The Smooth: Chopping Sticks

September 29, 2014: A debrief after the operation in Alliance. Of sorts.

Go Hung's Chinese Buffet — Gotham City

It's a buffet, yo. People eat and shit here.



  • None

Mood Music:
"Nightcall" by Kavinsky

Alliance, OH:

Crews get to work as the VTOL takes off in flight. There are a few hiccups, but nothing that a certain resident on board was able to fit once in stable air. Bodies were taken up, news crews not allowed to visit the manse proper and told that a radio active leak was in play and forced to take the mansion down, brick by brick, mortar by mortal. A certain corpse was pulled from the wreckage, implanted with a bit of the Darkness' essence, and shipped back to one of many secret locations…

..Which would be dealt with later.

The plane heads for Gotham, and if necessary, controls rewritten and routed and manned by another through screen at home base, those aboard dropped at their resident places save for a selected three.

Answers, upon answers were needed and someone was going to get them.


The Weatherman had enough time to prepare the place, ushering most of the people who actually worked at the building out and settling her own agents inside. They cooked, cleaned, cooked some more, stocked the buffet with glorius foods from General Tso's to Shrimp Fried Rice. Seoul's egg rolls? To die for.

Fried chicken, dumplings, sugar rolls, sweet and sour pork.. the gist was gotten. They were going to have a chat and a meal, or a meal with their chat.

Tables were cleared out so that they would be forced and hard pressed to sit facing Amanda, one side taken up by only her while the banquet table outfitted three chairs spaced perfectly apart. Not true to form, her attire. Same pair of jeans, boots up to the knees, flackjacket beneath NIN fan T-shirt with leather coat hanging upon the back. Shotgun placed at her left, barrel up, holsters beneath arms, handles facing out, knives lining the side of thick thighs in case things go tits up.

But we mentioned before, Stormwatch took over the building. Unofficially, of course.

Shades were pulled down and the place was dimly lit to give it the appearance that it was closed, but three black SUV's pulled up to the front to drop the constiuents right at the front. Once they enter? Doors locked soon after.


Midnighter's not in a gnoshing mood. He's also not in a sitting mood. And once everyone is there, he looks at Shift. "You know what happened there. You knew it was going to happen. You knew you were safe which means it knew you were going to be there. You didn't tell us about it and the whole op almost went to shit." It did go to shit but they managed to pull out piece out of the fire. Falzoni.


One of the 'people' that comes out of the van is covered almost completely in a very large black tarp of some sort, and it moves with a slow measured pace until it gets inside. When the tarp-covered figure reaches the right chair, it settles awkwardly onto a seat, letting the tarp drop down.

Corvinus' left wing is drooping on the floor, broken in several places, right arm hanging limply, as various bits and feathers are missing from all over its form with exposed muscle in places.

The only reason it hadn't passed out during the flight back to Gotham was the thankfully robust supply of energy bars that were kept on hand for the agents in case of emergency. That supply is now long since deceased. It still requires… significant sustenance. Oh, hey, a buffet! Amazing timing!

"Those who deal with demons are most assuredly on the — partner supplies term 'Do Not Fly List'."

It sounds like it has been through a war, perhaps two.


Not a word has come without prompting from Shift during the return flight. As time moves on, and the others are dropped off… Huntress first, then Rant, and finally Lunair… he starts to get the idea.

It reminds him why he doesn't like taking Government jobs.

Once inside Go Hung's Chinese Buffet, the Ghanaian finds himself smirking a bit. He's managed to outfit himself with a pair of black, military-grade pants and his old leather jacket, both of which were stowed aboard the VTOL for the operation. Helps to make him look a bit more 'normal', but the gunmetal gray uniform remains beneath. It always remains beneath.

Silver eyes cast a glance toward Amanda Waller. The Weatherman. He doesn't nod, nor does he say anything in greeting, instead moving toward the buffet to scoop up some MSG-loaded goodness onto a plate. Hot sauce is dumped on top, and a fortune cookie is snatched up. Glass of water, check. All of these things are dumped ingloriously onto the chair front and center to Waller, and he scoots the chair out to take his seat.

