Terminal Velocity

June 23 2014: A pair of strangers make a run on Jericho at a hacker venue and turn out to not be the usual suspects.

Unofficial Night Electronics Market

It's an outdoor market that's supposed to be closed at night, but it never closes completely and it's much more effort than it's worth to clear everyone out.



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Mood Music:

When the produce sellers go home, part of the market stays active. The part folks can't really get rid of, and so most tend to ignore. Chain link fencing separates the stalls, but otherwise it's left open air. Tables stacked thick with, all sorts of goodies. Hard drives, flat screen monitors, ripped OSs and auth codes, Electrical components stripped from everything from aviation radios to industrial electrical substations. Phones, of course there are phones here, hell there’s military field radios, satellite uplink gear, you name it. It’s an electronic bonanza, and well as long as you don't ask where it came from the prices are pretty fucking bad ass. There’s a light drizzle on, so beneath the tin roof the traffic is life. Hacker types, mostly.

The parking lot is far from full, but off to one side is a white panel van. That’s hardly interesting of course, but the two men inside potentially are. Shaved heads hidden under brand new NYC ball caps, grey trousers, black shirts. They could both be called painfully anonymous, if it wasn't for the fact the pair were dressed so similarly. Pausing to pass a photograph between themselves, a grainy snapshot of Part and Aspect taken from a high angle and very far away but good enough for their purposes.


Projects sometimes require parts. Jericho can do a lot with a little and his cybernetic implants stand in for a lot of otherwise heavy and expensive equipment but there's sometimes no substitute for good, old fashioned kit bashing. Which is what brings Jeri here. He's in a hoodie to shield him from the light drizzle and cover up his markings, but otherwise in his usual jeans/boots/tee shirt getup. Well, the hoodie has other purposes like concealing the handgun, knife and collapsible baton that constitute his minimum armament in non-security situations. Half the people here are probably armed with something anyway, so he doesn't think most will bat an eye. Of course, half the people here are criminals of one stripe or another and while most are his breed of criminal the fact is that criminals aren't trustworthy. So long as it's a cash exchange-no questions asked affair, it'll be okay, but every once in a while someone's up to something maybe just a little too much. For those people Jeri's usual answer is to keep on stepping. Most will find other victims at some point.

Okay, now let's see. He needs some spare processors and a good solid short range transmitter he can modify for microburst traffic…


Part's not far of course, but this really isn't her bag. So with Jericho dropped off she slipped across the street to grab dinner, this way she's not exactly in his hair. The pair don't see her, but they don't expect to. Jericho though, is sighted as he slips into the market. Quietly they climb out, leaving both of their doors just barely ajar. They share just a glance, before mutely setting off into the market. There’s a gasp or two towards the entrance, now behind Jericho but no screaming or anything. That's one drawback really, everyone here has -seen- guns and most are in some manner of trouble already. So a pair of men gliding through the crowd with longarms, doesn't seem to raise quite the alarm.

One finally edges in front of his compatriot, letting his Ak hang from its’ sling as he produces a sawed down baseball bat from his hardshell. The vendor in front of Jericho freezes, before reaching under the table for his own sawed off shotgun. Just as that bat hurtles low, at Jericho's left knee. Clearly, they don't want him dead. Yet.


Bat to the knee from behind. Good move. Not going for a quicker knockout. Less wise. The moment Jeri sees the vendor tense he assumes the worst, so he's already started to move when the bat clips him. Luckily, not enough to break his knee. Unluckily, still really hurts and it is enough to knock him down. He twists as he goes down, pulling his weapon out, acquiring the first target he sees and just opening up as rapidly as possible. The little SiG is loaded with an extended mag for exactly this reason. Even if he doesn't put his target down, he wants to make them go to ground.


He drops the bat, stepping back to immediately transition back to his rifle and -jesus- is he quick. The first round catches him low in the thigh, just as he opens fire. Resulting rounds walk up, shattering his hips before a pair of rounds neatly uncork his head. Rounds from his own rifle haven't vanished into thin air though, there’s a string of divots where the rounds impacted trailing down the isle. One neatly spaced about three inches to either side of Jericho's head. He's dead by the time he hits the ground though.

The second doesn't even try to close, he lets the engagement play out, as he takes hard cover behind a concrete pillar. Whistling, audibly before looking to try and get Jericho in his sights. The whistle, brings fourth backup. Six big gnarly looking pitbulls pour out of that van, and haul ass towards the firefight.


Well shit. That's trouble. Jeri throws his weight backwards, rolling to a stand as he drops his magazine and rams a new one home. Then he's moving.

