $2,500, My lovely associate is uninterested in your company." She set the long stemmed glasses down on the end table, motioning for Ruby to follow. This wasn't her first time at the Behari mansion, and she was familiar with all the exits. She very gracefully flipped the asshole off as they walked away.
When they were out of earshot, Sapphire crossed her arms, glaring at Ruby. They were making their way out through the servants' area, a cool and damp hallway with natural lighting. "So, Miss Sonia, seems like you're the belle of the ball today." she hissed, venom in every word. While Ruby was Sapphire's understudy, that only rarely saved the young girl from her tantrums.
"Why'd you bring Debbie Downer again Allie? If the children can't find some work to put ya to, I sure as heck can Platinum. And I can promise that, regardless of what captain suit over there may say." William replied, almost wanting Redding to try and argue with him. Who he brought with him on his assignments was his business, not the children's.
"So who is it you want anyway? Must be rather important."
Sonia flinched at Sapphire's words. She'd been on the receiving end of one of her angry moments before. Thankfully, it had only been once, but once had been more than enough. She had enough scars already. Sapphire had taken a rather... harsh approach to the situation once the stranger had explained himself a bit. And when both glasses had been snatched up, Sonia had braced herself for the inevitable storm that would be directed her way.
"Miss Sapphire, I... I don't know what that man wanted with me," she began, eyes cast down to the floor. "If he wanted to hire me, he would have said so. Maybe he has some other purpose in mind. Like he said. Something about working with important people... I don't understand why he wanted me and not you."
Sapphire put a hand on Ruby's shoulder, pushing her against the wall and stopping them for the moment. Her fiery eyes looked the girl up and down, searching for hints of a suddenly blossomed bosom, or curved hips: something she might have missed or overlooked. But all she saw was Ruby. A young neophyte with nothing outstanding either way.
"It's fine. We likely won't be seeing him again. Ans if you do see him, I hope I've taught you enough to not run off with strangers, right?" she smiled, grabbing a part of Ruby's dyed locks.
A movement in the corner of her eye, outside the window, drew her attention. Guards. 10 or 20 of them. Fully armed, and entering the front gates. "We need to go." She grabbed Ruby's wrist, maybe a little rougher than she meant, and took off down the hall. He was telling the truth... who was he? A guard? Why Ruby? Why Ruby? Their shoes slapped against the stone floor, ballet flats long replaced the unconventional high heels they originally sported.
Sapphire and Ruby finally burst out of the back door. "Hurry up Ruby!" She didn't have to tell the former thief twice. They were on the streets of Triumph at last, Sapphire's least favorite city, by the way, and they were dressed like eye candy. "Ruby, how much money did you get back there?" Sapphire pulled out a small wad of bills. "All of the stuff we brought is in that mansion. We need to get a change of clothes, at the very least cloaks." She felt for the handle of her dagger on the inside of her thigh. Hopefully, since it was daylight, no one would think about assaulting them. Hopefully.
"Unless you have another idea, I think those are our only options..."
Ilya thought for a few seconds before she looked up with a decision. "I'll look for your friends. I don't like staying in one place for too long."
Once again, Ilya's nomadic instincts kicked in. Out in the wasteland, she never extended her stay in a certain place or else it might attract the attention of the infected and the uninfected. Resources was another thing but attention was far more discouraging to when it comes to picking a place.
"So who is it you want anyway? Must be rather important."
Platinum looked away from the people towards the wall. "Well...." Should I tell them? I don't even know if Derek is still alive. Or if they would be so willing to help find another Carrier... She turned back to the trio. "Let's just say, he's the only person that has made the last four years of my life tolerable and if there is a chance he's still alive I would like to find him. The Baron's forces destroyed my adopted home and took him away somewhere. I don't know where but I'm sure he's not going to be comfortable wherever he is."
The carrier reclined in the chair, looking up towards the ceiling and letting her hair fall behind the back of her seat. "I have to think he's in Baronstadt, but I don't know where they keep their prisoners. I had no interest in that aspect of life before."
Saber tried to brush off the drink that the woman had spilled on him. He noticed her flipping him off as she stormed away to the back exit.
"Well, that kinda worked," he mused. He was about to follow after her, when he received another buzz in on his comm link. "Saber!" The woman on the other line was now in a near panic, "They're nearly at the mansion. Did you get our guy out of there?" "Umm, had a little bit of trouble there," he replied.
"Well, there's no more time. Get out of there, and come back to base."
"No, I still have a shot at our recruit, I've gotta go after her..." He started moving towards the exit the two girls left out of.
"Matt!" His handler interrupted him.
"She left the mansion," he immediately retorted, "She's probably on the streets now. I gotta get to her before we lose her."
"It's too risky, there'll be guards all over the place."
"Cyn," he reassured her, "You can trust me on this... Saber out."
