The Time Has Come...
Ginnie sat in the back of the van, humming Cabbages and Kings softly to herself. Her Merc escorts sat across from her giving good body guard blank face. She'd forgotten their names and that was never good, but she just couldn't seem to keep any extra information in her brain. This whole thing was so monumental for her that erroneous details kept getting lost.
Brock! That was the guy on the left. He had been a Merc for just over twenty years and a vampire for just a little longer than that. He'd been an army calvary man, that was born from linebacker stock. He was a huge wall of a man and so muscled when he'd died that even his muscles had muscles. In other words a perfect bodyguard for The Cobra. The other guy called himself Tag, no one knows why, he'd been a Merc with Tach for all one hundred and seventeen years of his vampire life. He could have been Brock's twin, had they been born in the same era.
As the van slowed, she began to go through a mental checklist of her weaponry. She was dressed for business in a neat pinstriped pencil skirt, matching jacket and garnet red silk blouse. Her jacket had been cut to hide the bulge of her shoulder holster, and at her back she wore a tiny .22 in an inner pants holster. On her left thigh there were three knives in a tight little row and on her right thigh was a garrote and lock picks. In her briefcase were three bomb pens, and most of the normal detritus found in most briefcases were incendiary devices of some kind, even the little stapler was even a triple shot .22, in hers
In the clip in her hair was a small pin hole camera, another was in the handle of her briefcase and and another was in the watch around her wrist. She had a device inserted in her ear, so tiny that no one would be able to see it, to hear the people on their frequency. In the lining of her bra was a microphone, there was one in the clasp of her diamond tennis bracelet and if all of that failed she could activate a secondary set in the toe of her sensible left shoe.
The men in front of her were equally well armed and wired. They were loaded for bear and hopefully none of it would have been necessary. The dark van came to a halt in a dark alley way some four miles from the meeting point. It was well with in the range of their equipment, but hopefully outside of the notice of the people they were meeting.
The front doors slammed, and then the back doors opened. Brock and Tag got out and scanned the area like good bodyguards, then Tag turned and held a hand out to Ginnie. She took it, noting that he was smart and offered for her left hand so that she was free to draw her gun if she needed to. Alec had moved to the limo to check it over, it was one of Tach's and Brock would be driving, but one can't be too careful.
Ginnie stood framed by her bodyguards and the dome light from the van watching Alec and Shay prepare for the coming evening, and was struck with such a feeling of foreboding that she had to close her eyes and take big breaths through her nose.
On the contrary, all her senses seemed extremely keen, and in tune with everything going on around her. In fact, even the barely perceptible random intake of breath coming from one of the bodyguards was almost too distracting to ignore. But somehow she managed as she made sure she was properly prepared, and decked out for her part in this operation.
Her relief to know Alec would be with her was evident in her ability to remain calm and quiet even though her body nearly sang with excitement, and her mind raced along so fast it was all she could do to keep her mouth shut, and not babble on about everything that was set to happen.
Her eyes lit on her mother, but she wouldn't allow them to remain there. If anything about what was in the process of taking place was to go wrong, Shay...well, she refused to think along those lines. This was something Ginnie wanted, and because of that Shay did as well. She owed her mother her very life, and if there was some way to repay her even a minute bit of what she could, Shay was all for it.
Trusting herself to look at Alec and regain her composure, Shay did just that. In soft, hushed tones, she inquired...
"Anything else I need to do right now?"
He'd triple checked the limo, and shot a deadly glare when Brock had sighed while he was performing the last inspection. He knew it was extraneous, but that care was why he was in charge of training up the new recruits. Attention to detail. After the final check, he went over the procedures with Shay again. Check maintenance logs, check parts personally if you possessed the skill, with the head grease-monkey if not. Ensure all electrical was functional. Double check all tracking hardware and protective systems should they be necessary. Detail the arsenal within the vehicle - sometimes they sat awhile, and weapons needed to be rechecked and cleaned.
