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Downtown District Prologue: Cerberus

Happy Panda

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Kai couldn't tell where the van was heading - she was a smart woman but she was unable to calculate the distance or location of a route simply by ear. Had she known her home better, down to the pothole or the distinguishable smells of drugs in each neighbourhood, then maybe she would have an inkling of how far she had been dragged from her house, bound at the wrists with her mouth stuffed and a gag cleaving into the corners, black sack over her head. If she survived whatever this was, she would need to rectify that mistake, as well as the litany of errors and oversights concerning her security systems. That would come at a later time though, for now, she just had to stay calm and not act out. She wasn't being executed, her home was an isolated location, that would have been a good place for it. She wasn't being kidnapped, no, they would have made a call by now and they would have likely had her sedated to prevent any trouble, so they likely intended to take her to someone.

Given the advanced tactical equipment and weaponry the soldiers sitting with her in the van possessed, her soon to be host was most likely wealthy, commanded a small private force, and given that they were tearing the house apart when they were dragging her out, they must have been looking for something. Perhaps they were rivals, looking for the recipe to Bliss? But that could only mean...Jason.
"That motherf-" She began, only for the rest to be abruptly knocked from her by an impromptu pistol strike to the right temple, throwing her onto her side. Even with nothing to see, she could faintly sense the world around her spinning and blurring slightly, a soft groan escaping her lips.
"Be quiet," A voice ordered, cold and uncaring for the health of their subject. If she had her hands untied, Kai probably would have tried to strangle him for that, but all things considered, it was probably for the best that she didn't. She spent the rest of the trip in silence, balling and stretching her hands impatiently until the van hit a bump and started to shudder and jerk, the engine shutting down.

The momentum ceased and Kai felt a hand grip her upper right arm, with the young woman reflexively pulling herself away only to stumble back into another assailant. He grabbed both of her arms and held her still as another hard blow crashed against Kai's skull, the world proverbially shaking and fading once more. As if to humiliate or punish her, she felt two tree-trunk-like arms wrap around her calves and pull tight, pulling her from the ground and suspending her in the air, helpless. She knew how bad an idea it was, but she fought anyway, white-hot anger boiling in the pit of her stomach at the indignity of all of it. If this really was Jason, he was going to have a lot to answer for...
 

Sly

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The room the woman found herself carried into only confused her evermore as she slowly heard the sound of classical piano music filling the atmosphere. There was a sound of metal lightly scraping against ceramic, and then everything came to a halt. Her surroundings went silent. This awkward pause was followed by the loud scooting of a metal chair against the floor. She heard footsteps growing closer and closer to her as she tried to make sense of her surroundings. "What the fuck is this? Why do you treat out guest like a used rag? You don't just hang her out to dry!". A man screamed in a familiar voice. This was followed by the thud of the woman smacking onto the ground. "Marzov, take care of this." the voice continued, "Aye' sir." another voice responded. What followed was the sound of struggle and some mild yelling echoing off into the distance. Classical piano music continued playing, overlaying the sound of the fight and keeping everyone's heart rate mild. The overwhelming sound of a gunshot suddenly cleared the room of all question. Mistakes had been made.

"Now, now. Let's show our visitor some respect". The man said while carrying a clear perception of authority. Whoever he was, this was the leader. Slowly, the mask was pulled from the woman's face, revealing a smiling Jason wearing a fine suit with an accompanying tie. "Welcome friend, I'm so glad you could come for dinner". It's clear the man had prepared his appearance for the big reveal. His hair had been slicked back and the aroma of a nice cologne filled the air. The room was very bright white, radiating panels of light from both the floor and ceiling. To her right, large panes of glass revealed that she had been taken to a penthouse suite high above the city. A small set of steps led to the den where a large entertainment system decorated with modern art was contrasted by the large piles of machine guns and grenades strung across the sides of it. Industrial white furniture covered in fine synthetic animal pelts sat on the other side of the room. Directly in front of the group laid a large rectangle table with fine dining platters coated in steaming food. The woman attempted to look behind her to where the gunshot had been heard from, leaving Jason to quickly put his hand on her cheek to turn her view back towards him. From the quick glance that could've been seen, a body was being dragged down the hall, leaving a trail of crimson behind it. "You'll have to excuse my friend... he seems to have lost his head with everything..". There was a pause in this statement as Jason stared at the woman, before quickly cracking an unsettling smile. "Let's get you all loosened up. I don't want you to miss the nice meal..." he said as he motioned over for another one of the goons in the room to cut her restraints and remove the gag. "And please... understand that you're going to be much better off if you just do as your told". As he said that, the remaining group of men in the room, 5 men wearing armored vests and wielded medium-caliber machine guns stood on the surrounding perimeter of the room as close as they could to the wall.

Jason gave the woman the ability to take a moment and stretch herself out, it wasn't a massage parlor of a car ride. He went to the end of the table where the largest of metal chairs laid, the remaining 6 dotted one across another going down the table longways in front of empty plates. At the end of the opposing side, a plate that had been prepared with food for the guest sat waiting in front of another chair facing down the table towards the man. "I've always said, there's no need for such brutality that you've been shown to just be dealt willy-nilly. I apologize our lessers' didn't quite understand that... No, no. The only time we need such actions are when options have run out". The man wrapped a napkin around the back of his neck, beginning to cut into the large steak that waited on his plate. Taking a bite of the meal mid-way through his sentence, he started "You know the only time a wolf will ever attack it's prey without giving it a chance to fight back? It's when that wolf knows that he will starve without that meal. You see, if a wolf is by itself, that means the pack has failed it. Now me? I watch the streets. I see what society has become. These ungrateful animals tear one another to shreds daily, and for what? A hit of Oxine or some chrome? Society is breaking down my friend. I'm but an old wolf trying to get my meal." His analogy seemed to lack some understanding but the general idea was there. Jason chomped down on another piece of the meal. "Eat, eat! I insist. You're going to need the energy". Glancing over towards one of the guards, Jason turned his attention forward, waiting to see how the girl would reply.
 
