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Thread: "New World", Chapter one: "A Simple Job"

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    Question "New World", Chapter one: "A Simple Job"

    here is the first chapter. it's still quite a mess, with errors and mistakes. it needs a lot of work but it does introduce the characters.

    “Hey mom.”

    Took you long enough to call, Lucius.”

    “I’m on a job, mom! It doesn’t lend much time to call!”

    Doesn’t change the fact that you need to call more.”

    “Sorry, mom.”

    So where are you?”

    “Los Angles.”

    Los Angles?! You aren’t messing around at those dirty ass casinos, are you?!”

    “Hells, no! you know I have shitty lucky at gambling. I’m in old Los Angles.”

    Better I suppose. Is that rain I hear?”

    “Yeah. Been raining a bit since we landed.”

    Are you at least wearing a rain coat? And I mean a proper rain coat! Not that dingy piece of crap you wear all the time.”

    “It works well enough, ma.”

    When you get home, use your money to buy a good rain coat or at the very least, a hat.”

    “I don’t need a hat, ma. Its not like I get sick anyway.”

    It just means you are due to be sick. Now, promise me when this job is over, you will buy a hat.”

    “Ugggh! Fine! I will buy a stupid hat! Happy?”

    Very. Now I won’t keep you. Tell the others I said hi.”

    “I will. Love ya, mom.”

    Love you too, dear.” Those were the last words he exchanged with his mother before turning off his cellphone.

    This is Lucius Caine. Human. Freelancer.

    A bit explanation on that last part. A freelancer is a term given to a person who performs services and duties beyond those of regular law enforcement: they're bodyguards, private investigators, bounty hunters, negotiators, etc. whatever job is needed at the time, a freelancer does it, for a modest fee, of course. And Lucius Caine is considered one of the best in the empire. Hence why he is here on this deserted street across from a old hotel in the lovely area known as old Los Angles.
    Old Los Angles is just like it sounds, an old part of Los Angles that was formally submerged by under tons of sea water, up until about 200 or so years ago when the city enacted the “Los angles renovation initiative”. The plan was to un-flood the area to expand the city. Using a series of dams and irrigation systems, these parts of the city were brought back to life and began a series of urban renews. Sadly, the area has since fallen onto hard times and has since become a ghetto, a refuge for the worst of society.

    It is to this forgotten part of the most visited city in the empire that Caine finds himself in. the rain beat upon his naked head with nary a care for the impact of such an act. He ran his fingers through his locks, slicking his hair back due to the water. His old brown trench, that his mother didn’t like, did the job of keeping him relatively warm and dry. he placed his cell phone into his black jeans pocket, next to his gun holster. A slight grimace appeared on his face. his large silver boots were caked in mud from the rain and dirt. I could see that he didn’t like the feel of mud in his shoes but there was no time to personal comfort. There was work to do.

    Next to him was a large black briefcase, much larger than a normal business style case. His eyes scanned the seemingly abandoned building in front of him, his mind at work planning the events to come in a few minutes. Reached into his jacket pocket to reveal a pair of tinted goggles and wrapped them around his neck. I wouldn’t understand the purpose of such a item until much later. His hand reached up to his ear. It was then I caught sight of a something in his ear, akin to a hear-aid almost. Tapping the small object informed me that it was some type of communications device. This was correct as he began to speak into it in a lower tone of voice.
    “Testing 1,2. anyone got their ears on?” he muttered. The first voice to respond was that of a woman.
    “This is Ryss. I can hear you very clearly, Lucius Caine.”

    The voice was calm, collect, profession, almost cold but with a hint of nobility on the tip end.

    “Glad to hear ya. You find a good spot?” he asked, his eye casting an outward glance around in a vain attempt to catch sight of his partner. Thankfully for me, my eye sight is a bit better than a human’s. my zooming vision found the position of the woman in question, which was a couple of miles away on the top of a building that had seen better days. Say hello to miss Ryss fold. She was a Elf of 146 years, still rather young by Elven standards.

    Her position was perfect as a sniper’s nest, appropriate seeing as how this lady is one of the highest ranked snipers in the empire, graduated at the top of her class at Kalas military academy for elves with near perfect marks. I could her form being somewhat hidden by a special cloth that protected her from the elements and blended into the environment. From her prone position, she held the tool of her trade; a MK V Allestor magi-tek sniper rifle, custom built to fire .500 caliber impact rounds which were strong enough to punch a hole through solid steel and retain their shape. Her eye gazed through the special custom scope that gave a perfect view of Caine from over 5 miles away. This was her lethal tool of her trade, affectionately called “Whisper” by its talented owner. Truly, this woman took exceptional pride in her craft.

    “It was not easy finding a proper spot, not in this area at least. But I do have you in sight.”

    “Good. The rain not giving you problems?”

    “Please,” she said in a tone of dismissal. “I have worked in worse weather.”

    He smirked at her comment. Always the professional but that’s why he enjoyed working with her. “a little rain never bothered anyone anyway.”

    “That’s what I like to hear, Ryss. No problems with visibility?” he asked.

    “Nothing too troublesome. I have you in my sights and while I’m at it, please refrain from scratching your bottom.”

    A wide-eyed look of shock rolled on his rain soaked face. “You can see that?”

    “Unfortunately.”

    A mischievous smirked grew on Lucius’ face. before, he only did it as something that men do but now he did it to annoy her. Her voice took on a much colder edge to it as she spoke again.

    “If you do not cease that horrific activated, I will shoot you in the head.”
    Lucius turned to her general direction enough that his face appeared fully in her scope.

    “Would you really shoot me in the face?”

    “Not that head,” she said, punctuating her threat by chamber a round into whisper loud enough that he could hear it in his ear. He paled somewhat, knowing that her sight was set squarely on his private area. She was dead serious about shooting him in the dick. She was as genuine as she was professional and her threats were never threats for long. Lucius removed his hand from his butt before speaking again.

    “Yo, Thorgan. You on yet?”
    The answer came from a male voice that sounded like a tainted mix of Irish, Scottish, and 100 year old whiskey.

    “Aye, I hear ya! ‘bout time ya got to me!” the voice said incredulously.

    “Well, you should’ve answered first,” Lucius explained.

    “It’s not me fault that I’m stuck trudging through these damnable sewers!”

    “Funny. I thought dwarves were at home in the filth of others,” Ryss chimed in.

    “Oooh, and is that the dulcet tones of elf bitch I hear in me ear, or is the dying cries of an old yeti, much past her prime?”

    “You would best watch your mouth, Thorgan Riffall or I shall return your body to your family for proper burial.”

    “I thank ye, lass. I’ll make sure when this is over, I’ll give ya a nice big hug.”

    “You will not make it 50 feet near me, dwarf.”

    “GUYS!” Lucius raged, finally tiring of their back and forth bickering. “I swear you two argue like an ol’ married couple.”
    Lucius’ comment was met with muttered curses in both elvish and dwarfish.

    “that’s not funny, lad. Not funny at all.”

    “For once I agree with the dwarf. Do not make such a statement again.”
    A gloved hand rubbed the human’s forehead in stress from the back and forth between his partners. He would almost find it funny if it wasn’t so annoying.

    “Whatever. Kill me later. How long before you get into position, Thor?” he asked. He could hear the sloshing of dirty water and grunts of effort to get through said water.

    “There was a bit of work being done in the subways a ways back. Had a bit of trouble gettin’ pass the damned workers. Give me about……ten minutes. I should be position by them.” Thorgan answered.

    “how’s Mr. Fisher?”

    “He’ll be ready to rumble when the time comes.”

    “And Grooz?”

    “Arggggg!” the dwarf groaned. “You know how he is, lad. Last time I saw him, he was up and about sunset blvd. I swear, he’s gonna get in a heap o’ trouble if he keeps doing that.”

    “he’ll be here. Bad habits aside, he’s reliable,” Lucius confidently said of their missing partner.

    “Alright kiddies, it’s serious time. We’re gonna play this one easy. Ryss, you got my six. Keep a eye on me at all times.”

    “As the kids would say, I have your back, Lucius Caine.”

    “Thor, you set up the party favors. I want a nice fireworks display when the time is right.”

    “Do na worry, lad. When I’m done, it will look like bloody empire day!”

    “That’s what I like to hear,” said Lucius, reaching down to pick up the black case next to him. “Ok, it’s showtime.” Lucius walked across the rained out street towards the old, seemingly abandon hotel. I say seemingly because like myself, Lucius doubted that the building wasn’t as abandoned as it seemed. I almost hear his thoughts as he passed through the large, metal fence that sounded the property.

    Assess.
    Plan.
    Execute.

    That was the mantra he learned from his years as a new york city detective. Assess. Plan. Execute.

    Assess the situation. Learn all that you can about your surroundings, your enemies, what they can do, and how well they can do it.

    Plan a appropriate strategy. Take what you have learned from your assessments and formulate a plan to achieve your goals.

    Execute the strategy. Activate the plan and perform it as fast and efficiently as possible.

    This part of his training he took to the life of a freelancer and it worked for it. he never needed to change what worked. As his eyes scanned the area, I knew Lucius was proceeding to step one. He took note of the well hidden protection runes on the inter-edges of the fences to prevent surveillance, either electronic or mystical. There were small remote cameras placed in positions around the property, some even tracking his movements as soon as he walked into view. Beneath his feet, he felt the almost unnoticeable hum of electricity running beneath ground, meaning that there was power going into this place. There was no doubt about it. this wasn’t some random ramshackle wreck that they chose for this deal. No, this building was alive and humming with activity but someone went to a lot of trouble to hide that fact. His plan was coming together but still needed more info.