First thing's first; out comes a cigarette. A soft pack of American Spirit Menthol Light and a beat up, old zippo that's seen far too much wear and tear, yet keeps on keeping on with the heart of an Energizer Bunny. He does this all while Midnighter speaks, taking a moment to enjoy his first drag. A deep, deep inhale. Closed eyes. A very soft exhale.

The Ghanaian reaches for that fortune cookie, snapping it open and unfolding the little piece of paper. Silver eyes dance across it, and then a rueful smirk forms. "Heh. 'Assumption make flied lice out of you and me.'" He lifts the little fortune toward Midnighter, eyes glimmering. "Ilonic."

The fortune is tossed onto the table. It actually reads… 'Your tongue is your ambassador'.

Another drag of the cigarette is taken before he sits up a bit straighter, holding the cigarette down upon the table. The smirk is gone from his face, a surprisingly hardened and cold expression coming across him like some distant, aged shadow. Those silver eyes drift between Midnighter and Waller. "Lot of assumptions going on around here."

His free hand casually reaches out and slides his plate-full of food over toward Corvinus.


Eyes went to Midnighter first, straight, soft features hardening, thick brown lips forming into an all too thin line that gives her the appearance that she was about to say 'SOMETHING'. But she doesn't. Her own plate was placed in front of her, half eaten, fork uprisen with a few flecks of rice resting atop, but.. eyes soon shift towards Corvinus and.

"The fuck." Is all she could say.

The plate was soon pushed towards Corvinus right after Shift had done so, her eyes soon cut towards the smoking man as both hands rest upon the table palms up, shoulders slumping just enough to give the air that she was too tired to even eat or ask the questions that she needed to. The slightest twitches form within her right eye as she suddenly sits forward, leaning a bit to the left to draw out a bottle of Jack, a hand lifted to give a quick snap as a tumbler full of ice was soon delivered, liquor opened and poured. She.. resorted to drinking around the strange, a habit that was done off the books and the hours, much like this operation.

"Midnighter. Sit down." There was no leeway in her voice, the hardened tone set by angular jaw which curled, long hair dances against. "I am far too old to watch the display and show of dicks and my children pointing fingers at who took what out of mama's cookie jar. Sit. Down."

Gaze soon falls upon Shift now, glass taken up and politely sipped. "I bare no assumptions towards nothing. I only look at the facts."


The chill spreads across the glass of jack, eyes narrowing upon the each of them, only Corvinus receiving a grimace, faint.. but it was there.

"Demons." Is all she utters out, her gaze soon turning towards the buffet, thoughtful.


"Then enlighten us." Midnighter tells the Ghanian and gives a brief glance toward Corvinus. "We could have been killed and you know why." More likely, the rest of them could have been killed. A look at Waller indicates he heard her but he agreed to go on missions, not to sit on demand.


The bird-thing sits quietly, trying not to make too much of a splash beyond what its appearance would indicate. It spears chunks of meat with its talons and scrapes them off on the inside of its beak in a weary and worn fashion, tossing its head back to swallow before reaching down with a fork and loading forkfuls of food into its beak. It does not appear to be phased by the hot sauce, nor does it seem like its motions are very threatening save to the plate in front of it. It made its statement known, and at least one intention clear. It does not have to look at The Wall directly at the moment, for they have had a meeting of the minds in the past.

In moments, the plate is empty, even as little bits of exposed muscle slowly show obsidian epidermis growing back over them. The second plate vanishes quickly, though the plate itself is stacked atop the first one and carefully placed to the edge of the table so it may be picked up.

Corvinus sits up a little bit straighter and cracks its neck, flexing its talons briefly before letting them retract. Apparently they had been 'stuck' in the extended position due to some sort of damage from the melee.

