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Dave ST

[Grandfather Mischief] 'Shotgun Diplomacy'

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Shotgun Diplomacy

The chill of the night air didn't do much to halt her steps in the back alleys of Deleshen's slums. The damp night air gave a sheen to her black snake skin leggings and the constant clack of her boot heels on the concrete alerted most that she was heading somewhere in a hurry. The blazing neon and humming essence flow all through the streets lit her up on all sides with brilliant pinks, blues, and dirty whites. Advertisements for all manner of various products hovered a few inches away from their wall or wind mounted displays, offering a three dimensional display for everything from cigarettes to strip clubs to fast food. A few were even tricky and the display projector was installed in the sidewalk, creating a 3D image you had to walk through, which was irritating as hell, but like spam on the internet, when did advertisers care?

She walked through one with a sigh of irritation. It shattered in millions of pin-head sized motes of multicolored essence and scattered outward as she passed through, only to slowly come to a stop and attract back towards the display projector and reformed the ad. She turned to her right and stepped into an alley way that, thanks to all the neon lights on the streets, was nice and just the right level of shadowy. The garbage and refuse were piled high on all sides and the stink was one she was used to given the years she'd been moving through the city's vile underbelly.

She was barely twenty step in when the headlights from the car further down came flashing to life with its high beams. She squinted briefly, prepared for something just like this. She blinked briefly, her eyelids closed and as they opened the brief hint of a vertical pupil was visible before squishing itself circular again. Her arm was raised to block the light showing that she had noting hidden underneath her opened leather jacket.

“Cut the shit, Geezer!” She yelled down towards the car. “Or so fucking help me, you'll be hiring a new driver tomorrow.”

The lights clicked off a moment later and all that was left was the dim luminescence of the neon from the streets behind her. The car doors opened and two men exited from the front, the driver got a wicked glare from the raven haired woman. From the rear of the car two women exited, twins judging by the way they were dressed and the fact they looked completely identical. Both were wearing body hugging cheongsams that went down to their ankles but were cut on either side all the way up to their hips, for maneuverability, no doubt. One wore black with golden embroidery while the other wore white with silver embroidery. The last figure to step out of the limo was a corpulent man of nearly three hundred pounds. His decent was hard to place, as he was a 'Dragon-Blooded', a former super soldier of the modern era. The Twins stayed on each side of him as he limped towards the front of the car, his cane clacking on the ground with each step he took.

“Ophelia, respect.” He nodded. His skin was a deep green and his hair was deep brown and twisted into long dread locks which he bound up in a tight top knot. “Mi deh yah, yuh know. Be havin' what I asked for, yeh?”

She reached into her jacket pocket and as she did so the two men from the front seat drew their firearms and aimed them at her. “Away! Away!” The Geezer shouted. “Put dem away!” They did as they were asked but Ophelia hadn't even flinched and from her pocket produced a single sphere of silvery metal.

“As promised,” she smirked coyly. “This wasn't easy to get, N'Geezer, so please tell me you're not wasting my time. Did you find what I needed?” The silvery globe melted down into a thick puddle in her hand. Silvery tendrils waved about, coating her hand in silvery second skin before breaking down and forming itself back into a silvery ball.

“Ah'did, yeh. D'one you lookin' for, he's not easy to find, but m'twins, dey know tings, dey see tings,” he motioned for the man who was sitting in the passenger side to approach her and retrieve the silver orb. He dared not send the driver for fear she might kill him just because. Cautiously he approached and she handed him the sphere. Ophelia and Geezer both chuckled to themselves as the rather small sphere seemed to weight a ton in the unattuned mortal's hands. With his back hunched and using both hands to carry it, he slinked back to the limo.

“There,” Ophelia cooed. “I've upheld my end. So, tell me Geezer... where can I find Grandfather Mischief?"

Spoiler

Grandfather Mischief's scene will open up with whatever you decide.  Obviously, he doesn't know someone is hunting him at the moment, but that will come as the intro progresses.  For now, just begin with whatever you think he might be doing on a dark and wet Deleshen evening...

 

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There must always be an order to things. The apartment, while small and unadorned, was spotless. Its bedroom was a box, and a kitchenette was cramped between the entryway and the shower. Fortunately, the living room was rather spacious. This was a good thing, considering that it contained an impressive collection of gun-smithing tools organized in BILLY book cases. Lathes, ammo press, boxes and boxes of shell cases, lead bullets and of course - inside its tiny safe - the necessary propellants. 

