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The Wolf and The Night (IC)

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Ahh, the Fens. You will never find a more retched hive of *record skips*

 

"Hey you! Get those crates loaded on that truck! If I have to tell you to stop slacking off one more time, you'll be hearing from the boss!" One man in a black-tie-suit stood on a loading doc outside one of the many warehouses in the fens that had surely seen better days. He was taking his time directing the efforts of a few other men who were collectively milling about loading crate after crate onto a truck. They were instructed to make the operation quick, and cover their tracks as best they could. That was why the man in the suit had taken every precaution to make sure that they were not followed.

 

Glancing down at the briefcase in his hand, he made sure the small LED on top of it was still blinking. The device was still on and ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. The boss had been nice enough to supply them with that much, and one other insurance policy at least...

 

Now if only those damn lackeys would work faster... He thought, as he kept his eyes peeled for interlopers.

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A matte black figure lept and swung from rooftop to rooftop in the fens, silently blending into shadows. The new Midnight paused to crouch down and observe the street below, looking for any sign of the organized crime members he was hunting down. Technically Raven's invitation to Claremont Academy had carried with it the understanding that Trevor would limit his nighttime forays until he'd received more training there, but frankly his grandfather's approval was all he really felt he needed. Besides, it's not like he was going to simply ignore a tip, vague though it may be.

Now if only I could figure out where they're supposed to be, he grimaced inwardly.

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Of all the things that normal humans smelled like, coffee was one of the most distinct that there were. It was that scent that originally tipped him off to the tall, lanky figure sneaking around the Fens. However, as he got closer, it was a whole different smell that intrigued him into following the man. It is an odd mixture. Like dry ice, and that strange fake smoke they use in children's toys. But there is something else as well. Tear gas? Even without a super human sense of smell, tear gas was a scent you never forgot.

Lukos followed the man. Though eventually he was forced to give away his position. When the man swung to an adjacent rooftop, Lukos took off at top speed. He easily cleared the gap, however his boots hit the roof of the cement building with a dusty thud that was sure to give him away.

Well, no sense in being discreet now. He thought to himself as he straightened up into a standing position. "Who are you, and what are you doing sneaking across the rooftops at night?"

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The slim figure whirled around, giving Lukos a brief look at the silhouette of a fedora over a featureless face, save two narrowed, glowing red eyes. Even as the other man spun, however, soot filled smoke poured from the sleeves of his jacket, quickly pooling around his feet and expanding outward. The werewolf's enhanced senses, however, quickly told him that this wasn't smoke at all, as the pitch black cloud expanded to blanket the rooftop in darkness. This mist blocked out the light from the street below and the moon above, foiling even his superior night vision.

Stupid! Trevor berated himself as he used the midnight mist's cover to silently reposition himself on the rooftop. Through the specially crafted lenses of his mask, he watched the man who had discovered him in eerie red relief. Should have been watching the rooftops, too. He's wearing a gas mask; have to assume he was sent after me specifically.

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There's a certain feeling a wolf gets when it has cornered its prey. This feeling is triumphant, mixed with a little potential cruelty. The wolf feels both pity for the prey, and elation for its own part.

When the mist clouded out everything, Lukos went blind. He could see nothing, not even the glowing red eyes any more.

Then he started laughing. "Heh. Ha hahaha." It was one of the first times ever that Lukos had found much humor at all while on the job.

"I'd like you to think about the fact that you're using some form of tear gas on a man that you know to be wearing a gas mask." Lukos stated after he had calmed down. "Now, while it is preventing me from seeing your movements, I would like to share with you another piece of information." Lukos smiled underneath the mask. "I can smell you." Came the hoarse whisper. "I can smell the coffee on you. I can smell the rubber in that mask of yours. I can even smell the traces of this mist that clings to your clothing."

Lukos took a menacing step towards the man, "You have no where to hide, even within your own mist. And I doubt that you can outrun me." He took another step. "You now have three choices. Try to run. Try to hide. Or, knowing that neither will work, you can answer my question."

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Midnight stood shock still. Dammit! he cursed to himself. Now what do I... smell. If his lack of awareness of his surrounds had been his mistake, letting Trevor know how he was counteracting the midnight mist was the mistake of the other man on the rooftop.