    Lucius arrived at the massive door to the hotel and knocked. His eyebrows crunched together. The door was not normal. It felt thicker, heavier than a door for this kind of building should have. It was re-enforced, probably with titanium and something else, possible eternium. Either way, you’d need some really serious firepower to make a dent in this door. But his assessment didn’t stop there; if the front door was re-enforced, it stands to reason most, if not all of the building was too. That was very good to know.
    Just as he finished his thought, a slat in the upper part of the door slid open and a pair of very angry eyes peered at Lucius as a deep rumbling voice spoke to him.

    “Who are you?”
    Deciding to keep things light, Lucius flipped the case up with his palm under the flat side.

    “Pizza delivery. I know it’s a bit a late but you did ask for the extra nessie and that stuff takes a while to cook,” he quipped with a grin. The eyes were not amused. The slat quickly shut before Lucius could hear the sounds of locks sliding out of place and clicking open. The door swung open revealing a rather large looking humanoid in a red shirt, black hair, bronze skin, hairy cloven legs and a part of horns sticking out of his forehead.
    He was a satyr, which didn’t surprise Lucius a bit. Satyrs were a common sight in the criminal underworld and why wouldn’t they be? Satyrs were the perfect hired guns; strong, tough, reliable, and not too smart to think about anything beyond the job and the pay which mostly consisted of booze and women.
    “That will be 19 dracs,” he joked but the satyr merely grunted at him while motioning him to enter. Walking into what was once the lobby, Lucius assessed his surroundings; 6 more satyrs were over by the front desk, huddled around a rather large TV while watching the big EWA tag team match. There were at least 30 or more humans, loitering around the room, some cleaning their guns, other engaging in gambling. He could see them playing demon dice and New Texas hold-em with one of them winning a rather large pot of dracmas. There were weapons all over the place, from swords of varying lengths to handguns and assault rifles, some of which were read and loaded.

    As he was lead through this lobby, the sound of disgusting slurps and munching caused him to cast a glance to the area that he assumed was once the main dinning area. Inside he saw a large mass of green sitting at a table with about 8 plates of food spread out. The creature, who seemed too big for the chair it was sitting in, was eating food by the handful, barely having time to breathe.

    They had a cave troll and a rather large one at that.
    This was not good.
    Trolls were not native to the empire in anyway. In fact, the only place in the new world where they are found is Australia and it was rare to see one of them anywhere else. Trolls were large enough to crush a car, strong enough to throw a bus, and were more likely to eat you than beat you to death since their appetites were legendarily massive. Looks like his research was right about the man behind this; not only did he have the dracs to buy a troll but he had the influence to get that big fellow pass customs and go completely unnoticed. This was unexpected but it wasn’t something beyond his ability to plan around.

    His horned host guided him to an elevator that was being guarded by a dark skinned human with shifting colored eyes. Lucius’ face frowned a bit. He was on flux. It was the newest designer drug that hit the streets about a year ago. It gave you a high much greater to nero-coke but the downside was that it made you quick to anger and totally paranoid, evidenced by the coloring of the eyes shifting from one hue to another. The human pressed the call button and the door to elevator slid open.

    “Not gonna frisk me?” he asked.

    “Not my job. That’s for upstairs,” the goon answered, motioning him to enter the car with his drawn pistol. Lucius calmly walked in, not wanting to give this junkie any reason to be suspicious of him and deciding to put a impact round in his head.

    “You’re heading for the seventh floor. You don’t go to any other floors but the seventh. This car is rigged with enough explosives to send you to the P.O.V. first class, and we got the car rigged with cameras so don’t get any funny ideas. You try to get off on another floor, we blow the car. You try to get out in anyway, we blow the car. Hell, if you even scratch your balls, we blow the car,” he warned.
    “Now, wait a damn minute,” started Lucius. “I reserve the right to scratch my balls. Its my right as a man.”

    The goon gave him a withering look just as his eyes shifty from a deep blue to a light purple before punching the button and the doors closed. Lucius steadied himself as he felt the car shutter and move upwards. He made sure not to make any unnecessary movements with his arms or hands. If they said the car was wired to blow, he had all the incentive in the world to believe them. Thankfully, they didn't check his case. That would've put a major kink in his plan, which was taking shape as the minutes ticked by. Finally arriving at the designated floor, the doors slid over to reveal a tall well-dressed elf, holding a rather large Magi-Tek assault rifle.

    “Mr. Caine, we've been expecting you,” he greeted, motioning him with gun to exit. The floor was a world apart from the lobby downstairs; nice new carpeting covered the floor, the smell of fresh paint entered his lungs, and the doors were newly installed on the fronts of the rooms.

    “Swanky,” was all Lucius spoke as he took in his new surroundings. He was more than certain that if he didn't know that he was in one of the worst ghettos in the empire, he could have sworn he was in a new hotel, ready for guests. This boss was not only careful and cautious but he was use to a certain lifestyle. The gear turned in his head. His research was right on the money.

    The poke of the gun in his back told him to keep moving. Making his way down the hall, he arrived at his destination, the 7th room from the elevator. On either side of it was six more well-dressed elves, similarly armed like the one behind him. In front of the door was a small security table with another elf seated at it and behind him was what he assumed was a metal detector. Fortunately for him, the earpiece in his ear was made of plastic so that it was all but undetectable by modern metal detectors. As long as they didnt search his ear, they would never know he had it.

    “Mr. Caine. I see you found your way here,” spoke the seated elf.

    “I had good directions,” he quipped.

    “So I take it that case contains the money?” Lucius brought the case up to eye level. “that's right. 50 million dracmas. All new bills and totally untraceable.”

    A pleased look rolled on the seated elf's face. “Excellent. Now if you will leave the money here, we will complete this transaction,” he spoke, reaching for the case, only for the human to pull it back sharply.

    “Nuh-huh. I don't think so.” his words called the other guards to action, the sounds of them readying and cocking their rifles.
    Now, there are two important facts about elves that you need to know in a situation like this that are very important and Lucius knew these two facts very well that would dictate what actions he would take in the next few seconds.

    One: elves are fast. Unbelievably fast. Their reflects and hand speed were not to be underestimated in the least. Even compared to vampires and lycans, elves can outdraw the best of the best and humans don't even rate in this regard.

    Two: elves were very good shots. That is understatement on my part. Elves were commonly known to be the most accurate shots in the empire. Whether it was with pistols, rifles, knives, or bows and arrows, when an elf took aim, they almost always hit their targets. Working closely with an elf, Lucius knew very well how good they were when it came to projectile weaponry.

    Now, Lucius was in a quandary of sorts. He could draw his own weapon and probably take out 2, maybe 3 of them if he was lucky but 8 elves? That was a no-win scenario for him. No, a gunfight was out of the question right now. The gears turned again. He would have to talk his way out of this and hoped they fell for it.

    “mind repeating that again, Mr. Caine?” the seated elf spoke, his hand on his own pistol holstered in his coat.

    “Now if you will let me explain,” he started, “I'm a freelancer, a pretty damn good one if you don't mind me saying so. I've built up a certain reputation as one of the best. Why, you ask? Well I'll tell you; professionalism. As a freelancer, it's my duty to perform the job I've been given to the best of my ability and this is no different. I've been hired to negotiate between parties A and B regarding the transfer of a sum of 50 million dracma, new bills and untraceable, from party A, I.E. my current employers for the safe release and return of their son from the head of party B, I.E. your boss! You know what that means? The only way this cash is leaving my hands is only when I give it directly to the boss, not some security goon.” they hadn't shot him yet. Lucius was on a roll. “so say I were to give this cash to you and it doesn't end up in his hands, either because you lost it or decide to go on a shopping spree, then everyone loses; your boss loses 50 mil in cash, my employers lose their son, and my reputation goes down the shitter. And don't even think of trying to take this from me because assure you that the boss man will see not a single drac from me and then YOU can explain to him why he didn't get his money. So, do you understand or should I break out the flash cards?”
    Lucius pulled out his intimidation face, something he hadn't done since his days as a police detective and stared right into the elf's face. For what seemed like an eternity, no did an thing. The guards had their guns trained on him and Lucius trained his glare on the seated elf. He noticed his grip on his gun relax before sliding out of his jacket. His bluff had worked.

    “Fine, you win,” he started. “You can see the boss but you will need to be searched.”

    “Of course,” said Lucius, “We are all professionals here.”
    the human raised his arms up as the elf stood up and began to frisk him. Almost immediately, he discovered the two pistols on either side of waist. He removed them from their holsters, eyeing them with admiration.

    “impressive. MK II magi-tek revolvers,” the elf commented. “new Texas models. Don't see these being used any more.”

    “they got style.”

    the MK-II magi-tek revolvers were an older model of standard handgun, sometimes used by various law enforcement agencies within the empire until the advent of the MK-III. Nowadays the MK-IIs were more show pieces than actual sidearms but still a powerful firearm due to the fact that they still used variable rounds as opposed to the modern day impact rounds. I will explain what variable rounds are in a bit.

    “These puppies would fetch a good price at auction.”