Matt quickly maneuvered his way through the crowd of nobles, only stopping to pat the benefactor of the two ladies on the shoulder, gaining his attention, "My apologies about that incident before. Please, enjoy the rest of the party, sir," he said in a tone of false sincerity.
With that small, petty act of vindication out of the way, he made his way through the hallways of the servant's quarters. After he was out of the sight of most of the nobles in he party, his quick, but unassuming pace was replaced with a much quicker jogging.
From his place in the hallway Matt could hear the sound of the front door being knocked on. His pace quickened further until he broke out into a full run. When he finally reached the exit, the knocking on the door was quickly replaced by the sharp sound of it being forced open; the screams of a few nobles were heard shortly after. He counted himself lucky he got out in time, and ran out onto the dirty streets of Triumph. He scanned the area, hoping to find the elaborately dressed girls sticking out amongst the normal crowds. That cursory glance didn't provide any results, so he moved in deeper, trying to figure out where they might go from here.
"I have to think he's in Baronstadt, but I don't know where they keep their prisoners. I had no interest in that aspect of life before."
"Even we haven't been able to figure that one out," Allison told Platinum.
"Yes, The Baron's been... unpredictable as of late when it comes to his VIP prisoners," Redding added.
Joel followed the guards all the way to the mansion. He was hidden in the gathering crowd as he watched the guards storm the place; as he suspected, that was where their interest lied. He silently cursed his timing, and after a quick second of hesitation, he went ahead and followed them in. He mentally cursed himself for this uncharacteristic bout of revenge. He justified it to himself by saying that it was the prudent thing to do, that Andy was stupid and petty enough to keep holding his grudge and that Joel would continue to be hunted until he was dealt with. The fact that Andy had always been a particularly irritating pain in the ass to work for was merely secondary.
No one from the crowd bothered to question the cyborg as he made his way into the mansion, after all his uniform was still that of a city guard, simply painted over, he could be a member of special riot unit for all they knew. Joel's mechanical hand whirred as the three "fingers" came together to form an approximation of a fist. If Mallone really was in there, he'd put the little weasel in the ground and be done with him, and if not... well, he would find a way to deal with whatever happened.
Derrick grinned at the thought of sitting still being the last thing going on today, only for it to be slightly interrupted. He heard....something? Seemed things up on the surface were getting out of hand. As he climbed up, he found that his usual escape area was largely undisturbed. Not surprising seeing as how most people were certain due to rumors and tales that they were filled with zombies. Fact was there were none down there since there was no easy way to get around, meaning that it was either an incredibly athletic zombie, or it was going to starve and just die off.
As Derrick stood and began his walk, he already noticed that there were a lot of people now seeming to scatter. That meant the guards were already here, which meant he might have already been too late. Course, it wasn't as if he could go any....
....Now, what are the chances of that? Damned luck is either paying me back in spades, or I just so happen to be good at finding precious gems...
Derrick made a quick jog over to the pair of quick moving courtesans, again quite surprised that he would run into them on the streets. Perhaps they had been warned by another guard already? Though, it didn't matter. He found them, and that meant it was time to get out of there. It seemed that some on the street paid them some mind, but most were more interested in getting back to their palaces than getting out of the high end district. Made his job somewhat easier to catch up with them and say something.
"This is no place for precious gemstones, especially when there are those that worry about their condition." Derrick said, stepping quickly to keep up with them. It was odd to make a quick run, but he was confident Ilya could catch up well enough, and they needed to take that path out of here anyways....or try to get around the walls of the high end part of the city. Annoyingly harder, but possible.
Sapphire broke into a smile. "Good afternoon, merchant. Fancy seeing you here." She stopped at a stand, looking at a light summer coat with elaborate gold patterns stitched across the hem. "We are a bit busy right now though." She traded a gold coin for the piece of clothing, whipping it around her shoulders and tying the cord. It covered her from her shoulders to her ankles. A few buttons later, her azure silk dress was obscured by dark cotton. She spun to face Derrick, hands on her hips. "Now what are the chances of meeting you here... unless you were looking for us?" she purred. Had he heard about what happened at the Behari mansion? Or was fate playing her games again?
The last time she had seen Derrick was... a few weeks ago now. They had planned to meet here in Triumph after Sapphire and Ruby finished with Deschamps, so she knew he was in the city... "Ruby, sweetheart, you remember the merchant from the Sparrow."
Sonia chose for herself a slightly heavier coat, bought using a small portion of the money she had 'secured' for herself during the party. Soon enough her newly purchased black and silver overcoat took its place over her blood-red dress. It was slightly too long for the petite courtesan; the hem trailed a few inches on the ground. It would likely get dirty if there was more running to do. That annoyed Sonia a little, but there was no other item of clothing suitable for her needs.
"Ruby, sweetheart, you remember the merchant from the Sparrow."
