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Vox Mentis
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Coldblooded
 RE: Vox Mentis
#51
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Fine fine, you'll crawl out of the wreckage you guess. But on the inside you're still glad that these assholes got their car destroyed.

Actually, maybe you should check and make sure that you aren't injured too badly before you get out.
03-21-2015, 03:04 AM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
#52
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get out of the car!! haven't you ever played GTA? if a car takes too much damage, then it will start smoking, and when a car is on fire it's gonna EXPLODE

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03-21-2015, 03:27 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: Vox Mentis
#53
that escalated quickly

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03-21-2015, 04:09 AM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-21-2015, 03:04 AM)Coldblooded Wrote: Fine fine, you'll crawl out of the wreckage you guess. But on the inside you're still glad that these assholes got their car destroyed.

Actually, maybe you should check and make sure that you aren't injured too badly before you get out.

(03-21-2015, 03:27 AM)Crowstone Wrote: get out of the car!! haven't you ever played GTA? if a car takes too much damage, then it will start smoking, and when a car is on fire it's gonna EXPLODE

(03-21-2015, 04:09 AM)AgentBlue Wrote: crawl

You flex your hands and feet - extremities seem to be intact. No obvious breaks, probably just a hell of a bad day tomorrow. The drugs in your system probably kept you loose in the crash. You slowly crawl out after the short man.

The tall man's face dips into view as you exit. "Hey. Nick. Nick. Take a look to your right there. Lean forward a bit. That's it. Can you see?"

It's a white SUV. Its front is crumpled against the wall. Steam emanates from around its front wheels. The sticker on the rear window says VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS.

"Your girlfriend just tried to kill us, Nick. She drove right at us. And I'm not sure if you can see from there, but she didn't even stop to put on a seatbelt. That's how focused she was. Can you see her, Nick?"

"No," you say. But you can.

"Yes, and you need to hurry up and get out of there, because there's more where she came from. There are always more."

You get out of the car. You're intending to punch the man in the jaw, knock him down and maybe choke the life out of him, watch those calm eyes go ark, but something snares your wrists. By the time you realize the short man is handcuffing you with white plastic, it's already done. The tall man pushes you forward. "Walk."

"No! No! Melinda!

"She's dead," says the tall man. "Faster."

"I'll kill you," you say.

The short man jogs ahead of you, cradling his submachine gun. His head moves from side to side. He's probably looking for that girl, the one they called Rain. The girl who had stood like she was nailed to the blacktop, like she could stare down a car. "Utility van in the hangar there," says the short man. "May have keys."

Some men in hard hats and overalls approach. The short man screams at them to lie down and now fucking move. The tall man pulls open the door of a white van and puts you in it. A flash of blue in the side mirror catches your eye. There's something blue crouched under a refueling truck. A blue dress.
03-22-2015, 01:10 PM
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Schazer
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Ask who Rain's working with. If she's not some weird rogue agent solo predator bullshit, it might pay to get it over and done with and go quietly with the competent folks.
03-22-2015, 02:42 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
#56
squee~

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>"hi rain who are you?"

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03-22-2015, 06:29 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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I mean, no one would just stand in front of a car if they actually expected to get hit, right? She must have known about Mel's SUV. I think that's reason enough to think "yeah maybe the person these assholes are treating as a threat really really is." You should probably say something.

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03-22-2015, 07:17 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-22-2015, 02:42 PM)Schazer Wrote: Ask who Rain's working with. If she's not some weird rogue agent solo predator bullshit, it might pay to get it over and done with and go quietly with the competent folks.

(03-22-2015, 06:29 PM)Crowstone Wrote: >"hi rain who are you?"

(03-22-2015, 07:17 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: I mean, no one would just stand in front of a car if they actually expected to get hit, right? She must have known about Mel's SUV. I think that's reason enough to think "yeah maybe the person these assholes are treating as a threat really really is." You should probably say something.

The van's side door is pulled open and the short man comes in. He looks at you. "What?"

The tall man stares at you from the front seat. He slid into the van without you noticing. "He's seen something."

"Rain," you say. "Under the-"

"Shit," says the short man, and tumbles out of the van. You hear his footsteps. You glance back at the side mirror and there's nothing there anymore. A few moments pass. There's a noise. The girl in the blue dress bursts past your window, startling you, her blond hair streaming. There's a hammer of gunfire. She falls bonelessly to the concrete.

"Don't move," the tall man says to you.

"Who is she?" you ask. "Who is she with?"

