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Jessica Napier

"To ensure justice, it is necessary that evil is punished."

0 · 109 views · located in Downtown

a character in “Blackburn”, originally authored by TCoS, as played by RolePlayGateway

Groups

The city's vigilante guardians.

Description

ImageReal Name: Jessica Christina Napier

Nickname/Codename/Alias: Her superhero persona is named Shade, as in the anachronistic synonym for ghost or specter. Her actual nickname, and what she usually goes by is Jay.

Allegiance: The Mavericks

Gender: Female

Age: 22

Appearance: Out of costume: Jessica possesses a well-built, athletic physique from years of physical activity, but she dresses in modest clothing: hoodies, flannel, tees, the like. Standing at 5'7" and weighting 130 pounds, Jessica is slightly above average female size. One might notice her distinctive red hair, which she leaves around shoulder-length. Like most of her family, Jessica has green eyes and fairly pale skin. She wears a simple black eye patch over her now empty left eye socket. A few other minor scars are present, but none as noticeable. It's not usually visible, but Jessica does have a tattoo on her right shoulder of an eagle skeleton holding a scroll that reads "Not all that is shaken shall fall.".

ImageIn-costume: The basic layer of Shade's outfit is made out of a dark purple ballistic coverall. Above that is multiple pieces of black bulletproof armor, the best that ArmaMax manufactures. For her hands and feet, she makes use of black special-ops combat boots and gloves. Over her outfit, Shade wears a dark purple cape and hood, resembling a cloak. The cape is not merely for aesthetics; it contains ballistic materials, acts as a parachute and can conceal parts of her if necessary. It and the hood are detachable in case of emergencies. To store her items, Shade utilizes a black utility belt worn around her hips. To conceal her face and offer protection, Shade wears a black balaclava with filters; over that she wears white-lensed tactical goggles. While patrolling, she puts in a realistic fake eye to maintain an alter ego. Overall, the suit's purple and black hues make it hard to spot at night, Shade's primary patrol hours.

Personality: While not asocial per se, Jessica is introverted and tends to keep to herself, doing a lot of thinking and brooding. Unless to spoken to directly, she will tend to listen to a conversation more often than contribute to it. It is difficult to rile her into anger, or any strong emotion in particular; she simply prefers to keep a poker face at times. When she is speaking with others, her remarks are often sarcastic or matter-of-fact, though she can adapt easily to a leadership position when need be, since she's very straight-forward.

Despite her cold demeanor, Jessica has always been equipped with a strong moral compass and will not tolerate egocentric or detrimental acts against society. If she feels like someone or a group of people is causing serious harm, she will do her damnedest to take them out and bring them to justice. Though she appears to be a depressed cynic at times, don't let this fool you: at her core she's a disappointed idealist with a reserved streak. She's a freethinker, and tends to live life for the moment, being quite passionate for the things she enjoys.

Personal History: Jessica was born into the old money Napier family to parents William and Melissa in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has one sibling, an older brother named Charles. From an early age Jessica had an interest in adventuring, and her hobbies consisted of such things as going hunting with her father, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Despite being born to one of the wealthiest families in the nation, Jessica had been brought up in a down-to-earth fashion, and she was taught to put her nose to whatever she wanted. She didn't have many friends, possibly because she found herself busy with other things. After high school, Jessica decided to join in on the growing superhero movement, following a sense of justice and duty. Her father, a former SAS operative, decided to train her himself in combat while she studied criminology.

Eventually, after some time of fighting crime in Edinburgh, Jessica found herself on the wrong side of a riot. Social disorder had been increasing in the area for awhile, and when she tried to quell the violence with her comrades, she incurred the wrath of a mob, which earned her a sharp object in the eye. Her family was distraught at the situation, and to escape the situation, they moved to Fort Blackburn, where their extended family lived. After arriving, William took over the weapons subset of their extended family's company, American Iron and Steel Fabrications, after the founder, James Park, died. The branch is labeled ArmaMax.

