PITTSBURGH OUTSKIRTS - INDUSTRIAL PKWY
THE DEAD OF NIGHT
The adder awaits its fangs.
"So. What if the prick doesn't show?"
"He'll show. From what I've 'eard-- reputable. Good stock, too."
Mr. Blue gave a soft chuckle, shrugging his shoulders. "Easy to fake reputation these days, mick. Maybe that's how you got hired on. Heh." The reply did not seem to be well received by his orange compatriot, whose faceless mask seemed to exude a very clear frustration as he looked to the Italian.
"And what d'you have to show, then? Keep droppin' these fuckin' names like we're supposed to know 'em, but nobody's pulling favors for you. Can't for the life of me hear about any credit thrown your way. What, d'jyou watch a few episodes of The Sopranos, gobble that shite up, move to Pittsburgh to try an'--"
"If he does not show, then we will move on."
The voice of Prometheus cut through his subordinates' banter like garrote, putting the argument to rest before it could go any further. Mr. Green was as quiet as ever, hands clasped together and slightly wringing as he sat atop one of the remnants of the old steel barrels that littered the scrapyard. The place used to be a steel mill; the building had been demolished, some time ago, and was now an empty lot where wretches went to shoot up H and choke to death on their own spit. Urban decay at its finest. Whatever disease that'd hollowed out the insides of the rust belt and made offal of their industries had finally come knocking upon Pittsburgh. The situation with metahumans had hardly helped things.
But it would be saved, in due time.
"Pink. Anything out of the ordinary?"
As the only marksman with official training-- and a damned good one, at that-- Mr. Pink had been supplied with a Remington Model 700P bolt-action rifle and posted upon a nearby rooftop to provide overwatch. The other three gunmen were outfitted with pistols; Prometheus himself came with his sidearm and shotgun tucked beneath his coat. None of them had been provided with the gift-- not yet. There was still loyalty to prove, judgements to be made. That, and the adrenaline rush of receiving superhuman abilities would provide tactically unwise for an arms deal, despite the advantage it gave Prometheus. This whole plan-- all of it, every facet-- was a delicate balancing act.
But Obsidian would show. He would not be able to resist any more than a shark could resist blood in brine. That, Prometheus felt, was the most important facet of all. Playing to the nature of man. Playing to greed; playing to fear. Playing to terror, and playing to opportunity.
"Then we wait." Prometheus stated, still standing a few feet in front of the black Escalade they'd all driven to the meet. Mr. Blue leaned against the rear driver-side door, the vehicle still running in the event of conflict; Mr. Orange sat upon the hood, pistol in hand. Each of them were masked, and each of them took their proper place upon the stage.
Obsidian had chosen to bring Lapis, Rhody, and Sulphur with him. Hematite was too friendly and had a hard time keeping a neutral face. At least Rhody could maintain a neutral smile, and not immediately try to introduce herself and make friends with their current pending associates. So Obsidian had left Hematite back at the Diamond, where he would get the bar ready to go. It was a hard choice, given the man’s ability to turn himself and anything he touched to steel. That would have been vital for Obsidian’s protection should the meeting turn to gunfire.
For some reason, though, Obsidian was feeling confident as they drove the Range Rover to the meeting location. Of course, he didn’t let that confidence overrun common sense. All four of them were outfitted with their 9 millimeters and Rhody was sporting the 12-gauge Mossberg beneath her coat. Sulphur had brought his brass knuckles should he have to use his paralytic gas, given it would have paralyzed Obsidian and the pack as well. Obsidian couldn’t argue with his preference for a more… hands-on approach.
There would surely be a sniper, however, so that plan would be a last-ditch attempt, most likely used as a way to escape and not as a way to fight. No point in picking a fight when they’d likely be picked off from a distance. Besides, Obsidian wanted this to work out. Prometheus seemed like a strong potential ally. A meta with such gifts would hopefully align with his vision, and if not, well. The more chaos he could help to create, the better.
“I see them. Four men in total. I’ve noted several potential buildings that a sniper could be positioned on. Unfortunately, I don’t think we could position properly to block all possible areas with line of sight.”
“We’ll just have to keep this from becoming an all-out gunfight, then. Lapis, that’s directed at you, lovely.”