"Wolf. Do not move."

The short man comes around the van and looks at you. The barrel of his gun is smoking. He looks at the girl and gives a short, barking laugh. "I got her!"

You can see the girl's eyes. She's sprawled on her stomach, hair sprayed across her face, but you can still see that her eyes are the same blue as her dress. Dark blood creeps across the pavement.

"Fucking got her!" says the short man. "Holy shit! I nailed a poet!"

The tall man revs the engine. "Let's go."

The short man gestures: Wait. He moves close to the girl, keeping his gun trained on her, as if there's some chance she might get up. She doesn't move. He reaches her and prods her with his shoe.

The girl's eyes shift. "Cortrex hilo kiq trattrak," she says, or something like that. "Shoot yourself."

The short man brings the tip of his gun to his chin and pulls the trigger. His head snaps back. The tall man kicks open the van door and raises his shotgun to his shoulder. He discharges it at the girl. Her body jerks. The tall man walks forward, ejects the spent cartridge, and fires again. Thunder rolls around the hangar.

By the time the tall man returns to the van, his eyes are full of death. You sit tight in the van. Your bound hands press into your back. The tall man puts the van in reverse, navigates around the two bodies, and accelerates into the night. He does not speak or look in your direction. You watch buildings flit by without hope: You might have had a chance to escape, but that's all over now.

~

"Hmm," says the man in the trucker cap. "I think... no... just a second here..."

"Take your time, sir," you say. "The queen isn't going nowhere. She's quite comfortable under there, in all her skirts. She'll wait for you all day." You smile at a man standing behind the trucker. The man smiles back, remembers his wife, frowns. Forget that guy, then.

"On the left," says a woman in an I <3 SAN FRANCISCO sweater. Her eyes dart at you. "I think."

"You think?" says the trucker.

"I'm pretty sure."

You slip the woman a wink. You got it. The woman's lips tighten, pleased.

"I dunno," says the trucker. "I was thinking middle."

"The queen's quick on her feet, sir. No shame in not being able to follow her. Take a guess."

"Middle," says the trucker, because Take a guess means, That's enough, Jimmy. Jimmy's not a trucker, of course. He found that cap in an alley. With it pulled low, and his straggly sand-colored beard, he can pass.

"You sure, now? You got some advice from this lady here."

"Nah, definitely middle."

"As you say, sir." You flip the middle card. The crowd murmurs. "Sorry, sir. She got away from you." It took a little work to get the queen from right to left, a Mexican Turnover, but you made it. "On the left, just as the lady said. Should have listened. Quick eye you have there, ma'am. Very quick." You spread the cards, scoop them up, and flip them from hand to hand, fast but not too fast. Sections of the crowd begin to move away. You tuck a strand of blond hair behind your ear. You're wearing a big floppy hat with colored panels, which you have to keep pushing back to keep it from falling over your eyes. "Care to try, ma'am? Only two dollars. Simplest thing in the world, if you've got the knack for it."

The woman hesitates. Only one game in her. Sometimes you'll let a mark win the first game so they want to play again, and again, and again. But that only works on a certain type of person. Still, two dollars. Two dollars is fine.

"I'll play."

The speaker is a young man with long hair in a cheap, faded black suit and a pale yellow tie. A plastic ID hangs from his shirt pocket. There are four of them, two more boys and a girl, all with that look, like college students on summer jobs. Salespeople, maybe, of something cheap and devious. Not cops. You can tell that. Cops are a constant hazard on the pier. You grin. The woman in the sweater is moving away, but that doesn't matter. Cheap-suit guy is better. A lot better.

What's your strategy with this guy?
03-22-2015, 08:59 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
#59
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He's in a group, so engage the group. If any of them have a competitive streak you can use that. Give a loss to the first player, and a win to the next.

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03-22-2015, 09:55 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Eh, just do it randomly for once. You're feeling lazy today.

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03-22-2015, 10:06 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-22-2015, 09:55 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: He's in a group, so engage the group. If any of them have a competitive streak you can use that. Give a loss to the first player, and a win to the next.

"All right, sir, you and your friends there, step on up. Strength in numbers, am I right? You did me a favor, I think. That lady may have cleaned me out."

"I may clean you out," says the guy, approaching the table, compatriots close behind. They're quietly conversing amongst themselves, eyeing you up.

"Ho, ho. A big talker. That's fine, sir. Talk as much as you like. No price tag on talking. The game, though, that's two dollars."

