RP [Phoenix Team] - Burning Down The House

Discussion in 'Phoenix Team' started by Luca, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. Luca

    Luca Administrator Staff Member

    Noir, Kingsbury, The Emperor's Castle
    In the moon-colony of Noir, the zeitgeist had shifted - nay struck off-kilter. Odd trends, motifs, and patterns had begun to normalise in the populace, apparently out of thin air...


    The influence of strange forces, rooted deep within the alleys and passages and concealed with fantastic means had begun to seep into even the laypeople, rising up from the foggy caverns. Their lives were so caught up in servicing Noir's obligations and debts they scarcely noticed the addition of human meat in their packed meals, the uptick of magic users being checked into psych wards and being caught engaging in heinous rituals, to wonder what was in the patina that formed on their drinking water, and to notice whether the targeted advertising was getting a little too close to home: digging into dark secrets and desires, or making outright destructive suggestions.

    With so much distraction and frequent disruption in their lives, these people just accepted these changes as the way of Noir. The Ordinant Hand, a consistent beacon within the city of measured violence, found themselves shaking down and turning out people who babbled strange names, emaciated and delirious. One day, something answered and a routine checkpointing made a bloody mess of the men and women - and the Ordinant Hand swore vengeance for this transgression, but they didn't know where to look, or how to get there alone.

    Runners and other couriers were disappearing more frequently than usual, even in pairs or trios as was mandated when high-profile disappearances rocked Gamble's Runners. The Sweepers and Hospitaliers were each tripping over gruesome crime scenes - the wakes of horrific mutilations and perverse rituals - people throughout the city were disappearing and they kept coming up short, always there for the aftermath. The police found themselves with a fresh caseload of graphic crimes that the public high, low, and scared wanted answers for.

    Reports and ill press from gangs reputable and not, companies, individuals and travellers filtered upwards, reflecting a palpable dread that'd gripped the city. The myriad business interests and collectives were stating trade uncertainty was hurting their bottom lines. Kandin Ta Jolokia, the elected governor of Noir - saw these irregularities forming a disturbing picture. They begun making calls to trusted associates, eyes, and ears - something else was in town and pushing it a direction that disturbed him, a feeling corroborated by his third eye Yedije Jals. He looked out the window and through the haze towards that black and mint-green skyscraper with a scowl.

    He knew something distasteful was fermenting in there at the very least. Tanhauss' new-found belligerence with Sargasso threatened Noir's trade and ties, and arisen the ire of the Units. Sargasso could find new avenues to flog to, while Noir seemed to be getting increasingly isolated. This was bad for business, and Kandin wanted this course corrected sooner rather than later.

    "Erik Van Krupp. What the fuck is happening in your company?" Kandin demanded once he was finally able to patch through. "Why aren't you answering your usual lines?"
    "Something horrible, Kandin." The elderly owner-inheritor relayed, breathing hard. "Ilsa thought she could control it, and Lange is starstruck by its charms. The board were upsold, and have cut me out."
    Something was already off. "...Where the hell are you?" A trace was already going out, the call bouncing through multiple channels and layers between Erik and Kandin. "The board cut you out? That's impossible though - you own them."
    "My influence and word has been overshadowed by the latest majority shareholder, and I have to keep my head down now," Erik protested "lest I lose it for assisting the enemy."

    "Assisting the enemy? Of Tanhauss? What enemy?" Kandin realised exactly who that could be, grimacing. "Right, him... So you go behind your company's back to give Luca Pavone an order to tear your own company down-" His insight was on the money here - deducing , "-because Ilsa and the organ grinder have gotten ambitious all the sudden?" but not here.
    "I made my choices, because She is watching. She is all there is, and all there'll ever be if he doesn't slay this demon."
    "Who, Ilsa?" Kandin scoffed, knowing Ilsa was a feisty woman when provoked. "That's impossible; This is as secure a line as money can buy."
    "No, its-" A burst of static flared onto the line, spiking through Kandin's desk communicator "-help!-" Erik's voice was drowned out and snuffed, followed by a high pitched whine rising into a bitcrushed howl that could've cursed the stars and moons with its violence. Yedije saw Kandin's face screwing up as they were screamed into.

    "Erik?" Kandin asked a dial tone, breathing heavy. "...Erik, you there? ... fuck me." He felt a migraine pulsing up his spinal column and straight into his head, causing him to stumble. Yedije came to his aid immediately, cradling him on the floor. Something was watching indeed, smiling from the opposite window across the cityscape.


    Watch out, you might get what you're after
    Cool babies! Strange but not a stranger
    I'm an or-din-a-ry guy
    Burning down the house!

    Tom Jones and The Cardigans - Burning Down The House (covering Talking Heads)

    Sargasso, Barrier Island, B.I Medical
    Upon the heirarchy of needs, the base-most needs were physiological: Food, water, warmth, restfulness, followed by safety and security and above that, the need to belong. That last point was driving a wedge into Luca Pavone's mind. Operating in the military machine had transformed the need for intimate relationships into the need for camaraderie among like peers. Those peers, however - had spun away from his life when the EAD fell apart. Dean ... had to be let go - There was no more Dean, just Driver, driven into madness and Tanhauss' hands by obsession.

    A planet away and tied down with their own worries and trouble was another comrade, who'd come in for him. If Jirou ever cried out in their time of need, Luca would leap for them. Not because it was what was commanded of him in the crucible of life-or-death acts, or the shiny new arm, but it was the right thing to do by a man who fought and bled with him. Luca reckoned Jirou would call a favour in, but his long term-trajectory pointed him towards Noir

    Post-military, ex-military, new avenues had arisen and Luca ... didn't know what to do with them. That old coot was right about something after all. The Crude entering his life dazzled him with shifting anatomy, but he was hooked with the potential to face more conflict head on in what was chasing after her and ignoring the love she was pouring into him as thanks. Meeting Harumi for the first time outside that gambling den led the way to further intimacy Luca couldn't reciprocate in full whenever they interacted between jobs - he never wanted to let on the extent of the holes in his heart or psyche. His living demanded him to be invulnerable.
    He knew how to fuck - everyone around here fucked, let's not mince words - but how to love and be loved in turn, felt nigh-impossible, alien, untouchable. Intimate contact a rare facet of his life until recently.

    Even surrounded by new faces in the team Yttrium had the idea of pulling together, Luca had time to feel as though it hinged on his ability to inflict violence, rather than his ability to connect and lead - which, he admitted, turned into wax without practice. Maybe the brutality he exhibited alienated them, he thought. Perhaps they were too far removed from Luca's worldview to connect with, in the case of a Raiken.
    Other interests could've had their number first, in the inventor's case. Luca was at odds with his magnetic qualities, unable to understand why these people followed him into danger. He figured he was looking for the wrong kind of connections, had to look beyond the raw combat potential - see them as people first.

    The topmost bullet point upon the hierarchy of needs was to actualise, and just beneath to feel prestige. To fulfil potentials, no matter how lofty or base. Many people used these moments not only to put themselves forward in their professions, but to indulge and master creative activities and hobbies. For Luca, his driving actualisation was heroic. Be the man those who trusted him close and afar believed him to be, above the need for cheap thrill or theatrics - theatrics which cost him an arm at the worst possible moment. Chasing prestige for its sake alone had almost killed him.

