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Scion: Rise of the Fallen - Scion [Bast]: Cat Scratch Fever

Dave ST

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Gunfire tore through the foliage as bullet after bullet ripped through her cover shredding the trees into confetti. Arms dealers like these guys were a dime a dozen and barely a match for Batya and her crew… except when they had .50 caliber machine guns.

“Someone mind telling me how we missed that?” Dillon, a member of her squad shouted over the headset. “Christ on a cracker…” He ducked low, just in time as the entire tree he was using for cover was blown completely apart, leaving only a small trunk for him to duck behind.

Enrique Escobar, one of South America’s finest and most successful arms dealers had apparently pissed off the wrong people. Those people called people like Batya’s people. Batya’s people shot at them, making them dead. All in all it was an incredibly profitable business if one lived long enough to enjoy the retirement. She got to see the world, travel to exotic locations, and napalm the shit out of ass holes like this Escobar guy who supplied guns to every third world country and made a profit off war and death without ever lifting a finger himself. In her prime, The Morrigan would have had a field day with this guy, but today The Morrigan was nursing a Big Mac while listening to My Chemical Romance and jotting down depressing poetry with her free hand…

This day was Batya’s… or Bastet as the ancients used to call her. The famed Goddess of Egyptian myth, cast down to earth and stripped of her power over a millennia ago, was the one charged this day with bringing this scum to justice.

Right after she took care of the .50 cal that was blocking the main gate to the guys villa…

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It was hot and felt twice as hot as it was because of the humidity. The air was full of the smells of cordite and dust and sweat and the crisp salad scent of crushed vegetation. Batya crouched behind the humvee her squad had come in on, making sure the large off-road front tires were concealing her location so she didn't get her legs blown off. Next to her was Higgs, the demolitions specialist. Behind the back tires were Evans and Wynn. They were angry and terrified. The side of the humvee facing the villa was tinfoil now, it was ripped into cheese by the hammerfall of thousands of bullets.

Dillon had gone for the trees when the shooting started. Sonja had too, but hadn't made it out there before the 50 cal got her. Goon was out there somewhere too, Batya'd seen him break and run, but not where to.

She inhaled deeply. The smells and sights and even the sounds...though at the moment the only sound imaginable was the jackhammer roar of the heavy machinegun...were clear and bright and real in a way that they seldom were anymore. Not for the first time, she wondered how she'd ever really enjoyed life back when she couldn't die.

The chatter of the gun broke into shorter bursts, and Batya leaned over to Higgs, and waved Evans and Wynn closer. "He's running his belt low," she said. It was the mark of someone who didn't really understand the tactics of squad-level support weapons. They saw a Big Gun with an apparently inexhaustible supply of ammo and went crazy. Then when they saw that the belt did indeed have an end, they got overcautious. "I'll lay down smoke, then Evans, you and Wynn make for the left side of the front gate, right up against the wall. Higgs, get Dillon and get to the right side. The gun's traverse won't let it shoot you from there, so you'll have clear field for grenades."

A shower of thick glass rained down on them as one of the windows broke.

"Wait for the green smoke, then go."

She threw white smoke first; lobbed it over the broad, square hood of the humvee. It bounced once, rolled once in the well-manicured lawn outside the villa, and started gushing out an arterial spray of thick, white smoke. On its heels she threw the yellow smoke, and when it went up Batya came out from behind the humvee and ducked low to throw the third underhand, like girl's softball. Blue. The machine gun opened up, and ripped through the middle of the smoke clouds. Batya grinned. Rookies always assumed the target was in the middle.

She threw the green smoke, completing the curtain that wouldn't give her squad cover, but would make shooting them a lot harder. She then pulled her own pistol and started picking off careful shots at where she figured the gun nest would be, lost in that choking miasma of smoke. Blind fire...more something to keep their heads down than to...

The grass next to her erupted in a plume of green and soil as bullets ripped the turf up. For a giddy instant she thought it was finally time. At last she'd stand and be judged...

There was an explosion from the gate...then another. Guns were shooting again, but it was the lighter, staccato brrrrraaaaap of assault riffles and submachineguns. Cries from inside. Then, "Chief! we got it!"

