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MBCE

Collecting a Debt

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January 21st, 2009

The door opened to the office and a woman dressed in a black business suit walked up to the large maghony desk and the large chair behind it. She stood still and waited for the man sitting in the chair to look up from the report he was reading. Minutes passed as she waited to be acknowledged. She knew her presence had registered upon the large man sitting in the chair but he continued to ignore her. If it had been anyone else, he would be dead for the slight.

After five minutes had passed, the man closed the report and looked up. "Yes?" he say in his deep commanding voice.

"I beleive I've finally located the coin, sir." she answered quickly. She knew that he didn't like uncertainty in a report but her art was not perfect.

"And where would it be exactly, my dear?" he asked as he sat back in his chair. He placed his fingertips together and waited to hear more details on the matter.

"I wish I could say, but all I could do is determine who was last in possession of the coin, a George Kapetelis, owner of Charon Ambulance Services. Whether he still has the coin in his possession, I was unable to determine but it is most certainly the best place to start looking."

The man sat quietly regarding the beautiful woman standing before him. They have been working together for some time now and if there was one thing he had learned over the years was that her information was rarely wrong. Often times it was incomplete but still it served him well.

"I believe its time to call in a debt, my dear. Contact the thief and demon. They should be just what is needed to retrieve that coin. Remember not to reveal too much about it. That demon is itching for an edge over us and I don't plan on giving him one. The less they know the better."

"Yes, sir. At once." The woman bowed slightly and left the room.

As she left the man smiled broadly. 'If they manage to steal that coin for me, it will strength my power base here in the city. And if they should fail, well, no one will know I was connected to them!''

The man began to laugh as he turned to look at the next report on his desk.

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Sammy opened his eyes to the bright light streaming through his window and blinked. His body ached. He hadn't done much the night before, but his dreams were again fairly chaotic. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, the very competent B&E man thought about the strange dreams.

'This was worst than before. It's almost as if I'm being drawn to like the machines. It still doesn't feel wrong though. Almost like a calling of some kind.'

Sammy looked over at the Tv where the strange rune covered box sat. It had begun to become a sore to his sight. He had deleivered the letter that Byron had wanted him to do, but there was no sign of the man at the Lincoln cemetary. For the past few days, he had made it a point to visit the area in the hope that he would find some clue as to why Byron didn't show up. It wasn't like Lenny to lead him to a deadend so Sammy had yet to reveal to his contact that Byron hadn't appeared.

Sammy took a shower and after ten minutes began to feel like his old self. Just as he exited the shower, drying his hair, a familiar voice sent his voice reeling.

"Good. You're up. That makes things so much easier."

Sammy turned around looking for the source of the voice, fearful that the woman would actually show her face this time. Sammy attempted to hide his fear but failed miserably as he spoke to the empty air around him.

"We....well, I'm g...glad to be of service, ma'am. That's me, always eager to please."

"Enough foreplay, Ghost. It's time for you payback your debt.* I've contacted the demon as well. Once he arrives, I'll explain what you have to do."

Sammy's eyes widen as the words sunk in. "Belphegor is coming here? Woman, are you crazy? He doesn't know me any more than I know him. That's the way I like things to be."

The room temperature suddenly dropped and Sammy's eyes widen in undisguised fear as he realized he had probably said too much.

"I'll overlook that remark for now, Ghost. I my employer would not want me to exact my displeasure upon you right before you are to do a job for him," the bodiless voice said softly. "But when this is done, you can be sure that I will repay you for the comment! Now get dressed. It should not be much longer for him to get. He has the ability to travel much faster than yourself."

Knowing that the situation had went from bad to worse, Sammy quietly got dressed in his usually work clothes: black jeans and shirt. Finally dressed, he sat on his sofa and waited for the demon to arrive.