"Of course, Miss Sapphire," Sonia answered, taking a spot beside her mentor. She recognised him easily: he had visited the Sparrow a few times, most often for business rather than pleasure as far as Sonia knew. She thought back to the last time she had seen him there. Had she...? Yes, she had. She'd purchased a couple of things from him one time, after Sapphire had judged her fit to handle her own money.
Derrick gave a small bow as Sapphire greeted him. Never a missed moment to be proper and keep up appearances. While there was little time, he might as well take the time to keep up simple appearances, since he also knew that Ruby didn't know a thing about their many meetings, and thus would be best to be kept in the dark.
"I imagine you both to be quite busy, and since I just so happened to be in the area I figured I would give a proper greeting." Derrick said, noting that the guards at the moment were trying to lock down any entrance they could with the few troops that they had rushed to the area. Plenty of time, for the moment.
"And I am always on the lookout for precious gemstones, my good Sapphire...And if you wouldn't mind it, I have a way out of this particular area. Free of the unnecessary guards and hustle. Not quite as exquisite, but much less crowded, and with no chance of attention. Of course, I understand if you plan on seeking a road up here instead." Derrick said, starting to walk a small ways with the women. Wouldn't do to stand still as everyone else bustled about.
"Enlighten me, merchant. What is it that has everyone so very spooked?" She moved through the open stalls, occasionally picking up trinkets and shiny mementos. "I've no plans to stay in this poor excuse of a city, but what is all the rush about?" Sapphire curled her hair back over her ear as she looked at a pendant. There was nothing of interest in the market for her refined and fickle interests, but then again Triumph was not famous for wares.
Sapphire and the merchant seemed quite familiar with one another... although his presence seemed to have calmed the once-angry courtesan. Sonia kept quiet while the two talked, following them as they conversed. Until Sapphire asked about the 'rush'. While Sonia didn't have the exact details, she could make a decent guess. Why else would Sapphire have rushed her out of the Behari estate?
"If I may, could it have been related to the individual who approached us earlier?" she queried, choosing her words carefully so as not to give away anything she shouldn't have. "Perhaps there was some truth to his words, Miss Sapphire." Sonia was a little awkward in situations where she wasn't entirely up with the play, but she felt that that theory was worth considering.
Derrick glanced at the trailing Ruby, noting that apparently someone was following them. Or at least expressing some sort of interest in them, meaning that there was something more going on, which might explain why they were out here in the streets rather than still at the party. However, as long as it worked out to his advantage it was of little consequence. Though why it was all going on now was anyone's guess, Derrick had his own guesses as to what exactly was going on. Most of which did not deal with the rather large problem of the 'zombie' guard that was going to be a problem sooner or later.
"Well, my lady, it seems that were was a bit of a scuffle going on around town. Explosions and the like, and guards running all over the place....and if the guards here are of any indicator, either your hosts are involved in some way, or began participating in things which the Baron decided not to allow today." Derrick said, looking over a few of the wares himself. Largely cheaper things that he would rather not bother with, but always worth a good look.
"But, if you ladies don't mind, it would be a good idea to be....out of sight and out of mind. Everyone seems to have gotten a lot more jumpy, and the explosions are either a sign of coming riots, or some real trouble brewing in this city. Would hate to see gemstones with blemishes, my lady."
....Great, I might have lost Ilya in all this rush. Should have slowed down, but....well, I couldn't simply let her walk off into the guards and whatever else is going on in these damned streets. Maybe I missed her? Or she found something interesting? Dammit, figures I would lose her first sign of troublesome behavior around here...
"Even we haven't been able to figure that one out."
"Yes, The Baron's been... unpredictable as of late when it comes to his VIP prisoners."
Lovely. So these guys don't know anything either. I'm never going to find Derek. At least they might get me back into the city. There's that. I could use that.
"Well, I guess there's only one way to narrow down the choices, is there?" Platinum tried to find some of the old sugar for those words to make it sound pleasing, but that bowl was emptied three years ago. "So when is this little party getting moved back to Baronstadt?"
Ilya was about to climbed up, following Derrick but as she got up to follow Derrick, he was nowhere to be seen. Crowds clogged Ilya's vision, making it difficult for her to follow Derrick's trail. Guards ran past her but they didn't mind her because of her disguise which worked much better than she had hoped. She wanted to go back down into the tunnels but that would mean losing Derrick for good so Ilya shouldered on. From what she could hear, there were a few explosions around town and Triumph abuzz with all the commotion.
She looked around desperately for him and remembered his looks. Her photographic memory didn't just help her in navigation. Derrick was tall, pretty intimidating considering his role as a merchant. The more definitive clothing he wears is a large overcoat, blue jeans, and boots. Ilya tried to think about where he would go. If he was looking for his friends then she would have seen him go up into the finer districts where a large number of people were leaving. He mentioned his ability to maneuver around there and not her which means that maybe he found them. He would most likely take them towards his home being the marketplace. Ilya decided to move back into the marketplace, following the signs and some familiar landmarks.
