Closed RP A Simple Case of Bullying

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UmbraSight

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With a little imagination one could easily envision the office space this building was destined to become. Little siderooms lined the space, someday host to their fair share of bullshit meetings, and the heart of the building was empty which offered plenty of room for cubicles for wage slaves to waste away all their spare time making someone else plenty of money. That’s what Wren liked about these places, they were hostile by design. The cavernous maw of the floor offered no cover without its cubicals, other than a few barren pillars, and even that was only cold comfort when eyes could peek from any dark office.

The room was sparcely furnished, a round collapsible table sat in the middle along with three chairs. A pair of folders sat on the table, along with bottles of water — Wren was an excellent host — and Wren sat reclining on the chair opposite the door to the office space. He rested his shoes on the table top as he balanced his chair in its back legs. A lot of production for a pair of thugs? Hardly, it wasn’t like it was hard to break a lock, and if these two were worth the trouble then he’d be heading back to California before long, which was well worth the effort in his mind.

And now all that was left to do was wait for them to show up.
 

Running a mercenary business wasn’t easy. Not only did Mari have to deal with the logistics of cleaning their money so she and Spork wouldn’t go to jail for tax evasion, but there was also fielding clients and putting their names in for various jobs. Most contracts went to the lowest bidder, and there had been more than one occasion where Spork had been able to hear Mari curse up a storm that meant she had lost a bid to someone who was willing to get their hands dirty for much much less than she wanted.

The contracts where clients reached out to Nine Tails Inc were much better to work with, as she could negotiate directly with the client. No surprises, they got what their services were worth, and their reputation grew. Were they the cheapest? Of course not, there were people who claimed to take on hits for figures in the double digits. But they got results. So when Mari received an encrypted email for another job, she was immediately interested.

This job was different than most of the others they’d gotten. Normally people had all their information sent in an email, they wanted to be as detached as possible from the thugs they hired. There were a few that wanted to meet their independent contractors, and for those Mari usually went alone as a sole representative of Nine Tails, Inc. However, this one specified that all personnel involved with the contract come to the meeting. It meant bringing Spork along, which would usually be a bad idea. But they needed to stretch their legs anyways, and if this did end up being a trap then they could punch a cop, which would be sure to make their day.

Mari followed her standard procedure for meetings in locations where they could be ambushed. They took public transportation until they were a couple blocks away from the destination and walked the rest of the way. Mari kept an eye out for any possible tails. This could absolutely be a trap, but as long as she was prepared for it to be a trap she wouldn’t have to worry. One quick costume change and Kitsune stepped into the half-finished office building, streaks of dirty light coming through the windows. She knew Shiba was behind her as she moved to the agreed-upon location, eyes scanning for any hidden muzzles or cameras tucked into the siderooms.

The only thing that caught her attention was the round, collapsible table in the middle of the space, three chairs surrounding it, complete with — was that water? And their apparent host filled one of the seats, a couple folders in front of him. Kitsune took a seat, gesturing for her partner to do the same.

“Charming place.” The rough, metallic filter was replaced with a smoother one that still shifted her voice beyond what it would normally sound like. She had multiple settings, but those were the two most often used, which Spork referred to as “business mode and business mode”. Mari had long since stopped arguing with them about that one.

“I’m Kitsune, that’s Shiba,” She gestured towards her partner. “What can we do for you?” She desperately wanted those folders, to know what they contained, but it was best to let the client take the reins. Or at least believe they had them.
 
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The building is echoey. That’s the first thing Spork notices when they step inside. They hate echoey, it makes following sounds so much harder when they’re bouncing all over the place. Not to mention their own clinking and clanking being a little less conveniently ignorable.

Unfortunately, clients like the kind they get seem to have a thing for abandoned buildings, construction sites, warehouses, and every other cliche comic-book-villain hideout. Just once they wish they’d get invited to a floating island or an arctic cave or something.

Miku’s beeping pulls them from their thoughts. C-03, 12 o’clock, 3 feet away.

Spork stays standing for a moment even as they hear the rustle of Mari sitting down. They keep their face turned towards the client, leaning in just an inch and tilting their head as though sizing him up. It’s all for show, but he’ll never know that.

One hand grabs the back of the other chair and they turn it a smooth 180 degrees before plopping down. They prop their arm atop the back of it, silently daring him to call them on it.

Maybe it isn’t good business to antagonize the client right away, but it’s certainly good entertainment. Mari’s doing her business whatever whatever spiel, and they keep half an ear out. A quarter of an ear. A tenth. They hear the words, at least.

They raise a hand partway when their name is called but maintain their silence. Most of the intimidation is in the silence. Most people think they’re scary until they open their mouth, so they’ve been told. Okay no one says that but they think it should be true regardless.

