Playing Well With Others


ghost_icon.gif samantha_icon.gif

Scene Title Playing Well With Others
Synopsis Sam is required to do a mission with a second party. This would be a first.
Date May 25, 2009


There's a commonplace metal that describes the color of the clouds hanging over Manhattan Island right now. Gray, dully pearlescent at the highlights and streaky, brackish like tarnish in the irregular striations where shadows clump. Pewter. Something wrought from it, slowly but steadily going bad from simple exposure to the gaseous processes of atmosphere, colder though no less ugly nor maculate a process than organic decay. It's going to gray.

Ghost is standing on the curb with someone else's borrowed phone in his hand, the collar of his jacket popped up against the stubbly underside of his jaw and his expression pleasantly blank as the unpurchased billboard three stories above and behind him. He studies the flow of traffic with a quiescent expression. Waiting for a ride, probably: he has that look about him, a man in transit despite his body remaining at rest, his jaw locked and duffel bag sitting heavy with gunmetal and other, somewhat less tactless things on the pavement to the left of his heel.

According to the straightforward text string long since deleted from either of their inboxes, four Evolved are supposed to die tonight. Only one of whom — the temblor — is Registered, though her companions were nevertheless elaborated on in the debrief: a shifter, two telekinetics. Apparently that particular mutant gene cancer grows on trees. It's fortunate, that Ghost has always been more of a city boy.

Having one package already in her possession, she was actually surprised to find the arrival of a second. As Samantha digs through the contents, she sees the four photos, known hangouts and desired night of elimination. Well, she tosses that aside for now. She goes on her own schedule, which is why her other target is still alive. Then something catches her eye. A letter. She reads through it then curses under her breath. She hates working with others. She even wrote that in her bio. "Does not play well with others." But with four targets, pegging them all in one shot — it'll be difficult. Help will be required, even if unwanted.

Sam finds the challenge and password for her meeting with her target and a time/date/location for the initial meeting. There are no photos. There never are. Those have to remain out of the package, which is why they rely on the challenge/password. She packs her gear as the time draws near — her rifle, disassembled and tucked down into a plain cardboard box which straps to the back of her bike and her revolver, which is carried on her person, unmarked incase she has to ditch it. She heads out to meet her 'partner'.

Her partner is waiting on the sidewalk outside, where last the camera panned on his scene. He glances over his shoulder, registers her face, frame, and carrying load without overt recognition: better for everybody involved, and hats-off to Humanis First!'s organizing powers besides. It would be a sad state of affairs if their elaborate Secret Santa network failed to remain true to its name, what with all the arrests and death sentences and shit.

"Hey, Spartacus." As passwords go, this one is probably quite politically disagreeable, but the critics are all dead, dying, or scheduled to get there. He points a gloved hand up at the van that just parked in front of him two minutes ago. "Ride's here."

The pointing finger folds easily into a full-palmed grip on the handle in that same arc of motion. There's a twist of his arm, a clunk of locking mechanism, and the door slides open with a grumble of metal on grooved metal. Inside, the seats are ribbed-velour gray, belts winking in nondescript cleanliness. The man ditches his bag in first: there's a dull clank of impact. He nudges it in with a boot, grips the edge of roof to swing himself comfortable in under it.

"I don't think those kinds of lemons are the ones you're supposed to suck on, ma'am," he offers, studying her expression.

The bike is parked behind a dumpster in an alley. If anyone takes it, she'll find it. She always done, but just in case she pops the spark plug and tucks it into her jacket. She walks up and eyes the man whom gives the correct challenge. "Aye, but Julius tends to get a knife in the back." she responds before he points towards the van. There's a slight pause in her step as she's never been very comfortable in others vehicles. It was all part of the packet, so she knows it's good - but that doesn't stop the shiver that runs up her spine. She carries her box and slips into the van behind him and slides the door shut.

Other than the pause in her step, she doesn't give much away as far as expression goes. She actually has the perfect poker face — if she were to play poker that is. She sits back into the seat and waits for the van to take off. His comment is rewarded with, "Yes, but sometimes if you add a little vodka to the lemons, you can make one hell of a lemonade." There's a bit of a ride ahead of them, it seems.