    “Yeah. I'm gonna get those back.” the elf dismissed his comment as he placed the guns on the table. That is until Lucius slapped his palm down to get his attention. “Seriously........I'm gonna get those back.” there was a deadly seriousness in his voice that the elf didn't ignore. There was nothing to suggest that he would truly get his guns back but the look on his face was enough to tell him that it would be best that this man receive his firearms at the conclusion of this deal. Wordlessly, the well-dressed elf continued his search; his cell phone in his pants pocket, a pack of gum in his back pocket, and a pack of High Wolf cigarettes in his coat pocket. Lucius' face balked.

    “Aww man! Not the smokes!” he whined.

    “Can't be too careful.”

    “Come on. It's a pack of smokes.” judging from the look on his face, his pleas were falling on deaf ears. “how about just a single? That can't hurt.” the elf considered the request for a moment. Seeing no harm in it, he opened the new pack, removed a single stick of tobacco, and placed it comfortably in his coat pocket.
    Lucius' face broke into a wide bright smile. “you are a pal!”
    thus ended his short pat down, allowing lucius' to pass through the metal detector with ease and to enter the room.
    Turning the knob, Lucius opened the door and walked in to find, not surprisingly, a room as well furnished and emasculate as the rest of the floor behind him. There another pair of guards on either side of the door, also very well-dressed and similarly armed as the ones outside. There were a few nice paintings on either side of the walls, probably worth more than he was being paid for this job. As the door closed behind him, his eyes caught sight of the seal between the walls. A piece falls into place for his plan. Ahead was large, well-made desk, trimmed in gold and a few fine decorations. Yet again, something that he more than likely couldn't afford. Behind the desk, with his back to him, was an elf with black hair and a blue pinstriped suit, his eyes looking out a large window that not only gave him a great view of the ruined neighborhood but a awesome view of new Los angles far in the distance.

    The elf smoothly turned to face him, a very expensive looking earring dangling from one of his pointed ears. “Lucius Caine,” he proclaimed, “Welcome! Right on time!”

    “Well, I like to be punctual.”

    “Which I appreciate. Please.” he extended his hand to the seat in front of the desk. Lucius took the seat offered to him, relaxing his posture as his host sat down.

    “like the desk.”

    “So you? It's made from solid Ottawa oak, straight from the north. Very expensive.”
    the human glided his gloved hand along the surface of the wood. “i can tell. Wish I could have something like this in my office.”

    the boss raised his eyebrow. “really? The most famous freelancer in the empire can't afford a desk like this?”
    lucius gave a muted chuckle. “just because i'm somewhat famous doesn't mean i'm rich.”

    “good point,” he agreed. “speaking of money....” his eyes drifted to the case next to him.

    “you mean this?” lucius asked, lifting the object in question. “yep. 50 million dracs, per the agreement. And you will receive it once negotiations are finished between you and I.”

    “oh really?” the elf asked, seating himself behind his very well-made desk. “and what's stopping me from, say.......ordering my men to simply take it from you?”

    “hypothetical?”
    the elf smirked, bridging his fingers together. “of course.”

    “then, hypothetical, you wouldn't get your money.”

    “please, elaborate.”
    lucius held the object in question higher up as he began to explain. “you see this case? This isn't just some case I picked up at the gift shop on the way here. This is a custom job, made by a very talented dwarf I know. It's a triple encoded lock system built to my own specs: handprint ID in the handle, password protected, and designed with multiple fail safes to prevent anyone who isn't me from opening it. The handprint scanner not only won't ID any other hand than my own but it has a nifty bio-reader. That means if my hand isn't attached to my body, it aint opening. The password system also a nice little voice stress analyzer that can gauge my phyiscal stress and health by the pitch and tone of my voice. Meaning, unless I am in perfect health and UTTERLY stress free, not getting in this baby. And lastly, if you try to just crack this badboy open by other means, the seams have pressure triggers along the edge. Anyone trying to pry it open will trip off a special surprise that will spray the contents with a highly corrosive acid that will turn anything inside of it, in this case money, into a massive of melted slag. So, hypothetical speaking, if you take this from me, then you dont get paid.”

    the elf absorbed the information that he was presented with. He had no reason to believe a single word of it but lucius said it in such way that, despite his reservations, the possibly of the validity of his claims could be just. His face was a stone wall of neutrality, hiding his thoughts over the subject. Eventually, he broke out into a small chuckle.

    “very impressive, mr. caine,” he started, “you certainly do live up to your reputation. The consummate professional.”

    “it's what I do,” lucius spoke, placing the case down next to his chair.
    “so........shall we begin?” the elf asked.

    “not just yet, my friend. You see I have a question to ask.”
    the elf raised his eyebrow in response to the statement. Now, lucius was an inquisative man by nature from his years as a new york city police detective. Even after more than a decade had passed since he hung up his badge and coat for the life of a freelancer, he still remains inquisitive to a fault. If he has questions, he will want answers. And if lucius caine wants answers, he will get them.

    “a question?”

    “just a simple question.”

    he looked at lucius as an adult would look at a child who asked where babies comes from. Finally, he relented. “ask away.”
    satisfied, lucius relaxed his posture slightly before he spoke again. “now when we took this job, we did a little....digging.” the comment didn't seem to faze the elf, which lucius expected.

    “what kind of digging?”

    “a lot. More than we usually do. When this place was annouced as the negotiation site, we dug into it to see just what this place was all about. I dont like to enter situations like this without knowing some facts. Guess what we learned?” his inquisition was met with the elf opening his palms to him, wordlessly saying for him to share what he learned. “this building-no. This entire block was recently bought by Windam consolidated, a little property management based out of Alabama city but here's the kicker. It's just a shell company. It doesn't exist, execpt on paper!”

    “really now?” the elf's smugness was apparent but lucius was no less deterred.

    “yep. Did more digging and found out that company was owned by another company out of new texas. Not surprising, it was another fake. One by one, we found over 10 separate fake companies, comglomorates, and corperations. Someone REALLY wanted to cover their tracks about this.”

    “indeed. A shame.”

    “yeah, or it would be. Ya see, my info girl, she's really good at finding shit out, especially when it concerns a few misplaced checks that the guy forgot to flush.” the elf's smugness died a bit as lucius continued. “took some doing but we found him.”

    “who did you find?” he asked, less amused and more concerned.

    “Ellyse Stryfe, 9th son of Albus stryfe, 2nd generation president of stryfe motors, the empire's 2nd leading producer of ether drives. It's said that everything on 4 wheels has a stryfe ether drive in it.” lucius leaned forward slightly. “thus we come to my question: if you are indeed ellyse stryfe, then why would someone as well off like you resort to kidnapping?”
    the elf's face was a stony mix of silent frustration, indignation, and asonishment. Part of him was very much tempted to have this human killed, damning the money, to perserve his concealment but another part, the arrogant part, wanted to show off his brilliance and cunning to this most dangerous of freelancers. A slow deep chuckle erupted from his throat.

    “my dear mr. caine. You are indeed very good at your job. And here I thought I did a better job at covering my tracks.”

    “it's not your fault,” caine said, “it's just that my team is very good at what I pay them to do.” stryfe arose from his seat and turned to the window, looking out on the cityscape around him.

    “very well, mr. caine. I will answer your question with a question of my own.”

    “i'm all ears.”

    the words that flowed from his mouth were dripping with self-feeding pride and arrogance that only those who deem themselves smarter than everyone else would have. “does the name Drigger Ogruth mean anything to you?”
    a look of quizzical recongnition slid on to lucius' face. “the iron midget? Who hasn't?” he answered. “the guy was one of the biggest crime bosses in the empire. Said he controlled every bit of crime on from here to the Alaskan Islands.”

    “correct.” stryfe replied. “and I take it you know what happened to him two months ago.”

    “yeah. The guy was gunned down at his favorite bar. I heard he was so full of holes, you could read a newspaper through his corpse.”

    “correct again. And right now, across this city, a gang war is raging. All of his lieutenants clashing over who will gain control of his vast organization. A battle for the crown, all because of one dead dwarf.”

    “i know all of that,” caine started, “but what does that have to do with this?”

    he turned dramatically around to lucius. “all of it!” he exclaimed. “you see, people see crime as something only the desperate do but the way I see it, crime is just another name for business. Think about it: different products to sell, different services to offer, buy-outs, investments, product quality and the most hostile of hostile takeovers! Right now, out there, the board of directors are fighting over a company that is now rudderless without it's CEO. What i'm doing is simple.......filling the void.”
    lucius' face began to morph from a look of inquisition to that of slow understanding and realization. All the pieces had finally fallen into place.

    “now I get it,” he started. “the building, the guns, the goons downstairs, the cave troll, the extra security runes outside. You're building an army to take his place.”

    “there you go,” stryfe said with a smile. “before ask the inevitable next question of why do I want to take over his organization if i'm rich already, I will simply answer with this; i'm not as rich as you think I am.” the freelancer's eyebrow raised in almost disbelief, earning a small chuckle from his host. “rest assured, my friend, my family is quite wealthy. Myself? Not so much. Sure, my siblings and i receive monthly allowences that is more than the average person would make in a year but still not enough to say I am rich. My father encourages us to make our own way in the world instead of relying his vast fortune. When the iron midget died, I saw my opportunity to carve out my own fortune, but with the money was getting was far from enough for my plans and I couldn't well ask my father for more without giving away what I planned.”

    “hence, the money....” lucius added.

    “that 50 million dracmas will act at the seed money for my conquest of the criminal world. With it, I can buy the loyality of the lower street gangs in the city, increasing my ranks. And those I can't buy out? I'll just removed them from the equation. Thanks to my contacts in the arms industry, I can equip my men with better firearms than the meager pop-guns my rivals are using.”

