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closed; ooc

Location – Martial Town; the Purple Penguin

There was a lot of music here, and it was loud. There were a lot of people milling about, stampeding throughout the nightclub to the pulse of the techno-beat, on occasion broken through like when a shoal of fish meets a bear claw, whenever a known pusher happened to walk by and attract a line of customers like they were belting out hypnotic music themselves.

Eldwine liked drink, and drugs, and music. Some of the time he even liked people. This was all just a bit much though, which is exactly why he had chosen it. The loud music would drown out the nuance of his anticipated conversation with a group full of mercs and marauders, the swarm of bodies would hide his own, obscure his features, make him one of a thousand; an isolated alleyway couldn't do that for you, and neither could a diner. He suffocated signal with noise.

He put the word out through various shadow brokers, a time, a place, a vague and general idea of a fee structure – he had heard back that five soldiers of fortune would be interested in discussing details, and three of them were willing to meet him in his venue of choice. So Eldwine rented an elevated corner both, whose vantage provided him an unobstructed view of the sea of people, the marked exits and the unmarked service entries, and put his back to a wall so he wouldn't turn around to find a knife or a needle stuck into it.

A bottle of wine arrived. Eldwine inspected its label in the Penguin's fluorescence, and smiled a little smile just for himself when he saw the Dali name on it; their Biazo vineyard was really making the rounds. He left the wine in its ice bucket to on side of the table, pushed the tray of finger foods to the other, and waited with his hands under the table, shoulders slightly hunched, legs relaxed but alert.

Any minute now.

Edited by supernal

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The world of Valcure had certainly been a world of new experiences for Erin Hale, and visiting a loud, busy nightclub was just the latest one. She had never seen such a place in Elendaron, even if they probably existed somewhere over there... when it was still in one piece. Since being swept out of that doomed country, run through a bunch of trans-dimensional mumbo-jumbo, again, then spat back out on the other end of the planet, she'd been surviving on quick merc jobs and occasional thievery. Her first perception of civilization on Terrenus had been the burned-out ruin of what had once been a town, which sadly was devoid of anything worth looting amidst its ashes. And it was only downhill from there...

Martial Town was not a pleasant place, but at least it wasn't Palgard, which she passed through on her way in. Though, admittedly, both seemed rife with opportunity. For someone who had made a living as an assassin, bounty hunter, mercenary, and general unscrupulous jack-ass, she definitely got that feeling like she belonged here, in a way. But it also wasn't a particularly good feeling.

"Hey sweetheart, you got the wrong attitude."

A hulking man in short sleeves, which showed off his meaty, tattooed arms, stepped in front of her, holding out some sort of drugs in pill form.

"If you scowl any harder, you're gonna hurt that pretty face of yours! Here, have some Stardust, I guarantee it'll brighten your night!" he grinned a broad, gold-tooth-enhanced grin, lifting the items up so she could get a better look at them.

"Get that shit out of my face, before I shove something of my own into yours!" Erin growled in response.

"Whoa there, miss... I don't think we know each-other well enough for that sort of thing yet!" the man responded with a hearty laugh.

"What? I don't need to know you to..." Erin started to say, her right hand griping one of the knives strapped to her body, not understanding why he would want a blade shoved through his face.

Then it occurred to her that this guy didn't realize she was talking about the knife she had been trying to emphasize.

"Oh..."

"..."

Her would-be bad-ass moment ruined, again, Erin just silently ducked away from the drug-dealer and back into the mass of people moving to and fro through the club. Muttering angry swear words under her breath, she resumed heading in the direction of the man she was told to meet. He better be where he said he'd be.

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It didn't always take one to know one, but sometimes it helped. Even amid a swirling mass of limbs and torsos Eldwine spotted one of the hired hands as she pivoted through the crowds. He had picked her out by her dress and demeanor. Most people were brightly colored or mostly naked; most of the ones who were as subdued as she was, or as Eldwine himself was, were those posted at the doors and corners of the establishment, the Penguin's security detail. Watching her interactions with a sleeveless, mesh tank top wearing good-time boy made concrete what was until then an airy speculation.