Choosing a new codename, Shade - a title that showcased her ever-adventurous and undying spirit - Jessica took to the streets once more, and it wasn't long before she was recruited to the Mavericks by Richard Cheswick. She soon paired up with Alexander Sanderson, who she eventually warmed up to and bonded with, along with several others under her command. She's been patrolling the nasty streets of Fort Blackburn with her team ever since.

Powers, Weapons, Ect.: Though Shade does not have any metahuman powers, she is very capable with the abilities of a peak human and access to top-of-the-line technology.

Superb Intellect: Shade has a genius-level IQ, and is knowledgeable in the fields of biology, psychology, language, social studies, physics and history.

CQC Master: Shade was taught some of the best fighting techniques in the world by her ex-SAS father, and has been known to take on a dozen men at once.

Tactician: Shade is an expert strategist with plenty of leadership and tactical experience.

Criminology: Shade acquired extensive knowledge in the field of law enforcement when she training for superheroics.

Utility Belt: In her utility belt Shade carries smoke pellets for conceal movement, stun grenades for incapacitating foes, gas pellets to knock out foes, a grappling hook pistol for quick travel to almost anywhere, a custom ArmaMax Defender handgun equipped with non-lethal stun rounds, mini demolition charges, tracers to track fleeing perps, a small EMP generating device, handcuffs, basic first-aid gear, a survival knife, a flashlight, and a lock-pick.

Mini Computer: On her right wrist Shade has a miniature computer strapped on, which she can use to take photos, capture sound bites, access the internet and use various applications such as thermal scanning or a Geiger counter.

Weaknesses: Despite her flexibility, Shade is only one woman. Obviously, she is not omnipresent, and can only be in one place at one time. Can be a bit of a jerk to people she doesn't trust. Shade takes failure personally, and will shoulder too much blame if her team fails to complete their goal. Combat-wise, the lack of any metahuman powers forces her to outsmart and not out-muscle any metahuman foes. In a straight-up fistfight, she will not last against someone with above-human strength. Having one eye affects her vision.

Any additional information we should know: Is a bit of a drinker. Fear of spiders. Likes the color purple (who'd've guessed?). Is currently dating Alex Sanderson.

So begins...

Jessica Napier's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dylan Nelson Character Portrait: Anastasia "Ana" Tokarev Character Portrait: Alexander Sanderson Character Portrait: Jessica Napier
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#, as written by TCoS
The night had once again befallen the city of Fort Blackburn on this all too hot and sticky night, enabling the local delinquents and scum to scurry about without reproach. As they had for as long as anyone could remember, the gangsters wandered around, dealing drugs and weapons, occasionally engaging in brawls with their rivals and generally giving the honest civilians of Blackburn a hard time. A full moon was suspended in the sky like a desecrated shine.

The Golems, the long feared masters of the underworld, acted as the de facto leaders of criminal romp. Though the Golems wore camouflage, they did not intend to hid themselves. The black and gray splotches that adorned their uniforms served to bolster their presence, to put the city on notice. The thugs who put the pattern on felt themselves above their fellow denizens, above the law. But it was not the police that the Golems looked over their shoulders for. It was the Mavericks.

In the old days, people believed that the spirits of the dead still haunted the earthly realm, perhaps seeking vengeance for misdeeds done to them during their lives. Though most in the modern world had shed these beliefs, the superstitious reverence held for ghosts applied very much to Shade, who was neither dead nor a myth. In fact, when she hit the streets of Blackburn cloaked in celestial purple and ghastly black, she never felt more alive. They might look for her, but they would hardly see her, unless she was meting out punishment to the wicked. However, there was only one of her and thousands of them, so the odds for the average peon were not in favor of him having a rib broken or a finger dislocated.

This night was kind to Shade. She'd already shooed away a group of dealers from the city park, and now she had chanced upon a group of Golem goons collecting "protection" money from a minor gang. What was left of the Vipers, it looked like. With any luck, she and her crew could get this ne'er-do-wells locked up. Every little bit helped.

"Hey Shade," her partner Scarecrow whispered. "Ya see those guns they're carryin'?" He motioned at the rather exotic rifles the Golem racketeers were toting. "They look like military rifles. Since when'd they have those kinda guns?"