All the furniture was the cheap, put-together kind that was short to last but easy to replace - and hard to miss if you'd have to leave it behind. Light grey low-pole carpeting provided warmth and silence to its inhabitant, currently enjoying a good old pasta-and-cheese, straight from the cookpot. He lay on the couch watching the news on the television, muted essence-flared warnings of bad weather and bad people forcing themselves into the room. 

One of his good suits hung on a rack, ready to wear. Right now, he dispensed with flair in favor of a comfortable tracksuit. The LACK coffee table in between him and the television was strewn with the disassembled parts of a handgun he was cleaning for Mrs. Aracas down the hall, as a favor. She had the piece for protection since her husband died, but she didn't have the first clue on how to maintain it. He didn't mind doing this small thing, especially since she was the head of the tenant's association and overlooked the fact that he stored the tools of his trade in his apartment. 

After scraping the last bit of pasta from the bottom of the pan with his spoon, he turned his attention back to reassembling the handgun.

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The man in Ophelia's arms struggled as his wife cried out of fear, begging the stranger to let him go.  Ophelia jerked the man, twisting his arm up into a chicken wing hold and gripped her hand just under his chin.  Her black fingernail slowly lengthened to the horror of the begging woman into a talon several inches long and she rested it upon his throat.

"Please!"  The woman cried.  "Take what you want, please, just don't hurt him!  I've lost my son, I can't lose him!"  There in her living room she was on her knees, hands outstretched towards her husband, hoping she'd not lose him this evening.  A trickle of blood appeared from the tip of the talon as it pierced her husband's throat.  "No!  Nooo!  Please, no!"  She collapsed into tears and sorrow.

"You," she began, jerk the husband's arm just make it hurt.  "Owe The Geezer for the ritual he told you.  Lost your son, seeking revenge?  Ring a bell?  Where is the man you summoned!?"  She yelled.

"No!  W-we didn't.  We never used it..." she cried out.  Every sob was laced with silent pleas not to hurt her husband.  "We were angry.  We were hurt, but in the end, no amount of vengeance would have brought him back!  We didn't do the ritual!"

The man choked as she squeezed his neck, letting her long talon rest away from his throat for a moment.  "I commend your nobility, but that's going to work for me.  You'll do it, now, or he dies."

The woman shook her head in both fear and shock.  "Please, no.  Please don't hurt him."

"Then DO THE RITUAL!" Ophelia screamed at her as her hand tightened around the man's throat.  "Oh, sweetie... better get on it.. I give him... twenty seconds, tops."

It was more like forty, since killing him would end her leverage on the woman, but she could only push so far and the woman would crack and be useless to her.  She watched as the terrified woman tore her living room and kitchen apart looking for what she would need to begin the ritual... within only a few moments both rooms looked like a bomb had gone off and all she had to show for it was a simple scrap of paper and photo of her child.  She tossed the picture on the floor, clasped her hands together and rocked back and forth, chanting.  "O'Great Unconquered One, turn your mighty eye upon me and bathe me in your warmth and radiance.  What was done, you can not undo, but bring me vengeance, swift and true."  She looked up to Ophelia, tears streaming in her eyes.

"Again."  She squeezed the man's neck until his face began swelling and turning red.  "If you stop before I tell you, you'll be cleaning him from the walls."

Sobbing, the lady rocked backed and forth, mumbling the thaumaturgic ritual to herself.

Several blocks away...

The gun was in excellent condition, just in need of proper polishing and oil.  With years of muscle memory Grandfather Mischief slid each cleaned component into place and the weapon slowly began to look like its old self.  In the dim light all one could see is the master's hands moving quickly and efficiently for several moments until they came to a sudden halt.  Slowly the room got brighter and brighter over his work area as his Caste Mark began to shimmer and glow in the shadowy illumination.  "...bring me vengeance, swift and true." The sobbing voice echoed in his mind and his thoughts carried him to where she could be found.

Duty called...

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Mikhail was swift, but not slap-dash, strapping on the under-armor before putting on his suit. His guns, heavy in the holsters at the side of his chest, were swiftly covered by his jacket. He decided on a shawl today, and an overcoat. The weather was nippy and cloudy, and the threat of rain loomed on the horizon. Like an undertaker preparing to meet the grieving family for the first time, he steeled himself before going out the door.