He'd harassed the poor techs as well, and they were all outfitted with the most dependable rather than the most current technical outfits. He wasn't interested in the latest and greatest thing if it wasn't 100% stable. Some runs were fine for beta testing gear for the techies, but not this one. Sure, on paper it was just an exchange of rights, but to him it was an unfavorable scenario with his love on the line. You don't fuck with that, you go dependable.
After briefing Shay on the use of the dynamic layouts, a refresher on the com systems and tracking systems, and making sure her own outfit was secure, he watched as Ginnie got ready. She never missed a step in preparation, and he still watched to learn the precision. It was ingrained in her psyche, and very much a part of her. It gave him comfort in a way that checking things himself never did. His nigh-invulnerable valkyrie was readying for another ride. Really, was there much to worry over? They'd been through much worse, and had come through clean. Most everything was a milk run for her, and in this case it was just humans. Easy peasy.
Watching her enter the vehicle, he winked at her while no one was watching. They had always been a bit more tactile than usual on the evenings of big jobs, and this one had been no exception. Smiling his love for her as the door closed between them, he turned to answer their child's question.
"Now we wait. En route there should be no issues, even if they have something untoward planned. Generally if something of that variety is planned, it will happen after the meet. The main concern we will have is in location - making sure that their troop movements are legitimate and that the scenario setup is what she was promised. Since she was not given many specifics, that is a lot looser for this arrangement, and why I have taken so much care with what we can provide. Mostly we're here to raise the flag if something unusual is happening, and call in backup or to extract the team if events warrant."
Tag glanced at her every few minutes, ruining his perfect blank face with a question marked eyebrow. Ginnie just grinned and continued humming. She reached the end of "Cabbages and Kings" and moved on to "A Very Merry Unbirthday." If asked she wouldn't have been able to pinpoint the reason for the Alice in Wonderland songs, but it didn't matter, the humming calmed her.
The limo slowed and the engine was cut. Tag opened his door and signaled to Ginnie to stay put. She bristled a little, but he was just doing the job given to him, never mind that she had two hundred years on him and could take him out with out much effort.
They did the search the immediate area thing. Then the door was opened again and Ginnie was helped from the limo left handed. They stood in the water front side of the industrial district, it was not the prettiest part of Nachton, but it served its purpose well. The building was one that had been well maintained and looked like it'd had a fresh coat of paint recently.
The state of the building and the lack of litter, vermin or homeless that plagued this area, pushed these people up a notch in her estimation of them. With a nod to Tag and Brock, she stepped forward, mounted the three steps to the door. Her muscle fell in behind like good body guards, and she rapped twice on the steel door before her.
He tilted his head back, nostrils flaring, breathing the air. One of the Legionnaires looked at him askance, and he gave her a sardonic grin that she returned with a pained expression. Didn’t like the smell of the smoke, he guessed.
That was fair.
They stood at ground level in front of the designated meeting spot, a warehouse building by the docks that had been owned by The Deed up until his recent...incident. It was the closest thing to neutral territory, or at least both parties had a claim to it. They would work out territorial details tonight.
A break in the buildings leant Thanos a view of the bay, the sun slipping down the horizon, and he mused that somewhere out in the water, a tiny speedboat lay in wait, bobbing gently in the light waves. Inside, Tobi was waiting, laptop in hand, to jam all incoming and outgoing signals coming from the building. Of course everything would be recorded for posterity, but it was to their advantage to be able to cut all outside communication at a moment’s notice. Big brother was always watching.
Thinking of people watching, he looked up to the top windows of the building, pondering what those rooms would be used for under their regime. Perfect hiding places for snipers. For now, though, the snipers were on the boats. Two of their best shots; he’d chosen them himself. He’d very obviously overlooked Loretta. She’d been displeased.
The Alphas couldn’t be the ones meeting the crime boss tonight, but Thanos had complete autonomy. He could make deals at his discretion and, if need be, he could…cut his losses. The one thing he –couldn’t- do, at least according to his own standards, was walk away empty handed. He was hoping for a nice clean deal – everyone wins, no one gets hurt – but ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’ was his phrase of the day. He chuckled at the thought of that expression appearing on a motivational quotes calendar, and this time the two Legionnaires ignored him.