They made . . . not quite eye contact, but Erin's survey of the room quickly uncovered the lone man sitting in the darker-than-others corner. She probably got the same sense from him that she did from her. She probably noted that his desired meeting place was elevated above the dance floor, giving him a better visual, that he kept his back away from windows and doors, that he too dressed like someone who wanted to be forgotten and was doing a good job of it.

"You gotta cool it with all that."

Eldwine waved his hand at the dance crowd, now more tightly coiled around each other as the bass dropped over the latest electro-swing craze, riding every crest and valley of the techno-symphony. The dealer who had tried to corner Erin into a 'good time' was currently involved in a three-way kiss with a woman and a man who were both even larger and more muscular than he was.

"You looked like you were about to drop the guy for scuffing your shoes. Hey, I never been one to shy away from a confrontation and I'm not saying get hit on the cheek and turn the other way to offer up a fresh one, never that. But the whole point of this." Eldwine traced a circle in front of his shoulder, meaning to say 'everything around us'. "Is to run this shit smooth and stay out of the way. I don't want anyone putting two and two together. Not even one and one, if it can be helped."

Eldwine grasped the bottle of wine. Without explanation he showed her that the metal cap was still on and untwisted; he twisted it off. That the wax seal was still intact around the cork. He broke it, uncorked the bottle, poured himself a meager fifth of a cup and placed the bottle back in its ice bucket. He sipped once, noisily, the way you were supposed to when you were a snob, then swallowed it.

"That your main thing then? You muscle?"   

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Finding her contact proved relatively easy once she got far enough away from all the degenerates to have some breathing room. Annoyingly though, the first thing he did as she approached was to start critiquing her methods of interaction with her fellow humans.

"I'd have taken it outside, like a civilized sort." Erin retorted after a minute to consider her response.

She then took a seat directly across from the man as he poured himself some wine and began sipping it, while listening to him ask her if her thing was muscle.

"I like to think I'm a little more finesse than muscle." she added, almost cracking a smirk, though whether it was a confident one, or one that appreciated the irony of the statement given how incompetently she'd handled herself since arriving on this god-forsaken planet, "But sure, we'll go with muscle."

She glanced back at the crowd for a moment, curious if there were more people out there who were supposed to be joining this little expedition.

"How many others are you expecting?"

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She took some time to consider her response; this minor wait time and her response told Eldwine a lot. She was smart and quick on her feet but those were two independent skills and she might be quicker with her feet than she was smart. This was the cunning of an apex predator, not a master strategist.

This was not a bad thing – the inverse wasn't necessarily a good thing. Each was good or bad exactly as the circumstances at hand favored one array of skills over the other. Put a tiger in a situation room and it was shredding the maps and knocking over all the pieces; drop a five-star general in the tropical forest of Biazo with just his body and nothing more, and there was a better chance than not that he was waking up dead the next day.

Eldwine simply made a note not to hit her over the head with witticisms and literary allusions. He'd save those for Draug, the savage-turned-CEO of Book|Ends.

He finished his glass, placing the cup upside down as a signal he intended to imbibe no more. The little he had was for taste – any more than that and he'd be drinking for other reasons, reasons which lay beyond the utilitarian demands of the meeting and the job into which the meeting would soon flow.

"Maybe four or five." He lied with just enough of a kernel of truth that his body didn't betray him.

"How many jobs you been on? How many of them went off decent?"

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Erin leaned back as Eldwine told her to expect four to five other individuals, a slightly larger group than she was used to working with, but she'd manage. He then asked about her job experience, with prompted her to pause a moment to consider how to word this.

It wasn't that she'd failed any jobs, really, but the events that occurred since she'd arrived in Valucre were far more complicated than simple successes or failures. She supposed that even those couldn't really be considered failures, despite the numerous problems that had arisen. And prior to arriving on Valucre, she'd actually been doing quite well as far as her success rate was concerned.

"Dozens. I haven't had a failure since I was a rookie in this line of work." she told him.

It was true enough, so there was no need to complicate the subject by throwing any further details in than that.

"Why? Looking for someone to lead the crew? Or are you going with us?"

Edited by Tyler

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"I've done more jobs than that."