"I am but one of a handful of lights in the dark of the night sky. But for some, I may be the only light they ever see."

Locking the door behind him, he made his way down the hall to the elevator. The distance to cross was small, and he knew the area well. It would take him little time to reach the building, the floor, the apartment. Then, like the bearer of bad news, he'd ring the bell with that slow, long touch that signals to the inhabitants that someone was at the door who meant business.

Spoiler

Dave, Mikhail's decently good with people (Socialize 3, Perception 3) and he's been doing this for a while, is there any chance he'd hear from the woman's voice that she seemed unusually stressed? If so, he might be more careful as he rings the doorbell. If not, he's only averagely on his guard (appropriate for the neighbourhood) and whatever he'd find inside would be a total surprise for him.

 

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The door cautiously opened and a woman stood in the threshold.  Her eyes were puffy from tears and remnants of her makeup could be seen in streaming patterns down her cheeks.  She was so filled with sorrow that Grandfather Mischief's heart sank.  Behind her he could see a man sitting on a chair dabbing a blood stained paper towel to his throat.  Her eyes widened and she inhaled deeply as she finally looked upon the man at her door.  Mikhail wasn't aware of the thaumaturgy that allowed him to hear other's prayers for vengeance, but for a moment, those who summoned him could see his golden caste mark glimmering in soft motes upon his forehead, declaring their prayers were answered by the Unconquered Sun (even if they had no idea who or what the Unconquered Sun was).

"Y-you're here..." she stood aside and motioned for him to enter.  "A woman, she was here... she forced me to do the ritual.  I d-didn't think it was real..."  For the next few minutes the couple explained to Mikhail what had happened.  They provided a description of the woman that attacked them: tall, black hair, black makeup, black clothing, 'really hot' the husband offered up and it earned him a dagger-like glare from his wife.  He only shrugged and asked 'what'?

"She told us to direct you to those who took our son from us.  It didn't make any sense to us that she would hurt us just to help you avenge us."  She shrugged.  "Moths ago our boy, Daniel, was taken from us.  Drug dealers and hoodlums who peddle their filth no far from here have made these streets unsafe for the rest of us.  Our boy left months ago and he never came home.  With all the shootings and violence in the streets, the gangs, the dealers... we know it was them.  A neighbor saw him being harassed by a few of them the night he disappeared.  We told him never to go around that building they took over.  We told him to stay away...," she broke down into tears.

Spoiler

Stay and ask questions or go, the choice is yours.  Ophelia isn't here, so there was no threat of an ambush.  Anything you want to know either he or she will tell you, providing they actually know it.  They can tell you nothing about Ophelia aside from what they experienced.  'She's a psycho bitch' would about sum it up.

 

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Mikhail listened in amazement to the couple's story. "I agree, it is a strange thing that this woman would hurt you simply for the ritual to proceed. But you don't need to concern yourselves with that now." He got up from the chair and closed up his coat, his expression softening. "My condolences for your loss. You obviously don't know what happened exactly, and your feelings must be all the worse for it. The sacrament is called, so you can leave the burden of guilt with me. I will find out what happened, and once I do, I will take appropriate measures." 

His response was measured, as it always was in cases where those who performed the ritual were unaware of the circumstances of what they were asking vengeance for. If one calls on vengeance for themselves, it's clear-cut. But here, the greatest need of the family was knowledge and closure, not merely a simple act  of revenge. It made his work more complicated, but the results were all the more beneficent for it.

Picking up the picture from the table that was used to perform the ritual, he turned back towards the parents. "What was your son's name?"

He nodded at the answer he received and left the apartment for the back streets, tucking the photograph in his pocket. He knew what they knew, which was not enough. And when you don't know anything, you go and visit people who do. You visit Goza. The scrawny An-Teng might pose as the proprietor of a dingy little camera store, but his real trade was in surveillance. For the last twenty years a least he'd been gathering and spreading gossip like a bee spreads pollen. Most of it of value, some of it designed to confuse people - that was how he protected himself.

Like all stores in the bad parts of town, the windows were mostly covered by steel grating, and the welcoming front door gave way to small stairs leading up, blocked by a second door whose metal frame was filled with iron bars. Goza would be lured into conversation only by the promise of credits, he knew, so he'd have to be prepared to part with some lunch money to get a proper starting point in the 

Mikhail pressed the button on the intercom next to the barrier. "Goza, old friend. I am a simple man, with simple questions. Care to entertain an old friend with tea and conversation?"

