Hedion 03

Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-03 02:52:04
Segal waves his hand dismissively. "Kesh is a mid-level industrium executive. He has familial ties to nobility but don't worry about them. If the Kesh clan even had the balls to retaliate, they don't have the muscle. If they pursue the matter, Gorlan Kesh needn't be the only example made. As for the Cyllan, I don't really know specifics. They all look the same to me. Best make sure and deal with any of them floating around Kesh."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-03 15:08:31
Zaef coughs. "If you have no other questions, Swao, it might be best if we discuss a...proposition with Segal. You mentioned that you wanted to snatch away what Keji wants the most, yes?" Zaef grins hungrily. "Would you like to know exactly what Keji wants at the moment?"

Segal returns Zaef's grin. "Enlighten me."

"Keji wants you broken and humbled, Segal. It's hardly a shocking revelation, I'm sure, but he has-I'm sorry, is-going to extreme measures to hurt you. He has contacted us especially to ensure your interest in Arakuna's little project."

Segal raises an eyebrow and asks, "How does ensuring my participation in a venture in which I am already inclined to participate result in a victory for Keji?"

Zaef rubs his chin. "It's rather convenient, isn't it? An Arena in your own backyard? And I don't mean the emptied pool. An honest-to-Vidas-Lam Arena, here on Hedion, and Arakuna wants you, an enthusiast, to fund the project, even though it's rumored that you, in fact, have very little to fund it with? Keji wants to ruin you financially, and he's going right for your weak spot-your love of the Arena. He wants you to bleed yourself dry on this project, spent every lat you have, and do you know what it's going to build? Keji's empire, and something that only looks like an Arena."
Segal fixes Zaef with a look that, despite his generally bacchanal nature, gives Segal the fleeting look of someone much more cunning. "Looks like? Arakuna's proposal was sound enough on its own merits. What would be more lucrative than... no, you just explain it to me. You're right, my love for sport is clouding my perceptions."

"Arakuna's proposal isn't an Arena. It's some super rectenna array that will give him a solar energy monopoly in the region. The Arena is just a cover. Keji is supporting the endeavor to bankrupt you and take a share of the profit."

Segal leaves a smear of blood on the mirror when he punches it. Silver flecks scatter onto the practice mats. "So close!" Segal growls, turning on Zaef next. "But all is not lost, no, not lost yet. The plan itself is sound. Arakuna is Expansion, Expansion doesn't have power on settled worlds. Who does Arakuna have handling the bureaucracy? Someone under the Steward's nose? An industrium with local authority?"

Zaef snorts. "Why settle for just one? This is energy monopoly. I know for a fact he has the Steward's ear, and he's contacted someone powerful in Faxom-Io, though I'm not privy to whom exactly. Plus he's currently at a meeting with a local lord who's shown interest."

Segal looks like a kid picked last for kickball. He mulls over the information, trying to discern truth from lie, before putting his unmarred hand on Zaef's shoulder. "I believe you." He takes the stim out from his pocket once more and takes a pretty long hit before offering it to Zaef out of reflex. "Now, where is this meeting? Which lord? Where is he?" Segal insists.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-03 19:21:14
As the group upstairs debates the finer points of just who's fucking over whom, downstairs the miniature Arena explodes with a flurry of cracking whips and howls of pain. Neither Ryno nor Spyx know how to use the ungainly quasi-weapons, and their tentative circling around the drained pool leaves them with as many self-inflicted welts as wounds from their enemy. Spyx darts in suddenly, but Ryno manages to lash the wicked braid across the yellow gladiator's leg, forcing him to dance and hobble back out of range.

"I didn't steal her!" the blue warrior shouts. "She left you!" Yellow's only reply is a tortured scream. His follow up shot, however, hits closer to home. Ryno staggers back, clutching at a thin red gash across his chest. Spyx is a fast learner. The fight drags on a little longer while Arketta fidgets. "I wonder if this is a special occasion or if Segal routinely has his entourage fight each other over lovers' spats?"

