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The Finest Organic Suspension (IC)

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11th October 2021 7.13am


Sanchez's had been in Hardwick for around ten years now, a little café just off Pelecamos Street. Despite the sky-high rent; the business had trundled along by sheer popularity: the food wasn't complicated, but it was good; one of those places where the menu was an inch thick but the chef seemed up to the task. The windows were dusty and grimy, never quite able to get clean, the green paint around the frames flaking and worn to the decaying wood. The interior wasn't especially well lit, the walls painted in a splash of terracotta red, rows of small tables lined against either wall, leaving an alleyway leading to the creaking, worn wooden counter. "Eggs!" came a loud voice from behind the counter, a plate of the breakfast food being set on the ledge of the service hatch. 


Various commuters and early risers had already begun to filter in, some sitting down to their breakfast, some queuing for coffee, the two waitresses rushing and bustling to serve them with a smile. Osla stood in the line behind a couple of grumbling old gentlemen, sullenly looking to all as if she was ignoring the world. Her Converse were worn and tied loosely, her black jeans ripped at one knee. One hand was thrust into the pocket of a battered black leather jacket, the other hanging loose at her side, a white dressing on the palm, pink with blood in the very centre of it. Her impossibly blonde hair was pulled back in tight braids, pinned to the side of her head in looping coils. It didn't do much to hide the beginnings of blue and black bruise on her forehead. The shipment she'd stopped at the harbour last night had been more heavily guarded than she expected. One of the men clearly had combat experience, and she'd had no choice but to grab his knife. It could have been worse. At least she hadn't been the one being headbutted through a set of broken floorboards. 


The man at the head of the line filed back out of the store, the bell above the door ringing as he set off into the cool morning, cup of Joe clenched in his hand in a paper cup. Expression unchanging, she went to step forwards, pausing for a moment. One of the waitresses bustled past through the newly formed gap in the line, an apologetic smile on her face and a plate of pancakes in her hand. As soon as she passed, Osla took a step forward, moving along with the line. 

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The second person in line was a wiry older woman who looked to be somewhere in her late fifties to Osla's eyes, her hair a shade of blonde that bespoke no natural color at her age, her clothes a dark blue velour tracksuit over beat-up old sneakers, gold on her fingers and neck making her a bit like a grandma from Stark Hill. She had been shifting anxiously from foot to foot as she waited in line, and when she got to the front she threw open her arms, called past the checkout girl, and declared "Hey Sanchez! What's a lady gotta do to get served around here, huh?" Her Jersey accent was thick as cream, almost like someone doing an imitation of a 'broad' from an old gangster movie. 


Sanchez stormed up to the front and declared "Oh, it's you!" in an accusing voice. "Mrs. Cream and Sugar herself! Maybe we don't rush to serve you because you give my customers a hard time, eh?" 


"That is Ms. Cream and Sugar thankyaverymuch and I never!" declared Anna overdramatically. "Here, I'll show you!" She opened her purse and slapped a fifty down on the counter and declared, "Pay for the next five people, huh?" It was money from the neighborhood, even, though there was no reason to mention to anyone that she'd taken it from the Yardies down the road a couple of nights before. "There, that's Hardwick pride right there!" she added before saying, "And don't forget about me! I want it black and I want it hot, just like-" She leaned over the counter and whispered something to Sanchez, who roared with laughter before waving her to a table. 


Anna was obviously something of a regular around here from the mixture of tolerant smiles and resigned, dead-eyed stares she was getting from the crowd, but that didn't seem to bother her. Who would ever think anything of someone who acted like her? 

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Liam Conner
It had been a long night staking out and collecting info for their client, even worse for “someone” it was one of those mundane cases that they had to take to pay the bills. And it didn’t make the long night any easier with the sound of Rosa snoring away (how a disembodied spirit snored was something that he dare not dwell upon.). still, soon he could sleep and Rosa could do her thing, something about etheric movements or some such mystical nonsense.

Still, before getting back to the office in Wolverton he needed a little pick me up, stopping Sanchez's for the terrible coffee that got you through the day. When the crazy woman, who looked vagely familiar, offered a free drink he quickly counted up and gently shuffled a local woman in front of him for the freebie.

“You can go first Alina I’ve just hit the jackpot with a case!” that was a lie as he’d had to raid the last of the petty cash.

Always the hero even here, the snoozing Rosa would not have approved!

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GM post


Osla would have rolled her eyes hard if she'd cared enough. She gritted her teeth a little, stuffing her hands into her pockets, but kept staring blankly ahead. She didn't need banter at this time of morning. She needed coffee, two stitches and to lie down and close her eyes for six to seven hours.


