New York sat under and orange-purple sky as the sun started to fall on the western horizon, its light fading fast. It was the time of dusk when the moon's light began to shine as the brightest thing in the sky, and in its quarter phase, it was already hanging high above the city.
For now, the city was at peace, aside from the standard human woes of poor traffic and choking on a haze of pollution. However, it wasn't to last, for many a thing that went bump in the night would exploit the cover of night to unfold their own agendas...
"Good evening my children!" Kaijin called out to his gathered Unearthers, "So far, you have all enjoyed the fruits that Gaia has blessed us with. Our medicine, our food, our company and comfort. Tonight, I will ask you to return the favor, to repay the debt you have incurred. No. Keep your wallets. I am simply asking for a favor. But for now, let us observe the early evening Greetings to Gaia."
A chorus stepped in behind him and began chanting incomprehensible gibberish... or possibly in a language so dead that even the most ancient trolls have forgotten it. In either case, good luck understanding a word of it. Kaijin clasped his hands together, and a young elemental orcish practitioner of the Art lit all of the torches, candles, and oil lamps in the fairly large antichamber (well, it is a lot larger than one would think based on its exterior anyway).
What none of them noticed however, was Kaijin covertly nodding to several cloaked and hooded individuals in the back of the room, who then nodded in return, bowed slightly, and left at a brisk pace, locking the doors behind them.
So it begins...
Gray Talon HQ... or more accurately... on the roof of a building just across from it... and around 8 PMish, because Johnny D'Ville is nothing if not a late starter.
Johnny D'Ville laid his back on the edge of the rooftop, his left arm hanging over. His left hand, meanwhile, was absentmindedly carving his initials into the red brick of the wall below him, followed by the phrase "... was here." Believe it or not, this was a sign of personal improvement on Mr. D'Ville's part, as he used to attempt murder in his sleep. The Gray Talons must be rubbing off on him after all.
Once his hand had finished carving out his initials (which was perfectly legible), it started doing a one-hand juggle with a six-inch combat knife. Johnny's hand caught it by the hilt every time while he snored loudly. After about ten minutes of this, his cell phone alarm clock went off, waking him just as his left hand had tossed it up again. About ten feet into the air. In one hand, he managed to shut the alarm off while the other caught the knife and sheathed it.
Then Johnny realized it wasn't his alarm. Far too early for that. Wasn't anywhere near dawn. It was a call he'd just cancelled. Ugh... someone wanted something again. Second time he'd been woken up far too early in the night. D'Ville had thought that his 'brothers and sisters' in the Gray Talons would have taken the hint not to bug him when he left the HQ a few hours ago. No rest for the wicked, obviously.
He looked up this missed caller and returned the call. After he got through he said, "It's D'Ville. What do you blighters want now?"
Olivia held off on eating as long as she could, but sketching would only take her so far and her friends were very insistent that she eat something. She had opted to get a burger, something simple, but was summarily outvoted and was dragged to some middle eastern place that she'd never think of trying so instead of enjoying her medium,-rare burger with the works she was stuck with the only thing on the menu that she could recognize which happened to be a falafel, all in the name of "expanding her horizons". To tell the truth, she wouldn't have even left her apartment if Simon hadn't banged on the door and dragged her out, saying that she had to get out some. She had spent all day staring at the papers that her father left behind, trying to find some decypherable clue in the mess but ultimately, all she discovered was a poem about her mother, a set of instructions and a key to a safety deposit box, not really anything she had hoped for but it was something.
There were two others with her and Simon, his current girlfriend who's incessant nagging about eating enough drove her up the wall, and a older coworker of his who barely talked, and seemed to like to keep to himself, save for when Simon was around (Simon himself was in the restroom). As she took a bite of her food (not the worst thing she had but it still didn't appeal to her much), she thought on what she would say to him, figuring that she'd be forced too eventually, whether by chance or the woman across from her. She had tried talking to him before but had failed pretty badly, trying to explain a certain shading technique to a guy who (self-admittingly) knew as much about art as a broomhandle.
She had taken a few bites of her falafel when the guy turned to her suddenly and asked, "So...,what are you drawing?", in a tone that said, 'I don't know who you are or what to talk about so i'ma take a shot in the dark and hope for the best'.
"Oh, um... It's just a simple drawing, nothing really...just a woman i saw once...", Olivia sputtered out, lying through her teeth. She had studied that poem of her mother carefully, picking at whatever features her dad had written down and trying to match that up to her own face in an attempt to deduct at least a fasimile of what her mother looked like, easier said than done due to her father over-embellishing every feature.
The similarity didn't go unnoticed on his part, saying, "Well, she looks a bit like you..." To which simon's girlfriend agreed, adding, "I actually thought you were drawing that self-portrait i asked for."
"Oh...i'll get to that at some point, i've just been busy."
"You always say that but you never tell us what you're busy with."
"It's family buisness."
"Oh come on! It can't hurt to tell us."
'Yes it can...', she thought, 'It could get me hunted down by the very people i work for.' Luckily she didn't have to say anything else as Simon came back, having solved whatever personal crisis his bowels caused, saying, "Chill, Jess. If she doesn't want to tell us she doesn't have to tell us, it's her business."
The others continued to talk to each other while she sank into working on her sketch, not feeling like contributing anymore but adding in a sentence or two here and there. Eventually simon and the other man started talking about dealing with...something, Olovia wasn't paying attention. Her sketch was very rough but it was good enough for her for now and with that, she excused herself and left.
She figured that the safety deposit office (or whatever they call it, she doesn't care) would be closed by now so she would check there in the morning. Right now, she would just wander around. Simon was right, she had to get out.
"Well, if it isn't the shining example of sobriety we've all come to know and love," bellowed the bartender, a smile lighting up his aged, silver-bearded face. He set down his cleaning rag and without so much as a glance towards the liquor shelves, removed a bottle of his finest whisky and a small glass and set them atop the bar counter. "Or at least the closest thing we get in this hole." The Detective just waved the comment aside with a lighthearted smirk on his face as he stepped completely through the door and approached the bar, then sat down at his usual spot. "So, today the day you gonna drink enough for me to retire on time, or am I gonna have to stay open another ten years to make up for the lack of income from your pussy-footing around?"
"As much as I'd like to stop caring about the integrity of my liver, I'll just stick with the usual, thank you very much," Daniels quipped. "Now, you gonna pour me a drink before you keel over, old man? I mean I could serve myself afterwards, but I think you might find the discount I'd give myself a little disagreeable."
"Any less than what I charge is robbery. Especially for your Mormon ass. Does your mother know you're drinking like a little Amish girl?"
"Mick. You kiddin'? She's Irish Catholic, she'd probably have a heart attack. And I'm not a Mormon, I just don't wanna try my luck with the Liver Powerball."
"Ah, is that how they do it now?"
"As a matter of fact, they do. I keep an eye on the drawings for Tommy. Lord knows he's overdue for a new one."
"That Boston-Irish bastard? If he's anything like his father, he'll be drinking a fifth a day well into his eighties. But enough about your girlish drinking habits," the old man said and chuckled as he poured Daniels his drink. "How've you been? Arm doing okay?"
