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It had all been going so well, he'd been asked to look into the activities of some radicalist group of eco-warriors who fancied themselves some kind of super heroes after they'd greviously injured an on duty guard at some protest.


He'd joined a few forums and sweet talked a few people in coffee shops and ultimately been invited to attend a meeting about a future plan, some talk of hiring mercenaries and making a more major move.


It was too good to be true and it turned out it was!


He'd entered into a warehouse in civilian attire to a crowd of unfriendly faces.


His brothers position in PanStar had lead them to do a little snooping of their own and the Press surrounding his hiring had made it all too easy to connect the dots it would seem!

Edited by Exaccus
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Two dozen eco-warriors stood in the warehouse, of various sizes, shapes and haircuts. But all looked determined. All looked passionate. They were probably not violent by disposition, but they probably were violent by passion. 


Three of them, older, scruffier, and more passionate than the others (so to speak) approached Vladmir in a passionate way. They were not, as far as Vladmir could see, armed. But there were plenty of crowbars and chains lying around. And the scruffy, baggy clothes could easily conceal knives and small pistols. Or worse. 


"Thanks for coming" said the oldest, her voice rather rough and cracked. Her eyes follwed the other activists circling him from behind. 


"We know who your brother is. That makes you kind of useful, I think...." she said, frowning and insistent. She left the words hanging in the air. The implication was clear...Vladmir would be a tool in their war, one way or another....

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"Ahh...Tzatze...i had been hoping to keep that a secret for a little while longer i confess...tell me...do you know my brother's name sake? Rudu tepes,  who betray wallachia for the ottoman empire." He sighed as he moved slowly more into the room and leaned against a wall, taking his hands out of his pockets to examine then "I am as you know, vladmir, named after the count, something of a local hero in my hometown." He explained as he examined his fingers


"History is fond of repeating itself, like the impaler prince before me my brother leads me to strife....i will surrender to you without struggle.

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This brought satisfaction to the three women who lead the group. They did not use their real names, of course, but code ones. "Mossy", the eldest and harshest, who had adressed him, "Brook", a handsome middle aged woman with beautiful blonde hair, who looked icy and intelligent, and "Rain", who looked older than she was, but was full of wiry strength and nerves. If any of the three looked unsure, it was Rain. 


"We have a mission, Vladmir" said Mossy, full of steel conviction. Barely a flicker of doubt in her head or on her brow. "Stop Panstar. They have a facility north of here, on the coast, pumping vile chemicals into the natural earth" she said, full of oratory. 


How the earth could be non natural? No, best not consider the words, it was the oratory that mattered!


"Tell us everything you know about it!"


Of course, Vladmir didn't know anything. This was a secret scandal, after all...

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"Ah, i fear i know nothing of which you speak...i am a geologist at panstar but so far i have been kept to taking core samples from potential development sites to confirm suitability." he explained offhandedly "My brother doesn't talk to me of bigger buisness, he asked me as a personal favour to find out what i can about your group after the...unfortunate hospitalizing of a security guard from the last incident involving your group."


he shifted his weight slightly "terrible business that, It was our hope that i was relatively new enough to panstar that i would be able to find out more about the incident in order to bring the perpetrator to justice."


"We are family yes, but buisness is buisness, it is unlikely my brother will be able to negotiate for my release on panstar's behalf."

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This, predictably, did not go down well. In fact, it went down like a lead balloon liberally laden with lead weights. 


"Geologist, eh?" came the snooty reply. 


"Why now?" asked Mossy. To cool her suspicious would be missing the mark. She looked like she had made her mind up to distrust anything Vladmir said. And yet, the cog wheels of Macheivelli seemed to turn over in her brow. 


"We are on the eve of a major strike. On the cusp of action. And you turn up? Coincidence? It seems to me you are a spy!" she declared, accuring him with the wiggle of her eyebrows and the sharpness of her eyes and tongue. 

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"Neatly avoiding the subject of the guard, seems to me you're a bunch of thugs latched onto a noble pursuit as an excuse to be violent." He retorted almost instantly as as his temper flared momentarily "slandering my brother no less! No matter...it will be worth it to see the looks on your faces." He leaned back against the wall and checked his watch "Any minuite now."

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"An excuse, you say?" she replied. "I say it is a reason! and for that, we make no apology!"


She looked around, though, sweat and pace becoming apparent. 


"Still, we can't take any chances! Lets move out, everybody! To the target!" she barked, and - like a fairly well drilled machine, the eco-warriors started packing up their gear into the trucks, with due speed and diligence. 


"And tie him up! We could use him...later...." she added. 


Two rather heavy set gentlemen nodded and approached Vladmir with thick wads of rope, ready to tuss him up like an animal...

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"Hah, feel free gentlemen, though mind you tie me up good and tight, wallachia is a harsh place to live....if i get loose you will find out just what kind of man it has made me." He intoned ominously.