    “and the cave troll?”

    “i know a few higher overseers in customs who look the other way. Smuggling a troll into the country is very easy,” he explained. “with that money, by the end of the month, I will be a major player in this little war. In two months, I will have full control of this city. And by the end of the year, I will have conqueored the midget's former empire and made it my own.”

    “and no one would be the wiser.”

    “yes. I will spread rumors and stories about the 'new boss of the east coast' in the streets. I'll have the cops chasing shadows and mists for years and all the while, I will be basking in my new wealth and power.”

    “hmmph. I have to admit, it's an ambitous and impressive plan,” lucius said. “ i'd be more impressed if you hadn't felt the need to snatch a kid from his parents.”

    “that being said...” he started as he took his seat again, “now that you know of my plans, what do you intend to do about it?”
    his question had a slight effect on the human. I could see in lucius' face a look of...well, no single word can accurately describe the look. I'd say it was akin to him wanting to reach across the desk and punch the arrogant elf in the face, job be damned. I dont know if stryfe could see this look and recongize it for what it was or not but I know for sure that it was a tempting prospect for our dear friend lucius. The look passed as fast as it arrived as lucius took a more relaxed posture in his seat.

    “if I was a cop, i'd bust your ass faster than you can blink but,” he started, “i'm not a cop any more. This is my job now. I'm just here to give you your money and bring the kid back to his parents. The cops can handle you, if they can.”

    a wide grin erupted on stryfe's face. “good answer. I like people who don't ask too many questions. Now, with that out of the way, just hand me the money and....”

    “first, bring the kid in.” his quick statement clearly caught the elf off-guard.

    “i'm sorry?”

    “the kid. Bring him in here.”

    “and what make you think he's here?”

    “oh please,” said lucius. “you're a businessman. You wouldn't keep an asset like him somewhere where you can't keep a solid eye on him. You wouldnt want someone else taking him or one of your goons deciding get smart and hide the kid to goose you out of the money. Also...” he leaned in closer for this next bit, “i've been around his kind my whole life. I know the smell very well and despite how this room looks, it reeks of him. So why don't you stop playing stupid and bring the kid in here?”
    as lucius leaned back in his seat, it was clear to anyone, me included, that stryfe was once again sussed out by this human. He'd probably admire the guy if everything he had been planning for months didn't hinge on the money was getting. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small cell phone. After dialing a number, he said something in elvish. I can tell you right now that lucius didn't speak or understand the language. He never took the time or effort to learn it, even though he works with a elf himself. I, on the other hand, can understand it. All he said was 'bring him in' before turning off the device. A few seconds later, the rattle of the doorknob called the elf and human's attention as another well-dressed elf entered from the side room. In his arms was a small silver furred puppy, although it wasn't a puppy. It was a baby lycan, a very young one at that. It's age was clear to lucius since very young lycans haven't mastered the ablity to shift between wolf and man, making them look like puppies to the uninformed observer. Poor thing looked utterly frightened but otherwise okay. This was the last piece that lucius needed for his plan. Now, he could begin.

    “satisfied, mr. caine?” asked stryfe. Lucius turned back to him, reaching into his jacket pocket to retrieve the lone cigerette he was allowed.

    “more than enough. Now we can complete this little transaction.” he held the tobacco stick between his fingers. “got a light?”

    ever the good host, stryfe retrieved his gold plated lighter from his deck drawer and gave him the light he wanted. He took a long drag from it, inhaling the smoke into his lungs, causing him to violently cough in reaction.

    “so, the money for the kid?” he choked out between a fit of coughs and hacks.

    “we have an agreement.” even though he got his money, the elf was starting to feel a bit bad for lucius, who seemed to be on the verge of passing out. “a word of friendly advice, mr. caine. You might want to think about quitting. I dont think you can handle smoking any more.”

    lucius let out a laugh, or something that could be called a laugh. I couldn't really tell due to the coughing. “you know, that's actually kinda funny.”

    “and why is that?”

    “because.........i dont smoke.”
    before he or anyone else in the room could process the meaning of that statement, lucius had already flicked the bud into the air. He quickly slipped on the goggles around his neck, just as the cigarette exploded in a green flash of light, blinding the elves. Lucius picked his spot to act and act he did. He moved a lot faster than a lot of people would believe he was capable of. In fact, I actually had to pull out my watch, just to time it all.

    5. seconds: lucius grabs the edge of the table and flips it up and in the face of stryfe.

    1.0 second: lucius jumps from his chair and advances upon the left most guard. He grabs the barrel of his gun with his left hand, smashing him in the jaw with a perfectly delievered elbow strike. He is unconscious.
    1.5 seconds: twisting the rifle around in his hand, he turns it into a makeshift club, landing a very solid blow with the butt to the right most guard. He is unconscious.
    2.0 seconds: he slides out the magazine and throws it at the last guard's face. Dazed and confused, he is unable to react when lucius advances over to deliever a painful looking headbutt. He is unconscious.
    5. seconds: lucius turns his attention to the desk and what he could image was a very befuddled stryfe. He jumps over with a very impressive looking superman punch, his fist blowing through the expensive wood, and find its home on the elf's exposed chin. He is unconscious.
    Total time? 2.5 seconds.

    Removing his goggles, he surveyed the room, full of unconscious elves and one very shaken lycan pup on the floor. He leaned down to check on him only to have the poor thing to whimper and shy away from him.

    “hey, shhhhh,” he said in a gentle, hushed tone. “i'm a friend. I'm taking you home to your parents.” upon hearing the proscpect of seeing his family, he instantly perked up. Lucius scratched behind the cub's ear, getting him to relax and trust him. He looked over at the semi-smashed table and retrieved his case.

    “ok kiddo, this is gonna be a bit scary and cramped but you'll be safe in here.” lucius popped opened the case to reveal.......nothing. Not a single dracma to be found but more than enough room for a young lycan cub. Wearily, the cub sniffed inside of it before carefully crawling inside. Lucius gave the youngster a quick thumbs up before closing the top.

    “ryss, you got me?” he asked into his earpiece.

    “i saw everything. You could've been faster.”

    “well, i'm sorry I couldn't kick ass fast enough for you.”

    “and your mother was right. You really should invest in a hat.”
    “if we can move along...” he said between gritted teeth. “how is it looking outside?” the sniper changed her scope setting to thermal, allowing her to view the body heat of the guards outside, all of whom seemingly unaware of what happened in the room.

    “the guards seem clueless.”

    “i thought so,” he said. “noticed the layers between the doors. The whole room's sound proof. Bet our dear prince here didn't want the help listening in on any business transactions.”

    “a wise precaution. So what now?”

    “well, I need to get out of here and get my guns back. Can you take care of those guys?”

    “please duck your head and do not get up until I tell you too.”
    he certainly did as he was told. This is what lucius calls ryss' shoot mode: where she wholly focuses on the task of sniping and killing those she deems no longer deserving of the gift of life and when she is like this, it's best not to interupt her. He still had the scar on his right ear from one such incident. Loading in the first round from the large magazine into whisper, she took solid aim at the seated heat signature. He would be first.

    Squeezing the trigger, the round erupted from the barrel, traveled through the rain and the wind over serveral miles, punched through the glass window, pierced the door and found a home in the neck of her target. From the perspective of the other 7 men, the only thing they would've likely heard is a muffled grunt from their compatriot. It would also be the last thing they probably would hear. With cold efficiency, she let loose another 7 shots, each making 7 holes in 7 heads ending 7 lives. Just like that, 8 elves were killed and had no idea of the identity of their killer. This was ryss fold and this was why she was the best sniper in the empire. And lucius caine could not be happier.

    “you may rise.” the human did as he was told, peeking his head and eyed the holes in the window and the walls.

    “my dear, you are a beast.”

    “indeed,” she replied as she reloaded whisper. Case in hand, lucius walked out of the room, coming across the bloody remains of his hosts. He gathered up his belongings from the table, chief among them being his two pistols.

    “told ya i'd get these back,” he said to the corpse of the formally seated elf as he holstered his guns.

    “i wouldn't celebrate just yet, lucius caine.”

    “what's up?” his tone was much more serious to match the sudden urgent tone of his sniper.

    “i'm seeing a mass of heat signatures coming up the stairs very fast. I think someone must have triggered a silent alarm.”

    “shit! How long before they get here?”

    “2 minutes max.”

    “i love pressure,” he muttered. “ ok, thor where are you?”

    “in the basement,” said the dwarf. “just cleaning up the rats. I'm waiting for ya, lad.”

    “good. And grooz?”

    “i just talked to him. He'll be here in five minutes.”

    “well, that's cutting it close. Alright, ryss, you're gonna have to guide me down. I dont really wanna get into a gunfight right now.”

    “understood. There is an empty room five doors down from your current position. Go now.”

    “gotcha.”
    lucius fast walked his way to the free room, breaking the lock to get in. he quickly shut the door behind him, his back leaning against the wood. After a minute or so, the sound of angry shouts and running filled the hallway.

    “when I say so, head for the stairs.” lucius tightened his grip on the case and readied himself to move as fast and as quietly as possible. “now.”
    with the same swiftness he showed in the room, he snapped the door open and glided into the hall. He caught sight of a mass of goons around the office and the dead bodies. He didnt have time to wait around to see what they were planning. He launched himself through the door and dashed down the stairs. All he had to do was get to the basement and hope he didn't run into anyone.