It would be rude of it to speak out over the hostess of this little gathering, and apparently it had missed some of the subtext involved, as well. What exactly had the Ghanian gotten it into? Still, it was not the same level of threat as the Storm it had warned The Wall about, so it seems somewhat… relaxed.

It's almost imperceptible but some more of the battle damage is healing as it consumes more food.


Waller's acknowledgement of looking only at facts draws a very small smile, the likes of which that tug blithely at the corner of Shift's mouth. He reaches for the glass of water with his free hand, and lifts it in a toast. "Cheers," he offers, before taking a drink. It was… refreshing.

When he sets the glass down, he leans back into his seat, staring at the woman across from him. Midnighter is… almost forgotten at this moment, or so it seems. "Corvinus volunteered," he offered. "To help wipe dis drug off de streets. When Pietrovich ran, I saw fit to call it in." His eyes cast over toward the bird creature, and an expression that seems like genuine apology flashes over him. "Looks like I owe it one." During the glance, his perceptive eyes notice some of the repairs that are taking place, and his brow furrows. "Pahhaps yah sahvants ought to bring it some few more plates of food."

Another deep drag of the cigarette is taken, breathed out, and another gulp of water is drawn down into his belly, before the Ghanaian turns his attention back upon Waller. Then, he leans forward, leveling the cigarette upon Amanda as if it were some kind of ruler. "But you do make assumptions, Weathahman. I am not yah child." A rueful smirk appears. "Continue to treat me like one and I'll only be so much more uncooperative. Anodah assumption dat at least one pahson in dis room is making." The cigarette is drawn back, and with his other hand, he makes a gesture toward that bottle of Jack, as if to suggest she hand it over.

You know. To treat him like an adult.


Eyes squint as she soon looks towards Midnighter, her lips tighten all the more considerably but.. she just smiles. Whatever she was thinking, it was going to be saved for later.

But the sounds of Corvinus actually eating is what gains her interest, the observation made and not deal with just yet. Shift, was actually speaking.

"You called demons into an off the books operation, demons that actually ruined a Historical Building that I was so -hard- pressed to pay nearly ten million of my own fucking money to at least -attempt- to repair. Not to mention, the V.T.O.L." Gaze shoots towards Midnighter then, he flew, he was at fault for that one. No matter who did what.

Fingers were snapped again as a man approaches, and with a slight gesture forward she whispers something into his ear, there was a slight point at the man bird, which the servant didn't directly look at, a nod and he was on his way.

"I in no way treated you as a child. Haven't you heard of a fucking metaphor?" She was getting riled; her hand was placed upright for her own benefit, pausing the conversation so that she could take a sip of her liquor, savor, and continue. Calmly.

As he gestures at the bottle of Jack, she does nothing. He was free to reach for it if he so inclined, she even gestured towards it so that he could take it. She wasn't his damn wife.

"But answer me this. When my crew arrived on scene to do the initial sweep, there was only a tiny bit of residue of the Smooth that was collected, which suggest that some was stored there, not all. A couple of benjamins left on the floor. And three 'key' bodies were missing from the rubble, one of them a persons of interest to my organization as a whole."

She lets that sit for a while.


Midnighter just keeps watching Shift. He's patient now that he's not in the middle of a fight. He can wait for answer so long as they're likely to be forthcoming. Waller can press the man for answers and he'll wait. But he does offer one correction, one point in Shift's favor, not for him but for the sake of clarity. "I do not think he did the summoning." He saw how Shift reacted to it all. He might know where they came from but it wasn't his doing.


The talk of children is derailing this discourse. The avianoid tilts its head a bit and cracks its neck back and forth, as if testing joints and perhaps vocalization.

"This one would respectfully submit that all present are behaving as children. Rather than support this erroneous argument, this one recommends a bit more candor. Partner details… "…draw more insects with honey than vinegar".

For something as battered as it is, the words are tranquil, calm, perhaps even soothing, a cadence aimed hopefully at diffusing some of the animosity here so that all could work together to a common solution.