She thought back to that conversation, frowning in absent worry; yet another secret to nag at the back of her mind. She couldn’t explain why it was so important that she be here, though she knew it had something to do with wanting to see Thanos through the gun sights. He had made her feel powerless, and not just when he asked someone else, someone he trusted, to be his gunman. He’d interfered with Tobi, and this wasn’t the first time, she was sure of it. Even that wasn’t all – it was more subtle than that, what he was doing. He was turning people against her. Manipulating them with his fairness, his reason. Speaking to people she had encountered, worming in to soften the blows, so they would hate her all the worse, and love him all the more.
Her cheek twitched in irritation.
After peering through the rifle scope yet again, she pulled back and untied, then retied, her sweat-damp hair. The ponytail brought her hard Slavic features to bear, but more importantly, it kept strands out of her way.
It was almost time; the meeting was scheduled for after dark, so much the better for them, and she could just now see the first trace of stars.
Stupid thing to be pissed about, Tobi knew, but he couldn’t let it go. He wasn’t –mad- or anything…he just couldn’t help but think it was pretty lame. He knew how to shoot. His mom had taught him. She was always just a little bit better, faster, more accurate…but he wasn’t half bad by a normal person’s standards. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good. And it wasn’t that he already had one job, though one of the Legionnaires tried to pass it off as that.
No, Tobi knew exactly what it was. Thanos had come to him for help, wanting a way to jam the signal, and when he had explained that he needed to be on site, the Jiro went all squirrelly. Wanted someone else to do it. Maybe Tobi could have made that possible, but he didn’t really want to – he liked being a little indispensable. Then Thanos relented, because he had no other choice, under the condition that he wouldn’t tell his mother. Deciding that was bullshit all around, he went straight to Loretta and told her everything.
Things had been a little tense ever since. It kind of sucked, just like this job. It was too hot below deck, and boring as all get out.
He supposed if he was lucky, it would stay that way.
“Is that everyone?” A pause. “Let’s take this to the conference room, then. This way.” Without waiting for a response, he turned and let the way to the elevators at the back of the open room.
/ooc lemmie know if I moved too much or screwed up a detail :X.
She affirmed his question with a nod and since he turned and didn't seem to expect a response to his invitation to the conference room, she gave him none. With out a word to her guard, she followed his broad back with its blond ponytail into the elevator, then stepped to the side and forward so that her guard was neatly between her and the suit with out being obvious about it.
((ooc Nope, it's all good. Sorry it took so long, I was out of town.))
It wasn't for her she felt anxious, but her mother, and along with the anxiety of things going wrong, coupled with needing to remain still, and quiet, Shay's skin began to prickle.
Growing more into and in tune with her perceptive abilities was a two edged sword. Alert, she could pick up the sounds of footsteps, soft words, and even people breathing. On occasion though those external sounds could become terribly overwhelming. At the moment, in that regard, all was fine.
Looking back now, she knew she probably should have run some laps too, in preparation. A little expenditure of energy would have gone a long way in keeping her still now. But there was little to be done about that now.
Not wanting Alec to worry about her, when he had his hands full with more important worries, Shay tried to limit her furtive glances in his direction. When the time came, and they were needed, she would be one hundred percent ready, and focused.
Until then, she WOULD remain calm.
"The situation is too even. There are no obvious shows of his victory, he has taken none of the additional concessions...even the reasonable ones. That means he's either an honest crook or has a dirty trick planned. We need to spot that trick and have the warning ready before it springs. That's our job. Anything that looks unusual, mention it. You could spot something I do not through this system. I'm much better in person than with distal recon."
Pouring over all of the data present to him in all of its forms, Alec wondered...could the situation really be just as simple as they wanted it to be? It seemed so unlikely, but what if getting out of the game really was that easy?
But that was the question – was she truly willing to deal away, not just the territory Vyusher R’asa had forcibly claimed, but the entire operation? No – there had to be a catch. He would find out soon enough what that catch was; for now, he was prepared for anything.
