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Anteing Up

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Jackie steps from the gilded lights of the Golden Calf, surveying the street before him. Having satisfied the demands of his pockets by beating at least a dozen poor shlubs out of their hard earned winnings, it was now time to beat some information out of some hard nosed thugs, or whatever else reared it's head on the streets.

Figuring his ostentatious get up would attract at least some eager muggers, he headed down the seediest looking alley he could find, flicking a light on his diamond encrusted zippo lighter and lighting a Honduran cigar. The aroma of the cigar, which to Jackie always seemed to be the epitome of money, wafted around the dingy streets. The scent alone should attract some poor ne'er do wells.

Jackie unbuttoned the silk coat of playing cards and stuck a hand in his pocket, trying his best to look like he wasn't really aiming for a fight. It took about twenty minutes of this kind of action before he got a bite. Jackie had blindly walked into a dead end alleyway and looked up to see five large men, all with sunken eyes and leering, avarice pasted sneers move out of the shadows behind him, moving to block his way out. "No way out, Richie Rich," One of the less crude looking individuals snarled, bringing out a wicked looking stilletto.

Jackie smiled to himself, "Bluff's been called, now to show mah hand."

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*Fwoomp* A lone figure hit the ground on the street side of the alleyway. The thugs now stood between the rich man and the new arrival.

"Hey you!"

"Oh momma I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law

Lawman has put an end to my running and I'm so far from my home

Oh momma I can hear you crying you're so scared and all alone

Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very


"Stop right there!"

"The jig is up the news is out they've finally found me

The renegade who had it made retrieved for a bounty!"

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Raising an eyebrow, Jackie looks over the new arrival. How's he supposed to hear people sneakin up on him with those huge earphones on? Not wanting to look too perturbed he kept his eyes and smile on the thugs.

"I can handle this fine friend, but if you insist on raisin' the stakes, just know I want info, so let's leave at least one of 'em concious and coherent enough to talk alright?"

The thug that talked looked very miffed and screamed, "You two ain't beatin nothin'! You two are history! Get 'em boys!"

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The ugly thug and his ugly fist slam down upon River Rat's head. He shakes what little cobwebs that formed away and just looks at the man grimly.

"That the best ya got, bigun? I shoulda' warned ya, lady luck don't usually smile on the poor fools that try to harm me."

Just as Jackie finished his sentence, the rusty fire escape ladder overhead broke loose, landing with a thud on the head of the poor thug underneath it. He crumples like a house of cards beneath the wait and is out for the count. Jackie backs away from the assailant with the knife a wide menacing smile on his face. "You ready for round 2 thar boy? Or you wanna go ahead and throw in the towel?"

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Breakdown weathered the two blows well.

Turning the fists aside, he simply smirked at his attackers. "Really? That's all you got?"

Breakdown took a step back, threw his arms up in the air and brandished a pair of devil horns. He mocked up an attack, but was really just throwing his arms in the air. It was not a very convincing routine. But it allowed him a second to strike back with an attack of his own. The thunderous punch caught the first thug right in the nose, crushing it with a resounding snap!

Breakdown danced in place as the first thug fell to the ground. He beckoned the second one forward with one of his hands. "Who's next?" He eyes narrowed threateningly as he spoke.

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"What the?" The poor mook didn't even see the punch till it laid him out, flying against the nearby dumpster with a loud bang!

The other thug, weary after his friend was just laid low, attempts a meager strike, but hits nothing but air.

The knife wielding Thug drops the knife charges Jackie and lunges in, but Jackie easily sidesteps with a burst of laughter.

"Oh please, son. You call that an attack? My mammy coulda' dun bettah!"

Jackie pulls out his sap, a black shiny leather job with green dollar signs stitched into them and wallops the thug, landing a solid blow to the man's jaw. A loud crack is heard and the man slumps to the ground as his eyes roll into the back of his head.

"That leaves only you nanny's boy," Jackie said facing the last goon. "What's your move?"

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Breakdown quickly taps his sleeve and suddenly his dancing style changes. There is more movement with his feet with this style. "Bana na na NA na!" A trumpet blares out of thin air.