She doesn't have to give away much, it seems: the young man's mouth finds a smile as geometric and pert as Cupid's weapon, slightly at odds with the rough-hewn height of him. "Probably tastes better than the other thing," he acknowledges easily. He drags the duffel bag up onto his lap as he watches her climb in, listens to the door slam shut behind her.

Up ahead, the driver answers his part. Something about Judea. It is like a themed birthday party. The van pulls away from the curb, and Samantha is treated to a passing montage of the city's skyline sliding by, its interchangeable pedestrians and coruscating glass retinas of a million-eyed buildings showing her less interest than she does them, as a natural function of their ignorance. They have no way of knowing that they're prey or habitat to hunters.

"Most of us are soloists." It might even be reassurance, offered sidelong, without looking. The zipper scratches up in Ghost's hand, and he pulls out a clicking handful of plastic, straps, black fortified rubber. A gas mask. That, too, he hands to the blonde woman with pragmatic courtesy.

There's barely a response from the female as she slouches in the seat. The gas mask is attached to her belt and she pulls it out, making sure there's nothing wrong with it before slipping it back into the pouch. She opens the box and pulls out the pieces of her weapon and begins to assemble them into the rifle. She sets it in the seat next to her.

The route or the scenery doesn't interest her in the least as she works to get herself into the zone. It doesn't take her long, and she knows this one could be a bit messy. She wears gloves to keep her fingerprints off of things they don't need to be on. Finally, she tosses up the hood of her jacket and pulls it forward to give her some semblence of hiding.

All that's required now is the wait.

A pressurized canister winks out briefly in the shift of the duffel bag's canvas panel. It isn't marked, but it doesn't have to be for either assassin to grok its real purpose and nature. Cyanide. Brutal, ugly, commonplace or easily refined enough to be damn near impossible to trace.

The ride is fifteen minutes. Would have been longer without a clever use of GPS and the driver's overmuch familiarity with the area. It makes sense, of course, that the man would have canvassed the area before the assignment, albeit likely in a different vehicle. Some safety protocol or other. The drop point is a good one, hung in behind an empty storefront that was— something like a a McDonald's until recently, judging from the size of its loading area.

Ghost alights out the door on his side, yanking the bag after him. It's lighter than it had started out, not only by the increments of the gas masks but the pistol moved to its holster under his arm, one knife. The LMG stays inside, resealed, its bulk swinging off his shoulder as he lopes around the end of the vehicle. It's only half a block away, the target site: of all things, another restaurant, one of few active businesses among derelicts and bankruptcies, and unremarkable for its kind other than its Evolved owner and her activist proclivities.

The man's entrance point, poison gas and all, is the commercial vault and the basement's close spaces. Common logic has it that Samantha's rifle would better be employed above-ground.

Sam has five rounds. One for each target, and one in case of some act of God prevents the round from hitting one of its targets. Sam is certain God has more important things to do than to impose his will upon the assassin twice in one night. She carries her weapon across the street, uses a dumpters to hoist herself up and onto the roof of the building , not directly across, but just slightly to the north.

The back door to the target building will be secured shut once the canister is ejected inside, so the only exit available will be the front. Easy to pick off as they exit the building, blinded and most definitely not at one hundred percent. She rests her rifle on the billboard that just barely reaches over the top of the building and takes aim through her telescope. The telescope itself is just a bonus, as she can usually take them out without it. Regardless, this is a professional job and she's not going to take the chance on something monumentally screwing it up.

Again with the wait.

Much of these games tend to be about that. Waiting. The man's face vanishes under his mask, reflected light throwing ghostly geometry over the symmetry of narrow eyes and the line of his nose.

The cyanid canister rolls in his gloved hand like a baseball in the glove of a particularly playful pitcher as he lopes up across the pavement, peers down at the hatch as his shadow laps up over it. The thin metal of a pick scintillates out beyond the tip of his glove. It's shunted down into the lock, with a twist, a creaking rasp of steel on steel. Click. He yanks the door open, winds his arm back like he's about to award a delightful game to a fleet-footed pooch.

Fire in the hold. And he shuts the four mutants in there with it.