The Detective gave his shoulder a light squeeze. "Feels a little tight every now and again, but otherwise it's perfectly healthy. Work on the other hand...Jesus, I could practically draw the grains on my desk from memory. I'm sick of looking at the damned thing. I'm ready to get back to field work, y'know?"
"You never seemed the desk-jockey type. At least your physical therapy should be up, huh? You manage to get with that therapist broad yet?"
"Ehh, not really. She ain't my type."
"'Ain't your type'? Jesus fuck, you are a woman, ain't ya?"
"Hey, she's engaged, alright?"
"Yeah, right, to that car salesman, wasn't it?"
"Lead salesman. He's due for another promotion any day now."
The bartender just waved his hands in a manner that, to most people, would easily throw off a "la-de-fuckin'-da" vibe.
"Anyway," Daniels continued, "I'm sure you've got a story about the general rabble from last night."
"Actually, yeah. Alright, so get this, there's these two guys that come staggering in about eleven o'clock - already plastered out of their minds, right? So they're getting loud and rowdy, and who decides he's had enough? I'll give you two guesses, and the first one's wrong. It was Jerry, drunk as an Irish wake, and he starts..."
At this point Daniels just tuned out of the world and into his own thoughts. He wondered just when he was going to hear from the mysterious contact again. He thought about it ever since he saw the note in an odd scrawl on his desk. The whole incident that put him in the hospital seemed like a distant memory. He knew his intentions the moment he set foot in that dingy house. He was gonna drop that psycho dead. He couldn't help but hold that woman's face in his mind, her trapped screaming and that godawful gurgling as she drowned in her own blood. The bastard cut right through her aorta and windpipe, a cut clean as a surgeon's so the coroner had put it. It wasn't supposed to happen the way it did, but it had and there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it now. As he sat there, spinning his glass in his fingers, he wondered if he really needed to-
"-he did? Hey, Larry, you paying attention? I'm just getting to good part."
"Lawrence," Daniels corrected, putting on his best smile. "It's Lawrence, you know I hate 'Larry'."
"Got your head outta the clouds, didn't it? So, as I was saying, Jerry grabs these guys by the collars, lifts 'em up and, I shit you not, throws 'em into the cab!"
The Detective chuckled and shook his head before taking a sip of his drink, setting the glass back down shortly after. "Yeah, that's Jerry alright."
"Yeah, that crazy mook. Anyway, I'll leave you to your thoughts. Gotta give this guy a hard time," the old man said as he turned his attention to the opening door. "Hey, Tommy, you rat-faced fuck, your tab is overdue."
"Blow it out your ass, you lousy Mick," said the scrawny regular as he settled onto a stool. "Now get me a drink before I have to climb over that counter and get it myself!"
"What, so you can get at my bottle of Speyside's finest? Over my rotted carcass you ungrateful little shit."
The pair's banter continued as Daniels sat with his half-empty whisky, waiting. Biding his time. Thinking.
Gamestop in manhatten.
"You really are such a nerd." said the blond haired white girl sitting on her phone, leaning against the counter in the store.
"Of course i'm a nerd. I play videogames, love anime, host the occasional dungeons and dragons match and have been working at gamestop for the past six years while refusing a promotion on the basis that i like interacting with customers." she retorted as the last customer walked out of the door of the place.
"and your ears." added the blond.
Sana shrugged at the comment. "I had the operation straight out of highschool. i like elves, what can i say?" the elf responded and left the blond with a shrug. "Whatever, i'm going home, you can lock up." then promptly collected her things from the back and left.
The elf sighed. Allot of the times people should just quit the job if they don't like it. she didn't hate the girl, just was annoyed that she elected to stay in a position where she didn't care about the work. Herself on the other hand, loved the entire culture around videos games and anime. she went to the store room, changed shirts back to her tanktop then slipped on her link hoodie before heading out and locking the front door, then bringing down the gate infront of the store.
She began to walk home, putting on her earbuds and setting her iphone to coheed and cambria, humming along to the beat and occasionally playing some air riffs from the song.
The pair had started talking for about an hour, the goblin noticed. A tall man, gaunt and hard with a thick and flowing silver beard and an eyepatch sat opposite him, speaking of events that had not yet occurred. Ragnorak, mostly, was their grim topic of the evening.
Mael was sipping his tea as it fell from his hand. Incorporeal, again. The glass landed on the hard wooden chair as he fell through it as well, landing an his ass with a small thud, and banging his re-tangible head against the bottom of the chair. The Goblin was only thankful he didn't get any glass stuck in him, as he slid back behind the chair.
"Sorry, sir Wodanaz, I'll have to cut this a bit short. See you soon, tomorrow?" The Aesir nodded, standing up and grabbing his spear as he disappeared in a black haze. Mael quietly took out his pipe, stuffing it with some tobacco and lighting it in a single, practiced motion. He looked around his meager room, the walls absolutely covered with book shelves save a single full length mirror and a large, comfortable bed, with another mattress underneath to catch him. It was a nice room, it had served him well for years...
But for now, he'd leave for a small walk. He grabbed his cloak and wrapped it around his frail form, slicking his shock of hair back into something somewhat presentable. He donned his monocle, last of all, as he swung the door closed behind him... It seemed like a peaceful evening. He sought to lose himself in his thoughts, and soon enough that was exacctly what he had done.
Ari sat in the back seat of a car. He didn't know the driver. He hardly knew where he was going. He'd just debriefed with Asura, and his head still hurt. Doublespeak and neutered corporate euphemisms, all over the place. The hardest part of the mission had been returning the info and figuring out if the Directors were pleased or not. He should hope so. The mission had gone off without a hitch. He wished all missions were that easy. But something had burnt him out. He needed sleep, bad. Cobwebs were wrapping themselves around all his memories. Or perhaps it was clouds.
Stubbe was in the back seat with Ari, looking like a lost puppy, as usual. He'd been handy, also as usual. Broke a man's neck with his bare hands. Wolf hands? Whatever.
Right. A cab. How long had he been sitting in silence? He was seriously out of it tonight.
"Greenwich and Seventh." Home. "Stubbe, where you headed?"
They didn't usually catch rides together.
Did they? He couldn't remember anything. He'd done... Something. With his powers. Chewed through all his brain cells like rogue prions. But it wasn't usually this bad, even after some heavy-duty illusions.
Why am I so foggy tonight? He shook his head, hard. He got like this sometimes. He wasn't sure if it was a problem with him, or just something that came with his powers. A twofer. Buy telepathy and get dementia for half off! Another shake.
Had Stubbe answered him? He wasn't sure. Peter. We're on first name basis now. Right? Yes. Yes. I'm sure of that, at least.
He looked expectantly at the man across from him, waiting on an answer, hoping he hadn't already missed it.
On a street corner on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, Sean Blake waited. Not two hundred yards away there was a Black Fang "safe" house. As Sean was convinced that it would serve as a staging point in the inevitable move on Brooklyn, he had taken it upon himself to make the safe house that much less safe.
Of course to do that, he'd had to antagonize them until they gathered, but now it seemed that the house was filling. Plenty of muscle, he mused, looks like they're taking no chances. Might as well call in a few friends of my own, he thought as he retreating around the corner. Leaning against a wall, he dialed a number and waited. No answer. He was about to try another when his phone began buzzing, followed by a familiar voice
"It's D'Ville. What do you blighters want now?"