The smallest of the group sighed and nodded her head. She was playing with her switchblade, but at his words, she collapsed it and buried it in her pocket. “Understood, Boss. I will do my best to restrain myself.”
The car slowed down and Sulphur parked. Obsidian could see the men through the tinted window, and as he unbuckled, he allowed his shadows to consume his face, hiding it from view with a smoky haze. “You know the mission, and the plan should this turn sour. Be on guard, no matter how well it appears to be going. I don’t want any surprises”
With that, they began to file out of the SUV, all of his pack members leaving first. Then, smooth as silk, Obsidian slid out of the back seat. He adjusted his wool duster, pulling it snug over his black suit. Only then did he step forward, searching the faces of the men. He took in their body language, the way each of them stood, and then picked out the one that they seemed positioned to defend the most.
After an indeterminate period of waiting-- punctuated, of course, with updates from Mr. Pink-- the sound of tires upon gravel and rock-crusted pavement broke the soft industrial silence that blanketed the old mill. Sure enough, an SUV came into view; not long after, it rolled to a stop and a posse of individuals stepped free, led by a man with a smoke-masked visage.
It was difficult not to observe the hierarchy in place amongst Prometheus' group. While his men all donned the same outfit-- a black two-piece, with accented colors to denote their monikers and a ballistic mask to cover the face-- he himself donned a black trenchcoat and what appeared to be a skimask, with a chrome mask of a mannequin that ended at the top lip. One might, if they were the discerning type, be able to catch the faintest glimpse of grey-blue eyes beneath the excessive shadow cast by the mask; the most obvious separation of identity, however, was the light.
It was a glimmer that seemed to come from within the open chest of the trenchcoat, contrasting the endless darkness that lay within. It was dark-- so dark, in fact, that it almost seemed like a trick of the mind, as if the crimson glow from Prometheus' chest was the scattered cast from darkness miles deep. As if someone were to fall in if they collided with him. The glow ebbed and flowed-- virulent anathema to the world around it-- yet stilled itself as Obsidian called his name.
"Obsidian." He spoke, the voice distorted-- tone lowered, frequency garbled. Intelligible, but thoroughly masked. There was a pause of consideration as his head gave the slightest of tilts-- examining the gallery of figures behind their benefactor, perhaps. The moment passed, and he spoke again.
"Your reputation precedes you." A word of ingratiation, and nothing more. "I'd like to discern whether or not it's earned." Each word was measured, each bit of negotiation accounted for. His hands were clasped together over the chest, framing the glow of his sternum-- a show that he was unarmed, but not toothless.
"I have need of your stock, and I'll pay well for it. Do you have availability to supply four men? Low profile. I know what I want."
Obsidian nodded, the movement of the shadows the only indicator he had done so. His smile flashed beneath the haze, the white of his teeth just barely visible, especially in the darkness of night. “I like a man who knows what he wants. I can outfit your men. Tell me what you have in mind, and I’ll tell you if I have it on hand, or if I’ll have to have it… imported.”
He raised a hand as he spoke, gesturing with it lightly, but precisely. It appeared to be a habit, not anything with any particular meaning beyond the fact that he spoke with his hands. His pack didn’t watch his hands, though they did move. They fell into positions as though they were used to this kind of situation.
Sulphur moved to the left, Lapis to the right, and Rhody moved right up next to Obsidian himself. Sulphur kept his body relaxed, his hands tucked into the pockets of his black peacoat. He was calm, collected, and as still and neat as the clothes he wore. Meanwhile, Lapis moved. She bounced on her heels, she tipped her head side to side, and her lips moved as though she were singing silently to herself. Rhody, unlike the other two, positioned herself just slightly in front of Obsidian. She didn’t block him from view, or guard him with her body, but she did position herself at the front.
Obsidian didn’t react to the movements of his pack. He tucked the hand he’d been speaking with back in his pocket and subtly checked their positioning. They had fallen into place just like usual. Sulphur was upwind from everyone else, meaning if he needed to unleash his paralyzing agent, it would blow straight into everyone. Rhody was positioned the step in front of Obsidian, ready to tank the bullets should someone open fire. Lapis was positioned on the side that there appeared to be the least resistance from, ready to move in and incapacitate people.