Spoiler

Goza is a mortal from An-Teng in his late fifties. He's bald and has perpetual laughing wrinkles around his eyes. He's a ratty bastard who's a snoop, a gossip-monger and likely a pervert. Expect him to be the kind of guy to sell up-skirt videos, spy cams and information on who-bangs-who. Additionally, he knows what's going on in the back streets, and people come to him for basic info in return for some credits, under the euphemism of "drinking tea". He does serve tea, gladly, but it's pretty vile stuff and no one would come to him just for that.

This is an independent, minor dude in the scheme of things, so he's not really affected by Mikhail's "Connections: criminal underworld" background except him knowing Mikhail's reputation. Mikhail believes this should be a simple exchange, but anything's possible.

 

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The door buzzed and Mikhail entered.  In this neighborhood it was a good idea to keep the gates over the doors 24/7, or better yet, just not have a business around here at all, but that wasn't the case.  The store was closed for the night but that didn't mean nothing wasn't going on in the back.  Goza was certainly here, as was the rancid scent of that swill he called 'tea', and appeared to be in the process of multitasking between what looked like bootlegging porn and trying to develop pictures of a few strangers having a great time in a hotel.  Mikhail didn't mind the dark, his eyes focused and everything became a black and white outline to his senses.

  "Oh.  Ohohohohoh... you are in some trouble, 'old friend'."  Goza chuckled.  He was walking around the back room with nothing more than the dim light of the old television screens as to not ruin the pictures he was developing (who developed pictures these days?).  He was in nothing more that humble jeans, a stained white tank top and bummy house slippers and looked like he hadn't washed his hair or Fu Manchu for a week.  "I know why you're here.  The hunter is now the hunted, hmm?"

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Mikhail had to admit the old An-Teng had him at a disadvantage. While he was here to ask about a slain boy, Goza had turned the tables and made it about him. He had never liked it when things revolved around him, it rarely spelled good news. He did the best he could to keep a neutral expression while accepting the small cup of scabrous dishwater that passed for tea in Goza's home. Mikhail had the constitution of a bull elephant in musth, and even he did not relish the thought of pouring this bile down his throat.

"You have me all wrong Goza," he said while producing the picture of the boy he took from the tenement, "this boy was killed here some time ago. Some say it was foul play, some an accident. You of all people should know I am not amused by unresolved familial tragedies. I want to know what happened to him."

Then he leaned forward a bit. "Of course I will make it worth your while. And if you do happen to have some juicy gossip that revolves around me and this trouble that revolves around the hunted hunter, well...I would be deeply appreciative." In one gulp, he threw back the small ceramic cup, the viscous liquid sliding down like hot tar.

Mikhail grinned that wolfish grin while counting out some scrip in his hands. He'd know when he'd have hit the right amount of cash once Goza'd have that gleam in his eyes that said his greed had overtaken his self-preservation.

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Goza leaned in and looked at the picture as Mikhail rolled off a few notes of jade script.  He looked to the picture, then to Mikhail, the back to the picture.  "Mik," he pronounced it 'Mike' instead of 'Mick'.  "We've done business many years.  I hate to tell you, but this boy is not dead.  He was not killed by one of the lowlifes around here.  He is one of the lowlifes.  Drugs, murder... he's part of the little band of hoodlums holed up in a building three blocks from here.  It would not surprise me if the reason you've been so busy lately is because of him and his little group of bastards."

"As for your other problem," he smirked as Mikhail thumbed out a few more bills of scratch.  "I do not know who she is, but I do know she has an arrangement with N'Gezer.  You now him?  Big time drug and sex dealer.  Weed so loud he smokes in surround sound.  Good shit.  Hell of a kick"

[Connections: Criminal Underworld] "I know of him, yes." The old Solar replied dryly.

"He sold you out.  Word is a few days ago he made a big bargain with her.  Told her everything he knew about you.  Knows what hand you wipe with now and she is pissed."  Goza clenched his fist to accent his point.  "Something about you, old man.  Something about you that just makes people wanna be all up in your gut.  Why do you always have to piss everybody off?  If it's any consolation, I hear she's really hot.  Prettier the assassin the more the person who sent them after cares!  No one wants to die by an ugly person... very shit way to end a legacy."  He nodded sagely and took a drag from his cigarette.

