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Tyler

Unfinished Business With the Wrong Kind of Follower

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The nervous farmer looked across the table at the wild-eyed girl that had cornered him. She claimed to be a bounty hunter, but whether she was that or something else, all he knew was that she was trouble. The questions she asked, about his family, about his farm, about the man whose visage haunted the minds of all in his household, only cut at his fragile self-control as she continued to press. He had denied every accusation she hurled his way thus-far, but he was afraid too much more and he'd lose his nerve.

"Look girl, I just wanted to have a quiet drink." he said, referring to the reason he'd originally come to this obscure pub, "If you won't leave, I will."

"Ah, the pressure's getting to ya, isn't it?" Terryn "Twitch" Rosk replied, her face contorted into a deranged grin, "The description rung a bell, didn't it? Now tell me, what think you of this?!"

She unfolded a sketch and slapped it onto the table between them, revealing the image of a man in a cowl, with a face that was vague in certain spots but distinctive in others. There were two words scribbled underneath the image, which simply read: "The Mutator. The farmer's eyes flashed a sign of recognition, as hard as he tried not to acknowledge that he knew the man.

"Oh, and did I mention, he carries a whip?" Twitch added.

The farmer began to sweat. There was no doubt that she was after the guy who, along with his minions, had rescued the farmer's family from the clutches of a vile clan of Centaurs, only recruit those former captors to force the family into serfdom. If the man in the cowl got word that the farmer had betrayed any information about him or his organization, the consequences would be dire.

"You know him." the teenage bounty hunter nodded smugly.

"NO!" the farmer nearly screamed, causing a few eyes to be cast in the direction of their corner table.

"So you're covering for him." Twitch nodded, "I wonder what the authorities would think if they discovered you harbored a dangerous fugitive? A notorious kidnapper no less!"

"Shh!" the farmer hissed, his eyes widening as he feared others may hear, "Look, fine, I saw him. He rescued my family. He's gone now, that's all I know."

"Is it? Why does your family no longer trade in Weland?"

"I... I... we found better prices elsewhere." the farmer whimpered, but quickly sighed, "I mean... look, I don't know what they'll do to us if I talk."

"Who's they?"

The farmer glanced around the pub, his face gripped in sheer paranoia. When he looked back at Twitch and spoke, his voice was an almost inaudible whisper.

"Abbadon."

"Who?"

"The Abbadon Triumvirate. They're some sort of cult somewhere in Patia. The Mutator said he represented them. They take all our profit as tribute. That's all I know, I swear! Please don't tell anyone, it's worth my family's life!" the farmer urged, his voice as hushed as he could possibly make it.

"Your secret is safe." Terryn nodded, standing up, "But know that you will be sorry if you lied to me."

"I'll be sorry if you are the one who has lied." the farmer sighed.

The young bounty hunter departed the bar, satisfied that she had a solid lead in the case. Her target was not a well-known criminal, but he had left a sporadic trail of disappearances in his wake, with strange stories being relayed by some of the families of the victims. She had tracked him here to Weland, where supposedly he had come in contact with a member of the Lingxi family, farmers of the Southern Quarter. That had led her to the man she had just interrogated, who was one of the only family members that was ever seen in town since the "incident". Now it was on to the Black City of Patia, to search for this "Abbadon Triumvirate" and see if they now harbored the Mutator.

Sunset was upon Weland by the time she reached her hotel, a cheap place near the edge of town. It was only two stories tall, with Twitch's room being on the upper level. She ascended the staircase slowly, looking down at her hand which was shaking faintly. Her stimulant addition had fried her nerves so badly that she suffered all sorts of twitches and shakes when not given her daily dose of adrenals. Unfortunately, those injections also made her hyper and delusional, causing her difficulty throughout the day in focusing on her task. Based on how her body was acting now though, she needed another dose.

The old wooden door creaked as she opened it, revealing the dim room within. The blinds were pulled, letting only a faint amount of orange light filter into the lodgings. Her stimulants would be sitting on the nightstand, as that was where she left them when she had departed that morning...

