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Ghosts of Nueva Iberia (IC / OPEN)

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North America Inc
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Capitalizt

Ghosts of Nueva Iberia (IC / OPEN)

Postby North America Inc » Mon Oct 31, 2022 10:49 pm

Ghosts of Nueva Iberia

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IC | OOC | City Map | Discord


September 1st, 1985
Paradise City


A man walked into a confessional. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been six months since my last confession.”

He was new to this church, though he had been to many others. This, however, would be his last. It was an unsettling truth. He lingered on the thought; the finality of even these most mundane actions made this trip all the more melancholy. This was the end, the final hours ticking away without much care about his nauseating anxiety. It ate away at him. Tightening his fist, he rubbed his thumb against the calluses lining his fingers. Idents of his weapon etched onto his body as a reminder of his trodden path. Jesus himself said, “...for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” It was the warrior's delusion to think he was any different.

The priest opened with a prayer and scripture. From the verses, he could tell it was from the Book of Romans. Yet at that most critical of moments, as he stood before the Lord in his own Garden of Gethsemane, the words fell on deaf ears. The message rang hollow, for he planned to sin regardless. ”I confess to violating the fifth commandment…in my heart.” A lie of omission. He had murdered this man in his thoughts, and now he planned to carry it out.

He could hear the priest get shaken up from behind the dividing wall, straightening himself up in his seat, though his last-second addition seemed to have cooled his nerves. If he could hazard to guess by the location, this would have been nothing new for the priest. How many other so-called believers had kneeled in this same exact booth? Mobsters who carried the cross while violating every core tenant of His commandments. It disgusted him. How had this nation stooped so low into iniquity, malice, and injustice under the diligent eyes of the faithful? It had perplexed him for years. Where had they failed? Where did he fail?

More scripture was spoken, more words rang hollow.

Now leaning his head against the wooden walls, his face contorted into a grimace as a solitary tear ran down his cheek. That same question, where did he fail, continued to haunt him. Had it been when he had been too blind to see the corruption seeping into the Holy Order? Had it been when he took that offer given to him by those degenerates? Or perhaps, most depressingly of all, the road to damnation was not defined by a single action but by the minor decisions he made every day. He looked forward to purgatory; perhaps the peace would give him some necessary time for introspection. But now, it was the time for action.

The priest finished his lecture, now offering the man to partake in the act of contrition.

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to…” He paused thinking on the words, unable to make it through the declaration. “...the help of Thy grace to sin no more….” He stood up, unable to lie. He thanked the Father for his time and walked out. Passing by the empty pulpit as he made his way to the exit, he fixated on the crucifixion behind it. The laboured eyes of the Lord showed adamant disapproval. The man paused, mumbling under his throat, “Forgive me, Lord, as you forgave Rahab. For this mortal sin I commit, I commit for the righteous.” He continued on his way.

Walking down the church steps, he casually lit a cigarette as he took in the area around him: Paradise City, Nueva Iberia’s own Sodom. Stepping onto the sidewalk, he took another puff, blowing smoke into the cool ocean breeze. Paradise City was a monument to excess, all the things wrong with today’s society. As he made his way toward his truck, a few disciples waiting beside it, he passed a few drunk tourists. It was only midmorning, and already these Americans were indulging themselves. His thin veneer of civility struggled to mask the burning rage.

His disciples no longer wore adorned in their imperial regalia but were in much more casual wear. They gave him a few words of encouragement, but he ignored them, focusing on the truck's bed. He brought down the hatch and held up the tarp, their acolyte weapons resting underneath. All manner of weapon types could be found, from a katana to steel balls, live wire, and of course, his weapon: a spear. It shimmered in psionic light as he got closer.

One of his students, Luis, stood beside him. “Nina is already in place; she says casino security is lighter than we expected. Should we act now or keep with the plan?”

“Keep with the plan.” De Santo ordered. “DiMeo has to be in that suite if we have any chance at succeeding. When he’s resting, that’s when we strike.”

“Yes, sir.” Luis briefly nodded before looking up at the glistening walls of the Bordeaux; the casino was able to tower over most others besides their distance of a few blocks. Its size put into perspective the sheer difficulty of the obstacle before them, one not precisely felt when looking at still photos. If he had any lingering reservations, now would have been the time to voice them. He said nothing.

The pair would continue to discuss the last-minute logistics of the assault, paying no mind to the oncoming traffic passing by. If they had, they would have noticed a young woman driving on a tan moped, planning to head home.


Tlatoani
'¡Buenos Días Paso Del Rey!', A voice happily declared right as Patricio Barquero caught a taxi, slamming his briefcase against the trunk.

Sliding inside, the young urban professional was careful not to dirty his suit; he hated how disgusting these rides could be. "Where to boss?" The Taxi driver asked as he flipped the mileage meter on.

Not bothering to take off his headset, he shouted over his music and said, "McGill-Wexler Office, Gold Plaza."

"Alright." The taxi driver remarked as he pulled out of the busy City Central monorail station, a multitude of people making their way to work during this lightly humid morning.

'...Expect temperatures on a rather sunny day with highs of 25 but a few spouts of rain during the afternoon. Though tomorrow…', The investment banker changed the channel, hoping to find something more relevant to finance. Watching the small screen console hanging from the roof, he perused the other six channels.

'Last night, General Secretary Andropov from the Palace of the Soviets addressed the populace and international observers on the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons within Islamabad…' , He changed the channel.

'...your heart lights up and remembers, hope reverberates within you! You know exactly what you want and how you will get it. No more indecision today. Your lucky numbers are 7, 22, 19….'

'...Only the finest Corinthian leather….'

"Goal!"


'...Asian markets responded poorly today to the announcement of further Iraqi Obsidium shipping delays. Earlier this week, IOM and PetroGulf had pledged further investment into Iberian deposits to alleviate these expected future disruptions, though this has done little to quell investors' fears of chip shortages within the coming fiscal year for Japanese Tech Giant Kendachi. Though urging calmness, the Board has yet to respond to the Ayatollah's declaration directly…'

Without warning, someone slammed their fist against the Taxi's hood right as it was about to slide its way out of the busy intersection. Patricio knocked his headset off and looked away at the screen just as a couple of punks flashed a few hand signs and the middle finger. Wearing their trademark dyed mohawks and those kitsch faux-leather jackets, their attire offended the refined sensibilities of the yuppie. A good Valentino suit will get you far.

"Make love, not money!" One of them shouted.

"Corpo slave!" The other shouted as they made a show of the spectacle.

"Get the hell off of my car!" The taxi driver slid his torso out the window, throwing this morning's paper at them. The two riff-raff got the message, heading onto the street while acting increasingly perverted.

The investment banker couldn't help but laugh. It was so pathetic; he easily made their salaries ten times over. He bet they didn't even have a proper skin care regiment. He'll have to tell the guys at the firm about this. Perhaps right after they do a line of coke, quaaludes, and whiskey for their lunch. He slipped his Songify headphones back on to catch the tail-end of a song by 'Huey Lewis and the News', too ingratiated with himself to notice a young woman passing by on her moped. She was on her way home.


Coatlan
The bar was empty. Behind his counter, Hidalgo the bartender wiped a few dishes clean at the tail-end of his duties. Exhausted from the night before, he had planned to come in early and finish up. Staring out towards the boxy TV nestled at the end of the corner, his first thought was about the next Football game he would be playing. He would need to run it by his loan sharks.

The bell at the front door rang, instantly catching the middle-aged man's attention like a deer in headlights. A regular walked in, along with someone he only vaguely recognized. "Billy!" He chirped, "It's much too early; I'm not open." He lightly noted, struggling to communicate in English.

Billy was a young Sicilian man wearing a tracksuit, his dark locks slicked back, with a gold chain resting around his neck. He looked, acted, and was a mobster. The other man, who strolled in behind him, looked very much the same though his tracksuit was blue and his hair had long since lost its color. Billy meekly nodded over to him, his face flushed with embarrassment before turning over to face the door. The other man marched his way closer, sliding in behind the counter. Hidalgo realized too late what was going on, being struck against his head.

His nose was smashed in. In the immediate chaos, he dropped a shot glass as his hands rushed to cover his face. "Ah! I don't understand..." He whimpered in poor English before switching to Spanish, "I don't understand; why are you doing this?"

"I heard from the grapevine you are giving your dues to Persephone!" The wrinkly face of the aged gangster got up close and personal, "I hear that, right?"

He tried his best to defend himself, "I give to her middleman Cerberus, I never even see her. Besides, it all goes to the same place anyways!"

Billy played the part of the lookout, staring out from the glass door into the busy street.

The mobster thrashed him around, knocking the bartender onto the floor. "Now you and your bookies give it to me. Only me; you see some VCR-looking motherfucker then you let them know that they can take it up with me."

The man furiously nodded. That wasn't good enough.

Drawing a pistol from his jacket, the man asked, "This implant the message into that thick forehead of yours?" Johnny "Grease Gun" Lombardi slammed the butt of his revolver into his facial plating, digging the piece deeper into his skin. He cried out in pain, rushing his hands over his head as blood leaked from the open wound. The bartender floundered around, laying on his back as Johnny towered over him, holding the man up by the collar of his shirt. As the man cried out, the aging gangster couldn't help but laugh at his pain. "Oh please, I give you a love tap, and you're already pissing yourself? Stop crying, prick."

The man's cry continued, which only incensed Johnny.

"You don't stop crying like a woman in the next five seconds; I'll give you a real reason to cry." He stood up and slammed his foot onto his stomach, "Do you want a real reason?"

The bartender struggled to stay focused with his festering wound and being pinned against Johnny, the bar, and the drink cabinet. With a few options, he tried to keep silent, but a few sniffs slipped by him.

"Hey, I asked you a question!" Johnny growled. He looked up and over to the other gangsters currently having their way with the place. "Hey Billy, this guy have no manners or something? When I ask a question, I expect an articulated response." He looked down at the wounded man, "I learn a language for you spicks, leave my home in Jersey, and this is the tour of welcome I get?" He slapped the side of his head, "Does that seem fair to you?"

"No!" The bartender shouted. "No, no, no. No to all your questions." His eyes peeked from behind his fingers, "I understand, I understand. I give it all to you from now on."

"Good." He playfully gave him a backhand cheek slap, "Oh, one more thing before I go. I expect you to kick up two more Gs a month. Think of it as a processing fee."

"Yes! That's only fair."

Johnny moved off of him, "And American green. Not pesos." Iberian currency isn't even called pesos.

This entire encounter had occurred within the span of a minute. The two mobsters walked out of the establishment, leaving Hidalgo alone to tend to his wounds. Billy followed while Johnny led. Switching to English, "Glad we sorted all the dues. Where are you off to?"

"I have a Goomah not too far from here…" Johnny, now standing on the street, leaned against the hood of his classic car, "I'll get some shut-eye, meet with the wife, and I'll head over to the Don. Let him know we took care of business."

Billy slid his hands into his oversized pockets, "Anything I need to do?"

"Nah, you did good, kid. I'll see you in Paradise later."

"Sounds good." Billy walked over to his car, a girl on her moped, heading home, was passing by.


Emiliano
Mrs. Mueller held her INSTOGROM Polaroid up close to her face, waiting for her son from across the street to give her the signal. The six-year-old blonde boy raised his thumb as face as he could, struggling to get past the height of the passing cars. She caught it, readying herself for the perfect picture. The boy took one step into oncoming traffic, his father and his sister eager to watch this unfold.

Then, the boy was gone.

SNAP. The wide-eyed mother took a picture right as her son teleported in front of her. Mrs.Mueller could hardly contain her boy's excitement as he rushed to her, excited to see what they had caught. "Mama, did you get it? Did you get it?"

"Hold on!" The Mother came down to his level as the Polaroid spat the photo out. She waved it into the wind before holding it out for him to look at. The boy tried to grab it from her clutches, but it was just out of his reach.

The image developed, revealing his body just as it plopped back into existence. Taken a bit too late, most of him had come too; though that psionic shimmer still illuminated the back of his head. The boy was a bit disappointed that he didn't see any of his guts or arms missing from his body, but he didn't care. It was really cool.

The West German family was one of a dozen touring groups that flocked to the Rosewood Crossing. Eager to play around with the harmless Tulpa, they could be found in all manners of the day. Even Evangelical doomsayers or ghost hunters would come to this harmless intersection, mostly to play around with the mundanity of it. If anything, they had to worry more about the annoyed locals than any cross-dimensional being. Since this intersection took off as a must-see tourist location, some commutes have more than doubled.

"Excuse me miss." A black man from Dallas, Oklahoma, tapped the shoulder of the German woman.

"Yes?" She turned around to ask.

"Can you get a photo of me and my daughters crossing this way?" He pointed to the adjacent crossing, "My wife and I are trying to get pictures of both sides." The wife waved over to them.

She nodded, "Of course, I can." She took his camera and waited for his signal. Holding the hands of his little girls, he audibly declared his intent before crossing through. She snapped a picture of their backs while also catching a moped passing by on its way home.


Santa Francesca
“Stay seated on the ground!” Officer Castillo slammed the criminal against the side of the brick wall, lining him up beside the rest of his accomplices. Despite the force behind the throw, the criminal groaned faintly, too incoherent to understand what was happening. These low-lives, 'organic mechanics' had been caught running an unsanctioned cyber den right at the edge of Santa Francesca. Following a tip from another raid in Vista Del Rey, the police quickly moved in. This raid was a verifiable success in finding a plethora of illegal cybernetic modifications, Kalashnikovs, a few thousand pesos, and minor quantities of crack cocaine.

Dragging the last of the apprehended crew members outside, Castillo finally got a good look at what they had been dealing with. Stripped of their removable cybernetics, a few just sat there agitated and shouting profanities at the officers who took their legs. Those with extensive neural augmentations were much more docile, struggling to understand the situation, much less controlling their extensive implants. The entrance to the den itself was in a back alley, concealed by a few trash bins and boxes lying around. The main street was jam-packed only twenty yards away, with busy drivers and noisy passerbys. A mounted officer strode into the alley, passing a few police pick-ups and sequestering his horse beside the apprehended. Holding his shock baton, he said to Castillo, "I have this. Go ahead and help the rest inside."

She nodded, stepping away and taking off her beret to wipe the sweat off. Lighting a cigarette, she took stock of the situation. While things had gone off without a hitch, with no officers injured, a few of the things she saw made her stomach turn. Flicking the lighter closed, she faced the ambulance just as a few augmented were carted inside. The discolored skin, emaciated bodies, and dried blood splatter made her wonder how they were still alive on those operating tables. Bodies wrecked by infection, she internally struggled to even get near them; she had heard that you could get AIDS from people like that with just a single touch. Good thing she was wearing gloves.

