Fishing For Fun and Profit (attn: Ambrose)
Ran had scouted around the back alleys of the industrial district the previous night. He wished he could say he'd never been here but he recalled doing exactly this not too long ago, working with Hana. He despised this area just as much now as he had then, but he had to admit this area of Nachton was pretty much ideal for getting away with literal murder.
The evening shift had long since ended; those who worked in the factories and warehouses here during the daytime hours had already gone home. The people on the streets here now were a motley mix. Some were the unlucky night crew of said businesses, but not as numerous as during the day. Some were junkies or alcoholics, here to frequent the liquor stores and smoke shops. In the shadows between buildings Ran's sharp eyes had already caught numerous drug deals and more than a handful of quick and dirty fucks against a wall, wads of bills hastily exchanged and condoms or even needles discarded in the dirt.
Fuck, he hated this area. He stayed where he was, slumped against a brick wall, blended enough so that no one took notice of him, waiting for Ambrose. On this occasion Ran dressed mostly to blend in. He wore a pair of dirty grey joggers, black trainers, and a black sweatshirt with the hood pulled up. He had his hands tucked into his pockets. His blue hair peeked out of the front of the hoodie, and he wore neon green glowing contacts with a cat's eye pupil. No one would notice him until he wanted them too. Soon enough Ambrose would get here and Ran could hook up with him and tail him while he hunted.
They would either catch someone, or they wouldn't.
It had always kind of bothered him, probably not as much as it should have, when he was mortal but more so now. Ambrose had to admit he'd gotten a little soft he was used to a steady-ish job, being clean and fed not having a price on his head and having to watch his back and having Belle to look after rather than finding a whore to hire. Ambrose shoved all that aside though, it was pointless and wouldn't change the job.
Ambrose had actually dressed to stand out a bit, lures had to be flashy and get the fish's attention after all. Nothing too over the top thought, still had to look like he almost belonged. He wore a clean white shirt but soft and a little worn, a light jacket (only because it was the best way to hide the gun and shoulder holster) neat dark jeans, well polished shoes and a flashy watch. It was a knock off but a good one, you wouldn't know until you'd snatched it. Should attract some notice but not enough that he'd get hassled by just any mugger or pickpocket.
He walked along, already playing up his limp, keeping his eyes peeled for Ran without calling attention to the fact that he was looking. Hell even if some one noticed he might be looking for a dealer or a hooker.
Soon enough he spotted Ran. The man could seriously tone it down, not that Ambrose had any doubts, but it was nice to see. If it hadn't been for his gift, the blue hair and the fact that he'd been looking for him Ambrose was pretty sure Ran could go pretty damned unnoticed even before he got his sneaky on. He waited until he just caught Ran's eye and gave just the faintest sign of recognition.
When Ambrose caught his eye Ran gave the tiniest of nods to acknowledge him in return, then turned his head away, looking bored. He hadn't completely blended before, but now he did. It was as simple as thought, now, allowing himself to just become slippery. Light and shadows slid around him. Where every now and then someone might have glanced in his direction, thinking they saw someone there, now no one did.
He eased himself up from the wall and prepared to follow Ambrose but not too closely. He wanted to see if anyone else did the same. The point of the game was to see if Ambrose could manage to get himself attacked. That had only happened to the previous victims while they were feeding in this area. Ran didn't envy Ambrose that task, but then, maybe he had a stronger stomach than Ran. For his sake, Ran sure hoped so. Otherwise he would take point and see what he could rustle up.
Trusting Ran to have his back Ambrose start to look like he was looking. Let whoever may or may not be watching him decide what he was searching for, sex a meal or something else, he did his best to appear like a hunter but a weak one the old lame lion that always seemed to get run off by some young punk in the nature documentaries. It was oddly difficult and went against -all- of his instincts. Usually you didn't want to look like you were after something he was good at that. He'd also spent a damned long time learning to disguise his leg and it was a challenge to remember how to make it obvious. But he was doing his best. He wanted them to catch someone.
He walked slowly with no particular path in mind but dressed as he was he couldn't ramble around all night, someone would smell a rat. But he kept walking now, hell he even stopped once to talk to a dealer but left without a deal or a hassle thanks to a little nudge of command. It was as he turned a corner and had his eye on what looked like another dealer, or maybe a pimp given the women not too far off, that he decided he had a tail other than Ran.