 

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Dan had been shadowing Twitch for a little while now. Learning everything about her. He had recently discovered she was after a person who matched the description of someone in the Abbadon Triumvirate.
Dan had scoffed when he heard that. He could've told her he was in the Triumvirate like it was nothing. Being a Master shadow thief had numerous advantages, not least of which being that you overhear and learn things no law abiding douche canoe would.
Dan decided that, once he learned more, he might pay them a visit. True master thieves steal from other criminals, after all. And if he cleaned out the Abbadon Triumvirate, people would probably end up making the Caduceus Thief a national icon.
Dan grinned. That'd be hilarious. The problem was, he needed a way to conceal himself. He was good, sure, but on the off chance someone saw his face...

Then it hit him. The Dimfyre Mask. No one would know who he was with that on. Perfect.

Dan shook the thought from his head. He was waiting in Twitch's hotel room, and had been for half an hour. He was sitting on the bed, legs crossed, facing the door. He'd already pocketed anything he deemed valuable, including a pair of adrenaline shots. He'd remembered that Twitch had used those before and decided that she wouldn't this time.

Then, the door opened, and in she walked.
"Evening, Twitch."

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The young bounty hunter narrowed her eyes as she looked at the young man who was loitering in her room. She knew the face well, as she had pursued and captured him some time before in Hell's Gate. She was a bit surprised he had escaped from prisoner so quickly and was back on the street, or people's rooms, rather, but perhaps he had merely gotten off on some legal complication instead. Either way, his visit was not likely for a friendly social chat.

"Dan Palmer." she stated his name in acknowledgement of his presence, "I didn't expect to hear from you again. At least not so soon."

She seemed a bit saner than when Dan had last encountered her, which was thanks to the length of time that had past since her last shoot-up. Though her eyes and fingers still twitched uncontrollably at times, and her hands shook visibly when not gripping something, her mind was about as sober as it could be right now.

"Here for revenge, I'm guessing." she added, hands dropping to her sides so they'd be in better position to draw her holstered guns.

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"Not so soon? I did tell you I would be out within the week, didn't I? Well, I did. Inside of 3 days, as a matter of fact."

Dan pretended to look around. "THIS is the kind of place you crash in? Really? Was my bounty so low that a dump like this is the best you could afford?"
Then he heard her final question. "Revenge?" He cocked his head. "Was it that obvious?"

His eyes moved downward. "Oh yes. Go for the pistols. At this range, I'll have your hands in my pocket before they're all the way out. You know how fast I can move without even trying, don't be stupid."

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Twitch didn't respond as he said all this, remaining as still as she could minus the involuntary shakes and quirks from her drug withdrawal. The hands at her sides quivered just enough to be noticed, as though she were an old-timer suffering a degenerative disease. Without her adrenals, which she had noticed were gone thanks to Dan, she wouldn't have the focus and reflexes she normally possessed. She would have been confidence she could win the confrontation if she drew first while on a high, but not now. Now she was at least sober enough to realize that she was at a full disadvantage here.

"What is it you intend to do, Palmer? Kill me?" she asked.

Yet another reason that it was unfortunate for her to be off her meds right now. If she were to die, at least being on a high might deaden the pain and distract her from any feelings of dread or doom she may feel. Instead she would get to be fully conscious, as much as she was capable of, as the entire situation unfolded. But, if he did intend to kill her, she would at least try to go down with a fight.

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Dan was genuinely confused.
"Kill you? Now why would I do that? You didn't try to kill me, now did you?"

True, Dan had no intention of killing Twitch. Though, he did know someone lurking in his mind somewhere who would just LOVE to decorate the room with her insides. 
Dan hoped he would stay right where he was.