Sitrep: Very bad. One man with a gun and six dogs versus just him. Sure, yeah there's a crowd at the moment but it will A) clear out very quickly and B) probably not care enough to help him out. Taking cover and outshooting his one human opponent isn't wise now because the dogs are just going to close no matter what. And there's six of them. So, their advantages, numbers and mindless aggression.

His advantages: three dimensional mobility and the environment. Sure this place is a scrapyard. But it's a cluttered one. His first move is to knock over the nearest table and send it's contents scattering across the floor. To that he adds the contents of one of his pockets: A box of nails. Yeah, Parti's training got him thinking. His second is to summon his wings for just an instant, long enough to give one good, solid flap and send everything in front of them that isn't secured to the floor flying. He doesn't even wait to see what effect it has, already moving for a better position.


The fellow behind a pillar lets out a burst of fire, Rounds go just wide of the mark before fire cuts down the moment there’s a literal shitstorm of shrapnel headed his way. The dogs are, well less easily dissuaded unfortunately. They come pouring right past, slowed significantly by the nails and everything else but they're still coming.

The fellow with the rifle begins to displace, and suddenly there’s a flurry of shooting from past the entrance. AK return fire, handgun fire. It sounds like Partisan has broken off her own private little war over there, leaving Jericho to deal with six very large very angry dogs.


Losing the guy with the gun changes the game pretty significantly. Jericho turns his weapon on the dogs and begins to advance toward them, calling out his wings again. Dogs are fast. Outrunning them on foot is a losing proposition. He could fly, but his assailants were pretty well prepared, good ambush, so there's no reason to think that won't get him shot. Fortunately, overwhelming aggression suddenly became an option again and for that what he really needs… are two extra wings. He shoots until the very last second before contact and then goes for his knife and baton as his wings come up around him.


Dogs, whilst fast and aggressive do not dodge bullets or take cover. So Jericho's burst of fire actually, well, all but two are dead and of those two both are only somewhat mobile and near death to begin with. Likewise, the gunfire from outside had ceased. From start to finish no more than, what twenty seconds tops? You can't say they weren't aggressive, but they were unlucky it would appear.

"Hey, jackass you alive in there?" It's Part's voice, evidenced by the fact that she's standing -right- there next to the entrance with a dead man at her feet.


Jeri takes that extra second to finish off the dogs - he's practical and hard, not cruel - and then rises to reload again. "Yeah, I'm here. Just a bruised knee. You okay Parti?"

Well okay, maybe a bit more than bruised. Sucker hurts. He'll have to look at it when they get somewhere safe. Even as he talks he moves toward the man he downed, first kicking his rifle away and then kneeling down to examine him and rifle through his clothes.


"Not even a scratch, these guys weren't our usual though. You piss somebody else off?"

She's doing much the same down there. The man is, oh fifty maybe sixty but his form tones and athletic. There’s a 1911 on his hip, a pair of pistol and rifle mags on his hip hidden under that hardshell, but the wallet is a bust. The worst fake ID of all time, but there’s a folding Kerambit clipped in his pant pockets. Nothing seems particularly interesting, until it comes to that tattoo over his bicep. A wolf's skull, with familar latin beneath it. "Death to Fascists". Down his forearm there’s more plain black ink, like a prison tat perhaps? It only says "Asesino".

"Jericho, could you do me a favor and tell me if that's a Bulgarian AK the fellow has there or a Russian one?" Her town resigned, as she shoulders the other man's AK, and his handgun apparently. Also a 1911.

That AK, a proper AK-104 with…decoration. Theres a hydra glyph on the stock, the partisan skull on the other and…well yes it is from Bulgaria it would seem.

"Rip his gear, and lets go."


Jeri takes the AK, already worried, and the kerambit… and the ID just for good measure then takes a 'pic' of both tattoo's and stores them in the data buffer of his cyberware for later use. "On the way." He calls out. He's not limping, per se. Actually he's moving pretty well all things considered but he is most certainly favoring his left leg.

"Don't recognize these guys." He says, giving Parti a pensive look as he approaches her. "And I don't think I've pissed off anyone new lately though another contract hit is always a possibility, I guess. That's less someone new as it is a new chapter in an ongoing saga of suck."

After a long moment he looks over at her. "Hey… your sign. Has anyone else ever used it?"


Partisan holds up the dead man's 1911 with a frown, colt railgun with her emblem on the grips. "These men are Kaibilies, I trained them. At least they were Kaibilies, before the CIA got their hooks into them." Already trudging towards that eighties BMW of hers. "Any man I trained, can wear the skull. They earned it, because I cut out their hearts and plugged the hole with razor wire and bad language. I dont remember their faces, but it was a couple years ago yaknow?"


