Time Served

Unrelated stories that take place in a setting besides Star Wars...

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Xalsin
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Time Served

Post by Xalsin » Mon May 19, 2008 8:50 pm

OOC:
This is a closed thread. Non-negotiable. If you're really desperate, you can PM me and I'll tell you "in person" that the thread is closed. You're not even allowed to read it. Hey! I said stop!

IC:

The last solid iron door clanged shut behind the man, and all that stood between him and freedom was one corrections officer and a glass door. Blaine Riemer turned one critical eye towards the door, than towards the corrections officer. It was the closest he had been to freedom in two years, and he could almost taste it.

He compliantly allowed the Corrections officer to turn him and remove the handcuffs from behind him, and received a small plastic bin filled with his personal items: a watch, a wallet, a cellphone and a suit. Not much to speak of.

A few more papers to sign. Yes, I have received my personal effects. Yes, I will update the Department of Corrections with my address when I move. No, I don't have any medical issues to claim.

When the officer was done with the questions, he led Blaine to a small room to change in. Leaving prison in the unlaundered business suit he had been arrested in two years ago seemed a little strange, and yet somehow fitting: the way he entered was the way he left. Well, almost.

Blaine didn't bother with the tie, and just threw the coat on so his ensemble wouldn't look completely out of place. A smirk was planted on his face at the thought of leaving this warehouse for people. There was much to be done out in the real world.

Blaine emerged from the small bathroom he had been left in, feeling like a new man. Or, more precisely, like his old self that had been cast aside somewhere two years ago.

"Take care, sir. Stay out of trouble." The Officer spoke, respectfully but mechanically. Blaine just smirked a little more at the officer. "Yea, you too, Vince. If I never see the inside of this place again, it will be too soon."

He knew half the officers in the prison by name. It was hard not to. The correction officers practically lived there too, so it made sense to be cordial to them.

The sun was shining outside of the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution of Pittsburgh, much as Blaine imagined it had been shining every day he had been in lock down. That was a lot of sunshine to miss, and Blaine knew that there was someone out there who needed to pick up the tab for that. It was just a question of who. There were many questions that needed answers, and Blaine was in the inquisitive mood. Of course, there were a few details to be taken care of first.

A taxi cab had already arrived for him and was waiting to take him to his destination of choice. There were many choices, but to start with he chose 17th Avenue, his apartment. Thankfully, he had a bank account with a decent amount of money in it that his lawyer had been pulling money from to keep his apartment. Lawyers might have been sharks, and Blaine wouldn't argue that, but they did have their uses.

Fertilizer, mostly.

Blaine idly gazed out the window as the taxi first entered the suburban sprawl which gave way to the flourishing city that was Pittsburgh. Well, flourishing, if a city held together by copious amounts of paramilitary police and an ever present government eye can ever flourish, but there was always ways of getting around those things.

Things were rough all over, so most people didn't mind having a strong show of force from their "protectors", but when corruption entered the picture and protector became predator... Well, it wasn't always a happy ending to the story.

The political and social status of Pittsburgh, or the American Union for that matter, couldn't have been further from Blaine's mind. In truth, his mind was locked around one person. The same person it had been fixed on for two long years: Cadence Holtz.

Even thinking the name brought on a strange sort of tension come to his stomach and a heavy sigh escape his lips. Yes, Cadence. Lovely Cadence.
She was the reason that he had spent some time in the pen, there was no escaping that fact. Somehow, very sensitive documents had ended up in police hands, and somehow they had known just where and when to find him. Only Cadence could have pointed in the right direction.

Oh he knew that she had not done it without being provoked. Or rather, incited. As far as he knew, he had done nothing to provoke her to wrath or jealousy, yet he had a strong suspicion someone else had been whispering things in her ear... There was simply no other explaining how a six year, quite in depth relationship simply dissipates overnight, no phone call, no visits, just straight up betrayal.

Someone had to pay, and Blaine intended to find out just who that was.

When he reached the apartment complex, Blaine paid the rather hefty cab fare of two hundred and fifty dollars (well, they were "Ameros" now, but everyone called them dollars anyways), and headed up to his apartment.

The place was trashed, of course, from the last time the police had been in on a warrant, but Blaine didn't much care. He doubted that he would be staying long here anyways. Just long enough to make a few calls.

His first call was to a simple message service. No name, just a number. He knew who would answer the message, if everything was still as it should be.

"Hey, it's me. Meet me at the Wishing Well on Brook Ave. Ten o'clock." He hung up. Straight and to the point. It was the message service for the man who could get things done for Blaine.

Blaine made a few other calls: his lawyer and his bank mostly, and called it good. Now it was time to get ready for a night on the town.

All the utilities were still operational, so Blaine rinsed out the shower of the dust that had accumulated, and hopped in. There was no describing how good it felt to shower alone and in privacy. It was beyond euphoric.

When finally he did emerge, he felt positively good, despite the rather disadvantaged position he was in at the moment. Stopping at the mirror, he took a moment to assess himself.

Blaine was young, in his early thirties, with slate blue eyes and dirty blond hair that had been cropped off as of the moment. That was a necessity in prison, though not his first desire of style.

Prison life had given his face a harder look, but he was still a reasonably attractive man, and certainly two years of working out and a forced nutritious diet had done well for helping him reach peak physical condition. If nothing else, he could thank the Department of Corrections for that.

He grunted at the thought.

Next time, just get a gym membership.

Blaine moved off into his bedroom and managed to find some nice informal clothing. He liked to dress sharp, and tonight especially he felt was an extra special occasion. The only thing he lacked as a weapon, but now that he was a convicted felon, that was out of the question. He definitely was not going back to jail over something as trivial as a weapon violation.

Once he was finished shaving and dressing, Blaine headed for the streets. A couple hours before his meeting, and there was still so much to learn about what had transpired in his absence.
Last edited by Xalsin on Tue May 27, 2008 6:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Merlin
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Post by Merlin » Mon May 19, 2008 10:19 pm

Andrew Cross stood at the big picture window of his penthouse apartment, staring down at the city far below. In his right hand he held a tumbler made from the finest australian crystal, filled with the finest english brandy. In the other hand he held a cell phone to his ear. The scowl on his face would tell anyone that he was unhappy, either with the brandy, or with the call.

He had black hair, that no matter how often he washed, no matter how expensive the conditioner, still hung from his head like wet mop strings. His face was lean with a scar on his cheek that perked the left corner of his lips up into a permanet sneer. His eyes were dark and hollow, with exhaustion rings beneath them. Despite his haggard physical appearance, his dress was emaculate, wearing Armani tailored for his body, and shoes imported from italy. Nobody could mistake him for a common bum, dressed this way, but his hair and facial features would have been at home on any derelict.

He turned away from the panoramic view and spoke into the phone as he stalked away from the window. "I don't care how friendly he was with the guards, you idiot. You were supposed to kill that son of a bitch, not just nod your head at him as he walked past." Andrew stopped for a moment to listen to the person on the other end, "Yeah, well you just earned yourself another five years, punk... I don't care how many children you have. You promised me that Blaine would be dead in his sleep before he was released. Just be glad I don't find another hound inside to show you how it's done, up close and personal."

Andrew didn't even mess with mashing the power button, instead he simply through the tiny flip-phone against a bronze statue in the corner, where it smashed into several even tinier pieces. Andrew sat heavily on the sofa in front of a large glass coffee table. Before him was a large pile of bluish-white powder and a razor blade. He eschewed the blade, preferring to simply scoop a pinch of the powder from the table and toss it into his drink. It fizzed and popped as he slammed the remainder of the brandy.

He heard a noise behind him and looked back to see her. "Hey, bitch.. come get a bump." She was beautiful, and she was his. And he would make sure she stayed that way. He saw no reason to inform her of Blaine's release. Cadence was HIS now, not that loser, goody-two shoe's. She didn't react right away, her face held a far away expression, like she had already had one too many lines of Blu. "Hey bitch! I said come get a bump!"

*******

The Wishing Well had declined in both clientele and quality in the years since Blaine had been sent down the river, but it was still Spade's favorite watering hole. Spade waited at the bar, sipping on a double whiskey, sour, contemplating his bland reflection. He was one of those guys that's easy to miss. Brown hair and eyes, average build, not handsome nor ugly. He was wholly unremarkable, and he liked it that way.

Spade was a 'fixer', a guy that knew the guys. He could get anything, given enough money and time. He was neutral, he was Switzerland. At least, before Switzerland became the major player of the European Economic Union. The point being, he was neutral, working only for the money. His clients did not hold grudges for him working for enemies, because he would serve them just as well, for the same amount of money. He never took personal jobs, and never ever ever did wet work.

Spade had been surprised to hear from Blaine so quickly. He knew the guy was due to be out today, but what with his place being ruined and his contacts all burned, a body'd think he would just move on to safer climes: like Beirut. Still, he figured that Blaine would have a stash of money waiting for him, and he figured Blaine would need something fixed. Maybe a gram or two of Blu, or hand cannon. Either way, so long as he had the money, Blaine would get what he asked for.
Oh please... the only things they did better than us was suck and die!

Xalsin
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Post by Xalsin » Tue May 20, 2008 6:42 am

Cadence Holtz.

Once upon a time that had been a name she had been proud to claim, but now she spoke her name with a low voice and much staring at the ground. Times changed. Boy, did they ever.
As Cadence sat in the oversized bathroom of Andrew's penthouse suite wearing only a satin nightie with a silk robe over it, she brushed her long blond hair, trying hard not to think. She merely stared at herself in the mirror, wondering what had happened to her.

Once she had been sharp, she had witty and fun loving, intelligent, ambitious, and, of course, attractive. She was still willing to admit that she thought she was attractive: with nearly flawless alabaster skin, deep blue eyes, and a generous set of curves on a well toned body, it was hard not to notice the attention she garnered from the opposite sex. And yet, lately she had been feeling more and more ugly and worthless, her mind dulled, her ambitions crushed. Thanks to Andrew.

Thanks to Blaine.

She didn't quite know who was to blame, but it hard started with Blaine, there was no escaping that fact. Although, perhaps her crime was the worst. She had fallen in love with him.

At the time, she had been just a college sophomore who was struggling to make ends meet. She wanted to get somewhere, anywhere but on the street, having watched her best friend live and die miserably as a hooker. But college was expensive, so was life in general. She had been on the verge of defeat when Blaine appeared in her life.

He had money and style, but that wasn't even what had attracted her at first. It was just his charm and personality; he was simply a unique person, generous to his friends, who seemed never to run out of nice things to say or do for her. Blaine did not explain where he had gotten his money at first, but she was quick to figure out that it was not through legitimate business. It hadn't mattered to her. Even as he had started helping her financially through college, the allure of his life had sucked her in. She had wanted to know what exactly he did, so that she could learn how to help. For his part, Blaine did his best to shield her from his life style, insisting that even though he was careful, it simply wasn't worth endangering her over too. He won, mostly, and while he did relent and tell her many details, much of what he did when he left her side remained a mystery. Especially those he did it with remained a mystery.

Things had been going great. She had been nearing the end of school, she was madly in love with Blaine, and he seemed to be in love with her too. At least, she had thought so, until a man named Andrew had been introduced.

Andrew had been like Blaine, yet so unlike him in many ways. He could be charming as well, but there was something about him that always made her a touch nervous. His flashes of anger that hinted at a dark aggression just waiting to be unleashed. She hadn't really paid him much mind, other than noting that he seemed to make a point of not associating with Blaine much.

Then Andrew had shown up at her door late one night while Blaine was away. He looked almost teary eyed and grim, as if the bearer of bad news.... At first she was afraid that something bad had happened to Blaine. Now she wish it had. It would have been less painful.

He explained that his conscience was bothering him, and he just had to "get something off his chest". He had shown her pictures of Blaine with another girl. Shots of them entering an apartment together. Careful shots of their clothing on the floor and two pairs of legs standing ever so close. It was all taken on a fiberoptic camera underneath the door, so the picture quality was hardly great. But it certainly looked like Blaine...

Andrew had carefully told her how Blaine had been seeing this girl for years, and would slip away at night to go to her apartment. He knew where the girl lived, if Cadence wanted to go talk to her...

Well, Cadence had talked to her. In that very apartment, she saw several of Blaine's personal effects that he had said he "lost", including a chain medallion she had given him for his birthday... And now that tramp was wearing it.

Cadence had nearly lost it right then and there, and killed that woman. Somehow she left however, feeling thoroughly betrayed to the core. She had wanted to leave him, but after confiding in Andrew, he had convinced her that the only way she could safely leave him is if he was locked up. And so she had broken into his private and hidden safe, which happened to contain plans for his next heist. She turned that information over to the police, who were quick to act on it, and set a trap for him. Two months later, he was convicted of attempted robbery and Cadence found herself living with Andrew, so crushed by Blaine's betrayal that she would do anything for comfort. Andrew had been full of sweet and sensitive words at first, almost as if he had rehearsed all the things he would say ahead of time. And when he ran out of words...