He drops two bills onto your card table. You find him irritating, although you're not sure why: Guys like this, arrogant, competitive, an audience watching, they're gold. They'll lose and double up forever. You'll have to throw someone in his group a win here and there, so they won't blow up, accuse you of cheating. But if you're smart, they'll play all day. They'll do it because once they're in the hole, their pride won't let them out. You'd taken $180 from a guy like this not two months ago, most of it on the last game. His neck had bulged and his eyes had watered and you'd seen how much he wanted to hit you. But there was a crowd. You'd eaten well that night.

You sling the queen and two aces onto the table. "Catch her if you can." You flip them, begin to switch them around. "Loves her exercise, does the queen. Always takes her morning constitutional. Problem is, where does she go?" They guy's not even looking at the cards. "Hard to win if you don't watch, sir. Very tricky." His ID tag says: HI! I'M LEE! Below that: AUTHORIZED QUESTIONNAIRE ADMINISTRATION AGENT. "Lee, is it? You must be good if you can follow the queen without looking at her, Lee. Very good."

"I am," he says, smiling. He hasn't taken his eyes of you.

(03-22-2015, 10:06 PM)Crowstone Wrote: Eh, just do it randomly for once. You're feeling lazy today.

Hell no. Not for this guy. Any laziness you may have felt earlier has evaporated. You decide to take Lee's two dollars. If someone in his group ponies up, you'll give them a win; then you'll ask if Lee wants to double up and you'll take that and you will be merciless, not give Lee a single game, because Lee is a dick.

The crowd murmurs. You're flicking the cards too fast, holding nothing back. You stop. Pull away your hands. There's a collective titter and some applause. You're breathing fast.

"Well," you say. "Let's see how good you are, Lee."

He still hasn't looked at the cards. One of the guys in his group smiles at you brilliantly, as if he's only just noticed you. The other boy mutters to the girl, "Good thing is I'm right where I wanna be, right in the best possible place," and the girl nods and says, "Yeah, you're so right."

"On the right," Lee says.

Wrong. "You sure about that? Want a moment to think?" But your hands are already moving, eager to claim victory. "Last chance to-"

"Queen on the right," he says, and as you touch the cards, you feel your fingers slide under and to the right. Your left hand goes out in a flashy extension that does nothing but draw the eye, and you right slips one card below the other.

There's scattered applause. You stare. The queen of hearts is on the right. You switched them. At the last moment, you switched them. That was not the plan. The plan was to obliterate him. Why had you done that?

"Well done, sir." You notice Jimmy shifting his feet, glancing around for cops, no doubt wondering what the hell you are doing. "Congratulations." You reach into your money pouch. Two bucks. A difference of four, between winning and losing. That's a meal. You hold out the bills, and when Lee takes them, it hurts. He tucks them into his wallet. The girl glances at her watch, something plastic and shiny. One of the boys yawns. "Play again? Double up, perhaps? Folks like you like to play for real money, am I right?" You're pushing, can hear the strain in your own voice, because you know you've lost them.

"No. Thank you." He looks bored. "There's nothing here I want."

~

"What the fuck?" says Jimmy.

You keep walking, hunched over, your Pikachu bag on your back, floppy hat wobbling about. The sun is setting but heat radiates out of the sidewalk, coming off the brick tenements in waves.

"Fucking explain to me what happened there," Jimmy demands. "Because I don't fucking understand what your plan was."
03-23-2015, 01:53 PM
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Schazer
 RE: Vox Mentis
#62
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Confess you've got no damn clue what came over you.
03-23-2015, 03:07 PM
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Coldblooded
 RE: Vox Mentis
#63
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Explain to him very calmly that you've always hated having money and you love just giving it away to stupid assholes. Then hand him a dollar to really drive the point home.
(This post was last modified: 03-23-2015, 03:36 PM by Coldblooded.)
03-23-2015, 03:35 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-23-2015, 03:07 PM)Schazer Wrote: Confess you've got no damn clue what came over you.

"I don't know what fucking happened, Jimmy!"

"You never let a guy like that win the first game, Elise." Jimmy's carrying the table. "He gets ahead, it's over. He doesn't care about money. He cares about beating you. You gave him what he wanted."

"I flipped the wrong card, okay? I flipped the wrong card."

"That guy was going to play." Jimmy kicks a plastic bottle. It spins across the sidewalk and onto the road, where a passing car runs over it with a crunch. "He was good for twenty, easy. Maybe fifty."

"Yeah, well."

Jimmy stops. You stop, too. He's a good guy, Jimmy. Until he isn't. "Are you taking this seriously?"