* See what debt here

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At that moment, Jos Terhune was in one of the nicer sections of Riverside, being shown a large house which was in the process of being renovated. Terhune wore dark slacks and a matching jacket with elbow patches, looking very much like an antiquarian. His guide, the interior designer in charge of the renovations, was a prim-looking woman with her hair up in a tight bun and a British accent.

"As you can see, I've fused Greco-Roman ambiance with the latest in 'modern spatial' chic," she said assuredly.

"Almachtige Christus," Terhune gasped (and, inwardly, winced, as what he just blurted out was Dutch for "Christ Almighty").

"I'm sorry?"

"You said it would have a 'traditional Italian feel.' It looks like a Roman brothel!"

She was obviously taken aback. "I think it's the epitome of elegance."

"Well I think it's garish, vulgar, pretentious 'modern spatial' crap!"

Determined, the woman continued, "And these tiles here are from Tuscany. All hand-painted, of course; I use a little factory in-"

"Hand-painted? By gibbons? Or possibly orangutans? Since quite clearly nothing with opposable thumbs could have painted quite so appallingly!"

"What would you know anyway?," she snapped.

Now Terhune was on the defensive. "What?"

"You stand there and deign to have an opinion about the aesthetics of interior design?! These tiles were painted, glazed and fired according to tradition dating back hundreds of years. The block flooring upstairs is hewn from wood taken from one copse near the foot of the Dolomites, and is the same wood used for the paneling in the Vatican chambers! But then why should I expect an ignorant Philistine like you to appreciate such things?"

Terhune as silent for a moment.

Mmm... feisty.

Terhune gave a half-smile, "Are you free for dinner tonight?"

No time for that now, demone, he heard in his head, you're on the clock as of now. Follow the sound of my voice, and make it quick.

"Say, Friday night, at Chez Henri?" he said as he checked his watch. "Unfortunately, I just remembered another appointment I have, so... I'll see you Friday?" Before she could answer, he'd already hopped back into his rental car -- one which looked a lot better than it actually was -- and sped off.

And just where is it I'm going?

To meet the other one I've geased. Turn left at the next light. Oh, and you may want to take a moment to change. Or not. It's up to you.

"Hurm...."

A knock soon came at Sammy's door. Checking any security monitors or peepholes revealed it was a slender but fit white man in his mid-30s, with short, brown hair, a narrow face, and round glasses, wearing dark slacks and a matching jacket with elbow patches. He looked very much like a librarian or college professor. "Er... Mr. Concertino?"

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Sammy was prepared for anything to happen when he was told the demon was coming to his apartment. 'He's going to pop in and burn a hole in my rug! I just know it! It took me days to find it and he'll ruin it with all that flame of his. I'ld better get the fire extinguisher ready to put out any accidental flames.'

Sammy went into the kitchen to get his trusty fire extinguisher when he heard the knock at his door. Surprised by the sound, Sammy walked tot he door and looked out of the small peephole located there.

'What the hell is the nerd doing here? Must be a door to door salesman.'

Sammy opened the door wide, ready to tell the stranger to take a hike when his name was said. 'Who is this guy? And why does he know my name?'

"Yes," Sammy answered as he looked at the plain man standing outside his door. "Can I help you?

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"I think a more appropriate question is how we are to be of help to... a certain Italian woman. One who took something from us, following a failed attempt to take something from her, or rather from her associates."

"I could go into more detail, but I believe you would be more comfortable doing so inside, not out in this cold, drafty hallway."

I really hope this works. It's risky, yeah, but letting him see my human form might put him more at ease. Shows him that I do have some vulnerability, and establishes some base level of trust, complimenting the fact that I now know where he lives. 'Course, I will exaggerate that vulnerability somewhat, just in case he decides to turn on me.

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Sammy listened to the words but really wasn't sure what was going on. Still, he knew that Lady Fortune had always looked out for him, so spending a few moments to talk to the man wouldn't hurt.

"Okay, come on in," Sammy said as he let the man in.