Well...

That's when sweet, innocent Cadence had been introduced to Blu. Andrew had offered her some, quite accurately telling her that the drug really did not have much in the way of negative side effects. In fact, within the body, Blu was fairly benign. The only problem, and what Andrew failed to mention was that it was the single most addictive drug known to man and the addiction formed almost immediately on contact with the central nervous system. Those under the addiction's pull would do anything just to get their next fix, and there were stories of people doing all manner of crazy things for just that reason. Everything from charging police evidence impounds to attacking armed drug dealers were common tales these days. And, of course, there was no need to mention the horrid withdrawal symptoms that lasted for weeks as an added deterrence against stopping.

For Cadence, however, it was simply putting up with Andrew. Blu was expensive, the drug of choice for the elite since it seemed so benign as long as you could keep up with the demand for it, and Cadence had no income except whatever allowance Andrew gave her. It certainly wasn't enough for her to be able to feed her own habit, however, so she relied on him for her fixes, which came at whatever intervals he felt her behavior warranted.

Cadence started, realizing that she had been sitting stock still, thinking for the past several minutes. Thinking was unacceptable. Much more preferable was the thoughtless haze of being under the influence of Blu, alcohol, or whatever other drug Andrew allowed her. She wasn't so picky these days.

She could hear from the other room that Andrew was getting angry, which was bad news. Yes, he could be charming when he was in a good mood, but when he was in a bad mood, things just got worse. She had just entered the room, still holding the brush when he called for her. The brush clattered to the floor as she moved rapidly into the living area of penthouse, and crossed over to Andrew, a nervousness growing in her stomach. She was a little high, but not nearly as high as she liked to be when dealing with him.

"I'm here, baby, what's wrong?" She asked in an attempt to pacify him a little, her eyes straying to the line on the table, then to the broken cellphone and back to the line. It promised sweet relief, at least temporarily, from the misery that was her existence. But she didn't want to dive into that pool until she was sure that Andrew was at least somewhat mellow...

************

Blaine's first stop on his evening travels was right across the street: the undercover officer who was sitting so inconspicuously in his car that it was nearly impossible to miss him.

Smiling as he approached, Blaine lifted his hands and spread his fingers so the officer could plainly see he had no weapon in them. When it became apparent the officer was identified for what he truly was, he stepped out of the vehicle to meet Blaine.

"Hello, sir." Blaine addressed the officer, who was probably five years younger than him, as 'sir', being respectful as possible. It really never helped to be rude in any circumstances, and this was certainly no exception.

"What can I do for you?" The officer was dressed in plainclothes, but carried himself in a way that made his occupation evident, as did the cuffs and pistol attached to his belt.

Blaine was honest and straightforward. Mostly. "Listen, I know you're tasked with following me around, and quite frankly, I'm glad. Because I've lost my right to carry a firearm, I'm prey out here, and there's more than one person who I'm sure wouldn't mind killing me."

Blaine could almost hear the officer's thoughts: My heart bleeds..

"I'll cut to the point." Blaine continued without waiting for a response. "You help me out, I help you out. You watch my back, I'll help you catch the bigger fish."

The officer's lips twitched. "Sir, I can and will only do my job."

Blaine nodded with a grin. "That's all I'm asking. Be safe."

With that, Blaine turned and began walking away. He just wanted them to know that he knew they were there. It was all part of the game, a game that they both knew the rules to.

By the time Blaine made it to the Wishing Well, which looked even more dilapidated then ever, the place was packed. It was around 10:05, leaving him a fashionably five minutes late. It was a good turn out, and he was glad to see that his work had not been in vain. On his way to the bar, he had enlisted the aid of as many strangers as he could with a simple proposition: come to the Wishing Well, participate in his getting out of jail party and pretend to know him, in exchange for some free food and drink.

Even though they were mostly strangers, the group still managed a ragged cheer when Blaine walked in, a smile on his face. No, it was certainly not a low profile, but since he knew he was being watched, a low profile was pointless. Let the cops spend all of their resources trying to keep track of every person he interacted with tonight. Only one of them would the man he really had business with. It was just like a carnival game, only one cup had the pearl, and the more empty cups, the better. He wasn't sure if Spade would appreciate the crowd, but he would probably appreciate the lessening potentiality of official attention.

After buying a round of beer for everyone and a couple jumbo sized snack platters to be shared by all, Blaine began mingling, shaking hands and generally just appearing to enjoy the company of his friends. It was close to twenty minutes before he slid into the booth across from Spade, content that he was, at least for the moment, being more or less ignored.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, buddy. As you can imagine, I'm a hot item right now, thought hopefully, they'll get bored of me soon enough." He paused a moment before continuing. He did not want to spend an overlong time talking to Spade, else wise any G-men types might start getting wise. On the other hand, he had a lot of catching up to do. He decided to come to the point, albeit indirectly. "So... How's Cadence doing?" He figured Spade would know who he was talking about. What he didn't know was whether or not it was common knowledge that she had had a strong hand in selling him up the river.
Last edited by Xalsin on Tue May 27, 2008 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Merlin
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Post by Merlin » Thu May 22, 2008 2:07 pm

Andrew leaned over the coffee table and snorted a line of Blu that would probably kill a newcomer, then used a razor blade to scoot another large line over to Cadence. He watched, with a combination of hatred and pride, as Cadence inhaled the whole line. At the terminus of the line, she raised up, her eyes wide and blue powder tinging her nostrils. She still had the poise to look away and cover her nose as she sniffed and fingered the loose specks away.

"Good girl." He said, turning his attention to the pile again, lining out another four bumps. "Listen, G's comin' over tonight, and he's gonna have some of his 'family' with him." Andrew's emphasis on the word 'family' left no doubt what he meant: Mafia. Or at least, the people that used to be mafia, and now were controlling stock-holders of several Italian corporations. Not that the change had done any wonders for thier methods. 'G', as Andrew called him, was Giovani Corelli, an enforcer and trusted advisor for the 'family'. Andrew had an idea that they were coming to talk about an increase in the sales of Blu on the streets of Pittsburgh.

"So," Andrew continued, "I want you to dress up, maybe that red number with the strapless top." He slid one hand actoss her shoulder to her bare neck as he spoke, squeezing her neck, with his thumb at her throat and the fingers curling behind the back of her neck. "And this time, don't act like such a powder slut. I give you enough to get by, don't I?" Cadence didn't answer at first, she merely looked away. Andrew would have none of it. "Don't I?" He said, this time giving her a shake and a tighter squeeze.

Cadence turned her eyes to him, there was fear there, but not fear that he would hurt her. She had long gotten over that fear. The fear he saw was the fear that he would cut her off again, and he knew it. She nodded demurely. Andrew gave her one final shake before letting go of her neck. "That's right. Because I know what my baby needs, don't I?" With that, he slid another line her way, using the razor to straighten the edges out into a thin blue line on the glass.

He stood while she was still recovering from the dose, and said, "I'm taking a shower. Go clean that mess up, and make sure you're in that red dress by nine." And with no other word, he left her alone at the table, staring at the mound of blue dust.

*******

Spade glanced down at his watch, which wasn't a watch at all. The face of the watch would indicate whether any sort of directional listening device was pointed his way, or if any but the latest espionage electronics were at work near him. As niether was, he smiled and nodded to Blaine as the man spoke.

"Cadence? Well, I suppose how she's doing is a matter of perspective... she's living the high life on the north side of town. Wears designer dresses and never has to drive herself anywhere. Has a supply of everything she wants, and probably a steady supply of things she doesn't. The very last thing I heard after you took your vacation was that she was shacking with good old Cross-eyes." He spoke in a light code, hoping to foil any listeners that got past his wrist device.

"Don't tell me you called me just to get some information on an ex? Being away so long, you'd think you'd settle for the first piece that came by, rather than pining for one that's gone."

Spade had always thought there was more to Blaine's relationship with Cadence than had been let on, but in the 'business', there wasn't much room for social pleasantries. Romantic interests were more often than not a liablility, and smart guys like Blaine usually avoided them. Of course, there was the errant rumor that Cadence had something to do with Blaine's early 'retirement', and so Spade was fishing for information even while he was doling it out. "I can find out more, if you need. Though... these days Cross-roads carry a heavy toll."
Oh please... the only things they did better than us was suck and die!

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Post by Xalsin » Thu May 22, 2008 8:44 pm

In other days, those days that Cadence had been at his side, Blaine probably would have had a man like Spade by the throat for implying that his girl was nothing more than a "piece". As it was, however, Blaine needed the Spade's help more than he needed to defend Cadence's honor. That would come later. Besides, Spade was a respectable sort, if a bit mercenary. Then again, who wasn't, now a days. The plus said of that was his loyalties were easily secured by money... And he couldn't afford to double cross people, because once word of that got out, he'd never do business again.

Blaine ran a finger idly around the rim of his drink, a highly watered down affair that had very little taste, but at least gave everyone the impression that he was drinking. His face was mostly impassive, though an observant eye could see a ring of darkness at what Spade had said.

The high life...

That could have some many different meanings. If it was the high life, while than someone owed Blaine some spilled blood for getting her mixed up with drugs. If, on the other hand, she truly was living rich and happy about doing so... Blaine wasn't so sure. Her happiness was still important to him, whether she was with him or not. But, on other hand, two years at the dog kennel was worth at least an explanation as to why she had done what she had.

"There's two things I hate in this world more than anything, Spade. Well, there's probably more than two, but the point is I hate people that take things that belong to me, and I hate people that send me places I don't want to go."

Blaine spoke low and conversationally. From a distance, his body language made it look as though he were deep in a somber reminiscence of bygone days or something.

"Cadence had something to do with my little jaunt, but she wasn't the one responsible." Blaine stated confidently, even though he had no evidence to the fact that Cadence hadn't done it herself. As far as he was concerned, she could do no wrong, so even if she was responsible, it wasn't her fault.

"So, yeah, I, want to find out who's shaking her tree... Probably have to sit down and have a nice, long chat with her. Discreetly." The man let his voice drop a bit as he said this. Spade may take this to mean he was out for revenge against Cadence, which was just as well. Misinformation was just as valuable as information, when you're the one providing it.

"Of course it goes without saying that we're not having this talk, nor will we be talking later, nor will I be paying you to keep your mouth shut in addition to what you can find out about Cadence and her new friends."

Blaine put a couple high denomination bills on the bar top. It may have been a generous tip for the bartender, but it was obvious to Spade that it was intended for him to take. Trust money, as it were.

"You know how to get a hold of me, when the time comes."

*************************

Cadence smiled dreamily, feeling inordinately good, like all was at peace in the world. Somewhere, deep inside of her was a seething hatred at the way she had become, the way her once fiery spirit had been extinguished in place of the pathetic girl who was here now. But the more Blu she had, the less self hatred she was aware of, and now she was feeling positively good about herself.

She "cleaned" up the rest of the Blu, making little bindles of the left overs the way Andrew had taught her and than moved towards their shared bedroom to dress for the evening.

The dress Andrew had picked out for her was a French import, the latest in high fashion and extremely expensive if for no other reason than because it was a prominent label. It was a deep red color, with a lace up front that matched her figure well. It was strapless, leaving her shoulders exposed as far as her shoulder blades. The back part of the dress ran all the way to the floor, but the front section tapered up sharply to her mid thighs, leaving her legs exposed while the back section followed her like a cape.

To complete the ensemble, Cadence put on a pair of high heel shoes, and went into the bathroom where she quickly pulled her hair up into an elegantly simplistic bun, secured with a single silvery pin. She wore only very light make up to enhance her features: a touch of red lipdye, and a touch of red on her cheeks to give her a faint blushing appearance.

Still flying on the feeling of euphoria that always followed a good hit of Blu, Cadence admired herself in the mirror a moment, than exited the bathroom where Andrew was still showering. She went around the room made sure that it was clean, including free of the debris of his cellphone before she sat down on the couch and simply waited for Andrew.
Last edited by Xalsin on Tue May 27, 2008 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Merlin » Sat May 24, 2008 8:32 am

Spade slipped the bills into his shirt pocket and lit a smoke as Blaine made his way away from the table. He genuinely felt for the man, he was probably the one of the better type, this side of the law. Spade knew he could make a ton of cash right away by simply handing off the information that Blaine was looking for Cadence, or rather, the people behind her. However, that money would be short-term gain, and a man like Blaine could easily lead to much greater profits later on.

He stood up and started to make his way out of the bar a few minutes after Blaine had left, but had only made it out the door before noticing the three well dressed thugs following him out. He turned to face them as the trio approached.

They were each dressed in tailored suits designed to conceal the shoulder-carry holsters. Each shared pitch black hair that was immaculately groomed, along with manicured hands. The only marring features were the knuckle tatoos that one of the men sported, proudly displaying 'Love' and 'Hate'. The other two were only distinguishible by a couple of facial scars. The all three carried a scowl that would stop a train. Mafia muscle.

