@hawkshade: You just like him because he rejected my Awesome Plan of Genius© for Stupid Plan of Idiocy™!
Valentina's grin faded into a hollow shell of itself, marred by incredulity. Is he serious? She scanned his face. It was actuallly unbelievable. He was!
"God...fecking..." Idiot! She gritted her teeth, just barely containing the base desire to berate him with all manner of obscenities and insults, to deconstruct his inanity with all of her logic and hatred and rage and a viper's tongue. How someone this impulsive and stupid managed to go this long without getting locked or killed was–
Awkward and uncomfortable as he was, Franklin dropped a hand on her shoulder. The other, pushed tactlessly into her personal space, contained Noah's offering which he himself had been all too happy to oblige. Eased his anxiety, mostly. Valentina reeled, mostly in anger but also mild disgust, and the rotation continued without her.
Deep breaths, she told herself, unaware that she was still hyperventilating. Running her hands through her hair and throwing them out in exasperation. That hint of vulnerability only made it more tempting.
But it seemed also to appeal to something in her human nature because, pacing as she was, Valentina showed restraint. "Look," she said, finally getting a handle on the deep breathing, softening her expression and her tone to hide the extreme effort of biting her tongue and trying--really trying--to see an alternate perspective. Inching just a bit closer..."I don't know what is going on with you, but that makes absolutely no sense. Don't you want to succeed?" She felt like a teacher dealing with a struggling, borderline-apathetic student. Or perhaps it was inadvertently and unknowingly letting her youth and relative inexperience to show. Unsure if it'd do any good, but...maybe. Maybe some common ground would help them both. Could it really hurt? "What is your real problem here? Losing? Time for what? Why is it that you can't spare a little extra time for?"
@rosso: (this is fantastic. Highly enjoying the dialog and odd chemistry between the three. Its weird but sometimes I feel users bring their NPC's to life with more flavor then they'd of had as an actual account. LL did this well with that Beast NPC she had for Ivana. Good stuff. I love her frustration)
@phantomshell: He actually is attached to the @ananke account, but that character's a mercenary and it's designed so that depending on how I want, it's a main or there are several freelance NPCs available to characters like here. That said, I can agree on that, about bringing them to life.
Thought about it recently and I think it's in part because, with NPCs we feel more comfortable experimenting. If I wanna try a bizarre accent for Valentina, for example, I get self-conscious. What if I can't pull that off and nobody can take it/her seriously? Or a particular habit. What if I make her look stupid and incompetent? Shifting the frame of mind to an NPC allows (at least in my theory) enhanced degrees of freedom because they're an accessory. You also get a lot more to work with in general if you can shift characters back and forth in your mind like that, and even double up on building characterisation; like when I pair Arquitenens and Cutthroat Bitch on missions, with one of them taking prominence or doing a 50/50 split.
Really enjoying this myself.
Thought about it recently and I think it's in part because, with NPCs we feel more comfortable experimenting. If I wanna try a bizarre accent for Valentina, for example, I get self-conscious. What if I can't pull that off and nobody can take it/her seriously?
Yeah. Less pressure on an NPC.
@hawkshade: @rosso: Thats it too. Less pressure more freedom and willingness to experiment. I noticed it while writing Musa. Everything is thought out before hand and I'm contentiously trying to factor things in. Essentially I think too much. But with Noah its just free. I have a vague personality idea for him but other then that its all in the moment with little care what happens cause there's no real pressure. However this is so much fun he's gonna become a main now :P
He looked off, flexing his cheeks with a common micro-expression that caused his eyes to shrink. His fingers brushed his beard. He was thinking. His hand moved to rubbing his head, then the back of his neck. He was caving. Then he exhaled. And there it was.
The music stopped and the house began to instantly empty. A select few stepping out of the impromptu exodus to slap five or give dap. The crew showing love before departing. They understood. The one's who needed to know knew what time it was and would never take their alpha's displays of aggression personally. Besides, he was a man fighting for something bigger then they could ever understand.
Noah paused in the doorway to the basement. "I wasnt sure..." shrugging a bit, but ultimately not caring enough to struggle to find the right words. So instead descended downstairs. With a flick the lights were on, allowing Noah to premiere....a basic labtop. "Go ahead" motioning for either or to examine its contents. "Whoever wants this prick dead, really wants him dead. Sent all sorts of stuff to my labtop. Didnt know if I'd been made or what but it seems to check out."