"They shouldn't," she answered, focusing on the Golems after scanning the Vipers. Shade thought for a moment before hailing Hazard on her radio.

"Hazard, you copy?"

"I read you Shade, go ahead," Hazard replied. "I'm on the building opposite to you and Scarecrow. These guys are packing some serious hardware for simple racketeering."

"Aye. Scarecrow's goin' to disarm 'em, while you hit 'em from behind. Got it?"

"Roger that," he confimed, then took a position near the edge of the rooftop.

The head Golem was now counting a wad of cash, making sure he didn't have to crack some skulls. With a satisfied smirk, he pocketed the money.

"Very good, that should do for the month. Let's go boys."

By the time he swiveled around to face his boys, several shadowy tendrils had formed beneath their hands, grabbing ahold of their rifles and yanking them aside.

Hazard jumped down from the rooftop, releasing a volley of plasma that knocked the confused racketeers off their feet. The Vipers backed away frightened, knowing instantly that they were in trouble.

Once Hazard and Scarecrow had the Golems distracted, Shade quickly switched her radio to Plague's frequency.

"Plague, help me get th' Vipers."

With that, she hopped over the edge of the building, using her cape to soften the landing.

Plague let herself fall after Shade, bending her knees when landing. The damage done from the fall was repaired almost as soon as it happened.

The noise from the landing attracted the attention from one of the Vipers close-by. His eyes widened in fear as he saw the other two members of the Mavs' crew fall down, and he reached for his sidearm.

Before he could even raise his pistol, Plague took hold of his wrist and twisted it to the side, making him drop the weapon. She then grabbed his head with her other hand and drove it straight down to her raising knee. The hit made an audible crack, and the goon fell on the floor unconscious.

Another unfortunate goon turned around to witness Plague brutalize his comrade. As his hands began fumbling for a weapon, a small metal hook clasped the collar of his shirt.

"What the-?!"

With a hard tug, Shade drew him towards her and smacked his head into the back of another Viper, bringing them both to the ground.

Plague advanced towards the two remaining Vipers. The first one seemed to have a preference for close quarter combat, for he had chosen to take out a knife rather than his pistol.

Meanwhile, the one closer to her had already taken his pistol out. Right before he took his first shot, she took hold of the gun barrel, and pointed it into the ground, where the shot landed harmlessly. She pulled him down, and punched him in the gut.

The other goon took this time to run to her, knife ready. Plague saw this and took the first goon and pushed him towards the running man. The first goon hit him in the shoulder and landed on the floor clutching his stomach. The other one maintained his balance, and looked back at his fallen coworker, but then turned his face back to meet Plague's flying fist face first. He was out before he hit the ground.

Shade stopped observing Plague's attack once she had finished, and looked over to Scarecrow and Dylan. They had already taken care off the Golems, leaving all the thugs battered, handcuffed or unconscious.

"Good work," she announced, surveying the scene with an approving nod.

Scarecrow, deciding to pick up one of Golem's rifles, handed the weapon to Shade wordlessly. She took the gun, and, after eyeing it with disapproval, caught a glimpse of the ArmaMax logo engraved on the stock. Shade threw the rifle aside.

"Crow, call the cops. I'm gonnae give Corona a ring."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Josibel Morganstern Character Portrait: Jessica Napier Character Portrait: Jonathan Doyle Character Portrait: Jessica Park
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"...Well, life is (too short), so love the one you got/'Cause you might get runover or you might get shot/Never start no static I just get it off my chest/Never had to battle with no bulletproof vest..." Josibel sat in the passenger seat of the crew's armored van humming along to the radio as she idly gazed at the passing scenery. They'd spent the night in some ratty hotel getting a base of operations set up, slept, and then immediately hit the road in the morning. First order of business was to go see the local police chief and get clearance to start working the city as per their orders. In the back, Crighton read through the dossier they'd been handed on Doyle, occasionally offering his observations to Josibel. The verdict so far was that Doyle and Josibel would get along just fine, as long as she didn't try to throw her weight around. Not that she had any intention to do so. Finally, the vehicle pulled up near the police HQ to let Josibel out, then went to go find some parking.