"Fellas, what's up?" He said with a smile, hands spread. He was answered with fists on his lapel, shoving him back against the wall. "Whoa..." he said, the breath coming out of him along with the word. "What gives?"

"Saw you talkin' to Blaine. What'd he want?" Spade didn't even see which one of them asked the question, but in his experience, goons like these were pretty much of a hive mentality.

"You know the deal, guys... money talks, bullsh-" He was cut off by being roughly shoved into the wall again.

"How bout we just rough you up a little bit? We'll see how well the bullshit walks with it's legs broken."

Spade sighed and said, "Fine, you've hit my weakness. But don't think this means you get free information all the time. And tell your boss that I don't appreciate this little break from our usual working agreement." He cowered a bit as one of the goons tightened his grip on his shoulder. "Okay, let off! Blaine's just looking for some work, you know? Just got out today, and he's paranoid as hell... didn't tell me anything other than the fact that he's looking for a job."

The three looked at at each other for a moment, then one of them reached into his jacket, toward the piece that Spade knew was concealed there. He looked around wildly for a moment, "Hey, look.... I told you what I-" He calmed down as the goon produced a cell phone instead.

"Take it." The goon said, with finality. Spade reached out uncertainly and took the phone, looking at it as if it were a snake ready to strike. "Next time you see Blaine, you give to 'im, tell him to call the number stored in memory. He's lookin for work, we got some work for him."

With that, the three retreated, with a modicum of chuffs on the shoulder and head slaps which Spade had no recourse but to simply take. Once they had piled into their street-yacht and sped down the road, Spade slipped the phone into his pocket, and continued about his way.

*******

Andrew stepped out of his shower, feeling physically refreshed if still emotionally frustrated. His goons were supposed to have made sure that Blaine was not to return to the land of the living after prison, but one thing after another had thwarted this simple plan. Blaine was so infuratingly polite and nice to authority figures that he had been, simply, impossible to get a shank into while in prison. And now Blaine was out there, somewhere in the city. Andrew's only consolation was the fact that he was sure Blaine yet knew the whole truth. Only four people had ever known the full truth, two of which were now dead. Of course, Cadence knew some of it, but hardly the whole truth, so perhaps she counted as 'half'.

Straight from the shower, Andrew's skin was beet-red. He enjoyed his showers as hot as he could stand them, and he virtually scrubbed the top layer of skin from his body. He had not always been so fastidious about his showers, but had taken to it after he had taken Cadence as his own. Sometimes he wondered if the bitch made him feel dirty. God knows he thought of her as dirty, a filthy bitch to be controlled and done with as he pleased.

He found her sitting in the living room. He walked, naked, around the apartment, inspecting to make sure the place was well cleaned. He hoped he would find something to punish her for, some small peice of cell phone in the carpet, or some specks of Blu left out on the table, but she had done a good job. Still wanting to punish her, he turned to her appearance, bound to find something wrong with it. Even as he opened his mouth to criticize her, the door bell rang. With a glance at the clock, Andrew realized he had let time slip away from him.

"That's them. You go answer the door, and serve drinks to 'G' and his guys. Make sure they are comfortable, and well taken care of, or you'll regret it. I'll be out in ten minutes." With that, he retreated into his room to dress, and make himself presentable to his boss.
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Post by Xalsin » Sun May 25, 2008 10:00 am

Blaine sighed lightly to himself as he walked down the street, keeping his gait easy and unhurried. He had glad handed a few more people at the bar, talked to a couple more people, and then slipped out of his own impromptu party, so that no observant eyes would see him leaving immediately after talking with Spade. No point in leaving the impression that he had gone there specifically to talk to Spade.

He was a patient sort. One had to be in his line of work, which involved planning, scheming and a lot of waiting. But right now, Blaine's patience was stretched thin. After being so long in the tank, thinking, planning, imagining what he would do when he was out, it was difficult to moderate himself and go slow. More than anything he wanted to find Cadence's address, hop a taxi over there and talk right then and there. This stemmed not so much from a desire for answers, but a sincere concern for her well being (although answers were still a high priority). There was no real reason to expect her to be in any sort of danger, Cadence was, after all, quite a capable woman, yet he wanted to know that for a fact.

No, he was better off sticking to the plan.

Step 1: secure finances.

Vengeance was like a play: the stage had to be set, the actors all had to be in their right places, and, in three acts, there would come the finale. But before all that could take place, someone had to put some money down for this show. In this case, it would be Blaine. According to his current assessments of funds, he had enough money to live for approximately three months on. That was no small chunk of change, but it wasn't nearly enough to finance his little private production. Thus, he would have to find another source of income. While being monitored by the police.

It was no easy task, especially since after being in prison, many of the street level people wouldn't deal with you any more. The logic being either A) you were stupid to get caught or B) You've been tainted by contact with the police.

Either way, it meant Blaine was going to have to make some new friends, because his old friends would probably give him the cold shoulder mostly. Spade had shown up, which Blaine took as a good omen, but Spade could sniff out a dollar to be made anywhere, and he wasn't afraid to take risks. Most people were not as gutsy as Spade when it came to taking risks even when the payoff was promising.

It was still relatively early in the evening, so Blaine decided to do a little socializing.

The Terrace Club was a place that Blaine knew by reputation mostly. It was a place that he had visited only a handful of times, certainly not enough to be recognized or considered a regular.

It was a touch of an upscale place, the fifty dollar cover charge discouraging most of the riffraff, and some rather rough, if more upscale, bouncers kept out a good majority of the rest.

But if there was one thing that was always prevalent in a society of relative morality, it's that there was always someone who was willing to run the risk of breaking the law, not matter what strata of society you pulled them from. Blaine wasn't looking for some gutter snipe types, he was looking for a Puppet. A Clean Hand. Someone who would act as a buffer between him and any of the criminal elements he would need to deal with.

In the past, such things had not been necessary, but now that he was under watch, and would probably remain so, it would be necessary.

There was a live band in the club playing reasonably good music, so Blaine was content to merely take a place at the bar and scope out the other patrons of the bar. He prided himself on being both observant and a reasonable judge of character, and after a few minutes of observation and idle chitchat identified two possibilities.

The first was a black haired woman standing towards the end of the bar, holding herself with an open posture that seemed to invite contact. She had an easy smile which hinted at a charismatic side but also a guarded expression that made it obvious she had no problems telling someone to shove off if necessary. Alert, poised, personable. It seemed like a good combination, as long as trustworthy went along with it as well.

The other possibility sat in a booth in the corner, very much projecting a different sort of aura. He was a smallish man, sitting in such a way that made it plainly apparent he did not want people approaching his booth. While he certainly did not have the pleasant face or the apparent personality, the man did appear to have an air of confidence and competence that hung around him. He looked like the sort who had many connections and many connections that had connections.

Blaine considered both of them momentarily, running his fingers through his stiff, very short, hair. They both had their advantages, but Blaine decided he was willing to try the woman first. Her presence may prove helpful, as if people get the idea that he was interested in getting a little tail, they might not think that Cadence was much of a priority to him. And that would probably be safer for her, in the long run, at least until things cooled off.

Standing with a grunt, Blaine made his way over to her with an unassuming gait, and gestured at the seat next to her. "Mind if I sit down a minute?"

***********

Cadence felt only a tinge of nervousness that managed to pierce the way through the high she was flying on. She knew these were mafia types, and she also knew that these were men who, for all their sophistication and grooming, were very used to getting their way in everything that was under their control. Fortunately, the high from the Blu would probably last another hour before she started to crash, so hopefully by then they would be done.

She opened the door to reveal the three mafioso, standing tall in their immaculate suits, and gave them a somewhat vacant smile. "Please come in, gentlemen."

Stepping back, Cadence ushered them in and leading them to the living room, all the while avoiding eye contact. In fact, she just kept her eyes planted firmly on the ground. It was easier to swallow the role of hostess she had been forced into if she didn't have to look directly at them.

She had seen them all before in connection with Andrew, and knew them by first names only. That is, she knew their names were Antonio, Giovanni, and Nico, but she didn't remember which was which. It hardly seemed important to keep track of details like that. One of them, however she wasn't sure which one, eyed her constantly when she was in his presence, and never passed up the opportunity to make unnecessary physical contact with her. She had expected that such acts would have made Andrew jealous (it certainly would have made Blaine jealous, the thought gave her a pang in her heart), but if Andrew was jealous, he kept it well hidden. In fact, if anything, he seemed to be rather pleased at the attention she received.

Once the men had found seats and had been served their requested drinks, she spoke once again to them. "I'm sure Andrew will be right out. Is there anything else I can do to make you more comfortable while you wait?" She hoped the answer would be no, so that she could just retreat from the gathering.

OOC:
Feel free to pick up the part of the unnamed female, if you want, otherwise I'll just continue their conversation my next post.
Last edited by Xalsin on Tue May 27, 2008 11:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jade Croft » Tue May 27, 2008 6:25 am

OOC: Just to let you know I did not read this, I did not send you a email to join the thread and be told no or nothing....

But if I had read it I would have thought it very good...pity I did'nt...:)
" They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once.." --Tony Stark

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Post by Jade Croft » Wed May 28, 2008 4:17 pm

OOC: Since Merlin as well posted as your lady I deleted mine...:)
Last edited by Jade Croft on Wed May 28, 2008 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once.." --Tony Stark

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Post by Merlin » Wed May 28, 2008 4:24 pm

The three guys moved into the room like men that owned the place. In reality, Giovani did own the place. Giovani was an imposing sort, even in the tailored suit and painstakingly styled hair. At six-five, he towered over most men, and his girth was such that he could easily be mistaken for a wall. His black hair was always neat and away from his face, and despite his size, he moved with agility and purpose.

"Glen Livett, straight." He said with a wave of his hand as the cutie asked after drinks. He took a moment to chide the other two men in italian for their stares and lewd comments, but backed this up with a lewd once-over of Cadence himself. He made himself at home in the plush chair, patiently waiting for Andrew to come out and greet him. He was totally at ease, but anyone could see that Antonio and Nico were coiled snakes, ready to spring.

When the woman brought back his drink, he grabbed her wrist, and pressed several hundred dollar bills into her hand. "Thank you, now get out of here for a while. Andrew and me... we got some business to talk over, and I don't think a pretty little thing like you needs to be around for it. Might get loud, and uncomfortable." He released her wrist with a little shove, adding a note of finality to his words.

*******

Raven watched the newcomer for a moment, using a combination of her conpact mirror and the bar mirrors. From the way he assessed the crowd, he was no general mark. His gait and bearing was one of a man that had spent time in either the military, or prison. She was betting prison. Which meant that he might be easily controlled, if he was an average male.

When she noted him turning and making his way toward her, she conciously shifted her weight, causing the back of her tight, miniskirt to slide up, and raised to her tip toes as if trying to strain to hear the television. She found men to be far more malleable when they were properly distracted. She could practically feel his gaze on her as he asked her if the seat was occupied.

She turned to him with a dazzling smile, locking eyes with him instantly. Oh no, not an average mark by any means, and not a man to be trifled with, by the look in his eyes. "As it happens, the seat is free. You can even buy me a drink, if you feel lucky."

She mentally guaged the man for a moment, while he took the seat. She had already ruled out any possibility of picking his pockets. She also had discarded the possibility of running any kind of con, his eyes were un-con-able eyes. She was certain she could seduce him, and there was not a man alive that could withstand the specialized knock-out poisons she kept in her purse, but she had an idea that this could be far more profitable than a simple one-night stand 'smack and grab'.

She maintained her eye contact and licked her lips suggestively, awaiting his response.
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Post by Xalsin » Wed May 28, 2008 9:03 pm

Cadence faltered momentarily, stunned both by the money in her hand and by the invitation to leave. Under normal circumstances, she wouldn't ever dream of leaving without Andrew's permission, but 'G' held sway even over Andrew, and she knew there'd be serious trouble for the both of them if she did not leave.

"Thank.. you.." The words came out slightly numb, yet with an odd sincerity. It was the first time anyone had given her money or anything in a way that implied freedom, and, even if it was done in the most degrading manner possible, she took it all the same.

Before 'G' could change his mind, Cadence slipped from the apartment. Oh, there would be hell to pay for this later, when Andrew finally got her alone again... She tried not to think about that, nor about what 'G' intended to do to Andrew while she was gone. A strange pang of guilt ran through her at the thought of leaving Andrew to his fate, but there was little else she could do about that.

It was strange not having anywhere to go or anyone telling her what to do. Still dressed in her extremely classy gown, Cadence hit the sidewalk of the streets at the base of the apartment complex. She did not make it terribly far: the first bar was only about a block a way. She had already resolved in her mind that by the time Andrew found her, she would be thoroughly drunk. It would be her only defense for the mental and emotional beating that was surely to come. He would be upset about her leaving, and she doubted he would be too happy about his meeting with 'G' either, so that would leave him twice unhappy.

it was immediately obvious that she did not fit in at this bar. Practically every head in the place turned as she entered. Undoubtedly they were expecting her to approach the bar to ask for the phone, or something, but as she sat down, it became apparent to them that she intended to stay.