 
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I’m sure whoever holds the lease thinks so, at least.” Wren said, with a note of amusement playing in his voice. He always enjoyed the professional types, and there were types of them. If first impressions were of any use, the one who took their seat, Kitsune was the nines type, and the one who was trying to stare him down, Shiba would be the sort who enjoyed the job. An interesting combination. Wren didn’t move to meet Shiba’s ’gaze’, it wasn’t like they needed him to anyway. He could feel that absence in the buzz in the air, though they had plenty of other bits of electricity on their person didn’t they?

Fascinating, he knew a killer like that back in Memphis. Didn’t end well, but how often did it?

Wren flipped open the top folder and thumbed through a collection of papers. Tight blocks of text surrounded cramped black and white images.

You two come well recommended;” if the comment was general or referring to one of the papers he passed, his easy smile was no giveaway, nor the papers themselves with how quickly he flipped through them. Though maybe Kitsune had a talent for speed reading small text upside down, he’d known stranger folks than that. Wren came to a stop, not on another piece of paper but a photo of a thin girl in the uniform of some fancy school or another. He flicked the photo across the table.

This little songbird is Eliana Rook, a runaway who recently arrived in your fair city. She has made someone rather unhappy with her, and that someone is looking to remind her that she shouldn’t stray so far from home.” Wren said, flipping the folder closed. “Easy enough, for a pair with your skills I’d think.
 

Shiba was doing one of the things they were paid to do, which was to act intimidating. To be fair, Spork had a lot of practice with that. No one ever believed the 5 foot 7 blind kid could be threatening, but then they saw the broad shoulders and the manic grin and their attitude changed pretty quickly. The ease with which they swiveled around the chair to straddle it belied their vision, the facade held up under the mask. Not that their clients would know. They tended to prefer their muscle with eyesight, narrow-minded as they were.

Their mysterious benefactor piped up, referencing some apparent recommendations while flipping through some files. Kitsune glanced down, but while she could read fast and read upside down, she was not yet at the point of doing both at the same time. This frustrated her and was added to the list of skills she needed to practice. She got some real information as a photo was pulled, and Kitsune was grateful that Miku was not programmed for visual scanning. Shiba would have walked away instantly, or tried beating the shit out of the guy.

The girl in the picture looked young, whether that was due to age or undernourishment she wasn't sure. It immediately set a feeling in her gut, and her eyes flicked over to Shiba, watching their body language. Spork had rules against doing anything to kids, and that bled into their role as Shiba too much for comfort. Mari didn't take any special pleasure in dealing with children, but if the allure of the puzzle was great enough, or the payment was, Kitsune would take the job. Not every assignment required two people.

"Any preliminary information?" Kitsune growled. Sometimes clients were stingy with the information, which made it difficult to assess the situation. She'd had more than one job where vital information had been withheld under after a contract had been signed, or simply left out of the job altogether. Shiba had gotten hurt on one of those jobs. Mari made sure to return the favor.

"Age, location, and potential abilities would be a good place to start." With the popularity of metas, that was something else Kitsune'd had to add to the dialogue. "Also, in case your references didn't mention it. We only do catch and release. No delivery." Delivery complicated matters, secondary locations were a bitch to manage. Better to steer clear of the headache it caused.
 
Good, catch and release is what we’re looking for. The girl just needs a good scare.” His smile etched itself across his lips, tight and sharp. Boundaries were good, hired guns who were willing to do anything were guns who couldn’t do half of what you hired them to do, and turned themselves into the sort of problems that one had to deal with. Though, it seemed these two wouldn’t be that sort, or at least they put the effort in to seem like they weren’t. Wren rested an elbow on the table as he leaned in.

As for the rest, Miss Rook is fifteen or sixteen, I believe, never was one for keeping track. Has an apartment on the east side, and found a job around there too. And she’s surprisingly normal.” His smile leaked into his voice at the end of the sentence. “She shouldn’t cause you too much trouble really, though she can be trouble with a knife. Still, we aren’t looking for any permanent damage, just to give her a good scare.

He watched the two, the little movements, the small glance from one to the other. On the blind one, Shiba, to really decide if they’d take the job or not, perhaps? Dynamics, dynamics.

I’ll leave you with the address once we finish here.” Wren said, with a tap of his knuckle on the envelope.
 

Behind their mask, Spork frowns. They don’t like the way this guy talks, like there’s a hilarious secret only he is privy to. It’s possible that all their clients talk like that, but Spork usually doesn’t have to listen to it.

Phrases ping in their mind, and they file each away. Runaway. Girl. He’s talking about a kid like she’s a dog that got out of the yard. They maintain their position almost too smoothly, statuesque even as their frown deepens. Doesn’t Mari screen these jobs?