Jeri nods. He remembers Parti telling him about having set up special forces schools in the past. He's silent for a moment, partly thinking and partly absently comparing new data to stuff he's seen over the past year.

"Any of that other guy's gear have the Skull-and-Snakes?" He says after a moment. Coincidence? Probably not but hey he wouldn't destroy a perfectly good AK-104 if he'd taken it off a dead Hydra agent. "And does the word Asesino mean anything to you?"


Partisan clears her throat "Every man in class raised a puppy, and if the puppy was hungry or lonely or misbehaving they got in very bad trouble. I made the puppy their only source of affection, the only avenue of any sort of emotional outlet. Then we line them up, man and dog near the end of selection. Then we make them bash their heads in, and eat the flesh raw on orders. Anyone who hesitates, fails. Then we send them into the barracks, and enforce silence. Next morning we inform them if they wish to continue, they need to line up outside. Any man who does so, gets the word "Murderer" tattooed on his forearm. Just so he knows the score, and everyone else does too. After that, They're kaibiles."She pops open the back door, tossing the man's gear casually into the backseat.

"Yes, stock of his rifle. Decorated, like I taught them."


Jericho is familiar with… less extreme examples of that kind of emotional manipulation in SF schools. It's arguably a necessary part of the training regimen, though he's never held with that kind of thing. Yeah, he understands the need to harden people to pretty extreme courses of action, but in his experience emotionally dead or seared soldiers are the worst kind of dangerous.

"Gotcha," his only response. There are other things to think about anyway. "Hrm. Possible that these guys were trained by guys you trained? Or are these originals? Either way looks like some of them took to working for Hydra."

Jericho's already running the numbers in his head. A two man hit time is possible, but proper SF groups work larger so he can't discount the possibility that there are others about. He throws the gear he salvaged into the back with the stuff Parti took and sits down to buckle in. The kerambit he places on the dash near the driver's seat, almost respectfully. It's possible he just killed one of Mama Wolf's cubs in if that's the case the least he can do is return the claws.


Partisan eases the engine over, and pulls away immediately. "No, they do the puppy thing differently after I left. They don't tattoo them anymore, and men I didn't train don't wear my skull down there. I know some of them found work with the cartels, I guess it's only logical Hydra would want a few for themselves now that they have some clue I'm after them myself. It's a smart move, actually. First smart move they've made since this fucking mess started, sending my own against us."


"If it really is them, and there's no reason to think it's not right now, then this will likely not be the last we see of them. How likely are they to do crap like attack civilian populations? We need to worry about nerve gas terrorism here? Or is this going to be more personal?" Parti trained these people after all, so she ought to have some idea.

"Hrm, this might actually be a problem if they start icing people and pinning it on you. People that the authorities can't ignore. I don't like the idea of foreign SF and a federal multiagency taskforce on us at the same time."


Partisan winces. "I trained these men to be counter-guerillas. They'll do everything they were trained to do, which includes mass casualty incidents yes. They won't pin it on me, because they know the moment anyone in any position of authority says there are two groups that tactic stops working. They'll just make it horrible, and then tell them they did it because the city is harboring me and they will keep doing it until I take the bait."

She doesn't seem terribly emotional, just grim for the moment thank goodness. "They're following the handbook I wrote, eliminate any detectable support structure lethally. Disrupt their capability to maintain human contact with anyone they care about, isolate them and then begin cranking up the stress until they make a mistake. Two man hit with dogs, is something I taught them. Only reason they didn't cap you, is they were going to recreate the first video we did but with you."


Well, there goes any thought of relaxing in the foreseeable future. It's a pretty horrific thought, actually, though thankfully - though perhaps equally horrifically - the notion of being Beheaded-On-The-Internet is not a foreign to Jeri. Not pleasant, but at least something he's had to consider at length before.

"Well." His voice has gone flat. "Yay. I guess I'll crank my threat monitoring code back up and go back to watching video feeds for a block or so around. They may not be so picky the next time. I suppose it's a good thing most of our other contacts are hidden or pretty public." He doesn't name any, Parti knows who he's talking about.

"I guess I'll drop by the Precinct tomorrow and warn Detective Pezzini though. I'm given to understand you spoke to her partner and it went less than ideally?"

Then he'll have to devote some cycles to rooting these idiots out.


Partisan raises a brow "Who, her partner? No I've never met the man, Can't help but feel I could clear up some of his misconceptions if we talked though. I just don't want him to do something stupid, and then I'd react and well there we go off the rails entirely. No though, I haven't met the man really."