"First one's on the house." The bartender eyed her up and down as she sat.

She merely smiled back.


*************

She was on the prowl, that was obvious to Blaine. Sitting with a smirk and a snort, he looked her over again, letting it seem obvious. Apparently, that's what she wanted, so he was willing to indulge her. It was more a show than anything, as, although she was attractive, his mind was still fixated on another.

How long has it been since you've seen a woman, Blaine....?

That was a question that didn't even deserve an answer.

"Feeling lucky? Hardly." He responded, but went ahead and bought her a drink anyways. "Still, I have a feeling my luck might be on the upswing. I'll cut to the chase, so as to not waste your time. The name's Blaine. I'm looking to start up a company of sorts, so I'm on the hunt for employees. Employees that don't mind working an unconventional job. The pay depends very much on the skill of such employee. Anything I say so interesting, miss...?"

He trailed off, inviting her to fill the gap with her name.

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Post by Merlin » Thu May 29, 2008 10:26 am

Raven pursed her lips for a moment, narrowing her eyes at Blaine's blunt approach. In her experience, men were (at best) blunt instruments, but this was ridiculous.

And refreshing.

"Actually, you might say I am very intrested." She laid a hand suggestively on his shoulder, and leaned in to whisper in his ear. "And I assume you chose me over the goons in here because you want it to appear like you've got some arm candy. A dumb bimbo can get into places even a smart man has a hard time with, yes?"

She leaned back, letting her hand drift across his chest before languidly removing it to cup her glass and take a long sip from the straw. "And trust me, I can do things that would make your head spin..."

*******

Andrew emerged from the bedroom refreshed, dressed in a 'business casual' style, with his shirt only half buttoned and the sleeves rolled up. His hair was still wet and slicked back, and he hadn't put on any shoes yet. The only warning he had that he was about to get mooked was Nico's thickly accented voice, "Nice socks."

Immediately after this declaration, Nico had punched Andrew in the ribs with a stun gun. Andrew hit the ground hard and arched his back under the onslaught of electrical overload. When the searing pain finally stopped, he could only slump dumbly, and allow the two goons to carry him to the sofa.

A splash of ice and Glen Livett in the face along with a round of rough slapping brought him around enough to know that he was screwed. The feeling set in even deeper when G said, "Do you think I'm stupid, Andy? Think I don't count every penny?"

Andrew shook head head, swallowing hard, "G, I don't know what you're talking ab-OW!" He was cut off by Antonio's hamfist slamming his jaw hard to the right.

"Don't lie to me Andy, it's only going to make things worse for you." Giovani looked at Antonio and nodded. Immediately Andy felt Nico and Anonio grabbing him, and he was thrown forward. A hand on the back of his head guided his forehead on a direct path with the glass top coffee table. There was a deafening crash, from and a moment of sweet blackness before he was roused again by several rough slaps in the face.

He could feel blood flowing over his eyes, blinding him. He could not feel the wound, and that scared him, though not as much as Giovani's next words. "Jesus, Andy, that don't look too good. You should have it looked at, if you make it." There was a moment of hesitation before he ammended, "Christ, boys, clean 'im up. He looks like hell."

Andrew was roughhoused for a moment longer as the two grabbed a nearby sofa cozy to wipe the blood from his face. Finally he was seated, looking across to Giovani, who had just lit a fat cuban cigar. Andrew knew about the cigars... "Alright, G... alright! I just... I just, I don't know why I did, G. God, please, don't kill me..."

Giovani leaned in, slowly producing an old .38 from his shoulder holster, and placed the barrel at Andrew's knee. He could feel Nico and Antonio's grip tighten down on him, and his struggles to move were futile. "Oh, I can't kill you, Andy. My partner needs you alive for some fuckin' reason. But, he agrees this incident cannot go unpunished." And with that, there was a loud crack as the gun fired.

Andrew screamed as his knee exploded. Desperately grabbing at his leg, he spat blood-covered curses at the three men as they stood. Giovani grabbed the cordless phone from it's cradle and dialed '911', and then tossed the phone down to Andrew. "Like I said, you might want to get that looked at."
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Post by Xalsin » Thu May 29, 2008 11:33 am

Blaine gave a half shrug at this, picking his words carefully. In truth, he found the idea of "arm candy" distasteful, dishonest, and ultimately a disservice to Cadence. However, it might have been to her best benefit this way; after all, if there truly was anyone out there who wanted harm on him, and Blaine was convinced there was, Cadence was much more likely to be overlooked if she was not associated with him. Eventually, of course, he wanted that to change, but not until he was sure that everything was well and that he could adequately see to her protection.

"It sounds as though you've just about struck the nail on the head. Let's just say I could use someone with a more charming face than my own who can be a hiring agent... Some one who has the charm and grace to deal with all manner of clientele." Yes, Blaine was very direct, he realized, but he had intuitive hunch that as much as the woman danced and played with innuendo, the direct approach was much more likely to succeed.

"There are, of course, stipulations, which are not suitable to be discussed in public. And I can't offer you much in money up front." He gave a little shrug. The woman, who had not furnished a name, a fact he had not failed to notice, would bite. He was confident that money was not her prime motivation, at least not in the pocket change quantities. She either wanted the big dollars or something else entirely.

"So what's it going to be, doll?"

**********

Blu and alcohol were a very poor mix in large quantities of either, almost notoriously so. Every tweaker out there could have said that much: the high is fine, but the crash is the worst.

Still, Cadence was not much thinking about the consequences of her actions, a fact that became readily apparent as she undid her bill clip containing the several hundred dollar bills she had just acquired. A drugged out, very attractive woman in a fancy dress holding a fistful of money who was working hard at getting herself even more incapacitated through alcohol in a rather rough looking bar was so much of a tempting target that more than one person was looking around for the inevitable undercover officers of what must have been an obvious police sting operation.

For her part, Cadence was nearly oblivious to the attention she was receiving from others in the bar. In fact, she was pretty much oblivious to everything. Her senses were swimming and, even though she was conscious, very little information was actually passing into her higher brain functions.

As it was, when someone took her hand and began leading her away from the bar towards a dimly lit corner booth, Cadence merely giggled coquettishly, allowing herself to be led by him. Or was it a her? Cadence couldn't even tell.

There may have been several people at the table. There may not have been. Cadence was having a hard time telling reality from fiction at this point, yet it hardly seemed to matter. She felt... Good. She thought she felt good. It was really hard to be sure, because a numbness was creeping up from her legs, making it hard to feel at all.

"Cadence." Someone said her name. Carefully, she pried open her eyes. Oh, it had been her: she had said her own name because someone had asked her what her name was. Cadence giggled again.

The numbness reached her head, and, without anything close to a conscious, rational thought, Cadence put her head down in the lap of whoever had brought her to this table and promptly passed out.

OOC: There, a good place for a certain Jaded person to jump in, if she so desires.

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Post by Merlin » Thu May 29, 2008 2:57 pm

Raven smiled impestuously and leaned in again, "Well, you'll need to make it look like you're interested in more than talk as we leave here, or people might get the wrong idea about me. And 'doll' works if you're paying me enough. otherwise, the name is Raven."

*******

Andrew muttered "Everything's okay... I'm okay", into the reciever before hanging up the phone. He struggled to a sitting position with his back against the foot of the sofa. From his pocket he withdrew a sleek silver bullet-shaped container that he took a long snort from, taking a strong bump of Blu all at once. As the effects settled, he tried to deal with his injuries.

He could tell that his head was gashed open pretty badly, as he fingered a flap of skin that did not want to stay on his skull. He was sure the ridge over his left eye was broken, if not shattered. His nose was dislocated, but miraculously unbroken. His knee on the other hand...

With the Blu sending him along a painless path, he inspected the wound of his knee with interest. He could tell it was bad, and just by manipulating the knee with his hand, he could tell that his knee cap was split into at least two pieces, if not more. There was a hole big enough for three of his fingers. When it dawned on him that his was playing in his one meat, he grabbed the phone and called a street doc under his employ. Then he passed out.
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Post by Xalsin » Fri May 30, 2008 7:04 am

Blaine reached out and lightly let the edge of one hand caress against the side of her face as he took a gentle hold on one of the black locks of her hair.

"Raven it is, then." He spoke softly with a touch of wryness in his voice. Having so spoken, Blaine leaned in, delivering a light kiss on her lips. Even as Raven played the part, complete with coy smile, Blaine cupped one hand under her chin and turned her head slightly to the side so that he could whisper in her ear.

"Let's make it your place. Mine's being watched."

He tried hard not to enjoy the warm scent of her body or the physical contact of her skin against his after so long without, but it was a difficult task. She might not have been the object of his affection, but she was by no means unattractive, and that was a difficult fact to simply ignore.

It's only for the public eyes... It's not like you're out shopping, Blaine. He had to remind himself of his own motivation even as he leaned back, letting his hand find hers as his other hand put some money on the bar for the drinks.

"Anytime you're ready."

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Post by Merlin » Sat May 31, 2008 8:47 am

Raven hooked an arm around Blaine's and put a tawdry grin on her face, waving good-night to the regulars that she knew. Outside she watched three cabs pass by before hailing one.

"I've got a few drivers on my good side, they do most anything I ask for a small fee. This one here is an old friend, and we can talk freely there. My place is not a good place to talk business, because it is watched constantly by... rivals." She climbed into the back of the cab as it came to a stop and the auto-doors opened. Inside, she tapped the driver on the shoulder with a fifty-note in her hand. "Take us somewhere quiet, Eddie."

Once the cab was away from the club and there was no chance that she would be seen, Raven 'uncuddled' herself from Blaine. Though she was still dressed like a girl gone wild, her demeanor was now one of total professionalism. "So, you made it clear you needed someone with skills, which I have a variety of. Perhaps we should talk about specifics. And money."
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Post by Xalsin » Sat May 31, 2008 6:15 pm

Blaine let the woman go willingly as she put a little distance between them, feeling only a greatly repressed sense of disappointment. That was a feeling he refused to nurture, however, so instead, he merely took a moment to study not only her, but the driver and the surroundings.

It was never an easy decision deciding whether or not to trust someone, and this situation was no different. The only reason he felt that Raven might have been trustworthy was that she seemed like someone who was willing to make investments, not someone who was out for a quick dollar.

There could have been recording devices in this cab, and she could have been planning to turn over any information she had immediately to the police, and that was a risk he accepted. He relied mostly on the power of greed, since often the police could not afford to pay narcs all that well.

"Fine, let me tell you my tale of woe so you'll know the score." Blaine's tone had cooled a few degrees since the bar, and he looked Raven directly in the eye now with a cold look.

"Before about two years ago, the name of Blaine Riemer was one that people knew not to mess me. The problem is, someone forgot that and set me up. Supposedly, I was going to be sentenced to ten years, but thanks to some good lawyers and a healthy level of corruption within the Justice Administration, I got off with two years. I assume that who ever did this intended for me to die in prison, one way or another, but I know a thing or two about survival."

His cold blue eyes narrowed. "Now I'm out, and I'm out for blood. Someone owes me a serious debt for the vacation I took. The only problem is, the heat's after me, so I have to keep my hands clean. That's where people like you come in. I need someone who's not afraid of wet work, but can stay clean. I associate with you, you associate with people who do dirty work. Obviously, you have to be very careful, since the police will examine you, at least in passing, for associating with me, but I intend for anyone following a trail to have it dry up before it reaches me."

"Obviously, it's dangerous, because this means you're my scapegoat if things go bad." Blaine admitted bluntly. If she had any brains she would arrive at the same conclusion anyways. "The job is not without risks, but I intend to pay you well. Like I said, I don't have much to offer you at the moment, but I intend to hit a few targets, and you'll take a forty five percent cut of every dollar I make. After a few corporate banks, I imagine you'll find yourself quite wealthy. All you need to do is be act like my latest fling in public, and be my voice to a collection of dirt workers."

He paused a moment, gauging her reaction. "And, of course, if opportunity presents itself, I may find other ways to employ your talents, so they do not go to waste. Needless this position implies a good deal of trust."

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Post by Merlin » Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:04 am

Raven didn't like much of what Blaine was saying at first. It sounded too much like he was looking for a patsy. However, when he mentioned forty-five percent, she re-examined her opinion of being a professional patsy. Forty-five percent was damn near partnership, and already she could tell that a man like Blaine was a good man to be partnered with. She could easily accomplish the things he asked, in the means of providing a smoke screen for him. She had no official place in organized crime, but she was networked well. She also wasn't worried about the police either, as she already had a few of them on her speed-dial as well.