Even through the increasing din in the busy shop, the sound of the van rolling up could be heard. It was a strange grey-green, and unconcerned with the no parking zone in front of the store. The engine roared, the exhaust pluming out dark smoke; this van was not in particularly great shape, and as it sat idling in front of the shop, the noise of the clattering engine didn't seem to abate much. 


Four men barrelled out of it, one coming out of the passenger side door, the other three clambering out of the back. They formed a loose square formation as they crashed through the front door, sending the bell a-clacking, one of the men elbowing a gentleman near the door as they uncaringly tromped forward. The leader was a middle-aged Caucasian man, built like a linebacker, in a grey pullover and battered brown leather jacket, walking with his arms spread, his coat bulging in odd places. His blue eyes fixed Sanchez with a sneer as his men fanned around him. 


The one to his left was young, barely out of his teens, but tall and gangly, arms streaked in track marks, his blonde hair long, lank and greasy. One hand was plunged into the deep pockets of his baggy green cargo trousers, a look of twitchy nervousness barely concealed on a face trying to look dispassive and unintimidated. 

To the right of the leader stood a short man, perhaps 5'4'', 5'5''? His head was shaved bald and marked with pock marks and scars, his leather jacket open to show a wife beater and a pelt of dark chest hair. Unlike his compatriots, this guy didn't even bother to hide his revolver, holstering it on his hip, one hand idly playing with the handle, eyes dreaming of violence. 


Behind the group, the calmest and least concerned, stood a man in a knee-length beige trenchcoat, like the ones PIs wore in old 40s flicks. He looked to be in his thirties, and was very non-descript, his eyes an indescribable brown, his hair cut short and a medium brown hue. Hell, even the way he stood didn't jump to the eye, dragging the viewer's attention to his three compatriots. 

A sneer crossed the leader's lips. "Sanchez, you've not paid your dues this month," he rumbled in a voice of gravel and razor blades. 

Sanchez looked shocked, taking a step back, bumping against the wall. "I... I... I paid last week!" he said, dumbfounded. Such incidents like this weren't unheard of in this city, not at all, but during the breakfast rush?

"That weren't to us," snickered the short, short man, voice nasal and mocking. "So we'll be taking your register, and if it's not enough, I'm sure your patrons will chip in?" He pulled his jacket back further, as if anyone hadn't seen his gun yet. 

Edited by Ecalsneerg
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"Oh, Jesus Mary and Joseph!" expostulated Anna Cline, who stood up and waved her arm to get the attention of the thugs. "Boys, don't you know?" Keeping all attention on the only one in the room who was faster than a bullet (if she saw it coming, anyway), she approached the thugs. "Don't you know whose place this is?" she hissed in a loud stage whisper, assuming the mien of a grandmother watching young men about to do something unspeakably dangerous. She pointed in the direction of Stark Hill. "A certain Eye-talian gentleman I don't need to name, the one with the knives?" she added wide-eyed and open-mouthed. "He's gonna find out who robbed his favorite place and he's gonna find each and every one of ya, cut each of yer balls off, and make the next guy eat 'em!" she added, barely suppressing glee at the looks on their faces. "Listen, boys, I have seen some things in my day, you have no idea, but you-know-who is freakin' crazy." She pointed out, away from the place, as she moved up next to Tall and Skinny. "It's not too late! Just get out of here and go make yer bones some place safe like Milwaukee. There's no need for you to die screamin' for yer mammas over some pissant little cash register." 

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Liam Conner
Rosa would have told him not to get involved, that it wasn’t there place to help people. And that he might be invulnerable, but they stung like heck. Still she was napping right now and it was his call.


Save my place would you Alina?” he smile confidently at the woman


He then stepped forward arms raised, he hoped that they didn’t know them from around here, if they came from western Hardwick he might get away with it.


She’s right you know!” He agreed with the woman that sounded vaguely familiar “And I’m sure the Mara wouldn’t be happy with you messing with there agreements?”


If the mob didn’t spook them then the powerful local gang might do the job.

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GM post


The leader laughed mockingly. "Not sure that's how it works. An old lady name drops some of the local toughs, and we scarper off, is that how this works?" 

The young one didn't look too convinced. "Uh... maybe this isn't such the best idea..."

The short one elbowed him roughly in the ribs, pulling his gun out of his holster with a sneer on his yellowing teeth, staring at these two interlopers. "Please, an old lady tries to scare you and you just fall for it? C'mon, man." 

Sanchez stood behind the desk, pulling open the cash drawer, pulling out some of the notes. "Please, please, just... we'll give them the money, and then you'll go, won't you, fellas?" He didn't sound especially scared, businessmen in Bedlam got held up all of the time. It'd cut heavily into his profits, but at least he'd live.

