|What: A simple milk run for Gambit turns into something far more complex. And far, far more dangerous.|
This creaky, dilapidated building probably wouldn't be inhabited if it weren't situated in Old Gotham. Here, though, dilapidated is the norm. Even so, this tenament goes above and beyond the call of duty. Once called 'The Penfist,' some clever soul has unscrewed brass letters from the nameplate until 'The Pen is' is all that remains.
Upstairs, a door to one of the few inhabited apartments bursts open from the inside, actually flying off the hinges as a scruffy, weasel-faced man is tossed through it. He has tape across his mouth and his hands have been cuffed behind his back. Despite the rough treatment, he immediately staggers to his feet and makes a run for the the stairs.
"Not so fast, me," Gambit says as he steps through the busted doorframe. He digs in his pocket, roots around for a bit, and comes out with a steel ball bearing pinched between his finger and thumb. One eye squints halfway shut as he lines up his sights, then flicks the ball. It leaves his hand at incredible speeds and hits his target squarely in the back of the head.
The sound of the impact, then a heavier thumping as the unconcious man hits the floor. "Now I have to carry your heavy ass down de stairs," Gambit mutters. "Merde."
Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes it's downright crazy how little people can rise up to be so big of a nuisance that the people with the money and the means want such nuisances removed from the picture once and for all.
It's been a long and dreadfully boring drive across the country, from one coast right over to the other. Domino's tired, cranky, and unsettled. She's had time to meet one of the Metropolis locals and have some pie but it only did so much to boost her mood and recharge her energy. Already it's back to business, finally reaching Gotham City with just enough time to get herself into place. As luck would have it, she doesn't have to wait for long. Someone else has found her mark first, but the beauty of it is that this other guy is going for a live catch. Where Dom's crouched, that's not in the cards.
Illuminated crosshairs follow the unconscious man as he falls down the stairs, quickly adjusting onto the man yet standing. Who is this guy..? Might be worth pursuing if she can get a positive ID on him later. For now, she's on the job. The situation couldn't get much better than this, it's a stationary target. The single shot Thompson pistol gets cradled in the crook of her elbow, re-aligning the sights to the top of the man's head. "Goodnight, kiddo."
There's a pronounced snap as a .308 slug passes through a suppressor, through an empty warehouse, out across an alley, punching through a pane of filthy glass, zipping between a pile of paintcans set atop a saw horse, then finally hitting its mark through the top of the unconscious man's head. It's there and gone in an instant, its message delivered without question.
"Game point, crowd goes wild."
The shattering of glass. The wet, hollow sound of a high-caliber round punching through a man's skull. A fresh coat of paint on the wall. All good reasons for Gambit to hit the deck. "Merde," he mumbles again.
This is not an advantageous situation for him. He works best at close range. He's ill-equipped for handling an enemy at a distance. Especially one he can't see. He scuttles along the floor until he can peek around the corner of a wall and down the stairwell. Dead guy. Very dead guy. "Gross," he whispers, quickly jerking his head back. Time to think fast.
Two points left to contend with. Domino's got a possible witness (not likely, but why leave it to chance?) Also, the contract specified getting photo confirmation of the kill. That's not something which she can do at this range. Fortunately, she's not expecting anyone to want to move a dead guy around unless they're a coroner.
With a flick of the wrist the barrel breaks open and the spent shell leaps into her palm, already hurrying out of the warehouse while a new round is pulled from the fore-end, dropped into the chamber, and the action snaps home with another jerk of her arm. It's better than moving a rifle around within a city but not so good for multiple targets. Can't win 'em all.
From the stairwell there's no sign of the shooter. Instead, there's the distant sound of a rusted set of door hinges being worked, followed by the sound of heavy boots against gravel and pavement. Why bother masking the sound of her approach? If you tried to run away from her she could always pick you off out in the street.
Out across the alley, up to the first door she comes across. Locked? Surprisingly, not. Someone must have gotten careless. She'll be there soon, but you can tell as much. You can follow her by the sounds.
The stomping of feet and slamming of doors are music to Gambit's ears. That means that he's no longer being covered by a sniper from God-knows-where. Assuming the sniper is working alone, that is.
It's a chance Gambit's willing to take. He clears cover, rounds the corner, and dives down the first flight of stairs headfirst. Tucking at the last instant, he rolls to a stop next to his mark's body. He reaches out with two fingers to check the man's pulse. Just in case. Nothing there.
Swearing under his breath, he rises to his feet and storms down the second flight of stairs. He's not hiding anymore. He's on the hunt. And he's pretty pissed.