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"Heh." Truth be told, the Solar had a very good indication what it was about him that pissed people off. Whether it was because of what he did in his past, because of the truth in what he was, or because of who he physically manhandled, there'd always be someone who'd want a piece of him. What irked him, however, was that this so-called assassin would go through these lengths, but not follow through. Had she been hiding in the apartment, she'd have had the drop on him. Instead, she wanted him to take up on the ritual sacrament and lead him here. 

He got up and straightened the collar of his overcoat, gently placing the ceramic cup back on its saucer on the table. "Then I will be thanking you for your hospitality, and find myself in less hospitable places, before she turns out to have followed me here." before he got out the door though, he looked over his shoulder, back at the old pervert.

"But it's not her that concerns me, not yet. If this kid has fallen in with a bad crowd, I'll need to make it right somehow. I've got a promise to keep, and that means I need to be able to get to him without having to strong-arm my way through his new friends." There was an almost palpable sense of purpose radiating off Mikhail, as if he could force his way through the metal door by the strength of his conviction alone. 

"Goza, old friend. Is there anything you can tell me to give me an opportunity there?""

Spoiler

Mikhail knows that getting an edge on the gang-bangers is something that he wouldn't be able to afford with the amount of jade in his pocket, and he suspects Goza would not want to have that kind of trouble either. So instead, he tries to impress him with pure bad-ass presence to get him to stammer out whatever backdoor, passage, turncoat or ganja-smoking schedule he knows that may be of use.

This means spending a point of Willpower (now: 9/10) and adding his Conviction (4) in dice to his pool of Charisma (3)+Presence (3). Total pool of 10.

Do you want me to roll for this? And if so, what dice roller doe we use again? - it's been so long ago that I forgot...

 

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Spoiler

You can use whatever dice roller you like.  Frankly I trust people to handle their shit, so if you have a pool of 10 roll 10 and tell me what you get.  It's easier than posting all the mechanics for every roll, every time, especially when we get into taking several actions each turn.

Exalted is hard to do PBP, so we have to hack a few things here and there.

I went ahead and rolled it this time: 10 10 9 9 8 8 5 5 2 1 = 8 succ. (Hella good roll too!)

Goza shook his head.  "Fallen in with a bad crowd?  Heh, that's one way to put it I suppose.  Eh," he shrugged, blowing a plume of white smoke into the air.  "Getting to the boy will be difficult, from the ground.  The top three floors though, that where a lot of them do their partying and they do not have much security on the roof, flying rival gangs area bit scarce these days, you see..." his chuckle was a mixture of wheezing and mirth.

"These are thugs, Mik.  Not well armed and even less in the brains department, I'll bet you could mow your through the front door with little difficulty.  If you're looking for quieter or faster though, try the rooftop access stairs.  How you get to those... well, I can no say.  It's a good twenty foot leap from either of the neighboring buildings if the alleys are up to code."

Mikhail nodded.  Pressing the issue would have been bad form at this point.  He'd paid and pushed a bit, so it was best to take what he'd been given and make the best of it, especially if he wanted his information to be good the next time he needed it.  "Thank you, old friend."

He exited the shop and pulled his collar up to the chill and dampness of Deleshin's streets.  He began his walk and as he tucked his hands in his pockets to stave off the chill he passed a couple.  She was beautiful with long black hair and lips to match, ripped denim jeans and a thick leather jacket.  Her 'date' was pale, but average with his most striking feature being his bleached white hair.  Like er, his leather coat kept the chill of the evening at bay, although neither looked particularly bothered by the cold.  He offered them a smile and pressed on, they were polite enough but didn't stand on ceremony and simple continued on their way, opposite the way he was going.

He had some intel.  It wasn't much, but it was a place to start.

Meanwhile... back at Goza's...

Spoiler

Mikhail exited the shop and pulled his collar up.  Goza watched him as he began his walk down the block.  As the couple walked past the store front, he pulled the shade down.  He walked up stairs and into his bed room, a messy, filthy den of unwashed sheets, cigarette butts and long over due to be thrown out, food containers.  He opened his closet, an even larger testament to filth and disease.  There, bound and gagged, Goza looked up at... Goza.

Goza knelt and looked himself over, shaking his head in disgust.  His features blurred and 'melted' away.  Within a moment Ophelia stood over him, the creek of her snakeskin leather pants were all that could be heard in the deathly silent room.  Goza squinted and waited for death.  She'd already took his blood, he feared she'd returned for his organs.  "St. Cecelia's hairy tits... how the hell do you live like this you pathetic wretch of a man?"