    To confront a threat which could engulf all of the Unity Protocol if left unchecked was prestigious enough without the need to showboat; Luca only saw a blurred glimpse of the dimension Temhebu sprung from, but it was enough to convince the man in red that this threat needed to be addressed, no matter how unnerving, grotesque, or personal it got.

    Gruppen Tanhauss was Public Enemy number 1 of Sargasso - They didn't just have to fall, but the being pulling these eldritch arrangements into place had to be driven away, someway, somehow. And She knew he would be coming: There was no mistaking that sanguinity and verve. Few leapt into the mouth of such a beast, and fewer still could walk away stronger and wiser for it.
    An eye was upon him, but he was game to stare it down and act with impunity - no matter how deep down its scale and maleficence it frightened him.

    Luca Pavone was informally discharged from Barrier Island Medical with a clean bill of health, his clothing handed back to him, and a successfully installed replacement limb provided by a dear friend. Waiting for him in the lobby and immediately engulfing him in a hug and showering him in fluorescent kisses was Yttrium, while Johnny Longhands and Ally Kelly were spectators - a blush spreading across Ally's cheeks while Johnny remained unmoved by watching the man and the crude reunite.

    Yttrium lead Luca's new arm into view for the others to see - it was a slick piece of hardware, crisp, interleaving crimson panels atop a dark, artificial muscle substrate that was pulsing with electro-chemical potential. It almost looked like a glove, and it blended with the jacket too. "...I think it even vibrates on command~!" Yttrium lied, giving Luca a sideways bump with a sway of the hips. Ally chuckled at the suggestion.

    "Oh, you~ Aren't you game to find out?" Luca joked with a face full of cyan kisses, giving his squeeze a slap on the ass - her hair pulsed, lit up and curled for a moment. "There'll be plenty of time later; Watch this." He put his hand out, snapped his fingers, and a gout of orange flame the length of a thumb sprung from his fingertips, wowing the Crude until he relaxed his hand.

    Johnny was surprised more by how open their relationship had turned, not that his long-term customer had developed psionic abilities. "Does this mean you'll stop buying incendiaries now that you can provide your own, mister magician you?" Johnny queried, scoffing at the tiny flame. "Nahhh, just kidding. Nice kit - whoever built it knew you inside and out and they tossed in an Psionic amp for free? You got bigger friends than poor ol' Johnny?"

    The man in red put his arm around the merchant. "Nonsense! I'm more than a customer ID and a long list of receipts. We've covered each other's backs plenty of times."
    "True, just don't you forget who supplied you when you make it big, boy!" Johnny grinned, giving Luca a jab in the ribs. The man in red chortled - it was a frequent joke between the two about who would break out big first. A supportive relationship built on trust and the occasional odd job.
    "I'm already atop the world, and you're with me there-" Luca complimented his friend, "-so don't you sell yourself short Mr. Longhands."

    Ally egged both parties on. "You trying to get in his pants all the sudden as well, Johnny?"
    "Bah. As if he needs an invitation!" Johnny swiftly, looking back at the waitress with a grin. It wasn't the way he swung, but he had to play off Ally's perverted worldview to humour her.

    Luca peeled away to get closer to his squeeze. He and Yttrium were looking into each other's eyes - cerise lashes and cyan iris on a shifting medium peering down into tired, determined dark eyes adorned with caterpillar eyebrows set among strong cheekbones - they nodded, knowing what had to happen next. "Let's rock and roll, Blue." The man in red led Yttrium outside, whistling for his motorcycle to come hither. "We've got officials to collect."
    It had a new addition, an articulated sidecar which could reposition by swinging behind the bike to go on the left or right, or trailing behind. "Right behind you, Lulu~" She answered, slipping into the sidecar and reclining in it, mane spilling out the edges and flowing in the afternoon wind. "I'm done running from Tanhauss." She had the list of names to track down, and she was checking them twice - nobody she recognised immediately, but their positions and roles checked out.
    FR: Yttrium, Luca
    TO: PT-GroupChat
    Luca: Ladies, Gentlemen, Ravnir, we're on!
    Ytt: Lulu and I are going to start north of Barrier Island
     and circle around to collect these awful people.
    Luca: If you're in Barrier Island and not heading our way,
     you're welcome to group up and head south down to Ogonori Island
     to circle around and grab the others, meeting at the
     Starliner Mall in Central View for Ichi Sasaki.
    Otherwise, tag with us.
    Seiren, we'll meet you on the way to HaChi, our first target.
    Ravnir, you do what you feel's best.
    Breyja, Snuffles, I'll see you where/when I see you.
    Ytt: Tanhauss must answer for what they're doing.
    Luca: And I'm happy to hear them out, ONE FIST AT A TIME!
    ♫ Jeroen Tel/Windefalk - Outrun Europa: Stage 1 (8-Bit Bootleg) ♫

    Ally watched the bike throttle up, rev, and they left together in a cloud of dust northwards. "Man, have those two always had something going on?" She remembered watching Luca last year, stoic in the face of such raw sexuality and innuendo from Yttrium, but now dishing it right back and - possibly even indulging her? That was new.
    "They got something that goes further than the surfaces you skim at Harumi's, and even learned something from each other." Johnny tersely, not really understanding how deep those surfaces got at Harumi's. "You might wanna look into trying it out one day?"
    "I did - didn't work," Ally shrugged dismissively, resigned to her lot "figured it wasn't for me afterwards."
    Johnny heaved a false sigh. "That sounds like a you problem..."

    Speeding northwards along the cost and avoiding the centre of Middleton, Luca and Yttrium noticed they were being tailed by a black car with a tint too dark to be inconspicuous, and a lack of numberplates. Once the midday traffic thinned out on the highway, the windows wound down, and Luca saw the distinct silhouette of an arm carrying a t-shaped machine pistol and cried "Contact, on our five!" - accelerating into the cover of the vehicle ahead of them while Yttrium swung behind - her chest unfurling to reveal her massive rack - of explosives.

    "You boys want some cans of bang~?" She taunted with her arms above her head, having taken pages from Luca's book as he was swerving and manoeuvring to dodge hot lead - the cans launched with fluorescent trails of smoke, smashing into the windscreen and blasting the occupants - with a fire inside the cabin, it swerved off the road and into the emergency lane - broccoli-shaped men emerging, burning and continuing to fire at the motorcycle in the distance. "Hot enough for you~?" She added well outside earshot.

    "Whoooo-eee. Man, they're already pissed at us!" Luca hollered once they were in the clear, with a wide grin.
    "It's like they know what we're up to before we do it-" Yttrium replied as she slowly reconstituted and her chest closed, a little concerned at how quickly Tanhauss was on the power couple's case. "Should we be worried?"
    Luca had an inkling as to how - but he wasn't going to let it scare him. "They should be worried."
  2. Ashlinn

    Ashlinn Member

    Sargasso, Vulcanshore, GT Industries Pill Press Plant
    Break The Rules - Charli XCX

    Breyja was, for lack of a better term, not amused as she stared at the offices of the pill press plant. She'd sent a short and to the point 'busy at GT Pill press plant - anyone's welcome to join, if not, I'll catchup.'
    She wasn't surprised to see a few heavy hitters loitering around the parking lot. They weren't hard to deal with at least, distracting them and leading them away from the car so she could boobytrap it? That had been the hard part to ensure they didn't get away incase she fucked up. She just kept out of sight as she skirted the edges of the plant, occasionally detaching the scope so she could use it's alternative vision modes to scope out area's she couldn't see with her own enhanced vision. The scrape of a foot sent her ears twitching as she carefully slipped through a window and dropped down onto some poor fools face. Muffling someone's face with her thighs as she popped a knife between the third and fourth rib was something she hadn't exactly expected to be doing today. A quick tag of the mans face as she carefully tucked him into a corner behind some boxes and she was on the move again.