A few officers moved to intercept Josibel as she attempted to make her way through the HQ, obviously suspicious of her presence. "Easy now, friends. I'm an officer of the law, same as yerselves. Jus' on a courtesy call ta see yer chief. If ye c'n point me in the right direction, I'd be mighty obliged." Flashing her badge to get the tracks oiled, she was finally accompanied by a few lieutenants to Doyle's office. She figured he'd probably just gotten in, which meant she'd probably be fighting for his attention. Oh well, it needed to be done. Once they'd reached the door, one of the lieutenants leaned over onto the chief's secretary's desk and asked her to see if Doyle was in. She shot him a sardonic look, but nevertheless buzzed into the office to get the chief's attention.

There was a brief moment of silence before a hardened voice came on the line.

"Hello?"

"Sir, you have a visitor. Should I let her in?" She leaned into her palm, smacking her gum loudly.

"Unless she's wearin' tiger stripes, yeah, let 'er in."

Chuckling, the secretary waved towards the door, indicating that Josibel should enter. She tipped her hat to the secretary and pushed into Doyle's office. "Howdy, pardner. I'm Agent Morganstern, with the Governer's independent law enforcement wing. Me 'n my crew were sent up here ta lend ye a hand with yer gangster problems. We were told the first order of business was ta come an' see ye, so's ye know we're in town. I'd like ta hear about yer current situation, force composition, enemy strength, that sort o' thing. Jus' so me 'n my boys know what we're up 'gainst. Ye don't mind, do ye?" She looked around the office nonchalantly, hands on her belt and standing casually.

Doyle watched Josibel as she spoke, eyeing her incredulously while sipping his coffee. He didn't want to admit things had gotten worse as of late - things were bad enough as is - but if the governor saw fit to send independent LEO's to his office, there was a problem. The Chief put his cup aside, resisting the urge to sigh.

"Well, recently, the Golems've gotten their grubby little hands on new guns. Don't know how they did it, but they're gettin' ArmaMax weapons, military tech. With that kinda firepower, no one's been able to stop 'em. We've had ten officers injured and four killed just in the last two weeks alone."

Josibel frowned. This wasn't quite what she was expecting, but it didn't matter in the long run. She had a job to do, and she was going to do it to the best of her ability.

"I'm sorry ta hear that, Chief. I know it's hard ta lose good men. Rest assured, my crew an' I are gonna do our best ta put these criminals behind bars or under tombstones. Ye mind if I take a seat?" Josibel sat in one of the chairs facing Doyle's desk, looking somewhat like a child playing at being a cop. She pulled an old notepad from her duster and began to go through her notes, explaining to the chief what her crew was capable of and what services they'd be able to provide. After Josibel spoke for a while, Doyle suddenly turned to face his window. There stood Shade, who seemed to have let herself in. She clearly did not anticipate Josibel's presence, as there was a palpable air of awkwardness.

Curious as to what had suddenly taken up Doyle's attention, Josibel pushed herself up in her seat and leaned over to get a good look at whatever was happening. Whatever she was expecting, it wasn't someone in a costume standing around like they'd just walked in on their parents getting it on. She blinked for a moment before smoothly recovering.

"Well, don't just stand there, friend. Come have a seat. I was just havin' a little discussion with the chief of police." She warmly gestured to the chair next to her, an inviting smile on her face.

"I'll stand," Shade finally spoke. Doyle suppressed a chuckle and cleared his throat.

"Well hello there Shade, surprisin' to see ya this early. Say, how'd you get into my office?"

Shade avoided the question.

"Chief, we've got a serious problem. The Golems 'ave gotten their hands on ArmaMax weapons-"

"Coincidentally enough," Doyle interrupted, "that's exactly what I was talkin' to Ms. Morganstern about."