"This one also does not believe that one — " it points to Shift " — was responsible for the demons. If one was, one would have kept them from attacking this one. This one also notes that an apparent outside party of an unknown origin utilized some method of compromising electronics and producing artificial smoke. This one's natural reaction to such an effort was a shift towards greater combat readiness, which served all concerned well when the demons appeared from the buildings. It would also appear that outside party was responsible for the disabling of one's vehicle."

It had a lot of time to think about it. The defenders that were present had no interest in using something like that, as it killed their communications. The attackers would not have done it, for the same reason. So it had to be an outside party, perhaps related to the demons, perhaps not. There is not enough information for it to make that conclusion, yet.

As the food arrives… well, it's not a pretty sight. That beaked maw is devouring all that is placed before it, even as the healing pace picks up and more of the exposed wounds close up, and disturbing cracking sounds emanate from the limp wing.

Corvinus needed food badly?


Getting Amanda riled up was precisely what he wanted. Shift doesn't like being cornered; even though, in essence, he was far from that. He hides his pleasure well, and when she mentions paying to have the estate restored, he actually goes so far as to wince. "Bad move," he remarks. "Should have let de place rot. Let it be a shrine for all de bullshit in de world."

Metaphors? "I'm sorry. English is my second language." He actually sounds pretty honest at admitting it to.

Now, when Midnighter points out the possibility that he was not responsible for the summoning, Shift turns to assert the soldier with an approving look that is utterly lacking in snark. "Dose creatures do not submit to me," he agrees, then casts a look Corvinus's way. The bird-creature has just hit upon something else that has been niggling at the back of the African's mind… just who or what was responsible for the cloud of smoke, the EMP, the disabling of the V.T.O.L. Upon this, his attention finally settles back upon Waller.

A pause, while he reaches out to take the bottle. A hearty gulp is taken, before he simply offers it over toward Midnighter. After all, what good soldier doesn't appreciate the burn of Jack Daniels after a combat situation?

"It crossed my mind dat pahaps you were responsible for what happened out dere," he offers, gesturing again towards Amanda with his cigarette-wielding hand. "Might explain why you seem so upset about losing de V.T.O.L." He doesn't trust her. He doesn't trust Midnighter. He barely trusts the bird-creature, and simply because it seems to be the one with the most level of heads here, despite its odd manner of speaking.

Another drag of the cigarette is taken. "But. Let's just assume you weren't trying to double cross me, and take de Smooth for yahself. Let's assume dat you don't have an interest in playing me, so dat you can hold onto it, use it, to help pacify de mutant population and make it something you can control." Paranoia? Perhaps. Or, perhaps Shift just has a habit of reading history books and knows some of the ugly things the United States Government has done in the name of National Security.

"Assuming dat is de case…" He leans back and snuffs the cigarette out into his glass of water, leaving the butt to float. "Den someone else was involved. A third pahty. And I'm not speaking of de demons. Dose creatures only showed up because de smoke bomb blotted out de sky."

Suddenly, there's a chirping sound that comes from his cellular phone. The Ghanaian reaches into his pocket and eyes the device for a moment. Incoming picture message. For the moment, he simply sets the device down, unattended, the message unopened.


Midnighter was the first to catch an eye. It was one of those eyes that said clearly, 'Really?' It wasn't a glint laced with sarcasm, but.. one that really meant what it meant. She figured that Shift was doing the calling. Though once Corvinus speaks up, she officially cringes. Everything about that.. thing confuses her greatly, the sad thing was? She understood it, more than she did those two in front of her. Amanda, she understood the bird more than she did the violence.

Two, vouching for Shift. And an outside party. Interesting.

"Not a bad move. You have to keep the peace if you want to play both sides of the coin. Property is already purchased and being worked upon as we speak. It could provide to be a perfect safe house should any of you three need." A glance to the three of them in kind, and a drawn of her breath was taken.