Ilya moved with the crowd, vacating from the mansion. She tried to avoid the roving bands of guards who wandered the streets. Everyone looked the same here which frustrated her. She cursed her color-blindness and a slight throb began to pound at the back of her head. Ilya was a hair away from screaming Derrick at the top of her lungs. The air around her heated up.
Not him... not him... not him... not him... too short.. too tall... not him... not him... Ilya thought, combing through the crowd with her eyes. Her pace picked up in speed like the crowd she was in. They all wanted to hurry out of the area for some reason and that didn't help her one bit. She broke into a light jog but not before she bumped into a lady in dark clothing who was next to...
"Derrick?" Ilya asked aloud not really sure but it matched his physical description. Next to Derrick on his other side was another woman. That's when she remembered. "I'm very sorry." Ilya said to original woman she bumped into.
Derrick turned as the soft spoken call for his name came out. He knew it was Ilya instantly, pleased that she had managed to find him even when he had done a small run ahead. Thinking rather quickly, he stepped over to her so as to not be bumping into anyone else...specifically Sapphire. This was not her favorite topic, and he knew that this wasn't exactly going to win him any favors. However, he had made a deal, and this was business that he considered somewhat valuable.
"There you are, Ilya. Apologies for taking off, I needed to speak with these fine ladies." Derrick said at first to Ilya, then turned towards Sapphire and Ruby once more. "Sorry, I picked up a companion in my travels, and she is...well, a little shy yet. She's fine though, and is still learning the ropes."
As Derrick looked around, he noted with some relief that he had done some thinking ahead of time, though he didn't really plan on introducing this particular turn of events till....well, much later. At least under better and less rushed circumstances. As he glanced Ilya over, he knew that things wouldn't be bad. Not yet, at least.
Well, good thing I got her largely neatened up before I went on this silly little adventure. So it won't be too bad...Well, on average anyways. Though, now might not be the best of times to contemplate such things...
"Though, I think after introductions we might want to move a bit more quickly. Would rather not be trapped in this particular part of the city, if you don't mind the small rush..."
"WATCH IT urch-"
Sapphire made a grab at Ilya's arm, intending to check her pockets before letting go, but Derrick quickly stepped between them.
"Sorry, I picked up a companion in my travels, and she is...well, a little shy yet. She's fine though, and is still learning the ropes."
"You picked up a companion on your travels." Sapphire repeated slowly through clenched teeth. She eyed Ilya up and down, as much as she could see anyways in the crowd and due to Ilya hiding herself behind the merchant. He had gone and picked up some skinny whore off the seediest corner in Triumph, and made her his companion. Derrick never asked her to be his companion, and she was a thousand times better than this... this... sewer dyke.
She put her hands on her hips. This was the first time Derrick had mentioned any "partner", meaning he picked up the little parasite in the last few weeks, between Baronstadt and Triumph. Derrick occasionally had impulsive moments, and she had no doubt this was the result of one of them. At any other time, she would have given him a proper interrogation, but something wasn't right in the air. She bit her tongue. Riots weren't good to get caught up in, and that was the pressing concern right now it seemed. But she also knew what Derrick meant by an escape that was "free of unnecessary guards and attention".
"Aw, Derrick, not the tunnels..."
"Aw, Derrick, not the tunnels..."
Derrick couldn't help but sigh. He knew that from the "companion" statement before that he would need to explain quite a bit before this day was even close to being finished. Not that he would mind, of course. Though time to discuss such things would need to wait till a later time, even though the ladies would likely object to travelling the less than supremely clean streets. Still, better than being "questioned" for an extended period of time, and having to talk and pay their way out of a bunch of smaller problems.
Besides....infected soldier boy could still pose to be an issue, if not an immediate one. Would rather not have her even...close to those damned things. Especially in this cutthroat city.
"I know, I know. I'll help you get through it though. Carry you, if you really need it." Derrick said with a small grin. "Don't worry, it isn't the sewers, so it's plenty clean enough. And free of problems like this." Derrick quickly made his way back to the alley where they had come from, away from the more crowded streets. After returning to the passage, he nodded to the small group of ladies now behind him.
"All clear down there...or do you want me to proceed first? Just...need to make sure we don't invite along any other guests. Uninvited ones, so closing everything back up..." Derrick drifted off, keeping a sharp eye on the entrance of the alley. He had no plans on staying here now that the exit was underneath his feet.
"I'll go back down first..." Ilya mumbled to Derrick, keeping her distance from the woman with the iron grip. For that split second in which the woman grabbed her arm, it felt like it was being crushed by a vice. Ilya wasn't really aware as to why she would do such a thing when all she did was bump into her but it was nothing she wasn't used to. Right now, Ilya wanted to put as much distance between her and that woman.
Ilya made her way down once more and was greeted to an empty tunnel once more. The only scurrying about was rats and other pests for the time being. Still, she scanned until she was sure that the way was clear. Ilya made her way back and whispered out.