Eldwine retorted with a fair bit of braggadocio, just enough of it laced through his tones to cause Erin's hackles to raise in ego-defense. But before she could start poking holes in him Eldwine undercut himself. "I've lost quite a bit more than that too though."

It was all rhetoric – he was who he needed to be in the moment that he needed to be that person. In this moment he needed to be someone with enough confidence that Erin wouldn't back out of the job, and enough humility that she wouldn't feel like an ass for hitching her trailer to his wagon, so to speak. She needed to know that he could lead, but also that he could follow.

So her follow up question was a bit of a straight jab – Eldwine's eyes widened, and he looked taken back exactly as one might if struck on the nose.  

"Okay so maybe I don't make the best first impression and maybe I should take this to heart and work on that in the future, but you really gotta insult me like that? I look like a desk jockey to you, like doughy and pasty and like I don't know what to do with my hands?

"I'm coming with you. I'm leading the crew. I just need a little muscle and a little finesse on my side to make sure things stay on an even keel. There are a lot of hard cases with hurt feelings involved in this and we're going to be putting our fingers on the sore spots."

He paused then to help himself to one of the chicken wings on the finger food platter between them. He was kind enough to swallow his food before speaking – given the music still thumping overhead, he would have had to be forceful in his dialogue, which would eject more than just words from his palate had he been inconsiderate.

"How familiar are you with the tech around these parts? Can you do anything on a terminal?"

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Erin listened as Eldwine first tried to outdo her, then promptly undercut himself by stating he'd failed many times. She didn't mind that herself, she knew failure was inevitable, and she wasn't the sort to expect everyone to succeed at everything all the time. Despite her relatively good record on completing missions, she had failed on smaller things far too many times, and in far too many instances when she knew she was smarter or better than her actions attested to.

She still said nothing as he moved on to being insulted, or at least faking like he was insulted, by her inquiry about who was to lead the job. She didn't intend the question in the way he seemingly took it, but it was amusing to listen to him react as he did anyway. Still, all she did was shrug in response to all he said on the matter, simply to indicate she was fine with however he wanted to do it. She only answered when he asked about local technology and terminals.

"I only just arrived in town within the last couple of days, but from what I've seen, the tech here is beyond what I'm used to it. It's not that I don't know how to run a computer or anything, but it's been a while, and I'm no hacker." she replied shaking her head, "Why? Are we gonna be messing with some high-tech stuff?"

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So many people. Too many people. Xavier could only take so much in one sitting. He watched bodies gyrate to the music and felt the thumping beat batter his chest as he entered the Purple Penguin, clad almost entirely in black though there were tinges of a very specific red along his arms as well. He tried to conceal what he was but his massive frame and the glimpses of green skin behind the helmet he wore prompted one of the members of the protection detail to come up to him under the guise of a random screening.

 

“Hey there. Could you remove your helmet? It is club policy. No reason to hide yourself here anyway.”

 

Hesitation settled in as Xavier had always been told by Blob Boss to keep himself hidden at all costs but truth be told Xavier needed his own funds. The construction work and the special tasks that he was given were not enough to ensure he could survive. If he had one gripe from severing his employment ties to Nines it was the inability to ensure his base living wages. Sure, he didn’t have to eat as much as he had before and the gift that Blob Boss gave him had allowed him to do so much already but Xavier needed to settle in somewhere. He needed a place he could call home…one he could feel was home. So he removed the helm to reveal his face which produced no response other than a short thanks before the employee moved away. Xavier half-expected a look of disgust but he was thankfully deprived of that annoyance.

 

Xavier’s elation at that fact was evident now in how his steps seemed to now move somewhat faster and almost synchronized with the beat. It wouldn’t be long before he would come up to Erin and Eldwine just as they had finished their latest exchange of dialogue.

 

“Am I late?”

 

Xavier looked at Erin first before turning to look at Eldwine, only assuming that he was the actual contact based on gender alone. In this building full of flashing lights, all they would see is his green face peering from within a black mass that had a silhouette that resembled something humanoid. Prolonged observation would let them see the intricacies of what seemed like leathery clothing compressed against his muscular frame. Though his face may initially seem menacing, there was an affability that urged to express itself as he looked genuinely concerned that he might have already made a bad impression. He waited patiently for either of the two to respond.

