The Smooth: Truck Bomb!

Summary:
September 18, 2014: While staking out an Odessa Mob operation, Shift meets Helena Bertinelli. The stakeout takes a turn, bringing Shift and Aspect together.

Old Gotham - Gotham City

Old Gotham is the 'hub' of the City it's here that the City Hall District is located, the Cotham City Police department headquarters, Cathedral Square, the Clocktower and the Financial District. A sprawl of low buildings to high this area is heavily populated one can ssee Wayne Towers in it's dominating skyward spire, the Buford Building, Port Adam's Plaza, the Victorian-era Crystal Palace and Gotham Stock Exchange.

The residential areas of Old Gotham are Neville where the mid to upperclass live, expensive lofts in Central Heights, squalid homes around East Park Side and Sandy Hook where many blue-collar workers and a good portion of the GCPD call home.

To the far south, across a bridge on a narrow isle (which there are several out there) upon the Atlantic one can even see Blackgate Penitentiary. Where some of the world's most dangerous men and women are held.


Characters

NPCs

  • Odessa Mob and Silver Syndicate thugs
  • GCPD

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


10:37 AM, Eastern Standard Time

Old Gotham

Though a chilly wind has set itself upon the behemoth that is Gotham City, the sun is shining brightly overhead. Morning rush is over; Old Gotham now has some time to breathe, to stretch her legs, before the lunch rush dumps tens of thousands upon her manicured streets. This is one of those nicer parts of Gotham, comparable to many a smaller metropolitan 'Central Business District', or downtown, as it were.

This doesn't mean that crime doesn't happen, of course, but it's a different type of crime. Shootings, muggings, drug deals and the like? They take place elsewhere. No, this is where the smart crimes take place. Embezzlement, extortion, corporate fraud.

It's no secret that the Odessa Mob operates here. White collar crime is their game, and they've got people embedded in every walk of life here. The Finance industry, marketing, corporate offices, government buildings, business development and technology. They are the working men who double as the city's illegal firearm and narcotics traffickers, and most of their dirty deeds happen right here, beneath the noses of GCPD and the law abiding professionals who spend their days here.

Beneath the First Financial Bank building, there is a Starbucks. Inside of that Starbucks is seated Kwabena Odame, newspaper in hand, a tall cup of coffee at his side. He's dressed in smart attire; a linen-mix suit and tie combo, his head shaved bald, a pair of sunglasses resting over his face. This enables him to appear as if he's reading the newspaper, but in truth, behind those dark lenses, silver eyes are watching the loading dock across the street, where a handful of workers hustle and bustle around a large, eight wheeler, parked up against the Bedeman and Price Design Firm's main loading bay.

-

Normally Helena would be at work but the school got shut down thanks to a kid who had a very unfortunate time of things with a very potent 'stink bomb', the stench of which got vented throughout the entire building via the air ducts. Bad news: the school could very well smell like rotten eggs for a while. Good news: it means an impromptu day off. Sadly, she can't do anything the richer citizens of the city can, like go shopping for a new, expensive car or treat herself to a day of pampering at a day spa, but she can enjoy herself a mocha. Iced.

Wandering in and past the 'reading' gentleman, Helena gets into the queue, money in hand. Thankfully it isn't too long of a wait but it is enough time for her to give Kwabena another look.

Outwardly, the man doesn't seem to be doing anything suspicious but still, something niggles at her. "Nice, Helena, got to treat everyone like they're about something wrong," she mutters under her breath. Shaking her head, she gets her drink ordered and then put into hand, that being when she moves again, this time towards the bald man's table. Might as well check him out and see what might be up on her way out the door, right?

-

Nothing entirely out of the ordinary seems to be taking place outside. People pass to and fro, an olive-skinned man works on preparing his gyro cart for the lunch rush, and vehicles both large and small pass by. Still, the truck sits in its loading dock, and still, the plainly-dressed laborers come and go.

Truth is, Kwabena has been here for the better part of an hour. This is his third cup of coffee - a good thing, since the whiskey hangover has finally been crushed under the might of the caffeine gods - and he seems almost bored in a way, as if he was waiting for something, or someone.