A few Yellow Berets walked beside her, monitoring the perimeter while the investigators did their work. She gave them a salute, and they reciprocated. That yellow beret of theirs was her end goal. She just needed to have a few more street patrols, bash in a few more cyber-psycho skulls, and hone her skills to get there.

Walking inside, she was instructed to grab a box of counterfeit body implants, marked with bright red coloring, ‘LEAD.’ They put lead into their bodies, disgusting. She made a few trips back and forth, not paying much mind to the world or scenes around her. Too lost in her little world of trivial promotion, she hardly noticed her neighbor pass by on a moped.


Amelia had made it back, resting her new moped right beside the entrance to the restaurant. She’ll move it later. Strolling inside, she yelled out, “I’m home!”
Last edited by North America Inc on Mon Oct 31, 2022 11:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Reverend Norv
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Posts: 3462
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Tue Nov 01, 2022 6:00 pm

~ DIARY OF HENRY LATIMER ~

September 1, 1985 - Morn.

Slept poorly. Strange how I am still surprised to wake up tired - dehydrated - nauseous. Been years like that now. Still - sensation of wrongness lingers. There's an evergreen horror in waking up and already feeling too exhausted to face the day. Dawn is the one remaining opportunity for my body to remind me that I'm killing myself.

Couldn't remember my dreams this morning, though, which is the important thing. Disrupt your sleep enough, and you disrupt the dreams too, or at least your recollection of them. Worth the trade-off every time. There are four empty bottles of liquor rolling around the corner of my room, over between the empty wardrobe and the suitcase that I still keep my clothes in, three years after I came to town. Someday I'll admit that I'm here to stay, and I'll unpack that suitcase. Not today, though.

Washed my face, brushed my teeth. I heard Enrico start up the big gas stove in the kitchen downstairs - click-click-click-WHOOSH. Suddenly smelled burning vegetation: wet, rancid. Sometimes that happens: even if I can't remember the dreams, I still get flashes of them for a few minutes after waking. I got the shakes, so I went and got a fresh bottle of rhum agricole from the case under my bed, and two shots on an empty churning stomach set me straight. Made it through my shower without throwing up, too. Call it the power of positive thinking.

Got dressed, strapped on my guns in their shoulder holsters, pulled on the camelhair blazer to cover them. Tweed was yesterday; camelhair's today. Tweed again tomorrow. The unending charade of it all makes me sick: we play dress-up every day, and then we die.

I recognize this irrational, irresistible spasm of anger, of course. I know what it means. It's not about the clothes.

I wonder what I saw in my dreams last night. Thank God I don't remember. Thank God.

Anyway, I went downstairs and grabbed my morning newspaper from where the paperboy left it on the restaurant doorstep, and then I headed back into the kitchen. Enrico wasn't technically open yet - still setting up, maybe waiting for Amelia to get home and lend a hand with the cooking. But part of my deal with Estefania is that I can claim some of yesterday's leftovers for breakfast each morning. Today it's tripe guisado and a stale yeast roll and a cup of outrageously strong and sweet coffee. Enrico had the food waiting for me, and he smiled knowingly without a word. He's a good guy. The smile, and the smell of coffee and chiles, made me feel better about life almost immediately. And when I sat down at a table in the corner of the restaurant and opened the newspaper, I discovered my piece about official underreporting of traffic fatalities in Emiliano, right there at the bottom of page six.

Velasquez will be pissed about that. Again. I'll have to keep an eye out for immigration agents for the next few days. El comisario always tries to get me deported when I get under his skin. But if the best he can manage is sending the likes of Dani Castillo to hassle me, I'll be fine.

I have bigger problems anyway. The traffic-deaths piece was the last story I had ready to go. I haven't got anything else so much as outlined. Hell, I haven't even got any leads worth following. It's been a rough week or so; four bottles in six days is a lot, even for me. I can't remember much of what I've been up to, but it sure as hell wasn't journalism. I doubt I even left my room for most of that time.

But I'm starting to feel better now. The guisado and the bread settle my stomach. As always, the thought of having pissed off Velasquez makes me quite cheerful. I got this diary out and I'm writing now, mostly so I have an excuse to stay sitting here until I feel ready to go out and wander around the city and hopefully stumble onto something newsworthy. This is my first journal entry since August 22, but better late than never. I still feel fucking exhausted, but what else is new? It's time to get up and get moving. I bet I can make it until thirteen-hundred before my second drink today.

...

Amelia just got here - her moped pulled up outside, she yelled "I'm home," she walked in. She's young - she moves so fast. I feel much older than forty-one when I'm around her. At any rate, I said "Buenas," and went back to my newspaper.

Then I wondered where she's been. For that matter, I wondered if she has any leads I could use. Amelia rides that moped all over the city, and she often comes home with interesting bits of gossip. I took a scalding gulp of coffee and looked up from my paper. "See anything interesting on the ride over, kid?"
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Tue Nov 01, 2022 6:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Finland SSR
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Posts: 15236
Founded: May 17, 2014
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Finland SSR » Wed Nov 02, 2022 2:45 am

Igor Vyshnevsky




A young woman on a moped, making her way home through Tlatoani, sped past an imposing building stretching past the rooftops, as if overseeing the streets.

It was the base of the Imperial Defense Forces in Del Rey, the so-called Emperor's Will. Though it was the police and sometimes the National Regulars which maintained order in the city on a day to day bases, the presence of the FID always reminded the city that the Emperor still oversaw them all from high above. Among the forces stationed in the regional headquarters were Del Rey's own detachment of the Imperial Royal Guard, though today was one of their more passive days.

Deep within the building, a tall, muscular Russian cyborg pulled up his weights for the last time in the session - satisfied with the last phase of the workout, he carefully lowered the piece back to the ground and placed it at the side, then grabbed a nearby water bottle and towel. The last time Igor checked, he was assigned some tasks from the Guard for the evening - but the entire first half of the day was completely free.

The door of the gym slid open, and another Acolyte stepped inside - with a darker skin tone and hair than the comparatively still rather pasty Russian.

"Of course you are here, Igor. Wouldn't have expected you to be anywhere else."

"Well, I never claimed to not be predictable, Edgar," The two guardsmen knew one another from several missions in the past - Edgar's more support based abilities, focused on trapping enemies with psionic constructs, synergized well with Igor's raw power the first time they fought together, so they formed a team later on as well. "What's going on?"

"Oh, not much in particular. I was just wondering if you caught the morning news. Some serious shit is going down in your country, I saw it mentioned."

Picking up his uniform off a nearby chair as well, Igor strolled out of the gym, with his comrade right in tow. "It's never anything good, I know. But all those conflicts in the Middle East sap the strength of that murderous regime, so, in a way, it has a silver lining."

"Much better to live in this den of freedom, yeah?" Edgar answered with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "Where are you heading now?"

"Ah, since I have the morning and afternoon off, I was hoping to get back home, pick up a few things before I come back here."

"Makes sense... Ah, hold on, I see how it is. You're running away so you don't have to eat lunch at the cafeteria. Don't worry, I understand. The food here is anything but good."

The comment got Igor to briefly chuckle. "Olga won't be home until the evening, so I'd have to grab something on the way if I wanted to."

"Well, if you want a recommendation, since you'll be driving through Santa Francesca, there's a great taqueria there you can drop by. It's a family business, and it usually has quite a few visitors - but if you can find yourself a place there, it's great. I've been there a few times."

"Really now?" Igor answered and paused. He hadn't heard of that specific place - though, granted, Del Rey was huge, and he was not a prolific restaurant goer, so it wasn't that much of a surprise. Tacos after a workout sounded good, though. Quite good.
I have a severe case of addiction to writing. At least 3k words every day is my fix.

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Segral
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Founded: Sep 06, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Segral » Wed Nov 02, 2022 3:36 pm

CHLOE HIRANO
Santa Francesca // Paso Del Rey
September 1st, 1985


The nearby sounds of sirens, speeding mopeds, and slang cuss in at least three different languages had condensed into a thick, dense cloud, one that had begun to travel and penetrate in every which direction as a wake-up call for the entire street. It was easiest to ignore in the central throng of Francesca's main thoroughfare, where traffic and daily chatter blocked out the most unpleasant sounds in the acidic blend. Those on side streets or in the comfort of their own homes had no such luck, forced to bear yet another nasty reminder of the issues beginning to rot away at Paso Del Rey's insides. Well, only in the opinion of some. Some people didn't experience it first-hand, viewing the rot as a creaking, leaning, isolated tower surrounded by a forest of thorns. But, those people weren't subject to the sound, were they? Really, you just had to be there in the moment to understand. One street away from the tipped-off back alley, you could hear it. Two streets away, you could hear it. And three streets away, the sound continued to push outwards and upwards, crawling across a thin layer of stucco and into the third-story window of a glum-faced girl overlooking the asphalt below.

Chloe was still rubbing what little sleep she had gotten out of her eyes, using her fake hand to do so while her real one alternated between flicking her desk lamp on, opening the window, and stifling her yawns. So much for a morning off. Every week, it felt like more and more people in Paso Del Rey wanted ink done. It was great for her commission, but for her time off? Shit, it absolutely blew. Even when she punched out and headed home, she was working on custom sketches for clients, sketches that always ended up with something being redrawn, something being changed and taking another day to finish. Last night, she had been juggling three of them, inking and shading every corner until she had looked up at random and realized the scratched-over clock on her wall had already hit three in the morning.

The sounds of the nearby raid (or at least, what she was assuming was a raid) had kicked her right out of bed. For a moment, she had considered trying to roll over and go back to sleep, but there was no point. It was only getting louder and louder inside, even with the blinds drawn. Might as well see what the hell was happening. For a few seconds, her eyes were blinded by the ugly pastel lamp on the edge of her desk, but eventually, they began to adjust, letting her peer out over the windowsill and into the cracked roadway below. It was nice outside, only a little breeze stinging her face as she poked her head out over the ledge. As she pulled away her wrap, the gust picked up, causing now-loose strands of hair to float around her face and eyes. Between those shifting lines, her surroundings came into focus.

Across the street, a fresh layer of spray paint had taken up a vacant storefront, a massive splotch of light blue inscribed with yellow. The punks must've touched down in the middle of the night. The splotch stuck out like a sore thumb on the largely red-and-brown street, a narrow path bordered on both sides with spots like Chloe's. One-story storefronts, usually with two or three apartments on top, all of it linked together by a rickety fire escape. Or not, if you were suicidal. The two-way sidewalks and actual road had blended to almost the same shade of gray, the only marker between the two being storm drains and the occasional break into an alley between shops. Seeing those, and seeing the masses of boxes and bins crowding the entrance of each one, hit her with another thought; it was trash week. Another thing for her to take care of.

Chloe reclined back out of the window and into her own space, pulling her arms above her head and stretching her back and neck with one final yawn. Trash, clean up her sketches, grab something to eat, and then punch in for her shift. Four items, she could probably manage that. Had Enrico opened shop yet? Shit, he would by the time she took care of the first two things. Her whole day was starting to plot out, and with that thought, she leaned back out the window for some more air. She had time to kill.

The distant sound of grunts and profanities was starting to fade away, letting a new tune join the mix. A few birds perched across the street were beginning to chirp, sounding surprisingly musical in their little caws. Without thinking, Chloe began to hum a bit in response, remembering the notes from a jam that had been blaring from the garages yesterday. As if on cue, a lone passerby emerged from the nearest alley, a dreadlocked Haitian with no less than three silvery rings decorating his fingers. He looked up at the sound of the humming, stepping across the road with long, lanky strides to stop just at the door of Chloe's first floor.

"Can I help you?" she offered somewhat icily, folding her elbows down on the windowsill and fixing the Haitian with a wary look.

He flashed a toothy grin in response, extending a hand up in the sky towards her. "Kijan ou ye, cheri mwen?"

Sighing, Chloe stuck her arms out and drove two middle fingers into the air, one slightly more twitchy than the other. One last eye roll, and the windows slammed shut from the inside, forcing the Haitian to continue his search elsewhere.
yea bro idk

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The Republic of Atria
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 24424
Founded: Nov 12, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby The Republic of Atria » Wed Nov 02, 2022 5:57 pm

September 1st, 1985, Terrance Letourneau

Another day, another month that rent was due. Thankfully he'd hit a string of good luck helping around town with whatever he, no questions asked. Not only did he have the money for this month, but he could probably keep steady for the rest of the year barring any unforeseen emergencies. It was a good feeling. Though he did need to stock up on the essentials: Ramen and potato chips. Maybe even a nice chocolate bar. It's been a good week, and he definitely deserved it. At least according to himself. And Senior Garcia's shop was only a block or so away.

He gave the older man a wave a a small smile as he entered the store as he had many times before. Garcia responded in kind. It was a bit cheaper to shop at the bigger stores, but Senior Garcia was too nice of a man to betray like that. Terrance grabbed one of those little shopping baskets and went about grabbing his groceries. About ten different flavors of ramen, a few bananas, salt and vinegar chips and that chocolate bar he'd been thinking about for the last twenty minutes. He approached the counter where Senior Garcia was waiting for him and started to ring up his groceries.

"Busy day?" The old man asked.

"Yeah." Terrance said. "Got a lot of work done today."

"That's good. Oh, thank you for your help with that shipment last week. My body isn't what it used to be."

"I'd want someone to help me when I get older. How's the shop been."

"Good. Business is well, and with fall coming I'm going to have to break out some of the Christmas stuff."

"It's September." Terrance replied ever so slightly exasperated.

Senior Garcia chuckled. "I'm kidding with you. I'm not putting it out for at least another week." He said with yet another chuckle.

Terrance blew the air out of his nose and nodded. "If you need someone to help with the holiday rush, you know who to ask."

"Oh I do." He said as Terrance paid him for the groceries. When Garcia handed him the receipt, several police cars, sped by, sirens blaring.

Terrance flinched, and out of the corner of his eyes he could see the tangled mass of hands reacting, almost like it was ready for action. He looked at the shopkeep who either didn't see his specter or simply didn't care. Though it was probably the former. Thankfully. "Wonder where they're off to in such a hurry." He said, snapping out of his mild daze and the arms vanishing from his sight.

"Hopefully doing some good. Too many drug dealers in this city."

"Yeah. Too many of them." He'd always fantasized about doing it himself. He could, he had power, but there was only one of him. Even if he decided to go that route, it'd only take one mistake for him to wind up dead, or worse. Like some poor punk held as a slave by some skinheads and forced to make meth. Then again, he had a specter so they'd probably just kill him. "Anyways, I'll see you next week."