A little cat and mouse never hurt. The only thing left to wonder is which one of the two is the mouse. Domino's breached the building in record time, keeping the Thompson in a two-handed grip as she flattens her back against the wall by a split in the hall and listens, slowing her breath. Clear..? In a flash she darts out into the open, pistol covering one length of the hall just long enough to make sure that it's empty before she spins about and covers the opposite direction, quickly picking up the pace as she goes through the fun and irritating search and clear process. "Come out, come out--"
A closed door gets roughly shouldered open, the lone merc sweeping the dark room beyond in a single sweep.
"--Wherever you are," she finishes whispering. The mark was by the south staircase, best to get that taken care of before she worries about extenuating loose ends.
"I'm right here," Gambit whispers, his voice coming from above. He's wedged his staff between the walls of the stairwell and is dangling from it by his ankles and one hand. He'd bet that the sniper would come to the body sooner or later, and that bet has paid off.
The staff retracts with a quiet series of metallic snaps and pops. When Gambit drops down, he leads with the hand that's holding the collapsed staff, the weapon adding extra weight to his punch. Once he has the sniper on the ground, he presses an armored boot to her chest as not-so-gentle encouragement to stay down. "You just cost me a lot of money, lady," he hisses, his red-on-black eyes narrowing slightly as he takes in the pale skin, the dark bodysuit, and all the weapons. "Who de hell are you?"
Well, that plan works better for one than it does the other. Dom has enough time to snap her attention upward, quickly trying to draw the pistol onto you without the benefit of using sights. A second shot is fired, this time into the wall as your weight suddenly bares down on the woman and drops her to the floor with a stifled grunt.
Right next to the dead guy.
Pale blue eyes slit open to stare back up at you, yet she's wearing a faint grin. Hey look! It's another mutant. She can stay down, alright... The gun is forgotten for a moment as she nonchalantly slips a small digital camera out of a pouch on her harness, breaking her attention from you -just- long enough to snap a quick shot of the target beside her. "Your loss is my gain, kiddo."
Having a camera in hand means that she doesn't have a knife in hand, which is probably for the best as she comes around with an open palm toward the knee that's poised right over her chest. Introductions can wait for a better time, such as once she has the upper hand.
Good thing that boot is armored. All the same, the force of the hit shoves Gambit a step backward. He doesn't press another attack right away, though he does trigger his staff and use it to point at his adversary. "Maybe. Maybe not. I think maybe somebody who can make dat shot could be worth more den dis lil' guy. 'Course, my contract was to bring him in alive, so I guess I've got no choice but to settle for you."
His self-confidence literally overflows and spills out everywhere. In his eyes, he already has a prisoner. "C'mon, get up. I don't want any more trouble outta you."
A toothy grin gets passed back up at you, "There might be a smidge of truth to that. Alive? Peh, kid, I did you a favor. I know a pathetic rambler when I shoot one."
Serious? You're just going to let her back to her feet? Hell, saves her the effort of throwing you off of her. Domino gets up, puts the camera away, rolls out her shoulders, then suddenly ducks low and spins about to try and sweep your feet out from under you good and proper. Drop you, kick the air out of your lungs, then go for the knock-out. She may have the time to play around for a while but she's not in the mood! Best try to catch you by surprise and end this while she can.
Gambit is looking at the ceiling. Why is Gambit looking at the ceiling? He blinks, shakes himself off, and writhes to his feet. He moves fluidly and sinuously, fast and flexible like a snake. "Ow," he says pointedly. "We gon' have a problem, aren't we?"
It's a rhetorical question. His real retort is a one-two combo of jabs with his staff, the first one aimed low, the second one high.
"Only problem here is that you won't stay down." Forearms cross, snapping downward to shove that staff aside. It works, but it only works once. The second smacks Domino across the forehead with a firm metal on bone *thunk,* the merc stumbling away from you with a fresh gash opened up over her right eye. Where a smirk had existed before, now there's only grim determination. You want to use weapons? Alright, she'll see to that! As the monochromed merc comes back around she's got a pistol in either hand, one automatically sweeping out to catch the next strike from your staff as the other tries once more to slam into the side of your head. Drop, damnit..! Drop and stay down! She can't risk putting a bullet through your head until she's checked for an existing bounty!
For Gambit, it's like training all over again. Dodge, parry, riposte. Defend zone one, attack zone six, defend zone five. The combatants are a blur as they exchange blows at speeds that most people couldn't even follow with their eyes, much less compete with. They drive, prod, and jab each other up and down the same flight of stairs, yet neither can gain the upper hand. Not until one of them slips.