    “5 hostiles coming up. Get off on the 5th floor.”
    he complied without a word of complaint. The 5th floor was not as well made as the 7th, not that he cared. He just wanted to not run into anyone.

    “there is another stairwell at the end of the hall. Move now.”
    his pace quickened but not into a run. He didn't need to waste his energy needlessly. He just wanted his luck to hold out. Sadly, the gods are not that kind.

    “what the?!” it was from a human goon. He emerged, by chance, from the 4th room from the stairs. He had come to this room to toke up on his stash of elven weed he had bought off one of the guards. That was until he got word on his radio to look for the human freelancer who attacked the boss and killed 8 guards. He was, relucantly on his way to join the search when he just happened on said human freelancer. Lucius' reflexes kicked in as his right hand blurred to his revolver and pointed it at the hapless man.

    Now remember when I said that these guns were special because they used varible rounds? This is a perfect moment to explain what they are. Variable rounds are named so because due to the enchantment placed upon the shell casting, they were able to change the type of ammunition fired from them, depending on the chant that the user said before he fired. And lucius was about to show this poor victim one of these types.

    AIRIA
    he pulled the trigger and instead of a bullet, what came out of the barrel was a massive gust of wind. The man was blown back into the room and out of the window, joined by bits of wood, furniture, and glass.

    “damnit,” lucius cursed to himself.

    “you should be mad. That little display has alerted the others to your position.”

    “i kinda got that.”
    his comment was directed towards the arrival of two more goons, guns drawn and ready.

    FIRA

    He fired a round at the two, this time taking the form of a blast of fire. One of them ducked back into the stairway. The other was not so lucky.
    The sound of 3 more goons coming from the other end caused lucius to whip his head around. He fired again, unleashed yet another torrent of fire at his aggressors. Unfortunately, they were fast enough to retreat into an open room, avoiding the flames. A dual wall of crimson fire gave him a brief barrier against the small army rallying against him, although it didnt stop them from firing rounds blindly at him. He dove back into the ruined room, the sound of impact rounds landing around and near him.

    “lucius, we have a problem,” said ryss as calm as ever.

    “more so than this?!” he yelled over the sound of gunfire.

    “the other half of their force is covering the lobby. I believe they think you would be making your way down there to exit via the front door. Even if you get to the stairs, you are outgunned and outnumbered.”

    “i love good news,” said a very sarcastic lucius. “so i'm out of options?”

    “as far as I can see.”

    “wait!” it was thor who spoke up. “i think I have a way for ya! You're on the 5th floor, right?”

    “yep?”

    “good. I studied the blueprints of this place like ya told me. If ya can get to the 2nd floor, there should be a small laundry chute in the hallway. If you can jump in that, it'll take ya straight to me.”

    “sounds like a plan! Now as for getting there, I dont know-” his speech was cut off as he began to form another plan in his head. “ryss, gimme some cover.”

    “of course. What will you do?” she asked, unloading a couple of rounds into some of the hostiles.

    “make my own stairs.”
    lucius cocked his gun as he pointed it towards the center of the room.

    GRAVITA

    The round he fired was small and purple but soon expanded to the size of a small car. The mass dropped into the floor, pushing a hole through. Not wasting another second, he dove through the floor and landing in the room beneath. He fired again, creating another gaping hole for him to jump through. With the last round, he repeated the action, giving him the last hole he needed to get to the 2nd floor, thankfully clear of enemies. Dusting himself off, he walked out of the room into a very empty hallway and began to look for the laundry chute. The sounds of gunfire seem to die down above, meaning that they probably know he isn't up there anymore. Urgency rushed his search. Just as the sounds of stomping foot steps closed in on him, he spotted the rusty hatch of the chute, right next to the elevator. He rushed towards. He cursed to himself as he yanked the rusted hatch open. His face scrunched up as he looked down the dark crevice leading to his next destination.

    “no time to be picky.” he popped open the top of the case to see the pup, a bit ruffled but otherwise okay. “hang on to your tail, kiddo. This next part's gonna suck.” the cub didn't have time to wonder what he meant before the lid was shut on him again. Lucius dropped the case down the shaft, hoping that it's lone passenger wouldn't have too much of a hard ride. The steps were getting closer. There was no time to really think. The human jumped headfirst into the chute, not caring about how rough the trip would be for him. If any one who happened to be next to the chute, they would probably laugh to themselves at the various curses and expletives the 37 year old human shouted as he bumped and bashed his way down a dark metal shaft, completely at the mercy of gravity.
    He finally landed with a pronounced thud into an old laundry bin, minus the laundry, which he probably could've used to give him a softer landing.

    “ughhh! I don't wanna do that again, mommy.”
    “nice trip ya have?”
    lucius cast a sore glare at the grinning form of his diminutive partner, Thorgan Riffall.


    The dwarf looked no worse for wear, considering how he arrived here and such: his faded red jacket had spots of dirt and flithy patched all over it, as was his favorite cap from his favorite baseball team, the baltmore saltines. His long jean shorts had a few rips and tears in them, more so than normal. His favorite blue sneakers were caked in mud and other things I dont think is mud. He, nevertheless, found the effort to smile as cocky as ever, even with his blonde goatee in such a rough condition.

    “watch what you say or i'll pull out my old dwarf tossing skills.”

    “talk, talk, talk.”
    lucius climbed out of the bin, groaning at the fresh bruises he will more than likely have by the time this job was over.

    “you got the package?”
    thorgan gestured to the case next to him. “got it out of the way before ya glorious entrance.”
    lucius chose to ignore his comment as he popped it open to check on his charge. To his relief, the pup was fine and seemingly happy.

    “awwwww. Look at the wee one!” cooed thorgan.

    “he's a cute one, isn't he?”

    “reminds of me dog back in Russt.”
    lucius looked at thorgan with horror. “moogie?! He reminds you of moogie?!”

    “yes.”

    “moogie is ugly!” he said incredulously. Thorgan's beloved dog was a breed known as a Russtian bulldog: a large hearty breed of canine, known for it's size, fierce loyalty, and unquestioned strength. The trade-off was that russtian bulldogs weren't exactly........attractive to anyone other than dwarves. In fact, in a recent poll of the populace, it was found that 76% of the people firmly believed that russtian bulldog was the ugliest breed of dog in the empire.

    “moogie is not ugly!” thorgan shot back. “he's got character!”

    ryss, even in the midst of sniping, decided to throw in her two cents. “lucius is right. Your dog is ugly as sin and you should be ashamed of yourself for comparing the two.”

    “oh, you'll be ugly as sin when I get me hands on ya, lass.”
    the human signed to himself as the two began one of their usual bickering matches. “enough you two,” he ordered, massaging the bridge of his nose. “where's mr. Fisher?”
    thor cracked a grin at his question. “over there,” he answer. “ready and waiting.”

    he caught sight of a mr. fisher leaning next to a old washing machine. In this case, mr. parker was not a person: it was a long black bokken, or wooden sword for the uneducated. It was made of a special type of Alaskan cider oak, very sturdy and thick. In some ways, it was stronger than a regular steel sword. As for the name, lucius named it after the trainer at the academy, captain alex fisher. According to lucius, the sword was just like him: large, black, and busted heads if you pissed him off.
    He took the sword by the white, ribbon covered handle, swinging it around to readjust to its weight.

    “old friend, it's time to bust heads.”

    “so what's the plan now, lad?” asked the dwarf.

    “getting there. Ryss, how's it looking up top?”
    there was a slight pause before she answered, likely taking a head count of the foes. “they are searching downward but I dont believe they know your exact location as of yet.”

    “groovy,” he replied. “thor?”

    “party favors are set and ready to go.”

    “gravy. Ok, we need to get up to the lobby and hold out until grooz get here. If he says he's coming, he's coming,” he ordered. “ryss, you get your elven ass down here. Gonna need you closer when the fun starts.”

    “moving.”

    “i got the kid. You ready for this, bud?”
    thor reached into his large backpack and pulled out something that looked like a small rod. With a twist, he doubled in length in the more recognizable shape of a shotgun. The MK-V roundhouse collapsible shotgun was thorgun's favorite weapon to use, mainly because it was so much like him: small in size but packs a punch.

    “always ready for this, lad.” he punctuated his answer with a nice loud cock of his gun.

    “rowdy rowdy. You know the way?”

    “just gotta go through the boiler room, cut through the second laundry, a small hallway, dash through the kitchen, and we are there.”

    “good. You take point.”

    “oh and ya mum was right. Just break down and buy a hat.”

    “just get moving, dwarf.”
    the dwarf nodded in agreement and headed for the door to the boiler room. He kicked it open with his small legs and casually walked in. lucius was about to admonish him for going into a room without properly checking but it died the moment he followed him in. there were 5 dead bodies around the room, 2 humans and 3 satyrs. 4 of them had been shot to death. The 5th one's face was beaten to an unrecognizable mesh of teeth, bones, horns, blood, and vomit.

    “the rats?” lucius asked.

    “oh aye. Damn big ones too.”
    the duo passed over the bodies and into the small hallway that lead to the kitchen. This was one of the few rooms in the whole building that was still active, to provide meals for stryfe's growing army. Neither of them knew this or they would've predicted the pressence of 3 more satyrs, snacking on some bread. Said bread was dropped as they caught sight of the duo and aimed their guns.