"Stay out of trouble! I need your business!" Garcia said, half jokingly.

"I will!" For now at least. Trouble had a way of finding him and he had no idea how. He did everything he could to lay low and was basically a nobody. On the other hand, running away to yet another town would be expensive and time consuming. He'd done it a couple times already, and it sucked every single time.

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Union Princes
Senator
 
Posts: 3536
Founded: Nov 02, 2017
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby Union Princes » Wed Nov 02, 2022 9:53 pm

1 September 1985, Investigación ULTRA

Blake Byrne felt old. Alone in solitude, the 33-year-old bachelor was at his office space located on the first floor of his humble little abode. Given the small property, it also served as a lounging area and other municipal utilities. With the thin curtains blocking only the most intense sunlight El Paso Del Rey has to offer, the floor was filled with the cool sunshine glow Blake has grown to love since his days in Hong Kong. Despite the fresh day, activity was quite slow for now and the building was silent save for the TV spouting news.

Learning languages was not one of his strongest skills as he often missed several words at the time when the national news networks rambled on about international occurrences. Even with a translation guide in front of him and the book Learning Spanish from K-12, the detective has to resort to seeing pictures flashing on the screen to fill in the blanks as to why the world seems to burn around him. "Bloody hell," Blake grunted, his mind drifting towards his parents and relatives in England. "First the Transfer, now the Reds going in the Middle East."

After getting his fill in the latest news, the Brit continued his self-study in order to better integrate himself with the community and clients. Correction: integrated enough. With nepotism and patronage being the new status quo, someone with no personal ties or familial connections is an assurance. After taking a sip of tea, Blake went back to his books, slowly repeating the words before him. "Fer..Ferro...Carr...Ferrocar...Ferrocarril...Carril...I'll understand this eventually."
Last edited by Union Princes on Wed Nov 02, 2022 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Western Fardelshufflestein
Negotiator
 
Posts: 5051
Founded: Apr 21, 2020
New York Times Democracy

Postby Western Fardelshufflestein » Thu Nov 03, 2022 8:41 am

Essen Salay
September 1st, 1985

"You got the directions to the casino, right?"

"Yes, Papá."

"And you know the asking price. Four hundred, I won't go higher."

"Yes, Papá." Essen twiddled a strand of hair round her finger then flicked it into the air, sending rippling waves of dull brown outward into a wave that settled uncomfortably beside her ear. It was an important job, yes, but it was the farthest out she'd ever been, and it wasn't in Santa Francesca besides. It made her nervous stepping outside the bounds of the place she had remained her whole life.

"And you want raw parts, remember. If you can."

"I'm not a child, Papá." She only lived with him because he wouldn't pay her enough to leave. And having illegally obtained funds limited what she could buy; someone would be wary of a young woman renting an apartment using cash. But here, that was the norm.

She was setting out not long after the sun hit its zenith. It was better to be early than to be late, and if she was early enough she could scope out her surroundings, get a feel of the land. Figure out escape routes should something go wrong. In this town, you had to have three things: basic necessities, a means of defense, and a way out.

Essen went for a change in topic. "I've scrubbed the operating tables and noted it in the ledger. We can't have our clients getting diseases."

"What is the one...HIB?" He articulated the acronym in English.

"HIV, Papá." She'd heard it turned your body against you, ate away at you from the inside out. But that was from Roberto, one of the people she often bought from. Roberto was always saying things.

Crawford Salay grimaced slightly and nodded at his daughter. She was too smart for her own good, for the world she'd been brought into. There was too much of him in her. Always had been.

"I'd recommend you leave now to give yourself extra time. You should find public transport that takes you down to Paradise City, but if not..." He pulled out a few more bills and pressed them into Essen's hand. "This is enough for cab fare both ways. If you do not ride a cab, I expect you to return this in full."

"Yes, Papá." She slid the money into her spare pocket.

Imagine if they didn't make women's pants with ample pockets. That would make my life so much harder.

The last thing she said before she set out was a promise she would return.
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The Grand Western Empire
Envoy
 
Posts: 318
Founded: Sep 26, 2022
Corporate Police State

Postby The Grand Western Empire » Thu Nov 03, 2022 2:56 pm

A poorly stifled yawn escaped Octavian as he got off his couch. His back ached from a poor sleeping position. The tips of his fingers brushed his meager apartment's roof as he stretched. The sole dirty window in the room showed the usual tidal wave of punks, gangsters, and workers moving in the streets below. Octavian glanced around his apartment. The three-legged table(which was supposed to be four-legged, but the fourth one had broken), fridge, microwave on the floor, and couch were all intact. "A stunning victory!" he all but yelled. In days of constant gang violence, murder, and break-ins, waking up to a non-damaged apartment was like winning a war to Octavian.

Though more importantly, the hammer cast haphazardly below the window was still there. Octavian picked it up and stuck it between his jeans and belt. He quickly threw off his wrinkled gray shirt and put on an orange coat and gray rubber boots. The apartment's door was painted white and had several dents. It had a metal doorknob coated in copper paint that was beginning to chip off in some places. Octavian drew his hammer and touched its head to the doorknob.

He visualized it turning in his mind. As if ordered by that, the doorknob turned. "Phew. Still works," Octavian pushed the door open and put the hammer back in his belt. Octavian didn't truly understand the power he just displayed. He knew he could bend anything from the worst iron to the highest quality tungsten in whatever way he envisioned. Though it only worked if his hammer was touching the metal. The psychic ability was of little use to Octavian. But he kept the hammer close to him at all times so that it didn't end up in the hands of a gang member who might use it to do God-knows-what.

Octavian quickly rushed down the hall and descended the apartment complex's dust-coated stairs. "Boss'll murder me if I'm late!" Octavian mumbled as he reached the bottom floor. Rather than use the normal exit onto the crowded sidewalks and busy roads, he used the fire escape to get into the alleys. The alarm hadn't worked for almost three years, so he went through the door without hesitation.

The alleyways were dark and grimy, despite it being day. Drug addicts with heroin needles at their feet or still in their arms littered the alley. Octavian tried to pay them no mind as he ran by. The alleyways were the fastest way to his destination, so he didn't complain and kept moving. 'Wish I could stop to help those poor people, but I can't afford to show up at the construction site late, or else I'll be out of a job.'
Last edited by The Grand Western Empire on Thu Nov 03, 2022 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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◥⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙◤.. ( う-´)づ︻╦̵̵̿╤── ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿'̿̿̿̿̿̿̿'̿̿'̿̿̿̿̿'̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ '̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\3=(^_^)

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Audunia
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 161
Founded: Jun 29, 2020
Democratic Socialists

Postby Audunia » Thu Nov 03, 2022 3:04 pm

Jorge Serrano, 1st September 1985
El Molino Blanco, Unión Emiliano Club de Fútbol Stadium


Despite losing 2-0 on the so far into the season, especially when the fact the team they had been facing should have been crushed without difficulty, Jorge couldn't stop smiling to himself as it exited the concrete stadium, its night light illuminating the pitch, stands, and adjourning streets with sterile effeciancy, cracks and puddles could not be hidden from the intense glare. His brother, Inigo Serrano, seemed to pick up on this, the smile was out of place in the sea of green shirted frowns.

"What's with the stupid grin?" Inigo asked, eyebrow arched and head slightly inclined to look up at him brother. Aged 18, he was over a decade younger than his brother and the height difference only accentuated the fact, 5'8 to Jorge's 6'0. When one took into account their vastly different complexions and face structures, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they weren't related at all, when they simply took after different parents. Jorge, his Hungrian mother, whilst Inigo took after their Iberian father.

"Nothing, nothing" he said, laughing lightly with his words. This answer clearly did not suit Inigo in the slightest.

"You've done something haven't you?" he asked, shaking his head in dismissively "Did you bet against Unión?"

Jorge's smile became sheepish as he motioned Inigo to talk quieter, any passing ultra might take offense to such an accusation "Not so loud" he said, nodding in time with their descent of the stairs into the street below. Exciting out of the great stands into the gated area, a throng of people wearing various designs of the green-and-white milled about, some trying to get out of the stadium's grounds quickly, others gathered in groups to sing songs in a half-hearted attempt to lift people's spirits. Or simply as a way to display their intoxication, whichever was fine by Jorge. Pressing through the surging crowd was a furious exchange of Perdóneme and Gracias for knocking into someone too hard or someone lost their balance and stumbled, Jorge ensured his brother was close as their snaked their way through.

It wasn't until they had cleared the ornate metal gates, painted in a fine shade of ranger green and the club's logo, a thin diamond with a hammer in the middle surrounded by a banner displaying the team's name, the Inigo began his questioning again. "You bet against the Union?" his voice less quiet now that they had reached the streets, Jorge pulling on his black bomber jacket in an attempt to hide his allegiance.

"Wasn't a personal thing, Mami's birthday is coming up so wanted a little bit of cash to get her something nice" he replied, pulling out a pack of cigarettes, slapping his brother's hand away as he tried to reach for one, and lighting it.

"Still a ridiculous thing to do" Inigo replied, rubbing his hand in exaggerated injury "One thing to bet against a team you don't care about, different thing to do it against the Unión"

"Starting to think you love Unión more than I do" he scoffed jokingly "But I didn't do it blindly. The trick is inside knowledge"

Inigo laughed lightly, placing his hands in his trouser pockets "An insider? You find this one in one of your races?". The cigarette almost dropped out of Jorge's mouth as he raised an eyebrow in shock. He'd worked hard to keep his dubiously legal activities a secret from his family, lest they start to worry too much or even try join in. His youngest brother, Ferenc, had started to idolise the lifestyle that Jorge had experienced in the shithole that was Vista del la Rey, filled with criminals and gangs that threatened you even for breathing in their direction. It did confused him why, since Ferenc had never lived in la Rey whilst stories their parents recounted had deterred his other siblings. He blamed it on that new music that had started to jump on the airwaves.

"How'd you know that?" he said after a moment of silence, filled only by the sounds of their shoes htting the well-worn path and the echoing sound of drunken revellery.

Inigo, whose face betrayed that he had obviously caught Jorge by surprise, smiled "Your source for mine"

"You little blackmailer" Jorge said, shaking his head "Fine, fine. Girl named Elinita, works down in Paradise City, but, Jesus, can she get information for anything. I sometimes throw a race or two so she can get some winnings out of it, saves me having to pay over the odds for some information".

"Huh, didn't realise you could knew any women to talk to" Inigo joked, ducking swiftly to avoid a smack round the back of the head. They both started laughing as Jorge tried again and missed. After a moment of calming down, Inigo spoke again "Mine's Miranda, her brother's..uhh partner said he saw you there a few times. Apparently you're not half bad"

"Miranda? You ask her out yet?" Jorge asked, laughing at the sight of Inigo's face quickly reddening as he shot out vehement denials about his infatuation with her. "But she's right, I'm more than not half bad" Jorge said, still laughing slightly "But don't be telling Mami, I can already feel the sandal coming my way." After Inigo assured him that he wouldn't, Jorge pulled up his sleeve to look at his watch. Dark bronze, with the centre stamped with the crossed thunderbolt and spear behind a screaming eagle's hea, it was a little retirement present from the Iberian Army. Well, retirement but also a "Sorry we got your arm blown off" gift, if one were to look at the well worn dark leather strap, they'd find his name and rank etched faintly into it. He frowned. "Only 20:50, fancy a trip to the Bourdeaux? Gonna pick up my winnings".

"The Bourdeaux? Too good for the local betting shop?"

"Absolutely, haulage drivers are known for our class" Jorge joked "Nah, Bourdeaux offered the best odds. Shouldn't take too long, not far from Santa Francesca." It was true. Through some historical relocations, the team representing the poor of Emiliano had ended up residing in Santa Franscesca, not that that did much to dissuade the fanbase from making the trek. Seeing his brother sruggling to decide, he sweetened the deal with the offer of attending a few bars afterwards. "Gotta get you ready for student life in the States"

"How'd you know that?" Inigo asked in surprise. Jorge gave him a cocky grin.

"Elenita isn't my only source of insider knowledge, now let's get going"

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Theyra
Negotiator
 
Posts: 6111
Founded: Aug 29, 2015
Democratic Socialists

Postby Theyra » Thu Nov 03, 2022 7:20 pm

Yijun Xun
Yijun's apartment
Santa Francesca
September 1st, 1985


"Finally, a day off," Yijun said with relief as he sat down on his couch and put on the t.v. The port he has been working at has been working him hard and the other dock workers ever since the incident and only now did they finally relent. Something about having to meet a deadline or something but now that that deadline has passed. Things can return to normal, and Yijun was all for it.

Relaxing on his couch as he used the remote to flip through the channels to finally stop at a rugby game. And, of course, everything was in Spanish. Luckily he has a good grasp on it since moving here. Granted, he had to given his job, and few at the port know english, much less any kind of chinese. Still, he gets good pay at and.... and.

Yijun started to sink into the couch at what he was thinking, and the sounds of the t.v faded. This is where he ended up after four years of living in this county. After everything he has been through, you would think the son of a crime lord would have a better occupation than a dock worker. Yes, he did want to get away from being a criminal and live as a normal person, despite what his father wanted for him and who knows how his sister is doing. Yijun has not seen or heard any word of her for years, and who knows, she might be dead. Though he knows his sister and he would not count her out just yet.

Either way, he has mixed feelings about where he has ended up, especially after the incident at the docks with that Tulpa. That thing could have killed him, and after what happened. It made him rethink things, and well, he is not exactly happy with his lot in life. Maybe a new job would help or someone else, but what?

Then he could hear the cheering crowd from the tv. and it snapped him out of his train of thought. Back to reality, and he could only sigh. Maybe he will do something about his situation, but right now, he has to enjoy himself after a long time of work. Watching the game for an hour before looking down at his watch and realized it was time to do errands. So he regretfully turned off the t.v and got ready to leave. Exiting his apartment and making sure it was locked before heading out into the city. Maybe I can get an idea of what to do while doing errands, he thought, and then went out into the city. Time to see what the city has in store for him today.