"Please, I prefer Josibel. If we're gonna be workin' together, I'd like ta be on friendly terms." Standing up out of the chair, Josibel smoothed out her coat and approached Shade, extending her hand in greeting when she'd gotten within an arm's reach. "Shade was it? Ye got a reason to be in that getup? Ye don' look like much of an officer, no offense."

Shade returned the handshake rather impersonally.

"I'm not an officer," she replied. "I'm a Maverick. It separates me from the criminals."

Scratching her head curiously, Josibel took a step back to re-evaluate Shade. "A Maverick? I'm 'fraid I dunno what that is. I dunno what ye need separatin' from the criminals fer. Do ye commit crimes in yer fancy outfit, an' somehow that makes it okay?" She appeared to be genuinely confused, though her tone held no accusations, simply interest.

"Independent crime fighter ma'am." Shade was rather offended, being thought of in any light as a criminal. Besides, vigilante was such a harsh word.

"Ah, I see. Ye been deputized? Ye got a badge on ya, ma'am? Jus' tryin' ta figure out what our relationship is gonna be like in the future, is all." She turned to smile at Doyle, offering a slight shrug. "I represent a small wing of independent law enforcement m'self. Been sent here by the Governor hisself ta assist in the situation. Now, I ain't sayin' you boys are doin' a poor job, jus' that the suits up high feel ye c'n use a bit of help. We ain't gonna intrude in yer regularly scheduled patrols, or investigations, or none of that. Just here ta lend a helpin' hand." She fished two business cards out of her wallet and handed them to Doyle and Shade. In neat print, they read "Independent Law Enforcement, Agent Josibel Morganstern" along with a phone number.

"Here's m'card. If ye need ta get ahold of us for whatever reason, someone will pick up a phone at that number. We're on call 24/7."

Doyle scanned the card, nodding with obvious approval. Shade quickly pocketed it.

"Wonderful," Doyle declared, sitting up. "I'll make sure to call ya when we need some heavy lifters."

The Chief turned to say something to Shade, but she was already gone.

"Not again..."

"She seems right friendly," chuckled Josibel with mild sarcasm. For a moment she gazed out the window, though eventually she shook herself out of it and turned to leave.

"Well, it was a pleasure meetin' ya, pardner. Lookin' forward ta bustin' some baddies with yer boys in blue." She waved to Doyle as she left, whistling some country song as she marched through the police station, nodding to any officers that met her gaze. This looked like it wouldn't be as painful as some jobs she'd done in the past. Lady Luck seemed to be smiling on her for once.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dylan Nelson Character Portrait: Anastasia "Ana" Tokarev Character Portrait: Alexander Sanderson Character Portrait: Friedrich "Fritz" Kravits Character Portrait: Alice Meadows Character Portrait: Richard Cheswick Character Portrait: Jessica Napier Character Portrait: Devon Steele
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#, as written by TCoS
Richard looked out over the round table at the rest of the Mavericks. He bit his lip and took another headcount. Ana, Jay, Alex, Devon, Alice, Fritz... Everyone seemed to be accounted for. He hesitated still, as though he was waiting for someone else to arrive when, in fact, he was merely contemplating how exactly to open this meeting. Richard felt more of a need to pick and choose his words than usual. The situation would be more personal to at least one of his teammates, he knew. Best to avoid rattling any cages.

"From what I understand, certain people, or more aptly, certain gangs, have managed to get their hands on unusually high amounts of military grade weaponry as of late. More disturbing still, is the fact that these weapons were apparently produced by ArmaMax," Richard finally said, projecting across the table. "This sudden spike has allowed these groups to get away with more of their activities and dominate potential competition." He paused, taking a breath. "The questions we have here is this: who, or what, is acquiring and pawning these firearms? This question raises many more questions, I'm aware, but it's a starting point. Once we have it answered, we can go from there."

"So, do we have any leads?" Ana asked.

Richard turned to focus on Ana. "Aside from the ArmaMax labelling on the weapons, no. We'll need to search for more leads."

Jay, who had been remaining as silent as usual, spoke up without making eye contact with anyone.