The Ghanaian is midway through turning from the 'Business' section and into the 'Sports' section, when someone shows up at his table. From beneath his sunglasses, the dark-skinned man looks up, silver eyes just barely peeking out from behind stylized rims. He doesn't say anything, at least not verbally, but in his expression, there are a few things that the perceptive types could read. Annoyance, curiosity, and maybe a touch of '… damn' going on in there.

-

A quick glance around the approximate area gives Helena a chance to see what might be in the stranger's direct line of sight but nothing strikes her as being strange, it seemingly another day in Gotham. Ah well. This is probably her paranoia and general mistrust of people kicking in and she'll chide herself over that, later. What she does do is pause and look at the paper quickly. "You know, it's a shame that the Gotham City Knights are not expected to do well this year," is quipped easily. "I was hoping to put some money on them come time for the Super Bowl but I doubt they'll even make it that far."

Kwabena is glance at now as she takes him in, everything from the style of his suit to the fact that he's wearing sunglasses inside noticed. "You remind me of that song… you know. The one where the guy wears his sunglasses a ni… well. Yeah. Sure you know." A shoulder lifts as she takes a sip of her sweet drink, sipping from the straw to do so.

-

Helena's words bring a scoff. "Dey ah scheduled to play de Bengals next week," he quips. "If dey manahge to fuck up dat match, well." The paper is turned to the next page, and he shakes his head. "Bettah keep dat money where it belongs. I heah San Diego looks promising." Heavy accent, Ghana if she's able to place it that much, but definitely African, born and raised.

Now, a flash of annoyance comes back to Kwabena. He lowers the paper slowly, folding it up so that it's nice and neat and his place is marked off. He still peeks up past the rim of his shades toward Helena, and reaches up with a hand to tilt them back just so, revealing more of the bright, silver irises that line his pupils. "Sensitive eyes," he explains.

A glance is given back to the paper, thoughtful. He could have just gone back to reading it, snubbed the woman and sent her on her merry way. However, there was something not… quite… right about her. He couldn't place it, but given the nature of what he's doing at this very moment, it's profitable to make sure.

"Care to join?" he asks, while scooting his chair back so that he might stand, gesturing toward the seat across from him. It's a small table, not much leg room, would be entirely cramped if all four chairs were in use. "Something tells me yah more intahresting dan de Gotham Gazette." The left side of his face curls up into a grin.

-

A grin gets cocked from around the straw as she listens, the dark-haired teacher nodding in agreement to Kwabena's assessent of the Knights. "Yeah. Think I'll just hold off. Teacher's salary isn't all that great, you know? Can't really afford to lose any." Another shrug at that and she sighs. "So what about you? What do you do? Business man of some kind, I am guessing by the suit. And the accent. Can't place it exactly…" Chuckling slightly, she just shakes her head at herself.

The sight of Kwabena's eyes gets Hel to blink a little in surprise. Not the strangest thing she has seen but still unusual enough. "Ah. Yeah, I can guess that the light must hurt." Not that she can begin to guess why his eyes are the color they are, being an English teacher and not one of Biology.

The offer to join him is accepted and she sits down, her expression marginally grateful. "Helena Bertinelli. Nice to meet you." The man is offered a hand, a polite gesture.

-

A grin gets cocked from around the straw as she listens, the dark-haired teacher nodding in agreement to Kwabena's assessent of the Knights. "Yeah. Think I'll just hold off. Teacher's salary isn't all that great, you know? Can't really afford to lose any." Another shrug at that and she sighs. "So what about you? What do you do? Business man of some kind, I am guessing by the suit. And the accent. Can't place it exactly…" Chuckling slightly, she just shakes her head at herself.

The sight of Kwabena's eyes gets Hel to blink a little in surprise. Not the strangest thing she has seen but still unusual enough. "Ah. Yeah, I can guess that the light must hurt." Not that she can begin to guess why his eyes are the color they are, being an English teacher and not one of Biology.

The offer to join him is accepted and she sits down, her expression marginally grateful. "Helena Bertinelli. Nice to meet you." The man is offered a hand, a polite gesture.