Sapphire peered down the hole after Ilya. You'd think the afternoon sun would have lit everything up. But it was dark and dank and dusty. She couldn't see 6 feet down. It made her nervous. She started to fidget with her bracelet, pl... my bracelet
Her heart skipped a beat. Where is it? WHERE is it!? Her hand rested against the skin of her wrist, not against what should have been a cold band of metal. "Shit!" She spun on her heel and hurriedly began retracing her steps, coming just short of getting on her hands and knees and sifting through the dirt. "Maybe it can be a reminder that you have someone to call"
There was no tell tale glitter in the sand, no beggar cackling over their find, no nothing. She wasn't going to leave it behind. Sapphire pushed back her hood, trying to find it. Making various prayers and silent promises to gods she did not believe existed.
As Ilya made her way down somewhat nervously, Derrick almost gave a sigh of relief...only for Sapphire to suddenly turn around and curse. As she suddenly started to head back, Derrick thought fast, and turned to look back down the hole. At least he could get this pair of ladies moving safe and sound. Giving Ruby a light nudge, he turned towards the hole to shout to Ilya. She would be alright, having been on her own more than long enough, and that meant he could trust her with this little task. Get this girl to safety so he would only have to worry about the one, and that is all he really wanted to worry about at this point.
"Take Ruby and get going back the way we came! Seems...there is something more I need to do. Don't worry, I'll find ya one way or another!" Derrick called, and then quickly made his way over to Sapphire, slightly annoyed, but also concerned about what would make her turn back. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he got to finding out what was going on.
"What is it? Something wrong? If you lost something, I'm sure that we can get you another...or maybe find it later. I mean...now is not the time to be looking for little things." Derrick quickly said, looking around to see if anything in particular stood out. Nothing much, though he had no idea what he was looking for in the first place. He hoped that it was nothing, and he could get her safely out of here...but she wouldn't just turn back for nothing.
The noise of the raid took a little bit of time to become noticeable. Ichabod was busy watching a couple party goers run around, particularly the company Deschamps had brought as they began talking with some fellow he had never seen before. Right as he went back to his drink, the riot came into the room. "Well holy shit, something just happened..." he stood up, deciding to head out. "Don't want to deal with this... wasn't in the contract."
On Simms' order, the guards busted down the door and began swarming the place. They quickly found themselves in the main pitfighting chamber, and without saying a word, they sprang into action.
In short order a riot had broken out; a few of the guests, and their personal body guards had branded weapons at the sight of this invading force. A few of the city guards rushed into the middle of the crowds and started beating people with their stun batons. Some of the guards blocked the entrance, taking pot shots at anyone who dared to get too close.
While most of the guests had started to panic and run around, or foolishly take on The Baron's forces, some of the smarter ones got down on the ground, and were awaiting whatever came next.
A young woman was hiding behind the chairs in the upper row, she dared not look up as she heard the shouts and the unnerving sound of the electrified prods burning through clothing, hitting flesh. She let out a small scream, when she saw a man's body hit the ground right next to her. She quickly looked him over, the fresh hole in his head gave a clear indication of his fate.
The same guard who shot the man approached the area, he was looking in between the seats to find any stragglers; despite her best efforts, he caught sight of the woman. He pointed his rifle at her, "Stand up," he ordered. Still hoping for the best outcome, she did as she was commanded, as tears started flowing down her face. The guard said nothing as he steadied his aim. A pleading expression was the only thing the woman could offer her would-be executioner. She closed her eyes and prepared herself, when suddenly a large metal arm slammed into the guard's side, knocking him down.
Joel quickly walked over to the downed guard, and grabbed his rifle in his robotic hand. The three strong fingers crushed the weapon with minimal effort, and joel chucked the now useless lump of plastic to the side. He looked to the young noblewoman he saved and told her "Get outta here."
He scanned the chaotic environment, hoping to find any sign of Mallone, but the quick search proved fruitless, it's doubtful Andy would be easy to spot in all of this anyway, he turned to look towards the door, when he noticed a familiar set of limbs, ones belonging to another cybernetic merc, Zeras. "Ah, shit," he said to himself. He carefully navigated through the commotion, towards Ichabod. Joel didn't trust the other merc to not be involved in this, somehow.
Ichabod had gotten about halfway to the door before he stopped by a group of guards.
"Hands up." the leader barked to him. Ichabod had his hands slightly up, trying to keep things calm.
"I'm here with the police chief's blessing. No need to make a mess of things. Just let me leave and we'll pretend this never ha-"
"I said hands up!" he said, pointing his gun at Ichabod.
"Don't be that guy... I really don't want to have to deal with this. DON'T be that guy..." the machines in his arms started to hum quietly.