There were at least two, one behind him and one being tricky and staying in front. Might be more as they were doing a good job. Little fuckers. Ambrose limped over to a wall and leaned heavily against it doing his best to look tired and sore, even though he was itching to get into it. As he 'rested' he opened up his perception even more there were three... nope four. Must be passing the watching between them. Props for organization.
Knowing they were there he fought to stay relaxed. They might not make a move tonight, no guarantee as they could be scoping him out. It might even just be some assholes out to mug him, although given the apparent cooperation and planning he didn't think so but could be. Still he figured this break would give Ran a clue he'd found something and let the Nightsman do a little looking of his own.
He didn't miss the people paying rapt attention to Ambrose, though. They were being good about it, but Ran had hundreds of years of doing the same thing. He'd expected as much, but he wondered if they were together or if they were even looking for Ambrose with clear eyes. This was the place in Nachton you went to do shady shit. Ambrose was dressed far better than anyone around here and he'd approached a dealer and left - he basically said 'mug me' in not so many words.
It would have made much more sense for Ran to play the victim, but Ambrose didn't have the stealth factor, and that was really the important part of their plan - for the moment.
Well... if Ambrose was playing Ran's part Ran supposed he could play Ambrose's part. He slipped up behind the main tail, the one pretending not to follow Ambrose. Quietly, he muffled the man's face with his sleeved arm, wrestled him easily into the shadows, and silenced him. Not permanently, of course. Just for a bit.
A cursory search of the man's clothing gave him no clues, but he also didn't find any weapons one might expect on a wannabe vampire-killer. Blended, he shifted forms and flew quietly up ahead of Ambrose. This one was female. She kept moving just a little ahead of Ambrose, but it was clear she was trying to stay close to him. Ran settled his little bird self on a chipped railing and turned her his way. She let out a soft cry of surprise, swearing, but her feet and legs wouldn't obey her. He steered her toward him, then behind a half-wall, and as Ambrose passed, Ran muffled her face and put her to sleep too. The same quick inspection revealed condoms, a small wad of cash, and a little baggie with two small brownish rocks in it. Well. There was no helping some people. He left her the drugs; taking them from her wouldn't do her any good.
Blending, in human form again, Ran trotted up behind Ambrose and whispered over his shoulder.
"This is fun. I can see the appeal. Maybe I should be a Huntsman. Nothing on either of them by the way... the second one was just what she looked like."
Ran knew there were a couple more pairs of eyes on Ambrose. But here, that might be all they were. Not much else he could do until Princess Picky Pants found herself a drink.
Ambrose rubbed his eyes as if he had a headache and growled under his breath, pretty sure Ran would hear,
"So I'm going to do the questioning and stalking now?"
He'd thought about joining the Night and rejected the idea. This was only confirming that decision.
Well back to flushing out their prey. Ambrose pulled himself off the wall and limped off with a bit of menace. Apparently he needed to be less mugging target and more seriously hurt vampire.
There was a small knot of people by the maybe pimp so that was out. He walked the opposite direction actively and openly looking for a target. Down an alley not too far away but easy enough to overlook he spotted what looked like a street kid hiding in a doorway he could just make them out. Made him think of Marie for a second but he wouldn't let himself think of the waif just now. The kid, teenager probably, looked like a good target for a weak vampire.
He slowed down and felt the kid deliberately ignoring him trying not to be noticed hoping of he held still enough Ambrose would pass him by. Stopping well out of reach of the kid Ambrose decided that his clothes weren't a big enough lure, he'd up the bait a bit then.
Ambrose pitches his voice so it would carry but the kid refused to look up. Good.
This time he added command to his words. If the wannabes were out there, they'd notice.
The kid came over to him, a little slow a bit reluctant but obeying the command. That wasn't the only sounds of movement either. He'd gotten someone's attention he just hoped it was the right people.
With that, he moved away and let Ambrose work. It would be the best case scenario, really, if the would-be killers were convinced that Ambrose was just another vampire, one who fought off an attack but wasn't fast enough to follow. They wouldn't suspect Ran was there. He could stealth out and see where they went, and from there, more information-gathering could happen.
Ambrose looked to have targeted a street kid. Not a bad choice; it meant Ambrose was unlikely to wind up fighting off two attackers. The kid looked like a stiff breeze would knock him over, poor thing. Ran wondered if he was using, selling, or was just one of the unlucky kids without a place to call home.