"I'm gonnae take my team on a hunt for th' smugglers," she announced simply, straightening her posture and glancing around the room. It looked as if she had more to say, but nothing else came from her mouth.

With a nod, Richard spoke once more, "I'd say that that would be a good idea." There was no denying Jay in this case. Richard figured it best not to ask for more specifics.

"I'll try to get in touch with some of the guys in the Army, I know a few in logistics. Maybe they know something, a missing shipment, a mistake in the count of arms delivered or something like that. It would be how I'd try to get to the weapons, when it's on the move and security is thinnest," Devon said with a little caution.

Jay nodded affirmatively, which was about the kindest thing she'd do.

"I'd appreciate it."

"And I'll definitely be sending out insect scouts," Alice added, glancing at Jay with a look of deep sympathy. "We'll sweep the whole city, from Freehold to South-East End. Hopefully we can narrow down on our culprit that way."

"Excellent. For the time being, finding any clues to the source of these weapons will be priority for our teams," Richard explained. "Unfortunately, I have less of a plan than normal, but I think we can figure this out just based on what we know."

"Where are we going to start first?" Dylan spared a brief glance to Jay, taking in on how this was affecting her.

"We're gonnae sweep thro' the warehoose area. That's likely where they're storin' their arms."

"That place is always a gold mine fer criminal activity," Alex added, not looking up from the game of Pac-Man he was playing on his phone.

"Maybe we might gain a bit more if we stuck a few listeners around found gun caches. Might hear a name, a location or something along those lines. Of course we could just clean them out and try to beat answers out of the goons guarding the cache, but somehow I doubt they'll give the fine details to some bulletcatcher in the field." Devon said, considering what options they had.

"Well, why not both," came Alex's retort.

"I doubt they'll return for quite a while to the cache after we have cleaned it out. As soon as the change of guards comes around they'll know we hit the cache and report back. And my listeners, well... They only last a few days max," Devon reasoned.

"That's why ya spy on 'em first, beat their asses second." Alex set his phone aside after being chased down by one of those damned ghosts.

"True, though if we do that we might want to post a few of us in the vicinity. After all, if they decide to move the cache before we hit it we'll have nothing," Devon admitted. Alex nodded in agreement.

Across the table, Alice was tapping her chin in thought. "In addition to Mr. Steele's bugs, I can add in some literal ones as well," she offered. "It'll give us some more flexibility, I think, as well as a bit more information with which to go on."

Richard spoke up again at that point. "I think we have some good ideas to start our investigations then. Are there any other suggestions? Other questions?" he asked, swiveling his head slowly across the table.

"One more. Can we meet up here at 19:00? That way I can give everyone a few listeners and show how to use 'em," Devon replied to Rich' question.

"That seems like a good idea." Richard replied. "Can we all agree to that?"

"That works for me, no complaints of that plan."

"Then everyone knows what to do." Richard stated decidedly. "As per usual, talk to me or Jay if you have any additional questions. Meeting adjourned."

The setting changes from Fort Blackburn to Downtown

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jennifer "Jenn" Thompson Character Portrait: Brendan Hale Character Portrait: Alexander Sanderson Character Portrait: Jessica Napier Character Portrait: Nisa "Mouse" Jai Verion
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Drumming his hands on his podium, the maitre d' of the Crown and Cup anxiously awaited his main appointment of the evening. He checked the clock for the fourth time in five minutes, though in truth he didn't expect her to arrive early. Nisa Verion was always punctual, to a fault at times. Finally, at eight o'clock exactly, she strolled through the front door and shooed away her retinue. Gaston breathed a sigh of relief and greeted her with a warm smile.

"Ms. Verion, a pleasure to see you back again. We've missed you around here," he intoned with a slight bow. Nisa returned the gesture and smile in kind, inhaling the delightful smells of exquisite food that filled the cabaret.

"Likewise, Gaston. I have a guest joining me tonight, and I hope he will recieve the same treatment." Bowing again, slightly lower this time, Gaston assured Nisa that any associate of hers would be treated like royalty, the same as her, and guided her to her table near the back of the room. Mouse lowered herself gracefully into the plush seating, crossing her legs at the knee and picked up the menu that awaited her. She browsed the menu for a second before setting it gently on the table.