"Last warning! Get your fucking hands up!" he shouted, prodding Ichabod with the barrel of his gun. The instant the gun touched his chest, Ichabod grabbed the man's right arm, swinging him like a ragdoll against his squad, knocking them over. Once the last of them was knocked over, he let go of the guard, sending him flying towards the crowd in Joel's direction as he proceeded to knock out the rest of the squad.
Joel dodged the guard flying in his direction and charged at Ichabod. The other man was viciously tearing into the guards coming at him, knocking them out with ease.
Before he could land a hit on the last couple that were left standing, Joel caught the other cyborg's arm with his own metallic limb.
"That's enough Zeras; what the hell are you doing here?!" Joel asked, just barely audible over the sound of scraping metal and whirring motors.
"Get the hell off me you- Joel? Well I'll be... figured the Baron would have gotten sick of your antics ages ago..." he said, setting the guy down. "I'm just here on business. Figured I'd stay and enjoy the atmosphere after a job well done. Then this happens. What about you? Doubt you've got the connections to get into a shindig like this."
"I could say the same," he retorted while a few of the gears in arms repositioned. "I was looking for... someone. Certainly didn't want to see you here. Which ruthless bastard hired you for this gig?"
"Couple gladiators wanted a bad manager offed. Had the pay and nobody was gonna miss that guy. Figured I'd take an easy job for once." he started listening for any more guards coming. "Whoever it is you're looking for, better be quick about it. Maybe you might even be able to get out of here alive."
"And maybe you'll keep the casualties down this time, so that other people can too," Joel said sternly. He listened and looked around, hearing more guards approaching the two.
Ichabod shrugged. "Perhaps you'd like to lend a hand. Take care of some pests. Maybe one of these pigs has got info on the guy you're looking for." He wasn't expecting Joel to help, but he was curious to see who he was after.
"I don't make a habit of intentionally attacking the guards... today being the obvious exception."
Another squad of men rounded the corner, bringing the two cyborgs into their sights. Guns up, the leader gave the men one more chance, "Stand down! Both of you!" he shouted.
The commotion in all of Triumph was nearing a boiling point, but everyone seemed to freeze when the alarms started blaring through the streets.
The piercing sound seemed to cut through the walls, making itself known to any who were inside the city.
Everyone alive in the new world knew what that sound meant: The infection had made its way inside the walls.
Chapter 1: Breakout
It seemed like it was going to be an average evening for the boys of A9. A routine patrol through Triumph and then a night of drinks and general merriment.
It didn't end up that way.
Barnaby seemed a little sluggish to his squadmates, but they thought it to be nothing more than a simple cold. Those thoughts were quickly erased when the young man collapsed on the floor. Wilson leapt to the man's aid, performing CPR, trying to save the life of his brother-in-arms.
Wilson's attempted heroism earned him a bite from his former, now undead, friend. Panic quickly set in at the restaurant, but by then it was too late; numerous people had been bitten, a few killed outright.
Numerous reports of similar events happening throughout Triumph began popping up quickly afterwards. Within the hour, a small force of infected zombies were roaming the streets.
Captain Simms received news of the first bite mere minutes after it had happened. The terminal in his office began flashing red. His eyes widened when he read the report.
"Son of a bitch!" He cursed, and immediately sent out word to all his men, "We have reports of infected in the city, repeat, reports of infected in the city. All active personnel, respond!
-Everyone up on the walls, check for any structural weakness, infected pockets, anything and everything that could possibly get through those barriers!
-Patrol units, round up every civilian you can find. Knock on doors, get them out of the infected areas. They are to be directed to the designated quarantine zones and checked for any signs of infection. Any civilians you find wandering around after one hour are to be considered infected and killed on sight!
-Lock down all civilian transit to and from the city. If this thing's coming from inside our walls, we can't have it spreading across the nation!
-And any carriers you find, you detain; if they refuse in any way, you shoot. Got it!"
With that, the captain stood up from his desk and walked over to the locker by the side. He grabbed his personal rifle and marched out of his office; the two men standing guard by the doorway seemed shocked to see him, but immediately followed.
"Captain?" One of the men questioned Simms' actions.
"We're going groundside; snuffing this thing out personally," he responded. And with that, the trio began the long trip down into the city proper.
August 2nd, 2176
The City of Triumph, Ritheen, 7:27 PM: Local Time
Mathias tossed his sweat stained suit jacket and shirt aside, revealing a plain grey shirt with a harness strapped around his chest, a foot long blade was sheathed to his back, with a pistol at his left side. He had been tailing the two girls for some time, no easy task in full formal wear.
He almost caught up to them again before another man entered the picture. It was hard to get a read on who exactly this new person was, but the older of the two girls seemed rather familiar with him.
He watched their movements in the market place, hoping to track them, but the group eventually became lost to him in the bustle of the crowd.
After a few more minutes of pointless searching he broke away from the markets, frustrated with how things turned out. He took up a higher vantage point, hoping to find any trace of the girls again, a task made more difficult by the deliberately plain choices of disguise.