"No, no, no. All you did was embarrass me. You didn't even beat me fairly, you won by tickling me, damn twitchy lady! You couldn't possibly beat me otherwise, so you used dirty tricks! And there I was trying to fight fair!"
Dan was very close to pouting. In fact, that is exactly what he did for a few seconds. "I refuse to count that as a loss! Me 'n you are gonna have a little rematch. And when I lay your ass flat on the floor, everyone will see you for the drug addicted hack of a fighter you are! THAT is fair vengeance. Humiliation for humiliation."

Dan was a bit disappointed that he couldn't get her sent to a jail, but he would have to break her out inside of 3 days or it wouldn't be fair and balanced. WAY too much effort.
When the fuck did I start thinking like a Nemesis kid?
Dan decided that didn't matter. "Accept, or scuttle away!"
Dan pointed dramatically at her, determined to make it as melodramatic as possible.

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"You know as full well that this is no fair fight." Twitch replied, her head inexplicably jerking slightly to the side mid-sentence, "But I don't back down to threats, least of all from criminals and lesser villains like you."

For some reason the word "villain" kept popping into her head as she thought of Dan. Must have been something she concluded about him during her high while she confronted him the first time. She wouldn't consider that a proper descriptor for this kid, now that she was sane enough to really analyze him. That still didn't absolve him of being a criminal and a thief, and therefor still a person she existed to keep off the street.

"And even if I did try to "scuttle away", I doubt you came all this way just to let me leave in peace."

She still made no move yet to draw, though she intended to do so when she thought he was at his lowest guard. Maybe while talking or gesturing. She only hoped to wound him, so he could spend time in the hospital then be moved back to jail, or a rehab center. Of course that was probably getting ahead of herself, but if she did come out of this alright, she intended to see to it that this kid got some help.

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Dan intended to describe fully how fair the fight was, it was two people using what talents they had. However, as Dan was still in pout mode, the first thing out of his mouth before he could stop it was "Is so!"

Dan blinked and composed himself. "Not here. Neither of us can move around in this tiny ass room. And collateral damage to the hotel is something I'm sure neither of us wanna deal with."

Dan pointed. "Outside. We'll find a place where there aren't any people around to help you gang up on me."
"And! Criminal, I get. Yeah. I'm a thief. A MASTER. Thief. The only time I don't steal from other criminals is 1, if its jewels and I just can't help myself, or if it's been too long. Otherwise, I start shaking, sweating, and cramping. Or 2, If I really have to. Like, if the alternative is... well starving." 
That 2nd scenario was nigh impossible at this point. Dan had well cleaned out several smuggling and thief rings around the continents, and made quite well for himself on that alone, never mind the quests he'd gone on.
"I'm a criminal, sure. I am NOT a damn villain. After I pound you, I'll tell you who a REAL villain is."
Dan hesitated. "..... That came out wrong. I didn't mean 'pound' like that."

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"I hope not..." Twitch had a slightly disgusted expression on her face, "And I agree to taking this outside. I do not want innocents to be harmed in a personal squabble like this."

She slowly backed out of the room, making sure to keep her eyes on him, in case he tried to pull a fast one while her back was turned. Not that it made sense for him to do so, if he was so confident he could defeat her from the front. But Twitch's paranoid nature dictated she remain vigilante, even when evidence seemed to speak to the contrary. 

Outside, the sun was already rapidly on its way to the other end of the world, leaving Weland in a gradually darkening twilight. It wasn't a long walk to find a place isolated from passerby's, as this part of town was on the edge of the rural farmland to the South. They would have the privacy the required, even it grew increasingly difficult to see.

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Dan followed Twitch out. It seemed like it was gonna be night soon. This helped him out even more. He was attuned to nighttime, as any thief worth a damn was.
When they were away from people, he spoke again. "Alright.... Stakes. If you win, somewhow, I'll give you back your heroine, or whatever it is. But when I win...."
Dan thought a minute. He had actually come up with the idea of stakes approximately 3 seconds before he spoke the word, and had no idea what he wanted.
"Uuuhhhhh..... Oh! If I win, any information you have or will receive on the Abbadon Triumvirate, you bring directly to me. I'm plannin' on payin' them a visit."