The apartment was actually prety nice. A number of very nice paintings were on the wall.

Sitting on top of the TV was an interesting stone-carved box, twelve by six inches, about four inches deep, with unusual runes all aobut the exterior.

"Have a seat and give me the details."

Sammy gestured to a chair near the TV while he sat in the sofa facing both the TV and his guest. Of course, his positioning left him closer to the main door than the stranger.

'What could this guy tell me? I just hope I can get him out of here before the Demon shows up.'

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The strange little (well, average; he was as tall as Sammy) man looked around the room, as if appraising it. He nodded approvingly at some, but a small "hmph" escaped him upon seeing one painting.

I wonder if he knows that one's a fake.

Once his eyes hit on the box, he stopped looking around. He walked to it, circled it as he examined it, but did not touch it.

"Interesting. Greek, yes? A representation of Pandora's Box? That always got me: the original myths had it as a pithos, a jar about as big as an adult, made of bronze."

He has no idea who I am, does he?

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Sammy watched teh man look around, still unsure of who he was. "I'm not sure. It doesn't seem to be listed in anything I've seen before. If you can tell me anything about it, that would certainly help," Sammy said as he went over and picked up the box. He handed it to the strange to let him get a better look at.

"I've been trying to find out what I could about it since I acquired it. One of my leads seems to have dried up and I'm again at a lost. Anything you can tell me could help."

"Oh, ho! Looks like Lady Fortune is looking out for her boy again! Sent me someone that knows a thing or two about art here and maybe I can finally find out something about it and simply ignore that Byron guy.'

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The man took the box, and examined it more thoroughly from all angles. "Hurm... well, I cannot say much, not without some reference material. My specialties are Dutch and French works, but I know a few experts in Greek items. I would need some photographs of this, of course, to show around."

Alright, as fun as misdirection is, there's a job to be done, and the sooner, the better.

"That's not the reason I am here, though, Mr. Concertino," he said, again mangling Sammy's last name. "We worked together, briefly, on a job that went south rather spectacularly. You do remember, right? We worked under Capricia Chill, when she tried to hit the Golden Calf? Left us to hang once things went against us? You were later bound to a chair, and I was chained face-down to a table...."

( As detailed in Stepping Up to the Golden Calf )

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"Do you mind if I turn on the television while we wait? I do like to catch the news when I can." Before Sammy could answer, the strange man had switched on his set. An episode of Gilligan's Island was coming on.

Oh, I love this show!

"Ah, this is one of my favorite American programs!," he said cheerfully while sitting down. "I've heard that its creator originally intended for the program to be a meaningful examination of American life, but I see it more as a reflection of the Seven Deadly Sins... which, in a way, is not so different. The Howells embody Greed and Sloth, though it is hard to tell if Mr. Howell embodies Greed more and Mrs. Howell Sloth, or the other way around. The Professor is Pride, thinking he and he alone can get them off the island, sometimes even blinded by his own cleverness. Ginger and Mary-Ann evoke Lust and Envy, though as with the Howells it is hard to pinpoint which one evokes which Sin. The Skipper pulls double duty, embodying both Gluttony and Wrath. Of course, these alone don't keep the castaways stuck on the island. No, no. It is the apparent bumbling of Gilligan that keeps them there -- but what if that is intentional? If those castaways embody the Seven Deadly Sins, surely the Island is Hell, and Gilligan, the one keeping them there -- and, I might add, the one who always wears red -- is surely The Devil himself."

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Sammy blinked in confusion at the man's words. The whole situation had caught him by surprised. He was expecting a demon to show up, instead he got some kind of Art critic that couldn't get his name right. To add to the confusion, he mentioned the job that had went south on him at the Golden Calf.

'Wait a minute. He could have had a human shape to get by in normal situations! How could I be so dumb!'

Sammy moved over and yanked the box away from the man and slammed it on the Tv.