Suddenly, behind the group of toughs, between them and the door stood a youngish looking woman, her lips twisted into a sneer, eyes a brilliant blue, glaring ahead of her. She looked like she'd been in a fight already that day. She didn't look like a second in any way perturbed her. She spoke with a strange accent, somewhat Scandinavian, but somehow just a little off. "Or they can turn around and walk out of here and no one has to get hurt," she stated, as if it was a constant and this wasn't still up for negotiation. 

The short angry one wheeled on her, brandishing his gun, even as the leader calmly pulled out a sawn-off shotgun, levelling it at the elderly woman who'd stood up to him. "Can we waste her? I don't like the look of this one," Shorty sneered, as the leader shook his head, an icy expression staring down Anna. 

"No. They're just going to give us the money, and no one gets hurt. Shoot the girl if she disagrees with that."

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There was a time when Clock Queen could have handled all these men herself with the casual ease of a goddess striking down lesser beings, taking time to pose for pictures in the paper and flirt with a few pretty boys along the way. She'd also have helped herself to Sanchez's till as a reward for good behavior while she was at it. That time had passed, but she'd die before she'd say that out loud. Which might be literally true, now that she thought of it. "Okay boys," she said mildly, raising her hands. "You got me. I was just pulling your chain." She smiled, too big, and looked over Shotgun's shoulder to yell as loudly as she could. "GET 'EM!" 

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Then she stepped away behind the leader, so fast none of them could see, and contemplated her options. She could hit them all in the kneecaps but crippled men with guns could still fire. She could point the guns at each other but then blood would paint the ceiling and floor in ways that she could never wash off her hands. The same applied if she picked up the knife from the nearby rack and drove it repeatedly into the spine of the man standing in front of her. So instead she split the difference. She picked up a glass bottle of horchata and hit the leader with it on the back of the skull, hard, once, twice, three times. Then she kept moving, running her way past the slow-motion crowd to disappear into the nearby kitchen where she paused long enough to hold up a finger for the staff inside. "Ssh!" Inside, she paused long enough to take out a pair of wraparound sunglasses and put them on. 

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The words spat out by the group's leader were slurred but unprintable as the bottle collided with his head, leaving him stumbling forward. Fortunately, the man at least had trigger discipline and hadn't been holding the trigger, so his jolt as he stumbled forwards at least didn't lead to an accidental weapon discharge. 

"What was that?!" squeaked the youngest of the group, turning wildly, pulling his revolver out of the waistband of his pants, pointing it hither and thither. Where had that blur came from? Was there a super in the room? All he knew is that girl in the doorway, she'd been threatening them, it must be related to her. "We told everyone to stand down!" he shouted, and then the small space was full of a deafening sound. Glass exploded behind where the woman had been stood a moment ago as one of the panes in the door was blown apart.

The short one laughed nastily, wheeling to Liam, drawing his gun in one fluid motion, holding it trained on the PI with two hands, glowering. "Right, nobody move. We're getting out of here, with the money, and none of that super crap, right?" The man in the long coat also produced a gun, having it in hand, and lifting it one-handed, lowering it to train on the blonde woman where she stood, just off from the door now, brushing some glass off the sleeve of her coat. 

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Osla's lip curled, showing white teeth as another man pointed a gun at her. Normally, her armour of the modern era made her nigh-unkillable by bullets. She wasn't armoured right now. But by Hel's blackened side she wasn't going to just let this man walk all over her, especially not with that accursed amateur randomly firing. 

She took a step towards the gunman, who kept his eyes dispassionately on her. "Put the gun down."


His lips curled up in a brief smile. "No," he said simply, clearly not as verbose as his companions. 


Osla sighed, rolling her eyes, but before the man had very much time to react, she surged forward, tilting to one side to minimise herself as a target. It didn't quite work. With a cry of pain, she momentarily staggered, dropping to her knees and clutching at her shoulder. A splatter of blood splashed onto the floorboards, a dark maroon stain, which her boot stomped on a moment later as knees shaking she tried to draw herself back up to her feet, glaring at the gunman defiantly. 

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Liam Conner
Liam stayed pretty calm looking straight at the man with the gun trained on him, he had hoped that they could have sorted it out peacefully. But that was hardly ever an option in Bedlam.


Look you’re obviously pretty local so I assume you know who I am, and hence that’s not going to hurt me.” it would sting like heck, but they didn’t know that “So put the gun down and save yourself from a world of pain!”


He smiled the smile of someone that was very much going to enjoy introducing them to that world of pain.

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