He tried to focus his gaze, but couldn't see a single sign of them. A distraction suddenly rang through his ears, "Oh, what the fuck now?" he asked, to seemingly no one in particular. His answer came in the form of swiping, mottled fingers, which he very narrowly avoided. The undead ghoul they were attached to started shuffling towards the man.
"Oh. That's what the fuck," he said dryly as he took out his pistol. The creature tried to lunge for him, but this act was met with a quick headshot.
Walking past the downed zombie (and pumping one more round into its head for good measure) Matt tapped his comm system.
"Cyn!" He said to the voice on the other side.
"I know, the guard feeds are all going insane," she said. "They're talking about a breakout of the infection, but that can't be ri..."
"It is," he interrupted her, "Whatever they're saying is going on. It is."
"Matt, you have to get back to base; screw the mission, just get back here alive. Now!"
"Can't do that. Some of our guys are down on the ground here, right?"
"Oh, shit," she said before a delayed response. For a brief couple of seconds the sound of clicking computer keys were all that could be heard. "Redding and Fitzgerald. They were on their way to recruit the demolitions guy."
"So, they'd be down in the tunnels?"
"If they were smart. But Fitzgerald, she's..."
The blaring of the alarms could even be heard underground in the old subway station. Though a little muddled, the sound still came in loud and noticeable.
"Oh, shit," Redding said, in an annoyed tone.
Allison looked up for a few seconds, as if that would help her see what was going on. Without knowing the exact cause of the alarm, she did know what she was going to have to do.
"Looks like break time's over," she said as she shot up off the couch, "C'mon, get up!"
Outside the city, the alarm was less noticeable. The deadening silence of the wasteland still dominated most of the area.
The zombies in the area outside of Triumph was growing in proportion to the numbers inside the city. They seemed to be inexplicably drawn to the area, and more were amassing at an alarming rate.
William immediately pulled his pistol and ran into the center of the common area.
"Alright people we may be Erebus but that alarm means we have a job to do. We already cleared these tunnels and all the stations before closing any and all stations. But that don't mean some of em can't wander in. Get a gun, a melee weapon, and a Walkie-Talkie we make sure this place is locked down and then check to make sure nothing gets in the tunnels. We make sure this place doesn't become a death trap again. You know your jobs and that you are to go in groups of no less than four and check in every five minutes at the latest.
Keep calm people, we know all of us and our families are safe in this station and that we can easily lock up the access routes. Don't go down any small corridors, lock only the doors that directly connect to the tunnels. So long as we keep quiet and out of sight we don't become a vector and we remain safe. You've all trained for this and you've all had experience killing these things before. Just do your jobs and we'll get through this."
He then turned to Redding, Allison, and Platinum.
"You three follow me, no questions or back talk." He then walked over to the makeshift command center and turned on his Walkie-Talkie as other moved quickly and professionally to prepare for the jobs that they had practiced. While the men prepared to head out, the women prepared and armed for internal defense. He first spoke to Allison and Redding.
"You mark on these maps where your people are going to come from and how long you expect it to take. I'll make sure my men check them all and get them set up here. But you both need to understand something right now, we are indisposed with this emergency plan the baron has. I don't like it but it protects the city he says and it is maybe the one thing we both agree on. So whatever plans you have for us can and will wait until these tunnels are secure. Or else there may very well be no people to help." He then turned to Platinum.
"Unfortunately you will become a more long term guest than you thought. You go outside at this point and they are just as likely to kill you as talk to you. We don't know each other very well but I'm not going to be responsible for another person's death if I can help it." He then spoke to both of them.
"Luckily the water and power will remain as long as the systems running it in the city keep running, and the baron keeps those under lock and key. Those of us in the lower classes have one advantage, the Baron's boys relied on us to get everything up and running, and we made sure he couldn't shut us out without shutting himself out. Food may be more a problem though, we have gathered a good amount but we will enter rationing until this gets lifted or we get kicked out from one end or the other. If any of you think you can help it would be much appreciated, but if you do I suggest sticking with my people." It was at that point he turned his back and immediately began to coordinate defense and response.
"My bracelet's gone, merchant" she shot tersely. "...I can't find it!" She ran her hand through her hair, searching frantically. The silver bracelet was worth... a lot to her. More precious than silk or furs, than gold or bronze, than status or wealth. OK maybe not that far, but it did mean a lot. And she was going to find it if it was the last thing she...
Sapphire hands shot to her ears, already getting a headache from the piercing wail. Everyone was darting for their homes. The crowded streets were quickly emptied. Infection? Here? She uncovered her ears, glancing between Derrick and the remaining stragglers. With most of the people out of the street, save looters, losers, Sapphire, and Derrick. Several of Triumphs scum had started overturning tables, breaking store windows, and stuffing the market goods into cloth sacks.