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Zarkenis Ultima
Post Czar
 
Posts: 43380
Founded: Feb 22, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Fri Nov 04, 2022 1:56 am

September 1st


The flickering red light of the streetlight at the junction of Avenida Mártires and Calle Siete. Loud horns crying out in anger, drowned out by the purr of the engine. The glistening sweat running down his forehead as a result of the fierce sun's heat, only alleviated by the small fan on top of the dashboard. The smell of smoke belched from the exhaust pipe of a nearby bus. All of these sensations and more struck Hector all at once as he looked at the streets of Paso Del Rey from the driver's seat of his chrome blue pickup truck, one hand on the wheel while the other lazily rested on the window, his face a reflection of serenity despite the consistent assault on his senses. An air of calm and perhaps even indifference for this vortex of light and sound and heat surrounded him as he pressed his foot on the gas pedal after the streetlight's color changed to green. Weaving through the steady stream of cars that more resembled a river of metal than something orderly and man-made, the young man relished the experience, lost in thoughts, the rhythmic bobbing of his head matching the tempo of some tune or other. One could truly focus on the journey when the destination has been known all along.

Eventually, however, his reverie came to an end, as it always did. At least for a little. Slowing down as he turned a corner, he came to a halt just outside old García's store, parking the truck. As he moved to exit, he caught a glimpse of his reflection on the side-view mirror. His dark brown hair, tied at the back, was almost black with the sweat that dampened it, clinging to his forehead, the adhesive bandage on his cheek, and his ears, lightly obscuring a few cuffs and piercings that adorned them. His black shirt and jeans were less noticeably affected, but he reasoned that he'd have to take a shower regardless, whenever he managed to finish running errands and head back home to rest for the day - unless something needed doing back there, that is.

He also saw it. It was always there.

On the sidewalk, sweeping the front of his business as he always did, García watched the truck park and the familiar young man stepping out of it. Stopping his oddly cheerful sisyphean task for a moment, he raised his hand in greeting. "Hectorín! ¿Cómo estas?" The old man asked, the moniker bringing an amused smile to Hector's face. He recalled the old man first using it when his father took him along on an errand, introducing him to García when he was still a little boy and the man's hair hadn't yet gone completely white. It made sense back then, and in a way it still did, of course - he was still the younger Hector - but it had turned somewhat ironic now that he was a fully grown man, just past six feet tall. Still, it wasn't something that bothered him.

"Buenos dias, don García. All's good, all's good." He replied. "I'm here for the usual."

At this, the man nodded repeatedly, leaning the broom against the wall of his storefront before gesturing at Hector to follow him inside. "Yes, yes, this way. Got your crates right over here." He said, leading the way inside. García's establishment was a bit larger than other similar corner stores in the area, with a couple of aisles and some fridges at the back, and it was next to those fridges that the old man had placed a pair of crates, one of them filled with glass bottles containing soft drinks of various brands and flavors, while the other was filled with different brands of beer. Bottles upon bottles arranged in neat rows. Looking pleased with himself, the shopkeeper patted Hector's shoulder. "I'll leave you to it. Remember to thank Enrico for his business!"

Nodding, the young man got to work. The crates were heavy, yes, but nothing he wasn't used to, and he quickly got the first one back out of the store before setting it on the ground for a moment to open the tailgate of his truck and set the crate on the cargo bed properly. There wasn't much else there at the moment; his toolbox was on the shotgun seat, since he didn't usually have passengers on board. After pausing for a moment, he went back inside to bring the other crate aboard. With his task done, he went back inside for the third time, grabbing a bag of salted peanuts for the road.

"Anything you need help with, don?" Hector asked as he grabbed a few coins out of his pocket to pay for his snack.

"You're welcome to grab a broom and help me out if you want mijo." The old man joked, earning a chuckle out of his customer. "Things are good right now but I'll let you know if I have a job for you. In the meantime, if you need anything, you know where to come!" He stated as he took the coins from him.

"Wouldn't dream of going anywhere else. See ya don." The young man bid farewell, and then he was gone. Back into the chrome blue. Back on the road.

Headed in a different direction this time, Hector was once more content to simply let his thoughts transpire as they would, enjoying the road and its quirks - and his newly acquired snack of course. Weaving through the steel river again, he nonetheless took each moment as it came, appreciating the sights that the streets of Santa Francesca had to offer. By a corner, a group of punks seemed to be having a discussion about whose mohawk was the most ludicrous and anti-establishment of all. Not far from them, a beautiful woman with silky black hair crossed the street with purpose, moving in the direction of the monorail station to likely head to Tlatoani or Paradise City. On the other side of the street, a man with more plating than face on his head stumbled in seemingly no particular direction, dazed. Two blocks further ahead, a young boy was taking a dog easily larger than him out on a walk.

The young man wasn't quite sure how long he had been daydreaming, having lost track of his own stream of thought at one point, but there was a smile on his face when he eventually arrived at a certain taquería widely renowned in Santa Francesca, not yet open for the day though its owner was hard at work already. Surprisingly, there was a moped at the entrance, forcing him to park a little further away. No matter. Just a few more steps to take.

"Don Enrico, I'm here!" He called out as he walked inside, disregarding the closed sign on the entrance. The restaurant wasn't empty, even at this hour, but that was hardly a surprise. "Hola, Ame." He said to Amelia with a smile, and then glanced at the corner of the room. "Don Harry." He nodded in greeting.
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North America Inc
Powerbroker
 
Posts: 7603
Founded: Mar 07, 2013
Capitalizt

Postby North America Inc » Sun Nov 06, 2022 5:17 pm

FID Garrison, Paso Del Rey
September 1st
10:07 AM

Image

She was one of many—rows upon rows of desks, each with their Officer studiously working on their tasks. Furious typing echoed through the spacious hall, punctuated with the occasional pneumatic tube or muffled conversations. This helped guide her attention during these early morning hours, not losing sight of her work. A manilla folder laid front and center on her desk. She silently mumbled the words under her breath as she read over the lines, triple checking her handy work to such a precise degree that even a substandard synonym necessitated a redo. At the same time, she was cross-checking the original report; most of it had been redacted by this point, but it helped to be thorough. One would be kept in the public record; the other would be resting in the deep vaults of the FID. Never to be read again except by a few trusted clandestine operatives.

Second Lieutenant Valeria Castillo had been a part of FID for the better part of two years, having previously graduated from officer candidate school. Her current assignment revolved around psionic affairs, a glamorous title for a milquetoast posting. On paper, dealing with Tulpas, Neural Physics, and Acolytes came with a certain sense of adventure; in reality, the Royal Guardsmen were eager to handle these assignments in-house. Especially tight lip about the comings and goings of any pressing issue, those within this FID Division often found themselves playing clean up for their messes rather than any meaningful independent work. Even worse than the pompous knights of the Guardsmen were the plain-clothed spies of the Directorate of State Intelligence; the knights, at the very least, purposely kept to themselves. The DSI would stroll up to any FID operation they saw, pull the ‘National Security’ card, take anything they want, and leave them looking the fools.

Iberian Bureaucracy was painfully baroque - almost seemingly purposeful at times. Despite the Royal Guards and DSI operating under their jurisdiction, neither group seemed to acknowledge that. If your title didn’t begin with ‘Field Marshal,’ your complaints would fall on deaf ears. This truth went beyond their paramilitary agency, permeating from the Palace to the streets of Del Rey. Castillo mulled over that truth right as she turned over the page to look over the notes of the local investigators. FID Officers would endlessly complain about the maverick tactics of others only to do the exact same with any Green Federale they stumbled across. She smiled, guilty of that herself. Said Federale would, in turn, do the same to some poor cop. Everyone loved protocol until they had to follow it.

She closed the new report, satisfied with her handiwork. Pulling her typewriter back into place, she gathered her things and made her way to her superior. She passed a few dejected clerks, eyeing the mountain of paperwork they needed to file away, a Royal Guardsmen who didn’t even bother acknowledging her salute, and close colleagues smoking away their problem outside someone’s office.

After taking the elevator, she came to the receptionist of her boss, who phoned ahead of her arrival. She was ushered in right after. Shoes snapped together, and a right hand raised high as she stood at attention. The Major paid no mind. As the saluting lieutenant stood waiting at the doorway, the man watched the television. The American President was making a live broadcast in the Oval Office, addressing the ongoing crisis with the Soviets. He took another puff of his electronic cigarette, waving for her to sit down as his hand came down.

Relieved, she took a seat and fixated on the televised address. She had spent the better part of the morning fine-tuning this redacted report for future release to the public, but she wasn't ignorant of the latest happenings worldwide. No doubt it would be about Pakistan. "Sir, what is the American President addressing?"

"Further deployment into West Germany and Saudi Arabia..." He took another puff of his vape, "Along with the deployment of the American Liberty Bell. First time overseas, I believe."

Her pupils went wide, "The Bell, sir? Rather a bit extreme?"

"Apparently not." His tone and exhaustion made it clear he agreed with her. "Well..." Swiveling his chair back and forth, he reached out towards her and ordered, “Give me it.”
Image

Major Lizarraga was your typical career officer. Only a few years older than the fresh-faced- twenty-something, unlike her, he had the advantage of dynastic nobility to pull his career along. This wasn’t to say he was corrupt or incompetent, far from it. He handled his role well, but not to any significant degree. Good, not excellent. That was perhaps precisely how he ended up leading this domestic division, one where he would never rock the boats for the more free-spirited Vaqueros of the Royal Guard. However, his patience with them was ever waning.

She handed the report over, going over the immediate basics to freshen his memory. “This was the August 27th incident involving the seven-person family unit Rural setting. Family income was primarily made from fishing.”

He flipped through the pictures of the original report, paying no mind to the grizzly photographs clipped to the top. “Was August 27th the first time the household encountered the entity?”


“Yes - though the mother had been suffering from night terrors and sleep paralysis for at least four days.”

“How do we know that?”

“She mentioned it to the grandmother on the 26th; this triggered the automated flag.”

“Has the grandmother brought this to anyone else’s attention?”

Valeria pointed to the original report, “Grandmother has an early on-set dementia and has been living in the next town of Cordoba at some assisted living facility since the beginning of the year. During this conversation with her daughter, she focused more on elderly gossip. The tapped transcript is in the original report.”

Lizarraga flipped a few papers, “Ah, I see it right here.” There was a prolonged silence for the next few minutes as he went through the papers and read up on the details. He shifted in his seat, leaning further down on the case. "What was the local law enforcement response time?"

“95 minutes.” She said with disappointment, as if she was the one to fail, “The early warning system had been able to disconnect the family line when the oldest daughter tried to make the first call.”

He looked up from the report, “And?”

“The father apparently had recently purchased a new car with a built-in phone, which our system failed to blacklist. A poor connection but enough to reach a dispatcher.”

He growled, “And this dispatcher allowed a response?”

“The third one did. There were calls at the 15, 43, and 51-minute marks. The last two were made by the last survivor, eight-year-old Julian. The third dispatcher before the amnestic administration informed us that she felt the need to do something after, I quote, ‘He asked his mother to stop hanging up there.’” Castillo rolled her eyes at that, “Irresponsible.”

“I want her reassigned.”

“Already done.”

“Good. Did she, at the very least, tell the local sheriff’s office what they were dealing with?”

“She just said it was a home invasion. Two under-equipped policemen were on the way before the IRG were able to intercept.”

Lizarraga read the after-action report, “Yes, I see that here.” He read through the final notes on the matter before remarking aloud in disbelief, “Good thinking on the plane ticket purchase.”

Though she kept her reservations, she was beaming a bit inside. “Yes, in a few days, a sighting of them in Caracas will be fed to the remaining family members.” She paused for a second before going a bit deeper on the reasoning, “The mother had mentioned in her journal that the father had wanted to travel to Venezuela before; we have good reasoning to believe that he had mentioned this to his siblings. We have since moved the family car to the parking lot of a local airport.”

“I know when we did this with the Adrián Fuentes case last year, we had a few issues regarding the air-” A knock on the door cut off the Major. He raised his voice, “Yes?”

“My apologies, Major. I did not mean to disturb your meeting.” His receptionist opened the door and walked in with a few papers, saying, “You just received this FAX. The Capital office stressed its urgency.”

“Give it here.” He swiped the paper’s from the oncoming subordinate. Castillo sat there silently as she watched his expression intently, curious to see if he had any tells on the matter. He looked up at his receptionist with a sardonic smirk and side eye, “That’s it? This was of major importance. De Carranza must be drunk or a fool if he thinks I am going to waste my day dealing with this.”

The receptionist stood there unsure what to say as Lizarraga ranted his frustration at her. “What would you like me to do, sir?”

He placed the fax on his desk before shooing her away. “Make a copy of the message and send one of the guardsmen to investigate. Let them clean up their mess.” He sighed at the sheer narcissism on display, venting further to make his point of view known. “Five swordsmen haven’t reported in after taking the weekend off. They apparently had their weapons on them.”

She raised an eyebrow at the sound of that, “Missing but with their weapons?”

He raised his hand to play down how bad that sounded out loud, “This is not the first time those Vaqueros decided to ignore proper protocol and not check in. This has to be the third time this year.” He mulled over the most likely explanation, “They’re probably doing some impromptu retreat of some sort and hit Del Rey traffic on the way down.”

Castillo thought about her following response, careful not to overstep her boundaries. “Rather than waste our time, we could inform the police about anyone matching their descrip-”

He cut her off, “And get that idiot Velasquez meddling with our affairs? No. The acolytes on-site can deal with this themselves. Besides, the message has some information on their last known address; they shouldn't be too hard to find with how flamboyant they can be.” He laughed at his joke before speaking up further to make it clear this was the end of the conversation, “Now, let’s get back to this report.”
Last edited by North America Inc on Sun Nov 06, 2022 5:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Bentus
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Founded: Dec 18, 2013
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Bentus » Wed Nov 09, 2022 11:19 pm

Talia Morillo
September 1, 1985



The Bordeaux casino was a shameless display of wealth and extravagance. It towered over the streets of Paradise City, illuminating itself in glimmering lights and neon signs well into the night. It was a monument to the glitz and glamor that it contained: multiple floors of bustling activity at all hours of the day.

The crowded main hall could be overwhelming for someone entering for the first time. It struck your senses like a wave. The cacophony of colorful lights and gilded facades, clicking roulette wheels and tumbling dice. Cheers and laughter would erupt from one table, only to be followed by groans of dismay from another. Chips changed hands, dealers dealt their loaded decks, and cocktails flowed freely from the bar. Tourists and locals alike rubbed shoulders around the more popular tables, with alcohol providing the social lubrication to spark overnight friendships and rivalries between them. The main hall was a living billboard advertising the carefree lifestyle that the casino embodied. They said that as long as you still had money to lose, the party never stopped.

But that wasn’t all that the Bordeaux had to offer. Live music and private rooms for the more high-stakes games, along with plenty more entertainment for those with the cash to spend. The establishment catered to those on the other end of society as well: the laborers and paycheck-to-paycheck types who walked through its doors to catch a glimpse of how the other side lived. Tucked at the back of the main hall, cast in dimmer lights that made it impossible to tell the passage of time, banks of slot machines offered company to blank-faced drones. Each of them repeatedly pulling a lever for hours on end. Sometimes they’d make it home with a little extra cash in their pocket. Most times they’d nearly lose it all.