Jericho isnt a bad looking guy, honestly. He's not a knockout, sure, but he's above average by a fair measure with vaguely middle eastern looks and otherworldly amber eyes (those are a rather recent development though). On days like this folks eyes just slide over him. Its a skill, a survival tool really, the art of emoting auch that people process you as part of the background. So it is that the hacker who walks into the Starbucks and goes to order a latte, dressed in casual jeans and a long sleeved tee, is so very boring, so utterly forgettable. He sits at a table mear Kwabena and Helena and sips his drink, idly playing with a phone and staring out at the intersection.

What no one else can see is his HUD. He's tracking a particular black sedan through hacked traffic cams. It may or may not have anything to do with this smooth business he heard about from Rant which may or may not have anythingto do with stuff he's been tracking but the man has some free time on his hands, so….

-

Teacher's salary. Huh. "Prospecting," he answers. "Real estate, mostly, dough I do offah my services as a business consultant." He begins to sit back down once Helena agrees to join him, and shifts the newspaper aside to be polite. "Peopah often don't get dat, when you're making an investment, you have to look beyond de price tag. Things like… neighbahhood, local micro-economy, what you plan to bring to de block and how yah business plan affects dat. It's not just about numbahs."

Kwabena noticed the surprised expression when she sees his eyes, and is sure to fix the sunglasses more properly upon his face, so as to hide them from her. "Tanam Kwinda'e," he answers smoothly, and reaches across the table to take Helena's hand. "I apologize if dey ah unsettling to you." A finger taps the side of his shades, indicatively.

The hustle and bustle outside changes, and the truck comes to life with a rumbling growl of its engine. One of the workers steps out into the street, wearing a bright orange vest, and begins directing traffic into the other lane while the truck edges out. None of this may have seemed unusual, except… well… people tend not to be so fast at closing up shop behind a departing shipment as these goons. The garage door slams shut as soon as the rear end of the truck has cleared the port, as if whatever was inside needed to remain hidden.

There it is, in the blink of a moment. A hole in Kwabena's otherwise nearly flawless poker face. The slamming of that garage door, even audible inside Starbucks, has his brow wrinkled and his attention shifted.

"I'm sorry, Miss Bertahnelli." Kwabena looks back to the woman, lifting a sleeve to show his wristwatch, the hands of which are stuck in place. "Do you have de time? I'm afraid my watch is broken."

-

"Oh no. Not unsettling at all," Helena rushes to assure as she smiles although her head turns to the side for a moment, the handshake completed as the new arrival is watched. "I just was not expecting it. They're lovely. Very unique." The smile is genuine as is the compliment.

The strangeness outside gets Kwabena's table companion to look outside the window now, too, it not taking long for her to realize that yes, something is indeed going on, something that probably needs stopped. "Hmmm? Oh." Looking at her watch, she takes note of the time, not only so she can answer the gentleman but so she can know what time this started really going down if she has to talk to the police. "It is 11:07." Wait… his watch is broken? Why is he wearing it if it is?

-

As the truck pulls out into traffic, Jericho smiles a small, fierce smile over his latte. Bit, solid truck, headed eastbound. Stopping at the intersection. Perfect.

Headed south amd with the light a large black SUV with questionable cargo might be speeding just a bit. Its the work of a moment for Jericho to flip the east-wast light green as it approaches the intersection. That big heavy truck trundles forward and is clipped by the SUV, semding the lighter vehicle spinning out of control without a front bumper beofre it grinds to a halt on the sidewalk kitty corner from the starbucks.

Perfect.

-

"Den I am late fah an appointment, I'm afraid. Sorry, Miss." Kwabena stands, bowing his head in apology. "It has been a pleashah."

As soon as his back is turned to Helena, Kwabena's smile all but fades. Mark made, as the truck begins rolling down the street, and Kwabena exits the Starbucks with a measure between lazy and swift, keeping things nice and even despite the growing scowl upon his face. Nice, well shined dress shoes clip along the cement as he walks in the same direction as the truck, but the Ghanaian comes to a slow halt when the fender bender takes place right before his eyes, halting both his mark and the black sedan.

Well,that was unexpected.

Kwabena takes a step to the side, blending in with a small group of curious onlookers, who point at the crash and chatter all around him.