A strange hop and a skip in his dance routine manages to throw the last thug off his beat.

Breakdown quickly thrust one palm out at the open air in front of him. And suddenly the last thug that had threatened him was blasted back into the dumpster and slumped on top of his friend.

"Oops... You wanted one concious, didn't you. Guess I got a little carried away..." Breakdown stood up straight and scratched his head.

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Jackie stares at the downed thug for a second, then shrugs his shoulders. "Meh, they'll come round soon enough I suppose, can ask him questions then."

Jackie looks Breakdown up and down. "So, I take it your a hero huh kid? Those are some impressive moves ya got. Though I'm not sure the music angle is something I'd have gone fer." Jackie's thick southern drawl oozes out with his words, creating a slow, soothing rythm, his pearly white smile hangs in place as he ragards the young man. Jackie leans up against the brick wall and re-lights his cigar.

"Anyways, thanks for the hand kid," Jackie moves off the wall after a long puff and offers Breakdown his hand. "The name's River Rat, but you can call me Jackie. What's your handle son?"

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"I'm Breakdown" He said, returning the handshake "You got it right. Hero all the way, baby! And I don't really have a choice about the music. It's where I get my powers from."

Breakdown walked down the alley looking at each of his downed foes. He hoped none of them were hurt too badly. He didn't really have high hopes for the one who got a ladder dropped on him, though.

"This guy looks pretty bad. Think maybe we should call an ambulance?"

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Jackie looks at the poor sod. He did have a pretty sizeable lump on his head.

"Hmmm, you're probably right. Lady Luck don't like to pull punches, poor fool." With that, Jackie produced his cell phone (a green job with actual diamons encrusted on the side of it) and dialed 911.

"Yeah, I got four would-be muggers unconcious here... No, we're in an alleyway... The street address?..." Jackie stepped away and continued to speak into the phone tapping his foot and cigar in rythm.

After the call was finished he turned back to Breakdown. "Shouldn't be long now, suppose I won't be able to ask them many questions. Maybe you can answer them for me. Where might I find the mob here in town? I'm not lookin for work or anything, I just have a deep, unwavering hatred for the mob. They're the reason I can't go back to Vegas without a cadre of bodyguards. I've been tryin' to make sure nobody else gets hurt by these petty thugs. I figure with all the super criminals runnin' 'round, most heroes have their hands full, me bein' new with little obligations, I figure I can take a chunk outta their chip stack, so to speak."

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"Heh, I like all those references." Eddies smiled. This guy was pretty cool. A little flamboyant... but that never hurt anybody...

"It just so happens that I might know a place. The Fens are usually crawling with scum. If you're looking for the mob you should probably start there. Need an escort?"

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Jackie tapped his chin and furled his brow pensively. "The Fens huh? Sounds a bit like Downtown Dallas. Deep Ellum can get pretty hairy, even metas would be naive to walk those streets alone at night. Alright, seein as I don't know my way around very well, and would probably get lost on my way there, I suppose I can swaller my pride and have ye show me 'round. Might even get lucky and take down the whole derned outfit in one night eh?" Jackie winked and started to walk out of the alley. He stopped at the street and looked both ways down the gilded road.

"So," Jackie said, turning back to Breakdown. "Which way?"

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A cab?! Jackie thought to himself...Ewww.Jackie re-produced his cell phone and dialed up his driver. A minute later the green limo pulled into the alleyway.

"I don't do cabs. The floorboards are always sticky." Jackie smiled and opened the passenger door for Breakdown. "Age before beauty. Before you start saying that a limo going through The Fens will attract too much attention let me just say that that's exactly what I'm hoping for. The quicker we get the information, the quicker I can head up to my suite and call my masseuse, that beaning on the forehead is gonna wreak havoc with my muscle's feng shui."