"I am, Jimmy." You tug at his arm.

"Fifty bucks."

"Yeah, fifty bucks." You feel your eyes widen. This will piss Jimmy off, but you can't help it. You're perverse sometimes.

"Fuck you."

"Jimmy-"

"Fuck you, Elise!" He shakes you off, lets the table drop to the sidewalk. His fists bunch. A passing man in a collared business shirt glances at you, then at Jimmy, then away. Thanks, guy. "Get away from me!"

"Jimmy, come on."

He takes a step forward. You flinch. When he hits, he means it. "Do not follow me home."

"Fine," you say, looking away. "Jesus, fine."

(03-23-2015, 03:35 PM)Coldblooded Wrote: Explain to him very calmly that you've always hated having money and you love just giving it away to stupid assholes. Then hand him a dollar to really drive the point home.

You wait until the violence drains out of him, then look him in the eyes. "You know, money's stupid anyway. I just love handing it off to stupid fucking assholes." You fish around in your pocket, bringing out a dollar. "Speaking of, here you go." Then you run, because Jimmy's eyes pop in the way that means you've pushed him too far, again. Your Pikachu bag bounces against your back. Your floppy hat falls off and you leave it on the sidewalk. When you reach the corner, Jimmy is half a block back. He chased you, but not far. You're glad you've held onto your bag. Your jacket is in there.

~

You sleep in Gleeson's park, under a hedge that people don't notice and that has escape routes on two sides. You wake up to a midnight screaming match, but it's nobody you know and too far away to be a threat. You close your eyes and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of someone being cursed out somewhere. Then it's dawn and a drunk is pissing on your legs.

You scramble up. "Dude. Dude."

The man stumbles back. "Sorry." He barely gets the word out.

You inspect yourself. Spatters on your pants, boots. "Dude, the fuck?"

"I... didn't... see..." The drunk takes off.

"Fuck," you say. Great start to your day. What's the plan now?
03-23-2015, 04:44 PM
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Mirdini
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Got any cash on you? Breakfast's never a bad idea.
03-23-2015, 05:10 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
#66
squee~

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take the drunks pants with your sneaky tricks

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03-23-2015, 06:48 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Well, clean clothes would be nice. Any in the pack, or stashed somewhere?

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03-23-2015, 07:23 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-23-2015, 07:23 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: Well, clean clothes would be nice. Any in the pack, or stashed somewhere?

You open your bag. Maybe better clothes materialized while you weren't looking. Nope. These jeans are pretty much all you've got, unfortunately.

(03-23-2015, 06:48 PM)Crowstone Wrote: take the drunks pants with your sneaky tricks

That sounds like a great idea, but the drunk seems to have run off. You doubt his pants are any less piss-stained than your own, anyway.

(03-23-2015, 05:10 PM)Mirdini Wrote: Got any cash on you? Breakfast's never a bad idea.

You start wandering down the street, your stomach tweaking. Seems your little dig on Jimmy used up your last dollar, and he's got the rest of your money. Maybe he's cooled down. It's too early for the soup kitchens. You chew your lip. You feel like a McMuffin.

Then you see him: Lee, of the long hair and cheap suit, Lee who took your two dollars. He's planted on a street corner, clipboard in hand, approaching commuters with a fake smile. He's in market research, you remember; you'd seen that on his ID. You watch him. It feels like he owes you. Or you owe him payback. Or something. Maybe steal some McMuffins off of him.

How do you proceed?
03-23-2015, 07:59 PM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Keep it simple. Wait for him to engage someone, then do a fast walking bump and grab. Treat yourself to McMuffins via the contents of his wallet.

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03-23-2015, 08:27 PM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
#70
squee~

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trap his soul inside one of your cards when no one is looking

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03-23-2015, 10:45 PM
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Douglas
 RE: Vox Mentis
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(03-23-2015, 08:27 PM)Whimbrel Wrote: Keep it simple. Wait for him to engage someone, then do a fast walking bump and grab. Treat yourself to McMuffins via the contents of his wallet.

You pick your moment and make your move. Lee starts chatting some guy up, his group watching. Hair over your face, head down, you brusquely stride through the group.

You pick up bits of murmured conversation as you pass. "We've got to stop meeting like this." "Oh, stop it, that's silly." Idiots are too wrapped up in themselves to pay any attention to you. You connect with Lee's back, stumble forward a bit, mumbling an apology, and keep your pace. Time for McMuffins.

"Stop."