Talia hated it. She hated the fake smiles and overdone facades. The casino’s artificial utopia of fun and games was a distraction from the cratering society outside. Middling corporate executives and their white-collar peers would blissfully waste away their nights, content to be blinded by the flashing lights. The Bordeaux was emblematic of everything that was wrong in Nueva Iberia: a temple to rampant consumerism and mindless corporate worship. While others saw a glimmering beacon upon a hill, Talia saw a parasite draining the life away from a willingly ignorant city.

And yet she had no trouble blending in by the bar. Wearing a strapless dress that lent an elegance to her figure, she sipped on her drink as she feigned an interest in the American sitting beside her. He’d taken her to the bar after she’d caught his eye from one of the tables, and now she nodded and smiled along with the painfully one-sided conversation. She oohed and aahed as he not-so-subtly boasted about the importance of his work, intermittently punctuated with the occasional comment of how he hoped to see more of the city during his stay.

“They’ve only given me three days to close this deal. Can you believe it?” The man’s face was flushed, tinted red from the alcohol that was already coursing through his system. He scoffed at the perceived injustice of a rushed cross-border corporate jaunt. “A few months back I had a full two weeks in France. That was more of my speed. Plenty of time to see the sights and meet the locals. It sets a much better tone for this kind of thing.”

“Europe? I’ve always wanted to visit.” Talia replied, silently thinking about how much easier plunging shards of glass into her eyes would have been than enduring this conversation. Her impersonation of someone who actually cared was nigh-on flawless, although her responses could have just as easily been read from a script. “Were you in Paris?”

Trevor Hughes dutifully obliged her by diving into a long-winded recollection of his recent travels. Talia could only presume that flaunting his globetrotting business travel like a briefcase-wielding peacock worked on the usual crowd. She pretended to be engaged in his stories, but her smile was really masking a smirk. If only Mr Hughes was aware of how much she already knew about him, his calm demeanor might have vanished in an instance.

Talia allowed him to buy her another round of drinks. More time that he’d spend sitting by the bar where she could see him, too preoccupied by the pretty woman in the strapless dress to notice that she’d managed to get her hands on his roomkey while they’d moved from the roulette table to the bar.

Even while she kept Trevor busy, another Talia had effortlessly swiped her way into his hotel room. She hadn’t wasted any time in locating his portable computer. It was a newer model: its blocky shape being somewhat ponderous compared to the portable datapads that Talia was more used to, yet still light enough to easily fit in a carry-on. But the machine made up for its size with its capability. JCN marketed it as a fully mobile workstation. A must-have accessory for the traveling executive with more money than sense. In the hands of someone like Trevor, all Talia saw was a liability.

Cracking the device’s security may as well have been child’s play. She didn’t even bother trying to brute force the password, instead taking the faster approach of tearing down the laptop’s flimsy firewalls and gaining root access directly. From there she could start copying the hard drive to her neural interface, its contents to be handed over later to her client. While that was being done, she uploaded a quiet virus to Trevor’s account.

It would sweep the system logs to wipe any digital fingerprints that might have revealed her intrusion, before masking itself within the laptop’s memory, laying an ambush to be sprung whenever it got connected to an American-registered network. At which point it would meticulously wipe the poor pencil pusher’s hard drive, scraping away each one and zero until nothing but random noise was left. And then - because Talia liked to consider herself a professional - it would override the safeties built into the laptop’s power supply and deliberately fry whatever electrical components didn’t have their own surge protection circuitry built in.

It wasn’t a minute after she’d finished fine-tuning the custom virus that Talia's neural link notified her that it had finished copying the files. Carefully doing her best to remove any signs of her presence, Talia slipped the laptop back into its case before leaving the room exactly as she’d found it.
Last edited by Bentus on Thu Nov 10, 2022 10:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Founded: May 17, 2014
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Finland SSR » Thu Nov 10, 2022 3:27 am

North America Inc wrote:FID Garrison, Paso Del Rey
September 1st
10:07 AM

Igor Vyshnevsky




Right as he was about to leave the Headquarters and make his way home, Igor checked in to his office - and, as if determined from God to make sure that his plans for the afternoon don't come to fruition, the fax machine activated as soon as he arrived, forcing out a brief sigh from the Guard. An order was an order, and he was not going to ignore it - but this did mean that the taqueria Edgar was talking about would have to wait for another day.

The machine spewed out several papers - the first was a brief description of the emergency situation, that is, five acolytes of the Royal Guard missing in the city after taking the weekend off, with their weapons and armours, as well as details on their last known location, as reported by the city police. The rest of the pages were profiles and descriptions of the quintet - some of the faces were familiar, though they all were Guardsmen from the same city, so it wasn't much of a surprise.

Why aren't the rest of the FID involved, though? the thought flashed in Igor's mind as he looked through the report. Surely, the manpower that the rest of the force can deploy would be a lot more effective in tracking their trail than the limited numbers of Acolytes. The city police should have been informed as well. Without bothering to give it that much thought, however, Igor simply assumed the best - that the FID had other tasks on their plate and could not afford anything to the investigation, so he'll have to deal with it alone. The Russian cyborg pushed the files into a folder and left the office, locking it, then making his way outside of the imposing block.

It was just a check-up for where a few of his colleagues have went, so, hopefully, it shouldn't take that long, and he might still find time for that taqueria.




The mission turned into a bit of a wild-goose chase. The place mentioned in the report was the Tlatoani District Library, where, as stated, the five acolytes were seen all together in the library's cafe, discussing something by the table before departing. The short, bald owner of the cafe informed that he saw them get to a vehicle and head towards an electronics-industrial goods store not far from here, while the librarians, questioned on whether the acolytes mentioned anything, merely stated that one of them silently borrowed some books on early Christianity and a map of Del Rey.

The electronics store was next, run by a jovial Russian immigrant who got Igor to briefly brush off his skill of his mother tongue - he recognized the profiles as well, and confirmed that they visited a few days ago. Their purchases were... odd - remote controllers for television, spare robot parts, glue, among other things. Right as they departed, one of the acolytes briefly mentioned something about a diner in Paradise City.

Each time, the information given was juuust enough to give Igor the next place to head on the trail, but little information on what exactly he was heading towards. The store gave some hints that maybe this disappearance was more than just an extended vacation, but Igor wasn't certain what to make of it. He did not want to assume the worst, but the report and the information he's found did not give him confidence.

The Royal Guard's car stopped by the diner, a fairly respectable restaurant that generally attracted Western tourists.

"...yes, something came up at work. I'm not certain how long this will take, no - but, hopefully, I'll be back home by the evening. Lyublyu tebya," Igor answered his phone right as the car stopped, left it closed on the seat and stepped out. His Royal Guard uniform was a lot more simple than the usual, with little decoration - after all, he rips the whole upper half of it during battle, if he doesn't take it off before, so there wasn't much reason for him to keep replacing medals on the regular. Anyone on the street could immediately recognize his allegiance, however, especially thanks to the long sword hanging off his back.

Right as the towering Russian stepped to the diner, a few of the visitors raised their heads and waiters passing by tensed up, avoiding the guard. Even those who respected the Emperor's Arm knew that they'd rather not get into trouble with them - and the officer who visited them was not easy on the eye, tall and intimidating. Igor approached the bar, getting the woman standing on the other side to immediately perk up and mutter:

"Yes, hello... what's going on? Um, should I leave the counter or..." She was barely over twenty and had no idea how to handle speaking to someone of this caliber, clearly. Igor raised his hand and briefly smiled to dissuade her concerns, and answered:

"No need to worry, please. I'm only here searching for a few people who may have visited a few days ago, and I hope you can help me out."

"Um... I'll ring Mr. Galvez, he'll be able to help you..."

The bartender pressed a button on her side of the counter, and after a few seconds, locks began popping off the door tucked away between lined up wine bottles and refreshments. A tall, thin, tanned man in a suit stepped out, groaning in contempt at first - the last thing he wanted to do was get interrupted in his work by something unimportant - but his attitude immediately changed when he saw who was standing behind the counter.

"Ahh, we have an esteemed guest!" Mr. Galvez called out, putting on a smile and wringing his hands. "It is nice to meet you, sir, I am the owner of this place - what... what can we do for you?"

"Please, you don't have to worry as well," Igor gestured with his hand, then placed his folder on the counter and began pulling out the profiles. "I am searching for five of my colleagues who have vanished without a trace, and I hope you can help me out. I've been informed that they may have visited here recently."

"Ahh, ahh..." the restaurant owner immediately muttered out, pointing towards one of the pages with a shaky finger. "This man... yes, he visited four or five days ago... with a group..."

Noticing the commotion by the bar counter, the other waiters and waitresses of the restaurant began to gather, looking down at the pages themselves. Raising his eyes from the report, Igor asked:

"Did he mention anything to you? Any location, or what he's doing?"

"No, I didn't even get to talk to him, I only noticed him briefly..."

"Wait, that's the guy!" one of the waitresses behind Igor suddenly called out and reached past the muscular Guard to pick up one of the papers.

"What guy?" Igor turned towards them, but she and another waitress ignored his questions, instead holding the file of a missing Guard in between them and gossiping with giggles dispersed throughout. When they noticed that the Guard was staring them down, however, one of them raised her eyes and explained:

"I was tending to the table where this guy was sitting, you know... and he noticed that I have this," she pulled out a small card, decorated with fake gold ornaments. "A premium membership in the Bordeaux, you know... and that guy almost went wild. Started asking me a whole bunch of shit about the casino, how often I go there, whether I've won anything and how does that make me feel, and..."

What? "So, is he a casino player like you or-"

"No clue, no. I don't know, he might have just been trying to hit on me in the weirdest way possible, but he did seem really obsessed about that place."

Igor looked down at the waitress, silent, unsure what to make of this information. It didn't seem likely that the Bordeaux would get involved when, at least as far as he could tell, it was only mentioned by one of the missing acolytes - but, perhaps the casino staff will know something about the fate of that one acolyte specifically. The guard picked up the paper from the waitress' hands and swept up the others on the bar counter.

"Alright, thank you all for the information."

Next stop - the Bordeaux.
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North America Inc
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Founded: Mar 07, 2013
Capitalizt

Postby North America Inc » Sat Nov 12, 2022 3:15 pm

Amelia Milagra Infante Valenzuela
August 31st


An eerie silence lingered over the Infante dinner table. The family of four eyed one another, unsure what to say next. This was far from the norm. Usually, these dinners would be lively and expressive, though, given their restaurant's usual hours, often a rarity. The matriarch of the family picked at her rice, careful not to make eye contact with her daughter. She was incensed; livid would be more apt, with even a faint glare liable to send her down another diatribe. She looked over at her husband Enrico, who was taking another sip of his tequila. Though this had been thrust upon them, she knew they were on the same page.

Their dining room was more rustic and austere than the restaurant below. Their table was as old as Joaquin; his lingering bite marks were still etched onto their legs. The various decorations on and around the table were invariably mismatched, resulting from collecting trinkets from multiple vendors over the years. Their cloth napkins were from Estefanía's village, the faux-golden crucifix was from Mexico, while the 'Last Supper' had always been the family; no one knew for sure.

Amelia took another spoonful of her albondigas; the soup had since gone cold. In truth, she didn't blame her mother one bit. In fact, in her position, she would have done the same. She was just as conflicted, the positives and negatives of the offer weighing on her since she was told earlier this week. She had never even considered it, a dream so far out of the realm of possibility that she still wasn't even sure if it had all been conjured up in her head. Part of her wished it was. She contemplated what to say next as she looked over at her mom's sullen eyes, love hidden underneath the anger. What would soften the blow? Perhaps nothing needed to be said; she would come to understand in time. She took another sip of her wine, staring at her brother's framed portrait. Her other brother. She regretted that, distraught that she had just told a mother she was about to lose another child.


Reverend Norv wrote: - Henry Latimer-

Zarkenis Ultima wrote:-Hector-

September 1st
After the fight last night, Amelia wasn't entirely sure what she would be walking into when she came home. Luckily, it was only her dad - and Harry. Her dad had been sipping his black coffee and reading the newspaper when she entered the shop, an empty plate resting beside him. "Papa." She quickly changed the subject, "How did you sleep last night?"

"Well, Mija..." He looked up from the sports section, "Where did --"

"Where's Mama?" Amelia purposely cut him off with another question, eager to get this out of the way.

"She's out with friends getting her hair done. Joaquin is still sleeping upstairs." The boy was eager to enjoy the last few days of summer vacation, dreading returning to that all-boys academy. He made that annoyingly clear to the family, though neither parent cared to hear. As Amelia came by to hug her father, she noticed a manilla envelope hidden underneath his plate. A sickening sight. The 'insurance' payments may have been an open secret, but no one liked to discuss them out loud. After letting go, she gestured with her neck toward it. "When do you have to run your errands?"

"I have to leave soon."

"Really, why?" Amelia asked incredulously. Usually, he took care of these payments right before the nightly rush.

"The post office is closed today." He answered cryptically, eager not to drag their American tenant or anyone else into his financial affairs. Enrico may have been a warm and pleasant man, but he was a father foremost. And along with that position came a certain duty and sense of pride. Extortion rackets were exceedingly rare in Santa Francesca, but his taqueria was unique. It was famous, and with fame came undue attention. The thugs first came into his store two years ago, making the situation clear. They rarely visited him since, allowing him the dignity to do this away from his family. But it still stung. He further clarified, "I know an office in Paradise that I can use, though." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, "Where did you go last night?"

"Lucia, I spent the night." A partial lie.

"Right, right." Enrico ran his fingers through his mustache, clearly skeptical of her answer. Still, he wasn't one to pry, especially with others around to hear.

Speaking of which, Harry interjected and asked, "See anything interesting on the ride over, kid?" right as Amelia walked into the kitchen.

Amelia grabbed tortillas from the pantry and looked over at Henry from behind the counter window. "Oh, not much happened." She replied in passable English. Her second language was adequate, though she was the best English speaker in her family. A fake smile remained plastered over her face, trying to be cordial with a man she knew very little about. With her schooling, internship, extracurriculars, and chores, she didn't often interact with the man beyond a simple hello. Not that she had any reason to pry into his life any further, given their age difference, though she was aware that he was a journalist of some kind. Joaquin swore he was some secret agent sent to spy on the family, but he also believed in vampires, so he wasn't the most reliable witness. "Any interesting stories --"

"Don Enrico! I'm here!" Her close friend Hector loudly barraged in, walking inside with some boxed refreshments. Amelia lightly perked up, grinning from the impromptu grand entrance. He noticed her and smiled back, "Hello, Ame!"