She came up off the ground and ran around the smoke to the wall of the villa to hook up with the rest of her squad.

"Still some shooters," Evans said, referring to whoever was left inside firing weapons. "But we're in."

Wynn grinned his trademark, insouciant grin while Dillon griped, "...probably another one of those things inside. Goddamn dossiers are a waste of time these days..."

"Stow it," Batya said crisply. "Dillon, you and Evans give the rest of us covering fire as we advance. We'll leapfrog in, then search and destroy."

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  • 3 weeks later...

"You got it, baby." Dillon replied, slapping another mag into his assault rifle. Evan's simply nodded and replaced his mag.

Batya was on the move in a heartbeat. The remainder of the team spread out and set down cover fire through out the complex. Truly watching them work was amazing, Batya could never have dreamed that she' end up with a team as experienced and in harmony as this group of guys. Each had the best Special Forces training tax money could buy and each of them had a score to settle with the 'establishment'. Why they had been discharged from the military, Batya could never find out but in time she no longer cared. They were her 'boys' now, and that was all that mattered.

Four gunshots rang out in the courtyard as she approached the main enterance to the villa. The two mercenaries never saw what hit them as she squeezed off the trigger. Thigh, heart. Thigh, heart. Quick and clean like she'd been doing for over a thousand years. The leg shot staggered them, destroying their aim, while the heart shot finished it. No one human could squeeze of rounds that fast, but Batya knew she was more than human, or at least, used to be.

They swarmed the villa in a typical sweep, eliminating all opposition as they went. The distinct difference between Batya's men and Escobar's was: experience. Sure, his men had some the highest tech weapons and munitions available, but they had no idea how to use them effectively. No tactics, no plan... just spray and pray. The fallen Goddess could have given her men .22s and beef jerky and still had little worry that could accomplish this mission.

Batya kicked open the door to the master bedroom, moved around the bed and into the master bath exiting out into the hall that led her to the den. The comms were silent and her boys were hard at work by the tell-tale sound of the occasion short burst of gunfire as opposed to Escobar's boys who held the trigger until the mag was empty.

"Don't you move American pig-dog!!" Shouted a man's voice that was slightly drown out by a woman's scream. Batya, her SW1911 was already unholstered and pointing at the obese, sweating man by the time he'd finished his sentence. "I swear, I keel her!"

Escobar held his own wife of half his age in a vicious head lock, blood trickling down near her ear where the barrel of his pistol had slammed into her skull constantly as she struggled...

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American? Bast couldn't help smirking at that. She may well have been hired by Americans...most of her employers worked through proxies and agents anyway...but she would have figured someone like Escobar wouldn't assume that the people who wanted him dead would show up in person. Usually this was about the time they started babbling about paying double or triple what her employer had paid. Not that that worked either. Mercenaries had to carefully husband their reputations. Turn on a client once, and you might as well ship out to Somalia to be a pirate, because once you turned scum, only scum would take you.

Technically Escobar's threat meant nothing to Batya. She was hired to take Escobar and his men out. There was nothing in the dossier about saving his wife. If he killed her, there'd just be one more murder on his soul...one more stone weighing down his heart on the scales of Ma'at. It meant nothing to Bast. Mortals were born, and died, constantly all around her like the rising and falling of the tides. Even now that she was 'mortal' herself.

Even so...something in the young woman's fear and pain was uncomfortable to witness. So as her gun's laser sight painted a red line through the dust and smoke filling the air of Escobar's hallway, she called out, "I'm not American, Escobar. I'm not a cowboy here to save the girl. You die tonight, and that's not something you can change. All you can do is decide HOW you die. Are you going to die whimpering and hiding behind a little girl? Or will you put her aside, stand up like a warrior, and meet your end with pride and dignity? It makes no difference to me. Only to you."

And to her, of course...lets hope your ego doesn't let you figure that one out in time.

She nodded at him. "What'll it be, Escobar?"

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  • 5 weeks later...

Batya's keen eyes saw the way the barrel quivered in his nervous hand. The beam of her sights wavered only to match his movements as he threw off her aim by keeping his hostage in motion.

"Mercenaries!" He screamed at the woman. "You come into my home, MY HOME and assume to make demands from me! ME?! I am Enrique Escobar! I own this land, this city, the people! I own you!"