"Mr. Reimer, I think you've got yourself an assistant. Don't make the mistake of just thinking of me as your patsy. For forty-five percent, I'll be taking a keen interest in making sure you make plenty of money, and that you stay nice and safe." She produced her tiny PDA from her purse and narrowed her eyes at it. "You said corporate banks?" She handed the PDA off to Blaine, the screen displaying a stunning collection of black diamonds, along with an article about the display coming to Pittsburgh for a week-long exhibit at the Natural Museum. "Security International will be keeping it in their vault each night after the museum is closed. And, I happen to know someone that has lusted after this collection for years, someone with a lot of unclaimed money laying around."
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Post by Xalsin » Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:17 pm

Blaine gave a sideways smile, looking at the information in front of him. He didn't speak on it first, though, but instead, referenced her previous comments.

"Trust me, you're not going to be just a patsy to me. You are, in fact, the most crucial part of my operations: you will be spending my money, conducting my business and speaking my words to those I wish to hire. This means I'm trusting you to do things right the first time, because there won't be a second chance if something gets screwed up."

The man's smile faded as he leveled his cool gaze on her again. "There is one final stipulation to our arrangement. Obviously in the public eye, you'll be acting as my lover. But at some point in the future, there is a woman who you'll be explaining the truth to. And I expect that you'll make her understand that our relationship has been strictly professional." It was a small detail, but the tone of Blaine's voice made it clear that it was non-negotiable.

"Her name is Cadence Holtz, and, incidentally, she'll be your first task. I need to know everything about her and about the people she's associated with." A smile flickered across Blaine's face. "She's the key to who ever set me up. That, at least, should give you something to do while I start planning to see what our first job will be."

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Post by Merlin » Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:56 am

Raven smiled openly when Blaine said she would be playing the part of his lover. He was a good-looking man, and one with obvious strength and ambition. Her reputation as a street-floozy had always been her protection from those that had little imagination, allowing her to move relatively freely amongst men of power and influence. Now, that reputation would also serve Blaine, though Raven now looked to the day that her reputation would change.

She had never been approached with such a position of trust before, and the fact that this man was offering it to her was more than a little intimidating. A part of her felt that she was not up to the task, but an even larger part of her looked on the situation as a challenge, and a means of stepping up in the world. As things stood, she had enough liquid assets hidden in various places that she could live spartanly for a few months, but she was required to keep working constantly to ensure long-term survival. She was not anywhere near the worrying age yet, but she knew that it was coming, and when that day arrived she would no longer be able to rely on her sexuality as a means of support. Blaine offered her that security, though he did not yet know it.

She found herself vaguely jealous of this Cadence Holtz, but put this feeling aside as ridiculous. She knew she was more reacting to her own desire to have a man willing to go to such lengths to get her back, not reacting to this man specifically.

"i've got contacts, some people in the police and a few others in higher law enforcement agencies. With the right amount of money, I've got a friend at Infotech Securities that can produce a staggering amount of fiscal information about anyone that's ever owned a credit line. It might help if I knew a bit more about the woman... what kind of circles does she move in, and any other information you have on her. I am sure I can find her, or at least, one my contacts can, but the more information you give me, the quicker it'll be."

As she finished speaking, her phone rang. She checked the display, noting that it was Wayne McCabe, a street doctor specializing in illegal cybernetic implants. He didn't have the resources for the experimental limb replacement technology, but had the lab to install external implants, like eye-sheen lenses and aural implants. She held up a finger to Blaine and answered the phone, "Hello, Wayne."

"Hey Barbie, uh... how's your night?" Wayne knew her as 'Barbie', one of Raven's many aliases throughout town.

"Looking up, actually. What have you got for me?" She knew that Wayne only called her on business, and usually it was worth looking into.

"Andrew Cross. He's passed out right now in the back of my meat-wagon, and he is a mess. Someone didn't like his face, and didn't like his knee even more. Anyway, he lives in the third penthouse apartment of the Alandra building, and I doubt he'll be coming home soon. I left the door unlocked."

Raven smiled again, this time thinking of what kind of goodies Andrew Cross would have laying around. It was a sure bet he'd have at least a 'key' of Blu, maybe more. A safe, most likely, and jewelry. Anyone that knew anything about Blu also knew of Andrew Cross, most likely the biggest Blu kingpin this side of the Mississippi river, excepting the mafia types that ran the trade in Kansas City. "Thanks, Wayne. If I hit it up, you can expect your cut by morning."

Wayne thanked her, and she hung up the phone. She stashed the phone and looked up at Blaine. "Well, that's good and bad news... Andrew Cross got messed up tonight, which means that the flow of Blu on the streets will come to a crawl for a while. On the other hand, Cross's apartment is unlocked and unguarded for the moment. Have any qualms about stealing from a man whose injured? I'll bet we could generate one hell of a bankroll from what a man like that has to offer..."
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Post by Xalsin » Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:40 am

Blaine gave her a humorless smile. "I didn't just get out of prison to risk going back there for some minor theft. Don't let me stop you, though." He had no pretenses about their partnership: it worked one way. What was hers was hers, and what was his was hers too. Just like marriage...

"Here..."

Blaine patted his pockets and looked around, but after coming up dry for a scrap of paper, grabbed her arm and turned it to expose the underside of it where he scrawled his cellphone number.

"I have a few more details to take care of tonight anyways. You can call me there once you've had your fun. I'll give you the run down of Cadence just in case you get peckish for something to do."

Blaine was silent a moment, collecting his thoughts, then spoke. "She shouldn't be hard to find. I imagine that she's either graduated from college by now, or close to being graduated. I've heard that she's living somewhere uptown, perhaps with a highroller. As for the sorts of people she associates with..."

Blaine shrugged slightly, thinking back to the people Cadence had called friends. Most of them were what Blaine had considered "good" people; people that stayed on the right side of the law and were generally trustworthy. While Blaine had gotten along well enough with them that he could mingle with them for Cadence's sake, they had always been Cadence's friends, not his.

"Well, intellectual and artistic types, I guess would be the best descriptions, usually on the right side of the law. She knew some people from the University that she spent a lot of time with. And there is a small coffee shop over on the East side called the Blackdrop... She knew the owners there, so she spent quite some time there pursuing her more artistic interests. Katie Wright is probably her best friend, so she's another possible lead."

Reimer shrugged again, realized that he was still holding Raven's arm, and released it. "Of course, all the information I have is about two years old, so I have no idea what's changed with her since then. I do not imagine she will be all that difficult to find, however. She's the kind that can't help but attract attention where ever she goes."

That thought almost sent Blaine down a long tunnel of memories, but he tore himself off before he had even gotten started.

"I have a few more details to take care of tonight, such as getting a new place to live. If you're planning on doing some wet work tonight, and I don't want to know if you are, you can call me once you're finished and I should be settled in by then. You'll have to stay at my place at least four nights a week to keep up appearances. Once the heat starts easing off of me, you'll have more freedom to come and go as you wish."

Blaine's mind was turning quickly now as he was planning out the course that would keep him clean. His orders came out in such a way that made it apparent he was used to being obeyed when he spoke such things. He stopped a moment, trying to decide how he would need to micromanage her before finally putting aside that thought.

He would have to trust her judgment, if she was going to be of use to him. Part of him wondered why it was that he had put so much in this girl's hands so quickly, gambling so much while knowing so little about her. It was rather uncharacteristic, but Blaine had a hunch that he could trust her. And if he was wrong, well, he would be able to figure that out before he had invested too much into her.

Finally Blaine just inhaled deeply and gave her a little smile. Just give her freedom and see what she came back with. "Okay. That should give you enough to start on, at least. Hook up with me later tonight, and we'll talk more. Any questions for me?"

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Post by Merlin » Thu Jun 05, 2008 3:11 pm

Raven had tapped in notes into her PDA as Blaine gave her running orders. She had a love/hate relationship with this job already: So long as Mr. Reimer kept up his end of the bargain, she would make plenty of money, which she loved, on the other hand, he was giving her goals rather than tasks, which left a lot of room for interpretation, which she hated. She didn't mind having plenty of freedom, but she had long discovered that people that give goals rather than tasks tend to be far more 'result' oriented, expecting success on every mission without thought to the circumstances. Still, it could pay off well, in the end. And if he was like the rest, Raven knew she could disappear from his radar, if the need arose.

She smiled as she tapped out the last of her notes, and looked up at Blaine. "Four nights a week? That's not a problem... just make sure the shower has good pressure." With that, she signalled the cabbie to pull over. She had a hidey-hole nearby, and she wanted to gather some supplies before hitting Andrew Cross's apartment. She leaned forward as the cab came to a stop, and produced two hundred-dollar bills from her cleavage. "Eddie, take Mr. Reimer wherever he needs to go." She gave the smiling cabbie a peck on the cheek and looked back at Blaine. "Eddie, and all of the other drivers of Yellow Checker Cab are good, good friends of mine. If you need an untraceable ride, look for thier sign and let the driver know that Raven referred you.
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Post by Xalsin » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:45 am

"I'll definitely have to make use of that." Once I know I can trust you. He added the last silently in regards to the cabbies. There was only so much trust he could place in the friend of a friend.

As the cab slowed and Raven hopped out, Blaine scanned the surrounding territory to get his bearings. He didn't see anyone near by, other than the headlights of a car about a block away, but he decide that he was not in the mood to take chances.

"Hey." He called out to Raven, beckoning with one finger for her to come closer.

Raven leaned into the cab. "Yeah?"

With one hand he cupped under her chin and pulled her into a kiss. "One last thing: if there's one thing I don't deal with well, it's disgruntled partners and employees. You have any problems with the way I'm treating you or if someone tries to offer you a better deal, you come to me before you start running your mouth, and we'll talk. I can be quite reasonable, except to people who try to stab me in the back. Be careful out there. It's possible that someone might try to tail you tonight, depending on how desperate they are to get to me." His face was serious and slightly cool. From a distance, it would look like he was just sneaking in one last parting kiss and murmuring sweet nothings.

Raven nodded her acknowledgment, then exited the cap, closing the door behind her. She even went so far as to stand on the curb and wave as the taxi departed. Perhaps she was just waiting to get a look at the car behind those headlights that had been lurking in the area.

Either way, Blaine was confident that she would be able to take care of herself. If not... well, she wouldn't last too long.

"Take me to the Celestial District, Eddie." He spoke to the driver, settling back in his seat.

The Celestial District was a series of streets and plazas named after astronomical and astrological names, hence the title. While the District had a fair degree of riffraff, it was not a "bad" part of town. Comfortable, but not overtly luxurious, and highly patrolled by the police. A good place for a just out of jail felon to start a new life for himself.

From the edge of the District, Blaine took to the streets by foot, tipping the cab driver and departing. If the cabbie did do any singing, he wouldn't have much to tell, this way.

It took him about an hour before he settled with a rental apartment on Apollo Lane. Even at this late hour, he was able to secure a lease with some well placed dollar bills and a few phone calls.

It was small, but comfortable. A mid-sized bedroom and a smaller office style room would provide enough room for the both of them. While there was only one bed provided, and a large one at that, Blaine did find a small fold up cot in the closet which he could sleep on.

Raven could have the bedroom, he decided. He would give her as much privacy as possible while still maintaining the illusion that they were together. If, under some strange circumstances, someone actually did find him sleeping on a cot in the office instead of in the bed, he would simply explain it as they had a tiff.

Blaine even checked the shower water pressure. He didn't know if Raven had been serious when she had mentioned that, but there was no harm in making sure she was happy. Happy employees were productive and loyal employees.

It was getting on towards three in the morning when finally he finished all the details of checking in to the place, and had even run back to his old place to get his personal possessions, such as they were. He left a message for his lawyer to make arrangements about getting rid of the other place.

By that time, he was starting to feel the wear and tear of the day. Reclining on the couch, Blaine closed his eyes, letting himself doze while he waited to see if Raven would call.

***********

Eric Telmott, more commonly known as "Vice" to people on the streets, could not believe his incredible good fortune. When he had first saw the beautiful girl walk in to the bar, his thoughts, of course, had been on her body, but when Vice had seen her start waving money around... That had really gotten his attention.

Now the girl, Cadence, was passed out with her head in his lap, and Vice could hardly contain his excitement. In fact, he hardly knew what to do with her. She represented a lot of money, he knew that much. It was just a matter of how he was going to get his money's worth out of her. He had already relieved her of the C-notes he had been holding in her hand.

Vice stroked his face with one hand thoughtfully, while caressing the unconscious girl with the other. He was not an attractive man by any means, but rather, was gaunt and pretty close to hideous. Still, that served him well enough out of the street, as most people were scared of ugly things. Vice lived by the fear he could produce in others, and ability that he seemed to have a particular acumen for. The downside was, of course, he seldom had attractive women to keep him company. Perhaps that would change, at least for tonight.

"There, there, Cadence. I think it's about time we left..." He muttered to her, still caressing her roughly. Gentleness was weakness, in the life Vice came from.

As Vice was standing up to leave, another man started to approach him, undoubtedly on girl's behalf. A flash of the modified .45 Vice carried convinced the other man that it would be an unwise life choice.

Vice half carried, half dragged Cadence out into the street, flagging down a Taxi.

As the taxi stopped at the curb, Vice opened the door and manhandled the unconscious girl inside as the cabbie watched curiously.