-

The last time Helena got involved in something while out of costume she was repaid for her efforts with a broken arm. She's not about to revisit that… shaking her head, Helena grabs her phone from her purse. "I'll call 911…" And she does just that, giving both men a quick look as she dashes out the door.

-

Jericho heads out the side entrence. though the truck was fortuitous a lot of luck is having planned enough to make something of it when you catch a break. In the trash bin outside theres a GCFD first responders jacket, which he picks up, reversing so it simply looks like a heavy blue jacket as he waits for EMS and carefully watches the occupants of both truck and SUV.

-

There are a few moments of relative calm, during which the driver of the truck climbs out and approaches the SUV, most likely about to trade insurance.

Instead, there's an altercation, a few heated words traded, when suddenly, the driver of the SUV brandishes a pistol. A loud crack, a flash, and the truck driver goes down with a spray of blood following him.

Onlookers begin to scream and scatter, when three dudes in business suits leap out from the SUV, each of them brandishing sizable assault rifles. Masked men wearing workers jumpsuits emerge from the back of the truck, and there is a lot of shouting as the two groups face off against each other, taking cover behind their vehicles.

Kwabena is gone before the street erupts with loud, rapid gunfire.

-

Shit, Jericho had intended to bug someone. This changes the game plan considerably. Rather than away he heads toward the SUV. Itll do him no good to bug someone who dies but if he can rip out the vehicles satnav system he may just be able to salvage something form this charlie foxtrot. Its a long dive under the SUV but he makes it, crawling under toward the side that doesn't feature an incipient gunfight.

-

Both vehicles sustain a heavy amount of gunfire, their bodies peppered with holes. Guys go down on both sides, adding more prone forms to the blood-stained asphalt.

From an alley between two buildings emerged a masked figure, covered in gunmetal gray, save for the black skin exposed on the lower half of his face. Shift is running full force, and he's headed straight for the truck. One of the gunmen turns to unload on him, but the projectiles seem to go right through, leaving little clouds of smoke behind every impact; tendrils that suck right back up into the figure's body.

Shift grabs the attacker's gun, and swings it back into the guy's face, shattering his nose. The gunman staggers back, but as the blood spews from his nose, the truck's engines fire again, and it begins to peel away.

-

The SUV rocks a bit as Jericho summons claws to just rip the GPS right out of the dash because at this point screw subtlety. Then he's sliding out the other end and scooping out one of the guns from the fallen. He blinks for just a moment at the odd, gunmetal colored martial artist. Then he recovers amd begins moving again, laying down fire in precise, two shot bursts. Hes maneuvering away from the crowd, so that any return fire heads to empty street.

-

The truck is picking up speed, and quickly. Shift carries the gun in his hands for but a moment, panning about before dropping it on the street. He takes off after the truck, waiting until the back doors swing shut before he jumps.

The moment his feet leave the ground, Shift transforms in whole to a cloud of black smoke. Thicker tendrils wind around others, driving it forward through the air until it strikes the back end of that truck. There, the cloud begins to seep through the crack between both doors, forcing it's way inside.

The SUV peels off in pursuit of that truck, tires screaming and leaving a trail of rubber on the street.

-

Jericho sighs. He doesnt want to trace out here, so what he does instead is sigh internally and swing himself up onto the back fender of the SUV as it passes. Ow. That kind of hurts. The gun has one more use. He shoots the back window out to clumb inside. The front bumper is already gone, this wont make it any more noticable

-

The truck tears down the streets, which remain mostly clear in the ore-lunch hours. As it straightens out, four bullet holes appear in the back door, having come from inside.

GCPD is closing in. Two, then three of them peel out into pursuit. They are quickly joined by a band of motorcyclists, garbed in black, who begin firing their pistols at the cop cars. One cruiser peels out ahead, attempting to block the road, but the truck busts right into it, throwing the cop car out of the way. Direction suggests it's headed for the highway.

he SUV swerves for a momemt beofre the former driver is rather violently ejected out the passenger side window, then it too picks up speed with a certain amber eyed hacker at the wheel. That truck wasnt on his radar before but given how quickly the small accident became a shootout it sure as hell is now. Anything that can get Jeri some answers woudl be welcome at this point.