"Hello, Hector, " Enrico and his daughter said in their own way.

As Hector waltzed through the kitchen and toward the refrigerator, "You shook the cokes so much last time, they exploded in the customer's face. Be more careful, or we will use someone else from now on."
Last edited by North America Inc on Sat Nov 12, 2022 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Zarkenis Ultima
Post Czar
 
Posts: 43380
Founded: Feb 22, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:52 am

September 1st


North America Inc wrote:---

"Hiring someone else isn't gonna make the potholes go away, don Enrico." Hector said with utter calm in response to the other man's complaints, his smile not quite disappearing as he walked across the main area of the restaurant, filled with empty chairs and empty tables that would soon be filled up with the hungry denizens of Santa Francesca - and beyond. Arriving at the kitchen in but a few moments, he set the crate of carbonated drinks down on the floor next to the fridge, taking care to place it out of the way and avoid disturbing the glass bottles any more than the car ride had already done, and then turned to look at Amelia's father. "I'll be more careful, I promise. Wouldn't want my favorite taquería to start losing customers because of me after all." He assured the man, giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder and then making for the exit as he remembered there was another crate to deliver.

"I'll be right back. Have to get the beers." He said, almost as an afterthought, as he left the restaurant. Back into the street, back to his truck, but only for a moment. Have to make sure that the beers don't get nabbed by some unsavory passerby while he's inside chit-chatting or putting away cokes, and then lock up the tailgate. It was only for a moment, and then he was back inside with a crate full of alcohol for those who preferred something a little more bitter with their tacos. Not quite the choice he would make, but he respected those who did - if nothing else, they helped keep him busy in the mornings.

Walking back into the kitchen, the young man set the second crate down next to the first and then opened the fridge to begin placing everything inside, slowly but steadily filling the interior with neatly arranged rows of glass bottles. As he did so, he briefly glanced back towards Amelia.

"Is that moped at the entrance yours? Had to park a bit further away today because of it." He said calmly as ever, more curious than critical.
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Reverend Norv
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Nov 14, 2022 5:48 pm

~ DIARY OF HENRY LATIMER ~

September 1, 1985 - Morn.

Amelia was clearly not in the mood to talk when she walked in. She told me that she hadn't seen much on the ride over - in English. About as helpful as I expected, but it never hurts to fish for leads, and at least Amelia gets to practice her English while she's dodging my questions. And it wasn't just my questions, either. Amelia hugged Enrico, and neatly evaded his efforts to figure out where she'd been. Apparently, she had spent the night with a friend. Enrico seemed not to believe this, and I didn't either. But Amelia's basically a teenager, and kids that age get up to all sorts of things. I mean, I didn't - but that's what I remember hearing, then and now.

They say that youth's wasted on the young. Maybe I should have done a few more things I wouldn't have wanted to admit to my professors. But I was too full of high ideals to waste time on pleasure.

Anyway, here's what's more interesting. When Amelia hugged her dad, I saw her eyes catch something on his table, and her whole body tensed: subtly, but visibly. She inclined her head toward Enrico's plate, and asked when he had to run his errands. Enrico said that he had to do it soon; the post office was closed today, but he knew an office in Paradise that he could use.

I'm a good reporter. The post office is not closed today. And even if it were, nobody from Santa Francesca goes all the way to Paradise City to mail a package. You go to Paradise for only one reason: to lose your money to the DiMeos - voluntarily at the casino, or less voluntarily behind closed doors. Enrico never struck me as a gambler.

So I started paying attention. Looking back now, I'm not sure why. Maybe it was just my unexpected sobriety latching on to something that would occupy it, prevent it from fixating on the next drink. Maybe it was the food and coffee talking - simple gratitude for simple pleasures. And this family has been good to me; better than they had to be. I suppose I felt like I owed them a favor. Maybe it was even some decade-overdue hangover from my upbringing: a zombie sense of noblesse oblige, a belief in my own power and in the responsibility of using it to help others, rearing its head long after the world proved that neither the power nor the responsibility really existed. The last postmortem twitch of the idealism that Vietnam drowned in alcohol and opium and blood.

And maybe I'm a bastard, and I smelled a story. That too.

Anyway, I started paying attention.

Hector, the delivery guy, marched through the door: both hands occupied with a crate of sodas. Everyone likes him - quiet, responsible, helpful. A sweet kid. He greeted Enrico respectfully, and called out, "Hello, Ame!" and Amelia looked up and grinned at the sight of him.

Like I said. Sweet kids.

Hector gave me a respectful nod, maybe a wary nod, and carried the crate of sodas back into the kitchen. Enrico's gaze followed him: he was gently busting Hector's balls for jostling the merchandise too much. While Enrico's gaze was elsewhere, I stood and grabbed my plate and coffee cup and started carrying them toward the kitchen sink. And as I passed behind Enrico, I glanced over at his table - for just a moment, the briefest moment - searching for whatever had attracted Amelia's gaze.

My optic implant makes this soft, annoying sound when the image enhancer kicks in: a sound only I can hear, like a gnat trapped in my inner ear. I heard that sound, and a manila envelope mostly hidden under Enrico's plate jumped into crystalline focus as the optic zoomed and photographed.

An unmarked manila envelope. Not the sort of thing you take to the post office, whether or not it's open. Exactly the sort of thing you take to certain people in Paradise City. I figured my hunch was confirmed. I had no idea how right I was.

Still - it was too early to say or do anything. I washed out my plate in the kitchen sink. Hector was putting another crate away - beer this time - I felt the flutter of lust in the pit of my stomach, rancid and familiar as the touch of an old whore - I looked away. There would be plenty of time later. Hector was asking about Amelia's moped. I got another cup of coffee from the big samovar and sipped gingerly at it, and leaned against the wall of the restaurant: toward the back corner, where I could see both the entrance and Enrico.
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Mon Nov 14, 2022 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
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Western Fardelshufflestein
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Posts: 5051
Founded: Apr 21, 2020
New York Times Democracy

Postby Western Fardelshufflestein » Wed Nov 16, 2022 8:59 am

Essen Salay
September 1st, 1985

The subway was a mess of life, bedecked in fierce colors that cast vitality onto dull bodies swaying over the dark tracks. It wasn't overly crowded, but it was not lacking in people either; Essen found she could not find a seat more than two spaces away from someone else. She could see from her vantage the strangeness of her fellow passengers, from the standing man with a clicking, whirring eye to the woman across from her whose mouth resembled stitches on a doll. The light played tricks of purple and pink on everyone's hair, made the gradations of gray and brown more interesting than they were in real life. Essen's hair had taken on a multicolored hue. She kept touching the pale purple as if the color had a texture, as if by smoothing it with her fingers she'd make the shade real.

A grungy sign and automated voice announced the next stop. It wasn't hers, but the one after that would be. She heard the standing man with the eye mutter something in English, but with the rattling of the train and the buzzing of the lights she could not make out what he said.

Essen turned her head to the left, where on the other side of the door sat a youngish man with dark hair. He was thin with olive skin stretched over a prominent nose, but he wasn't unattractive, either. His clothes were too plain for him, blending into the ether of the ordinary and erasing his form from memory. Yet there was something about him, something...was she imagining things? She tried to ignore the feeling, but it wouldn't go away. She didn't recognize him, and after today she'd never see him again, but for now he felt eternal, pulsing and alive in her mind and his seat as the world bent around him.

When the doors slid open to reveal the station, she needed no prompting to step off.
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North America Inc
Powerbroker
 
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Founded: Mar 07, 2013
Capitalizt

Postby North America Inc » Thu Nov 17, 2022 10:44 pm

Zarkenis Ultima wrote:Hector

Reverend Norv wrote:
~ DIARY OF HENRY LATIMER ~

Amelia Milagra Infante Valenzuela
Midmorning

As Hector mentioned the new ride, Amelia perked up, flipping the tortilla over, "Yeah--I bought it last weekend. Did I forget to tell you? Well, it doesn't matter. I got a deal for it and everything." She was particularly proud of that. Turning the stove off, she got to work with the rest of her breakfast. "No more riding the yellow line anymore."

She reflected on that last sentence. Given the conversation last night, buying that moped was definitely poor timing. As she grabbed a coke from Hector's boxes, she looked toward Hector feeling guilty. Her face made that abundantly clear. With everything going on, it had slipped her mind to share it with one of her closest friends.

Leaning against the kitchen wall, "Hey Hector, before I forget, I need to talk to you--"

'Click'

The sound of a photographic click snaps her attention back toward the restaurant, her eyes wide and on high alert. A white aura briefly glimmered around her, dissipating in a fraction of a second. It had been so slight that she wasn't even sure she had heard anything. "Did you hear --" She held her tongue, not sure how to articulate the sound to Hector. "Never mind, ignore me." She laughed to break the tension.

Giving the restaurant proper a quick once over from the door, her focus returned to that ominous manilla envelope. It's mental baggage circling within her head. Her father had waited months to tell her what was happening while she was away at university. In addition, only after she pressed the issue. If she had been there initially, she could have easily nipped this in the bud by confronting the gangsters. Now, the transactions were wholly impersonal dead drops, with Enrico not so much as seeing a single soul. Of course, they could stop sending payments. But then what? They had no idea how the mafiosos would respond. She could easily handle a goon with a bat. But if they cut the power, poison their food, or burn the place down, she would have no idea when or where they would strike. And this, more than anything, triggered her anxiety. She sighed aloud, snacking on her lukewarm taco. How could she leave with this still lingering over her family?

' Except, this wouldn't be a regular drop.'

The thought popped into her head right as she swallowed her first bite. A plan rapidly formed, one she knew her father would hate, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. Though she would take any help, she could get. She turned to Hector, "Hey, I need to talk to you." She had just said that. "Not the same talk. Something else. I have a lot to tell you."


Paradise City
Evening


Image
"Jesus Christ!" Esteban shouted, not in anger but in anguish. He had snapped another syringe in half. One of many. "Please, god, please, let me just do this." Whimpering and drenched with sweat, he crowded against his bathroom sink, coughing up some more bloody mucus. The cold, ruthless enforcer was reduced to a sniffling mess from the sheer mental exhaustion of taking his medicine. He reached out to his medicine bag for another Vita-Stim, holding the bulky glass syringe between his metallic fingers. The organic mechanics explained the importance of injection into the arm for greater efficacy. On account of his right being cybernetic, that didn't leave him much in the way of options, which was how he had ended up here, begging for mercy toward his mirrored reflection.

He held the syringe delicately, placing minimal pressure while guiding it toward his flexed bicep. He adjusted the tip ever so slightly to line it up with the visible vein.

"There we go, god. Just a bit more."

He slid the thumb up towards the top, shaking with eagerness to press down. But he didn't.

"Shit." He should have checked for air bubbles.

Sliding down, he would ever so lightly tap the tip and...

His over-modified right applied so much force as to snap the needle right off, embedding it into the wall. The content came pouring out. This was his fifth.

He froze for a second, wishing with all his heart that he had just imagined this. As the seconds passed and the syringe was still broken, a tremor in his jaw morphed into petulant anger. "This is total bullshit!" He threw the broken stim against the wall pacing back and forth in the tiny room. As he fixated more on his thoughts, the more furious he became. His neural wear glowed red as a curved blade shot out from his cybernetic, unleashing his full force against the unsuspecting toilet. His reinforced foot tore a hole into the drywall. Before all said was done, the bathroom was rapidly flooding with water, and he still hadn't taken his medicine. "Sure, why not god? I'll do this again for the sixth time! Is this what you want from me?" It proved to be.

He immediately felt better. Tossing the syringe onto the floor, he watched as his symptoms abided near instantaneously. His pale complexion became a healthy hue. His sore throat cleared. Even the rash on his legs seemed to bet better, though with how bloody red the boils were, that might have been wishful thinking on his part. Still, even as his agitation cleared and his strength returned, he knew this ultimately didn't amount to much beyond a few more hours of peace. The sickness would return. Both hands, organic and mechanical, formed into a fist; that was all he could do to face this. Esteban was beyond most augmented; the degree to which he had molded his body into a weapon of war would leave many appalled. With a flippant disregard for his health, he would eagerly get under the knife at a moment's notice, striving to be better, faster, and stronger.

There was a certain sense of cruel irony then that this condition sapped all three of those. As he walked into the dingy motel room, his friend Christopher was knocked out against the side of the bed. He had been taking another type of medicine. A long wire ran from his administrator, resting on his bicep, up towards the back of his head. Monitoring his chemical disposition would micro-dispense the medicine for an extended effect. Christopher, too lost in his little world to even answer where he was, had fallen asleep on Esteban's denim jacket. That proved to be a hassle to dislodge. He told him, walking out of the shooting gallery, "I'll be back later." As if Chris was listening.

"What the hell took you so long?" Carmine, who had been leaning against the bellboy counter, immediately asked as his associate came walking down the stairs of this backwater hotel.

"I don't want to talk about it.

"That's all you have to say. I've been standing here for the better part of twenty minutes like a stupid prick."

"I said I didn't want to talk about it. Christ -- let's take care of your business at the casino and get to work. " Esteban remarked, the pair walking out toward Carmine's classic Cadillac. Little did they know they would run into a former unwitting pawn.

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Finland SSR
Post Marshal
 
Posts: 15236
Founded: May 17, 2014
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Finland SSR » Sat Nov 19, 2022 12:21 pm

Bentus wrote:
Talia Morillo
September 1, 1985



Igor Vyshnevsky




Igor's car gently stopped before the busy outskirts of the Bordeaux, the bright, flashing lights of the casino briefly getting the guard to wince before they got accustomed to the change. After finding himself a place to park, he stepped out of the vehicle and briefly observed the vast palace-like building. You can wax philosophical a long time about this casino, speak miles of how it is the symbol of the degeneracy of Del Rey and the extravagance of the wealthy - Igor left it for other people to worry over. Sure, it wasn't the greatest use of money in the world, far from it, but that's simply what their world was like, and it did not concern him in particular.

Briefly, the guard ran through a few possibilities as he approached the Casino. Perhaps the missing acolytes were completely uninvolved with the casino and he was going to find nothing. In that case, the trail would run... rather cold. At that point, however, Igor could simply forward the results of his investigation to the FID and the city police department and let them deal with the rest. They were much more equipped to deal with detective work than a warrior like him, anyway. The alternative, however... was that he just grabbed an unexpected trail. That the Bordeaux might be involved in the fate of the missing acolytes somehow. Unlikely, but possible.