Sean grinned, and spoke, "Well, looks like Black Fang's hosting a bit of a get together, just North of Greenpoint. Figured you might join me and a few others in paying them a visit. Looks like they're probably gonna be here for a couple hours yet, so I figure we wait for it to get good and dark... but don't let me bore you with details if you'd rather get back to whatever you happen to be doing..." he trailed off, counting on Johnny's taste for violence to overcome whatever was holding his attention at the moment.
"Ah, Good to hear your voice, Seannie boy." Johnny said after hearing Sean's proposal, "Let me just get my gear from the higher ups. You know how touchy they are about me just waltzing around the good stuff. Hopefully they won't chain me up this time. Not like they can really stop me from giving you a hand anyway. Damn. I really wish I knew where they hid my weapons this time. Bastards."
Johnny hung up. Black Fangs, eh? Should be fun.
He got up, and ran back into Gray Talon HQ, stopping briefly to grab a cup of blood-coffee before heading for the Talons' Quartermaster.
"Right, I need my guns right about... now, thank you." he said, leaning on a wall, "A mate of mine, and a lackey of yours, needs some help taking out a Black Fang safehouse that's just a little too close to Talon turf for comfort. I'd recommend letting me go all out on this one."
The Quartermaster seemed to be ignoring Johnny at first.
Yuki was, in a word, bored. She was stuck at work cause a co-worker had not bother to call in or show up, worse, it was getting on that 'dead' time of the evening, her and boredom rarely went together well, though it was amusing watching the ghost hunters check the street lights.
About a week ago, Yuki had been bored out of her mind on the grave yard shift, so, she set up a pretty elaborate illusion on around the stop lights to make them look like the Lakitus from Mario Cart. There where a few near misses but no one got hurt, a lot of people slowed down to confirm they where seeing what they think they where seeing, for them she had one of them say 'please don't clog the lanes'. When word got to her parents about 'the mass hallucination', her father Jason laughed, no one was hurt so he didn't see the need to lecture Yuki on it, but did tell her to tone it down next time. Shizuka, was more or less silent on the subject, kinda hard to lecture some one on the responsible use of their powers, when you would have done the same thing only ramped up to eleven.
But for now, Yuki just watched, bored, though the gears where already turning on the fun she could have with these 'Paranormalists'
Grey Talon Quartermaster
"Hmm...? Black Fang place, ya'say?" The, rather tired-looking, old Quartermaster turned to face Johnny, a long scar stretching from his forehead, over a covered, though probably-absent, eye, all the way down his neck. He took a moment to scratch the scar, grumbling as he thought to himself. Eventually, the man silently went over to a marked locker and pulled out all of Johnny's equipment. Once he laid them on the counter, the man paused again, leaving his hands on Johnny's guns before finally speaking. "You know what? I'm feeling mighty generous today..." The Quartermaster heaved up some boxes of various ammunition onto the counter. "Happy hunting, me'boy."
"Crulk... James. James, Jim, can I call you Jim?"
James fidgeted with the table. "Don't call me Jim."
The landlord sighed. "James, you need to get a job."
James glared up at him. The landlord was a painfully earnest middle-aged fae with a paunch and too many ears. He had aspirations of creating a Community witness protection program, which currently consisted of James and an Earthborn named Maut who never left his room. This was the fifth hole James had stayed in since his rapid departure from Staten Island, and he'd really thought it was a keeper. He'd spent the first 3 weeks seeing how far he could push the landlord and, when nothing happened, decided to settle in. Since then, in James' opinion, he'd been a model patron. Never ask for anything, take your meals in your room, don't talk to anyone, don't leave the building, don't waste the bill on lights or showers. But apparently there was no pleasing some people.
"Can't get job. Someone will see me."
The landlord sighed more deeply. "James, I respect your fears, but they're back on Staten Island. Nobody's going to hurt you here! I promise you that. I'm here to get you back on track, get you a real home and a real life again! Isn't that what you want?"
James stared furious holes in the table and said nothing. The landlord took this as a sign of encouragement.
"Of course it is! You just need to get out there and know that there's nothing to fear. Why, in a couple of weeks, you'll be your old self again! You can move out, become your own man!"
James clenched his fingers in his lap and said nothing. The landlord leaned in eagerly.
"You'll see, Jim, that soon enough..." James' head snapped up.
"Don't call me Jim.
The landlord leaned back in his chair and sighed the mother of all sighs. "Bottom line, Crulk, is that you start paying some rent or you're out."
And that was how James Crulk found himself out in the Underground, mumbling and shivering, plucking at his clothes and hoping that he would wake up and the landlord would be back to reluctantly tolerating him. But no, this was no dream. Poor James.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and shrieked. He whirled around, aura already forming around his fingertips, to find himself looking into the many eyes of a goblin collective, all wrapped in red fabric and shiny trinkets. "Youse a sad man," the leader chittered, the rest nodding their heads sagely, "we knows, we sees, yessis we do. We's also sad, yah? We make deal, you do job, and neither of us be sad no more. Yessis?"
Gray Talon HQ
"Thank ye kindly, good sirrah," Johnny said with broad grin as he tipped his imaginary hat to the Quartermaster before grabbing his guns and ammo. "First kill's for you, my friend."
A few minutes later, just outside the Black Fang Safehouse
Johnny snuck up on Sean, and held an SMG to his head.
"All right, turn around slowly and empty your pockets." Johnny said before ducking back a good two feet in case Sean decided to take a swipe at him.
"Hey man! I'm just fucking with you." Johnny said once Sean was done, "Great find by the way. Nice little spot to take off the map. Who'd you scare into telling you where it is?"
Johnny laughed as he checked his shotgun, SMG, revolvers, knives, and ammo. He put his SMG away and drew his revolvers.
"So... what's the score? How many fuckers are we dealing with in there?" Johnny said, an ear-to-ear grin appearing on his face, imagining the next several minutes, or perhaps hours of violence.
"Those of you sitting in the first few rows will get wet," he whispered to no one in particular.
Stubbe and Ari rode in silence. The cabby stopped at the intersection of Seventh and Greenwich, like Ari had told him. Ari got out, Stubbe stayed in. Maybe they normally did ride together. Ari had no idea whatsoever.
He walked the short distance to his apartment building and climbed the stairs. It was just after sundown. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd slept. He stumbled into his apartment, a finely furnished, tastefully eclectic three room affair. Without thinking, he stripped, locked the door, and tumbled into bed.
Three hours later, he was awoken by a phonecall.
"Mr. Hrafn-" the voice on the phone began.
"Christ alive, do you people ever sleep?"
"Mr. Hrafn," it began again, audibly disapproving. It was Ari's immediate superior, the man who handled Asura's merc recruiting. His mission control, as it were. "We have one final mission before your current contract expires."
Ari grunted noncommitally.
"The information you retrieve was very valuable to us." Whether it had been or not, Ari was not at liberty to say. He knew flattery when he heard it, though. "And it gives us a new avenue to pursue."
"Is it clouds? It's clouds isn't it."
"We're looking to take a piece of the underground. We feel-"
"Aw, man. I was close. Clouds and underground are just opposites. Close enough."