He put the thought aside, shifted, and fluttered on invisible wings to the top of a guttering street light. From here, he could see easily up and down the street they were on. There wasn't much movement; if someone was going to come at Ambrose now, they were well-hidden.
He commanded. That would backfire if this kid was one of the "hunters" but he'd take the risk. Standing behind the kid, still using his perception keeping himself aware of his surroundings, Ambrose bit the kid's neck. It didn't last long. One mouthful of blood and he made a face, stopped drinking even spitting out what he hadn't swallowed.
"Heroin? Really kid?"
Thank God he hadn't drunk much. He didn't understand how people got addicted to this shit. He thought about commanding the kid get himself into rehab but honestly didn't know if that would help or just drive him mad so Ambrose left well enough alone. He didn't even command the kid to forget, just another junkie, no one would really listen to him.
With that hunt a failure, on multiple levels, Ambrose limped off, clearly a little irritated. There was someone out there yet but he was starting to think it might not be related to he and Ran's job.
Speaking of which, fifty fifty if they should give it another shot. Since he clearly hadn't fed from the street kid he could make another go or they could call it. Ambrose decided it was Ran's decision but he started to look for another meal. Ran would have no issues stealthing up and say something.
Ran felt bad for the kid. Maybe he'd come back later and try to help him, however he could, although Amir would laugh at him for it. Still, since seeing Mina and Jacob blossom as familiars and enjoying their growth, Ran wondered if maybe there was a little more humanitarian in him than he'd always believed.
He didn't blame Ambrose for being picky, though. In fact, as they made their way further down the road he ghosted up beside his partner.
"New plan. Bite me."
He moved away quickly, reappearing down the street, once again slouched against the wall in the shadows. The idea was to not let the attackers know Ambrose had a partner, but they'd hardly expect a setup like this, would they. Ran thought it was pretty clever.
As Ambrose got closer Ran nodded his head at him, tilted it slightly, looked him up and down.
"Hey man. You lookin' for somethin'?"
He changed his voice, picked up a bit of Boston, peeked out from his hood a little. Ambrose could manage to bite him without showing his face to the world.
He didn't know just what Ran had planned and honestly didn't really fancy biting Ran. But you did shit you didn't like to make a plan work. So Ambrose swallowed his hesitation and let himself play the part of a John. Yuck. It might be just a cover but it kind of made Ambrose feel dirty he couldn't seem to stop thinking of Ysabel's former familiar and what could have happened to her.
But he got on with it pulling himself up straighter lounging on his cane and boldly eyeing Ran up and down.
"Depends on what you're selling and for how much."
Of course the way he was looking at Ran would send a very clear message about what he was looking for to any onlookers. He sauntered up to Ran understanding he wanted to keep the hoodie up to obscure his features and really hoped he'd understood Ran right.
"Or I could just take what I want."
Standing right in front of Ran he muttered very softly.
"A clue might be nice."
And with that he gave Ran a little jerk and bit down fairly aggressively. He drew the bit out a bit just to make an impression but was careful to actually drink very little. He wasn't into it and sure as hell didn't need his partner on this job feeling weak or drained.
Focus, Ran, he thought, as his thoughts took a decidedly dirty turn due to Ambrose's fangs in his neck. A bite was a bite. This one was short and businesslike, and Ran didn't mind that.
"The clue," he gritted out softly, trying not to sound turned on, "is that we really need to let some of those eyes one us know you're a biter. Can't always be picky in this line of work."
His voice came out slightly breathy, but as Ambrose pulled away he cleared his throat and did his best to look woozy. "That was 'mmmmazing," he slurred, loud enough for anyone passing by to hear. "You can look me up any time."
Ambrose hadn't been jumped, but they had hopefully set the stage. Maybe the next time they showed up, their anonymous friend or friends would recognize him.
"Go on," he murmured to Ambrose. "I'll catch up with you in just a minute."
He let Ran stumble away apparently satisfied with the encounter and debates licking his lips. He quickly vetoes the idea though deciding it would be over acting and might put their targets off.
"We'll see kid... you're not too bad."
He's voice was a satisfied growl pitched to carry for whatever audience they had.
"If not you someone else."
Then with a smug smirk and a bit of a shrug he turned and left like the street kid Ran was playing just didn't matter. He really hoped they'd made an impression, gotten someone's attention. But Ambrose knew better than to be too anxious hopefully it was the next cast but it was possible they'd even need to change location. With any luck he didn't have to bite Ran every time.