A familiar glint caught her eye among the new wreckage. My bracelet! The clasp looked like it had broken. Before she could even reach for it, another hand grabbed it. "Hey! Shithead! That's mine!" She lunged at the kid, but he darted out of her reach. "Get back here!" The would be pickpocket tried to lose her in the alleys, but Sapphire was angry, among other things, and pretty fast. And used to chasing pint sized brats. She picked up a small rock by the dumpster, and as soon as they rounded the corner, threw it accurately and hit the boy square in the back of the head. She lunged again, this time snagging his backpack off before the slippery criminal jumped out of her arms and over the fence.
She dumped out the contents on the ground, throwing most of the useless crap around until she found her bracelet. She laughed, pressing the cold metal against her cheek. "I found it merchant!" She sighed in relief, slipping it safely into the confines of her bodice. "I wasn't going to leave without it. After all, someone speci-"
A throaty roar made her stop. That wasn't Derrick. In the blink of an eye, it charged, arms outstretched.
"A-aah!" she reflexively lashed out, her arm swinging out and hitting it in the neck. It ran into the wall, howling as loud as Sapphire was as she bolted out of the alley. Infection. Zombies. Right.
As Sapphire explained her bracelet was gone, he quickly realized what exactly he was looking for. It shouldn't have been too hard to locate...except that as she continued her hunt, the sirens that Derrick had been fearing finally started going off, which lead to Derrick reaching within his coat and grabbing the familiar pistol. As his eyes began scanning the small crowd of opportunists who thought now was the best time to take all they could, figured they could take the bracelet as Sapphire ran into another alley to get it back from a would-be thief.
As Derrick followed as quickly as he could, he heard her say "I found it merchant! I wasn't going to leave without it. After all, someone speci-A-aah!"
She had thought him following much closer than he could hope to keep up at this point, and had run into something he thought he had slightly more time against. Zombies were already here? That quickly? This was why he now took his time, and as Sapphire bolted from the alley, Derrick turned the corner and placed a single bullet in the thing's head, which took the time to snarl at him before falling. Normally he would worry about the noise from his pistol since he had no time to put a silencer on. But in the city, it didn't matter, especially as he heard plenty of other gunfire going off as it seemed the infection took the city by full force.
As quickly as he had moved to shoot the zombie, he quickly grabbed Sapphire's arm. "Cybille....I am happy your bracelet is back to you, now lets get you out of here. Please..." Derrick said slightly shaken at the incredibly close call that he knew had just occurred. The way down and away was still largely clear, the zombies coming from other directions and still being busy going after the lowlifes who now had to pay for their crimes in a far worse way. Derrick couldn't be bothered with them, as he had his most prized possession safely close to him now.
Far too close, my lady. I couldn't....that took a few years off of both our lives. Maybe those crazy thoughts before had some sense to them. Stupid, stupid Derrick. Should have just made her go to safety...or shot the damned kid... Damned foolish of you to let her be unsafe.
As several of the thugs from before began screaming as the zombies managed to find them, Derrick tried to keep Sapphire ahead of him, and his pistol trained on where the zombies could come from. Almost out of here...
"Cybille....I am happy your bracelet is back to you, now lets get you out of here. Please..." Derrick grabbed her arm. Her heart was pounding, and she was shaking with adrenaline. Sapphire didn't need to be told twice that it was time to leave, going back the way they came to the best of her memory. Her hand flashed to her thigh, and after a short stop, appeared with a dagger. Its weight was a small comfort in her hand. She always thought her first encounter with the freaks would be... different. Impacting. Instead it was a bit of a rush that she wasn't sure how to handle. Fear, along with excitement. An exciting gamble with life and death.
No come on, a single bite from one of those things can end my whole life! It's not worth it. Her pale hand clutched her chest. It's too precious to gamble.
Finally the tunnel entrance came into view. In a smooth motion and with only a second of hesitation, Sapphire jumped and plunged into the dark.
As Sapphire finally got to the tunnels which she had been somewhat apprehensive about before, she quickly jumped into them now. As she did so, Derrick wasted no time grabbing the cover and sliding it over as he made his own way down. Noting with some small satisfaction that no one was even in this alley yet, with the undead not all that fascinated with the pair, he slid the cover into place and made his way downward with a deep sigh. They had made it. While not necessarily a promised safety, it was far better than the crowded area above. And all the natural obstacles down here meant an easy escape if necessary.
"Well.....we made it. It's best if we get moving elsewhere. Safer, but not exactly the safest of places to be here. I'm sure there are some more...defensible positions around down here. At least until the action above has ended..." Derrick said, trying to think of a place to wander to down here. However, he was distracted still by Sapphire's close encounter, and wanting to say a lot more than that they should simply get to safety.
Really need some damned privacy at this point...but, it won't happen waiting around here. Soon as I can though... Offering a hand to Sapphire, he tried to be reassuring as he did so to get moving through the tunnels once again, this time at a somewhat slower pace. "Let's get going, my lady. Enough excitement for one day."