She holds it, then exhales, leaning over once again to retrieve a file from beneath the table. It was tossed upon the desk with a flick of the wrist, the pictures and detailed report of the unknown entity within. The woman was a blur, satellite images weren't all that reliable, but it was there.

"Take that thought right out of your mind. I did not do that. While I am known for sending my people and others into dangerous situations, I know better than to damage my own property. That shit costs money. People, often times, don't." It was rare for her to show such disregard for life, but it was what it was. She at times was a liar, but this one? All truths.

"At this point in time, I leave the third party up to you. However, I do have a feeling.." Her gaze cuts towards Midnighter now, brow raised. "How many of you were on the ground and outside the plane after it went down? Did you see this person?"

The chirping of the cell phone gave her a pause, and then she continued on. "Were they with -you- or against you."


"Don't play games." Midnighter states flatly, ignoring the bottle. "You knew you were safe from them. You told me point blank that if anyone went in without you, they were dead. If you knew nothing about them, you would not have known you were safe." He doesn't look away from Shift though he answers Amanda. "I only detected one person I couldn't account for and that one was fighting the guards. Because of the smoke, I can't be more specific than that. I did not engage since I judged it a low priority, given it was fighting the guards as well and we needed to move quickly to secure the bosses. Those not here were still in the plane."


"This one was barely seeing more than a hand-reach in front of this one. This one would be… wait one. Perhaps a motorized cycle? Impossible to clarify further given combat readiness standing."

That would be a polite way of it saying it was shouting its beak off at the time.

The truth hurts sometimes, and it cuts both ways like a knife. Now that the avianoid has its measure of The Wall, it begins to see a much clearer picture than before. It refrains from commenting on the assessment of life-value for the moment.

At Midnighter's assertion, the bird-thing takes the bowl of food it is eating from and scoots its chair over about a foot away from Shift. If this goes to fisticuffs it needs more time and resources to be back up to snuff, plus if the one who called it in is dealing with demons through a third party?

"Within the space of two 'minutes' the demons came out of the building. One requested this one turn towards the building to offer defense against them." It's not a damning statement, exactly, but it is circumstantially suspect.

It finishes a bowl of egg rolls then moves to a bowl of rice, downing a pitcher of water in-between.


He may be a stubborn man, but Shift is not above being corrected. A flash of appreciation is granted when Amanda points out just what purpose the Edwards Estate may prove to be in the future, and a place like Alliance, Ohio? Makes a perfectly unassuming place for someone to hide out when the going gets tough.

The pictures are looked at, but for the moment, Waller's report seems to be a bit more important to the man. "I'm only alive because I'm cautious," he points out. Amanda and her people are going to need to do better than that to earn his trust. Surely she's the kind of woman who can appreciate such a sentiment.

With Midnighter's snubbing of the bottle, the Ghanaian slides it back across the table toward Amanda. He's not sure whether the bird creature drinks, nor what might happen to it if it were to do so. Judging by the rather horrific sounds that accompany the eating, he's not sure adding alcohol into the mix would be a very good idea. Instead, his attention becomes riveted upon the photos, even going so far as to thumb through them with a gloved hand. He's not ignoring Midnighter, per se, just filing away the first of his remarks for later acknowledgement. "Mercenary, vigilante, intelligence opahrative," he points out. "Don't need a Magic 8-Ball. Signs point to 'vigilante', and something tells me dis pahson is going to be remahkably difficult to track down."

He turns to look at Corvinus while the bird creature backs away. The expression is almost forlorn; he wouldn't seek to harm the creature any more than he would his own mother. Shift then turns back toward Midnighter, and shakes his head slowly. "I don't speak of dem because I enjoy staying alive."

That, coming from a man who seemingly can't be killed?