"Talk too much," his voice grated through his gasmask, as he tapped a cylinder on his belt, dispensing a handful of capsules. Whirling about, he whipped one at the other man's mask, where it shattered, releasing the pungent scent of ammonia. Flowing from the movement, Midnight repositioned himself once more, staying at the other man's back.

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Lukos coughed and waved the acrid smoke away from his face. It smelled foul and burned at his nostrils, but he managed to keep a bead on the other man. "You're going to have to do better than that."

Lukos whirled in place. Setting his metaphorical sights on the other masked man, he leaped through the air, all but pouncing on him. He aimed a kneecap at the man's chest trying to knock the wind out of him. He'd either misjudged the distance, or the man had been able to move fast enough. His attack fell short. "I warn you. You do not want to fight me. It never works out for anyone. In the interest of preserving some shred of decency, I will ask you again. Who are you and what are you doing here?"

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Midnight tumbled out of the way of the vicious, leaping attack. In doing so the remained of the capsules fell from between his fingers, breaking harmlessly of the rooftop. Backpeddling away, he took up a defensive pose. "Could ask you the same thing," he grated out harshly. His opponent was clearly dangerous and had him at a disadvantage, but he was chatty. If Trevor could keep him talking he might have a chance to regroup and think of something.

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Why not answer him? You've got nothing to hide. Except all those precious personal secrets. Well, just don't mention those. Lukos straightened up after the flying assault. He blindly sniffed around for his opponent's new location. Finding him he closed the distance. He stood near the other man, threatening, but not quite attacking. "I am Lukos. And for the last month or so, I have been cleaning the scum from these streets."

Here is where you find out what his true colors are.

Though the wolf beneath his skin begged him to continue the fight, Lukos managed to hold himself back. "So, what'll it be? Friend or foe?"

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Midnight straightened, standing a few inches taller than the much larger man. As Lukos watched, the mist around them slowly thinned and dissipated, leaving him face to face with the glowing red eyes and featureless mask on the moonlit rooftop. Though clearly in a different weight class than his broad shouldered opponent, Midnight stared Lukos down, showing no hint of fear, only cold calculation. After a long pause, he spoke. "Let's talk."

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The same instincts of his wolf half that had made him so elated earlier now bled into his consciousness once again. Only this time, they made his blood boil. Eye contact was a dangerous thing with a wolf. Such a simple action drew out the competitive nature of the beasts. So it was with Lukos. When the man's glowing red eyes met his own glass shielded ones, Lukos stiffened. "Not us." He replied, "You." He said, brandishing a finger at the other masked man. "You can start with the question that I've already asked you. Twice." A low growl escaped his throat before he could stifle it. "I do not wish to repeat myself a third time."

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Unlike Lukos, Trevor's nature was without a strong instinct for posturing or competing for position. Even so, he was not about to back down to the feral masked man, not while he was wearing his grandfather's costume. "Midnight," came the gravelly reply, as he continued to stare directly into the other man's eyes despite the agitating effect it was clearly having. "If you know anything about Freedom City, that should be enough." A black clad arm swept out to indicate the streets below. "Hunting. Help or leave."

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Lukos knew an average amount of information about the City's heroes. As much as he needed, at least. "Are you not supposed to be dead?" He asked the other man.

As the other man indicated the streets, Lukos didn't bother looking. He knew what was down there. He could smell what was down there. He wouldn't break eye contact first. That much of Wolf he listened to. "Hunting? Hunting what? I'm the best hunter in this city. If you're looking for something, I can find it." Lukos used his right hand to stick his thumb into his chest, puffing it out a little in the process.

Posture. Assert.

We'll see who backs down first.

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"Don't know Freedom, then," Midnight grated, still refusing to give an inch. "Death's not what it used to be."

He noted Lukos's pride in his tracking ability and grunted approval. "Mm. Nose. Useful." That might be the solution to his problem. Trevor broke their staring contest only to brush past the aggressive man dismissively and move to the edge of the rooftop. "Mob. Gunrunners. Need to find them, break them." He turned back to Lukos, red eyes narrowing. "How are you at fetch?"

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"Don't know Freedom, then," Midnight grated, still refusing to give an inch. "Death's not what it used to be."

"Clearly."