He got back to the posh sedan he'd borrowed for the evening (he hadn't wanted his fairly distinctive truck noted by anyone) and just sat for a bit making a show of checking his phone but with the windows down if Ran wanted to fly in.
So maybe their fishing expedition was a bust tonight, but they could return in a few nights and try again. Ran could remain blended the next time, and Ambrose would either have to suck it up (literally) and drink from someone less than suitable, or pray he got jumped before he had to do it at all.
After a minute or two he staggered away from the wall and shuffled down the street back the way they'd come. Once he was certain he wasn't being followed he blended, shifted, and flew back to the car. He glided into the open window and down to the foot well of the passenger seat. There, he dropped his blending and ruffled his feathers. He nodded his head toward the street, indicating that Ambrose should head off. He didn't want there to be two people in the sedan, just in case they'd missed a stalker. He'd pop his head back up when it was safe.
"I can't get in the carpool lane with you down there."
He growled slightly. He didn't drive right back to the manor and was keeping an eye peeled for anyone following them. Ambrose wouldn't have minded being followed, it would give him something to do. Sure he knew it wasn't all about the chase he could and would be patient and wait for their prey to come to them, but that didn't mean he wouldn't like to run something into the ground.
"On a scale of one to ten I'm giving that a two."
They couldn't even go back tomorrow without being dead obvious. They could, however, go back. Hell it should be better next time, they might be looking for him.
"How long do you reckon we have to wait before we try again?"
He didn't suggest having Ran be the bait just yet. After all, even if they did mix up the bait he didn't have Ran's gifts for being sneaky, it was likely he'd be recognized while tailing Ran. Not a given, just likely.
"Let's assume they're going after younger vampires? So maybe a couple of nights. They know who you are now. They've seen you drink. Next time you show up around there, they'll have you pegged. They attack you, you fight them off, drink from them maybe like the last couple did, and when they run off I'll track them down."
It was the best he could do for now.
"Once I know where they're holing up, we can either go in or keep info-gathering. The important part is that we've laid the groundwork."
At least he hoped. There were probably other ways to go about it, but with his particular abilities and Ambrose's they couldn't exactly peg the attackers until they were actually attacked. Patience wasn't always Ran's forte, but Amir had trained him so he knew how to apply it when the situation called for it.
((ooc: we can do the next hunt in this thread or another one, up to you))
They'd finally agreed it was time to try again and Ambrose was itching to get to it. He was as dressed up this time, he didn't want to attract muggers or pickpockets just 'vampire hunters'. He had, however, borrowed the same sedan. Who knew where they had watchers or how many.
They pulled up at a red light a bit outside of their target area.
"You know I usually actually enjoy fishing."
Of course he usually caught something. Hey if they caught something this time, or even the next, he'd undoubtedly enjoy that as well. He'd try to think positive.
Out of context, however, it had its appeal he supposed. Since technically, they were fishing right now for their would-be killers. The killers who, so far, had managed to not actually do any killing that they were aware of and who seemed to mostly be best at providing vampire snacks.
Ran was confident they'd catch one.
He waited until Ambrose parked the car and then fluttered out of the open window, blending as he did. Once out of the car he flew to a nearby light post and waited to see where Ambrose would go.
After a second he decided to take a slightly different path than he had last time. He wanted to be a known commodity but he couldn't afford to treat the place like a supermarket. Leaning heavily on his cane, he set off towards some warehouses he could hear some folks milling about in the shadows so at least he'd get some eyes on him.
As he got closer he was able to make out three distinct voices, there might be more but he'd only heard three speaking. He also smelled cigarette smoke, something cheap and noxious. Well it would be better than any kind of drug they might be smoking. Not that he thought the first group would be pay dirt, but hell he was hungry he might nosh on one of them anyway.
It was up to Ambrose to try to look like a snack, a feat which might me more easily accomplished if the man didn't look so... so... perpetually predatory.
Come on, he urged his partner silently, hoping to develop some kind of latent communication gift. Look tasty. You can do it.
Granted, the attackers hadn't shown much in the way of prudence thus far. It was dumb luck that they hadn't been killed and had simply become the snackee instead of some kind of ninja vampire hunting vigilantes.
Ran chuckled to himself as he perched and waited, amused by the semi-ineptitude of all involved.
This was further reinforced when Ran made a comment about looking "attackable" and getting on with it.
"I've never looked attackable."
He growled back. It was true too even before his prosthetic and managing on one leg he'd apparently held on to his more... we... assertive demeanor.