Dan neglected to mention any of the other things he had taken from Twitch's room. He was gonna hold onto those.
After he won, he decided, if he was in a good mood, that he might even give her her heroine anyway. The best he could do with that is sell it off to another addict, which he detested the idea of.

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"That's all you want?" Twitch seemed genuinely surprised, "Wait, how do you know of the Abbadon Triumvirate? I only just heard of them today!"

She narrowed her eyes in suspicion, not that there should have been anything surprising or odd about it. Dan was a criminal after all, and criminals were far more savvy of underworld organizations than Bounty Hunters, even the best ones, could hope to be.

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"What did you expect? All your money? Sweetheart, if you had enough money to bother with a request like that, you wouldn't be a bounty hunter."
True enough, the things Dan took from her room were for a vengeance standpoint only. He very much doubted things like that would fetch very high prices. He took those entirely out of spite.

"How do I know? A magician never reveals his secrets. But seeing as I am not a magician, let's just say I have my sources. Maybe if you spent some time on the other side of that law line you'd learn a lot more a lot quicker."

Dan paused. "Unfortunately.... My little birds are a bit... reserved, on the specifics of them so far. Which I hope to remedy after I win."

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"Okay then." Twitch shrugged, taking some steps away to give herself some room for the impending fight, "But know that I will want my hunt-related evidence and notes returned to me."

She spoke of some of the objects Dan had seized from the hotel room, which included statements and wanted ads for the so-called "Mutator", as well as a strange-looking flower that resembled a person sealed in a plastic bag. All these were her clues and evidence about her target, but even so, very little was known about him. And none of the information she had obtained prior to arriving Weland had alluded to any connection between the Mutator and the Abbadon Triumvirate. The rest of her possessions that had been in the hotel room had been personal care items or her adrenals, excluding whatever the hotel itself had furnished the room with of course. Traveling on foot meant that Twitch did not carry much with her, and most of her valuables were currently on her person, as she needed them for daily activities. Still, the evidence was important to her search, and she still wanted to finish the job no matter what the outcome of this confrontation was.

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"Oh fine. Be that way then."

Dan had had ample time to read over the notes anyway, so he didn't even want them. He just felt in a pouty mood.

He drew his weapons, and assumed a stance. The sunset and the tree that for some reason was once again in the background made this all quite dramatic.
"So tell me. If by some miracle you beat me, are you gonna try and send me back to another cell?"

Dan waited for her to respond. After she did, he would say, "Ready?"

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"That all depends..." Twitch trailed-off with a shrug, though whether she had a specific set of circumstances in mind, or if she literally just didn't know, she didn't say, "I'm ready."

She made sure he had acknowledged her readiness, while at the same time drawing out her pistols but holding them facing to the ground at her sides. He could whine about them all he wanted, but it was a fair trade-off for the tremendous physical advantage he held. Indeed, this would be a short fight, as it would only take one hit to either of his legs to neutralize the boy's speed, while it would not take very much for Dan to cut through Twitch's unarmored clothing and produce whatever wounds he wished on her. However it ended, the entire thing would be a matter of seconds.

Twitch was aware that an injury caused by one of her guns could be severe, and she didn't want to cripple Dan or cause him to lose his leg. But alas, it may be necessary in order to get him to go straight. It occurred to the young bounty hunter that it was due to Dan's unnatural talents that he felt he had a right to break the law with impunity, which was a common attitude among powerful individuals. But this inevitably led to abuse and bullying, even if one initially tried to be fair with how they broke the law. In the end, the law was law for a reason, and allowing some to break the law because it was "understandable" or "justifiable" while trying to uphold the law for others, only ever resulted in inconstancy, favoritism, hypocrisy, and ultimately, anarchy.

Once she was confident that the actual "duel" was on, she snapped her weapons upward and attempted to fire at the thief's legs. She'd restrain her fire once a hit had been registered, but until then she would fire everything she had. With how shaky her hands were becoming, she would need every shot she could manage to fire.

Edited by Tyler

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