-

The motorcycle escort seems far more interested in keeping GCPD off the truck's tail then they are in Jericho's commandeered SUV. A ramp to the highway is not far ahead.

That ramp… is slowly filling up with police cruisers.

This is going to go poorly for the truck.

Suddenly, the back doors of the truck burst open. Inside, the truck is filled with nondescript boxes, but more importantly, one of the thugs who had been left inside goes flying out, hitting the pavement with an ugly crack. Shift stands in the doorway, one gloved hand grasping hold of the truck's roof, his masked face turning to look directly at the pursuing SUV.

-

Given what Jericho's seen already he has no doubt that whomever that is could probably survive the impact of the crash. Hes also fairly sure that he doesnt want to if he doesnt have to. The SUV accellerates, getting right on the trucks tailgate. Moments before the ramp the hacker throws the SUV into a power slide, turning it onto the road fronting the highway and throwing the passengers door open. One shot at this…

-

Beneath the mask, Kwabena scowls. His eyes narrow. Still, there's nothing more for him here, especially considering what all he found inside that truck.

Shift leaps out from the back of the truck, tucking his body into a little ball. It's an acrobatic gesture designed to give him added aerodynamics, and the high-tech, skin-suit helps. His aim is true, almost as if he's done this before, but the momentum of his entry is bound to send him right over the passenger's seat and into the driver's business.

Fortunately, upon impact, the masked figure transforms into thick, heavy clumps of living gas. It roils about violently, the smoke grasping at the seat as if they were fingers, until rapidly re-solidifying with the sound of displaced air. Shift reaches out and pulls the handle of the door closed, before turning his head toward Jericho.

"Bomb!" he cries.

So… that's what he found in the back of that truck.

Without warning, the truck buckles, and an explosion rips it in two. The fireball expands, sending the truck skyward.

-

It takes every bit of skill Jericho has to keeo the blast wave from rolling them. The fireball does at least prevent the GCPD from pursuing too closely. With a little bit of luck they may be able to lose their tails. They'll have to ditch the SUV before too long, but its better than getting arrested or worse into a metabrawl with the GCPD.

The ruined SUV speeds into the city. Its a few mintues before Jericho has any concentration to spare for conversation. "Any of that seem off to you?"

-

Shift raises an arm to shield himself from the heat of the blast, but he seems all cool about the entire affair. As soon as they make their escape, the masked Ghanaian is looking forward, eyes on the road. "Odessa Mob," he explains. "Moving smooth, weapons, and apparently explosives now, fah de Dackleman Syndicate. Dat truck was headed fah Miami. Bomb was apparently a contingency." In short, no. It doesn't at all seem off to him.

Shift finally glances around at the stolen SUV, the signs of a gunfight, the spilled blood. "Odessa and Dackleman in bed togedah. Looks like someone got jealous."

-

"This SUV was carrying Carlos De La Cruz. Hes a neutral hitter that was contracted to the Silver Syndicate." Jericho explains. The Silver Syndicate is a regional organization that does guns, drugs and artifacts. Theyre not affiliated with Dackleman… so far. But Jericho hadnt heard they were connected to Smooth either, Then again, he'd only heard of Smooth itself recently. "Just seems strange to me that femder bender should escalate to gunfight so quickly, and on a public street. Someone spooked. Cant figure why though."

-

The information provided draws a long look from Shift, who, beneath the mask, is raising an eyebrow. "Heard of dem," he acknowledges. As far as he knew, they weren't affiliated with Dackleman. Not yet, at least. However, a grin does draw across his face. "Yeah, sorry about dat. I'm afraid dat paht of it might be my fault." Not his entirely, for he had some help.

"Dackleman's building an empire, and he's keeping it all close to de vest. Best way to draw out his affiliates is to spook dem." He winces, however, considering the collateral damage they left behind. "Need a fresh car?" he asks. "Dial 207-555-9921."

-

"You should put that on a billboard." Theres no harm in Jericho giving a bit of his unique nature away considering what this guy already saw. He diaks that number internally. "Name's Aspect." If Shift remembers him from Kush, or is connected at all to the hacker scene he may know the name. Particularly the latter, since Jeri made quite a splash in the hacker community since he went on the run eighteen months ago and continues to do so.