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Happy Panda

Happy Panda

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It was times like this that Kai was more grateful than ever for the obedience inducing effect of fear, despite how uncomfortable it was this time around. The arms gave way to brief comforting weightlessness, only to be immediately squashed by gravity's firm grip as she smacked against the cold floor, her body flailing like a captured fish before she was brought back to her feet. She had to blink and squint her eyes a few times as the black hood was lifted from her head and light flashed against her irises, slowly fading to reveal a...a perfectly comfortable, cultured and stylish apartment. She couldn't help but wonder if it was where Jason hung his head, but she figured he probably wasn't that idiotic or callous with his privacy. It was probably best if it wasn't his home - she most likely wouldn't leave alive if it was.

For now, all she could do was stay calm and play along, not that the former was hard given her condition. When Jason finally stepped out of the shadows, she felt herself releasing a breath she didn't even know she was holding in, silently confirming her suspicions. Surprisingly, she couldn't help but curtsey politely and bow her head toward him as he welcomed her to dinner - probably the closest to 'hello' she could get with her hands bound and mouth gagged. As much as she hated the man's arrogance and guts, she wouldn't deny that she enjoyed talking to him, he was good conversation if anything else. In some small ways, she could almost sense a kindred spirit in him, but then again, maybe that's why she felt threatened by him...possibly him by her as well. Thankfully, she was actually dressed for dinner, somewhat, being clad in a form-fitting black leather jacket with matching pants and turtleneck, complimented by a pair of classic stilettos.

She chuckled a little at the gag about the merc behind her losing his head - the classics never got old - trying to turn and watch him be carted off before two thin and deceptively warm fingers came to her cheek and pulled her back to him, their eyes meeting in a moment of silent tension hanging in the air. In that brief moment, she knew that something was going to happen, something dark and cruel that made her stomach sink in a pit of dread. She was quick to lick her lips and wipe them with a handkerchief when the gag was cut from her mouth, the excess drool at the corners of her mouth wiped away in a swift stroke. Cracking her neck, she strolled to her designated chair, following Jason as far as that before sitting, pulling her chair further in before producing a bauble and tying her hair in a loose ponytail, leaving the fringe to hang.
"Jason, always good to see you," She greeted warmly, offering a friendly smile from across the table.

One rambling monologue about wildlife later, Kai was similarly cutting into a succulent steak as she contemplated her response. "With respect, if my reason for being here is what I think it is, you are hardly starving, your pack bring you your meals on a platter every day from every district. By comparison, I'm more like a dog, still deadly on my own and capable of the same tricks but lower on the food chain, but I am content there." She put a small piece of steak in her mouth, the sauces and juices sparking and firing against her taste buds in a glorious schmorgasbord of flavors. "So my question, not to put too fine a point on it, is why am I here?" She asked.
 

Sly

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What followed the woman's question was a slow silence that seemed to drift eons, the only sound being the dragging of a fork and knife across the plate followed by the occasional sound of the man admiring the chef after each bite. "You're a woman of business, I admire that... The problem is, you're in MY business". He motioned his hand in the air summoning a skimpily dressed woman to rush out of a room down the hall with a bottle, pouring the beverage into his glass. "Charming isn't she? I picked her up a few years ago. Poor girl watched her husband get stripped down for parts after he mixed up with some bad seeds in an arms deal. Tragic story really, they never found the killers." The tension in the room began to grow tense, a growing sense of the men in the room moving around as they subtly prepared themselves for something.

"What I want is 70% of everything you are pulling in for profits. Actually- for you, 65%." He chuckled, swooning the alcoholic beverage around in his glass as he watched the bubbling. "I've worked long and hard to get where I am today. I've helped a lot of people, and I've stomped a lot of heads against the pavement. I suppose you decide what side of that coin you are on." Dropping his cutlery on the plate, the man stood up and began walking the room near the woman. He would occasionally pick up something like a book or a small art piece, moving it around in his hand while he talked. It was during this time that the man could be observed opening a small vial and sniffing it into his body. There was silence as he did so, his nearby comrades moving slightly further away when he wasn't looking. Whatever was in this container caused the man's entire demeanor to change, altering his eye color to a light dry red look and causing him to loosen his tie and top button of his shirt. He leaned on the table near the woman for a moment, looking directly into her eyes. "I don't want to seem like I'm the bad guy, I'm really not. I just want you to understand how the world really works. You can even consider this a blessing- a job interview of sorts. I mean, most of my competition has just up and disappeared so there is plenty of availability." His smile seemed to crook to the side and he gave a cocky glance over a nearby glass sculpture. It was a small piece, one displaying a clear dove. The man moved from the table grabbing the sculpture in his right hand off a nearby shelf, laying it in his palm. The piece was no bigger than a baseball and was clearly well-detailed with a lot of effort put into the design. "There is this one other thing... I uh-heh. This is awkward. Do you remember that night when you snuck into the office and tried to link to my computer? Oh? Didn't think I knew about that one? Well yeah, I did." This was followed by a light near-hysterical chuckle that droned on for 30 seconds or so. "Who the FUCK-" As his voice raised, the glass dove shattered in the man's hand falling to the ground below crashing into small fragments "-do you think you are? I know all about your goddamn snooping. Normally I would've already had you melted down and turned into my fucking soda can but you know what? You know what? I fucking love a challenge. You either take my offer right now and leave with your life, or you roll the dice and see how long you dangle before the sharks eat you up like the bait you are. Which is it..?"
 
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