And for some reason, you do.

Lee moves around you and into your line of sight. "Well, if it isn't the hustler."

You glare at him. "I let you win. I took pity on you."

He plucks his wallet from your hand and examines it. "You let me win?"

"Come on. I'm a professional. You don't take a game off me unless I give it to you. So you owe me. And I'm hungry. I think an Egg McMuffin is a fair trade."

"So stealing my wallet is the logical next step, huh? I'd have thought a professional could afford her own Egg McMuffin."

"Sure, but I'm letting you pay for it because you're so special."

Lee looks amused. It's the first nice expression you've seen from him. "Okay." He tucks his pen into his clipboard. "Tell you what, I will buy you an Egg McMuffin."

~

You bite down and it's as good as you'd imagined. Across the table, Lee sits with his arms spread across the back of the booth seat. Outside, children yip and chase each other around a neon playground. Who brings their kids to a McDonald's for breakfast? You shouldn't be judging. You gulp coffee.

"You're hungry," says Lee.

"Tough times." You chew your muffin. "It's the economy."

Lee's not eating. "How old are you?"

"Eighteen."

"I mean really."

"Eighteen." You're sixteen.

"You look young to be on your own."

You shrug, unwrapping the next McMuffin. Lee bought you two, plus coffee and hash browns. "I'm okay. I'm fine. How old are you?"

He watches you. "Why did you want a McMuffin?"

"I haven't eaten in, like, a day."

"I mean a McMuffin in particular."

"I like them."

"Why?"

You eye him. It's a stupid question. "I like them."

"Right." He looks away for the first time.

You don't want to talk about yourself anyway. "Where are you from? Not here."

"How can you tell?"

"It's a gift."

"Well," he says, "you're right. I travel. City to city."

"Asking people to fill out questionnaires?"

"That's right."

"You must be really good at that," you say. "You must be, like, extremely talented at asking people to fill out questionnaires." His expression doesn't change. You don't know why you're trying to needle him. He bought you food. But still. You don't like him. It takes more than McMuffins to change that. "What brings you to San Francisco?"

"You."

"Oh yeah?" You hope this isn't a running situation. You've had enough of running. You swallow the last of the McMuffin and start on the hash browns, because it'd be good if you can get all this down first.

"Not you in particular. Your type. I'm looking for people who are persuasive and intransigent."

"Well, bingo," you say, although you don't know what intransigent means.

"Unfortunately, you failed."

"I failed?"

"You let me take your money."

(03-23-2015, 10:45 PM)Crowstone Wrote: trap his soul inside one of your cards when no one is looking

"Hey. That was a pity win. I already said. You want to try again?"

He smiles.

"I'm serious. You won't win again." You mean it.

"Hmm," he says. "Okay, tell you what. I'll give you another shot."

Jimmy has your cards. But you can get more, then you'll push this guy to a hundred, get him to bet his soul if you have to. You'll go to Jimmy and tease him awhile. Guy was good for about twenty, you said? Maybe fifty? "Let me finish my coffee, we'll go to the store across the street-"

"Not cards. A different kind of test."

"Oh," you say doubtfully. "Like what?"

"Like, don't blow me."

You're startled, but his expression hasn't changed, so maybe you heard him wrong, or it's a figure of speech, somehow. Maybe he meant: Don't blow me off. There are plenty of people nearby, so no immediate problem. But you'll need to find a way to leave alone.

"My job is not actually to administer questionnaires. My job is to test people. Think of it as a job interview you don't know you're having. What do you say? Care to throw your hat into the ring?"
03-24-2015, 12:35 AM
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Schazer
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Ask what penalty there is for failing, because this guy seems like the kind of sadistic asshole who'd make sure there is one, no matter how innocuous-sounding the test.
03-24-2015, 12:52 AM
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Whimbrel
 RE: Vox Mentis
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Nnnnnn I think this guy meant what he said. So, like. Total creeper. I mean, come on. He's probably in human trafficking or something shady like that.

You have a bad feeling about him, trust your gut. I would take off once you're done eating.

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03-24-2015, 01:11 AM
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Crowstone
 RE: Vox Mentis
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squee~

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oh wait, you know what this is, this is like that movie where they found the magicians to induct into the secret magician society. This is fine then, just make sure you know what will happen if you fail the test.

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03-24-2015, 01:58 AM
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AgentBlue
 RE: Vox Mentis
#75
that escalated quickly

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Fuck it. What have you got to lose?
03-24-2015, 10:21 AM
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