Regardless of the skill involved, the whip is not a weapon with which to end a fight quickly. Eventually Ryno and Spyx stagger to and fro, covered in shallow, bleeding lacerations. Spyx figures something out at last, and despite taking another two painful lashes from Ryno manages to close the distance on his foe. Then it's two bloody half-naked guys rolling around on the pool floor pounding each other, which you admit is a welcome change from Whipfest 2010. You don't know if Segal intended for people to die in his house, however. The crowd jumps to its feet when Spyx gets his whip around Ryno's neck and starts simultaneously choking and bashing his opponent's head into the pool floor.

Ryno's skull gives up before the floor does, and the crowd shouts in surprise and excitement.

"And Spyx Narasian wins with a brutal victory in the fourteenth minute!" Tor announces through his handheld vox. "Looks like Ryno's girlfriend is single again!"
skullandscythe 2010-11-03 22:35:04
Zaef shakes his head. "Why bother chasing after him? All it's going to do is make you some powerful enemies, and there are more effective-not to mention safer-ways of getting even with Arakuna."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-04 04:32:10
"I am not concerned with safety," Segal hisses back, "and what's more effective than a quick, messy death to the man who conspires with my brother to make me a fool and a victim? High explosives don't care about reputation or status or your damned boogeyman tales of Arakuna feeding would-be assassins their payment."

Mohawk raises an eyebrow at the mention of explosives. Segal must not mention blowing shit up all that often.

(OOC: Segal's up 2-0)
Gatac 2010-11-04 20:48:45
Swao smirks. "Okay, you're not taking tactical advice from a juicehead arena fighter who gets his cock sucked by noble skanks on the way to the shitter. That's something. How about a Samal, though? One who'd line up to smooch Utari's meat dildo right after his groupies if it helped me get rid of Arakuna? You think that maybe I've given the matter a little thought?"

He focuses his eyes on Segal.

"Just a couple minutes ago we were laughing at your idiot brother for being stupid enough to send hired goons to chase our skimmer and shoot at it in the middle of town. That's heat and witnesses he'll have to go to a lot of trouble to shake. Now you want to go even more high profile, against a higher-ranking Imperial target, and the way you look you don't seem spoiled for help that's both competent and not 100% obviously linked to you - I mean, yeah, loyalty's okay, homies for life, but how are you doing on disposable contractors that can get shit done? Not too fucking good, I'd bet. And even if you find someone - not me, I got plenty of exciting hobbies already - and that crazy sonuvabitch gets to take the cockroach down in the blast - which is nowhere near certain, but let's play pretend for a moment. Even if you take that ideal fucking outcome, you know your brothers and everyone who wants a piece of you will have you roasting on the spit over this. This is the best shot they'll have in years at taking you down without having to get dirty themselves. There's serious moves and then there's giving your enemies everything they need to have you buried. This is way over that line, Segal."

Swao shrugs.

"If this was Whirr or some shadowport - fuck yes, blow him up, blame it on the rebels. But around here? I thought people with money could afford brains, or at least stims that help you pretend. Vidas fucking Lam, it's either overthink or overkill with you people."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-04 21:21:44
"So what?!" Segal faces Swao now. "So I don't fund Arakuna's project. Someone else will, like this local lord you seem so tight-lipped about, and whether it's an energy monopoly or Arena or trillix farm someone who's not me is going to be making money. Not to mention I'm still here looking only slightly less of a patsy while Arakuna gets off without retribution. Both of these are unacceptable problems that inaction will not solve." Segal holds his arms outstretched in a silent query, then asks, "You've been pretty forthcoming with things I shouldn't do - how about some ideas for what I should do?"

(OOC: You guys are up 4-2)
skullandscythe 2010-11-05 19:35:03
Zaef takes a second to gather his thoughts. "Sabotage the project. If done discreetly, the array won't be able to handle Akis' whole energy supply and Arakuna's plans will be suspect. His backers take his head for you, and they waste a ton of lats on something that only partially works."
Gatac 2010-11-05 19:42:58
Swao's just about to launch into a "Shut the fuck up, Utari" routine when he pauses. Then he thinks some more.