"Quickly now, you don't want to be here when Tekton arrives." Beckoning for them to speed up.

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The ropes were wound and tightened around Vladmir. They were not, perhaps the most complicated of bonds, but they were bonds still. 


The crew hustled and bustled, a little angry, a little scared...had they been made? adrenaline lead to speed, and speed could lead to mistakes, like leaving valuable equipment behind, or misplacing what was needed, or even bad knots in rope bonds. 


But credit to them, in five minutes they were on the road. In shoddy shape, though. This was an emergency get away, and sacrifices in organisation had to be made. 


Needless to say, Vladmir was not popular. 


He was sitting in the back of a pick up truck with a hefty bearded gentleman who was fat, muscle, and dirt. And he gave Vladmir the most potent of scowls. 


"Lucky I don't bust your lip, fascist" he said, tapping his fists together. "Wouldn't be the first time I liberated some teeth from a capatilist oppressor...."

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"Oh ho! Spirited aren't we? Eh comrade stalin? Perhaps if my back was turned you would feel more brave?" He offered impishly with a wicked grin.


"Then again you do not have me so heavily out numbered, maybe you prefer the odds be more in your favor?"

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"I was in the marines, fool" said the man, stroking his beard. "I hear a lot of men talk tough, but when the %$£! goes down..." he said, thinking about the past. 


His eyelid twitched. 


"Most of these guys. They mean well, but they ain't soldiers. Still, heart goes a long way. No you..." he said, growling. "You might talk tough. You might act tough. You might even be tough. But you are just corperate scum, like your brother...."

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"haha, spoken like a true american! and what an American you are....fat, ugly, stupid and violent, driven off by farmers in straw hats no less." he responded quiet cooly "so what did they discharge you for, shooting your brothers in arms or warcrimes? no on second thought i do not care" he hissed a little "you are a relic of the past clinging to your old ways, so addicted to violence and feelings of power you attached yourself like a tic to these idiots who don't realize you are just a thug..that is all i need to know about you, cockroach, you wouldn't even be having this conversation if i were not bound so quit your squealing and put your snout back into your swill you pot bellied punk."

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The man leaned over and gave Vladmir a slap. Hard and blunt. It was not enough to cause any damage and whilst it hurt it was entirely endurable. It's purpose was psychological. 


"Plenty more where that came from. Plenty worse, too" said the man, his eye twitching. "I don't mind talking. I do mind stupid" he said, as blunt as his slap. 


"You don't know what you are talking about. And I think you know it too. Save your psychology, son. I'm not here to hurt anybody, not even you. I'm here for the mission. And let me make this clear, if the mission means hurting you, and hurting you badly, I won't hesitate. I won't even blink. So stay out of my way, and do what you are told..."

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"you hit like a girl for someone who looks so much like a pig." vladmir retorted ever so impishly  unphased by the slap to his cheek "I wonder if you bleed gravy or grease....we'll see soon enough fatboy so save your handbag for the real fight." and with that he leaned back and proceeded to ignore the man for the remaineder of the trip.


He was going to enjoy this, probably a touch too much, but well, that was just a fact of life.

Edited by Exaccus
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An hour or so later...


It was not exactly a comfortable ride. The posse of six vehicles of various makes, models, and states of repair used minor roads in fading light. It was a starry night by the time they arrived, and they arrived but what was nothing more than a dirt track. Dirk, the ex-marine who was tasked with watching Vladmir, kept silent, not goaded by any further taunts. 


The target of this motley crue?


A chemical plant. Small, hidden, out of the way, in a forest by the coast. Except, on close examination, the flora around the place looked suspiciously unhealthy. Dying, even. 


"This place is toxic" said a tall thin man, white haired and studious. "Bookworm", his name. Apparently the groups scientist - or head scientist. 


"Its far worse than I imagined! I'm not even sure we can survive going in there!"


"All the more reason to blow it up!" said Mossy, the fierce leader. "And I think we have a use for Vladmir, here. You heard about miners and canary birds, Vladmir?" she asked, a cruel smile on her lips. 

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"haha, my my, i thought i smelt blood on your breath, willing to kill but not willing to die eh?" he said with his self same wicked grin all the same "Very well, which poor, brave fool is wanting to lead me down the mind then?" he asked as he turned around to face the crowd of eco terrorists.


"Who plans on dying with me tonight then? I mean....someone has to come with me yes? or else i might run and sound the alarm?" he asks "how about you mr testosterone?" he asked as he turned to face the marine "ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? whilst your friend here leads from the rear?" he said tossing his head in mossy's direction.


"I should think you have some experience with that...if you really were a marine once upon a time."

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Still roped up, Dirk put a gas mask on Vladmir's face. 