Batya just let the man scream, eventually he'd make a mistake in his monologue, like all the other men before him whose egos she'd shattered and sent their worlds crashing down around them. "Whatever it is they're paying you, I'll double it, no, triple it!" It was amazing how he tried to keep the upper hand despite being totally screwed in the situation. "It is good money, mercenary. You take and go and I we call things even..."

'Even' until he put a bounty on her head that was five times what he was offering her three months from now...

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So the choice was made. Batya's lips twisted in an expression that could have been a smile or a snarl...it was a baring of teeth, an expression the human mouth wasn't really made for. It wasn't that she was surprised. It was more that, just once, it would be nice to see someone die with a little integrity. A little honor.

"Escobar, if in the next few minutes you happen to see a giant with jet black skin and the head of a jackal...tell him Bast sent you."

She moved her wrist, centering the laser dot on his forehead and pulling the trigger at nearly the same time...hopefully fast enough that he couldn't shield himself with the hostage. Hopefully fast enough that he wouldn't have time to fire. But if he did, then he did. Batya knew better than most that there were things in her hands, and things out of her hands.

(Dex + Marksmanship = 7d10, roll: 9,8,7,8,3,6,6 = 4 successes)


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  • 2 weeks later...

The woman stood rigid, shock quickly washing over her mind and body. A bullet had just wizzed past her own head and sent a splatter of tissue and brain matter all across the wall behind her. She could still feel the slight burn from it's velocity. Escobar, still holding her, loosened his grip and fell dead to the floor. She dared not move. Sweaty, blood soaked and shivering the widow (who now stood to inherit Escobar's fortune) simply stood there, her lips quivering and arms and hands shaking...

"Wooo!" Came over the com unit and directly into Batya's ear. "Bag im' and tag im'! Mission accomplished Boss Lady, all we gotta do now is collect our pay, which is fine with me cuz I'm looking forward to being back in good ol' L.A. again. Woo!" Dillon was excited as ever to heading back to the states, that was certain. "Hey, Boss, any chance we can get you in a skirt this time?" Batya could see all her 'boys' grinning and laughing slightly at Dillon's comment. They'd been trying forever to see if there was actually a woman anywhere under all that mercenary almost to the point where it was just a running joke.

Even's spoke up over the mic. "Perimeter secure, Boss. Dillon's just finishing up in the security office. Nice shot by the way."

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Batya nodded absently, her eyes on the trembling ex-wife of Escobar. "Thanks."

She didn't respond right away to the victory. When she killed she was cold, and it would take some time for her to move out of that spot. Keeping an eye on the young woman, she came over and held up her cellphone to snap a shot of Escobar's bullet-holed head. Later she'd send it to a prepaid phone bought with cash, and upload it to whatever number the client wanted.

Her eyes flicked to Escobar's widow again. She hadn't made her life any easier. Inheriting her husband's wealth would just make her a target for another brute who wanted to take over. If she were smart, and strong, she might stop that from happening in any number of ways. Sadly, Escobar didn't choose his wives based on their inner fortitude, or intelligence.

But who knew? Maybe she would surprise them all. Stranger things had happened.

As she strode through the halls of the villa, Batya pressed her earbud in a bit to hear it more clearly as she talked. "Okay, we're moving out. Leave any survivors restrained for the Federales. They're not our problem. Wilks bring the truck up, everyone who wants to leave this shithole behind will be ready for you by the time you get here."

"Dillon, any chatter on their radio about reinforcements?"

There was a pause, and Batya imagined Dillon caught half in the process of sprinting out of the security office to be the first one waiting for the truck, then having to look back in.

Then, "Uh...negative. We took the office before they knew exactly what was happening. They got a message out that the place was under attack, but right now all the chatter is other gang strongholds asking for more info. It'll take 'em a little while to organize a response. Can I go now?"

Batya nodded. "Yeah, get outta there. Good work."

"Tell that bastard Wilks to wait for me!"

In the end, the bastard Wilks had no need to wait for anyone. Dillon at a sprint was a hard man to catch. The team was long gone by the time the first jeeps came over the ridge to discover what they'd wrought.