"You know, for once, that was a decent idea," he says. "You don't wanna sit on your hands and you don't want to be so overt that he'll catch you while he can still do something about it. But the petty shit, the bugs, crapping out when it goes to full load...that has a chance of working, and continuing to work long enough that his venture partners get fed up with Arakuna. But it's got to be something they either don't catch or dismiss during the small-scale tests. I'm no engineer, Segal, but maybe you can find one who has a few ideas and is looking to get paid for them."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-05 21:32:09
Mohawk nods slowly with Hugh and Zaef's ideas, and Segal comes around after a minute of chewing it over. "That is... not a bad plan. You're right, though, I'll need to outsource the work. My own retinue doesn't lean that way. I need to know who he's working with so I know which specialists are safe to approach, however. Tell me that and I think we can avoid unpleasantness all around."

(OOC: 5-2, your favor)
Gatac 2010-11-06 09:29:15
"Zakest Nasa's out," Swao says. "I don't trust him with anything more than keeping his mouth shut. Tanakta's too loyal to even be worth considering. From my trin, Haaj can be...enthusiastic...about the way she does things, which lends itself to certain applications, but she doesn't have the tech skills you'd need. Fett's a little more up that alley, though. I'll call her in."

Swao activates his vox, linking up with Arketta's armor.

"Hey, Fett, get your ass in here. We've got some technical questions."

And tell your boyfriend that he needs to help you discreetly, Hugh thinks, but can't say.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-06 15:51:09
Arketta's reply is short and punctuated with heavy breathing. *Shit- uh, I'll- I'll be right there.*

Segal acknowledges Hugh's deflection with, "I suppose mine is a question better put to others, then. If Fett proves to have the skill, perhaps there are advantages for using someone close to the project from its inception."

"There are disadvantages as well," Mohawk offers.

"Agreed, but the situation is what it is and we do not have time to shop around. If your Turai can do the job, I don't see why we have to complicate things further," Segal says.

Arketta enters the room a moment later with her gear not quite packed the same way it was when you all arrived. Hugh and Robin hear her vox: *Lu-dammit, Zakest - is linked in. He can feed me details.*

And so he does. Segal, Swao, and Fett hash out the plan to the Iyuzo sibling's liking. It's easy enough; after all, Zakest is the one designing the sabotage in the first place. You just need a patsy to link it back to, and after the terse and detailed discussion, it would seem that Segal is your man. The trick will be keeping him from going off half-cocked at some real or imagined slight. Oh, and of course there's the problem of his brothers. Keji might not be too happy when Segal isn't blowing his cash on the Arena red herring, and Kohan seems perfectly comfortable to sit back and send hit squads for anyone trying to assist his siblings.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-08 20:12:13
Segal turns to Zaef and glances around the warmup room the group has taken over. "Well Bloodwraith, since we are apparently not getting an Arena after all, are you still interested in displaying your skills for the audience here?" Segal turns to Swao and adds, "And is there anything else I can help you with regarding your 'negotiations' with Gorlan Kesh?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-10 16:56:51
Segal nods, clearly frustrated at the way things have turned out. "Probably not, no. Well then. I have guests to attend to. Please, stay as long as you like, and good luck with Gorlan Kesh, Samal," Segal adds. He and Mohawk sweep out of the practice room and head back downstairs to the roiling celebration.

If Zaef were here on his own, he'd be hard-pressed not to indulge in the various diversions the Iyuzo party offers. He's spent a few days in places that positively reeked of high-class stims now, and there's not an hour that goes by that he doesn't feel a little pang of distant need. The nature of Hugh, Arketta, and Robin's covers have kept Zaef on the straight and narrow, even though it's completely accidental. They're just following their cover stories and in return Zaef stays off the smack.