Samantha sees it from her vantage point over the facade, a flicker of movement, of skin mapped around a struggling body turned translucent, almost ghostly behind the front-lit glass. Someone running, and failing to do so well; indeed, they can't even be fucked to make for the door. Instead, there's a guttering groan of psychokinetic force against plateglass, and then the body smashes through, laked in sweat, lips gasping blue.

The swell of activity below doesn't startle her, as she was already anticipating it..down to the second practically. What she wasn't expecting, and probably should have, was the change in exit strategy by those on the inside. The glass shatters and the first figure steps out.

She slowly switches the selector from away from Safe.

The second figure actually trips on the windowsill exiting the window and sprawls onto the ground.

The first figure moves into her site as she swivels the rifle to follow him.

The third figure steps onto the second as he exits the window and staggers about coughing and weezing.

She pulls the trigger and the first target falls onto the street.

The second begins to crawl away from where he fell as the fourth exits the window, still unable to see and blindly staggering about.

"Not quite a fair fight, but what can you do." The third target falls since he's on a full on sprint when she fires after putting him dead center in her scope, then she twists over and nails target number four, dead center in the forehead as he was coming right towards her and she would not have been able to target him too much later. Finally, the crawling target, number two, apparently with a broken limb or something as he slowly crawls away. The crawling comes to a stop when she pulls the trigger and he slumps down to the pavement.

All that's left is the building, with a stream of smoke pouring from the shattered window.

Four Evolved, none of whom would have qualified for less than Tier 1 and— according to the sincerest, most heartfelt beliefs of both operatives' superiors— all of whom had character and intent that would have condemned them to far worse in the rungs of categorization, if the government's current system of categorization wasn't bullshit.

Four Evolved are bleeding out on the sidewalk, cut down like so many brittle-stemmed trees.

It's fortunate, indeed, that Ghost was always more of a city person. He's far more accustomed to moving over the fallen trunks of slain men than the wreckage of actual deforestation, or so he seems, as he trods out from the back of the building in long strides, faded pewter sunlight skating off the inhuman, robotically bestial spectacle of the visor, its lenses, its ridged mouth grille. Staring down. He studies their faces, registers blue here, the motionless slack of reticent torsos, the blood pooling on the pavement below the crater made of breastbone or forehead.

Too much marrow eddying viscously out of the osteokinetic's body. That warrants an extra bullet to the head.

And a second, followed by a third, a twitter and white-flare of silencer chugging the creature's skull up in the herky-jerky motions of an epileptic seizure. There's proof in the blotted brackish chunks that spray away from the geometry of the osteokinetic's head: there had been too much skull there, a desperate, last-ditch effort to provide proof against the onslaught of Samantha's sniping.

The mask doesn't tilt up to find the woman's perch. Turns away instead, and he walks, long, easy strides, vanishing back into the alleyway without a thought given to the back he leaves exposed to his compatriot's weapon.

Picking up the four spent roundshells, Samantha tucks them into her pocket. They will be disposed up in a more proper manner than just left lying here. She has one round left. As she's clearing up, she hears the additional shots below. She doesn't bother looking as she takes apart her weapon and tucks it away.

The gas mask? Left in the van. The only reason she would have needed it was if the canister erupted inside the van. As he walks towards the van, her weapon has already been disassembled, and stowed. She scales down the wall and lands gingerly on the dumpster, then another hop to the ground.

She doesn't head to the van, but walks down the alley to the next street over. She begins to walk until she's a good distance away, then flags down a cab, taking it to where her bike is left, untouched. She reinserts the sparkplug and then starts it up and heads for home.

Another mission accomplished.

The other operative isn't heading back to the van; not even to retrieve the other mask, however unwisely disposed it had been. Instead, he hangs a sharp left above the smoking fissure between halves of the commercial hatch behind, trodding across the dented metal on an oddly careless grind and clomp of boots.

He listens to the panic from very far away, takes his time yanking the mask forward from over the back of his head, fingers of one hand curled in the strap, the other pulling the bag open. Its stowed without him stalling a step, and the duffel shifted, adjusted, to hang diagonal across his shoulders and swung back behind him, abruptly three times more the casual tote despite the modified AR-15 weighing down its canvas bulk.

He feels the first needles of rain on the back of his neck. Envisions it slashing down, brutal and cold, against the curve of Samantha's helmet and the plume of exhaust smoke behind her, somewhere further afield and away.

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