Batya, unlike most of the crew, rode coach back to the US. She disliked being waited on. It reminded her of what had been, and what was now. Even as a goddess she didn't use servants much. It didn't suit her to feel dependent on anyone or anything else. She'd loved the worship, the adoration...but she could get her own damn bowl of water, thank you.

She scowled and looked out the window of the jet. It wasn't like her to think of the old days this much. Most of the time the memories stayed obediently in the dark place she'd stashed them in. For some reason, they were floating up more and more. Even before the Escobar job...and then all through it with increasing frequency.

Maybe she needed a vacation?

Batya met up with the squad in baggage pickup, where Dillon was regaling the others with his story about when he'd shot two men with one bullet. On seeing Batya he pulled her over by her sleeve and draped his left arm around her shoulder, his right arm around Evens'.

"Once we get those lovely, lovely pieces of paper," he said with anticipation brimming in his voice, "I'm gonna take us all out to the best place I know in LA."

Evens groaned. "Dude, I don't know how many babies you have to eat to keep going like this, but I'm -tired-. I just want to hit my hotel room until noon tomorrow, and THEN think about what comes next. No clubhopping, no techno-jazzo-raveo-whatever the fuck's cool this decade shit for me."

"No! No!" Dillon insisted. "Seriously, it's low-key. Sort of. Shit, you'll like it! Just trust me, okay? You won't have to Electric Slide or do the Funky Mongoose Seizure. Swear."

Then Dillon was gone, falling back to rally the rest of the soldiers to his banner. Evens came over to Batya and asked in a lower tone, "You okay?"

She nodded.

"Close thing with that girl in there," he remarked blandly.

"Yeah," Batya replied. "Could have been."

"You know...some people...they'd just have shot him right through her. They might even call it a kindness."

Here Batya paused and looked up at Evans, her expression unreadable. "I'm not that kind of kind."

Evans stopped when she did, and didn't fall back in beside her as she went on. He watched her and shook his head slowly, not sure where he'd been going, or how to figure what her answer had been. The boss lady was hard to get a grip on. Evans was usually good at reading people, but there was a wall behind her eyes. Not because she was defensive or trying to keep people away...but because she was just different.

Then Dillon was back, dragging Collin along with him, and extolling the virtues of this awesome place he'd found awhile back, off the beaten path so it wasn't jam packed...but was still popular enough to be happening...

And because Dillon was Dillon, Evans knew they'd all wind up there anyway...so he gave it his blessing. The boss looked like she could use some cheering up anyway.

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  • 1 month later...

Los Angeles, several hours later…

The Bar, as it was known, was a pretty place, even by Batya’s standards. Over the years she’d grown a bit gruffer, but there was a nice atmosphere to the place. It wasn’t over the top, or too mellow. The music was modern, but not too loud that one couldn’t carry a conversation, but she was sure that ended once the nightclub crowd gathered. For now, while the sun was still up, the place was pretty nice, it was ‘her kind of place’ if such a place existed.

The rest of the team wasn’t with her, not for something like this. Collecting the payment from the job was something that the Boss Lady handled herself; this sort of element didn’t like it when a group of trained killers, armed or not, all stood in a confined area haggling over money… it created unnecessary tension.

Following with the typical clichés right out of the ‘Shady Dealings Handbook’, Batya sat down across from Mr. Smith. The two guys across from the booth, sitting at the bar, were his goons. She enjoyed little moments like this when she knew she could take both his men, disarm them, and have her little talk with Mr. Smith all before the man ever got out of his seat, but it was her gift to them by letting them think they had some control over situations like these. It was good for business.

“Ah,” The man rose and took her hand, shaking it politely as he offered her a seat. “Ms. Ben-Gurion, Tiger of the West Bank. I’ve always loved that nick name by the way, it carries weight.” He chuckled.

Mr. Smith was rather unremarkable. Just a middle aged Mediterranean man with a measure of charm and suave to him that told her that he had way too much money that he probably didn’t earn legitimately. To his credit though, the man was always honest with her and straight up about all deals, so in her line of work that was about as close to a ‘business friendship’ as two people could have.