"Rough night for her, eh, buddy?" The driver spoke wryly, wondering how much she had had to drink.

"Shut up and drive." Vice snarled, causing the driver to blanch at the unexpected hostility.

"Okay, buddy, okay... Where to?"

Vice directed the driver to one of his dives. Everyone who lived on the street had more than one place to live; it was just safer if people didn't know where you slept.

Paying the driver with some of his new found money, Vice dragged Cadence to the end of an alleyway, down a flight of stairs and into the abandoned basement of an office building. The building up above was still used during the day, but everyone was gone at night, and no one ever came down here anyways. Vice had gone so far as to change the locks to ensure that.

By the time Vice had managed to pulled Cadence's form over to the sleeping bag that constituted his bed, Vice was breathing heavily from the exertion, not being in the best of physical conditions. Drug abuse combined with poor nutrition does that to a body.

Still, she was worth it, he decided as he sat against one of the brick walls and panted. There was just the question of what to do with her. Perhaps he could convince her to stay without too much trouble... Or there were always pimps looking to pick up another girl...

She was obviously from high society, so maybe who ever she belonged to would be willing to ransom her back.. That was a dangerous game, but anything that made Vice money was worthwhile.

"Hey. Hey!" He said loudly, trying to wake her up by slapping her face. Cadence didn't respond, still out cold. Vice just grinned. Now it was just a matter of keeping her suitably drugged until he could find someone willing to spend some coin for her. Or drugs. Vice wasn't too picky about the currency he accepted.

Confidant that she would be out for quite a while longer, Vice slipped out of his hovel, carefully locking it behind him, and set out in search of a fix with his new supply of money. It was turning out to be a pretty good day...

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Post by Merlin » Sun Jun 08, 2008 4:08 pm

Raven made a point of leaning against the brick wall of the nearby building, as if exhausted or a bit high, after waving good-bye to Blaine. She was coming to like the idea of playing the part of his lover. He was very.... demanding. She also made a point of not looking in the direction of the vehicle that had followed them for a few blocks, but as it passed by she snapped a picture of the license plate with her phone, pretending to fumble with it while looking for a number. With the photo saved, she vanished into the darkened alley, and made her way to a dank, abandoned warehouse.

The warehouse was one of her many hidey-holes, where she stashed changes of clothing, light weaponry and tools. She changed out of her street-clothes to something more appopriate for a night of thiefly skulking, black pants and sweater and black soft shoes. There was a mask and goggles, as well as a utility belt with an array of tools, but this was not a fully secured location. Wayne had said the door was unlocked, which meant the security was disengaged. All she had to do was get in and get out without being seen by the security staff inside the building. She took a mini cable-launcher and two coiled lengths of cable.

She also took a compact .9 mm, tucking it into the waistband of her pants. Even though Andrew Cross was not there, that did not mean there would not already be some other nightcrawler about. She started walking, using alleys and backstreets to get across town, easily dodging the occasional spotlight from helicopters above. As she moved, she accessed her PDA to get some basic intel on the building.

She saw that it was staffed by Securtek, which meant guards with experimental optical and aural cybernetics, which meant she needed to stay clear of them. The last thing she needed was to be DNA scanned by one of them from across the room. So far, her genetic code was not a matter of public record, and she intended to keep it that way.

She also found that there was a building across the street that sported a rotating restraunt on top, as well as a tourist walking path around the upper perimeter. From the top of this bulding, she could fire a cable launcher to the other building, if she could find a proper point of ingress. When she made it to the observation deck, she noted that there were some high winds already, and she was several floors down from the penthouses on the other building. Using a diminutive, but powerful, pair od binoculars, she scanned the building for a possible entry.

It took only a moment for her to spot it: An open window about two floors down from the observation deck. She sawa Securtek guard at the window, smoking. She watched for a moment longer as the man flicked the cigarette out the window and retreated, leaving the window unmanned. She was betting that the guy was just making rounds, taking the oppurtunity to smoke one while the boss could not see. She gave it a good thirty count before lining up the cable launcher for a shot.

She planted the launcher's ancher in the far building, about six inches above the target window, and anchored the other end to a buttressed handrail. The launcher itself was suitable to hold onto, and use as a carriage to slide down the line. She picked up considerable speed as she zipped down the line, but judiscious use of the hand brake, and some tumbling skills, greatly mitigated the impact as she released the launcher's clamps, and shoulder rolled into the hallway.

Predictably, there was a stairwell door immediatelty on hand. She pushed the door open silently, and could hear the guard she had seen previously, whistling to himself as he slowly decended the stairs. She had no idea how long his patrol would be, but trusted in her stealth. She slipped into the stairwell and padded over to the center, peering down. She could see the thug about seven flights down, and turned her attention to climbing steps, staying along the outside wall.

She encountered no other guards, indeed nobody at all, on her way to Andrew Cross's apartment door. She knew that a guy like Cross would not stand for video surveillance on his place, and thus did not worry about it as she approached. The door was not only unlocked, but it was actually open, less than an inch. She narrowed her eyes and drew her pistol as she approached, thinking she may have been beaten to the punch.
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Post by Merlin » Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:59 pm

Raven padded over to the slightly open door, and pushed it open with the toe of her shoe. Her gaze swept over the interior of the apartment, noting the mess, but not seeing any sign of another prowler. She crept in, careful to avoid the broken glass and pooled blood.

After a few minutes of careful investigation, she came to the conclusion that she was alone in Andrew Cross's apartment, though she was also sure she had not been the first prowler of the evening. Several photo stands were assymetrically designed, which suggested that some pictures were taken. Also, Cross's bedroom was tossed, though the rest of the apartment was clean, except for the mess of the coffee table.

She gave herself a ten minute window, and got to work. The first task was to make a quick circuit around the apartment, searching for the inevitable safe. In the process of searching, she stuffed a number of valuables and semi-valuables into her mini-duffle. Within three minutes, she found the safe, in the back corner of the walk-in closet. The lock was operated by a basic electronic keypad, easily bypassed with a couple of interface clips and some handy software provided by one of her regular contacts. In all, it took forty-five seconds to disable the lock.

In the safe was several bricks of cash, a few data-disks and three vials of red powder. She stuffed it all into her sack. From there she raided the drawers and vanity, randomly grabbing at jewelry and perfumes. Finally, she checked the freezer, where she found the half-kilo of Blu (as well as several top grade steaks). Satisfied that she had ransacked the place, she retraced her steps back to the lower floor window she had entered through.

She reattached the cable carriage and activated the auto-pulley. She much slower ride back up the incline was surreal, hanging stories above the street with a sack full of treasure on her back. Once she had safely clamored back over the hand rail at the tourist station, she released the mag-clamps that held the cable to the anchors, and wound up the cable. The only evidence left was the anchors, which would go overlooked for a long time, perhaps forever. The journey back to her hidey-hole was uneventful, giving her plenty of time to check up on her inquiries.

After taking down Cadence's name and information, she had sent the file off to several of her sniffers, and had already gotten several messages back. The information she got was not as comprehensive as she would have liked, but it was good starting material. The most interesting tidbit thus far was a hospital check-in, about three months prior, a Blu overdose. More interesting than that was the fact that Andrew Cross's name was mentioned in the 'Notify in case of emergency' field on all of her paperwork.

With this information, she began to separate out all the feminine jewelry and perfumes, placing them in a separate bag. At the same time, she made a call to Blaine. When he answered, she said "Hello, lover." She said with a smile. "I back from my business trip early, and I am so dirty... Mind if I come over and clean up?"
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Post by Xalsin » Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:33 pm

"Sure thing. I'm at the apartments on Apollo Lane." Blaine spoke into his comm upon hearing Raven's voice. He kept his voice neutral, just in case someone was tapping the line. That was extremely unlikely, but a little paranoia now and then didn't hurt. "But I would appreciate it if you wouldn't bring your work home with you... You understand." If she had any sense at all, she would have already come to that conclusion, but Blaine wasn't in the mood to leave anything to chance, nor was he in the mood to have any traceable stolen goods or illegal objects in his house. Since he was still on parole, the cops pretty much had the right to search his house anytime they felt it was necessary.

He said his farewells and hung up his cellphone.

A short while later, there was a knock at the door. He opened it up to find Raven standing there, looking coy. Blaine smiled, reached up and pulled her in, clicking the door shut and locked behind her. Once inside, his arm fell away from her, and his face defaulted back to a more neutral expression. He did not ask her how things had went. In truth, he didn't really want to know; the less he knew about what she was doing, the safer they both were. If she had anything noteworthy that he needed to know, he assumed that she would make it known.

"The bedroom's all yours. I'll keep some of my stuff in there, for appearances sake, but I'll be sleeping in the office area." He explained, giving her a quick tour of the place.

"It's not much, but it's comfortable." He spoke as he settled back on the couch and kicked off his shoes. He was starting to unwind for the first time today, although Blaine's eyes were still riveted to Raven, scrutinizing her every move.

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Post by Merlin » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:09 pm

Raven was disappointed, though she did not show it, when Blaine informed her that he would be sleeping in the office. She knew the 'romance' was just a cover for thier other (and in Raven's opinion, more intimate) activities, but she was looking forward to whatever subterfuge that cover called for. She admitted to herself the distinct attraction she felt to him, but knew it was enfatuation at best. It's not every day a girl gets offered money, status -and more importantly, trust- from a man such as Blaine.

She stepped over to the couch where Blaine relaxed, and she sank to the floor in front of him. He started to object, but she cut him off, "It's not what you think," She said as she started to massage his socked feet. "At least, not yet, anyway." She finished with a quirky smile. She kneaded his arches, which were filled with tension. "You see, I like to make sure that my employers get more than they pay for... and in this case, that'll be hard to do, as you are paying me quite well. Besides, I started my career in a massage parlor, and honestly, I enjoyed it. At least, the massage part of it, anyway."

While she worked the tension out of his feet and calves, she questioned him for more details about Cadence. She already had her suspicions, but it seemed too coincidental that Andrew Cross had anythin to do with Cadence. She had been approached by Blaine to help locate her and take revenge on whoever had set him up, and in the same night she was given information by someone else about a man that might have something to do with Cadence. She had known stranger things to happen, but she did not want to fill Blaine's ears with a ton of useless information that could actually be circumstantial.

"What kind of perfume does she wear? And what about preferences in jewelry? Does she have a favorite ring or necklace?"
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Post by Xalsin » Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:39 am

Blaine contemplated telling Raven to stop her massage even as she was beginning, but eventually decided to allow her to continue. It was not that he didn't necessarily like it, because it felt quite good, but he had already resolved in his own mind that he would not let Raven seduce him, and this could be construed as simply a step in that direction. Ultimately, however, it implied a level of trust on both of their parts, and Blaine decided to let it slide this time. If she tried to force the issue or make something more of it than what it was... Well, she would be learning something new about Blaine: he did not take kindly to being bullied, bribed, cajoled or persuaded into doing things he did not want to do. Besides, he had already told her the stipulation of their business relationship, and she was smart enough to figure out the implications of that herself.

Talking about Cadence actually made it easier for him, a way of reminding himself what it was that he was working towards.

"She's got a very unconventional taste in jewelry and perfume. The only perfume she's ever spent money on is something called Del Rosa, a local company that makes perfumes from plant extracts. As for jewelry, she doesn't wear much in the way of gold or silver. In fact, her favorite type of jewelry to wear is copper jewelry, because she loves the color. She is never one to buy expensive things just because they are expensive." The details came to Blaine's mind without any effort on his part. He had spent every day for nearly two years reliving those details in his mind. It was the only thing that had kept him sane. His eyes grew distant even as he spoke with in a lowered voice. "The last time I saw her she was wearing a copper necklace... a very thin choker made of a copper chain with colored glass beads in it..."

The thoughts of Cadence combined with the relaxing sensation of Raven's hands against his feet and legs proved a powerful combination. Blaine's eyes rather involuntarily closed momentarily before he forced them opened again. "You know, considering I haven't paid you a dime yet unless you count a place to stay, you seem rather trusting of the fact that I will be successful enough to make this worth your while."

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Post by Merlin » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:27 pm

Raven simply smiled and shrugged. "I've heard of you. Just about anyone that's more than a wanna-be 'gangsta' has. I wont lie... not all of it is good. But it all makes me think you're trustworthy, if not entirely honest." She looked up at Blaine as she finished her massage, and stood up. "Besides, you trusted me with at least some of your true agenda. A woman understands the desire for revenge, and I am no different. Even if I made no money off of this partnership, I'd consider it good sport to stick it to whoever set you up. Don't think that doesn't mean I won't hold you to your promise of forty-five percent, lover." She said this last bit with a wink as she stepped away from the sofa to the table where she had laid her purse.

She brought forth a small black velvet bag, generally used to transport gems, and handed it over to Blaine. "I know you said that you'd rather I leave my work at work... but I think you'll be interested in at least a couple of things I found."