    The Fact there was smoke coming out of one of the offices was one of the best indicators where she should be headed. There was only a couple of thugs around that had almost caught her off guard. Speaking of.. She ducked into side closet carrying a flailing thug inside who was trying to figure out where the hell she'd come from when she'd just materialized around the corner and snatched him sideways. Sitting on the mans chest she doublechecked her mental map of the building against the known floorplan of the building. She had just one more corridor...

    Breyja was mentally counting her footsteps as she felt the seconds slip past, her nose picked up the scent of a cigarette and the scrape of a riflebutt on the carpeted flooring and a quick peek at her target told her that the man wasn't even really paying attention at his post. She had to mentally remidn herself that this move would always be better timed if she'd been taller as her right foot stamped down on the mans rifle, snapping his trigger finger, pining the rifle to his leg at the same time her hand caught his mouth, forcing him to swallow the cigarette. There wasn't much time to complain for the man when the knife swung up and into his ribs. The problem here was that she had zero time to waste as she let the body drop and then she was smashing through the door into the next room where her quarry awaited, SMG up and tracking for the bastard on her hitlist as her finger tightened on the trigger and sent TAZR rounds flying at anyone even remotely moving in the room.

    ... Wait... when the hell did I start to consider them family?
  3. Sham

    Sham Member

    Briarpatch Mountain, A (Somewhat) Familiar Clearing

    A thunderous clap split the still, summer air drifting about the slopes of the mountain, sending more than a few flocks of birds into flight. Trees shuddered shortly after, their many branches akin to arms flailing in panic. At its epicenter, a clearing adorned with many scorched rocks and a handful of felled trees. A place Ravnir found himself returning to when the city grew loud and concrete felt too… uncaring.

    Speaking of the ever enigmatic Raiken, Ravnir sailed backwards, away from a plume of choking black smoke. He skidded across soft loam, leaving an obvious trail before impacting a particularly large boulder, notable for its ability to stop him from flying further.

    The rock held him aloft for a moment before gravity pulled him down, landing face first in the dirt. Ravnir coughed, then planted both palms on the ground and pushed himself to a kneeling position. Unfocused eyes settled on a boulder about ten meters away, now freshly scorched, with all grass within an arm's length reduced to ash and embers.

    Better. Do it again, Ravnir.



    Ravnir frowned, spat a wad of dirt out of his mouth, then rose to his feet. Stumbling his first few steps, he trundled towards his target, leaving deep prints in the grass. Stopping just short of touching it, he raised an arm and directed a flat palm towards the stone. “Delras, before I-”

    Ravnir. You will learn or you will become as acquainted with that rock as you have with your friends. Again.

    The clipped tone made him wince, but he kept his arm steady. A deep breath, an equally deep exhale. The faintest graze of stone on the tips of his blunted claws. The distant whine of spaceport traffic.


    Red lightning arced from his palm to the boulder, scoring its blasted surface. A hissing swirl surrounded him, air crackling with energy; all centered on his palm. Ravnir grunted, sucking air through his teeth while his arm burned, as if an inferno welled within, ready to burst from his scales any second.

    He flinched.

    Another explosion ripped through the clearing in a similar fashion to the first, only this time he crashed straight through the boulder that caught him earlier, leaving it sundered like a cracked egg. He ceased rolling just beyond it, in a tangled heap, wheezing.

    Better. I know you can hold it longer. Now, again.

    Ravnir didn’t offer any protest, nor did he make an attempt to rise. He remained on his back, gazing at the clear sky whilst catching his breath. Despite the explosions and being tossed about from them, he was relatively untouched. A few scales cracked from the impact and his palm was blackened.

    “Delras-” He started, but a distant ping from his pack drew his attention. His tongue halted, words dying on it as his gaze settled on the small pad poking out from the top. A soft green light blipped on its corner. He considered it a moment before sighing and rolling back to his feet. “Nevermind.” Delras scoffed, muttering something about being saved by the outsiders.

    Tapping on the screen, Ravnir considered the message sent from Luca whilst humming an idle tune. “Mm, more people hunting? Peacekeepers or wandering warriors, which are we?”

    Perhaps both. Delras supplied from within.

    Ravnir tapped out a short response after a brief survey of a map, offering to join Luca’s company around ‘The Quiet’, as it was referred to. He wasn’t terribly far, though hiking down from the mountain would take a bit.

    “She has no face? What a strange person. I wonder how they talk,” Ravnir mused aloud, starting his trek back to the city after slinging his pack and dusting off his clothes. “Maybe they can’t. Hmmm.”

    Ravnir, better to consider an opponent’s ability, not their appearance.

    “Well, that is correct Delras, but…” Ravnir paused, ducking under a low branch. “She has no face. Can they see?”

    Delras remained silent for several seconds. Ravnir, a blind opponent is still something to be wary of. Shortly after, in a lowered voice, she continued muttering to herself. She has no face. Outsiders are strange.
  4. Luca

    Luca Administrator Staff Member

    Continuing towards the foot of the bridge that lead up to North Shore, Luca and Yttrium begun to notice that little by little, a wing of other motorcycles had begun following his bike and the sidecar. Luca recognised the livery in the rear-view and clicked his tongue, while Yttrium asked "Are these your friends?" as she spotted the red and black checkers and grinning nose-jobs on the menagerie of wheeled and skimming light vehicles, the signs of the Appachoppers.
    "We're familiar." Luca replied casually.

    One among the throng broke out and begun weaving towards the couple, their bike sporting long, tassled handles and a tall reclining seat, the huge engine rumbling beneath demanding a wide-legged, own-the-road seating arrangement - the rider in heavy leathers, a thick scarf and a goggled helmet, nose visible. Glancing ahead, the couple and the throng following them made their way onto the bridge, with cars making way off to the left side to avoid everyone hogging the right side of the road.

    "You two!" A husky woman's voice called out from beneath the helmet, as she pointed at Luca. The twang was a local dialect, likely Central View or Southern Palms. "I hear you two lovelies got a beef with Tanhauss!"
    "Like, it's our beef," Yttrium remarked, intentionally misunderstanding the meat of the issue to play the fool. "and you can't have it - like you shouldn't have it - its ours." She knew everyone in town knew about the notorious Man in Red and Woman in Blue disrupting a sickly Green company.
    "Who's asking?" Luca replied as he kept his eyes forward, over the din on the wind and the various engines behind him.
    "Yeah well you're getting another pound-" She pulled her scarf down, revealing a navy blue lipstick and projecting her voice further "cause I've also got a beef with the suits in green, y'see."

    It seemed to Luca like everyone in town no matter how placid or involved with what was going on suddenly had a stick out for Tanhauss in light of their most recent dickery. "Get in line then - Tanhauss is a slab of beef I started and I've got the dibs on ending, y'hear?" He took ownership of said beef.
    "Yeah and I say Frankie's got a good reason to be pissed at them cause they owe us big, mister monkey man-" The rider gave away that she knew more about the couple than she initially let on - with Luca and Yttrium recognising the conman's name. "He told me about your good fight and I started askin' about you and the doll to feel you out."