The group rejoins Zakest downstairs, who, like Arketta, looks like a tad more disheveled than when they all entered Segal's abode. They loiter a little while longer for appearance's sake, then take their leave. Segal provides them a skimmer from his own hangar, asking only that they don't use it for anything too suspicious. Figuring if it's bugged, Davis can always sweep the vehicle back at the solar array, you accept and enjoy a quiet ride back to Array 11.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-10 17:03:52
Sublevel F, Sector 33, Akis Arcology

Davis and Angel pick their way through the dilapidated abandoned recycling center in the bowels of Akis, the area colloquially known as the "Underhive". It's been twenty minutes since they spotted an operational surveillance drone, gunfire sensor, or plain old camera, although the hulled remains of the Imperium's panopticon sometimes hang lifelessly from shadowed walkway corners or from overhead gantries. Massive unnameable structures, the bones of Akis, divide the underhive and penetrate through layers upon layers of once-was-city. Acidic lights filter down from above, lighting the spiderwebs of old roads, run-down hab-blocks, and debris mountains in garish neon rainbows.

The surveillance in the underhive is human rather than electronic, and it's everpresent. Angel and Davis' offputting garb and obvious weaponry mark them as Other, more specifically Others-not-to-be-fucked-with, and they pass by groups of scavengers poking through fresh junk-drops and arcology-paid construction crews taking a career-long break as they sit back and collect lats for not cleaning up the more crumbling sections of city. It's not like anyone comes down to inspect their work. Shouts and catcalls and laughter echo from an apocalyptic saloon, lit with orange firelight and green chemglobes.

You wonder about the dead surveillance, and realize it's being purposefully sabotaged. Whenever a crew must come down to repair a unit, it gets trashed soon after and eventually - eventually - the bureaucracy must have gotten the hint and spent its lats elsewhere. The culprits are probably the small wolf-packs of gangers and runners you glimpse darting from shadow to shadow or standing watch over clumps of shanties.

The recycling center's bisected by a collapsed hab-block, which in turn looks like it was done in by a fire perhaps. Tiny lights sparkle from thick cables that are strung up above the debris, showing a clear path through and over the accidental bluff to the other side of the arcology "rib". It's been Davis' plan to make contact with the runners that Maq employs, and so he and Angel haven't been minding the occasional scratching of gravel on their trail. They're not surprised when half a dozen young men and women appear out of the wavering cable-lights. Two drop from the cables above, landing with the practiced, lithe movements of free runners. The other four appear from the right side and approach cautiously until about 20 feet, where a solid shelf of hab-structure perches like a giant slide down to the saloon and shanties below.

"You lost, spire-bait?" the lead youth says. He's a tall, spare boy, probably barely old enough to drive on Earth. A shapeless hooded tunic shadows his eyes and conceals any weapons he might have. Traction-padded gloves and boots, similar to those worn by Keji Iyuzo's messenger to Hugh, give the boy away as belonging to the same trade. His companion is a young woman, a little older, wearing an empty gunrig over pleathery clothing like modern biker leathers, meant to absorb broad impacts. The missing piece to her ensemble is the weapon itself, a sawed-off beamer that hums and crackles in her right hand. Angel's seen one before, in the colony plaza on Aikoro, and the woman's shooter isn't done up nearly as competently as Dunamis Kon's handcannon was. Still, while a zip-gun might kill its owner, the chances of it killing its target are much higher.

Davis looks around suspiciously, then focuses his attention on the teenager. "That depends," he says. His voice is even, tough, menacing, but not threatening. The intended image is We're tough but we're here to talk, not rumble. "I heard this is Maq's turf. Is that right?"

The teen sneers. "Havin' turf would mean there'd be someplace where Maq isn't," he snarks. "But as far as your duded-up trust-fund ass is concerned, yeah, that's right. Now why're you down here in your flash merc dresses with 'ROB ME' all over you?"

"Came down here to let him know some things, some important happenings up top that he needs to be informed about," Davis says. He holds up his hand before the teen cuts him off. "I know, Maq doesn't talk with anyone. Just deliver this message to him," Davis taps out a short message and drops it in a easily cracked encryption module, "and tell him to find us. We'll be around."

The boy takes the module and nods. He's back on familiar ground now, and says, "Lats or trade to send a message, spire-bait. Fork over the goods and I'll run this down myself."

Davis smiles. "You want the suits?"

"Not my size," the kid says. "I'll take that popgun, though." He opens a hand for Davis' primary.

"Hard to run with a beamer on your back," Davis replies. "How about a compromise." He unholsters his stinger and hands it out, grip first. "Stinger seems more your style."