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Jackie smiled warmly. The kid's energy and positive attitude were almost infectious and he found he liked him right away. "That's what the ridiculously priced asian masseuse/acupuncturist tells me. All I know is that her kung fu is the best, she does this thing where she walks on my back and it's like the tactile version of a big ole rib eye and a baked potato with all the trimmins. The girl's a genius." Jackie slid in across from Breakdown and knocked twice on the window, then the limo lurched forwards, and into the street. He lit another cigar and rolled down the window a little. "So tell me," He said after a long pause and pull on the cigar. "What got ya into this heroin' gig?"

Jackie offered the kid a soda from the cooler as he awaited his answer.

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Eddie accepted the drink with a, "Thanks." and decided to continue the tale. "Well you know how it is, you meet a few friends who have a hobby and before you know it, everybody's jumping off a bridge." Eddie smiled as he popped open the soda. "Except that I found out that I really liked jumping off of bridges. And when flying isn't the only trick you keep up your sleeve, hitting the water isn't exactly your biggest concern. Now I'm just along for the ride, and havin' fun while I'm at it."

Taking a few sips of the soda, he decided he'd ask more about all the exorbitantly priced things in his new friends life. "So how long have you been sitting at the high-rollers' table?" He was no stranger to esoteric poker references himself.

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Jackie smiled and shook his head. "Not as long as you'd think. I came from pretty poor stock, but life was good and I never went wantin'. Things always just seemed to go my way. If I wanted something really bad, things worked out so that I could get it. I'm not the brightest crayon in the box but I know math purdy well, but mostly 'cuz it helps in all things related to gambling. Luck's only part of it son, ya gotta know the odds if yer gonna play the game." Jackie spoke with his usual diction but delivered the words as if they were taken straight from The Art of War. Jackie mused it was probably the closest thing he had to a motto.

"Anyways, once I turned 21 I was able to legitmately compete in poker tournaments and I won myself a few of those. They pretty much keep me from worryin' bout where my next meal comes from. I plan on entering a lot more and winning them all before I croak. Right now I do alright, but someday I'mma own my own jet. Since I don't have powers of flight or rocket boots. Wouldn't really wanna fly anyways, I rode a motorcycle before and enough bugs went into my mouth then, I can't imagine how much goo and insect guts can get plastered on yer face at mach speed so I'll just do my flyin' with cold drinks and hot flight attendants." Jackie shows him the three bracelets he won at the WSOP. "These are my trophies. It's not a physically demanding sport and any man can learn to play, but it takes cunning and wit if you're gonna win it. That's why I like poker, if the cards aren't treatin' ya right, you don't play em, you play the players."

Jackie leaned back and took another drag off the cigar. "Yepper, Lady Luck has done me quite a few favors over the years. I realized not too long ago that that weren't just coincidence, that maybe I had a callin'. So I came here, not as much money to be had here as there is in Vegas. But at least here I don't have ta worry so much about people wantin' autographs all the time. Where you have your powers that are good at gettin you around and dealin' wallopins, mine just happen to make me lucky. Doesn't mean I'm not required to use em for good though. If you got gifts, you use em to help those less fortunate than you." Jacke smiled. "And let's face it, compared to me, everyone is less fortunate as the strict meaning of the word goes."

"Thing is, your luck can always turn on ya. I been living large for a while now. I'm gonna keep on livin to the hilt, just in case tomorrow I ain't so fortunate. Everyone's talkin' that I should invest and what not, but the stock market is a gamble even I wouldn't take."

Jackie looked at his watch. "Listen to me, talkin' your ear off like I'm some sorta guru. This place, The Fens, you got a contact there or somethin'? Or are we just gonna stir some up?"

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"Well like I said, I've got friends. But I don't think any of them really frequent the Fens." Breakdown thought for a moment, sipping on his soda. "I guess there's no help for it except to go stir up some trouble. See what crawls out of the woodwork, you know?" Breakdown said with a shrug, chugging the last of the soda.

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"Guess we'll have to make our own contact. Preferrably with blunt force trauma" Jackie winked and lowered the glass between him and the driver. "Roderick, I want you to drive up to the nearest, seediest looking apartment building, drop us off, then bolt. Things could get messy."

Roderick nodded his head and stammered, "Y-Yes sir."

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