"I will have a glass of Grosset Riesling to start, and we will see where the night goes from there, yes?" They shared a laugh before Gaston turned away to fill her order. She told Brendan to meet her here at eight thirty, to give her time to settle in and enjoy a nice wine before conducting their business.

A few tables away sat Jessica and Alex, finishing their meals after their first peaceful evening together in several days. Vigilante work was incredibly taxing, and Jessica’s past few nights had been filled with analysis on top of the usual patrols. Alex smiled as he downed the last of his ale.

“I gotta thank ya again Jay, it’s nice to unwind a little after all the crap this city’s thrown at us.”

“It’s no problem,” she assured with a smile in turn. “Believe me, I need a break too. I’m sure father can hold ‘is own.”

Jay’s brief moment of sunny disposition was soon broken. A rather tall, tanned man in a sweater vest had entered the cabaret, heading to a table nearby. This on its own was of no concern; however, the woman he was headed to was what caught her attention. She was almost bright white in her skin tone - likely albino - unhealthily skinny and possessed peach colored eyes augmented by circular, rose colored glasses.

“Oi, Alex, glance at that lass to yer left,“ Jay whispered. Alex complied.

“Who’s that?” he inquired.

“You’ve ‘eard o’ Mouse, right? The Golem?”

Alex nodded.

“I think that’s ‘er.”

It was true, the woman in the back of the room certainly fit the descriptions. Alex hummed before shaking his head.

“Well, it ain’t like we can do anything ‘bout it in a public restaurant,” he said.

“Aye, we can’t, and tryin’ to chase a head Golem is suicide. However…”

Jay retrieved a small device from her wallet, resembling a computer chip, and slid it over to Alex.

“We can follow her friend there. Slip that tracker onto the top o’ ‘is shoe.”

“Bold plan,” Alex mused, taking the device and dropping it onto the floor, covering it in the table’s shadow and shuffling it across the floor.

---

"I have to say Ms. Verion," Brendan observed, his eyes taking in the cabaret's other patrons. The expression on his face showed that he was a tad bit uncomfortable. "This is quite the place you chose."

Taking another casual sip of her wine, Mouse simply smiled knowingly. "It is, Mr. Hale. I find the atmosphere quite refreshing. A good change of pace from the squalor of the streets, no?" Gaston stopped a few feet from Mouse's table, her order in hand, though he quickly approached and set her plate down at her beckoning.

"So, Mr. Hale. We are here to talk business, correct? I have my end of the bargain, do you have yours?" She looked at him over the rims of her glasses as she leaned forward to take a bite of grilled vegetables.

Hale reached down into his pocket and brought up a SD card, sliding it across the table so it was in Mouse's reach. "On here are the coordinates for your order, everything is accounted for as you requested."

Mouse nodded and regarded the SD card at length, chewing slowly. She brought up her napkin to wipe her lips as she swallowed, leaning back once again. "Very good. Once we are finished here, you will walk me to my car and one of my associates will give you your check. Don't sign it until you are at the bank, understood? I would so hate to see you miss out on this chance because you were careless." She paused, thinking. "I trust the order was no trouble to fill?"

He pondered her question for a few seconds, his gaze wandering from one direction to another. Brendan looked back up at Mouse, knowing what he would have to tell her. "No, there was hardly any trouble to fill the order. Though I have ran into a potential problem, which I have yet to solve. The Tigers paid me a visit a couple nights ago, they know of what I've been providing for you and the Golems. If I don't give them a share of the cut, they'll carry out a nasty threat against me."

With a quiet huff, Mouse's posture changed drastically. She was suddenly tense, with her trademark frown warping her features. "Mr. Hale, this news displeases me greatly. I understand your plight, however I cannot abide by it. The Tigers aren't worth the dust they stir up on the streets. How, exactly, are you planning to solve this issue, Mr. Hale?" Mouse steepled her fingers as she leaned forward onto the table, gazing at Brendan intensely.