"WE FEEL," it repeated, louder. "that Asura Group has too long neglected such a large part of the Shadow Community. As we understand you have some contacts in the Emergence Coalition, we would be ve-"
"Where do I go? We both know I'm contractually obligated to do whatever it is you're wanting." He hadn't gotten enough sleep for this. It wasn't even as bad as normal, but still annoying.
"Meeting room 2, Alama Hotel. They'll fill you in."
"I still wish it was clouds. Why can't it be clouds?"
A click came instead of an answer. Predictable.
Ari climbed out of bed, stood, and got dressed in the dark. Dark green button-down, dark jeans, and his running shoes. Sturdy, well-made, and probably soon to be covered with dirt. He sighed.
Door key, wallet, watch, cell phone, gun and holster. Spare clip in the strap pocket. He wondered if Peter would be there. He hoped so.
With that, he was out the door, and on the street. Not a whole lot of cabs in Greenwich Village this late. He took off joggging towards the hotel. He arrive around ten minutes later, pleasantly refreshed. He'd always enjoyed running, especially at night.
He approached the night receptionist.
"Which way to Meeting Room 2?" Ari asked, putting on his best innocent face.
The woman did a double take at him, then carefully avoided looking at him. He'd forgotten to look at his tattoo. It was apparently something bad.
"Uuuuhh.. That way. Take a left, then your second right. Up the stairs, then the third door on your right."
"That seems needlessly complex."
She shrugged, and he followed her directions. He arrived, and saw why'd she'd sent him around the long way. There was a common room in the most direct route. His tattoo was, apparently, that bad today.
The was a mirror in the hallway. He stopped and inspected it.
A dick. A well-drawn, anatomically exact erect penis. He sighed, and pushed into the meeting room.
The car ride was awkward, Ari seemed to be slipping a bit that day. He told the driver where he wanted to go, Alama hotel for a meeting later, didn't seem like he heard though. It worried him, but he wouldn't say anything... yet. The car ride was silent, though, and the driver seemed a little bit nervous. Couldn't blame him too much for that one.
Ari got out of the cab wordlessly, and Peter said a goodbye. Didn't think he caught it, though. Stupid, should've said it louder. Or something. He was getting worried, should've said something in the car too. He sighed, and the cab drove on in it's silence. Less nervous driver, though. That was... acceptable. Peter must've not looked very intimidating. His hand had been aching again all day, maybe he just sort of looked pitiful?
He got out when they reached the destination, Peter kept his backpack on him usually for days like this. Filled with gear for his night job. He walked in, breezed past the receptionist with his usual banter. How's the weather, stuff like that. A flash of the pearly whites and his money certainly sped up the process, only about 20 minutes to get a room. Not exactly close to Meeting Room two, but it was fancy. Someone would come get him after a nap, hopefully. He sat down on the bed, looking through his current gear, for the job.
His pistol, clips with different types of ammunition, body glove and light, extremely flexible armor. A disposable smartphone finished of the list. He laid back on the bed, smiling. He hoped he met Ari again later, though he hated having to kill in front of the guy...
After awhile, he was woken up, didn't remember what he dreamed. Too bad, though not like he was going to keep a journal. Shit was silly. He threw on a pair of cheap jeans and a long sleeved shirt over his black, skintight body glove. Good for stealth, and it was specially made in case he wolfed out. Clothes were not. He made his way over, and had to keep his laughter in check when he saw Ari.
Wandering bore fruit, he remembered why he wanted to leave rather quickly, earlier. A courier found him in his musings, gave him a slip of paper. Meeting in a bar, how cliche. The mission itself could prove interesting, however, and he'd very rarely been to the place called "Mudpit bar", so that could be interesting. Maybe someone famous had visited? Another face to his repertoire, maybe a Troll. That'd be good to have on his side, though most were likely still alive.
His way over was uneventful, if only he'd been better at summoning beasts. Then he could ride them. He supposed he could hitch a ride on the back of Heracles, but that seemed such a waste. And riding a human, no matter how large, into a grotto such as this might've been the wrong message. Wearing his clothes in general in a place like this was a bad idea, though. He'd save his energy for summoning someone impressive in the mission, for now. Probably Cu. He was always ready for combat, and eerily good at it.
He made his way inside, and found where his group was fairly quickly, at least. He smiled as he walked into their conversation, staying quiet in the back.
Olivia climbed down the rungs of the ladder, very much annoyed. She was supposed to be getting some fresh air and yet here she was, going to the underworld, the very epitome of stagnating air. She actually didn't have a problem with the underworld, having made peice with it while she hid out for those few weeks, she was just annoyed at having to come down NOW. She figured that Gareth Corp. had to have it's own branch that tracked down each of their members and kept constant track of them to make sure that they could assign missions at the worst possible moment.
She wondered about how her friends were doing, probably sleeping (except the troll. Wait...do trolls sleep? Probably. Note to self, ask later.), before wondering why she was being called down. She knew it was about the Asura Group apparently planning an attack on the underworld. She wondered when her group were going to retaliate and whether she would be dragged into it.
She was in the underworld at this rate, walking past homes and businesses and such. She payed them no mind however as she walked along, starting to get distracted and calming down. 'I wonder how you attack a major corperation anyways? Probably very sneakily...i wonder if somebody just went in all Rambo style and just started shooting up people? They'd be cut down pretty quickly unless they were a troll...Rambo troll...now that would be a good movie...what genre though...'
She filed that idea away for later usage when she reached the bar, The Stereotypical Vampire Bar Featuring A Copious Usage Of The Word Blood ie, the Blood Bank Bar or BBB (easy to remember at least). Why would they schedule a meeting with a werewolf here, she didn't know, and she suspected that she would stick out like a sore thumb, which unnerved her. Still, she was obligated to at least go in so she opened the door and peeked in. Relieved to see nothing that would immediately make her vomit, she walked in and sat down, waiting for her contact to appear, she wasn't drinking a thing though.
The gentle hum of the electricity through the tracks was music to Drusus' ears as the subway cart came to an eventual halt in front of him. The low level light coupled with the throng of bodies helped to obscure his unusual appearance, which he made an effort to conceal with a large duffle coat. Every now and then a bump in the tracks would cause a nearby commuter to stumble ever so slightly into him, whereupon they would recoil as they received a particularly nasty static shock. These incidences would sometimes draw a muted apology from Drusus, but only if they were so lucky. It was just another facet of his being that he now had to live with.
As the train pulled up at the next station, a gaggle of tourists boarded the carriage and immediately made their way over to the end which Drusus now sat. He stopped his habit of keeping his head down to take a glance at the from underneath his hood. They were Japanese from the looks of it, their colourful shirts and cheerful dispositions could only have been product of naive wonderment. They had no idea of the true nature of this city; the way that it constantly assaults your senses from every angle, or its seedy underbelly filled with the kind of murderous scum that would gladly mug you for the 10$ in your wallet and not think twice about putting a bullet in the back of your skull.
Drusus tried hard to not become like those kind of people, but with every passing day his sense of humanity seemed to fade further. He didn't know if he could ever go back to smiling the way that those tourists still could.
Ignorance truly is bliss it seems
"Umm.. Excuse me mister...?"