Well damn it, he was going to sort this out even if this job was playing against almost all of his instincts. It was frustrating as he really wanted to get this right. Deciding he was going to be a lion no matter what, he'd just have to be a lame lion. He didn't lean has heavily on his cane but he did make a conscious effort to move slower and set his leg down hesitantly, like he didn't trust it. Hell he even stumbled once. Although all this acting did remind him why he'd decided he wasn't cut out for The Night it did seem to be getting results. He was being followed.
Slowly he headed them to a darker alley, one he knew was a dead end. Getting halfway down the alley he stopped and did his best to affect a tired frustrated slump against the wall. He must have done a good job of it because the next thing Ambrose knew this guy came at him, full force and with what Ambrose swore was a wooden stake. Ambrose managed to stay relaxed, even look a bit like he was confused (well he was, about the stake) and cowering until the kid was in reach and he grabbed an arm to neutralize the steak but then decided to let the kid get a few shots in. Hey if they were going to follow this guy he needed something to tell his buddies.
The kid made to punch him in the gut and doubled over convincingly. The kid was apparently startled by this reaction and hesitated before snatching the stake backup from where it had fallen, giving some crazy ass war cry kind of shout and trying to take Ambrose out. Ambrose was more than done playing and, as a vampire, was significantly faster than his 'attacker' shoved an arm painfully behind the man's back making him again drop his weapon and cry out. Ambrose then quickly closed the remaining distance between them and aggressively sank his fangs in the man's neck.
It took some effort but Ambrose remembered not to kill or even too badly damage the bastard, but he got a good meal out of it. Finished he shoved his prey away and stalked off muttering softly into his ear piece
"All yours fly boy."
Stupid being stupid, though, and lacking anything resembling a sense of self-preservation, Ran peered with interest from a nearby window ledge as a young adult human male went at Ambrose with what looked like a wooden chair leg that he'd attempted to sharpen to a point. Poorly. Ran cringed at the idea of that thing piercing anything. Ambrose was in more danger of being bludgeoned into boredom than staked to death.
There was no popcorn to be had, but Ambrose worked quickly anyway. Ran snickered as the other vampire left his snack on the ground, shaking with what appeared to be a fading adrenaline rush more than any sort of shock or injury. Ran waited patiently. After a minute or two, the guy sat up, a little wobbly, and groped around for his club... err, stake. He used it to lever himself up, stood, and made his way out of the alley quickly, not looking around him.
Ran rolled his eyes; he could have followed this kid if he were in plain sight, dressed in neon pink, and wearing a sign that said 'HELLO MY NAME IS VAMPIRE.' Who the fuck was hiring these kids? It was hard to believe it was just the one; honestly, this level of stupidity should have gotten him killed by now.
The kid actually had a car parked a few blocks away, necessitating Ran fly to follow it, which he'd already been doing anyway. The little compact car zipped through the streets, finally coming to a stop outside a plain brownstone townhouse in a middle-class area of Nachton. It wasn't remarkable, but that was probably what made it a good hideout.
before he went in, he ducked out of sight, shifted to human form, and murmured the address of the brownstone into his earpiece so Ambrose could follow in the car. Then, blending, he quickly caught up to the human and slipped inside the door of the townhouse behind him. Maybe he should have waited for Ambrose, but Ran didn't want to miss the opportunity to actually get into this place and see what was up. For all he knew, the kid lived with mom and dad. He didn't look much older than twenty or so.
Following the human, Ran focused on placing each footfall exactly when he did. No sense in taking chances when he didn't know what he'd find.
Sure enough, the kid went to a door off the kitchen and opened it to reveal a set of stairs heading down to the basement. Smirking, Ran followed him. Of course, in the basement of his parents' home. How cliche. His mind ran through all the possibilities, first and foremost was that this kid was probably going to sit down at a computer and get on some nerdy wannabe-vampire-hunting forum and tell everyone about how he almost killed one or something.
The tripwire at the bottom of the stairs should have alerted him to the possibility that something else was up, but he just noted it and navigated past it. When they emerged into a spacious finished basement, Ran immediately realized following the kid so closely may have been a little bold.
There were six people in the basement including Ran and his quarry, and he would bet that at least two of them were vampires. Ran froze, focusing hard on blending, well aware that it was a good skill but not foolproof. If these vampires were much older than he, or actively looking for someone blended, he might be fucked.