Gambit makes the first mistake. Huffing and puffing for breath, he steps backward and into a sticky pool of the dead man's blood. It surprises him and he glances down instinctively to see what's making the squashy sound beneath his feet. It's all the opening that's required for one of those pistol-whips to land. He takes the butt of a handgun to the side of his head and one of his eyes immediately rolls backward. "De etouffee look delicious," he says, the words coming out slurred and mashed together.
He's unconscious. His eyes are open and he's standing up, but he's out. He's like a punch-drunk boxer who hasn't found his way to the mat yet.
Success! She thinks..? Why..why are you still standing? Whatever, if you're not fighting back then she's got the time to make sure you're -done.- One hand to the back of your head and she helps guide you straight down to an incoming knee, because she wants to be sure! And because you smacked her in the face with that staff of yours, -that- took a lot of nerve. "C'mon, tough guy. You've got a date with Lady Luck."
..God, this guy weighs a ton!
It's still dark outside by the time you would come to. It's dark inside, as well. The only illumination within this run-down foundry comes from the headlights of a nice new Jaguar, piercingly bright halogens that make the shadows seem impossibly black. At the other end of the lights is a very well armed mercenary woman, slouched in a battered and rusty metal folding chair with arms folded under her chest and her legs stretched way out, crossed at the ankles.
Somewhere between Domino and the front of the car would be a certain Cajun thief, suspended by the wrists bound overhead and ankles bound to a steel pipe within the floor. The cable overhead loops through the rafters then connects to the Jaguar's chassis, safely out of reach of you. Why hoist you up on her own when she's got a car that will do the job better? Unfortunately for you, that also places an uncomfortable amount of strain on your joints.
From where she sits there's the flash of a camera going off, this time taking a picture of none other than you. Even if there is no bounty on you it'll still be one for the records.
Gambit comes to in stages. Pulsing, pounding, throbbing stages. First the ache in his head. It intensifies every time his heart beats. Then the strain on his joints and muscles from being strung up like a trout. A fainter pain from the hit he took to his knee. Various bumps, bruises, and scratches picked up during transit make their presence known, too. Finally, the familiar weight of his coat and armor are missing.
He groans as he opens his eyes. "Bright," he complains. "Too bright. What de... Why de... ?" Still a bit fuddled and at a loss for words, he shakes his head and immediately regrets it.
Wincing, one eye shut and the other halfway open, he still somehow manages to glare. A glance down at himself, his battered state, his bare torso. "Thanks for leaving my pants on until I woke up. Let's get dis party started, chere. I do you right, you let me go, we call it even. Sounds good?"
"Well there's two hours of my life I won't be getting back," Domino reviles as you finally come to. "Do you have any idea how boring it is waiting for you to come around?" She's already taken some pills to deal with the fresh galaxy of bruises that you've left upon her. The one over her eye's not looking too good, crusted over with a small patch of blood.
"It's unpleasant business, this," she responds while pulling herself upright with a wince, "but I'm not into humiliation or poking at a man's personal parts."
She's made no effort to remove the weight of her own armor or weapons, simply draping the trench over the back of that single chair. Cast under the glow of those headlights you won't have much trouble spotting quite a few different tools for her job, including what looks suspiciously like the handle of a machete peeking out from over a shoulder. "Now..the problem with your offer is that it doesn't take into account the fact that you've got a price on your head. In fact," she adds with an almost forced laugh, "you downright put that other prick to shame! There's a lot of people out there that would love to know some very bad things have happened to you. Do you know what that means?"
The grin crossing Domino's face is downright wicked. "I'm the luckiest girl in Gotham."
The sly, lecherous look slides off of Gambit's face. Right now, in his natural state, he looks like a very dangerous man who happens to be very thoroughly tied up. He knows it and his captor knows it.
"So what you do now? Rough me up a lil' bit?" His voice is flat and even. Detatched. "Or a lot, maybe? If you the type who look for beggin' and screamin', don't bother. By de time you get dere, dere won't be enough of me left to sell."
Helpless. Strung up. Still defiant. He fixes his eyes on hers, focusing in on them. They seem larger than before; their glow more intense. His voice changes again, this time to a low purr. It's a pleasant, rumbling sound. Soothing. "Wouldn't it be better to let me go? De other way... so messy." He tsk tsks. "No, let's start with something small. Would you mind dimming de lights a lil' bit?"
There's a partial shrug of response, "If you're into that sort of thing. Told you, I'm not into humiliation. However, I would -love- to know who hired you to drag that useless piece of shit in -alive.- That right there," she punctuates by slipping a matte black throwing knife free from her hip, "useful information to the right ears. So the amount of roughing--" she flicks the blade in the air and catches the handle "--is entirely up to you."