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638ddd939bd0d5c7ac89cb547f752950.jpg?response-cache-control=max-age=2628000lycoris romanova


 

She looks better outlined in neon light, Lycoris decides, subtly examining herself in a hazy glass panel near the edges of the room. The purple light is doing wonders for her complexion, turns her into something more ethereal, more like her fairer sisters.

Lycoris can find it easy to pretend, every once in a while.

Daydream satisfied, she turns her attention to the room at large: the pulsing beat, the blinding lights, the crowd gyrating to the music like electrocuted fireflies. Throughout her jaunts around the continent, she has yet to make her way to Martial Town, and so now, the Purple Penguin seems rather foreign somehow, even as she marvels at the futuristic enhancements people carve a place into their bodies for the new part to work, the strange architecture prevalent through every cyber-augmented crevice.

“Am I late?”

She spots her contact with his back to the wall and surrounded by two others, approaches quietly as the giant humanoid waits for the two to respond to his question. “I  am here,” is all she says to announce her arrival; it goes without saying that she is part of the assembled group. Lycoris follows suit with the orc’s example; she waits for their contact to acknowledge them, and whether he’ll be sharing whatever knowledge he has in accordance with the mission.

 


 

 

 

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Eldwine shrugged in response to Erin's question.

"I wasn't planning on it but the more I look around, not just here but all over, the more I think it's unavoidable. Even if it don't concern the job directly it'd probably make some parts of it easier. I didn't think about asking for that skill though. Oh well, we'll do without. I'm more of a claw hammer guy anyway."

His eyes flicked from Erin to an empty space just to one side of her, and his body tensed from head to leg; one assumed down to his toes, but those were occluded by the table edge. Eldwine had noticed a hulking figure approaching, and doing so with increasing rapidity. His hands inched under the table in preparation; when the nearly seven-foot mass stopped shy of their table and introduced himself, the Wyrmwalker spy visibly relaxed.

"You're fine. Grab a seat. There's some wine and food here if you want. I had some of each already, Erin hasn't had a drop or a morsel. It'll probably just feed the rats in the dumpsters out back but I felt like splurging. I don't get the chance too often."

He laid claim to a single chicken wing and a single length of fried and battered cheese; the first he held in hand while nibbling the second, never more than a few bites at a time so he could keep the food in his mouth while projecting his voice over the music. Not too long after that, by Eldwine's estimations inside of a minute, the fourth and final member of their crew joined the table.

"Okay now that everyone's here. I don’t want to drone on forever guessing at everything you want to know. I'll tell you the deal and you tell me what you need to know to make a decision, and maybe I can tell you and maybe I can't because I don't know or because I don't want you turning the tables on me but things should run smooth.

"The basics are this – a shipment was stolen by a group of people. Then someone in that group went and stole it from everyone else. I'm on hire by the 'everyone else'. If we get the shipment back they get half because half of something is better than all of nothing. We get half, and our shares split up even from there. That's the run of it. Any questions?"

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"Well, you didn't say it was for everyone..." Erin muttered after Eldwine remarked on the fact that she hadn't eaten anything.

Ugh, a few months back in civilized society and already her manners had come surging back. That stay in Elendaron really did soften her up, didn't it? Here she was avoiding eating food, chicken wings and cheese curds of all things, just out of politeness to her employer, when apparently he didn't mind the entire time. This is why being nice leaves you in last place.

She quickly grabbed a wing and three of the fried cheese curds, before the big guy could have a chance to take them all for himself. This type of food was something Erin had desperately missed before she arrived in Valcure, and even in Elendaron it seemed hard to come by half the time. Needless to say, she savored it, as it tasted like her long lost home. In the meantime, she listened as Eldwine gave the quick, to-the-point rundown on the mission, making it sound almost to easy given the group composition. It seemed he'd been bluffing a little about there being five or so people, but even so... four mercs against one guy?

"So, we clear to kill that "someone" who has the shipment now? For that matter, who is he that we need four of us to take it from him?"