Lukos breathed a quiet sigh of relief when Midnight broke eye contact. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Like that gunrunner I tore to pieces last month? Was all he had time to think before Midnight focused his gaze on him once more. Oh no. I'm not starting that again. I won fair and square. Lukos turned his back on Midnight. In Wolf's language, it meant that he wasn't going to give Midnight the chance to take back what he'd given up. In Wolf's language, it would have been an insult. Good thing he doesn't know that.

Lukos took a few steps in the other direction towards the other side of the roof. "The funny thing about guns is they all smell just a little different. They each need a certain amount of oil, and gunpowder. A rifle needs a lot more of both than a pistol for instance. If you know what they're trafficking, or how much, it would be more helpful." He shot a look over his shoulder. "And I don't play fetch. I may have a good nose, but I am not some dog to be played with."

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"Don't care about your feelings, Lukos," Midnight dismissed. "Care if you can do the job." Inwardly, Trevor made a mental note that the aggressive man had responded much as he had expected to the offhand jibe. Knew there was something canine about him. Animalistic mutant? Whatever the case, it was good to have an idea where the volatile man's buttons were.

Midnight continued to watch Lukos, his expression behind his mask inscrutable. "Type doesn't matter. Quantity does. Find the strongest scent. That's where we go."

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"Fine." Lukos let the comment slide. "But just watch it." He brandished a finger in the other man's direction.

Closing his eyes, he turned his face towards the sky. He breathed deeply. Not only was the Fens likely the most run down section of the city, it even smelled that way. There were trash heaps, and dumpsters that almost never got collected, and even fouler things down the dead end alleys. But one thing was true of any part of this city. Large quantities of military grade guns were rather uncommon.

Lukos' eyes opened, and he set his sights towards an adjacent rooftop. There was no mistaking that smell of gunpowder. He would remember that night for a long long time. "This way." Lukos breathed. The words barely escaped his mouth before he was off and running. He tore across the rooftop of the building in a dead sprint that would make an Olympic runner jealous. He then long jumped, clearing a good 30 foot gap to the next building with ease. Stopping to look back at midnight, he asked, "You coming?" Midnight could sense the smirk on the man's face, though he couldn't see it beneath the mask.

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Midnight responded to Lukos's prodigious leap by simply holding out an arm and firing his grapple. The motorized device retracted its cable on cue, drawing the black clad figure across the gulf from a standing position to land lightly in a three point crouch, moments later, next to the werewolf. Straightening without showing any signs of exertion, the shadowy hero simply inclined his head sarcastically. "After you.

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Good. Lukos thought to himself, This means I won't have to slow down.

Run. Chase. Hunt. Wolf demanded. Thomas listened.

Lukos tore off across the rooftops at top speed once more.


After about a minute or so of chasing the trail, of leaping and swinging from rooftop to rooftop, Lukos halted once more. He landed on the next roof and held up a hand over his shoulder. The signal was pretty much universal for anything from "Stop," to "Be quiet". Midnight knew it well enough.

Lukos crept in a crouch towards the far edge of the building. It faced an alleyway, and a warehouse. About 80 feet below, the two could see a group of men milling around. The scent of gunpowder in this area was so powerful, it was like fire in Lukos' nostrils. There was no mistaking it. These were the men he had come to find.

One lone man in a suit with a Zero Halliburton briefcase stood on a loading dock shouting orders. The other men responded well, if rather slowly. As the two heroes peered over the edge of the building, they could see that they were loading crates into a truck. The truck was nearly full, they were down to the last pile of crates. If there was any time to stop these men from getting away with their merchandise, it was rapidly evaporating.

His voice barely a whisper, Lukos inquired, "That mist that you have is a dangerous weapon. How exactly does it work?" Taken at face value, the question would have been innocuous. But Midnight was able to detect something else beneath it. It roughly translated to, "Your turn."

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"Blind them," Midnight explained brusquely, striding forward as midnight mist poured from his sleeves, wrapping around him and expanding outward. "Break them." By the time Lukos's enhanced senses told him the shadowy vigilante had stepped off of the side of the roof, his grapple lowering him whisper-quiet to the ground, it was as though an cloud of ink were washing across the street of its own accord to envelop the gunrunners in darkness.

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The mist began to pour out of the alley near where the men were putting crates on to the truck. Unfortunately, a cloud of obscuring mist pouring out over the streets is a hard thing to miss.