In another moment Domino is standing right in front of you, about a foot beneath eye level with your height advantage and being strung up but still plenty close, and plenty personal. "We can worry about the lights later, I like to see what I'm doing. Men don't need nipples, right? That's small enough to start."
"No," Gambit replies. "But you shouldn't do dis, either way. Dere's no need. If we could have this conversation in a more civilized fashion, perhaps?"
His eyes are still fixed on hers. Unyielding. Unafraid. Completely helpless, but still completely confident. He flexes his muscles, testing what little play there is in his bonds. "You're pretty good at dis," he admits, keeping the conversation casual but maintaining his hypnotic tone. "You don't smell like a government agent to me. Too efficient. And too attractive. Independent contractor?"
"I'm all for being civil," Domino replies in an almost friendly manner. "That requires that you start making with the requested info, which I can handle absorbing while presented in a civilized manner. You know what I want to hear, and I'd hope by now that you realize what I'm willing to do in order to get it."
There she stands, weight on one leg, free hand on her hip, the flat of her own blade resting against her cheek until it lightly indents the pale flesh around it. She's still looking amused. Considering the amount of cash she's about to inherit, how could she be anything less than pleased? "Nice of you to say. I don't usually dick around with live bait, makes things too complicated."
Then she grins further, staring right back into those dark red eyes of yours. "Did the illegal hardware give it away? No, wait..it's the car. Government spooks drive Benzes, not Jags. And you," she says while pointing at your nose with the tip of the blade, "are one helluva thief. How's that been working out for you?" Given your current situation the sarcasm is impossible to miss.
"Pretty well, until tonight," Gambit admits readily, wrinkling his nose and giving Dom his most winning smile. "I'd be willing to prove it to you. We could go back to my place. I keep my lil' treasures stashed there. I imagine I could make a pretty competitive offer on dat price."
He's still working all the angles, applying pressure wherever he can. Oddly enough, he's more than willing to part with his own money, but won't give up an employer who would probably sell him out in a heartbeat.
And if there's one lynchpin common to virtually every single mercenary on the planet, it's money. Domino has standards. She's not an evil person. Morally bent at times, but she's no sadist. It's all part of the job, and the job brings three critical elements together into one cohesive whole: Excitement, entertainment, and effing large wads of cash. She'll take jobs because they're fun and because they pay. The big fish that she's managed to catch in this old foundry? He might pay. And Dom, she's having her fun.
The edge of her blade nestles against that thick vein in the front of your neck, not threatening now so much as enticing you to keep going. Tell her something that she wants to hear. Watch those icy blue eyes light afire with pride and greed. "Why go anywhere? You're already right where I want you. Think you can afford to bail your wiry ass out of the hole that you've dug for yourself?" she presses, letting the blade brush through the whiskers on your face, each bristle tinging away from the steel with a faint, musical note.
"Not completely sure," Another easy admission. "But I'm pretty sure. I've got a lotta lil' treasures." Gambit doesn't seem to be afraid of the blade. He doesn't shy away from it, at least. And he's still smiling. He leans around it respectfully, so he can inch his way a little closer to the mercenary. "But we'd have to go back to my place to be sure. Besides, dere's other things we can do once we get dere."
He's not giving up. The tip of tongue snakes out to trail a slow, lazy line along his upper lip. He tips his head to the other side, considering his captor from another angle. "I still think it sounds fun."
"You're kinda creepy, you know." Dom's eyes narrow a little, though that idle amusement remains intact. "Ooo, come back to my place, lots of little treasures... Bet you'd have kids lining up to the back of your van. Try harder, I'm not that kinda girl. We talk numbers, or we talk about who hired you. Simple as that. I have no interest in trinkets, they can't be banked."
Somehow she's getting the impression that you aren't taking this seriously enough. She brings that knife down to rest against your sternum, tip first, and slooooowly drags it down toward your stomach. It's not likely to draw much blood, yet, but the warning is clear as day. "Who says I'm not having fun now?" You'd have to be real good at reading her to know the truth, or have a lucky guess. Mutilation..not so fun. But making someone involuntarily suck in their breath, -that's- good times.
"A name..or a number... One might just set you free. If it's too hard to think I could always park further away, dim the lights a bit for you?" If she moves that Jaguar any further away from you it's going to pull your limbs right out of your torso.