The gun disappears in a flash of movement - the kid has reflexes. Then the module arcs out behind Davis, where it's caught by a girl possibly even younger than the lead kid. She gives it a glance and sweeps her hands through her poncho, then the module (is it the same module?) sails back to the boy. He catches it and both he and the younger beponchoed girl take off at a dead sprint in different directions.

"Have a seat and get comfy, flash," the armed woman says.

Davis walks over and takes a seat on a discarded power cell casing, cast-off from the destroyed recycling unit. "Anything good to drink around here?" he asks the woman.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-10 17:04:50
There's a whole lot of sitting and not much talking, but the sharp taps of feet on foamcrete echo back up to the group after twenty minutes or so. The boy's back, and within a minute of him the younger girl rejoins her group, appearing from underneath that rock-shelf again. This time she's wearing a portable scanner at her belt, an older model, seen sometimes on backwater colonies or in small-time crimelord retinues.

"All right, drop your voxes, we're gonna scan you," the kid says to Davis and Angel.

Davis sighs. "Here, let me save you the time," he says, and tosses his vox to the kid. "Just ask next time."

Angel's vox disappears much the same way, then the girl with the scanner points at the outsiders' helmets. Angel and Davis are sporting their Turai armor underneath their getup, and the kids wouldn't need a scanner to know that such helmets sport onboard voxes as well. At the runners' prompting, Angel and Davis remove their helmets and depower their weaponry, although the gang seems content to let the men keep their shooters once they're not giving off an electronic signature. The familiar ping of a Turai vox being pried out at knife-point makes Davis wince, then the boy nods to his little tribe, their work apparently complete. He gently tosses Davis' module back to him, never approaching within the range of a good lunge and grab.

"Went to a lot of trouble to send Maq one name," the kid says. "Maq says yeah, he knows her. Maq says no, he doesn't care." The kid catches the attention of the rest of the runners. "Maq says scatter and leave this flash in the dust!" At 'scatter', half the kids are already presenting their backs to Davis and Angel. Six runners from tween to young adult explode out from their half-circle around Davis and Angel like police dogs are after them. Angel's instinct is to give chase - he is, at his core, a hunter, and he identifies the slowest prey, which in this case is the handcannon-toting woman. Davis follows Angel's lead and for a moment the only things in the world are their pounding footsteps, the rank underhive air in their lungs, and the red pleather-clad woman ahead of them.

It takes the woman a second before she realizes she's the lucky one. Angel's gaining ground over the relatively open debris hillock between arcology quadrants, while Davis keeps a steady pace on his quarry's flank, denying her access to the crisscrossing cables above that are already swaying with the weight of escaping children. Not that the woman would be able to go vertical - she's only got one free hand. Her other hand, however, spins the cut-down beamer around and fires a handful of hasty shots at Angel and Davis. The lightning bolts fly wide and scatter white-hot rock and sprays of choking dust. Meanwhile, the woman's pursuers aren't splitting their attention between shooting and running and close the distance to a few meters. The woman pours on the speed at the last second, turns left, and skitters and slides down the hillock underneath an outcropping formed by a hab-block's crumbling wall. Davis trusts his armor to take the impact and slams through the rickety barrier. Angel's right behind him, then four more cracking lightning bolts plow through the hab's interior walls. Orange flames lick up around Angel and Davis, then they're through the hab and running through a skywalk over the woman. She slows, looking around her, and doesn't see her pursuers. She scrambles up a corroded once-enclosed staircase - a staircase that used to connect with the same skywalk Davis bursts out of over empty space! The spook flails, yelps, and lands heavily three flights above the woman. He grasps for purchase on the bare metal and struggles back to his feet while Angel, forewarned of the jump, leaps down and rolls, letting bits snap off his angled suit as he ends up one flight above the now-fleeing-back-the-way-she-came woman. Angel sees the girl in the red suit holster the cannon and grab a nondescript cable hanging down between shadowed ceilings. She's just starting a climb up into darkness when Angel leaps off the staircase. He doesn't have to reach the cable - he just has to reach the woman, and he tags her legs with a desperate grip. Angel's weight drags the woman off her escape route and the two tumble into the alley.