"Damnit!" The man on top of the loading dock with the brief case cursed. "And here I was hoping I'd be getting home early tonight. Oh well, I guess it can't be helped. You know what to do, boys." The man turned on his heel and walked back into the cover of darkness that was the warehouse.

"Yea! Let's get'em!"

"Get who?"

"I dunno! Who ever is doing that!"

"But we can't see him."

"Who cares? Just shoot the whole damn cloud!"

Four of the men carrying a crate dropped it. One of them kicked the lid off. They all pulled out rifles and started loading clips. From his vantage point, Lukos saw what was going down, and didn't like it. He leaped down and grabbed one of the fire escapes across the alley way. He'd leaped about thirty feet downward. He then let go of the fire escape and plummeted the rest of the way. The mist furrowed around him as he hit the concrete hard. *Thoomp* "Find some cover. They've got rifles."

Lukos had lost sight of the mobsters, but could still smell them. They were milling around and making more preparations. However, Midnight could see that the other eight mobsters were readying more weapons from crates. Four of them grabbed glowing shields from one box, and another four grabbed long poles from a different box. They took up a defensive position around the 18-wheeler and the loading dock. The battle lines were drawn.

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The men with the guns opened fire just like they'd talked about. Bullets sprayed the cloud everywhere. Fortunately, none of them were anywhere near their intended targets.

Following the assault, Lukos burst out of the cloud like a bat out of hell. He charged the nearest group of mobsters, the ones holding the shields. His back of his fire axe cracked one of the men's ribs. Clutching his chest, he dropped to the ground. Lukos dashed between the rest of the men using the axe to ruin an elbow here and a kneecap there. In a flash, the four men with the shields were out of commission.

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As Lukos leapt into the heart of the mobsters' position, the impenetrable cloud of midnight mist inched inexorably closer. A chilling voice rang out from within, grating with an inhuman edge, seeming to come from every part of the shrouded alley at once. It was not filled with rage, nor threat, but coldly devoid of emotion, mercy or compassion. "Midnight comes. Those who wish to live to see dawn... Drop. Your. Weapons."

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"Hey man! The boss didn't say nothin' about this freaky cloud, @#$%!"

"Who cares about the damn cloud. Shoot that one!"

The thugs were visibly shaken by the man in the mist crawling inexorably towards them. However, they had a job to do, and they had someone else to attack. That much they understood. That much they could do. Though their other comrades had all bitten the dust, the men with the energy poles charged Lukos. They had to be able to do a better job. Their fear instilled hands shook as they swung their weapons. Lukos ducked and weaved between the assault. Only the last of the four was able to land a hit. He swung his pole at Lukos, who couldn't move as he was coming up from a crouch. The energy pole made contact with his exposed right shoulder. The energy discharged with a sizzling sound effect. Lukos didn't even flinch. He looked at the pole, then looked at the man, then growled.

The men with the guns on the loading dock were not about to give him the chance to react, however. They began firing their weapons with rapid abandon. Most of them were too spooked to hit the broad side of the barn, but the last was right on target. His spray of bullets climbed all the way up Lukos' leg and through his leather jacket to the shoulder. Though once again, Lukos did not flinch.

With a furious growl, Lukos grabbed the man with the pole who had hit him by the the collar. He held his axe close to the head, and rammed the flat top of it into the man's nose. After a satisfying crunch, he released the man who crumpled to the ground. He weaved through the other combatants swinging his axe back and forth. He broke arms and shattered wrists. Soon, the four of them were down for the count. Crouched low, in a position that made him ready to move, Lukos turned his sights on the men on the platform. "Give up. Now."

Two of the men stepped back in fear and looked ready to drop their weapons. The other two only began sighting Lukos once more.

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The terrifying voice echoed from the mist once again. "Leave one alive," it commanded. Naturally Lukos understood that the masked man meant he wanted one conscious, presumably to interrogate. Whether the werewolf felt inclined to comply and restrain himself was another matter.

While the cloud of midnight mist continued to roil menacingly in the alleyway, Trevor used it's cover to sneak away, moving silently through the shadows to stand just behind the remaining gunrunners. Being hidden somewhere in the cloud was good, being somewhere else entirely was better.

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