"Great assessment of a pretty cool show. Figures you'd come up with some kind of twisted demonic overtures."

"Good," came the disembodied female voice over near the Tv. "We're all here."

Magical energies formed next to the Tv and the strange rune etched box sitting upon it. After a moment, a shady form of a woman stood in its place.

"I will keep this brief. It's time for you to repay your debt to my master. You must retrieve a small item for us. You need to find George Kapetelis and relieve him of a very special coin. He's not going to be very forth coming with it so you may need to persuade him to cooperate. You have five days to retrieve the coin or my master will be very upset."

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Sammy took a step back from the apparition of hte woman, unsure of what to make of someone using Magic in his home. He smiled nervously as he looked at the man sitting in his chair.

"Sounds like something a little under our abilities, wouldn't you say? I mean, if you want a coin, I could get you a few fairly easily. There would be no need for the two of--"

Sammy's voiced stopped cold as his eyes locked on the shadowy figure near his TV. Soemthing in her eyes brought a deep seated fear that froze his tongue.

"Ghost, you should know by now that I do not particularly enjoying wasting my time explaining the obvious. If you presist in testing my patience, you will learn just what kind of power I have over your soul.

Sammy's smile slowly faded as he nodded his understanding. 'Oh man, that was close! she could have made me into a toad or something! God I hate magic!'

"Okay, I understand. Obvoiusly this coin has something special about it, but what is it? Why would you need a demon and a thief to team up?"

"That is a better way of expressing your concerns, Ghost. I'm glad you're a quick learner."

The shade turned slightly to include Terhune. "The coin may be protected by certain devices that only Belphegor could defeat. Your talents, Ghost, will ensure that this goes very quietly. Also, your lucky streak might also play a role in making sure that you succeed."

'So she wants us to keep things on the down low. What is so special about this coin?' Sammy pondered the question while giving his companion a chance to speak up.

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"What's so special about the coin?," the man asked. Was he reading Ghost's mind? Or did he just have the same thoughts? Can demons read minds?

A coin? All this for one coin? It's gotta be valuable if they're calling us in, but in what way? Is it just a simple coin, valued for its age and material? Strong personal sentimental value? Perhaps some supernatural aspect to it?!

"And what is the nature of the protections around it? Locked doors and puzzle-locks, or stationed guards?"

Best to keep it cool, act like a pro. But not too clever -- there is some benefit to letting Concertino here think I'm more brawn than brain.

The fact Terhune's demonic side really was more brawn than brain made this a fairly easy task.

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"The coin has....special properties that my master wishes to possess. You need not know more about it," the shady image of the woman says firmly.

"As for what type of protections may be in use," she shrugged as she completed her answer. The motion was reluctant, obviously she disliked showing the two that there were some things that she did not know. "You can expect anything. That is why the two of you are being called to retrieve the item instead of just one of you."

Sammy looked over at man with more respect. 'Perhaps in his human form, he has a lot more brains than I thought. Then again, how much smarter can I be for having gotten into this mess! It was only the blessing of Lady Fortune that allowed me to live beyond that little job. I just hope her blessings are still in force for this one!'

Sammy cleared his throat slightly to draw the woman's attention back to him. "So, let me get this straight. You want us to get some coin for you that will be protected by who knows what and have it within five days. The only information you can give us is that a George Kapetelis will have it in his possession?"

The shadowy form nodded. "That sounds about right, Ghost."

Sammy's jaw tighten as he heard her response. "Well, can you at least tell us where to find this guy or what he looks like? It would really speed things up. Unless," Sammy pointed at Terhune, "he knows who this guy is."

Sammy glanced at the man to see if he did in fact know their target.

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"I have no idea who this man is," he replied, "but I do know of one tome of lore which may aid us in locating him."

Kapetelis... sounds Greek. Wonder if he has any other valuables?

The demon-that-looked-like-a-man looked around Ghost's apartment, then walked towards a desk and picked up Ghost's phone book.