She watched as Blaine, disapprovingly, opened the bag and shook out the contents. There was a number of gold and silver jewlery, but two items particularly stood out: A small bottle of Del Rosa perfume, and a copper chain choker with glass beads. As Blaine's eyes registered on these items, Raven nodded, "To top it off, Ms. Holtz has been recieving her medical care from the pocketbook of Andrew Cross"."
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Post by Xalsin » Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:48 am

Blaine's hands instantly started to sweat as he handled the necklace and perfume bottle, as if the objects were actually giving off heat. If the shock of receiving the items hadn't been enough to fully wake him up, the mention of Andrew was.

Andrew Cross. Andy.

What are you up to, Andy?

Andrew had been a partner of his during some of Blaine's more lucrative years. He was a decent enough person, in his own way, but that was a far cry from being trustworthy, especially with someone like Cadence. Andrew was one of those people who treated people as objects: all he saw in them was whatever way they could gratify him personally.

So how did Cadence end up in his care? Did he have something to do with persuading Cadence to betray him? That didn't pan out, entirely. First, he could think of nothing he had done to warrant such treatment. Second, he didn't think Andrew was clever enough to come up with a plan like that on his own.

Suddenly, Raven's exact words registered.

"Medical care?" He echoed, his whole face tightening. "What for? Is she alright?"

OOC:
I may have forgotten what we decided about the Andrew/Blaine connection, so if that's totally wrong, I can change it.

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Post by Merlin » Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:51 am

Raven consulted her PDA again, and read off the list of medical records. "Basics, annual check ups, the flu. Also some broken ribs early last year, and a Blu OD a few months ago." She stowed the PDA and laid a hand on Blaine's shoulder as he fingered the choker like a rosary. "Boss... I hate to say it, but if your girl has gotten herself bad on Blu... well, she might not be the woman you remember."
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Post by Xalsin » Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:03 pm

Blaine's eyes narrowed to glittering, angry slits as he looked at Raven who had dared to insinuate that Cadence was mixed up in all that. That was impossible. Cadence was too smart for all that. She'd never do it. Never.

Blaine jammed the necklace into his pocket, grabbed his jacket wordlessly and headed towards the door. He was being irrational and he knew it, but that wasn't enough to stop him. What was enough to stop him, however, was the fact that he had no idea where he was going.

"I've got to find her. Tonight. I can't just sit here if she's out there in trouble. If Andrew was taking care of her and he got himself messed up, she could be in real danger. I have to know that she's safe. I'll tear this town apart if I have to." Blaine was trying hard to rationalize his desire to find her, both to Raven and himself. He knew that there was a good chance that coming in contact with Cadence before he had a chance to find out the full situation could be extremely detrimental, both to his plan and to their relationship. But Cadence's safety trumped all other concerns. The thought of Cadence slumped in an alleyway somewhere, high out of her mind, would not leave him...

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Post by Merlin » Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:58 pm

Raven approached Blaine cautiously. She had not expected such an emotional, irrational response, but then again, the man had been cooped up for a couple of years, and prison will set anyone off thier rockers.

"Blaine, think this over for a minute. I've got some friends in PD, if her name shows up for a session in the drunk tank, I'll know about it. I've already called my doctor friend back, and he says that nobody was home when he picked up Cross. Pittsburgh is a big city, the chances of randomly running into her are HUGE."

She moved closer to him again, tentatively touching his shoulder. "I've got people on it. Besides, if you go rushing to her 'rescue', it could seriously harm your ability to take revenge on who's behind all this. If we're going to make this work, you need to keep a level head about your girl."

Raven sighed and dropped her liquid blue eyes. "I wish you could rush out that door and find her, and take her away from whatever she's wrapped up in. It would be a romance movie made real, right in front of my eyes. I might be ethically questionable, but I am still a woman, and I still want to believe that love really can beat everything. But the other side of me, the side that was able to deliver these items to you, that side says that love's got nothing on a well-laid plan."
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Post by Xalsin » Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:46 pm

Blaine knew that she was right, but that didn't make it any easier. Yes, he was tired from a very long day, and he was rusty from two years in the big house, and both factors were affecting his judgment.

"You're right." He conceded, his body visibly relaxing. "Her safety is more important to me than any plans of revenge or anything else in this world, but you're right. There's no way that I could find her before I collapsed from sheer exhaustion. But I still want her found as soon as possible."

Blaine hung the jacket back on its hook and returned to the couch, which he collapsed on heavily. His hands came to his eyes, which he rubbed vigorously, as if the gummy feeling his eyes were experiencing was the cause of his irrationality.

"I guess I'd better turn in for the evening. It's been a long day and I guess there's no point in going crazy my first day out." Blaine was still tense, and he knew that sleep would not come easily for him. Eventually, however, physical exhaustion would run its course. He hoped.

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Post by Merlin » Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:20 pm

Raven nodded and replied softly, "You need some rest. It's been a long time since you slept in your own bed." She took his hand and started to lead him to the bed. He balked, of course.

"Sweetie, I assume your excuse if you were found sleeping on a cot would be that you and I had a fight. Not many relationships go from zero-to-sixty and back again in one night. Don't worry, handsom, I know how to keep my hands to myself." And with that, she led him to the bedroom door, and to the bed. She indulged herself in helping him off with his shirt with a flirty smile. Her smile drifted away, and her eyes became more serious, "Just get some sleep, boss, I've got some e-mails to look at."

She went over to a chair by the window of the bedroom, sitting in such a way that she could be easily seen from any surveillance monitoring the place. She kept her phone low and at an oblique angle so that what she was doing online could not be seen, but made a point of occasionally looking up at Blaine with what she hoped to be a smoldering, hungry look. Men knew that look well, and thought they could trust it.

She admitted, she looked forward to the moment it might be necessary for Blaine to kiss her, if only to satisfy her curiosities, but in many ways, she was glad that this was all for show. Blaine was handsom, but was not her type at all. Prison changes a man, and not for the better... she was still uncertain about his disposition. Beside that, he was a man obsessed, and worse than that, in love. He would be irrational for her, which Raven understood, but none of these things were things she sought in a man.

What did she look for? Truthfulness, if not total honesty. She had to admit that every individual had to have secrets, but she wanted a man that was not afraid of the truth. She wanted a man that was smart and funny, socially apt but rugged. She wanted him to be smart, but not a nerd... sensitive but not a pussy. In short, her type did not exist. Not once in her whole life had she taken the idea of being in love with someone to the extreme of loving them forever. She still liked many of the men she had attempted it with, even had a close friendship with a few. But, in the end, she could not see spending the entirety of her life with one man.

One such close friend, Scott Emeric, was a supervisor compiler for the credit records for a major credit card company, and had sent her an email. She read over the email, and recalled why she had been so enfatuated with the man in the first place, indeed if he had been on hand, she would have kissed him. As it was, he would have to settle for his usual fee plus a hefty tip.

Cadence Holtz held a plantinum membership with them, and used her card alot. Alot. Raven was jealous. Shoe stores once every week, clothing too. Vacations every quarter. Drinks and dinner nearly every night of the week. Impulse shopping at department stores, the list went on and on. The girl sure knew how to use a card.

On a hunch, she compared the signiature on the credit application against her signiature on the medical records, and noted that they were, in no way, alike. So... it wasn't her card, just a card in her name. Not a surprise, really, as Andrew Cross's name was probably worth nothing in the credit world, no matter how much cash he makes on the street.

Satisfied that she would be able to discern some more valuable information from Andrew Cross's spending habits, she settled in to pore over the records of transactions.
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Post by Xalsin » Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:55 pm

Blaine had been a little apprehensive about bedding down in this particular way, but once Raven had helped him out of his shirt, he realized that he didn't have the energy to contest this matter.

He sank on to the bed, looked one last time at Raven, and collapsed into something closer to a coma than sleep.

It was close to noon when the sunlight straining through the blinds of the window somehow found Blaine's face, telling him that further attempts to sleep would be thwarted by the blinding ball of burning light. Blaine rolled in bed to find Raven sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, her back to him.

For a moment he puzzled at this, slightly surprised that she had been able to slip in bed without waking him. Normally, he was nothing if not alert to his surroundings, even when asleep. Yesterday must have been more grueling than he had given it credit.

For a moment, he found himself staring at the nape of her neck, noticing how soft the skin looked there. He found himself tempted to place his hand there and see if it was as soft as it looked. That was a good indication that it was time to get up.

With a light groan, he rolled out of bed, heading straight towards the bathroom.

A five minute shower later, Blaine settled in at the small kitchenette table. The cupboards were all bare, of course, but there was some complimentary fruit that had been left by the apartment complex, so he started in on that while he mentally ran through his checklist to see what could be done today.

Okay, Raven was working on Cadence, so was Spade. It shouldn't take long for them to dig up where she was which Blaine had decided was first importance. He didn't necessarily want to get in contact with her yet, but he did want to know that she was safe. And if she wasn't safe.... well, that was something else to fuel his vengeance.

the next step was money. He would need a lot of it, so probably either one big job or several small jobs. He could go hunt for those later today.

Blaine grabbed his phone and called his lawyer, telling the man to take care of canceling his lease on his old apartment, as well as updating his information with the Department of Corrections. Everything had to be 100% legit, as far as they were concerned.

Blaine would have to take Raven out on a date tonight, to cement their "relationship". He knew he was still being followed, but hopefully that would not last long, once they got bored of him and decided their resources were better used elsewhere. In that time, however, he wanted to convince them that he was starting a new life, complete with a new romance. There could be no room for doubt about why Raven was hanging around. It did bother him a little that Raven had contacts with the police. That meant she was likely to be recognized, sooner or later, and that meant someone might start asking nosy questions. Oh well, it couldn't be helped now, he would just have to stay alert.

Hopefully Raven would be able to live with the waste of time of going on a date. His first take of her had been someone completely uninterested in romance, although now his opinion was starting to change. Now he thought of her more as one who had been badly burned in romance once upon a time.

Propping his feet up on the table, Blaine leaned back, still shirtless and wearing the same pants from yesterday. The sunlight coming in through the window felt good on his bare skin as he let his eyes closed. While he wasn't exactly tired any more, he was still a bit groggy from sleeping so hard. He let all those thoughts drift from his mind as he dozed in the warm sunlight.

********

Cadence awoke very reluctantly with a stifled cry. It felt as though a mule had kicked her repeatedly in the gut and there was a fire trying to escape from her mouth. The whole world felt watery and nauseating.

She rolled over, expecting to find the edge of the bed, but finding only concrete instead. somehow she made it to her hands and knees, where she proceeded to dry heave for several minutes. Her body tried hard to empty her stomach, but there was nothing in there to empty anyways. She couldn't even remember the last time she had eaten a full meal. In fact, she couldn't remember much of anything at all.

Once her body had settled down to a dull ache, Cadence looked about her surroundings, quite disturbed to find nothing familiar. She was in some sort of basement, complete with an aging boiler, and scattered piles of trash and boxes. Nearby, there was a disgusting sleeping bag, several milk crates of empty liquor bottles, and a man sitting on a camp stool.

At least, Cadence thought it was a man, although he may have been a demon for all the pleasance his appearance gave him. He was a hideously ugly man, who looked like he hadn't given a care for his appearance in years. Dirt smeared his face and several of his teeth were missing. Even though he was smiling, the man looked nothing but malicious and disturbing.

What fresh hell was this that Andrew had found for her? Was this some way of punishing her? If so, for what?

"Here's the way it's going to be, babygirl." The man's voice was cracked and brittle, as though alcohol and cigarettes had long ago burned away his vocal cords. "You do what I say and be nice, I don't tie you up. You try to be bad or escape, I tie you up. Or maybe I just shoot you." The man pulled up his shirt to expose a silvery looking gun fletched with rust.

Cadence scooted back a little with scared nod. It was the first time she had actually wished that Andrew was around. Or anyone else, for that matter.

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Post by Merlin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:07 am

Raven woke the moment Blaine had slipped out of the bed, but stayed there, resting, for a long time. She rolled over and considered the open sky outside the window for several minutes, her mind awhirl with the information she had gleaned from her research. Before going to bed the previous night she had compiled the information into an easy to check database.

She rolled out of the bed about an hour after Blaine had crept away, and went straight to the bathroom for a hot shower. She regretted not bringing a change of clothes, but that could not be helped. She smiled softly as the shower came on with excellent water pressure. She luxuriated under the powerful stream for a long time, allowing the heat and pressure to massage her tense muscles. Shower time was the only time she allowed herself to be fully relaxed, as most of her life was filled with activities that require coiled muscles and fast reflexes.

She quickly finished her shower as the water became tepid, and grabbed at the only towel she could find. She made a mental note to bring some of her things over in a couple of days. She balked at putting on her used undergarments, and decided instead to simply don Blaine's shirt. He was so much bigger than her, the shirt's tail came down to her knees.

She found Blaine dozing lightly as she entered the dining room. He was still shirtless, and Raven allowed herself a moment to simply appreciate the view before slipping past him to a chair across from him. She selected an orange from the fruit basket and started peeling it with her fingers. She kept her eyes trained on Blaine as she nibbled at the succulent fruit.