His eyes flicked open at the greeting, as he became aware of the presence in front of him. It came from a boy who couldn't be more than ten years old, dressed in a similarly bright garb to the rest of the family of tourists. Drusus gathered that he must be with them, his suspicions proved correct when the boy motioned to the others to show that he was okay, despite the fact that it had probably taken him a lot of courage to come speak to him.
At first he tried in vain to pretend he hadn't heard the boy, but he remained rooted to the floor in front, supporting himself with the railing in one hand and a camera in the other. "...Yes?"
The child smiled at receiving a response. "Hi! Could you take picture of me and family? It's our first time in New York and they speak little American."
Without waiting for a response the boy offered the camera out in both hands. Didn't the kid not to talk to strangers? Let alone not to hand over your expensive goods? Drusus sighed in frustration, taking out a small tube labelled 'Silicone Grease' and rubbing a small layer of its contents over his skin before taking the camera in his hands. The boy rejoined his family as Drusus rose from his seat to point the lens at a decent angle. It was a less than ideal setting, but after setting the camera to compensate for the train's movement the family were already mid-pose.
One cheerful photograph later, Drusus had finally arrived at the corner of Helman and Brock. The large, unassuming complex was one of many in the area, having nothing discernable to mark it as Black Fang, but those that were in the know in the Community knew that these streets belonged to them. Whether they liked it or not was a different matter altogether. Thats what he had been summoned to clear up. The case of family that has been getting too wise as of late.
He flipped over the business card he had been given, on the back was scribbled the address and apartment- #549. He buzzed the number, only to be greeted by a synthesised voice.
The brass Wench Pub
Entering the pub, causing the few patrons inside of it to take a glance at the doorway, was a man in a leather jacket. a recent addition to it was a large embroidered cross on the back of it. Anyone who had worked ever a few remote cases would recognize Brian "Knuckles" O'Malley. He wasn't drunk, but looked like he had one hell of a day doing something. He had been in here a few times prior, always generally nice to those who serve him beer.
Walking towards the bar, his shoulders drooped low and he did generally not look good. He managed to haul himself into the seat next to the detective and placed his arms on the counter. "Ah, just a pint O' Guinness to wet me tongue and wipe me mind. 'been a long day and not a productive one at that..." he said with a rather heavy Irish accent, staring down at the bar's wooden counter.
While he hadn't killed anyone, he managed to break a few baseball bats over heads, one of them being a good friend who turned out to be a snitch. He left the fella in a coma and didn't care if he ever woke up from it or not.
"Must be gettin old, lettin' you sneak up on me like that. Anyways, from what I've seen, maybe a dozen Black Fang goons, probably a few hangers on." Sean grinned, "Not the greatest odds we've faced, but for something quick, should be fine."
Grasping into his bag, he pulled out a weathered shotgun. "Let's get this party started shall we?"
Checking once to make sure the road was clear, he rushed across, and fired twice into the door. Upon entering into the front hall of the building, and stepping over the corpse of a man unfortunate enough to have been standing just inside the door a moment earlier, he let out a primal howl. Firing at someone peeking out from the top of the stairs he shouted: "I've got the top floor! Take the bottom!"
"Now you're talkin!" Johnny said, running straight into what looked like an abandoned hotel's lobby. He knew it was supposed to be abandoned by the total lack of maintenance... you know, broken and squeaky floorboards, torn furniture, mattresses randomly strewn about, bloodstains on every surface, and claw marks everywhere. The usual visual crapshoot.
Johnny ran in, and fired a few shots in random directions. "Heeeeerrrreeesss' JOHNNY!"
Like you didn't see that one coming.
A few werewolves came rushing at him, and Johnny took them out with a few well-placed explosive rounds from his dual revolvers. Unfortunately, one of them got a little too close to Johnny when he fired, so the small explosion knocked him back through the flimsy remains of a wall, causing him to drop his revolvers, which slid underneath what looked like a broken 1950's era lead-lined refrigerator. Instead of stupidly trying to find the little bastards, he drew his SMG and flipped himself upright before kicking over a nearby kitchen table for cover. And that's when he noticed that he was sporting some nasty burns that, while not visible to anyone affected by his Glint image, still hurt like hell and would take weeks to heal.
Four wolves entered the room. Two from the obvious hole in the wall, one from the door on the left, and one from a hole in the ceiling. Johnny popped up and sprayed the entire room with incendiary rounds fired as fast as its mechanized parts would allow while spinning around and cackling like a maniac.
This tactic killed the two idiots standing in the hole in the wall, shattered the door-wolf's kneecaps, and sent spider-wolf clambering back up to the second floor. Once again, Johnny's secret "Fuck-Off-Jitsu" had done the trick.
Without waiting to see what would happen next, Johnny ran through the hole before the fire slowly gaining traction in the room managed to really get going. Back in the lobby, he ducked behind the receptionist's deck and reloaded. Waiting for any other furball that wanted to get its ass kicked... and shot off... and probably burnt to a crisp... and then stomped and piddled on by Mr. D'Ville; anyway, while waiting for someone to come up, he breathed a small curse as the fire in the kitchen started spreading like well... wild-fire... and he heard his revolvers exploding noisily; and from the sound of it, sending the fridge up into the next story and apparently lodging it in the floor or ceiling above. Weird.
"Comin' right up," Mickey called, grabbing a polished mug and making his way to the tap.
Daniels took a swig of his whisky and looked briefly at the patron that just entered. It didn't take long for the detective to recognize the man, he'd seen him a few times at the local precinct. The guy had made quite a name for himself with his shenanigans, as one might call them. Nothing particularly outstanding, however, at least nothing that could be proven. After Mickey served the guy up and returned to his business, Daniels opened up with a bit of a smile. "Come to drown your troubles, O'Malley? Been seeing you in here more often. Can't say I'm surprised though, with what I hear from the ABC guys. They recently shut down one of your friends' distilleries, right? Sorry, allegedly your friends'. Any word on when business might pick up again?"
O'Malley shrugged. "Shit happens. Anyways, you may want to tip off some of yee buddies in the department that there was a brutal beating on some poor lases at tis address." he said slipping the detective a shred of paper. on it was the location he was just at. "I would have called it in, but with my history, i'd be a prime suspect." he said, wiaitng on his drink.
"But our buisness never shut down. The bar is still running well and legally, should ya want to be knowin." he said,
Daniels picked up the piece of paper and inspected it, already going through scenarios in his head of what really happened. "Huh, that a fact? Well, I'll be sure to get that looked into. And it's good to hear you and your pals have that legality issue sorted out."
"Here you go," the bartender said to Brian, sliding his Guinness over to him.
"Maybe I'll come by and see how business is going," Daniels continued. There was a pause as he took another sip. "Maybe then I won't have to put up with this wise ass relic of a barkeep."
"This 'relic' has half a mind to knock your ass right off that damned stool."
"Easy, Mickey. I'm not so sure your old ticker could handle it," Daniels remarked with a smile, warranting an exaggerated scowl from the bartender. The moment Mickey was out of earshot, Daniels set his drink down and in a hushed tone spoke to Brian. "Alright, I know the sort of company you keep, and I'm not asking you to play informant here so hear me out. There's been a few killings recently - gang violence by the looks of it, but not like any organization I've seen - and I need to know if you've heard any word of any up-and-coming groups. It doesn't look like they're making major moves, but they are making themselves noticeable."