    “bloody hell!” shouted thor, as the two of them dove behind the counter, with a hail of bullets raining over them. Through the noise, lucius could hear the sound of one of them radioing for back-up. Things were about to get crowded. Setting down the case, he drew his fully loaded revolver and unload a few fire rounds at them. Thor popped a few rounds from his shotgun, while shouting like a insane madman.

    “COME ON, YA BASTARDS! I HAVE BETTER AIM WHEN I'M TAKIN' A PISS!!” he roared between shots. This was what lucius referred to as thor's “insult-fu”. During fights like this, he would often shout, curse, throw out insults, and generally just doing everything he can to piss them off. In his words, “an angry enemy is a sloppy enemy and a sloppy enemy is a dead enemy.” lucius could almost laugh at the utter insane things the dwarf was yell between shots.

    “COME ON, YA WHORES! GET YA BALLS UP!”

    “ME GRANNY-MA CAN SHOOT BETTER THAN THE LOT OF YA! AND SHE'S DEAD!!”

    “WHY DONT YA GET YA MOTHERS TO SHOOT FOR YA!?! OH WAIT! SHE CAN'T! SHE'S TOO TIRED FROM ME GIVIN' IT TO HER LAST NIGHT!”

    “You son of bitch!” one of the saytrs roared, much to thor's delight. Giving into his rage, the man rushed out and charge them straight on. Thor popped over the counter and shoot him full of buckshot, dropping him stone dead. Just as lucius was reloading, one of the saytrs rushed over to get a bead on him point blank. Reacting quickly, he chopped the gun out of his hand but losing hold of his own gun. The saytr jacked him against the wall in a violent chokehold. Thor would've helped him but the other saytr was on him and his shotgun was dry.

    “what now, you loud mouthed midget?”
    thor said nothing before sliding a riot baton out of the sleeve of his jacket and cracking him in the knee. The offender growled in pain as he dropped to his knees and into thor's range. The dwarf smashed his jaw with a right cross. He followed up with a knee strike to his nose, putting him down for good.
    Lucius had his hands full with his foe, losing oxygen fast from his grip. Desperate, he grabbed one of his horns and snapped it off. In mind-numbing pain, the saytr dropped him before staggering back. Taking the chance, he stabbed the beast with its own horn in the chest, killing it stone dead. He coughed a bit, trying to catch his breath as he holstered his gun and retreived his sword and case. He looked over at thor, reloading his gun. They nodded at each other before heading towards the exit. Lucius caught sight of 2 men coming up to the door. He flew over with a kick, rocking the door off its hinges and onto the two. One was out cold. The other tried to get up. Lucius silenced him with a quick slash of mr. parker. Not missing a beat, he ran down the hallway. It was when he rounded the corner that he noticed that his small partner was noticeably absent. Just as he was about to call out to him, the dwarf scuttled around the corner, shotgun in hand.

    “what kept you?”

    “oh you know.”
    the sounds of a approaching mob from around the corner filled their ears. Lucius would've drawn his gun for a firefight only for the mob to be taken out by a massive explosion.

    “rat traps.” thor smiled as he ran ahead. Lucius shook his head as he followed behind. After few frantic minutes of running, they found themselves in what could be called the employee break room. Fortunately, it was empty. Lucius peeked out of the door, which lead to their destination. The lobby wasn't as crowded as when he originally entered but there were still 10 very trigger happy men lounging around, muttering to each other about what they would do to “that fucker caine”.

    “lot of rats in there,” he reported to his partner.

    “got something for that, lad.” thorgan reached into his seemingly bottomless backpack and pulled out a very nasty looking grenade.

    “a ripper?” lucius said. “this is gonna suck for them.”
    thorgan took position on the opposite side of the door from lucius. The human grabbed the knob while the dwarf grasped the pin of the grenade.

    “trek........drek.........onsk!” he counted in dwarish. At 0, he pulled the pin and opened the door for thorgan to throw the explosive into the lobby. Shutting it fast, they took cover away from the door as the gathered men question what the hell was this small object was that came out of thin air. I doubt they had time to realize the danger they were in before it exploded. The blast blew the door off its hinges and on to the floor. Their were thousands of small spears imbedded in the wood. As they looked out into the chaos, they saw that all the men were on ground, either dead or in extreme pain from the multitude of spear shrapnel. They learned why thorgan called it a ripper grenade.
    The duo walked into the painful mayhem they had created, stepping over the dead and dying bodies of their foes.

    “that was a lot easier than i-” lucius' statement was cut off by the arrival of 5 more goons. “aww shit!” with bullets whizzing pass them, they launched themselves behind the former sign-in desk.
    Lucius cursed as he realized he was out of ammo when he tried to fire back. “i'm out!” he yelled over the cacophony of gunfire.

    “here!”
    the dwarf tossed him a small sack of variable rounds before taunting and firing at their aggressors. Opting not to use both guns, he only reloaded one before joining in on the gun battle. He dropped 3 more men with fire rounds next to thorgan's 4 with his shotgun. Sadly, their kills weren't doing much good as they were getting back-up from more men from the stairs. By the time lucius had emptied his gun, there were now 14 gunmen firing upon their position. The firing had gotten so fierce that both of them couldn't return fire without taking a shot or two themselves.

    “thinkin' we be in a spot of trouble, luc!” thor yelled over the gunfire.

    “naw! All part of the plan!” he replied. He reloaded his revolver, ready to take down a few punk, until the waves of bullets came to a sudden end. The two men shared a look before peeking over the counter. In front of the mob was ellyis stryfe, dirty and holding a bloody nose. He was not in a very good mood.

    “MR. CAINE!” he roared. Gone was the civilized and elegent criminal mastermind. He was hurting, embarrassed, shamed, and absolutely livid.

    “hey buddy!” and lucius was going make him all the more unhinged. “looks like you aint having a good night!”

    “i have to admit, mr. caine....” he angrily spat, “that was a very bold tactic you employed. You killed most of my men, distruped my opperations, destroyed my desk, and broke my nose!”

    “it's a bit of an improvement!”

    “i'd admire you for your bravado if I wasn't so infuriated. But i'm willing to give you some measure of mercy if you return what is mine!”

    “your pride?” he yelled back. “naw! You lost that a long time ago, sunshine!”

    “the boy!” what little patience styfe had was quickly running out. “give me the boy!”

    lucius chuckled to himself. “the boy was never yours, asshole! I can't give you back what you never had!”
    the elf boss snorted as he snapped his fingers. On command, a set of thunderous footsteps heralded the arrived of the one being in the whole building that lucius did not want to deal with personally. The cave troll walked up next to stryfe, club in hand and looking very ready to commit murder.

    “you have one minute, mr. caine, to return the boy to me or I will send this troll over to rip you and that dirty little dwarf to pieces!”
    thorgan popped up. “JUST TRY IT, YA PONCE! I'LL RIP HIS BALLS OFF AND FEEL'EM TO HIM! AND THAT'S AFTER I RAM YOUR HEAD UP HIS BIG GREEN ARSE!!”

    lucius gave a loud, taunting belly laugh. “i'm gonna have to agree with him. No dice!”
    it was the elf's turn to laugh, almost incredulously. “you really think you can win this? You are outnumbered, outgunned, I have more men upstairs, and less you forget, a cave troll! What do you have?!”
    it seemed the gods wanted to say they were sorry for earlier, for just as he finished that question, something large and heavy slammed into the ceiling. The sounds of small arms fire and horrifying screams filtered into the room. The men upstairs seemed to be fighting something.

    And losing.
    With each passing second, the screams got louder, more frantic, and fewer in number. Mixed into this was the sounds of something roaring and growling in some kind of language that neither stryfe nor his men could understand. All the while, they were frozen in a morbid fascination and exciting fear.

    “NOOOO!” was yelled before the body of a saytr crashed through the ceiling and landed on the ground in a mangled heap. The screaming was louder now, as the sounds of bodies and furnture being thrown about the rooms above. Behind the mob another body crashed through, same as the first. The sickening sounds of bones breaking echoed throughout the room. Just then, a human scrambled out of the first hole, desperately trying to seek safety from the armagedon happening up there. Just as it seemed he would escape from the unseen terror, his face screwed into one of absolute terror.

    “NO! GOD NO! PLEASE!” He begged as he was dragged back up. His screams were silenced by what sounded like his body being broken, for lack of a better term. Then, there was nothing. The screams had died out. The only sounds left were heavy breathing and stomping footsteps. Before anyone could say anything, the ceiling in front of the sign-in desk crashed down. In the from the rubble arose a mass of fur and bloodlust.

    “what do we have?” lucius spoke, smiling widely. “we have grooz.”

    this mountain of mayhem was grooz


    The mob of men shrunk back in both surprise and fear at the titan before them. It's understandable of course. Anyone who first meets grooz can find him most intimidating: his fur covered face was hard and stern, golden eyes full of violence. His bottom canine teeth stuck up and out of his large mouth, one of which was chipped which seemed to add to his imposing presence. The hair covered his broad chest and long, thick forearms that looked like they could shrug off a missle strike. The only bit of clothing he wore was a pair of blue jean shorts that didn't seem to really fit him. And on his back was something that looked like a long rifle but why someone like this guy would need a weapon, they would never know.

    “what took you so long?” asked lucius.