The screen continued to display portions of a fight between a man appearing to be the Hawkshade and a panther masked warrior. Data had been filtered into graphs and charts. Hit ratios, PSI, tendencies, plain visual observations..."So...you think this might help your in plan? Either way I'm in. But we gotta move on this."
|1 New Message: WTH U WAITIN 4?|
"People of Grimm. The is Hawkshade"
@noah_noble: Okay, I just had to have a follow-up! Besides I'm waiting on some answers from Closure before I can start my Grimm Beginning response. We can fade out here if you like, though, and I can just pick up with his message when I get to my next in that.
"Actually, you still could be," Franklin interjected. "Made, I mean." He took another deep breath and held, and his next exhale was a series of violent, smoky coughs. He coughed for nearly a minute straight, and took more than a half minute more to regain his breath after.
He continued in his deadpan voice. "Tor browsing is mostly private but whoever controls the exit nodes is also in control of the traffic. Unless you knew how to cover yourself which I'm guessing you don't, it'd be easy for an experienced hacker or technopath to get access to your data and trace it back to you. Which, I'm guessing," he looked around at the room and then Noah up and down with a halfway animated smirk, "isn't that hard."
Valentina, for her part, stood in awed silence, eyes glued to the footage and figures. Limited, but way better than nothing. And the data...more than she'd ever expected. This was great! She had time. She could do some canvassing on her own whether Noah was down or not.
She looked at him, still wearing the apparent shock. "You were sitting on something like this, and you still wanted to rush in all guns amazing?"
"Ablazing," Franklin interjected once again. "She means guns abl—" But he burst out laughing before he could finish. He did, after several seconds of hysterics. "Blazing!" He was still laughing.
Valentina rolled her eyes. "Anyways, if you're dead set on your...plan"—she struggled to call it that—"we maybe can work in some elements. With some prep, I could cover you from afar, and Franklin—"
"No," he cut her off. She turned to look at him, incredulous. "Going to the partner's meet-up is one thing, but for an active vigilante conflict with a billionaire involved who can make my life Hell, this is below my pay grade." He shrugged, his expressionless vapid, contact-avoidant eyes fixed on the floor. "It's just ten thousand." He shrugged again.
It was understandable, even from her perspective, but Valentina didn't care. She wanted to consider it a betrayal, for spite. Her nostrils flared. "Then unless you need anything else," eyes briefly on Noble then back to Franklin, "everything else is on a need-to-know basis. I'll be needing my other gun and my knives back. I'm sure you remember the way out."
Noah side eye'd Franklin. "Made. As in the cops. I already know who sent this. Same a$$hole who wants Hawkshade dead. The same a$$hole who somehow has first person footage of a fight with the fool. This panther prick. I've heard rumblings too. Recent shit. Hardcore African militant shit. He murdered a family in Gothic, not the dump either the highend area. Big money. Stole some kid....technopath I hear. Thats what this is." nonchalantly nodding towards the small screen of streamed data.
He turned off for a moment. Just sorta, mentally checked out as the precision based duo continued discussing...things. He didnt know. Didnt really care. One could easily envision a scene, a home setting; diner time. Wife is talking, heatedly too. Noah seated at the table is looking at her, maintaining eye-contact, but he isnt listening. He's hearing, able to zero in on verbal alterations, but aint shit being retained. Selfish prick.
"If baby Satar wants to ride the pine so be it. Better that way." Yet the stern rejection was anything but. Pulling Franklin's sleeve, holding him back for a minute. "Look, if things go south" cocking his head and arching his brow, intercepting any preconceived notions Franklin may have of verbally cutting him off, "I want you to get this to my daughter."putting a flashdrive wrapped in a piece of paper with an address on it, in the confused teen's hand.
What more did he despise than the mechanical hum of a machine? Than the soulless glow of a computer screen caught by the face whoever clicked it's mouse and typed on it's keyboard? He didn't know. And he didn't care to know. But there were sacrifices to be made and mysteries to unravel. He'd heard the whispers. Of an assassination market, secret and underground, found only in the blackest pits of the dark web. Who ran it? He didn't know. But he would. He'd try. They were profiting off the blood of those they had no right to spill. And he couldn't find them, didn't know their names, and couldn't peel the faces from their skulls, pluck the eyes from their sockets. But he'd try.
So he sat at a desk, somewhere, it didn't matter. He typed in his information.
The rest didn't matter. He typed in a fake client name and sent out the hit list. If the Horned Saint couldn't stalk the shadows to know those behind the assassination market, he'd do his best to bring them to him. And as he pulled the horned cowl over his head and took to Gothic's dreary streets, he'd wait for them. For a woman he'd already met but could never know was the one he sought. But would they come? Would they hunt him down as he hoped? He'd see. It wouldn't matter. He'd know. He was prepared for the Strigidae. This would be easy. Or so he hoped.