The elevator came to a stop and the doors slid open, revealing two more Legionnaires, who stood aside to let everyone exit before falling in step behind the crowd. The two soldiers up front led the way to the conference room, opening the double doors to reveal a large open space, dominated by a long table and ending in a floor-to-ceiling window. Thanos suspected the view was meant to impress, but he privately thought it was a rather ugly sight. Smokestacks puffed what Thanos assumed were vile chemicals into the air while hundreds of boats dirtied up the water below. Industrialization. Progress.
He sniffed and nodded for his guard to proceed inside, which they did single file, then lined up along one side of the conference table. The lines of division were clear. As a courtesy and to show good faith, he left the side with the better view of the doors open to Cobra’s team. He trusted his own reflexes, and those of his guard, if it came to that, and he didn’t think ambush was all that likely; extraction would be difficult in that scenario.
He did, however, have to wonder if this meeting might be less about making deals and more about repercussions for the business with The Deed.
Pulling out of his musings, he followed his team inside and stood at one of the several chairs that lined either side of the table, though he didn’t sit just yet. Now that they had made it up to the meeting place without incident, though, he thought it time to speak more plainly. Hopefully Tobi was paying attention.
That thought, that they were relying on Tobi for…anything, really…was enough to make his blood run cold. He pressed on.
“Cobra. We meet at last.”
Initial communications had been tentative at first, going through an elaborate web of informants and minor players, all set up to protect one person’s identity. The Vyusher R’asa had been no less complicated to get in touch with; all parties had to be sure, and of course none of them were. What they were, was comfortable enough to proceed. To deal.
Because he was civilized (at least to an extent) he rasped out an offer of coffee or bottled water – there was a kitchenette with a mini fridge, coffee service, and microwave just behind him, in the corner opposite the window – but he doubted anyone would take him up on that.
'Huh, we get to face the door, what do you know?' Well at least it did more to calm her nerves than anything else had so far. "Indeed, Misio, though whether it is a pleasure remains to be seen." She offered him her business smile and let Tag help her into her chair. She sat first as a show of good faith, and in recognizing the courtesy of the door view.
She and her guards declined the offer of water as she set her case on the table and clicked back the locks. The case opened and she turned it slightly to the side so that in interior was visible, but not enough that she had no secrets left. With that done she leaned back in the chair, and folded her hands over her stomach.
"I'm all for continuing the small talk, but I'd much rather get down to business."
Sitting in the chair opposite Cobra, he waited with outward calm while she arranged herself and the briefcase. While no part of this meeting could be termed relaxing, opening the briefcase was one of those ‘moment of truth’ times that required an extra bit of attention. He could afford to wait until she showed him whatever it was she wanted him to look at, though; his men would let him know if there was anything to worry about inside. Instead, he concentrated on her body language; dominant, in control. Word on the street was that someone ruled the Nachton docks with an iron fist – he could believe that someone was Cobra, in spite of her age. She just didn’t look like a punk upstart – no trace of cockiness, just business as usual.
And thinking of business, they might as well get down to it. He leaned forward, his hands clasped on the table, and looked her dead in the eyes.
“The Deed’s unfortunate demise has left an opening in the Nachton trade industry.” He opened his hands. “We can fill it. We’d rather work with you than against you.”
This was review; they wouldn’t all be here now if both parties weren’t aware of at least that. Still, it was good to say, face to face, why they were here.
And he wanted to listen in. Something fishy was going on with Thanos, and spying seemed more important than getting that signal blocked. The trouble was that these guys were more ‘techy’ than your average bear – the channel was password protected, of course, but usually he could get around that. Unless you were talking military grade, it was hard to protect a frequency.
Finally, he was forced to acknowledge that they were talking military grade gear here. Which begged the question – why was a piddling city dock operation using the best equipment in the industry? No time to answer that now – he’d used it all up trying to mess around and play spy. With a disgusted snort, he keyed in the necessary code to shut down every frequency in their radius. It wasn’t subtle, it wasn’t elegant, but if he couldn’t break into the signal, hell, couldn’t even –find- the signal, this was the only way.