A man approached and placed a briefcase atop the table and opened it. Within was an electronic banking device that was set to wire money from his account to hers once they both entered their account numbers and personal PIN numbers. The Banker was a neutral party, a hired liaison from D.I.S. Enterprises. They were the best when it came to securing ones investments and keeping ‘under the table’ transactions off the grid.

Batya knew the routine.

“So,” He started as he entered in his information. “If you’re ready, I have another assignment all lined up. Just came to me last night and I thought of you first. Are you interested, this early after getting home?”

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Batya smiled wryly at herself as she tapped her PIN into the device. America was a good place...better than even its citizens knew, most of the time. But it wasn't home. Not the war-torn Fertile Crescent, not the oceans of sand of northern Africa...not even back in the Cradle of the Nile was home now. She was neither god, nor man, but something in between.

"In our line of work, too much vacation is bad," she replied. "More than a day or three, you start to lose the edge. Give me a week off, and I may as well retire."

Her grin showed how likely THAT was.

"What's the job?"

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  • 1 month later...

Mr. Smith grinned politely as he opened his case and began sifting through notes and finally procured a manilla folder that was thick as one of those trashy supernatural romance novels that were marketed to teens and neglected housewives.

“Well, Batya,” He began while adjusting the glasses that rest on his nose. “I’ve been called by a rather old friend, one I, and you believe it or not, owe quite a few favors to.”

He slid the folder to her and gave her a moment to peruse its contents. Dossiers, several of them, on people that Batya didn’t know and yet somewhere in the back of her mind there was a tug that told her she recognized the faces from somewhere. She continued to sift through the notes, half glancing but mostly relying on the photos for now to help familiarize herself with them. Then she noticed their names…

Thor – Construction worker somewhere in Los Angeles. Drunkard and a loose cannon. Are you sure this is a good idea?

The Morrigan – Occult Shop Owner, New Orleans Louisiana. Skeptical and jaded, not that I blame her. The centuries ain’t been too kind… we might need to recruit a personal trainer.

Sun Wu Kong – Martial Arts Instructor, San Fransisco. Still in top shape and peek fighting ability. This might be almost too easy… keep an eye out for him.

Hades – Investment Broker, Seattle. This can’t be right. I need more intel and for God’s sake get the cameras out of the shower! Show some class in the future gentleman.

There was a momentary pause as she double-checked the names again. Meanwhile Mr. Smith polished his glasses and continued with the business venture. “We’ve spent a great deal of time and resources scouring the world for fallen deities.” As casual as one could be he just continued on, like he knew Batya would know exactly what he was on about. “My client has finally located five special deities who may just have the strength and tenacity to set right events that were put into motion over a millennia ago.”

“There’s only four in here.”

“I know, Bast. I know.” He nodded his head. The slip of her true name didn’t escape her one bit. “Simply put, you are the fifth and the World needs you the Godrealms need you. The other gods will be here soon, lured or convinced to meet here at some appointed time or another, once you are all here, well, I guess we’ll just see what Fate has in store for us all. This could be your ticket home.”

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Bast sat still, flipping the pages of the dossiers as if she were still reading them, and Mr. Smith's revelations hadn't really affected her at all. Inside that shell though, she'd tightened into a series of tripwires. A long time back, when she was still trying to live before the world ended, she'd been very worried about the Titans looking for her. What better time, after all? What could be done could be undone...but dead was dead, even for a goddess. In time the fear of persecution had faded, but the habits she'd picked up hadn't. She never kept an identity more than four or five decades, always moved to an entirely new part of the world before setting up a new one, kept a low social profile and didn't call public attention to herself. Even as a mercenary. But she'd always known they might find her if they looked hard enough.

But no, it made no sense for Smith to be working for the Titans. They might benefit from finding the lost gods, and gathering them into one place, but then why tell her? Why not simply keep the ruse up until its final explosive chord? No, Smith had nothing to gain by trying to deceive her. This didn't smell like a setup by Titans or their ilk, and that only left one possibility. A possibility that spun her head.

"The world, and the realms above, hardly need another emotionally stunted soldier of fortune," Batya said, not looking away from the dossiers. "Which says to me that there's part of this pitch I haven't heard yet."

Her eyes flicked up to meet Smith's.

"What exactly is your client offering, and what does he want for it?"

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