"Don't kill me! Don't kill me! I'll take you to Maq!" the woman shouts. A flick of Angel's boot sends the handcannon skittering away. Davis makes it to ground level in time to stop the weapon's slide with his own boot.

Davis picks up the woman's handcannon and sticks it in his armor's kitbag, then takes a kneel next to the prone woman. "Hey, hey, hey, calm down. We're just here to talk to Maq. No need for drama, okay?"

She calms down when she's not dead or worse after a minute or so. Nodding, she replies, "All right. I'll.. I'll take you there. Just to talk," she reassures herself, then slowly gets to her feet. "This way."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-10 17:07:08
You learn the woman's name is Mira on the tricky walk back out to the more traveled sections of the underhive. A shortcut through another honeycomb of abandoned habs leads to a wherren ghetto, which in turn leads to an open field perforated by immense octagonal pillars. Scraggly plants climb up the pillars and around a network of wireframe supports, and you realize this part of the field might actually be on Hedian soil, possibly earth moved during Akis' construction or expansion. The working surveillance camera catches you off guard, but it starts to make more sense as you pass a few sentry drones outside the little garden. Up ahead - and through a nasty-looking artificial valley that could double as a murder hole - lights dance in the windows of what used to be a Gateport. There's still a hint of the ubiquitous dome common to many of the ports, but it's been added onto and overrun by everything from scavenged tubetrain hulls to additions built entirely from sprayfoam.

Mira walks you through the uncanny valley and into the entrance hall for the defunct Gateport. Two male guards, older than Mira and with a professional bearing, step up to challenge you as the three of you approach.

"They just want to talk," Mira tells the soldiers. "They ain't done nothing to me."

"He saw you on the way in," one guard says. "Figures you're this persistent, 'no' isn't going to keep you out, so Maq'll see you."

"Not strapped like that, though," the other guard says. "Lose the heat and you're free to head in." Davis doesn't get anything but professionalism from them; no buried resentment, but they're not sitting around waiting for a paycheck either. Assuming they're goons of the hired variety, they're probably expensive.

Davis nods, and disarms for the second time tonight. "Nice place you guys have here. You want us to take the helms off, too?"

"You scan clean, but maybe it'd be better if you did. Diplomatic and all," answers the merc.

Davis looks over at Angel, then shrugs and unseals his helm, sticking it on the table next to his guns and gives the guards his most winning smile. "Which way to Maq?"

"Follow me," Mira says.

He may live down in the underhive for safety's sake, but whoever Maq is, he's made quite a return on his information business. The professional mercs willing to take shifts in the slop of Akis and the well-maintained drone defenses are the first hint, but the interior of admittedly apocalyptic Gateport is nothing like the outside. It's closer to an upper-middle-class hab-block, and appears to have all the necessary utilities in working order. A Gateport would have backup facilities and dedicated utilities, so it reasons that bringing power, water, and atmo back online would be trivial compared to carving a lair out of some other corner of the hive.

Once you're inside, the other runners - all young, but then parkour demands a certain springyness most commonly found in the young - give you a wide berth but refrain from openly mocking you. Mira gets just as many derisive snorts. Clearly being caught is shameful enough. She leads you into a large semicircular chamber cleared of the traffic control kiosks and consoles that would normally populate a Gate waiting area. The room looks ceremonial and disused at the same time. What could only be a throne of metal and plastic sits front and center against the chamber's flat wall, and low benches are haphazardly arranged around it. Half a dozen mercs loiter calmly around the room. You get some nods and some pats on longlancer receivers, but the guards remain silent.

There's noone on the throne, however. That's rectified a moment later when the punk kid in the underhive hoodie tromps into the chamber from another door. He smirks at Mira and gives Davis and Angel a look as if to say All right, I'm impressed. He takes a seat on the bench close to the throne.

The next man through the door is just as spare as the teen who preceded him. His gray hair is still thick for his age, and is arrayed in a shock that could use a date with a pair of clippers. His face is lined and ragged, but it frames eyes with the same cunning gleam as the boy on the bench. Maq - assuming that's who it is - wears a carapace vest over a sleeveless shirt; jewelry and other doodads hang from his neck and are concealed beneath. A drop-style holster hides a large sidearm and a Turai sword dangles from a homemade baldric.