And with that, he sighed, slammed his laptop closed, and headed above deck to watch the action.
She removed a single green file folder from the briefcase. "This is a very important little folder, Misio. It contains information that I think you'll be interested in, but first we must bargain for it."
She quirked the corner of her mouth at the tall blond and chose to say no more. This was decidedly his court and she was very soon to become a small time bench warmer so it was not her ball to control.
And then there was nothing. All signals on all channels dead in the water. No radio, no digital linkage, no static even. Someone managed to pull the plug on the whole op. Evenhet might have the technology, but it wouldn't make sense for them to do so. That meant they were most likely dealing with a government agency. Was the CIA selling arms locally for some reason? How strange.
Cursing under his breath, he double checked the hardware. It was all still whirring away happily, oblivious that it had been reduced to doorstop status. Now it became a question of etiquette more than anything else. Should he stay behind and let the techs get the signal back up, or charge into the trap and most likely not make any difference in the long run? It would be an interesting question for another time. The fact of the matter was that his love was in a bear trap and might not be aware of it closing in around her.
Glancing to Shay, he shook his head.
"So much for an easy field day operation. With the disruption of so many signals mid operation, techs and an escort will be en route to troubleshoot the situation. Please monitor the feeds and inform me on status as soon as comm is back up. I'm going to go get your mother."
Double checking his weapons and the coverage of his gray armored stealth-suit, he smiled with false confidence.
"Your mother and I will be back directly. We'll likely be coming at a good clip, so be ready. If anyone you do not recognize as Tacharan comes within line of sight of this post, put them down. I will sort it out later if it becomes necessary."
She trusted that her mother was being careful, but there was just so much activity going on around them that Shay was having difficulty not letting it effect her. The noises Alec made did nothing to calm her either, though that wasn't his job. His job was to do what had to be done to protect Ginnie...not worry about Shay's discomfort.
"Of course - go!"
She would follow his instructions, and hope that things got fixed quickly. More importantly, she hoped Alec got to Ginnie even faster, and confirmed she was fine. His smile scared Shay, since there was something about it that didn't ring true. If he was providing it for her benefit, she wanted to let him know it wasn't necessary, and if anything was just making her more uneasy, but now wasn't the time for any discussion.
"I'll be ready, and...I'll be ready."
She refused to even think about anyone but Alec and Ginnie returning, but Shay patted the gun at her back, and knew she would have no problem using it if that's what it took.
Watching Alec leave, Shay devoted her entire conscious being toward the communication center, and watching Alec's back.
And, it seemed, she would find that fact out very soon indeed. The bargaining had begun- whatever was in that green folder would cost them a pretty penny. Of course she hadn’t simply put everything on the table to discuss – that wasn’t the way these things worked – but it was understood that it would be worth his while to continue the conversation blind.
He stroked his chin, then reached, very slowly and deliberately lest they think he was pulling a weapon, into his inner pocket. Pulling out a pad and pen, he jotted down a figure that looked reasonable – not generous, but reasonable. He was reasonably certain that it was more than the vendor’s fee The Deed had been able to pay, but Thanos knew that the Vyusher would be able to bring in much more income when they took over the operation. Zero loss had a way of turning profits.
Turning the pad around, he slid it across the table without a word.
She found herself studying the woman called Cobra as well. She could respect a powerful woman, and while normally she dreaded the diplomatic duties of her position, she thought she might have enjoyed being the one sitting across the table. Men could be so tedious.
They moved through negotiations quickly – Loretta supposed that was one thing men were good at. Within minutes they were obviously well into the meat of matters. She wet her lips, then went absolutely still.
Still as a waiting predator.
/ooc we are very sorry for the delay, but will now have our asses much more in gear. Apologies .
Reaching the outer edge of what they'd expected to be their opponent's visual range, Alec paused and scanned the area. There were certainly people looking out...but they did not seem to be even remotely alarmed or terribly concerned. Either they were terrible at their jobs, which seemed unlikely, or they were uninformed on the turn of events behind them. How strange.
Slipping unnoticed through their line, he made his way toward his goal.