Time crept by at a snails pace, Yuki hated when it did that, a lot but just when she was about to start screwing with passers by, a car pulled up to the drive through menu. "Thank you for choosing Jack in the Box, you mat order when ever your ready" Yuki chimed while her mind was still pondering what sort of illusion to go with this time. "Two Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger combos with Curly Fries, and a strawberry and chocolate shake" A male voice replied, "Will there be anything else?" Yuki asked as she hit the corresponding buttons on the register "Nope, that's everything." "15.38 at the window please"
The car pulled around as Yuki worked on the shakes, then put them in a drink holder then opened the window to be met by the man who she spoke to, and in the seat next to him, Cassie, a werewolf Yuki was friends with. "S'up Tri Tail" Cassie said as Yuki collected the money for the food ordered "Hey Cassie, who's your friend?" Yuki replied as she handed him is change "Tyler" he said and offer Yuki his hand to shake and she did, then handed him the shakes and bag of food. "So hows the family doing? Your dad find something worth while yet?" Yuki shook her head "Not yet, but it turns out mom is pregnant, and as much as we're all excited, you can tell dads worried cause moneys gonna be really tight when mom has to go on maternity leave." Cassie nodded while Tyler ate a fry, the wrote something down on a card and handed it to Yuki "If your willing to put your self in harms way, the packs could use some help sorting a 'problem' out" Cassie gave Tyler a dirty look "What? she said her family is in need of money and they'll pay her for her time." Cassie was about to rip into him on how 'Yuki wasn't like that' and so on "I'll call when I have a chance"
"Don't look at me like that" Yuki said when she noticed the funny look Cassie was giving her "My choices are limited, if the packs will pay for the odd job here and there then I don't see why I shouldn't at least look into it. It's not like the job market has recovered and I can get a better paying job, or Dad can just get another job like the one he had before." Yuki said stuffing the card in her back pocket "Sides, the packs can't be near as bad as the idiots I have to deal with here ...." she added after moving the mike out of the way and leaning in so only Cassie and Tyler could hear her.
The three chatted for a bit longer before Cassie and Tyler drove off, leaving Yuki to ponder her options as she waited for the end of her shift.
Brian shrugged, he hadn't heard of any sort of gang violence through the mob. This did however, peak his interest I the an next, because to not hear about it through the mob meant it was almost 100% likely that it was shadow community. He took a long drink from his Guinness, emptying about half the mug by the time e put it down.
He had spotted the detective a couple of times while in here but had never been formally acquainted. There was a chance this guy was Part of the SC, but anything was up for grabs at this point. Deciding to test him, knuckles pulled out the money for his drink and set it on the bar. Making sure the old fool wasn't looking, he pulled out an extra quarter. "Sooo.... Detective. Are we talking your standard run of the mill violence.." He said holding the the quarter out inbetween them. "Or something from the other side of the community?" He asked, folding the coin In Half between his fingers, hoping the detective would catch his drift as no human could ever do that.
Storming through the upper floor, Sean made it his purpose to inflict as much destruction as he could, smashing doors and wantonly firing at anything that moved. All too soon, however, the Black Fang began organizing some form of coordinated resistance, firing from behind doorways as they retreated down the hall.
Pausing to reload, Sean sniffed at the air. Was that smoke? He rolled his eyes and began shouting "Johnny! We're still inside-" He tirade was interrupted by the crash of a refrigerator punching a hole thought the floor of a hallway and into the roof, before collapsing back into the ground. The interruption of flying household objects was just the opportunity he needed, and he leaped into the hall, howling as he charged. One of those who didn't break and run, an artist apparently, tried to fling the fridge at Sean, but he vaulted over it, like a freight train of teeth, claws and anger.
Within a matter of moments, he had killed off the Black Fang presence on the upper floor, but it seemed the air was filling with smoke, a pointed reminder that it was high time to clear out.
"Johnny, we're out!" he bellowed as he rushed back the way he came, pausing only to empty his pistol into a distressed wolf trying to climb out of a hole in the floor.
Johnny fired a full-barrel at an idiot wolf that had tried to rush him, capping its knees in, and setting its fur ablaze. He reloaded his shotgun as he ran out of the building and rejoined his friend.
"Nice work in there," he said, putting a hand on Sean's shoulder, "I think we got their local lead shit-head before any of them knew what the fuck. And we've definitely left an impression on anyone stupid enough to survive that mess."
He laughed like the madman he was. His victory laugh was interrupted by his cell phone, which chirped one of its many unique text alerts... or in this case, a pre-programed alert whenever the Gray Talons posted a job. He showed the alert to Sean.
"Hey, looks like the Talons are getting really desperate," he said, "They're going for outside help. Now isn't that just insulting, Sean? We do all of this work here, pro-bono for the most part... and this is how they show their appreciation for our... talents. They try to outsource us. Well, only one way to go about this... race you to the Kingdom Come!"
Without any further warning, Johnny holstered all of his remaining weapons and ran straight for the pub.
For a very brief moment, Daniels looked questioningly at the bent coin, and then it struck him. He only smiled, looked down at his glass, then chuckled and spoke shortly before taking another drink. "Seems like I'm seeing more of the community every day."
Checking to see if Mickey was still at the far end of the bar, which he was, the detective took a quick look at Brian to see if anything about him other than his display of strength was abnormal for the layman. There were his eyes that stood out, but he'd never had a good look at them. He supposed his difference was pretty easy to hide, all things considered. "Well all the victims have been human and, from what I can gather, so are the assailants. No bite marks, scratch marks, strange prints - nothing that would really surprise anyone on an autopsy report. Not that those sort of things go on the official records anyway. It looks like a turf war, the deaths leading further into Brooklyn. Any word on what's going on over there?"
Brian shook his head. "No clue. I deal with the human side of things in Manhattan, so while violence is my region of expertise, i don't keep ontop of areas outside my turf or with "gang" violence. We're a bit more classy in the buisness from where i'm from" Explained the mobster. "If you want help on this, i'll gladly do it, i just want something in exchange." Said Knuckles, taking his mug and chugging down the rest of his pint.
"Anything i would say or do while in assistance is not going on record and if charges are brought up against me, i get immunity from them. Only during the tie i stay with ye though. after we part ways, anything i be doin in my free time is my own issue. Ya hear me?" said the irishman. "and that goes for any time ye need my help, as the offer stands."
The man was rather bored with the latest work he was tasked with by his boss in the mob. He did have allot of freedom when it came to what he was and wasn't allowed to do. Maybe helping this detective would bring a bit of excitement back to his life.
"So... uh..." wolfboy said from somewhere nearby. Ari wheeled around wildly, before discovering the man standing directly in front of him. He gave a surprised blink, then shook his head, as if he was disappointed in Stubbe for not knowing something.
"All the rage in fashion circles, Petey. You should get one!" Ari suggested with a wry grin. "So... Don't you usually tell me about this sort of thing? The manager had to call me, and he never answers any of the important questions. Like why can't we be taking over clouds instead."
He looked around. They'd been here before, he seemed to remember. Or had that been for and with someone else? Or had it been someone else?