    “dae cham mu-chee! Han ma, shina!”
    now, your eyes are not messing with you. That is the language of the sasquatch called sasquetch. It's a rough and complex tongue which almost everyone in the empire, including myself, can understand. If that is true, then why do I not translate it for you? Well, it's quite simple; they don't like others to really speak it. It has nothing to do with Sasquatches not wanting other races speaking it. It's just to them, anyone else who speaks it sounds horrible stilted and mangled. Even the best linguist in the new world can't properly speak sasquetch to save their lives. Instead, it was just easier on everyone if people merely understood the language but not speaking and since sasquatches can understand a lot of language, there was no need for them to deviate from their own.

    “you were doing that again, weren't you?” lucius said.

    “nane-ma! Mata chicka!” He pleaded almost like a child would before an angry parent.

    “he's lying,” thorgan chimed in. “he was doing that again.”

    “nane-ma! Nane-ma!”

    “you're gonna catch something if you keep doing that.”
    while the trio were busy discussing grooz's personal habits, the mob were frozen in fear, save for styfe and his cave troll.

    “what are you fools doing?” the elf said. “get them!” but his orders fell on deaf ears. His men, the baddest he could find, were just stone statues before the form of grooz.

    “but.....that's grooz,” one of them said.

    “yeah. I heard about him. H-he's the one who messed up those guys in the great lakes,” another said.

    “i heard about that! They said that he killed so many of them that the lake was blood red for a week!”
    the terror amongst them was at an all time high. They had heard the stories and rumors about this guy. They knew what happened to people who got on the wrong side of grooz. What they didn't know what that he was one lucius caine's payroll. The only one who didn't know the stories was stryfe himself.

    “he's just a hairy ape!” he raged. “there's nothing to fear!”

    “we had 20 guys up there. All armed to the teeth! And he killed them all!!”

    “boss, let's let them go! I dont wanna get ripped apart!” the moral of his men was shrinking and dying right before his eyes. Any one else, who know the stories, would've taken that advice and gotten as far away from this murder machine as possible. Sadly, Ellyse stryfe wasn't anyone else. Eyes filled with indignation, he motioned snapped his fingers at the troll.

    “go. Kill.”
    that was all a troll needed to hear. Like I said, they weren't very smart but when told to kill, they killed. The mass of green smiled a disgusting, slobbery smile as he began to advance. Lucius was the first to notice this.

    “think you can handle him, ol' buddy?” he gestured with his head towards the troll. Grooz stretched his jaw a bit, cracked his neck and rotated his shoulder a bit.

    “chee!” he replied before heading off to meet his opponent. Now, I feel I need to tell you that a Sasquatch vs. a cave troll is a mismatch, against the Sasquatch. Trolls were bigger and stronger than any sasquatch. In fact, a troll vs. a sasquatch is no more a fair fight than a troll vs. a human.

    But then again, this is grooz we are talking about.

    The two titans stomped towards each other, neither showing any signs of backing down, until there itches apart. The troll had at least 2 feet on him and another 200lbs over him. It was one of the few times grooz actually had to look UP to a foe. But even as the troll snarled at him, slobber oozing from its mouth, grooz was unmoved. There was not a single speck of fear, doubt, or intimidation in his eyes or body. All that was coming from him was a strong urge to beat respect into this creature.

    “suu-mas shimate! Nee-chee hak-moths! See! Archa fock belar!” he threatened, or at least what I assume was a threat, jabbing his finger into his skin. The troll, neither caring or understanding what he said, simply reeled his massive open left hand and hit him with something that is less of a slap than it was an open handed punch. The shock of the blow was enough to shake the windows and rumble the ground. Stryfe smiled smugly at the results of his investments. I mean, such a blow could kill a vampire, lycan, or human.

    Then again, this is grooz we are talking about.

    Not only was he still alive, he wasn't even off his feet. His body was just leaning over from the force of the hit. He slowly righted his posture, rubbing the side of his face as he did. He merely nodded a bit before he spoke again.

    “shal-mita.”
    before anyone could blink, grooz tackled the troll, full speed, pushing it back towards the mob. The men scattered out of the way as the hairy beast began to lay into it with haymakers to it's body. The troll countered by swinging its club but grooz ducked it, countering with some quick jabs to its massive gut. It swing the club again. This time, grooz caught it with one hand and gave his forearm a nice punch. The blows caused it to lose its grip on the weapon, which was now in grooz's hair hand. Taking one look at the club, grooz shook his head and snapped it in half, like a toothpick, before he punched it in the face. The troll staggered back, hurt and shocked while the sasquatch merely advanced upon him, ready to dish out more punishment.

    I could only imagine the troll's thought process; this particular troll had always thought it was pretty damn tough, having survived in the outwilds of Australia for all of its life. Dozens of trolls and goblins and other things that humans don't even know exist tried to take it. They all failed. Nothing was as strong as it. Then there is this small hairy thing. This........grooz. It was beating it so easily. This was unthinkable for it. He was bigger. He should be winning!

    It was around this time that both the troll and stryfe finally started to understand why the men were so damn scary of him. This was what it meant to face the strongest and most notorious sasquatch in the empire. This was what violence and pain and death looked like.

    This...........was grooz.

    “k........kill them.” the elf muttered. “kill them! Kill the brute! Kill the dwarf! Kill caine! KILL THEM ALL!”
    it took a few seconds for his raging order to register with his men. Those few seconds were all that a certain sniper really needed. Before the first goon raised his gun to fire, a impact round dropped him like a swatted fly. The next muttered a half-curse word before he met the same fate. As more of them started dropping, lucius and thorgan took the opportunity to resume the gun fight and thanks to the panic from watching grooz utterly destroy their strongest member, the mob was in complete disorder. Shotgun rounds and fire shots cut the men to ribbons while Stryfe took cover behind a convenient pillar. Ellyse Stryfe, 9th son of albus Stryfe, watched as months of planning and barging was going up in smoke: his money was non-existent, his men were either dead, dying, or maimed, and his greatest investment, the cave troll, was being beaten within an itch of its life. This was the end of his ambitions, all because of a human.
    His thoughts were interrupted by the pieces of the pillar erupted in his face, a result of a fire round from the gun of the aforementioned human. The stony shrapenal temperaarily blinded him. As he rolled around on the ground in pain, he barely make out, over his own painful groans, the final death rattles of his cave troll as grooz punched his face into a green blob of gore. After a minute or so, the battle had ended. Most of his men were dead and those that weren't probably wish they were. Grooz gave the troll one last punch before roaring in triumph over his victory.

    “oi, grooz, me lad!” thorgan said, walking over to his large friend, “i do love watchin ya work!”

    the sasquatch just smiled sheepishly at the complement. “SASHA! MING NO CEE CHA,” he replied.

    “ahhh don't be so modesty! After this, we hit up a pub and get a pint! Sound good?”

    “Chee!”

    Stryfe, his vision cleared up by now, crawled over to one

    of his deceased minion's guns, hoping to lay a shot on his hated foes. All he got for his efforts was a shattered hand as mr. parker impacted on it. He howled in pain as lucius stood over him.

    “uh-uh,” he said. “no gun for you tonight.” the elf clutched his hand, tears streaming down his dusty face.

    “you liar!” he growled. “you said you wouldn't stop me! This isn't part of your job! You just suppose to exchange the kid for the money!!”
    lucius leaned down close to him. “yeah, I kinda lied about that particular part.”

    “what?!”

    “i wasn't lying when I said I always follow through on the job i'm given. The thing I lied about what the job itself. You see, my job wasn't to exchange 50 million dracmas for my employer's kid. It was to get the kid back.......and put you and everyone involved in the kidnapping in the ground.”

    “this.....this was a hit?!” Styfe never thought of this possiblity, that the parents would actually hire caine to just kill him.

    “of course, dumbass!” exclaimed lucius. “you kidnapped a lycan cub. Did you honestly think that a lycan family was just gonna let you off the hook for taking their kid? Shit, you're lucky they didn't decide to send a full death-pack after you. They'd do far worse to you than we've done.”

    “so.....what now?” the elf asked.

    “well, the family doesn't know what we know. Your name, your face, your family, it's all us. So i'll cut you a deal.”

    “what kind of deal?”

    “you go back to your normal life, back to your mansion, your money, your family, and forget about doing this again. I go back to my bosses and say every last person involved in the kidnapping of their son is dead. Take the deal or i'll have grooz come over and crush your head like a grape.”
    Stryfe cast a eye to grooz, grinning menacing and striking his fist in his open hand. After all the chaos that these people wrought upon, he believes it. Any one of them could kill him right now and there was nothing he could do about it.

    “if I were ya, lad, i'd take it,” added thorgan.

    “i..........i agree.”
    the human grinning at the acceptance as he straight himself up. “good. You're a smart guy. Now, we shall take the kid and our leave. You might call an ambulence for these guys. Well, the ones still alive.” he said turning on his heel. “ok, boys. Let's not keep our dear sniper waiting.”

    “let the harpy wait!” explaimed thorgan.

    “thorgan, dor-sa si-sa! Ryss setsa meshi!” grooz said, causing the dwarf to laugh loudly.

    “ahhh, grooz, you have a dirty mind and that's why I love ya!”
    with case in hand, lucius joined his partners and strolled out of the bullet-ridden, bombed-out lobby and into the night air. Now, normally, any reasonable person would just walk away and do nothing more. Then we have elfish pride. Greater than regular old pride, elfish pride is more power and dangerous. Elfish pride can overwhelm an elf's normally logical brain and make them do something incredably stupid when they feel they have been wrong by someone they would consider beneath them. This is what ellyse Stryfe was feeling at the moment. His entire operation have been utterly wrecked by a human, a dwarf, and a sasquatch. His mind told to let them go but his pride was screaming at him to teach them a lesson. His pride moved him to his feet, scrambled for a weapon, and picked up a assault rifle with his one good hand.