    Luca wondered what that could've entailed - a network echo-chamber trawl that painted him the unbreakable hero or irredeemable villain, pillow talk, or plain word of mouth? The rider stated: "I've got a whole bunch of reasons to whack you right here includin' but not limited to getting my boyfriend's money-spinner demolished and his race-fixing messed up-" Yttrium seemed to blanch at that statement - she was guilty as sin for that situation blowing up "-but I'm angrier at Tanhauss right now because over half of my gang's incapacitated and we ain't been paid!"

    "You too?" Yttrium asked, looking over her shoulder to the throng of approaching bikes who were acting as entourage for the rider. "Tanhauss, timely payment and collateral don't intersect for contractors..."
    "Fine, you can follow me but do not get in our way - I've got priority targets that can't leave Sargasso."
    Yttrium then remembered: "Lulu, I thought you knew them?" She recalled Luca feuding with the Apachoppers, looking behind herself again. "You're definitely not friends."

    "We have a common enemy that's bigger than both of us put together."
    "See? She gets it. You know EAD?"
    "I what now?" The other rider seemed confused, grunting and shaking her head. "You makin' a pass?"
    "Forget it. Your name?"
    "Hell on Legs; catch my data-stem, monkey man." She cast her fingers out and Luca got a digital signal transferred to his communications - a new contact called Mae Cuthbert.

    Sargasso, Vulcanshore
    The industrial area of Vulcanshore was marked with a palette that set it aside from the rest of Sargasso: A mix of greys and rusty browns rose from the dark roads against the afternoon. The boxy silhouette of the skyline was pocked with silos, canisters, cargo cranes, and cooling towers ensconced in scaffolding and aerospace warning lights. Breyja found herself vaulting chain fences and crossing dirty parking lots to stake the factory and adjoining office - its plume of smoke being an irregularity so close to the ground and not up with the smokestacks.

    During her traipse, she found an opportunity to apply some choice modifications to the Tanhauss goons' rides when she saw a rotation in the heavy hitters ambling across the lot to patrol the opposite side, leaving their four-wheel drivers unattended. A grenade, some gaffer tape, a length of thin wire around pin - and its opposite affixed to something that spun when the car was on. With the opportunity plied, she moved on ahead and made her entrance to the office through a window, crushing a lone sentry in the process who'd wandered off from their patrol group to take a slash.

    Once inside, Breyja was following the plume of smoke that was emanating from the second floor - along with an acrid stench of burning paper, twisted metal and charred carpeting. She retreated into a locker half-sitting on one of the wandering sentries she'd judo'd into submission, and she could overhear a conversation from the two men further up the corridor along with their other signs of indolence and complacency: The rifle butts against the beige knotted carpet, and more distinct smell of cigarette smoke as the pair got closer to the locker...

    "Sheesh. The whole town's been closing up since this shindig got started." Said a smoking goon to their buddy, sounding phlegmatic in how they felt to be overworked and underpaid despite being latched to the prestigious unaccountability of a black-bag squad in Tanhauss. "There's nowhere to eat around here and less ass to get busy with. All the big titted girlies and big dicked men don't walk at night no more."

    Their companion heaved a sigh, their rifle's butt sliding against the floor. "Of course there's nowhere to bury yourself you horny dick. We filled the night with monsters and fear - did you think we were helping this place out with what we're doing?" Their accents were thickly Noir - a touch nasal and congested from living alongside aerosolised pollution and the rot of greed for so long, "we're having our cake and eating it too before we ditch Sargasso with all the waste and failed experiments, man."

    Perhaps that was the quiet part aloud as interpreted through the fingermen for Tanhauss' corporate goals, the general sentiment that'd bubbled down the creek from the new heads and among the mental drinkwater of the company proles and bruisers. "Was makin' all those peoples limbs go pop and fizz part of the plan?"
    "Wasn't it?" Came the rhetorical joke's punchline. Both laughed, walking past Breyja's locker. Breyja knew a few gym rats who had stopped attending in the week or so leading up to now, and suspected Tanhauss' heavy retaliation could've been involved.

    Which was when the Maidenhand sprung from the Locker and executed her plan of attack flawlessly, smashing rifle-butt down and forcing the other guy to eat his cigarette before shanking them both down and advancing.
    Kicking through the next room with her machine gun and novel ammunition, Breyja spotted four targets - three of them were wearing the familiar Tanhauss Vogeljager security fatigues, masked helmets and vests, but the last one was dressed for business, albeit with such a tacky texture and hair so greasy bullets could potentially slide from it. The shocks from the bullets immobilised two of the four soldiers immediately, and the suited man.

    After the initial shocks had passed, the suited man looked down at the TAZRs in their chest, flexing their chest and watching the barbed cylindrical bullets falling away. A look through the holes saw a thick plate of armour hiding beneath their suit. "You ... BITCH! What do I pay these meatheads for?" From the floor, he pulled a pistol out of his coat and begun firing at Breyja from the ground. She had to follow up on this breach, fast - there were targets to prioritise who were raising their rifles.

    Sargasso, Briarpatch Mountain
    Residents adjacent to Sargasso's Briarpatch Mountain were known for trying to make heads and ends of the many phenomena that arose from the forest on the mountain. Reports over the last week had a common thread: The sound of explosions or thunderbolts in the woods, and low-magnitude dings on Richter scales - but unlike the irregular whiskey still explosion or case of mage-related horseplay, the bangs were rhythmic as they echoed through the wood and up into the sky, like something drawn from the earth instead of blasting out of the forest in splinters and limbs. Indeed, Ravnir's counsel with the heroes of raiken legend didn't go wholly unnoticed.

    That said, their meditation and counsel got interrupted by a summons to go people poaching from the man in red. The raiken's questions were valid as to the identity of Phoenix Team: Were they righteous peace keepers? Craven peace makers? Warriors without cause but immediate fame and glory, or were they merely draped in the mundane to keep attention off a higher guiding principle? The highest target Luca had painted was Gruppen Tanhauss: At best a self-proclaimed agent of good defending a city's inhabitants and land against callous corporate predation, at worst a washed up and destructive veteran chasing the high of combat and championing a burnt conwoman once involved with the same organisation to get his fix.

    Hiking south down Briarpatch mountain, Ravnir begun trekking towards The Quiet. They found a cliff where they could see the larger open space in the otherwise mostly urban centre of Sargasso. Records kept by the Units indicated that once, people lived here until a great unease begun to pervade the area. Unseen but felt disturbances eventually mounted on the population until those with weaker constitutions begun looking for new residences around PA265, leaving those able to go with the bedevilled flow of The Quiet; Mages and psionics who were already used to looking outside of mundane context, thus habituated to strangeness.

    Ravnir could smell the salty breeze passing through the woods closer to the base of the mountain, where the soil was slowly turning sandy underfoot as it got closer to Sargasso's sea level, giving way to patchy crabgrass and bushes of swordgrass tickling their legs.

    Peering through a fourty-four magnification scope, a very long barrel and sightpiece was gazing from the top of Helion Overlook, tracking the progress of the man in red and woman in blue moving across the bridge. "Two riders are approaching..." A deep voice drawled as its owner peered through the scope. "They have friends... They're going to need them."