With what seemed to be a gesture-- or, perhaps, simply practiced coordination-- the subordinates around Obsidian fell into place around him. Cute. Seemed as if the crew was tight, well-practiced; he'd remember that. Prometheus, by contrast, stood a few feet forward from his men; the two that were present still remained by the car. Mr. Orange kept his hand on his thigh, settled upon his pistol; Mr. Blue kept himself against the SUV, though his posture stiffened somewhat as the gunrunners moved. Mr. Green, of course, shifted at the movement and looked to his boss, who was otherwise unbothered by the change in positioning.
And, of course, there was him.
"Shot's blocked, now. Changing my angle." Came a whisper in Prometheus' ear. The masked benefactor seemed not to mind, and kept his arms by his side a moment longer before lifting one hand and making a show of dipping it into his jacket, pulling out a small notepad with a slow and deliberate pace. The words were neatly-written, practiced, and wholly recorded in red ink.
"Four rifle pistols-- AR-15 platform preferred. Under 10 inches for the barrel lengths. Something easily concealable; buffer tubes, too, over a butt stock. If you can help it. Largest magazine size you can find for the platform, though keep it at 30. That, and I'll need enough .300 AAC blackout to supply a small militia. Let's start with 500 rounds." The shopping list had been double-checked against his... sources. "It's my understanding that you could acquire this for me. Yes? Give me a figure." The notepad slapped shut, and he slipped it back into his jacket. "Let's negotiate. Money is no object, but I know what I'm paying for."
Obsidian listened to the list get rattled off. He wouldn’t need to write it down. He remembered short lists like this easily enough. After all, he had been doing this for the last seven years. He nodded thoughtfully and did the quick math in his head. Roughly one thousand for the rounds, and about two thousand and a hundred for each gun, modified to the specs that Prometheus wanted. And then, of course, his fees, and the fees for his people, and the fees to keep his suppliers quiet.
“None of that will be a problem. Fifteen thousand and four hundred for the lot. However, I can offer you those bullets in armor-piercing for slightly more if you’re interested. Sounds like you’ve got some big plans.”
Obsidian knew his price was reasonable, all things considered. He could have charged the man far more than he was going to. But fair prices and quality materials were what he was known for, and he’d be damned if he changed that now.
Behind him, Sulphur was checking the buildings. The other two stayed focused on the men in front of them, all masked, but Sulphur’s eyes were darting across the rooftops, looking for any sign of movement, any glint of metal in the moonlight. So far, he hadn’t spotted anything out of the ordinary. He shook his head, which Obsidian caught from the corner of his eye. No sniper yet.
"I'll give your fifteen grand flat for the entire ensemble," Prometheus replied, moving a hand into his jacket-- slowly, again, and telegraphed-- to pull out a small slip of paper, barely the size of his palm while folded in half. As he withdrew the note, Mr. Blue opened the back door of the SUV and pulled out a small briefcase, walking up beside Prometheus and gently setting it beside his right boot. Tension lingered in the air for a moment as the slip of paper remained between his fingers-- another moment, and he lowered his hand, leaning down to slip the paper beneath the middle of the briefcase's handle.
"You'll find five thousand in there. The slip of paper's an address for the dead drop; have one of your men leave the equipment you need in the black unmarked van that'll be parked in the lot. Back doors will be unlocked at the time listed. Someone will be watching to confirm the drop-off." He stated, crossing his arms. "The rest of the money will be in the back of the van when you drop off the guns. Feel free to count it, and feel free to take off with the merchandise if a single penny's missing." He turned to move back to the SUV, though looked over his shoulder as he walked back to the vehicle. "There won't be."
Unless there was more to be asked-- and unless he was stopped, or physically prevented from leaving-- Prometheus stepped into the back of the SUV, closing the door shut behind him as the rest of his crew filtered in. Each of them watched Obsidian's crew like hawks, as they'd been instructed to; only when everyone was in the vehicle did the tension seem to fade, a bit, as Prometheus rolled down his window.
"Pleasure doing business."
And then the car was gone, pulling out of the lot to drive around to the back of the foundry building that Mr. Pink was already disembarking from; they'd pick him up in a side alley, and then take their leave.
Prometheus would be true to his word; whether Obsidian would be was entirely up to fate.