Was it the smartest move? Probably not. Did the thought cross her mind? Probably, somewhere in the recesses of her subconscious. But, she'd just hit the biggest score from a single job that she'd ever seen in her life, and a side job in London, so it made more sense to keep the ball rolling. Was it foolishness due to youth? Or had Noah's hotshot tendencies rubbed off on an already unstably impressionable brain? Perfectly rationalized in her mind, the young upstart assassin didn't give any real consideration to the recklessness of her actions, save for one.
There will be others. Have to beat them to the punch.
And beat them she would. But Valentina wasn't a fighter. She was a viper. She struck in the same instant as opportunity - no sooner, no later. To find that opportunity, she had to plan. Setting her sights, analyzing the fabricated patterns, she tracked him for nearly a week, til she could catch him in the perfect spot. Just like that, The Devil of Black House would be hers. And if it all went as planned, he'd never even know it.
Roughly a thousand yards away and standing several hundred feet high, the plaza made the perfect spot for her operation. At night there was less foot traffic (less chance of being spotted in the act), but enough to reasonably cover her if something unforeseen came up. Badge access only. A cheap and cheerful DIY and a felt hat for camera surveillance, and the human guard was simple enough to get past. They always were. Especially the night shift.
She didn't know the first thing about a "host migration" but the words worked like magic and within seconds Valentina gained access to the entire building, without even calling into question the large "toolbox" she carried.
Top floor. East-facing window. Unloading the TAC-338, she lined up her position and waited...and waited...and waited...
And she waited. Until,
Valentina silenced the alarm and checked the drone's feed. There was no mistaking him. Grimmwald. It was a small adjustment to line up her shot on his head, and...
Shit—Wait a minute. That shot...Valentina groaned. It came from nearby, inside the building. But she hadn't fired. That only meant one thing.
She checked her scope to see if the vigilante had been struck, if he'd been killed. And if not, then she'd take her shot the instant it presented itself.
Then she was on the move. She couldn't stay stationary. No matter who killed this Grimmwald, she'd be fighting anyone else over credit for the kill.
As she exited the office she heard several more reports in the surrounding area. At least three more shots and as many snipers.
Going to be a long night.
The wind whistled, flapping and rustling the clothes hanging from clotheslines as it raced through the night. And there on a rooftop edge, Kellan swept his eyes through Gothic's streets. Arms folded over his chest, and a vibranium sword clinging to his belt while pale fingers of the overhead moonlight stroked his face - he waited. Bullets were loud. They buzzed through the air like angry hornets. And though his ears had caught the loud BANG of a gunshot, his skin - his hyper-sensitive dermis - had already warned him. The vibrations of a finger squeezing the trigger had rippled through his skin seconds ago. He'd already moved, sinking into the black heart of a shadow with the white of his grin and the red of his eyes the final sight as the bullet tore through the air he once breathed.
He was gone. But not truly. Still there, just unseen. He lurked in the shadows as the Strigidae did. Walked among them till he'd found the hitmen who sought him. Kellan was fast. He crushed the larynx of one so his screams would go unheard as his face was peeled from the skull. Plucked out the eyes of another and snapped their knees till the sickening crunch of bone hung thick in the air. And severed the hands and feet of the last. None were killed, but all were maimed. All but one. All but the best. But her. The redhead from Black House. The glass from a window shattered, and it's shards clinked on the ground as the Horned Saint swept in to lock eyes with her. The blood of his prey dripped from his fingers and left small puddles of red on the shards and floor. "You", he simply said, voice flowing deep and cool, head tilting an inch to the side as he held her gaze.
She was a hunter. A killer. The best. So she returned his word with a gunshot. BLAM! He'd moved but the bullet grazed his cheek, chipping away at his flesh till blood leaked out. But he was gone, disappeared to one of the shadows in the office building as he lurked. "Guess this means you didn't miss me", he quipped, his voice echoing from somewhere closer to the end of the hallway. "So you're an assassin", he rasped. He'd been one too. A Strigidae. But he'd changed. Maybe she could too. "Why?".
Valentina had hardly stepped into the hall when the shattering glass announced his arrival. Shit, from over a thousand yards, to find her that quickly? Too fast and too precise. Feck. Some type of meta. Detection, translocation and stealth. Highly trained too.
It'd be hard to compete with but she could do this dance with the best of them, she was sure. Good thing, she supposed, that he seemed more interested in talking for now. A bit pretentious, bordering self-righteous, but she could work it. Just roll with it to buy time. The others'd show up and she could move when the chaos began.
Clever quip that masks my fear. "Oh, you know," she drawled out into the aether, sauntering in the opposite direction of the voice. "Reasons. The money isn't bad. Jobs variable, never get bored. Travel the world, go to exotic places. Meet new, exciting people…kill them...It's a living." She shrugged.
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