"So you're trying to get this Dackleman then? Personal or…?"

-

"Shift." The Ghanaian's answer comes in tandem with the hand that reaches up, pulling back his mask. Yeah, he was in Kush. He doesn't talk about it. Ever.

"Bit of both," he answers. "Bastahd shot up my neighbahood when I got onto him. But de shit he's pushing affects mutants, and it's pretty nasty. I don't like when peopah fuck around with my brothah's and sistah's." Shift's got no bad blood with humans, or 'normals' as some people call them, but when it comes to his fellow mutants, he's a bit zealous.

There comes an answer on the phone. It's a robotic voice, clearly vocoded and scrambled. "Drop address?" it asks.

Overhearing the voice, Kwabena smirks ruefully. Great job, Rant. "Dat's why I don't put it on a billboard."

-

Jericho nods, concentrating. "Twenty seven oh six north Fordring." He says into the line. That site is about five miles away. Thatll give aome time for a vehicle to get there. Hopefully this works. His own issue with such things come from organizations leveraging people, ruining lives in the name of control because they can or think they know best. He'd been tracing back some connections left dangling from other work. This may well not be related but its bad business all the same.

"Shift… ah, I remember." He doesnt go any further than that. "I havent heard much of this, but it sounds bad. Is it just about money or is there another play here?"

-

"Can't say I know Dackleman pahsonally," answers Shift, "but all signs point to money. We pushed him out of New York, he landed here. Pahfect breeding ground for a much lahgah opahration." He casts a look toward Aspect. "Mutants? A whole subsect of society, and a whole lot of dem want to be normal. Lot of money in a drug dat does just dat." Nevermind the vicious, nasty side effects.

"Scramble dat phone," he advises. "Car is coming courtesy of Dackleman's own empire." He quite enjoyed admitting that.

-

"Always is." Jericho chuckles. He doesn't leave computer safety to chance. Which is wise considering where the computer is. "If greed is the motive then theres at least a chance that causing enough havoc and death will back people off. Not many willing to die when it comes right down to it for any amount of money." If it were ideology the issue would be a lot thornier.

-

"That's de idea," agrees Shift. "But really, I don't intend to stop until we find whoevah is making dis stuff." Once he finds the brain behind the smooth, well. It doesn't sound as if Shift simply intends to turn the person over to the DEA. "I can get you a full spread on his opahration. Got enough manpower to take it down right now, but… not until I find de source. No sense gutting a corpse when you can't find de heart."

Poetic, isn't he?

-

The hacker quirks an eyebrow. "You think he's hiding the source or getting it from somewhere else?" He considers. "Either way Im decemt with puzzles. Give me something to pick at and. i may be able to tell you where your missing heart has hidden." Itd be some work, but really, the likes of Hydra do not need to be getting their hands on this stiff. Its in everybodys best interest if it burns.

-

"Deal." Little does Shift know, but this will make two favors that he owes to Aspect. "You'll find a secure access node at 211.147.92.2." He's no hacker, but he knows computers well enough to speak the language to a degree. "I'll have a packet put dere, password 'Pescat OG 179.' A derivative of Aspect, Old Gotham, and 9-17. Clever.

-

"Seems like Im not the only one good with puzzles." Jericho grins. They pull uo to the drop site. as advertised, theres a car. "Im impressed by the way. You seem pretty well connected so i assume that youve got your own transportation sorted? Otherwise, where do you want to go?" He'll have to get back to. New York, eventually.

-

"Good enough, I hope." Shift can certainly be cocky, but in this circumstance, he's invested. Personally. Too deeply to be boastful, especially now that there are people he cares about on the line. "I'll be good, but thanks." He reaches for the door, but before opening, he turns to look back at Aspect. After a moment, he nods once, thenpulls the mask down over his face again.

The door is opened, and Shift steps out. He simply walks away, leaving Jericho to his new ride. However, should the man check his rear view in departure, he might see the masked man leaping into the air, promptly transforming into smoke, and zooming off toward the nearest rooftop.


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