Maq plops down on the throne and assumes a Howardian pose. "I'm Maq," he says in Bashakran-tinged Imperial. "You know Brinai and you're persistent. Other than that, I don't have a lot to go on so pardon me for erring on the side of caution earlier."

"No problem," Davis says. "I understand, and I appreciate the chance to talk with you. There's some things going on up top that you should probably know more about than you do right now, and we're here to talk about what some of those events might mean for you and for Hedion."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-10 17:08:46
Maq spreads his hands in an inviting gesture. "Go on, then," he responds.

"What do you know about the Arena plans going on?"

Maq smiles. "I know there aren't any Arena plans, Dropchief."

Davis smiles right back. "Well, there's a lot more going on than that. First, I just have to know. It's a long way to Atea, or even Bashakra from here. How did an ex-Turai Bashakran like yourself end up running such an impressive group of runners from an old Gateport?"

"That," Maq replies evenly, "is a long, long, very expensive story, one I doubt you could buy with any amount of lats. In return, I might ask you why an Expansion official is playing with this much fire and why he's running with primary offenders and staying with suspected terrorist sympathizers. I don't doubt you know some shit that I don't, but I'll bet my left nut you're not Expansion."

"Tit for tat, Maq," Davis says. "You're asking for a lot and not giving any back. I need to know that I can trust you not to drop word to the Turai, the Kansat, the Steward, the nobles and broadcast it wideband on the Cortex just to be thorough the instant we're out of here."

"My business is built on money, information, and confidentiality," Maq explains. "You give me the first to take the second somewhere, and in return I give you the third."

"And I suppose someone with your skills who's interested in friends in the Imperial power structure wouldn't need this kind of protection," Davis says. He sighs. "We're with the Bashakrans, but we're not from there."

"And I'm from Bashakra and not with them," Maq responds. "Look, maybe I can cut through the bullshit and be straight with your little gang you brought here. In return, you can be straight with me. Revolution is an idealist's game, and I'm far from fucking ideal. I'll take your money and deal with you straight, but man..." Maq shakes his head. "I'm not wearing a colored bandana for some cause."

Davis smiles. "It's good to meet a Bashakran who breaks the revolutionary mold."

He grunts a quick laugh. "Seems a shame they got their hooks into you people. You seem a little more canny than their usual dupes. Canny enough to go under as an Expansion retinue with convincing covers, hoodwink the authorities into thinking you actually captured Bloodwraith Utari, and get half of Akis' upper crust hooked on your rectenna scheme. Where'd Brinai - I assume it's still her - dig you people up?"

"We met as we were breaking through the Aikoro lockdown," Davis says. "And she didn't dig us up, we went looking for her. We were still new to the neighborhood, and were looking for a friend who was looking to hit back against the Imperium as bad as we are."

"Bullshit," Maq spits. His hand reflexively goes to his holster but sits there, wavering. He looks at the teen boy who you assume is his son (or maybe grandson, Maq's pushing maybe sixty by your guess) and at Mira, then around the room. "These two are trying to tell us they're goddamn Narsai'i," Maq says. "Not the first time some dumbshit has pulled this trick, fellas."

Maq's hand frees his sidearm smoothly, almost lazily. "Lucky for us I'm pretty good at telling who's feeding us bullshit when it comes to these matters." He looks over Angel and Davis and says, "All you gotta do is answer one question." He points the pistol, a weathered but well-kept honest-to-God Colt M1911, at Davis.

"What year did Ronald Reagan become president?"

Davis almost falls over laughing, and has to brace himself against the bench. "Holy shit," he says. "Angel, can you fucking believe this?"

Davis looks Maq in the eyes, a smile and a look of amazement on his face. "Reagan was elected in 1980," Davis says in his accented English, "and Kelly Washington and Dominic Bullchev are going to be so fucking surprised to hear where you wound up, Lieutenant."