    Popping an eyepiece over their vision, they begun to track the target more aggressively, aiming far, far ahead of them based on their speed and trajectory, the wind in the air, along with the visible curvature of Sargasso, its lazy rotation, and the artificial gravity working in unison to keep things on the ground. To onlookers he was aiming at a thirty-two degree angle upwards, ostensibly to avoid shooting air traffic and the skyscrapers but the distance of over ten kilometres demanded it such an extreme elevation.

    "I hope this opening statement finds them well." An explosive slug roared forth, report like a thundercrack that could be heard echoing over North Shore. A moment later, there was trouble. "Tch. A change in the wind..." The shooter recognised the problem immediately before the bullet was even halfway to the bridge, as they watched said projectile through their augmented and enhanced vision, powered by wetware designed to assist snipers with spotting and confirming hits - a product marketed towards lonely wannabe tactical men and dyed-in-blood operators alike.

    Gravity begun to affect the projectile ahead of its initial trajectory as planned, but the wind had put his final shot several paces ahead - a square of asphalt suddenly leaping into the air in irregular pieces. This miss hadn't gone unnoticed by its intended target.
    "CONTACT!" Luca cried out in reflex, now riding ahead aggressively - he didn't have any idea where that projectile came from, but juking and being unpredictable was his best available defence. Yttrium was holding onto the sidecar for dear life as it took her by total surprise.
    "Fuckin' hell! Boys, spread out!" Mae commanded as she too realised that she'd be next.

    Pulling the bolt back and loading another, the shooter heaved a reverberating sigh, looking over their back towards their compatriots upon Helion Overlook. A Vogeljager Security team of six men, dressed in black and a stripe of that sickly Tanhauss green. "Gentlemen, spread out and lock down all sightlines you can."
    "Yes sir!"
    "If you can kill them before they reach me, fine. Otherwise, I have no compunctions finishing this myself for Tanhauss before we leave." There'd probably be a bonus in it for the remains of the man in red and the maesus of the woman in blue.
  5. Sham

    Sham Member

    Sargasso, The Quiet

    Ravnir plodded along, sand as eager to accept the print of each heavy step as it was to brush them away with a breeze. The odd stillness settled over the area was akin to a blanket, something he swore he’d be able to reach out and touch, if only he could see it, but for whatever reason, it eluded him. Instead, he simply grumbled about it under his breath with a comment or two from Delras within. It was a weightless thing, but he still felt as if something were perched on his shoulders or dragging on his tail. Even the city, despite being all around, seemed muffled and dull to him. Shades of color almost lost, bringing everything closer to a mute gray. A snowglobe embedded within Sargasso. Except it lacked snow and the cheerfulness associated with them.

    “I see why the squishy things do not live here. It is… odd. I do not like it.” He muttered, casting his gaze side to side along the empty beach, save for clusters of swordgrass.

    It is a strange place. Though I have never seen it, I imagine standing in Rel’s light is similar. Delras mused.

    “It was,” Ravnir affirmed before kneeling to brush a few fingers through the soft sand. “I wonder where the no-face person is. Suppose I should start looking.”

    Ravnir rose and glanced around again before fishing through his robes for his tablet, pulling up a map of Sargasso to better orient himself to Palms Park. A good of a starting place as any to begin his search.

    “They don’t have a face though… this shouldn’t be too hard. I wonder if many squishy-things do not have faces.” He started again as began trekking along in the direction of the park, with his usual lumbering strides and thought-filled humming.
  6. Ashlinn

    Ashlinn Member

    Sargasso, Vulcanshore, GT Industries Pill Press Plant
    Fantastic Negrito - When Everything Went Wrong

    Breyja was already cutting across the room as the two bodies hit the ground, the sound of shell casings hitting the floor like rain was swiftly followed by the whistle of the blue-bottomed (yet still half full) magazine flying through the air at the face of one of the two guards left standing. Her SMG was not a quiet machine as a red-bottomed mag filled with alternating AP rounds followed by squashnosed-man-shredders. She absolutely came loaded for bear and was mentally counting down how much time she had before backup caught the sound of gunfire and converged upon her location. A quick dive behind a desk was followed by the hollow thump-tink-think of a grenade, now spoonless, being thrown offhandedly in the general vicinity of the men.

    "Didn't you jag-offs hear? It's open season on goons, goonsquads and greasy corpo's caught doing the dirty. Like shredding and burning."

    And then she was off again, SMG up and her beloved riot shield leading the way as she began hosing down anything that moved, targets being tagged across her VISR as fast as she could pull the trigger and adjust her aim as she shot at joints and exposed flesh. she could worry about which leaky bodies were alive later as her lovely bouncing present went off in the confined room and threw shrapnel and smoke everywhere. She had some gym-rats to avenge and she was starting to come to terms that perhaps being a finger was getting old and she might like to settle down and call Sargasso home. Would help that taking out the trash might get her in good with a posse at some time somewhere in the future.
  7. Luca

    Luca Administrator Staff Member

    Someone was gunning for Luca, Yttrium, and Mae as they sped across the suspension bridge, passing over the halfway mark all targets as the Sourcian marksman and Tanhauss board member begun zeroing in on them all - another slug was whistling through the air, the water vapours and cloud distorting to mark its path. Luca being aware of this didn't make it any less lethal or frightening to be confronted with - Luca was most effective in someone's face, not a half-dozen postcodes away.

    Something else had begun following them too, thankfully a welcome surprise. Two drones were whizzing by, bearing the twin symbols of Galacta Candy and Cloverpaw on their ovoid bodies, propelled by drones with whirring aerofoils - and Yttrium reached out and grabbed them mid-flight, and the egg was released from its carrying drones. "Lulu! Seiren's giving us easter eggs!" And in addition to this ovoid, was a message both riders received simultaneously.
    FR: Cosmo, Seiren
    TO: Luca, Yttrium
    Seiren Isbala cannot be with you today, Cloverpaw is making its own moves
    against Tanhauss and we have to be there for them first, even if our goals are mutual.
    Mr. Pavone, I think you'll find this very 'handy' and 'grabby'.
    Make sure your target at Camp Centre Mass gets a close look at it.
    Ms. Maganese, Seiren had some of these appropriated as leftovers from a
    Cloverpaw opening night event. You'll know what to do when you see them.
    Good luck on your end, and make Tanhauss pay with interest.
    Luca would've replied back asking what could be so pressing, but a slug cutting through a cable in the suspension bridge and tumbling into the asphalt without losing an ounce of lethality proved to be more pressing - another incoming slug whizzing overhead and struck a passing car - cratering the engine block and damn-near flipping it over from the leftover momentum. Yttrium could feel her external membrane wavering from its path and gasped.

    "Who the hell have you pissed off, monkey man?!" Mae yelled over radio, swerving and ducking.
    "Someone Frankie shouldn't have gotten involved with." Yttrium replied, speaking from lived experience.
    "Says you! I heard you were deep into it before hooking up with monkey man!" It turned out that with the new profile Yttrium had gained, more people had dug around her past too.
    I resemble that remark. Luca shook his head as he and the pack could feel the wind rippling past. "By being with us, you're in the crosshairs too! Argue about it later!" Luca cried out.