“Do you make a habit of hiring mercenaries to do the job of schoolyard bullies?” Their voice comes out low and slightly crackly, with that fireplace quality that they love, but even that doesn’t lift their spirits.

It isn’t like they’re hurting for money. Why did Mari agree to this? They refrain from shutting the whole deal down only because they know she must have a good reason, but if they don’t hear it in the next few moments they make no promises.

She’s a teen. She should be studying her SAT words or whatever normal kids do, and this guy wants them to, what, write creepy lipstick messages on her bathroom mirror? Something smells fishy here.

 

Kitsune’s eyes narrow under the mask. She’d done plenty of jobs before, intimidation was a specialty of theirs, especially when Shiba was on the job. But something didn’t sit quite right with her. The slip-up with ‘I’ gave it away, the client was much more attached to this Eliana Rook than he was letting on. A cold feeling prickled the back of her neck. A runaway who made the client unhappy, and he now wanted to intimidate her. Presumably into running right back to him. There was too much emotion in this job, despite the cold voice of their client. Too many flags, not enough puzzle pieces.

“Unfortunately, we will not be taking the job.” Kitsune growled unapologetically. Her chair scraped along the floor as she stood, a signal for Shiba to do the same.

“There are myriad services available for your request, and intimidating an unexceptional teenage girl is beneath the standards we hold ourselves to.” She couldn’t quite shake the nagging feeling that he wasn’t telling them everything.

“Unless you’re withholding some information as leverage, I believe our business is concluded.”
 
While calling her normal might be fair, I don’t know if I’d call the girl unexceptional.” The amusement lingered in his voice even as the two stood to leave. Wren leaned back in his chair, with a tilt of his head to meet Kitsune’s masked gaze. “But, it seems we’ve had a touch of miscommunication. She isn’t normal that’s her metahuman ability, she makes other metahumans normal if they get close to her. And, the girl has taken quite a lot of money from the sort of people you shouldn’t take money from.” He turned serious at that, his voice did at least.

I came looking for you two because you didn’t seem like the types who want to kill a kid, which is something those I’m representing don’t care much about, if you follow my meaning.” Wren said. “Personally think a good scare is more than enough, but.” He shrugged.

If you wish to go, the door’s open. Oh, and thinking of, if you are, do you have anyone you’d recommend for this little job instead? As a professional courtesy.
 

As though sensing their reservations, Mari royally shuts the guy down. Spork grins widely, standing when she does with just a little too much bounce in their step. Serves him right.

Their grin falls soon after. They aren’t dumb; they can pick up on what he’s implying. If Nine Tails Inc. doesn’t take this job, some other merc will, and they’ll probably kill the kid too.

Almost as soon as he’s finished speaking, Spork’s hands slam down on the table, hard enough to rustle the papers. Their shoulders are tense, but they make no move after that except to speak in a very low voice. “I’m not too keen on roughing up a kid. And I’m not sure I like the idea of running around on orders from those people you represent, if you follow my meaning. Why don’t you just let her go?”

Mari says they don’t take pro-bono work, but Spork has no problems chasing down some bastards who deserve it. They’ll start with this guy if they have to, but they’re hoping to intimidate him out of it first.

 

Shiba slammed down on the desk, their anger palpable. They’re yanking on the leash, almost begging for a chance to launch themselves over the table and reduce this man to a bloody pulp. But Kitsune wouldn’t let them. Clients who had no qualms murdering a teenage girl over an unknown sum of money also tended to be the types who would send their own hitmen after someone who shot the messenger. And neither of them needed that kind of heat.

The girl’s power was also interesting. Not really an issue, seeing as Shiba was merely human. Mari herself may have been a meta, but unless Eliana decided to be a lot more trouble than was let on. A bridge to cross later, and there was perhaps a chance her power would kick in once she had moved a sufficient distance away. At any rate, Kitsune placed a hand firmly on Shiba’s shoulder, grip tightening.

“How good of a scare? And what’s the timeline? I assume the details will be in the packet, but I’d like a little more information up front.” The sooner they could have this done, the better.
 
Wren didn’t flinch as Shiba brought their fist down, hard, on the table, though his stack of paper didn’t have the same composure. He lifted his hands in a half-shrug, as if asking what exactly they wanted him to do about it. Call it off? What possible fun could there be in that?

And what message would that send? This life is all positioning and if word gets around a kid walks off with a shoulder bag full of money well what will our partners think?” He picked the papers up as he spoke, aligning them back into a crisp stack. Wren turned his impassive smile to Kitsune as she spoke.

See? I knew we could see eye to eye on this.” Wren said, with all the energy of someone pleased that another had agreed with them in a piece of trivia. “Nothing broken, nothing permanent. Within the next week or two should suffice. Scare her enough she leaves town and there’ll be a bonus for you. Clear enough?
 
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