That nap was not enough to clear the cloudwebs out of my head. he thought, with another shake. It didn't help, but it was what people in movies always did when confused.
He looked back to Stubbe. "So... Know anything about this mission? Or just what happened yesterday, my memories are covered in fog? Or why it can't be clouds instead? I rather like clouds. Just not in my head." Ari was very, very good at digressions. Not so good at remembering where he'd been going in the first place, but that wasn't very important, when all was said and done.
James hesitated. The goblin sounded sincere...
"What do you want me to do?"
The leader of the goblins clapped his hands and squealed happily. "Yessis, much much goodlike, yessis indeed!" One of the goblins reached within the folds of his robe and pulled out a glowing blue sphere. "Takesie ours trinket, simplelike, and brings it to brothers, peasyeasy, yeah?"
Tentatively, James took the sphere. "Where are brothers?"
"Oh, on the Statsie Islands, yessi..."
"WHAT?" James shrieked, and slammed the sphere against the ground, shattering it into a thousand pieces. As one, the goblins hissed, and the leader did something unspeakable.
He touched James.
Instantly, James channeled his aura into his hand and slammed it into the offender's arm. The goblin howled as the concussion shattered his bones, and the rest of the group curled over as the pain traveled through the collective. James focused his aura down into his bad leg and sprinted away, leaving the screaming goblins and bewildered crowed in his wake. After a minute of running, he turned around and found he hadn't been followed. He sighed with relief, then screamed once more when he felt another hand on his shoulder.
"Whoa, calm down there!" James whirled around to find a hulking ork leaning away from him, hands in the air. "Not going to hurt you, buddy!" He nodded down the road, towards the direction of the goblins. "Pretty nice work, back there. Very neat."
"What do you want?" James demanded.
The ork sighed. "Not one for small talk, I see. Alright, I'll speak frankly. I consider myself an... agent of the EC, though I'm not employed by them, per se. I saw you at a meeting, asked around, found out about your history. Took it upon myself to recruit you. The EC needs someone for a job. You seemed an excellent choice."
James twitched. "So I do the job, yeah, and what do I get?"
The ork shrugged. "I can't speak for the EC. Maybe money, maybe shelter, who knows. They'll be grateful, I can say that much."
And so James found himself traveling the streets of the Bronx, covering his face and glancing nervously about at the people who walked beside him. He came to a dingy storefront bearing the name of Buscotto's on a dingy awning. He pushed his way inside and went to the counter.
"Was told to ask for Reggie."
"Speaking," grunted the stocky old Fae. "Y'here about the job? Course y'are. Wouldn't know that name if you weren't. Here, I'll fill ya in."
"Last one there buys the first round!" Sean cried as he barreled after Johnny. This time, it seemed that Sean had bitten of more than he could chew, as Johnny steadily pulled ahead. Dashing across roads and through back alleys, Sean put on a bust of speed as the pub finally came into view. To his mild regret however, Johnny was casually waiting for him, as though he'd been there all day. "Well, looks like first rounds on me."
Entering, they found the bar to be quiet and dimly lit, a place free of the drunken college kids their loud music that seemed to have wriggled their way into so many of Sean's favorite watering holes. Taking a seat at the almost empty bar, Sean called the bartender over. Sean recognized the man, although he was unsure whether he was a member of Grey Talon, or merely someone with ties to the society.
"So, what'll it be?" The barkeep inquired, glancing up at the two newcomers.
"Two beers, if you'd be so kind. And," he lowered his voice slightly "a raven told me that we should speak to you 'bout something, you wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"
The end of Yuki's shift came sooner then expected, thank god for super slow nights was all she could think as she headed home.
When she got home and went through the usual 'undress/shower/bed' phases she made it as far as the shower before she remembered the card she'd gotten from Tyler, she gave it another look, there was a phone number and address. Yuki pondered a few minutes on whether she should go or not, before she quickly got dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket, and headed out for the meeting place.
The Brass Wench Pub
"I think we have ourselves an agreement." The detective couldn't help but laugh inwardly at the situation. Here he was, making an off-the-record deal with a mobster so he could have a little assistance without mucking about through the tedious process of obtaining information through more legal methods. It was like the whole thing was taken from some crime flick, but as needlessly underhanded this seemed, something in his intuitive mind was telling him things were going to become far too complicated for standard investigative procedure...
The Kingdom Come Pub
Erickson sat rather calmly in his seat, waiting for the meeting to begin. However, as calm as he appeared, he was growing rather anxious to begin working. Or at least begin putting that detective to work. Finding the guy was nothing short of a miracle - somebody who wanted excitement bad enough to take what he can get. He needed somebody like that. It gave him enough wiggle room to let him work a few jobs at a time, and Lord knows he needed to. With the money he'd have to scrape up, having someone so eager and competent as Daniels was a godsend. He just wished the meeting would start. The sooner he got the information, the sooner he could put the detective to work and rake in the money. Sure the detective would see some of that, but not before the finder's fees were applied. He just hoped this new workhorse was more compliant than the last.
The man obviously conducting the meeting appeared to be a very by-the-books kind of person. His suit was proper and well cared for, and a glance at his Rolex signaled that the briefing was about to begin. With a nod directed to a person by the door, a loud click sounded as the door leading to the room was locked. Then, after a moment of silence hung in the air, the man spoke. "It has been found to be in the common interest of the Board that our business expands into what is commonly referred to as the 'Underworld'."
The man messed with a keyboard on his side of the table and suddenly a projector mounted on the ceiling whirred to life. Once it warmed up, a map of the Underworld directly under Manhattan and little beyond that was displayed on the far wall. "Our agents have assessed the situation most thoroughly in this area, beneath us. They have reported that any direct intrusion at this time would result in a loose alliance of elements forcing us back out. This is where you come in..."
Another swift jab at the keyboard brought up an overlay on top of the map first displayed, showing an array of colors, two relatively large ones being red and brown. "While at a glance one would assume that Gareth..." The man spoke with a tone of distaste as his spit out the name of his company's rival. "...and the rising group of malcontents calling themselves the 'Emergence Coalition' are the dominant powers, there a large parts of the area under the control of more...manageable parties."
The man pulled out his laser pointer and directed it at a light blue part of the map, under Central Park. "Blossomers, probably best known for their Druidic practices. They are pacifists, but also don't like anyone 'disturbing the balance'. Along with assumed hostility to our incursion, they have prime real estate, their territory being in the middle of our surface holdings and Gareth's area of influence. Drive them out or clean them out, it doesn't matter how you get rid of them, but Asura wants that spot."
Next, he moved over to the east side of the island, to an grayish area that actually runs more under the river than Manhattan itself. "The Mechanist's Guild, or Mech for short, mostly made up of Goblins and other individuals with some good brains. Used to just be a Community union of subway workers, but decided to try bigger things when their numbers started to swell. Now, they have what some a claiming is a 'Tech-geek's paradise'...if it wasn't for the fact that most of their territory has to deal with a leaky roof." apparently, this was meant to be a joke, but the man was met with awkward silence. "Anyway, Asura would actually like to procure this group's assistance, and asks you to show restraint in your dealings with them, though I won't question your methods. Play the diplomacy card or pacify them covertly so we can come in later and provide aid. Now, finally..."