Another chirp comes from his cell phone, this one simply saying, 'Incoming Video Message'. Shift closes his eyes for a moment, and reaches to accept the phone. "One… moment," he says through gritted teeth, and stands up, moving away. The phone is drawn close to his body, and the incoming messages displayed. Fortunately, he's got the video muted, but the man can't help but snort at whatever is displayed. He raises the device to his face and records a message, murmuring quietly into the device's microphone. "Important business meeting. I'll be home in half an hour."


Amanda listens to Midnighter carefully. He had a point, on all fronts. There was only so many images Amanda could get through the fog, but whatever it was, it was dressed in black, like most of the people out on the field. Most of them. "I am not going to say its safe to assume. Midnighter, if you would like, you can gather who you need to to find out who this person is. I don't care either way." She does, just not right now.

Listening to Corvinus however, it had her thinking. Fingers tha-thumping upon the table per-usual as she glances up towars Shift. "Ugh. Seriously?" She hates those types, those types are the ones to get people killed. "I really don't like vigilantes." But what was she? Helping them off of the books.

As Shift moves to stand, Amanda takes the time to stand as well, then bends to snatch up her shotgun along with a briefcase, which was soon set upon the table. She looked all too casual with the weapon, keeping it pressed against her body as her fingers work against the locking mechanism of the silver case. It opens easily, and looked into, and closed yet again. Turned now, she pushes it towards where Shift once sat, as a second one was produced, unlocked, looked over, and slid towards Midnighter.

"Fifty grand for each of you. Use at your discretion. If any more is needed, let me know."

Her gaze falls towards Corvinus, the only feature of her softening were her eyes. "Stay the night. Eat. Sleep and rest. Lock up when you're done." She had a feeling that the large, bird.. thing.. entity had no need for monetary means. At least not in this form.


Midnighter continues to looks at Shift stonily but then nods once. "So. You do know what. And you do know who." An honest admission. Terrified of someone even badder is something he's seen in others. They usually require refocusing as to who is the bigger threat. Midnighter generally wins. But in this case, it's Waller's call if she wants to pursue that course. "This is not over if the smooth resurfaces in any way." He glances down at the case then nods to Waller. No need to count it, money is meaningless.


The bird-thing nods to Amanda, taking a brief moment. "This situation is not related to the other situation. This one can assure one of that certainty." Hopefully that will help the woman sleep at least a little bit easier this evening.

Whatever it means by that vague comment seems to be between Weatherman and it.

It glances at the other two, then nods.

"If this intoxicant is discovered in circulation in the future, this one will devote considerably more personal attention to its eradication and given the circumstances will not be adverse to the necessary actions needed to remove said intoxicant from the world."

It's not a threat, the tone is too measured and matter-of-fact for a threat, but more of a simple statement of fact.

It will indeed take the host up on her kind offer, and when it does leave, the entire kitchen area will be spotless, as well as the dining area.


A similarly stony gaze is given to Midnighter. Yeah, Shift knows what. And he does know who. He'd be dead before he gives that up, and it wouldn't be anyone in this room responsible for it, either.

The others are given shared looks from the Ghanaian. "You have de Doctah. What's his name, Falzoni? And Pietrovich is in two body bags. De third pahson? De guy with de scales? Good bet it is Scales. Rumored to be de leadah of de Brighton Beach Gang, and dose were de guys who first showed up, slinging smooth into M-Town."

Wouldn't take a genius to guess what that means.

The Ghanaian looks back at Midnighter. "It's not ovah. I can promise you dat. Don't waste too much on de vigilante."

The Ghanaian reaches for the case, not bothering to count it either. Instead, he looks back toward Corvinus. "Still plenty of it out dere, in circulation. We've got a list. We've got Galante. Only a mattah of time before we wipe it out. Let's just hope Scales doesn't resurface."

He slings the case under his arm and glances back toward Waller and Midnighter. "Remembah. You find Richahd Dackleman first? He's mine." They made a promise.

Shift turns without another word, already popping another smoke into his mouth. The click of a zippo precedes the door unlocking and opening, and he's out into the chilly night with a plume of second-hand smoke trailing behind him.

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