"You're not giving me very much to work with, chere," Gambit says. Against all odds, it seems like he's the one whose patience is running out. He definitely seems more irritated than anything else. Somehow, some way, he still has the balls to act bold and confident. He narrows his eyes slightly. There's no more silkiness in his voice. It's hard. Firm. Commanding. "It's time to make a choice. Whatever you're going to do, do it. I'm not telling you anything, and nothing you can do to me is as bad as what's already been done. So are we friends or enemies?"
It's more than just a poke, but it's not quite a threat. It's also the last card that Gambit has to play. His eyes flash and sweat beads on his forehead as he focuses his will, drawing in his target, slipping between the folds of her subconscious mind.
Hold on a tic... The tone in your voice just went from somewhere sultry and soft to a place that's dark and foreboding. The weird thing is, it seems to work. Slowly Domino's hand drifts away, the blade along with it, as she stands there. Without words. Staring at you.
"You put up a good fight, kiddo. Don't think that you're taking my bounty, though." It's probably not the usual reaction that you'd get when people fall under your spell, but something about her entire demeanor has shifted three degrees off-center. The knife gets put away as she walks around you to the car. Seconds later it's rolling forward, not even dropping you to the ground so much as lazily lowering you back to your feet.
She wrenches on the handbrake with an audible rattle, letting out a slow breath from behind the wheel. "What are you doing, girl..." It takes her a while longer to re-emerge, stepping forth to cut the cords away from your wrists. In retrospect, one like you might be of more use to her alive than dead. But, the reality is that her mind isn't in its usual place. She feels challenged by you. And she likes it. "I'm sure you'll tell me plenty of things that I want to hear. Just not the things related to any of this. Let's get you together, I'll give you a lift." Back to your place. Full of trinkets and treasures.
She actually looks amused.
Gambit's been strung up for long enough that he slumps bonelessly to the floor when he's lowered down. He's also wobbly with relief. Because he's not only not dead, he's not tied up any longer. "Thanks," he says, his smile now completely genuine despite the fact that he's got a bloody line drawn across his chest. Because they're making progress.
"Look, I'm sorry I hit you. You get de bad guy out from under me fair and square. No hard feelings?" One arm is shaken a bit to restore some feeling, then he reaches out and offers it to Domino. "Also... could you help me up?"
Anything worth having is worth fighting for, after all. When you introduce two immovable objects like this, sparks are bound to fly. Despite the earlier treatment, Dom offers a hand to help get you upright. "Walk it off, you'll be alright. This never ends well for me, but damnit if I enjoy flirting with danger. There's something to you, Gambit. You're too fun to kill and too dangerous to have as an opponent, so I'm at a bit of a crossroad here."
Once you're able to stand she wanders back to the chair, retrieving coats and the rest of your armor, and any gear that she had taken from you. "You gave me an easy shot on that guy. I'll split the contract with you. Thing is, it's going to be a few days before the money comes through."
"Dis mean I have a reason to keep an eye on you." In truth, it's more than he could've hoped for. He's not dead, he's not tied up, and he's getting paid.
When he's upright and properly sucking air, he struggles into his armor. It's a dark enough red that the blood shouldn't be visible. His coat is slung over one shoulder like a sack. "Mm. I think I keep a close eye on you. You seem like the type who could disappear on me if I don't keep you close." Rather than an insult, the words are presented as a compliment, complete with a playful snap of his teeth.
Domino feels kind of like she's drugged. Why's this happening..? She didn't OD on the pills and she didn't down them with half a bottle of vodka like that one time, so..what gives? Must be the fatigue from driving in from Cali, suddenly getting into it with another mutant takes a lot out of a person. "You would have, anyway. Keep friends close and enemies closer."
Gingerly slipping back into her own coat, she teases back with "You're speaking from experience. I've red the Cliffnotes on your file. Was damned random luck that I found you at all, if it wasn't for that guy being double-contracted..." Despite herself, she's smiling back at you. It's a subtle, wicked sort of expression, almost like a snake encouraging its prey to come closer for a better look. Somehow, you've managed to hook this mercenary. In turn, feeling as though the control is still within her hands and hers alone, she's trying to string -you- along. One happy little feedback loop.
"And now I get to crash on your couch. Tell me where we're going." She climbs into the car and starts the engine.
Briefly, very briefly, Remy considers giving her the address of the machine shop he, Laura, and the Cuckoos are using as a dormitory. Because that wouldn't be an awkward introduction or anything. He smiles and shakes his head as he slides into the passenger's seat. One thing's for sure. The lady knows how to pick a car. He looks across at her and gives her a rakish wink. "Just drive, mimi," he says. "I'll tell you where to go."
And what to do.