    Once the group was on the opposite side of the bridge and disappearing behind the skyscrapers of the CBD, Luca knew that he had cover - but no clear idea of where he was getting shot from, except that it was high up and above the city. This narrowed down where Luca had to search from, but he was going to start with Hellion Overlook after inspecting what Seiren had delivered to him.

    Popping the ovoid shell open now that there was a moment to breathe, a glow emanated from within - and Luca saw what would be worth sending forward in a situation like this. "Seiren, I should start calling you a handyman..." he grinned as Yttrium and Mae marvelled at what the inventor had made for the pair.

    The biker blinked in disbelief as Luca slid the thing over his artificial right arm: A re-imagined design for the Grapple Stunner, now using a rare-earth magnetic stone, grasping hand that overlaid his own rather than the hooks and piton Luca designed his iteration with. Mae was perplexed - she knew how to thrash a chopper but she'd scarcely seen handiwork that fine. "Where do you get those weird-ass toys from?" she queried.

    "Oh he loves playing with them, and himself." Yttrium cooed, slowly opening up her given gift, a glow catching her by surprise as well as she found bundles of bootleg fireworks, and a big rocket. "Oh my~ Seiren knows how to please a woman~"
    "What next, you going to take him to dinner?" Luca queried sarcastically as he clenched his fist, his arm now complete again. "Either way let's focus on our mutual enemy. I have a plan..." Mae was initially sceptical, but she heard him out as he laid the plan out over a map of the city on how to approach this elevated, defensible position.

    Back up on the ridge in the parking lot of the Tanhauss-occupied Camp Centre Mass, the Sourcian marksman made a reverberating grunt of annoyance, standing up and packing up their long rifle. "They'll be here soon. What's our ETA to pickup?"

    A puff-vested, stocky, dour man with a double-shotgun broken over his shoulder and a machine pistol in his opposite hand answered. "Fifteen minutes, sir."

    "Sooner would be better." They said. "I would like to believe my privileges as an exclusive member entitle me to an expeditious extraction. Tell your men to take positions." The sound of multiple safeties being disengaged and electronics whining awake could be heard as multiple shooters begun to scatter and take places while the Sourcian stood still in the now clear target practice range, drawing a six-shooter. An antique piece from the Old War that was worth more than most salaries Tanhauss would pay their top grunts, corporate or security.

    A harsh siccaro blew down from the mountains, southbound breeze chill with anticipation. Even so high up and with a view of the suburbs and later city in the distance, he could hear Luca's motorcycle revving towards his position. "Your move, monkey." The sourcian drawled.

    Central View, The Quiet, Emerging from the Woods
    As Ravnir pushed a bough aside and most of the tree with it, they could see an outline of a small humanoid stalking across the road. The presence of a snout and a scaly tail told Ravnir that the alien in question was a rolaan - lizard-shaped like Ravnir but in miniature, known for their talents in magic. They stopped moving when Ravnir had emerged from the bush, jumping a little as they turned slowly to meet their gaze.

    "I'd recognise your footfalls anywhere...!" The rolaan's small and shrill voice rattled out. "You're one of the Phoenix Team people..." They turned around, and Ravnir could recognise the small rolaan, in earthen robes and a ring of power around their arm - though dulled and with much of its original gemstones pried out. Last Ravnir saw, this small rolaan was accomplice to that Pachinko Parlour the Raiken had inadvertently torn down, arrested and led off. "Are you after her, too?"

    It was the 'Geomancer', the former EAD who'd raised the earth itself against Ravnir's employer and compatriots a couple of months ago. Here, they seemed disarmed by the Raiken's looming presence, and the question asked indicated that there'd been a shift in their priorities. The reason why was unclear on the outset: Betrayal from Tanhauss for Geomancer's failure to secure Harumi? Coercion from the Units and police forces? In it for themselves? Some mix of the three?

    The smaller rolaan fidgeted nervously with their loose sleeves. "I-I mean, the whole town's in chaos as Tanhauss is trying to pull out so, uh, eeeeveryone's scrambling to collect what they can, people or otherwise, that's - that's what the man in red put you up to isn't it..." They seemed to be hyperventilating, suddenly realising how isolated they were out in The Quiet and face to face with someone much more physically imposing, in addition to tracking down Jane Doe, who seemed to have them terrified.

    "He isn't still mad at me, is he?" They squeaked, paranoid. As far as Ravnir knew, Luca had no further plans for Geomancer and he had figured the authorities had the rolaan sorted in the debrief. Then, Geomancer jumped up and danced excitedly: "I know! I know! Why don't we collaborate? We have a common enemy, after all!" They looked up at Ravnir with pleading eyes, equally pathetic and sympathetic in their panicked grovelling: "M-m-maybe we can learn from each other, too! You, who also has dominion over the rocks and stones...! I never expected a Raiken to be capable of such skills... n-no offence."

    Out there was no oversight upon Ravnir from the Phoenix Team, only that which he communed with upon the green-carpeted mountains and sandy beaches leading into the bay...

    Ogonori Island, Vulcanshore, Tanhauss Pill-Press Plant
    From a fighting age the average Maidenhand understood that once the spoon was gone, the grenade and its contents were nobody's friend. Humanity had grown so well accustomed to throwing rocks with additional steps that the instinct to dodge any unwanted thrown object was universal to a fault.

    The greasy businessman recognised the sound of a loose spoon hitting the ground, the distinct clink and rattle. He was already on the ground, scurrying towards one of the dying bodyguards of his as a shield against the shrapnel. They took the brunt of the ensuing explosion, but nothing blocked out the noise or the shockwave - bouncing off of every hard surface along with the shrapnel, surfaces including Breyja's shield.

    After the initial shock had worn off and the shrapnel had lost enough velocity to safely proceed, the Maidenhand saw no sign of the two remaining soldiers until their heads popped up with rifles raised - and her previous marks made with the VISR let her aim ring true.

    Shredded, burnt, and compromised, Michael Falstaff was in a pickle. Breyja was the first to secure her mark, standing over Falstaff with the butt of her SMG pushed against his cheek. "Y-you bitch... do you have any idea who youse fuckin' with..." He mewled, trying to be intimidating from a supine position; instead coming across as though he'd forgotten who he was.

    Just because the mark was captured didn't mean Breyja was in the clear yet. She had to get out, and the bounty's description of Falstaff noted his connections to local organised crime. While their threats here were empty and hostiles neutralised, it was likely that he was being monitored and more were on the way. Breyja had to either retrace or find a new way out of the pill press plant before it begun to burn down and cut off her escapes. The main problem was that this guy, even if he was knocked out and her strength allowed her to lift him, he was still a big unit. Heavier set people were a lot harder to kidnap, or in this case, extract.

    Atop all of that, the clock ticked on. An unaccounted-for Ichiro Sasaki was getting closer to escaping, said to have last been seen around Bay View's Starliner Mall. There was more than one force gunning for him, however. More voices in the choir of frustration and anger Sargasso's citizens official, deputised and otherwise had against Gruppen Tanhauss - to be manipulated, exploited, and to think they could just get away with discarding them.
  8. Ashlinn

    Ashlinn Member

    Ogonori Island, Vulcanshore, Tanhauss Pill-Press Plant
    Grafitti Ghosts - Last Man Standing

    Kidnapping fat people was always hard work. Kidnapping fat people by yourself when you're little taller than a divider in the average maidenhand showers? Especially harder. However, Breyja was absolutely not amused in the slightest. She had to be moving, and she had to get moving fast if she wanted to be out and alive by the end of the next five minutes. The building was burning, and as she used her forearm length of knife to clear the stuck in buts of shrapnel fro mthe face of her shield she blinked and a truly evil grin spread across her face.