Maq looks like he's about to shoot you, like it wasn't the right answer, but when his brain finally knocks the rust off his English his hand starts shaking. He steadies his wrist with his left hand before he drops the cocked Colt or accidentally fires it, then collapses back into his seat. Maq's kept his real self locked away for over twenty years, and decades' worth of anger, fear, loneliness, and aimlessness hit him in an instant.

The walls crumble and the tears come. Maq's presumed son ushers the guards out of the once-was-Gateroom. He waves Mira off as well but Maq stops her with an outstretched hand. He reaches under his armor and retrieves a handful of trinkets on chains; a pair of dog tags, a plain gold ring, and a sweat-stained and faded patch, a US flag insignia taken with reverence from a uniform. He just looks at them for a time, running his fingers over the gray, brown, and midnight of the flag patch. He composes himself enough to speak once the room clears, and his words come out in a series of great growling hisses.

"Where have you been!?" he accuses in halting English.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-11-10 17:11:17
"We just recently got the gate working again," Davis says, switching back to Imperial. "And it's not like you've made yourself easy to find, Maq. We've been running around in the Imperium for almost two years now. What have you been doing down here?"

"Surviving," Maq manages. "25 years of surviving." His accusatory tone scales back to a laundry-list grumble. "Survived the angle beast. Survived orbital bombardment. Survived being kidnapped by pirates. Survived a podding. Survived slavers. Survived the underhive. I reckon I shouldn't even be alive, but here I am, and here you come walking in. And I knew Earth's involved, and I know how bad the Imperials want it. You can't tell me those codes are floating free out there. I looked, and my people are real good at looking."

Maq shrugs. "Probably not the same place I left. Hey," he says with a bit of a smile, "Could be worse, right? At least you two aren't commies."

Davis chuckles. "Yeah, we won, but new shit always comes." He looks around. "Hey, is there someplace a bit more comfortable we can sit down and talk, maybe with your son and daughter, too?"

Maq cocks an eyebrow. "Mira's my niece. I figure we might as well get properly introduced, anyhow. Mira you know, and this is my son, Buck. Maq's just my nickname. Lieutenant Bartholomew McLean, USAF... well, retired USAF, I suppose."

Buck doesn't react to the name - he reacts to Maq telling others. The kid jumps up with a confused look, snapping his head back and forth between his father and the newcomers. Mira's probably the most surprised. She gets the confusion mixed in with more than a little hurt as Maq reveals himself.

"Sorry, baby," Maq tells her. "I've kept that for a long time, and I didn't think who I used to be would ever be important again. I'm not sure it is even now." He looks at Davis and Angel. "I think I can ID you two from Cortex alerts, but that's a hell of an introduction. Come on back and tell me who you actually are." Maq, Buck, and Mira lead the way through some fairly sophisticated cogitation rooms and into a comfortable little office. There's not a whole lot to it besides the usual accoutrements such a space needs; what's the point in decorating an office with personal effects when your true identity could get you killed? Likewise, why bother accessorizing a cover life in an office noone's going to look at and that would only remind you of your second life?

Everyone introduces themselves and shakes hands, even Buck, who's not quite so arrogant now that he's in front of the Killing Wind and Smiling Beast.

"So, I'm sure you want to get filled in on what you missed, especially with what we're really doing out here, right?"

McLean nods. "Just the offworld stuff. I... I'm not sure I want anything beyond that yet."

Davis fills him in on the team's awesome adventures, finally getting to their arrival on Hedion.

"...and that's what we're here to do," Davis says. "We could really use your help."

"You've got it," Mac says. "Whatever you need, whenever you need it."

Davis nods. "Well, let's start with the four marks, shall we?"


Unfortunately, Mac doesn't provide much on the various Akis bigwigs that Davis and the team don't already know or suspect. Sure, he can confirm it was Kohan Iyuzo behind a hit on Swao's group and he can confirm it was Keji who hired his runner to meet Swao in that plaza, but Mac's usefulness proves to be his network of runners. It's only a small step to go from couriers to spies. Finally, should the plan actually work, there's nobody in a better place to coordinate a surgical coup of Akis' elite than Mac - or get the team out of the arcology once their job is done.