"Ease up with the tongue, idiot, or you can do this with nothing. See how funny you are puking your guts up and letting the other end play hell on the grass" he grinned. 


As for himself, he put another gas mask on. 


It turns out DIrk and Vladmir were doing the recon. 


But Vladmir was still roped up. 


"We haven't got long. A day, maybe two" explained Mossy. "Sooner or later, this place...we...will be discovered. We need to finish this blemish as soon as we can" she said, firmly. 


"For the Earth!" she raised her voice and her fist, and those in ear shot saluted in kind. 


Dirk pushed Vladmir in front of him, keeping one hand on the rope. 


"Come on hero, time to do your job!" he said, grimly, marching Vladmir through the cut wire fence onto the grounds of the plant. 

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"hehe...dirk...one letter off what i'd have named you." he mumbled as he walked through the fence before him "honestly, all that tough talk before and now this? kind of a let down i have to confess...you're nothing compared to the mafia who ran my hometown." he mused  as he trundled forward for a bit, it wouldn't be long now, he just had to get out of sight of the rest of them.


"So what exactly are you looking for in this mess? all i hear is blight this, blight that blah blah blah." he rambled as he waited ever so patiently.

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"I'm not the scientist" replied Dirk, gruffly, ignoring the jibe. "That's what Bookworm is for. Me? I'm the guy who blows stuff up" he said, straight to the point. 


As they walked, the flora changed from dying, to dead, to what might well be worse than dead. "Look around you? Think this is worth saving? You seriously saying we shouldn't blow something like this up?" he asked. "Some fat company, Panstar, can bribe a hundred lawyers and twice as many officials to make sure they don't answer to anybody. You think that's right?" he asked again, pointedly. 


"You got your head stuck up the other end of your body if you can't see what we doing is right" he explains. "And it sure beats getting blown up in Afghanistan" he added, sourly. 

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"I am fed up of you thugs trying to act self righteous...and we're far enough away now that i don't need to keep up this degrading act any longer..." he seethed through clenched teeth.


"you sit there and question my integrity? you are the ones who have hospitalized a man just trying to make money for his family, you slander my brother and attack all he has built because of some little chemical spill? to hell with you." he felt his body trembling already, but not with fear nor a anger or any function of adrenalin as he turned.


"get lost, fat boy." he hissed as he interlocked his fingers more tightly in his binds and let loose a barrage of vibrations of such intensity that the air rippled like water as it rushed out, perhaps a touch more force than was strictly necessary.

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A wave of vibration (or a vibration of waves, depending on your quantum perspective) flowed through the air and hit Dirk with a spectacular punch. He flew a dozen yards over the dead grass, and ended up in a cloud of dust. The rope around Vladmir unwound and untwined, virtually disintegrating under the force. 


And, unfortunately, Vladmir noticed that Dirks gas mask had pretty much exloded right off his face. It lay twenty feet from Dirk, and there was not enough of it left to protect a mouse from inhaling whatever toxins were in the air - let alone a chap like Dirk. 

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When his anger had subsided he was left with only a cold feeling of dread at what he had just done, all the power of a richter 8 and up earthquake channeled onto a single, persumably normal person in a fit of anger, he was supposed to be better than them...better than this.


He was already in motion as he mulled these feelings over of course, almost without thought or consent he sprinted over to dirk and without so much as a blink pulled the gas mask from his own face and holding his breath worked quickly with trembling fingers to secure it to dirk's face, hopeful that it would help mitigate whatever damage the air might've already done, even now it burned his nose and made his eyes water with its acrid smell.


he'd have to make a run for it himself once it was secured or else he'd be coughing up his lungs.


though he knew how far away from the fence he was he knew there were would be eco warriors there waiting en mass and without his costume he'd be not only at a disadvantage but reveal his identity to them.


he had to run as fast as he could in the other direction and hope to find the panstar facility they'd mention or else an exit to the toxic quagmire he'd been walked into.

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As Vladmir ran across the dead grass, through dead wood and dead moss, he tasted something bad in his mouth, crawling into his lungs. Something like dust and blood mixed together. It was altogether unpleasant, and seemed to settle in his chest. By the time he reached a dirt track, he had to stop for a deep breath and a deep cough. Here, however, he could feel the trees and grass were alive again. 


Mossy was not planning to blow the plant up imminently, she had said. But neither was she waiting long - a day at most. And Dirk's absence was another factor to consider. 


It was a thirty or fourty miles back to Emerald City. A long run indeed. But at least the stars were out, twinkling and beautiful. A major road might get better luck, if he could hitch a ride...

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"Hurrgh...i feel like the air crawled into me and died....!" He complained aloud to no one.


"I must make sure Rudu knows whats going on here so he can clean it up." Slightly delirious from his walk in the desolated wilderness towards the nearest road and attempted to flag down a car.

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