Edited by Tyler

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Xavier turned his head immediately to look at Lycoris and then moved into a contemplative expression as he considered these people he’d have to work with. Xavier had not worked together with anyone for a while and even then it was done out of convenience. Remembering the times he had to work with Cedric, he realized that it had been far too long since he had to account for more than just one other person on a job. The orc wasn’t excited at the prospect but that didn’t stop him from roughly moving himself to sit across from Eldwine. His mass caused the chair to groan but it managed to hold him up though it clearly had not been constructed with his bulk in mind.

 

Since Eldwine had eased his concerns about his tardiness and then offered food, Xavier sat up proper and listened intently to every single one of the man’s words concerning their next job. He could feel his stomach churning at the prospect of food and drink but he didn’t want to be the first one. The orc chose to fixate on Eldwine just to prevent himself from getting distracted but once Erin grabbed some food, Xavier took the exact amount that she had taken even though he knew he could devour the entirety of what lay before him. While Erin responded with her own questions regarding the job that had just been explained to them, Xavier took in what he considered a meager amount of food in one swift movement, munching rather quietly in an almost practiced manner.

 

As soon as he finished, Xavier’s baritone erupted from his throat.

 

“What was in the shipment? Do you have any leads for this ‘someone’?”

 

The orc licked his lips briefly but covered his mouth with a single hand when doing so while he waited for Eldwine to respond.

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638ddd939bd0d5c7ac89cb547f752950.jpg?response-cache-control=max-age=2628000lycoris romanova


 

Taking a seat amongst the others gathered around the table, Lycoris plucks a cheese curd and plops it in her mouth, gloved hand carefully not smudging her artfully-drawn lipstick; should she return to the Nest in anything less than the perfection she had left with, Hyacinth would be most displeased.

It seems her decision to cover up her skin more than usual for this meeting: without it, she would have had to restrain herself from eating at all, lest her bare fingers brush up against the other edibles and cause unwarranted damage to her fellow operatives. Lycoris switches from food to drink, taking up a glass of wine against her palm. Not quite as good as the Crow’s own liquor, she deliberates, her gaze flickering to the name on the wine label—Dali?

Ah, one of the nobility from Ursa Madeum. Lycoris can prove she’d been listening to her past tutors, no matter what they had to say about her more blatant interest in firearms rather than fact-finding.

She does not ask any questions, raise any concerns of her own; her other companions speak plenty enough on the subject anyway. Instead, she opts to keep her eyes on the sea of clubgoers on the dancefloor, one ear to the conversation around her and another to the room beyond their tiny bubble.

 


 

 

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Eldwine smiled at Erin's casual murder question.

"Killing makes things sticky. Raises the stakes. Puts eyes on us maybe we don't want. If somehow I get caught up I'd rather to in for assault than murder you know? But at the end of the day we're going after a lowdown dirty thief who stole from more of his kind – self-defense is to be expected. Just don't make things harder than they gotta be I guess."

Carefully indulging in a second fifth of a glass of Dali wine, Eld continued the briefing, pleased that they were enjoying the greasy nightclub spread. Most of them were anyway. Had they been the dandified sort to turn their nose up at hearty fare Eld might have had second thoughts about them. Even the remote and reserved Lycoris had some cheese.

"It was just one man that turned coat on the group but that doesn't mean he's still alone. Thinking like he would, after burning my partners I'd get out of dodge or beef up my security. My intel says he's still in dodge, meaning he either can't leave or thinks he has a better chance here than anywhere else on Valucre. So, likely, he's peeled off some of the loot and handed it out to a few swords and guns to help keep him whole.

"If we end up cornering a lonely rat I'll feel foolish for splitting my cut four ways without needing to but this is really one of those rather have it and not need it kind of things for me."

So far not a one of them had balked, which gave him the confidence to go a little deeper. He leaned in, inviting them to remove themselves by an additional degree from the thrumming crowd and the thumping base.

"The shipment is a meta-material worth more than its weight in gold. If you want to sell your cut, I'm buying. And as for the guy, yeah, I got a lead, I got somewhere we can start looking. That mean you in?"

Edited by supernal

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