    The small pack at her waist held some survival kit, and a nice sturdy length of rope at the used to lash the meatball to her shield, and then that to her back. Her time with the old man at the gym was paying dividends as she stood up and centered the mans weight properly across her back and hips. A quick police call of the room netted her the goons ammunition and one of their rifles. She wasn't going to be winning any speed contests, but the duck-shuffle-waddle-run was the best she could manage. She'd worry about the damage to her knee's later once she had the chance to breath a little easier. She hit the doors she'd come gunning through earlier with a growl and for a moment felt a bit of satisfaction at her handiwork with the guards as he armored boot clipped the side of a downed guards head with a firm, albeit wet, 'crack'. He was very much not getting back up, probably ever given how fast the building was going up in smoke and flame.

    Pilfered assault rifle came up and fired through the window at the end of the hall, she paused long enough to clear the glass out with the barrel and look down to begin laughing while she worked as leveraging herself and her fat payload out the window and dropped the whole floor down onto the roof of a sedan full of suits. The satisfying crunch and muffled screams as she landed while firing offhandedly into the roof of the car was the herald of this mission going from stealth extraction to loud extraction. Hopefully she hadn't ruined the car too much for her to stuff the fatman into the trunk and then make the worlds most scuffed to hell getaway...
  9. Sham

    Sham Member

    Sargasso, The Quiet

    When Ravnir emerged onto the road, grumbling under his breath about the oppressive, yet invisible gloom pressing down on him from all sides. A lingering effect of staying in the Quiet. Absorbed as he was, he hardly noticed the diminutive Rolaan before him, at least until ‘Geomancer’ began to speak. The high-pitched voice pulled him from his internal sanctuary, storm gray eyes locking onto the anxious Rolaan before him. “Oh. You.” For all the Rolaan’s rambling, Ravnir appeared genuinely unimpressed with finding him here, strange as it was.

    Why does this creature disgrace himself by groveling before you, Ravnir?

    “He stood against our pack some time ago. He did not do very well,” Ravnir replied, indifferent to Geomancer hearing half the conversation. Though, he kept an eye on the far smaller creature. Successful or not, Geomancer, like any other spellcaster, could be dangerous enough. Perhaps less so in this case, given his ragged state. Failure often carried a heavy price and it seemed doubly so when it came to failing Tanhauss.

    To do this after. His blood is not worthy of staining a blade. Delras commented from within, disdain dripping from her words.

    Ravnir leaned forward, starting to loom over the Rolaan with a frown adorning his rugged lips. “Delras does not like you, small thing.” However, the panicked offer of aid did not go unheard, no matter how disapproving he looked upon Geomancer. “I am Ravnir and I search for the one with no face. You will come. Perhaps through action, you may change Delras’ mind, however slight.”

    I doubt much aid could be rendered by this miscreant, Ravnir. He is one who flees at the first sign of peril, leaving his pack to bleed on his behalf.

    Ravnir allowed a faint smile to touch the corner of his lips as he straightened up, still watching the Rolaan. “Mountains are a challenge to climb, but not impossible, small thing. Let us go. Tell me what you know of the person with no face, to start,” He said to his unlikely recruit, though it was more being pressed into service. "And steady your feet and heart. I do not wish to carry you."
  10. Luca

    Luca Administrator Staff Member

    Sargasso, The Quiet
    "Don't worry. Rest assured, I can-can carry myself." Geomancer nodded as he scampered along the road, a plume of walking gravel about human-tall shadowing the rolaan before long, unimpressive compared to his stunt with the bricks. "Don't you worry about me." They repeated, wondering what entity the Raiken was referring to. What was a Delras: A thought-form of some sort? The smaller Rolaan hadn't heard of a Raiken spellcaster, much less a Raiken walking through the robot-controlled Sargasso. Nothing he'd studied of the Raiken lined up with who he was walking alongside - the last few weeks had been full of surprises after all.

    They caught themselves overthinking the irrelevant details, clicked their tongue and continued: "So, Jane Doe. She's not of this place, as in, from the Weald; That's not unusual in places like York with a strong magic background." They recalled the five years they spent at Ulminster to brush up on their thaumo-geology while working as an earth-mover. "Here it's not as common, but they blend in with everyone else. One could have served you today and you'd not have known, n-nor cared."

    The pettiest part in his soul still cringed at the thought that mountains could be a challenge. He was Geomancer! It was in the name - not just another common tunnel-borer...! His talents were meant for so much more - or so he projected without the full benefits of his band. "N-now, Tanhauss is no different, but I hear lately they've gone deep into the reeds with the Weald." Even looking at the moon of Noir with their third eye from the ground made his nose sting. "Our faceless Jane Doe's one of Tanhauss' HR people here. She has names, dates, and addresses hence her value on the bounty you're -- we're following."

    It slipped from Geomancer's tongue, but they admitted that this seemed to be Ravnir's investigation now. The road continued southwards, the long stretch of quiet and a grey fog uncharacteristic for this time of day fell as a pall. The beaches and forests everywhere else in Sargasso were vibrant, packed with life, packed with people and pretty as a postcard. Here Ravnir scarcely hear the burbling of fishless water beneath a creek's bridge, no birds in the trees, frogs in the ponds, or insects lazily crossing his view. It would creep up on both of them, the silence - but it shook Geomancer's unstable core harder than Ravnir's.

    Near a small strip of shops intended to service beachgoers across the road with cafes, trinkets, and a pharmacy - all shuttered because of the off-season gloom. A ramped foot-bridge stretching over the road disappeared into a quiet plaza while the opposite side landed on a concrete platform on the pale sand. "Look...!" Geomancer squeaked, tugging at the Raiken's robe and pointing down the road.

    There was a bus stop that didn't look like any Ravnir had seen. The architecture was too hostile and inconvenient to be of Unity's design: an open tin shed with a smooth wooden block against the back wall meant to be leant against rather than sat on, polished so as to be slippery when sat directly upon, hindering further seating.

    Inside there was a lone woman dressed in an office casual blouse, knee-length skirt and ergonomic leather shoes. That aside, she was lacking all the regular features of a face such as eyes, a nose, a mouth, but not ears. Ravnir could feel her looking at him as though side-eyeing.

    A pair of fog-cutting lights could be seen about five hundred metres up the road. It didn't look like any of the public transportation Ravnir had seen - the local busses had soft tops and removable seats in case of accommodations or emergencies. This looked like an older model of public transport imported from outside Aleph Null - the stainless steel exterior pocked with rust spots and wear, windows scuffed from within and painted over outside about a half-inch thick of spraypaints. The whole jalopy looked like a second or third-hand purchase by a municipality on no map here, yet built by and for someone presumably human-shaped.

    Sargasso, Ogonori Island, Tanhauss Pill-Press Plant (On Fire!)
    A sensitive nose could isolate all sorts of interesting chemicals if it stopped to taste the air in this flaming office. Most immediate was burning paper, cardboard, plastics in this office, . The factory floor was pouring acrid cyan grey from the collapsed skyroofs. The 'human shield' she had set up with her bounty was proving something of an impediment as she made her way for an exit in the windows.