The guards by the vast entrance of the Casino briefly stopped Igor and almost pulled out their list of visitors before they realized who was standing in front of them. It took some time to defuse the situation and explain that he was not here for the casino's owners or staff - you never know with the Royal Guard, after all, especially when they start swinging - but, eventually, the tall Russian acolyte was let through with the right to question staff and visitors.

I'll have to bother the staff later, though. Perhaps the visitors know this "veteran casino goer" intimately and can tell me anything about where he's been seen recently.

Igor shuffled the papers in his hands, putting the file of the aforementioned acolyte on the front. Merely stepping into the dense, gilded, colorful main hall of the Bordeaux immediately started drawing glances towards the Royal Guard - he towered over many of the guests and the wide stature was easy to see as well. A Royal Guard in this place of debauchery was anything but a common sight, either.

"Excuse me, sir. May I ask you a few questions? Have you seen this man anywhere?" would get repeated, over and over, to whoever Igor's intuition told could be a valuable source. And every time, he'd receive equally stock phrases.

"Huh? No, no I haven't."

"I'm sorry, I can't talk right now."

"Excuse me, I have to go, can you not bother me?"

"What do you want? No, I haven't seen him, get lost."

Not a good start.

In his journey through the Bordeaux, Igor finally arrived to the tables at the bar, occupied by single visitors and couples alike. A foreigner in a suit was speaking to a darker skinned woman in a strapless dress that yelped disinterested answers to his stories. No harm in asking whether they knew about the missing team.

"Excuse me. I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" Igor suddenly barged in to the conversation, stopping by the table. "I'd like to ask you a question or few, if possible."
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The Republic of Atria
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 24424
Founded: Nov 12, 2013
Capitalist Paradise

Postby The Republic of Atria » Sat Nov 19, 2022 5:09 pm

Terrance walked down the quiet sidewalk , less than a half mile from his home. He was in the mood to watch some TV and veg out for the rest of the evening. However, as he walked by an alleyway, a strange hopped and out walked with him, making sure to keep pace. The Hispanic man stopped at the crosswalk with him as they both waited for their turn to cross. "Can I help you?" Terrance asked without making eye contact.

"Yes. Been seein' you around town more lately. Doin' shit for people. Any shit for the right price, right?'" He asked.

"Depends on what you're asking." Terrance replied, still neither man made eye contact.

"Real quick, real simple job. Bordeaux Casino. Got something that I need dropped off. And before you ask why I can't do it, well. Lets just say some people don't have quite the same sense of humor I do."

The crosswalk symbol changed to "walk" and the pair walked across. Terrance thought about it. Deliveries were pretty easy, and he got to spend more time walking. And the casino wasn't too far out of his way. Extra mile or so, and he could make a pit stop and drop off his stuff before doing it. "I don't work for free."

"Of course not. I wasn't expecting you to. How's five hundred sound? Right now." He asked.

Terrance almost tripped up at the amount offered for a simple drop off. Maybe an hour or two for another month of rent and utilities. Then again, it sounded too good to be true. It was clearly illicit.

"I know people like you. You're doing your best to remain quiet and not stir the pot. Which is why I wanted you. 'Sides, people all over town like you enough that if someone came sniffing, they'd be turned away. If you're not interested, let me know now and I'll find someone else."

The classic fear of missing out. "Alright, fine."

"Perfect." The stranger said, double checking for anyone paying attention and slipped Terrance a manila envelope and the promised money in fifty dollar bills. "See you around. Tell the lady upfront that it's a delivery for Enrico. She'll know what you mean. Don't fuck me on this or I'll find your ass."

Terrance gave him a small nod and the stranger turned around and headed the opposite direction. He fumbled around a bit, putting the envelope in his jacket and giving it a feel to guess what it was. There was more give than he was expecting, but the feeling was definitely bills. Likely some sort of payment for some services rendered. Whatever, he didn't ask questions. At least it wasn't drugs. Still, he went home and dropped off his groceries and started heading towards the casino. Now he was slightly paranoid, but if he was quick then he shouldn't have to worry about anything. Could a spectre be following him? No, he'd see it. Probably. The guy definitely wouldn't know that he had one.

He refocused himself, he was getting close. The gaudy building was within eyeshot, and he couldn't figure out what about it made it so enticing. There had to be more fun ways to throw money away. Oh well, not his problem.

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Zarkenis Ultima
Post Czar
 
Posts: 43380
Founded: Feb 22, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Zarkenis Ultima » Tue Nov 22, 2022 10:16 pm

September 1st


While Amelia was kept from speaking in clear terms by the vortex of sudden thoughts and impressions crossing through her mind, Hector was in contrast undisturbed, continuing to put glass bottles of beer and soda away, blissfully unaware of whatever noise had sent his childhood friend into an ever so brief hysteria - he did catch, from the corner of his eye, the sight of a white light, but it was gone by the time he turned his head to get a better look. He knew what that mirage might mean, but for now, he focused instead on finishing his task, and it was only a few more seconds before both wooden crates he had brought were left empty, their contents neatly arrayed on the fridge.

Another job well done. A small sense of satisfaction washed over him, one that was immediately undermined by something else. Something dark and sharp and grim that he - and only he - saw in the reflection of the refrigerator's glass door as he closed it. Something uncomfortably close.

Six years. Would he ever grow used to it?

The sound of Amelia's voice caused him to turn to her after standing still in front of the fridge for just a second too long, and he blinked once as he focused on it. She wanted to talk to him. About something important. More important than whatever she wanted to talk to him about before, at any rate. He simply nodded.

While her father sat unaware of her machinations at his booth, Amelia gestured for her friend to follow. Leading him to the connecting stairway between the downstairs business and second-floor residence, she closed the door to give the two some privacy. The young woman, clearly irked by the situation and the mountain of necessary exposition she would need to pass along to Hector to get him up to the side, slammed her back against the wall and looked up towards the ceiling. It was a lot thrust upon him. However, she could start with the basics. “Hector, everything I share between us - I can trust you won’t tell anyone else, right? My papa would kill me if I even shared this outside the family.”

“Yes, of course. You know I don’t go around divulging people’s secrets, Ame.” He replied, his tone a little more serious now though his expression didn’t seem to change. “Tell me whatever you need to.”

Over the course of a minute, she explained the basics of her father's extortion by the Ximenez crime family, from how he was first coerced, to the handoff, to how she first learned about it. Each sentence stressing the shame and disgust it brought to their family. She crossed her arms, “So this is the first time I have heard my papa meet face-to-face with someone about this. It’s odd. I know that this sounds crazy, but I want to make the delivery myself. I don’t want to expose my family to any more unnecessary risk; plus, maybe I can, you know…” Another flash of white aura surrounded her, “Maybe I do this, then they won’t come around anymore. But, just to play it safe, would you go with me?”

Hector’s expression did turn more stern as he heard what this was about - a racket from one of the city’s two premier crime families. He nodded along as he listened, and then nodded a final time as his answer. “I’ll go with you. Wouldn’t let you do something like this alone. But I have to tell you… I don’t think trying to intimidate them is going to go as smoothly as you think. Those guys are nothing if not persistent, even if you scare off one or two of them.”

Amelia had read more than her fair share of criminal investigations and court cases in her studies, and she knew she was walking a very fine line. However, one benefit she had over the usual racket victim was the location. Santa Francesca was relatively untouched by the corruption that flowed from Paradise; this wasn’t their backyard, and they had initially exploited the restaurant's fame to even get close to them. “I know.” She replied, “But this is what I am thinking. If I play my cards right, and we make it clear we won’t be intimidated, along with informing the police, maybe they back off. I mean, Castillo, she is something -” She couldn’t think of the right word to positively describe her, “- but she wasn’t one to turn a blind eye to this. Plus, you know”, She tapped Hector’s shoulder, “Our friends have to count for something.”

Despite the friendly gesture, the young man furrowed his brow. He knew what she was referring to, and he knew that with that sort of power, a couple of low ranking goons working for the Ximenez would be nothing of concern, but the idea of unleashing it on flesh and bone instead of… their usual targets, it didn’t sit well with him. Perhaps he was just not used to it. Still, he’d already given his word and he had no intention of going back on it.

“Sounds like you’re set on this, and I said I would go with you, so I will. But let’s be careful about it, alright?” He stated. “I think that if we can avoid… you know, showing all our cards, that would be for the best.”

She vehemently agreed. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt anyone, however, she wanted to make it clear what they would face should they cross that line. Nodding along, she added, "At the end of the day, this might be nothing. Maybe it's another dead drop and we don't see anyone. Then that's it. We come back here. Agreed?"

“Agreed.” Hector nodded. “I’ll wait for you in my truck.”
Last edited by Zarkenis Ultima on Tue Nov 22, 2022 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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North America Inc
Powerbroker
 
Posts: 7603
Founded: Mar 07, 2013
Capitalizt

Postby North America Inc » Mon Nov 28, 2022 11:49 pm

North America Inc wrote:-snip-

Paradise City
Evening

Excess. If you could describe the Bordeaux in one word, it would be excess. The heart of Paradise, its often mentioned in the same vein as Monte Carlo. An apt comparison. Over 5 million dollars passed through its slot machines, poker tables, and roulette wheels. The similarities continued beyond profit margins, the Bordeaux having shifted from Iberia's only casino to a higher roller Mecca. All thanks to the DiMeos.

The initial structure, envisioned as a villa for the Royal Family, was heavily inspired by Parisian trends in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the French invasion of Mexico soon afterward made the estate politically untenable. So the building sat abandoned for over ninety years until two opportunistic gangsters came along. Most of its outer layout kept to the original vision though within, many concessions had to be made to accommodate the floor space. The Bordeaux was the first of many other projects, turning this untouched corner of Del Rey into prime real estate; more casinos rose beside it, a few targeting milquetoast American tourists while others serviced a seedier clientele.
Image

As Carmine Gervasi walked through its halls of Mosaic marble, gilded finish, and Baroque paintings, he could not deny the gaudiness of it all. While lacking a certain tackiness present in similar Vegas establishments, the Bordeaux was exceedingly kitsch at the end of the day. A trait only perpetrated by the occupants. The DiMeos and its various caporegimes always had a sensible end goal of turning their ill-gotten wealth into legitimate avenues of revenue, positioning themselves as ‘new money.’ And, whether it be bourgeois mercantile merchants or industrial titans of yesteryear, new money always came with an awful sense of taste for the finer things. It was especially apparent as Carmine ascended that stairway into the large meeting area, greeted by the eye-sore suits and skimpy showgirls.

But he didn’t care; he reveled in it.

“Hey! Johnny!” He walked to the closest colleague by the door embracing the man with a hug and fraternal kiss, his outward warmness infectious. They both hated each other.

“Carmine! Oh!” Johnny, the white-haired Italian-American with a scar on his cheek, patted the portly man’s back. “I didn’t realize your fat ass had come ashore.” He gestured toward the rest of the room, “I would have brought out a few more entries!”

Being sensitive about his weight, Carmine allowed his inner irritation to peer through. “Right.”


Johnny laughed, tapping the man’s portly stomach. “Ah, you know I love ya.” He doesn’t. “I’m just breaking your balls.”

Stiffening his upper lip, the fat gangster nodded along. “Of course. With how often you play with them, I’m sure you know a thing or two about breaking them.”

Now it was time for Johnny’s fragile ego to be chipped, grimacing a bit before taking note of the situation. They were both capos in the company of other capos. He went along, murmuring a few more slurs under his breath before admitting, “That’s pretty funny. I’m glad we brought a comedian to this circle jerk. Livens things up.”

“Speaking of circle jerk, where’s that prick of yours? The other one.”

“Who? Billie? Like I would bring him here? I have him out there, running collections. Before my takeover, that Asshole Mortiega, may he rest in peace, ran his books with no subjects listed. Just dead drop locations. Kept the rest in his head. I got the kid running face-to-face collections just so we don’t double dip. That wouldn’t be fair.”

“Very noble of you.” Carmine quipped.

“What about you? Where’s your prick.”

“Parking lot, we don’t plan on spending the whole night in Paradise.”

“You two have honeymoon plans or what?”

Carmine ignored the joke, slipping his hands into his coat pockets while taking stock of the situation. Located on the third floor of the Bordeaux, fifteen capos gathered behind closed doors to take stock of their current situations. Augmented personnel was strictly not allowed due to the fear of bugs. Wires were similarly watched out for. Two ‘soldiers’ stood ready at the front door, concealed weapons hidden under their coats, ushering drunk tourists away from the room and toward the bathroom down below. This meeting of minds would happen quarterly, with finances as the usual focus. Today was different. After awkwardly standing beside Johnny for a minute or two, Carmine asked, “How’s the old man?”

It was a delicate situation. For appearances, you needed to address the situation delicately lest you appear callous. Or even worse, lacking respect. Gesturing for the man to follow, the pair made their way toward the corner of the rectangular room. Shaking his head, “Not good. I’ve only heard a few things. However - chemo is no longer on the table.”

Carmine crossed his arms, “What happened? I thought he returned from the States because the treatment had been successful.”

“You know how Luciano is.” Luciano was Don DiMeo’s consigliere and mouthpiece. “He makes it sound like all peaches, only to pull that shit. Acting like everything is normal, with no plan for after. Well -” He gripped his chin, “We’ll see after today. Luciano just took me aside and told me a minute or two before you walked in that DiMeo was staying in the Penthouse today. He’s not leading the meeting.”

“So sudden?” Carmine noted, “Something is not right.”

“Yeah, I thought that too.” The two peered out toward the rest of the capos, watching them chow down on the Hors D'oeuvre, laughing at their crass jokes with their phony expressions. It was all a part of the game. Even as the family went legitimate, using the Ximenez as proxies for their more directly illicit activities, each knew it was a mere facade. The Union Representative, currently scarfing down the caviar, had just last week orchestrated the death of an IOM exec through a third party after he discovered their “no-show” jobs. The waste management consultant across the table, groping some poor girl, was currently blackmailing a broker into selling junk stocks. That wasn’t even to mention the ‘close allies’ allowed to attend, the Chilean Colonel standing in the other corner of the room was actively siphoning munitions and arms into the country. Despite their degrees of separation, they weren’t that far off from the Ximenez capos and soldiers; they just had more money. Speaking of which, Carmine spoke up and asked, “Where’s Horacio or Vicente?”

“Don’t know I -”

“Champagne.” An attractive waitress approached them with a silver platter, her glistening purple eyes enchanting the middle-aged slobs.

“Oh, don’t mind if I do.” Johnny took one from the platter.