Rooting about the center console for her cigarettes, before lighting up. "They will focus on mass casualty incidents, as far as they're concerned you're my only human focus. They have no idea what I look like, so they'll need to draw me out to kill me. If they kill Sara it'll cause undue pressure from the authorities, and complicate things."


Jericho nods, processing that. Something to process for later. Maybe Sara meant something else the other night.

"Hrm, well high profile MCI's is something I can focus on. Lots of ways to kill a lot of people, but only so many targets that don't require a fairly large kill team. And they'd want it to be nice and flashy and public to get media attention." He sighs and shakes his head. "I'm going to assume they inherited your rather justified distrust of technology, so there probably won't be whispers on the net about this… but I might be able to pick up some leads if they've had to acquire supplies, information or munitions locally. Or ship them in. Someone must have heard something…"

He spends a couple minutes in silence considering various avenues of investigation before another question occurs to him. "Hrm. Wait a second. I don't exactly go around advertising that I'm working with you, if only to keep you from breaking both my knees. Well, that and it'd be criminally stupid. They must have been watching at least me but how the hell have they connected me to you if they don't know what you look like or your assumed name?"


Partisan produces a grainy photograph. It's funny you can age it because, that’s a KRISS and she's tall. Judging from the angle and the grain, high speed low light 35mm SLR taken from a skyscraper. "I think, they just put two and two together surrounding the net outages and irregularities around hits. They were after you before we met, and I have a reputation for adopting allies as necessary."

Shrugging casually "I doubt they know we're friends, just that we work together with some degree of regularity."


Jericho takes it from her and studies it. Yep, the KRISS, Ingrid, burning SUV's. That'd be the Meyers hit. He rolls his eyes. "Goddamnit I knew I should have cleared the rooftops. Well at least they can't use this to ID you. And if they're focused on me as your only human contact they won't target anyone else. I'm a lot harder to sneak up on once alerted than most." He figures he doesn't need to say if they could target more of Parti's associates the two of them would get spread pretty thin pretty fast. "I'll work on likely targets for MCI's, I'm sure you've got a sense for the methods they'd be likely to use which should help refine the list nicely."

He looks a fairly reasonable amount of concerned and a lot of pissed off. Not like Parti needs protecting, far from it, but Hydra screwing with people's lives is about his least favorite thing ever. It's the kind of thing that's led him to rip apart cells man by man and gut labs and safe houses before.


"Only option is to flip the dynamic. They're chasing me because I'm hiding, which means they -want- me to find them and be met with what they surely feel will be overwhelming firepower. They want me to do something irrational, like try to go in there by myself with guns blazing."

She cracks her neck, before giving a sigh. "So we need to find them, and we need to hit them with so much fucking firepower that we can flip the dynamic and turn this into a Guerilla on Guerilla conflict. Depending on where they're situated, I might need to dig out a chopper or you might need to hack a drone. What we need, is a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky."


"We'll have to find them first. Even if they haven't been talking on the net, and they'd be smart not to, if they're in the metro areas, it's hard to hide from someone like me. Give me an idea what to look for and I'll see what I can run down. We can make plans from there. Mmmmmm. Possible I should stay away from your safe house, do you think? If they've tracked me this far then they may be able to compromise it at some point."


Partisan shakes her head. "Then they would have hit us in transit, not at destination. They also did not deploy as though they expected anyone but you here, they put teams at everywhere they thought a hacker might drop by and then they waited. They probably have guys outside of hacker clubs and whatever else too, the two man hit with dogs is for a distributed pattern. If they had tracked us, they would have seen me. If they had seen me, they would have waited for way more firepower. This was a stakeout."


Jericho nods again and then grins suddenly, as if something well and truly evil had just occurred to him. "Say… any of these kaibilies ever see you wolf out? Or know you can do it?"

Parti can almost hear the wheels turning now. There's an old chinese saying 'With ruses make war.' It explains a lot about the way easterners fight - the raid, the ambush, the massacre, the dagger in the night - as opposed to the way that westerners do. And Jericho has been a student of such unconventional means for some time.


Partisan shakes her head. "No, but they're justifiably superstitious. They know I change faces, but not why or how or any of that. They also don't know I can change sex as necessary, and they may not even believe it's the -real- Me here. Word on the street down there, was that I died after I helped get Pablo."


"Superstitious hrm? Might we might be able to play on that… dead are you now? That might work even better. Even if they won't spook and run, I'll bet I can prepare them a few party favors for when we find them. Bolt from a blue sky, and a ghost story on top of that. Might keep them wrong footed long enough for us to finish our work with them." Jericho's eyes have narrowed and he's smiling a small, grim little smile.

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