    Red and blue shrieking sirens painted magenta against the shattering windows and slowly collapsing roof of the pill-press plant, beating the fire and sun out to tell Breyja that the police had arrived, and the fire brigade too - they used separate tones and their respective appregios were different. Rising wails with rapid falls back to the base note? It was the fuzz. Choppy whirrs with alternating chimes? Fire brigade. A rising and lowering whoop? An ambulance - one was around taking a hard right the corner leading to the plant's front entrance.

    Out the window Breyja had been looking through, the men inside the sedan didn't have the field of view or pressing urgency necessary to see the mercenary gazing down at them and hatching her plan. A much less ambitious and safer plan was being hatched inside the vehicle.

    The suit in the driver's seat had a communicator in their hands, scrolling through a menu while it was playing the latest Aoi Tanaka vibra-pop song over wireless. "So that's everyone's orders put in? I don't want to have to pass this around again."
    "Yes." "Yeah." "That's right." Answered three men in the other seats, dressed lightly for the summery weather in crisp white suits and grey slacks, with those gaudy acid-green ties that were all the rage around the Tanhauss offices on the forty seventh floor where they handled liquidations and acquisitions.

    "I haven't heard from the big man in a while." One of them was growing concerned, staring into the ceiling of the car and counting the stitches in the upholstery. It wasn't uncommon for the meat-squad they were in charge of supervising to discharge firearms willy nilly into things that offended their sensibilities, and the policy was radio silence to the eggheads once ops were running. "What's taking him so long?" Their expression changed when they heard something that sounded like breaking glass over the bridge of the song.
    Out Breyja leapt, shield and greasy man taking the impact of the hot glass first, followed by bullets whizzing downwards into the roof.
    "Dunno. We should call hiiiIIII-"

    Bullets ripping through aside, the average roof of a car was not a load bearing implement, and if it could bear a load, it was integrated with the chassis somehow to best handle the weight. The top panels of this sedan was not built to support someone standing on it, let alone falling through it - forget two people doing so with weight. The windscreen and side windows shattered together as the interior crumpled flat.

    The good news was Breyja was no longer in danger of burning up. Unfortunately, this had proven to be a double edged sword. Breyja's quarry had proven heavy enough to become partially embedded in the roof she landed on, and there was little time to extricate them. Making her getaway was going to be messy - there was only time in the car once she dragged the wounded driver out to turn the keys and go.

    Sargasso, North Shore, CBD Looking Towards Helion Overlook
    Long ago Luca forsook the sweetness of a spring breeze, left behind with his innocence. All he could sense when the wind blew through him was that nip in the air that signalled a storm. He had gone quiet after he and the crude had fully worked Seiren's gifts into their plan, taking odd routes and roads away from open sky to keep out of view of Helion Overlook. Their target could have been repositioning and Luca's instincts told him to keep his head on a swivel, even with the distraction from the other motorcyclists running all over North Shore.

    "Lulu?" Yttrium asked leaning in from the sidecar, but his eyes were on the road and surrounds in equal measure. He had to be wide awake to make sure he and his squeeze weren't a head shorter the next instant. He had that look on his face like a dog trying to figure out Pythagoras. "After we capture these people, what happens next?"

    Luca heard her, and pulled up behind the back of an office block that served as a boundary between the highway leading into the residential area of Shakeshore and north-west towards Helion Overlook. He was replanning his route - he didn't want to risk civilians by driving through their suburbs, but the only clear way through was a dog-leg westwards and then east down the northernmost highway, exposed. "That's a problem for when we've bagged them." Luca said.

    She could see Luca fiddling on his GPS and frowning at the route with the least collateral - as it was her face on the line too and the ballistic protection of lipstick was limited. Looking further out at the highway and the wide, dry drainage canal beneath it, Yttrium lit up - literally for a brief moment. "Oo, I have an idea, Lulu-" Luca could see where she was looking and pointing, and picked it up immediately with a chuckle.

    He slipped the bike back into gear, exposed as he zoomed for the highway and swerved off it to follow the gradient of the drainage channel, spotting the sewer tunnel - it looked large enough to fit the motorcycle and sidecar. "Looks like a squeeze - duck your head doll!" She did so and just as Luca passed into the sewer tunnel, the sound of concrete shattering into dozens of chunks rung out behind them.

    A couple of kilometres away topside, their target's grievances rose higher still, pulling the bolt back on another wasted cartridge. Each cost about 120000 each and they had already been throwing good money after budgeted money. "Sewers... hmph, like cunning rats." They looked aside to their retinue of armed friends and security and stood up straight, putting them all at attention. "You all, group up and make a perimeter. They could come from any angle." And where is my extraction?

    Underground, The Crimson Kestrel lit the way and echoed through the tunnel, but Luca slowed down, GPS still open as he was weaving and following larger drain channels. The concrete around him was shaped to redirect flood waters down into massive underground reservoirs, network snaking throughout Sargasso to cope with its wet and dry season. Twists and turns pointed him north-east towards Helion Overlook.

    "You come here often?" Luca asked during a dry straight-way.
    "If you don't mind the smell, it's a great meeting place." Yttrium replied.
    "Yeah yeah, back in the days before my UDD service I used to buy prisma from a sketchy guy who slung it in a place like this." But not this deep into its guts. His previous plug had a life above ground as Luca did.
    Yttrium smirked. "So you can see the value of discretion. I figured a 'tactician' like you would use these solutions more often." Luca clicked his tongue. "If our enemies have the high ground physically and on messaging, we find a way to get beneath their skin. Brawn and beauty alone won't win, Lulu."
    "We've gotta be cunning, too." He replied, gunning it unsubtly with a wheelie.
  11. Sham

    Sham Member

    Sargasso, The Quiet

    Ravnir trundled along the road with the rolaan in tow, listening to the diminutive creature spill what knowledge he had regarding their no-faced quarry. All in all, nothing Ravnir hadn’t known from the short message in the groupchat. Disappointing, but not surprising. A signature rumbling hum growing in his throat, the bulky spellcaster considered how best to confront something originating from the ‘Weald’, as it was commonly referred to. A topic Ravnir lacked knowledge of and experience in, as a near fully self-taught magic wielder. Taught more through trial, error, and instinct than anything else. Even Delras, his ancestor-hero turned mentor, dwelling within the recesses of his mind, failed to mention it in any depth. Perhaps it was something to do with Delras’ own strange, lingering existence. Maybe even she did not understand it. Such wandering thoughts would normally capture his attention for hours, but the task at hand kept him from slipping off.

    Pausing, Ravnir turned his head to focus a single eye on Geomancer. “All of this, I have heard. Tell me, small thing, if they call this ‘Weald’ home, must anything special be done to subdue them?” He asked with a wave of his hand, eyeing the gravel golem shadowing the rolaan. He remembered it being much bigger the last time he smashed it to pieces. Truly, Geomancer had not fared well after his previous failure.

    Waiting a moment for his answer before continuing on, Ravnir thumped along into the pressing silence. His own rustling scales and heavy footfalls louder than all the muted ambience combined. Ravnir, this place bodes ill. Silence is not emptiness. Delras spoke from within, an edge building on her voice. Her words would prove almost prophetic, as Geomancer tugged on the tail of his robe, directing his attention towards an unusual sight. And that was saying something, considering their line of work.

    Ravnir. Something is not right here, but I cannot place it. I will guard you as I can.
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