“None for me.” Carmine waved her away. She nodded, walking away, only for Johnny to grab her by the wrist.

“Wait, doll face, where are you going? You think you can slip out of my life just like that?”

“No, I am sorry about that, sir.” Her voice was significantly higher pitched and childish, the facade so evident that even Carmine caught it. Not Johnny though. However, the mafioso paid it no mind; most other girls here would do the same. What stood out to him more was her subdued, domineering demeanor, clearly not enjoying the grab.

“You know, and believe me, I have a penchant for these things -” Johnny eyed her feminine red vest and server wear, “Your figure is wasted in outfits like that. You know what I mean -” He enunciated at the end, looking for a name.

“Nina.” She replied.

“Nina. You know what I mean, Nina? Why don’t we get you in something more like that.” His pupils gestured toward the nearest showgirl. A playboy bunny outfit was more conservative.

She was not having it, but it’s not like she could say no. They both knew the implication of the request. A calm settled on her face, walking closer with a suggestive look. “How about this? I come back in a new outfit in twenty minutes. And you tell me what you think?” She flickered her lashes.

“Promise?” He asked.

“Promise.” Letting go, he eyed her walk away until she slipped out of the room.

“I still got it.” Johnny proudly remarked, annoying Carmine to no end.

Looking down at his watch, Carmine knew the meeting would start in a few minutes and go on for however long Luciano needed to explain the order of things. It would be poor taste to leave in the middle of it to piss. “Hey, I need to go take a leak.” Passing the two soldiers on the way out, he went downstairs to the main floor, where all the schmucks gave away their life savings. Each poor bet further lining his wallet. Doing his business relatively quickly, he washed his hands at the station only to notice the man’s watch standing beside him. Lined with ornate diamonds and a platinum finish, the eye-catching jewelry sparked a conversation. “Rolex?” Carmine asked.

“Excuse me?” The stranger responded, caught off guard by the inquiry as he dried his palms.

“The watch, it’s a Rolex, right.” He pointed over towards his arm.

The bearded stranger, slow to pick up what he meant, held up his wrist to see what he was pointing at. “Oh, the watch. Right, right. Yeah, it’s Rolex.”

Grabbing towels, Carmine asked, “What series is it?”

“I don’t know, my-my wife got it for me for my birthday. No, Christmas.” The man hastily changed his answer.

“Well, she’s got good taste.” Tossing the linens into the trash, he held out his hand for a shake. “Name’s Carmine, by the way.”

The man reciprocated, “De Santo. Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.” De Santo’s oversized suit stood out as the two men shook. “Listen to your wife for fashion in general. That suit of yours is easily two sizes too big. At the very least, get a new tailor. He’s doing you no favors.”

De Santo played it off, “I’ve been losing weight; what can I say.”

“Lucky man, wish I could say the same.”

De Santo’s eyes narrowed, “I’ll be seeing you.”
Last edited by North America Inc on Tue Nov 29, 2022 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
The Grand Western Empire
Envoy
 
Posts: 318
Founded: Sep 26, 2022
Corporate Police State

Postby The Grand Western Empire » Sat Dec 03, 2022 12:33 pm

Octavian slowly emerged from the alleyway onto the crowded sidewalk. From there on, the alleys wouldn’t help him save time. He was still about a block from the site the company he worked for was constructing a new building for some reason. It was probably just another apartment that would end up in disrepair, Octavian assumed.

The sidewalk was filled with people from all walks of life on their way to work. Twenty year olds probably on their way to their first day at work to aging men probably preparing for retirement. Then there were others like Octavian. Nothing special, just nearly middle-aged and on their way to spend an entire day at a job they didn’t care for, but bills didn’t pay themselves.

Octavian slipped into the group and pushed his way through to the construction site. He was careful not to knock people around too much. Progress was fast since Octavian was relatively large, 6 '0 and having very well developed muscles, so most people let it go when he elbowed past them. A few, however, yelled unsavory language at him. He expressed apologies where he could, but didn’t waste much time. Being late would probably result in his pay being docked by a significant amount, so Octavian sought to arrive as fast as possible.

Because of Octavian’s quick progress, a large metal skeleton soon loomed into view. Steel bars formed a framework to support seven floors made out of wood. At the bottom of the half-constructed buildings were a flood of men and women dressed in orange jackets and gray pants. ’Phew. People are only just beginning to arrive en masse, so I should be good, Octavian thought.

Octavian hurried across the street to the construction site. He may have jaywalked just a bit toward the end when he did, but no one stopped him for it. Comparatively, it was so minor that he thought nothing of it, despite his aversion to crime in general. A few workers amongst the crowd of orange and gray waved or nodded at him as he passed by them. For more than a decade, Octavian had worked without taking any breaks, aside from three sick leaves. Almost everyone at the company knew him to varying degrees.

However, as Octavian tried to enter, his supervisor, John, moved his hand to block Octavian’s way. “Hold it. I need a favor.”

“A’ight. I’ll help as best as I can, but why did you ask me?” Octavian asked as he turned to face John.

“Because you are the least likely to rob my apartment,” John chuckled, “I got drunk as hell last night. I’ve had a hangover since the morning and forgot to grab a couple papers and shit when I left for work. Can you go to my apartment and get those for me? I’ll screw around with the times a little so you won’t get punished for clocking in late. If you do get caught, I’ll take the fall.” John, surprisingly, looked a little regretful and disappointed at his mistake as he spoke.

’Rare for John. He usually acts like a dictator, but I guess he is a decent guy. Oh well, no reason not to help him,’ Octavian nodded, “Yeah. no problem. I’ll need your apartment keys, though.”

With a nod, John produced a keyring from his pocket and chucked it at Octavian, who caught it effortlessly. “It is the longest silver key. It has the word Oakley on it. My apartment is down that road,” John said as he pointed to his right, “Go to the end of this sidewalk, take a left, and keep going straight. You should end up at the entrance of a casino. From there, take a right and you should come into view of the Oakley Apartment Complex. My room number is fifty-seven. Got that?”

Octavian nodded, “Yup. Fifty-seven, fifty plus seven, hundred and four divided in half,” he said as he smiled, “See you in a couple minutes.” WIth that, he took off down the street, once more muscling his way through the crowd.

John yelled after Octavian, “One hundred four divided in half isn’t fifty-seven! You meant a hundred fourteen divided by two!” But by then, Octavian wasn’t listening. John sighed, “How did a guy who screws up simple math get a job here…”

’Casino. Wonder if it is a gang hideout like in movies. Hah, probably not,’ Octavian thought with an amused smile. The crowd thinned as people entered various buildings. There were still many people in his way, however. A couple gangsters with hair dyed in bright colors remained. Octavian, not wanting to start an unnecessary fight and potentially end up in a jail cell, avoided shoving them as he moved forward.

Soon, after enough dodging and weaving, Octavian found himself in front of the casino John mentioned. Damn. Fancy,’ Octavian whistled as he looked over its brightly colored entrance. ’This kinda looks like something out of a mob movie, but I doubt real-life mobsters would use such an obvious place to hide. I wonder what the inside looks like…’ Unbeknownst to him, it really was holding several high-ranking mobsters among other people who held powers similar to Octavian’s.
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   ╙O ╙O








( -_•)╦̵̵̿╤─ ╚(•⌂•)╝
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◥⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙▲⊙◤.. ( う-´)づ︻╦̵̵̿╤── ¯¯̿̿¯̿̿'̿̿̿̿̿̿̿'̿̿'̿̿̿̿̿'̿̿̿)͇̿̿)̿̿̿̿ '̿̿̿̿̿̿\̵͇̿̿\3=(^_^)

User avatar
Segral
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1764
Founded: Sep 06, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Segral » Wed Dec 07, 2022 1:30 pm

CHLOE HIRANO
Santa Francesca // Paso Del Rey
September 1st, 1985


Tinta Negra was dry in the evenings. Some time from midday to late afternoon, it was total chaos, almost like a barbershop for street punks. At least six people at once in various stages of getting inked, pierced, or sketched on, and at least six more milling around the place waiting for ese to finish up so they could get back to tagging, clumping together in one big mob of hair highlights and black mesh. Small talk didn't really exist, at least not between Chloe and any client. They were usually too busy yelling at someone across the aisle also getting their back etched, or yelling at someone in the front alcove, or sometimes just yelling to the ceiling about "the power". Once, she politely suggested that the power paid her bills, and the guy nearly jumped out of her station. Total asshole.

Even without all of the screaming, you still really couldn't hear much. Some long-gone manager had fixed a rusty, misshapen bell above the door some century ago. Nobody since had bothered to take it down, and with how many people were constantly walking in and out, the stupid thing rang so much it was pointless for actually drawing attention to new clients. Couple the constant chiming with constant chatter around the sample wall, the photo exhibit, and (somehow) the backroom, and there wasn't a square inch of the place that was free of sound. In the evenings? Gone, all of it. No loitering punks, just a couple gritty types going through marathon sessions. If you were able to sit through getting cut open for hours at a time, you were most likely a repeat customer. You knew the drill, no need for yelping every time you get nicked by a stencil or got swabbed down. Every light aside from the main workfloor one was shut off to "save green", so the whole place was cast in a soft glow, made fuzzy around the edges by chatter and traffic from outside and the low buzz of working tools. Still no conversation though. She was too tired by this point. Work wasn't play, at least as far as she was concerned.

She found herself in that position now, placing the last dabs on a bouquet of roses encircling a slender, well-muscled arm. The recipient, a curly-haired, light-skinned woman with a local accent, had been squirming with pain in her baggy denim for the last little while, causing Chloe's teeth to begin grinding with anxiety. It was never her fault that they couldn't sit still, but it always seemed to come out of her commission. Luckily, all her worry was for nothing. Denim was a trooper, and with one deep breath, she was able to calm her nerves long enough for Chloe to finish shading in one last petal. When the "Done." spilled out of her mouth, it was like both of them were able to relax at once, with Chloe pulling her needle back at last and stretching the cramp out of her palm, and Denim finally softening in her padded chair.

Immediately, the usual pitch began to roll out of Chloe's mouth as she worked with her hands. "Alright, I can tell this isn't your first time," she started in a listless, bored tone, motioning with her chin towards a second visible tattoo on Denim's ankle. Looked like a Bible verse or something just as hokey. Something to read while she patted Denim's arm dry with a disposable towel, gently sponging off any slight traces of blood that had oozed to the surface of the curly-haired woman's new lines. "Buuuuuut, I hate getting sued, so I'll tell you everything again. I'm gonna wrap a bandage around your arm. Don't take it off for at least two hours, or you'll regret it. After you pull it off, wash the tat with warm water and some soap. Don't scrub it dry, gently pat yourself down with a towel or whatever you have in your kitchen, as long as it's clean. For the next couple weeks, your new job underneath your real job is to keep the tattoo moisturized. Starting in two days, you're gonna rub some antibacterial ointment on your tat three times a day, and keep doing it until it heals up."

By this point, she had wrapped the tattoo in the aforementioned bandage, a thin, sterile cloth that made an ugly clash with Denim's tank. "Don't pick at it, let any scabs fall off, avoid direct sun and swimming on your ink until it's healed up. If it swells or looks red, call your doctor and ice it with a pack until he gets there. Or she. Sound good?". Denim nodded in response and reunited herself with her purse, the two women heading towards the front of the parlor to handle the payment. She must've been either naive or satisfied with her work; she didn't even blink when she got her service quote. But Chloe was a genius, so naivety wasn't really in the question. The proof was in the cash she began thumbing through the moment Denim stepped out the door.

Not bad for a day's work.



Another thing she appreciated about Tinta Negra was the breakroom. It was dingy, with a thin layer of grime over everything and lockers that needed some two-three tugs to open, but most spots didn't have one. It was a nice place to finally catch her breath, get some calm, and some Her-time after cleaning up her bench and punching out. Unless someone else decided to burst in, which was clearly in store today. The moment her locker finally popped open, the breakroom door swung open with a subtle creeeak on its hinges, drawing attention to the bearded mammoth of a man behind it. Baron, the only other evening shift. He was never actually scheduled for evening shifts because of "personal commitments", yet had no problem switching to the evening shift every time he needed a favor.

"Thought you were closing," Chloe said dryly, smirking at him over her shoulder as she pulled her bag free. The smirk was promptly wiped off her face at Baron's stoic expression. She could see where this was going.

"I did," he said sharply, before reeling himself back in and going for something softer. He was leaning against the nearest table with his palms, choosing to address the surface instead of his colleague. "I did. Whole place is locked up, last client's out."

"Well, that is what happens when you close," she replied with little remaining mirth in her voice, turning to look Baron head-on. "B, what's up? You're acting weird."

"I need a favor," he admitted, resulting in an instinctive groan from the other side of the room. "Seriously, I do. I need someone to pick Teddy up from the casino.". Teddy, as in Baron's younger brother Teddy, another one of Chloe's coworkers. He tended to stick to the day shift.

"I'm not picking him up again," Chloe said flatly, slamming her locker shut and attempting to make a break for the door, only to realize the main issue with that; Baron was standing right in front of the door.

"Chloe, it's bad. He called me from the casino, the Bordeaux, big one up in Paradise Ci--"

"I know where it is, and I don't care. I'm not bailing him out." she interrupted, attempting to subtly slide her way past Baron and through the door. He had planted himself pretty strategically in the frame.

"He doesn't have a way home. He's drunk, and from what he told me, he lost some money. He called me from some payphone they have there. I need you to pick him up."

"That's bullshit, Baron!" she fired back, undaunted despite the massive difference in stature between the two. "You don't need me to do anything, because I don't have to. He's your brother, you pick him up."

"I would, but my girl needs the car for work!" Baron replied, eliciting another groan from his coworker. "Besides, I've told him to take care of himself a thousand times, and he won't listen. If it comes from you, he might."

"I've picked his sorry ass up over and over, he doesn't listen to anybody. Tell him to get a motel room and drive home in the morning. If he isn't broke enough for one."

"Watch it," Baron growled, his eyes fixing Chloe with a wary glare. She was unperturbed though, finally pushing Baron aside and storming out of the cell-like room. "It's the truth, and you know it," she called out, crossing a short hallway and re-entering the main workspace of Tinta. "It's your problem now. Deal. With. It."

"Trade shifts for the next week?"

"Nope."

"Two weeks?"

"Final."

"One week, plus all my cash from this shift?"

Chloe stopped right before the door, hand a few inches from grasping the handle. It stayed static, frozen, for a few seconds, a look of indecision beginning to cross and flood her face. And then, after a few seconds of painful thought, the hand dropped, slithering into the pocket of her jeans.
yea bro idk

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