"I don't know yet, this is something I'm still trying to figure out. There is a close friend of mine who is looking around, but nothing so far on that end. Quite the pickle I'm in, wouldn't you say?" Hale replied back to Mouse.

"Yes. Quite a pickle indeed. Especially because I still expect you to fulfill our agreements. However, because I have such a vested interest in you continuing to conduct business, I am willing to extend a hand to pull you out of your proverbial river. If you need Golem muscle to drive off Tiger encroachers, we will be prepared to do so."

Relief flashed over Brendan's features as he took in Mouse's offer. Knowing that he could rely on the Golems would give him extra time to sort out the issues. "You're too kind Ms. Verion, I will have to put in a bonus for your next order. If your men need heavier ordinance to accomplish their jobs, I can provide it for you."

Not quite convinced, Mouse reached for her glass to refresh herself. "While I appreciate the offer, if your situation is as dire as you make it out to be, how am I to believe you will be providing me with said ordinance? Where will you get it?"

"Despite my current predicament, I do have enough of my wares stored up that I could provide for you. At the very least, the Tigers would get the bare mininum of it," Hale waved a hand, trying to get his point across. "They know I provide for the Golems, how much I provide? They do not know, so I can tell them that whatever amount they get, the Golems get the same."

"That is decently clever. The question still stands, however. When your stockpile runs out, how are you going to continue to meet our needs?" Mouse began tapping her foot impatiently, clearly annoyed.

"That's the question I have yet to answer. You will be the first to know, once I find it," he confirmed. The phone in his pocket gave off a quick beep, signaling to Brendan that he received a text. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the phone and read the message.

"Well, my friend has found a solution it seems. If you will excuse me Ms. Verion, I must go and consult with her immediately."

Mouse almost considered letting him simply walk away without taking his payment, but that was bad business practice. She left her half finished meal behind as she followed Brendan out onto the street. Across from the restaurant, a van opened the side door, allowing a rather large man to step out and approach the pair. He pulled a small envelope of paper from his jacket, passed it to Brendan, and led Mouse across the street towards her ride.

"I expect a follow-up phone call within twenty four hours, Mr. Hale!" she shouted before getting into the passenger's seat, staring straight ahead as the van drove off.

Once Mouse's ride disappeared into the distance, his own transportation - a sleek black convertible - pulled up. The driver turned to him and smiled, which gave Brendan the clue that there was something behind it. He made his way over to the passenger side and got into the vehicle.

"So how did your meeting with Mouse go?"

"Honestly I was expecting much worse from her, but it went alright. So what is this great solution you found to my unfortunate crisis?" Hale looked at her, raising one eyebrow.

"Just you wait and see, it will help you handle the Golems and Tigers."

"I would hope so, there's a lot at stake here Jenn," he shook his head with a sigh.

"What is that?" Jenn pointed down to one of Brendan's shoes, then reached down to grab a small object that was resting on top of it. "Looks like a listening device or a tracker, someone could know about you."

"Well get rid of the damn thing. I've got enough problems already, and I don't need more." Brendan retorted, not liking on how easily someone placed a bug on him.

"Already gone, come on let's get some shakes from that malt shop close to your store." She lowered the driver's side window and flicked the device out. The convertible made a u-turn, then sped off back towards Watkins County.

---

Jay rapped her fingers against the car window, waiting as her laptop rendered the tracking chip's location. After a moment, it was revealed: beside a speed limit sign side a few yards away. Confusion crept on Jay's face, and she glanced over to her left. Sure enough, the computer found no movement.

"What's it sayin'?" Alex asked after a moment. Jay exhaled through her nose and shut her laptop closed.

"Just our luck, he found an' got rid o' the chip."

Wonderful, Alex thought. Our only lead, gone.

"Well," he said, leaning back in his seat and staring straight forward. "I guess we gotta go back to the waitin' game."

"Too right," Jay agreed, starting the car with one hand and pulling up Alex's place on her GPS with the other. "Too right."