    “no good maggots!” he angrily spat. “i will be the new master of crime! I will be insulted like this!” he struggled with the gun since he only had one really good hand but he was adjusting well enough. Half way across the lot, thorgan nudged lucius a bit.

    “luc....” he said, drawing his attention to the very stupid elf who was about to make a very stupid descion.

    “i know,” he answered casually. “party starter.”
    the dwarf reached into his pocket and handed him a small remote.

    “LUCIUS CAINE!!” the injured elf screamed. “TURN AROUND! I WANT YOU TO SEE WHO KILLS YOU!!”
    said human merely sighed himself, muttering something about the stupidity of some people. Stryfe half way cocked the gun with his good hand when lucius raised the remote.

    “hey sunshine!” he called out. “enjoy the fireworkers!”

    click.

    That was all that was needed to seal ellyse stryfe's fate. The entire building shook as the copious amounts of explosives that thorgan had laid about the supports detonated. I'm not sure what went through his mind before he was consumed by the flames. Maybe thinking back that having that meager allowence wasn't so bad or seeing his brothers and sister again one more time. I wouldn't know. All I know is that the young elf was swallowed up by the billowing balls of fire from beneath him, possibly regretting his foolish choice to test lucius caine and his crew. By the time the trio had left the lot, the hotel was nothing more than a fiery pile of rubble burning in the night.

    “damn!” lucius marveled. “dat really blowed up good.”

    “aye. Some of me best work.” said a proud thorgan.

    “maybe you should've gone light on the C-6, bud.”

    “oh yeah. And maybe me and grooz here will wear nice, pink dress and have a tea party with our dollies.” grooz laughed along with thorgan's joke.

    “it would certainly be an improvement over your current state.” ryss fold made her present known as she strolled out of a nearby alley, still covered in her camo-cloak, whisper right in hand.

    “oh the elf bitch has jokes,” thorgan teased.

    “more than what you have, half man,” she fired back, removing her hood to let her long purple hair flow in the breeze.

    “ses-sei mah!”
    Ryss pointed a finger at the sasquatch. “do not encourage him.” her threat seemed to work as grooz shrank back a little.

    “guys, can we not do this now?” lucius spoke to his team. “we gotta get out of here before the cops get here. I really dont feel like answering why I blew up an old hotel.”
    the others nodded with his reasoning. He sat the black case down and popped it open. “besides....” he started as he pulled out the happy and safe little pup, “...we gotta get this little guy back home.”

    “shai-shai. Shai-shai,” the hairy giant cooed at the sight of the little one. Even the ice queen herself couldn't help but crack a smile at the chipper yapping of the pup.

    “he is pretty cute........for a lycan.”

    “ahhh you can do better than that. He's a might cute one for anything,” thorgan added, scratching behind his ear.

    “let's move out, people. Jynx is probably going stir crazy waiting for us back on The Howard.”
    without another word, the dwarf, the elf, and the sasquatch followed their leader as he, with pup in hand, walked down the street, hopefully able to catch a bus to the airport without anyone asking too many questions as to why they were armed as they were.
    This was their team and why I enjoy watching them. Bicker as they may, with their strange habits and quirks, theirs was a team built on respect, trust, and friendship. This unique bond was the main reason why they were able to succeed as well as they do and why they were the best in the empire.

    “caine.”

    “what's up, grooz?”

    “cee-sha ma-cha, chui chui, koma tech-cha,” He said, motioning with his hand over his head.

    “not you too!”

    “even he thinks so. Ya need a hat, lad.”

    “possible a bowler or fedora.”

    “i do not a friggin hat!”

    “or a sombrero. Ya could pull it off, lad.”

    “how about top hat?”

    “son-tei cha ma.”

    “that could work too.”

    “that's it! I've had it! You're all fired! When we get back, turn in your keys, and get out!”

    “..........but you did not give us keys, lucius caine.”

    “then i'll have some keys made, give'em to you, and then you can turn them. Happy?”

  2. #2
    well, since people are reading it, i will post chapter 2. but only after 300 views or so.

  3. #3
    First, as I said at the end of your prologue thread, this is visible to everyone and counts as published.

    Second, this is a long piece to critique. Folks might be seeing how long it is and leaving without reading.

  4. #4
    Max Acorn. I apologize for not being able to read your entire submission here. That is not because it is so long, but because the formatting is so distracting that it is hard for me to focus on the content of your story. I know you said at the beginning that it needs a lot of work, and my suggestion to you is to do that work and try again - in smaller portions. There could be volumes written on starting sentences with a capital letter, or indenting paragraphs or complete sentences, but that is not what you really want to hear, is it?

    Here's a sample of what I mean:
    “Come on. It's a pack of smokes.” Capital J judging from the look on his face, his pleas were falling on deaf ears.
    (new line)
    Capital Hhow about just a single? That can't hurt.” Capital Tthe elf considered the request for a moment.one spaceSeeing no harm in it, he opened the new pack, removed a single stick of tobacco, and placed it comfortably in his coat pocket.
    (new line)
    Lucius' face broke into a wide bright smile. “you are a pal!”
    (new line)
    Capital Tthus ended his short pat down, allowing Proper Name. Capital Llucius' to pass through the metal detector with ease and to enter the room.

    I think you have an ability to create characters and have them perform and interact within the realm of the world they live in quite well, but the formatting must come first. This is just my opinion.

  5. #5
    it needs a lot of work
    This is a major mistake. How is the reader to tell the difference between "I know, and I'll fix that in editing," and things that are a problem because you're unaware of missing some critical writing point? Never show anything but your best writing, polished to as high a luster as possible. You owe that to the people who take time to try to help you become a better writer.

    That aside, this is way too long. For a critique you need only the equivalent of the first three manuscript pages of a standard submission, 750 words or less. You provided fifty-six pages. You're thinking in terms of story, and want people to get to know your characters, and the situation. But if the writing doesn't make the reader want to turn to page two they won't. And by the end of page three the reader must need to turn the page. If your reader, who is a volunteer not a conscript, doesn't turn the page you wasted the time to write the rest. So your first and most important task is to learn how to entice the reader. You need to grab the reader by the throat, and not let go till the last page is read. And that is not a matter if making the reader know the events and details.

    As Sol Stein observed, “A novel is like a car—it won’t go anywhere until you turn on the engine. The “engine” of both fiction and nonfiction is the point at which the reader makes the decision not to put the book down. The engine should start in the first three pages, the closer to the top of page one the better.” With that in mind, let's look at the opening section to see where the reader will turn from mild curiosity to active interest.

    Your first section is pure dialog. Two people we know nothing about, each in an unknown location in time and space, are having a trivial conversation in which no one hesitates, rephrases, thinks, or in any way reacts as a human. No one thinks over what's said and makes any decision on it. So dump it. Every single line in your story must move the plot, set the scene. or develop character. And that's it. Anything else if fluff that needs to be swept up and dumped.

    There is literally nothing in that opening section that matters to either the story or the reader. But of more importance, from a reader's viewpoint, because we know nothing about either of the people in the conversation—even to which one is the protagonist, the voices are 100% emotion free and eill be "heard" in a tone that's no different from having your computer read it aloud—something you should do to get a feel for the problem.

    When that section finishes, you provide a transcription of yourself talking about the story as if the reader can hear the emotion in your voice, see your facial expressions, and read your gesture and body language, But they can't. So instead of a story, what they have is the script for a verbal storyteller's performance, without the performance notes, or a medium in which the reader can see and hear the performance.

    In other words, the storytelling techniques you're using are inappropriate to a medium that reproduces no trace of that performance—neither sound nor picture.

    So it's not a matter of good/bad writing, talent, or even editing. It's that like pretty much all hopeful writers you come to recording your stories unaware that fiction for the page requires more than the report and essay writing skills we all learn in school are useless. Nor do we know that the storytelling skills we use when someone says. "So how was your weekend?" can only work if the audience van view and hear the performance.

    It's a problem faced by pretty much everyone, so while it's not something you were hoping to hear, given how hard you've worked on this, it isn't a big deal, just a setback. And the good news is that if you're meant to be a writer the learning will be fun. And if it turns out not to be fun you've learned something important. Win/win. Right?

    So putting a block of time aside to dig into the tricks of the trade will be time well spent
    Jay Greenstein
    My articles on writing.
    The goal isn't to tell the reader that the protagonist is terrified, it's to terrorize our reader.

  6. #6
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I would need the errors and mistakes to be fixed before I could read this, which is a shame as the contest may well be A1. It's good that it introduces the characters though. One thing I have heard time and again is to introduce your sympathetic MC early on. My early drafts had readers wade through legions of supporting bods before getting to the person they were supposed to care about. Now she surfaces in line 2, at the very moment the problem in her life occurs.

    My first thought is: watch for excess dialogue (I think Jay or someone mentioned that). It is called "talking-head" syndrome, where incorporeal somebodies are talking, talking, really talking alot against a white screen. Set the scene. Think about body language, props characters can fiddle with while talking, backdrops and scenery that can foreshadow and set mood. It all makes the text richer and more vivid, ergo more readable.

    Is "Los Angles" right? You don't mean Los Angeles?

    Hope this helps. Will be good to see how this looks once you've worked the kinks out of it.




    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





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