One last flick of the wrist to direct attention towards a yellow-green blob bordering the Emergence Coalition's territory. "These guys don't have a name for themselves, but the people down there have started to call them the 'Drudge'. Mostly scum of all sorts, our Agents have been led to believe that this group is currently backed up by Gareth, in secret. If word were to get out that most of the crime in that part of the Underworld is thanks to them, the Corporation would be faced would a relations disaster. They would not only lose their own influence, but the Drudge would undoubtedly lose their support, and crumble. We want you to find solid evidence of this in the Drudge's turf, how you deal with them otherwise is up to you.
The man paused after jabbing at the desk one more time to turn the projector off. "Any questions?"
Once everyone had been shuffled into the backroom of the Blood Bank Bar, they found a rather mild-looking woman mixing a ration of Fae blood with a few dashes of gin. "Not as many as I hoped..." See scanned the group assembled. "...but you'll do." Taking a quick drink of her cocktail, the woman's eyes appeared to light up and she continued. "As some of you may already know, Asura's starting to stick their noses in the underworld, and the higher-ups want us to swat at them. However, they don't want to simply expand the conflict into the Underworld, so we need to play a more complicated game to keep them on the surface.
The woman picked up a moderately-filled file and slid it across the table in the middle of the room, letting its contents scatter and be easily seen. "We need to use the groups that are squatting down here to our advantage, and use them to push the Asura's probes out. First, we have the Blossomers, the higher-ups would rather their neutrality be protected, but they're not the ones getting dirty here." The woman paused for another sip of her drink, letting it flow through her before continuing. "I think these glorified gardeners are just a loaded gun, asking to be pointed and shot at something. If you can, get in their graces and show them the shit Asura will stir up if they get a foothold here. Then let them run wild."
Walking over to the table, the female vampire pointed a finger at a specific picture, featuring a trio of goblins wearing welding goggles. "Then we have the Mech, crafty little devils. We'd rather they not get involved in this at all, but some of you should take care to either sway them to our side or keep their neutrality by heading off Asura's attempts to ally with them."
"And finally..." The woman glanced over the table and started to pull several photos together. "This may come to a shock to some of you, but we haven't be our usual squeaky-clean selves when it comes to dealing with the Emergence Coalition. Most of you must be aware of the Drudge, the trouble makers near the Bronx? The Corporation has been in some deals with them, basically propping up a lesser evil to fight a greater one. In order to keep the EC in check, we've been keeping the Drudge supplied. However, these guys..." The woman arranged the photos in front of the gathered party. "...have found out how badly it could damage us if this information was made public. So, we need them taken care of, but without the rest of their ilk finding out. The arrangements with the Drudge must be kept secret, or our position in the Underworld is fucked." After taking a deep breath, the woman went to sit back in her chair. Letting a silence sit in the air as she finished her drink. Apparently if there were questions, now was the time to voice them.
"I'll make this simple..." The Ork apparently leading the meeting growled after a pair of goblins had just ended a long list of questions. "We know the Asura are trying to get a foothold down here, and we're going to stop it...while at the same time bolstering our own forces."
Stil looking at the goblins, the Ork held up a fist. As he spoke, he unfurled his fingers. "First, we have the Drudge, who anyone can take a piece of while on their way to the other factions. With everyone all crazy about Asura, we might just catch them by surprise. Second, we have the Blossomers, so long as we present ourselves to Tender Maliko and prove ourselves with a Trial of Deed, as is their custom, we can bring them under our influence. Third, and finally..." The ork seemed to punctuate this with another growl. "...we have Mech, which has to be brought to our side if we're going to keep what we claim in these next few days. Everyone got it?"
When the table became crowded with willing participates, the tanned-to-the point-of-looking-orange Fae began his briefing. "What we thought was a blessing has turned to a curse, and we find ourselves back on the razor's edge." With such a flowery opening, the Fae was sure he had the table's attention now.
"The Templar's last attack against the Chosens' frequent haunts has sent the depraved cults to the backfoot, but instead of simply taking what they pushed the Chosen out of, the Templars seem to be preparing for the killing blow. Weapons of all sorts have been coming through the ports, all paid for by known Templar members all over the world. However, in our attempts to track the shipments, we've hit a snag." The Fae produced what appeared to be an aerial photo of a city block-sized complex. "Once a Baptist church and community facility, the Templars bought the place a few years ago. All the shipments have at least been routed through here, but members we sent there never came out to report what they found. Which is why we've decided to send more than one person this time."
The Fae knew the logic there was faulty, shrugging as he spoke it, but he didn't allow anyone to question him before continuing. "You need to slip in, find either the weapons, or proof of where they've gone, and slip out. Stealth is required, as the Templars will no doubt move the weapons if they find out their operation has been discovered." After finished the Fae looked around absentmindedly as he tried to see if he forgot any general detail. "That should be everything, any questions?
The average apartment just seemed able to fit everyone who wanted to exact a toll on the Lugato Family. A rather buff-looking Ork in the middle of the living room look pleased as he scanned about the room. "Good, lotta' people came. Good...we gonna show dem Lugatos that the Black Fang aren't people you want to fuck over."
The Ork laid down a map of the Bronx, with several locations circled all over the borough. "We've decided to make an example of the Lugatos, all of our metal is gonna sweep this place clean, in a move only trumped by our 'war' against Grey Talon." The Ork pointed to each individual, and then to a small box containing several slips of paper. "We've got our human 'muscle'..." The jab at the unwitting servants of the Black Fang was met with some chuckles around the room. "...already in place by these safehouses we know the Lugatos use. We gonna draw lots to see how's hitting what. When you draw one, you go to the address and meet up with the humans there. Then, you gonna use them to raise some hell."
Some growls of approval came from the more excited members of the gathering, which the Ork let echo about the cramped space before continuing. "And this is just phase one, once we turn the safehouses inside out, we'll use what ever info we find to really hit those traitors where it hurts! Dem Lugatos ain't dumb, they'll have operations going on we don't know about yet...but once we hit these places we'll know all we need to know."
The ork glanced around to search the crowd for quizzical looks, though he saw none. "Time is of the essence, we need to strike tonight our we risk tipping our hand. If you have concerns, speak now."
"Ah, well I guess that's everyone..." The old Fae sighed as he looked at his watch. "I guess we should get to business. As those of you here may know, the Lugato family has recently cut ties with their Black Fang overseers, and are now trying to claim the Bronx as their own." The Fae tisked loudly likely he was chiding a child.
"The fools don't know what hell they bring upon them, but the benefits of their weak rule compared to the Black Fang's heel are apparent. Which is why we're here." Taking a sip of steaming tea he had recently ordered, the Fae took his time to enjoy the drink before continuing. "In order for them to survive the Black Fang's retaliation, the Lugatos will first need allies, which we're going to help them with.
Pulling out a notepad from his coat pocket, the Fae looked through his spectacles to read off the Lugatos potential allies. "Gianomo, Miazzo, Tiela, Witra, Elzo; some still influenced by the Black Fang, some too small to be of any concern. If enough of them side with Lugato, the Black Fang will have no choice but to back off and reassess the situation. That will give us precious time. Any and all methods are supported to bring them to the aide of the Lugato. Now, does anyone here have questions, concerns?"