Goza mumbled and shook his head, fearful the demon was close to ending him.

"Relax you cowardly shit heap.  Were I going to kill you, I would have.  I just needed your face for a few minutes.  Mikhail says 'hi', by the way, but I'm off to kill him now, so don't bother with a holiday card."  She leaned in, all serious all of a sudden.  One of her black finger nails began to slowly grow into a long, needle-like talon.  "Clean this sty up.  Clean yourself up.  Show the world you have some fucking dignity, because if I have to come back here..." her talon swept low, slicing the tape that bound his feet and cutting a slit in the tape that covered his mouth.  Her black lips twisted into a smirk.  "Now, I'm off to kill your clientele.  Do try to enjoy your evening."

She leapt towards the open window near the bed, and by the time she landed she was an oily-black raiton perched on the sill.  With a caw she sprang from the sill and her wings were heard flapping in the night.

"K-kay..." Goza mumbled through his lip tape.  "Thanks for stopping by.  C-call me..."  He sighed and sat there in his own urine soaked trousers trying to figure out what the fuck just happened.

 

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'If the alleys are up to code' was a high-grade oxymoron. This town was built on corruption and greed, so every jade sickle was shaven bald, each material downgraded in quality from the architectural agency to the contractors. By now, Mikhail was sure divine providence had more of a hand in keeping these building upright than sound principles of engineering. The chill and damp drove off people without business on the streets, and the alleys were collection points of hazy fog as the pipes exhausted steam and heat from the city's infrastructure. Even if he needed to hide himself, Mikhail knew no one had the professional courtesy to care.

The walls were sprayed with graffiti ranging from booty calls to outcries of revolution. Against it, sagging halfway from what would otherwise be an emergency exit, was a rusted metal contraption, leading up towards the first flight of the stairways that would, in the event of disaster, save half the people and damn the rest. Judging from the blunts floating in the pools beneath its open-caged construction, it was used recently enough to give it a dare. The cheap lock on the bars was both an insult to fire safety and a cheap nod at security. Its locking ring had been rusted through, and the butcher's marks on the key face showed it had been picked or forced open multiple times. With a forceful snap and a slight application of his curved knife, Mikhail twisted the lock open and pushed the iron-barred door aside to ascend the fire escape.

He took the time going up to ponder his current situation. Doggedly he'd been obeying the demands of his calling, as was proper, but by now he'd need to consider the one trailing along the edges of perception. She had forced him - not out of hiding, but more properly in sight by having the family perform the sacrament. It would narrow his movements, gave her a clear starting point where he would be moving from. From what he'd heard, she liked her business hands-on, using her claws - a decidedly inhuman choice of weaponry. But she was subtle, using threats and then vanishing after she was sure he'd been called, not taking advantage of those cramped quarters to get the drop on him. This, to him, indicated she needed time. Time to prepare, perhaps, or time to observe him. 

Whether or not she truly was an assassin, he couldn't say. This period of observation could be to mark any weaknesses or oversights to be exploited, or to gauge his character and way of thinking. For all he really knew, he could be hunted right now or performing the most dangerous job interview. But he'd hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

“When others turn against me for standing betwixt them and unrighteous vendetta driven by prejudice, I will stand firm. For what is to give light, must also endure burning.”  he quoted under his breath, a fine mist escaping his mouth into the cold air.

The flat gravel roof gave a solid view of the surrounding buildings. A massive building project, a handful of buildings close together and - as Goza intimated - a twenty foot jump between them. The old An-Teng might not know how he'd be making that jump, but Mikhail was quite confident. He crouched low and assessed his surroundings. Squat, low sheds atop each roof accessed the stairs down into the building. He oriented himself towards his target, and scanned for the gleam of moonlight on weaponry, the red-hot glare of cigarettes being smoked. Easy and quick access did not mean unguarded.

Additionally, he knew that a flat roof would be the ideal place to ambush him. If the assassin forced the sacrament, knowing where the boy was already, she could have spent all this time preparing a trap ahead of him at the target site. And a roof like this was hard to hide on, and away from witnesses. "I was not born yesterday" the old Eclipse muttered to himself as he pulled himself up the corner of the roof, dropping into a crouch as he drew his pistols from the holsters tucked under his coat. 

 

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