"Kapetelis... Kapetelis... Kapetelis...."

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Terhune is surprised at how popular the name really was. Checking the phonebook, he finds over ten names with the name Kapetelis. Of those ten, three of the names are marked G. Kapetelis, but one is clearly George. The address listed is in Lantern Hill of Freedom City.

The shade of the woman watches the man's actions with a smirk upon her face. "A most ingenoius source of information, demon. There's more to you than simply muscle I see. I'll keep that in mind. But to speed things along, the man you seek lives in Lantern Hill." The woman gives the address that matches the one in the phone book.

Sammy's eyes widen slightly at the mention of the address. 'That's near the cemetary where I was suposed to meet that Byron guy. Does he have somethign to do with this mess?'

Aloud, "So now that we got a place to start, perhaps we should get a move on, huh? The quicker we get this mess finished, the sooner we can get on with our lives--attachment free that is. Once this job is finished, we owe you and your boss nothing else, right?"

The shade stared at Sammy for a short time before saying, "We'll see about that, Ghost, though I believe, my employer will be inclined on your successful you end up being. I suspect though that your debt will be paid in full if you are prompt. Now, I'll leave you two to begin your assignment. Good day gentleman."

The magical forces that had kept the shade in position swirled and condensed into a ball of magical energy. Once in a ball of energy, it expanded slightly to touch the TV and the rune covered box upon it before disappearing.

Sammy looked at the space that the woman had been in for a moment longer before giving himself a deep shake. "God, I hate magic."

Sammy turned to face Terhune and placed his hands on his hip as he regarded the stranger. "Okay, looks like that's all we're getting out of her. Got any ideas on how we're going to get this coin she wants? "

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"Well," he started, "we could simply go to his house. If he is there, we ask him for it; if he is not, we ransack the place until he does come back, then ask him for it."

Surely there'll be some valuables there.

The demon-that-looked-like-a-man glanced again at the phone book, setting George Kapatelis's address to memory, then slammed the book shut.

"As for how we get there: I have a rental car I have been using while in this form. It is nothing special, which is exactly why I chose it. Or I could fly us there, which is more direct, but also far more visible. Do you have anything?"

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Sammy shook his head. "Nope. I usually get around to most of my jobs by public transport. You'd be surprised at how quickly you can cross the city just using normal modes of transport."

Sammy smiled and headed into his bed room. When he came out, he carried his usual black bag slung over one shoulder. "We'll take your car. It will keep us from getting too exposed and give us time to check the place over before we get physical."

Sammy looked the man up and down for a while before asking, "And since you're looking like this, what should I call you? I don't your working name would be very apporiate while you look like this."

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Name? Oh, that's right, he doesn't know my name! Well, not my human one. Hurm - I've shown him my human face, but do I want to give him my human name as well? Oh, I know!

"This body was known as Jos," he finally said. "It is not that I take on human form, it is that I... take a human form. I took this one about a year ago, and it has served me well."

Yes, get him to think I possess others, not that I just have one human form. Possession tends to be more creepy than shapeshifting, and it could make it easier to coerce him in the future if he thinks I could be anyone.

Jos smiled, then motioned to the door, "shall we?"

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Sammy looked at Jos and frowned.

'I really have stepped over the edge this time. Lady Fortune had better be watching my back. The quicker we get this done with, the better.'

"Okay, Jos. We'll take your car. It shouldn't take us long to get to Lantern Hill after all. Just let me get my bag. I like to have it handy when I'm working."

Sammy went into his bedroom and shortly came out with his black backpack slung over his shoulder. "Lead the way, Jos."


Once Sammy and Jos left the room, the residue magical energy in the room slowly gathered around the strangely rune carved box sitting upon the television set. The magic saturated the box making the runes glow a sickly green before the lid opened slightly. From inside of the box, a small clawed hand emerged.

Soft demonic laughter filled the room.

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