"Good morning." She said with a bright smile as his eyelids slid open. "I've got some more news for you. Apparently, Mr. Cross took a credit card out in Cadence's name. It's a pretty common practice amongst those on the other side of the law, to take out some credit on another person. The bad news to this is that if she allowed him to do so, then he's got her deep into something bad. My guess, he uses the credit card as a laundering device for the money he makes selling Blu."

She waited a moment for Blaine to let this sink in, before she said, "I've had some friends check in with Cross at the doc's house, and they all say that there's been no sign of a woman coming to visit him. I think its safe to assume she was associated with him, but it's strange that she hasn't visited him yet. If she's been his molly for a couple of years, then she should have already been at his side, which leads me to think there's something else going on. I could call in a favor, have an APB put out for her, on suspicion of possession of controlled substances. She'd be held, with low bail as it would be her first offense. She'd be safe, and we could keep an eye out for anyone that takes an interest in bailing her out..." She let the rest of her statement go unsaid. She could tell Blaine did not like the idea.

*******

Giovanni hung up the phone with a disgruntled sigh. His 'partner' was putting the screws to him again, over the Blaine ordeal. If Cross had done his job, this would not be an issue. However, Giovanni knew, as well as his partner, that Blaine was a pitt bull when he made up his mind. It was certain that Blaine would be looking for revenge, as certain as it was that Blaine would be looking for Cadence. He wished, not for the first time, that his partner would have just let him kill the bastard three years ago, instead of embroiling them all in this tight-rope walk. Still, all but the most invasive investigations would only lead to Andrew Cross, so with any luck, Blaine would simply kill him, take Cadence back, and that would be that. 'G' did not like to rely on luck, but in this case there was no other option.

He looked over to the sofa where Nico and Tony were watching a football game. "Hey you two, I've got a job for you. Remember the broad at Andy's house last night? We want her, alive and unharmed. Bring her here."

Nico and Tony looked at each other for a moment before Tony spoke up, "Where are we supposed to find her, boss?"

G narrowed his eyes at the two and shouted, "Do I need to fuckin' do everthing around here? Get out there, and find her, or I'll put a fuckin' hole in YOUR knees!"

Nico and Tony were not terribly smart, but they were smart enough to know to get on it. G didn't make idle threats, and if either one of them were still in the room ten seconds after his outburst, he was sure to come through on the promise. The hustled on out, muttering their capitulation every step of the way.
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Post by Xalsin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:45 am

Blaine's eyes slid down her form unconsciously even as he was considering her words. It was a gross generalization to say that guys had one track minds: Blaine found he could easily think about what she was telling him while at the same time noticing that she was wearing his shirt and, he had a sneaking suspicion, absolutely nothing underneath. He just wondered whether it had been a matter of convenience... Or if Raven had thoughts of moving their relationship beyond the level of "professional" and was trying to warm him up to the idea.

He switched tracks over to Andrew, and that was enough to narrow his eyes. He was no stranger to the "other side of the law", as Raven had put it. As if Blaine himself were some law biding, good citizen.

So. The bastard had taken out a credit card in her name. Not surprising, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. That meant Andrew had dragged Cadence down. Using her upstanding and sterling reputation, he had undoubtedly taken out bank loans, credit lines, and every other possible thing he could get from her, meaning she stood almost no chance of being able to repay all that and get back on her feet. And that pissed Blaine off royal. If Andrew wasn't dead already, he was going to wish he was soon.

Either he bled her dry, or he was using her as a front of all his dirty business. If the cops ever picked up the trail of money, it would lead to Cadence. Both of those were bad, and both gave Blaine a lot of fuel for his vengeance.

"Go ahead and call in your favor. The police might not be 100% trustworthy, but I would trust the average cop over the average street scum." Blaine decided. The idea of Cadence sitting in jail was not overly pleasant, but at least than he would know where she was and could get her out easily. It was the lesser of two evils at the moment, as the idea of not knowing Cadence's whereabouts was beginning to worry Blaine. He had to find her before something bad happened to her.

He paused momentarily as Raven bit into a particularly juicy orange segment and, whether she intended to or not, made a show of brushing the juices off her chin and licking her lips. Okay, maybe the one track mind thing wasn't such a gross generalization. It bothered him a little that he was so attentive to her coyness, but he cut himself a little slack as he had just spent two years locked up with a bunch of other guys.

"Alright, here's what's happening today." Blaine put his feet down, which had been propped up on another chair and leaned forward, all business now. "See what you can do about calling in that favor and getting the cops looking for Cadence and keep your ear to the ground out on the street too. If you can find her and she's in danger, you don't need my permission to do what needs to be done. If you find her and she seems comfortable... Well, talk to me and I'll figure it out from there."

His lips pressed together a moment as he prioritized the rest of his list. "See if you can get a line on some people who can do a job. I'll need some bait who doesn't mind spending a month or two in jail, a good burglar, a hacker, and someone who's good with alarm systems. I don't have a target yet, so just see if they'd be willing to do some work in the next week or two.

"I don't know how far your contacts with the police go, but if you can do so without drawing any attention to yourself or me, see if you can find out the names of the officers or detectives assigned to watch me. I'd like to send them a card for their diligence. If you've got a criminal reputation with them, though, don't bother. The purer they see me, the better."

Blaine stopped there. That could, theoretically keep her busy for much longer than one day, depending on how things panned out. It would do for now. He'd want to find out more about Andy, but that could wait for now.

"Keep in mind that time is no object to me; I'll wait as long as necessary for a job to be done right, so don't take any unnecessary risks for the sake of getting things done faster. Right now, we're not on any timeline."

Blaine stood and went to a little lockbox he had brought with him from his apartment. Opening it up, he pulled out a cache of money, giving about five hundred dollars of it to Raven.

"Here's a bit of spending money plus a down payment." He explained as he gave it to her. "It's not much, but it's a start. If you need more, let me know. Also, set aside about two hours this evening, because we'll be going on a date to make sure there's no doubts in the cops' minds as to why you're hanging around." Blaine exhaled slowly, double checking mentally that he had covered everything he needed to. "Okay, that's all I got now. Any questions?"

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Post by Merlin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:28 pm

As Blaine spoke, Raven took the time go ahead and start working, even before he was done. As soon as he agreed to the APB, she sent the message off to Sargent McElroy. He was not a giant amongst the police, but worked closely with the narcotics division; He'd take care of the rest for her. The moment a narcotic's perp was booked, he would know about it.

Additionaly, she sent off a mass email to several of her street contacts along with a picture of Cadence and likely haunts. These contacts included waitresses and valets at the local country clubs, baggage handlers at the airport, even a ticket-taker at the old train station. None of them were particularly powerful or influential, but they did respond well to money.

She considered for a moment to turn down the money Blaine offered, as she had liberated several stacks of cash from Andrew Cross the previous night. It was a short debate, though, and she quickly stashed the bills. Cross's money was safely tucked away in her hidey-hole, but she decided it would be best in the long run to leave it be for a while, in case it was marked in some way.

She already had a good idea of who she would be hitting up to work for Blaine. The hardest part would be finding someone willing to do a short stint in jail, but that would be easily compensated with the right amount of cash. As for hackers, they were a dime a dozen nowadays, indeed she could do a little light hacking herself. She wished she had more of an idea of what Blaine was shooting for, but did not ask him directly. If he wanted her to know, he would have said, so it was up to her to anticipate.

She did notice the way Blaine looked at her, and she approved, but did not say anything. She smiled at his assertion to make some time for a 'date', and nodded demurely as she tapped out a reminder to be 'home', and dressed to kill, by 6 pm.

As Blaine asked if there was anything else, she simply smiled and said, "Yes... what's your favorite color? I want to make sure I'm fit to be on your arm tonight."
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Post by Xalsin » Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:30 pm

"Make it dark green." Blaine said simply. They would be attracting attention as it was, so there was no need to be ostentatious by picking a bright color. "And if you have any preference on where we go, that's fine with me. I'm not too choosy on that, as long as it's suitably nice."

Blaine grunted, remembering something. Digging around in a box, he pulled out a deck of cards, shuffling through until he found a Joker. Scrawling a quick note on it, he put the card in an envelope and put some money in it as well. "There's a Corrections Officer, Officer Laddis. He did some favors for me about a year ago, and I'd like to return the favors. If you get a chance, give him this and do anything else you can to make his day a little brighter." Blaine gave a little shrug at his own nebulous instructions. "This will be a personal favor for me, not a business one. If you don't get to it today, I'll understand."

**********

At first, Cadence had tried to query the man with a few questions, anything in an attempt to make her life seem a little less hopeless, so she could pretend that there was someone, anyone, who cared about her.

Vice, as the man had introduced himself as (which had been yet another indication that he had no honest intentions with her), had quickly proven that he did not like questions. Three questions later, she found herself with her hands behind her back, tied roughly and a cloth gag in her mouth.

By the time he decided to do anything with her, she was near delirious from the dehydrating effects of the alcohol and Blu combination, added to a lack of food and restful sleep. All in all, she was in bad way by the time that Vice had covered her with a heavy coat, despite the warm day, and led her out on to the street. He had been forced to ungag her to avoid attention, but beneath the coat, he had left her hands bound.

It wasn't a far walk, only a couple of blocks to an abandoned restaurant that was used by a group of people he knew would be willing to pay some money for his acquisition. Although it hadn't been his first choice of places to take her, no less than two Pittsburgh Police patrol cars had cruised by him, slowing both times to look at the highly unusual sight of a rather attractive woman walking next to a greasy looking piece of street filth. They, evidently had bigger fish to fry because they did not stop, but such was Vice's paranoia that maybe the police were looking for this girl that he decided to ditch her at the nearest possible location, rather than shopping for a higher bidder. They would pay enough to make it worthwhile, and there was no way in hell he was going back to jail over her.

Inside the dimly derelict building, a man and a woman were sitting at a table but stood quickly as he entered. The woman's face was covered with a veil and the man's face was covered by a scarf, making it impossible to see their identities. It was always so with Luna's Children; their faces were hidden from all but their own kind.

"What have you brought?" The woman spoke, stepping over to Cadence.

"She's fresh, you can be sure of that. Just the way you like 'em, I hear." Vice grumbled, not wanting to say too much. This people were not the kind who would be convinced one way or another by words. They were, however, known to take young man and woman on occasion for their own purposes. What became of them after that, Vice didn't know and he cared even less. There were no shortages of rumors though, and the most commonly adhered to belief was that the cult of Luna's Children did some sort of sacrificial murder of its victims every full moon.

"She's a druggie." The woman spoke with scorn as she lifted Cadence's head up to look up the other woman's nostrils. He could see the telltale signs of Blu in the form of a cracked and badly dehydrated inner nostril.

"We could clean her up... It would not be easy, with the full moon being only five days away, but we could do it in time. And she is beautiful." The man commented. His hand came to Cadence's shoulder and pushed the coat off of her to better look at her.

"Yes..." The woman conceded thoughtfully, still studying

For her part, Cadence had never felt so thoroughly dehumanized. The world was feeling distant and fuzzy as it was, mostly due to the fact that she was feeling sick, but now these people were talking about her like some kind of object. It was... She didn't even know what it was.

And yet, somehow she was past the point of caring. She couldn't think of any reason why she should try to continue fighting for life. The worst they could do was kill her, and as she stood there, sick, hungry, hung over, and thoroughly beaten down, that didn't even seem like such a bad fate. While one part of her screamed to fight back, the glum truth she had to admit to herself was that she hardly had the energy or the will.

"Very well, we'll give you twenty thousand for her. No negotiations." The woman said finally. Twenty thousand was a decent sum of money, especially for someone like Vice. While he had a hunch that she would have been worth more than that to a different buyer, he decided that a bird in the hand a better deal at the moment.

"Sure, she's all yours." Vice chuckled, rubbing his hands together greedily.

The man left and returned a few moments later with a duffel bag. "Leave this place now, and never return." The man told Vice. They never, ever dealt with the same kidnappers twice in the same place, which may or may not have had something to do with their success rate at avoiding the cops. Vice was more than happy to comply. He had enough money to keep him happy for at least a month or two.

The man produced a knife and cut Cadence's bonds while the woman stood directly in front of her. "I do not care about your past. Your name is now Thysia and you will respond to that when you are call it." The woman said severely, than softened a bit with a smile. "Do not worry, child. You will be well treated. All that is required of you is that you endure our ritual after which you will be released. Now, however, you may rest. In a few hours, you will go somewhere else where you can be cleaned up."

Cadence looked on dully, rubbing her wrists, and finally nodding. She wanted to ask questions, but her brain seemed much to busy trying to deal with the after effects of the alcohol and Blu to actually function correctly.

Silently, she let the man lead her back into the grubby building where she gladly laid down on a small but comfortable mattress. Within a few minutes, her body fell back into blissful unconsciousness.

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