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Hammer And Sword, In Accord (IC)


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12:00 Midnight

July 8th, 2011

The Fens, Freedom City

Push walked under a sputtering street lamp, his hands in his pockets. His boots hit the pavement with a small thump each time he took a step, the hem of his coat and edges of his scarf swishing against the ground; at night, the scarf and coat didn't look as much a costume as they did during the day, that'd work to his advantage. Turning a corner, he began walking down an alleyway, casting a brief glance skyward at a small speck of light in the sky. He gave a brief smile; Lazarus was watching over him. How reassuring.

Actually, what was more reassuring was that he'd actually (finally!) gotten a lead on Scratch; after the Scarab's mental skirmish with the shadow of the man in his own head (and that still creeped him the eff out), he'd been so ticked off that he'd thrown himself completely into the search again. He'd been complacent, actually; sitting around sticking with regular heroics instead of keeping up the investigation, and that really rankled with him. It wasn't that hard to fall back into the old routines, and Freedom City's local occult underground was a heck of a lot more open than most.

He'd gotten a lead a couple of days back on a black market warehouse buried somewhere in the Fens, selling smuggled artefacts and reagents to anyone and everyone with cash. Dangerous stuff could be acquired there, if you could afford it, and it was kept pretty quiet from what he'd discovered. Just the kind of operation Scratch would be either running, or be affiliated with. Which meant evidence. And he could bust up an illegal organization on top of it, icing on the cake. He smiled under the scarf, peering around the alley corner at the small warehouse door with the large not-bouncer leaning on the wall beside it, cigarette in his fingers.

Push leaned back, taking a few breaths as he leaned against the wall. Oh yeah, this was going to be an...interesting night.

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There was a soft whoosh of displaced air as Sarah Prescott appeared in a deserted alleyway. She was dressed tonight in a trashy goth outfit with heavy makeup.

The reason for her rather different mode of dress was the warehouse a few streets over. Cheshire Blade has been patrolling a few nights ago when she ran into some crazy wielding a actual magic wand. He proclaimed that he would drain her power with his 'mighty artifact' and go on to rule the streets. The resulting fight had been surprisingly difficult until she managed to strike the wand itself, causing a small explosion that left the would-be wizard in no condition to continue battle. After interrogating the man before turning him over to the police, Cheshire began looking into where he'd gotten his hands on the magic.

A few days of investigation later, and she had tracked down the location of a market selling dangerous magics, and a pass phrase to get herself inside. So she was heading in incognito to take the lay of the place before shutting it down. Anyone going around selling dragon's teeth to just anyone needed a sound thrashing.

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Push carefully peered around the edge of the wall again, wishing for a brief moment that he'd brought his hammer instead of leaving it on the bike. He was supposed to be incognito, though; but the familiar weight would have been somewhat reassuring. Taking a deep breath, the kineticist brought together a charge between his fingers, small motes of warping energy and static appearing here and there as he made a gun with his fingers. Holding it up and exhaling, he murmured the word "Bang.", and made to turn and fire...

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Walking down the alley, Prescott spots ahead what is apparently some street thug casing the street with her target.

Seeing him begin to gather some sort of power into his hand notched him up to meta-street thug. She didn't need some low-life smashing things and possibly scaring off the person or persons running the market.

Just as the man began moving to attack he was interrupted by a soft voice.

"Attacking a wizards' market isn't the wisest of courses, boy. Maybe you should look for loot somewhere a bit less guarded. Some of us are indeed subtle, but most are just ill-tempered and violent."

Behind Push, a woman with too much makeup, black hair, and revealing black clothing stood, blue crystalline wisps of power wafting around her and her eyes practically aflame.

"Guess what sort I am."

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Push's reaction time was uncanny, and within a second of Sarah's mouth opening, he had wheeled on a dime and faced her. Instead of the razor-thin lance of energy he'd been preparing in his hand, an orb of sheer force had grown to engulf his palm, this one aimed precisely at her. Above the scarf which covered half his face, his eyes were a picture of flat, cold fury. And, perhaps, a tiny mote of savage glee. He kept his voice quiet, avoiding attracting the attention of the bouncer at the entrance, but just pitched enough for her to hear.

"Not hard to guess; I'd say another two-bit conjurer with an unholy host playing you like a puppet? Or just some independent looking to snag something illegal for your Tuesday basement rituals? I've seen more eldrich horrors than you'll ever know, sorceress, and trust me, you're one of the least scary things I've seen in this buisness."

He clenched a fist over the blast, and the energy started to warp; a low thrum reached Cheshire's ears as the bolt grew and engulfed his entire hand.

"Can't credit your sense much either, jumping a genuine Freedom City hero from behind and talking instead of nailing me on the head. Big mistake. Now you're going to tell me precisely who's running that place, or I will make this the single worst night of your life. Savvy?"

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Prescott was silent a moment, evaluating the man in front of her before humming softly in decision.

"Another hero? That would make things easier. I'm the Cheshire Blade. You'll pardon me if I don't change into my costume, but I'm in disguise and don't want to ruin my makeup until its time for the big reveal."

Her power abruptly vanishing, Sarah strode to the entrance of the alley and peeked around the corner.

"Anyways, busting into the place hopefully isn't necessary. I've got a password to get in, we could always say you're my baggage carrier to get you in as well. If we can get in quietly, we can identify the people in charge a lot easier than trying to catch them after breaking in the walls."

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Push's jaw dropped rather perceptibly beneath the scarf, and his eyes narrowed. He kept the 'sorceress' at blast-point, however, as several scenarios ran through his head; most of them of a violent nature, and all of them suspicious. The fact that he didn't take her story with a grain of salt was quite surprising to him, and he could only chalk it up to the fact that he'd been in Freedom City for far too long. Her name, the Cheshire Blade, didn't ring any bells; but given how many exotic names he had rattling about in his head by this point, it didn't surprise him any. For a moment, he took a closer look at her disguise (solely to find the titular blade, of course, no ulterior motives in his inspection at all); that she didn't carry it didn't mean she didn't have it at hand either, he'd learned about that trick the hard way several times.

Either way, he didn't let the energy loose. But he did keep it stored in his hand, reduced to the smaller shot he'd been saving for the bouncer earlier..

"...I wasn't busting in, I was taking out the bouncer quietly then going straight in. And why the heck am I believing you?"

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Prescott gave Push a cheeky grin. "Because I'm just so very pretty and trustworthy! But if you need a bit of proof..." Cheshire reached into thin air and partially withdrew a dark broadsword inscribed with red runes, before pushing it back into whatever she pulled it out of.

"Anyways, time's wasting so you can either blast me or come along."

With that, Sarah walked out of the alleyway and headed towards the doorman, apparently assuming Push was going to follow. Slinking up to the bouncer, she gave him a soft smile as she gave him the password she acquired.

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  • 5 weeks later...

The bouncer just raised an eyebrow at Sarah, stepping aside and opening the door. Push, not to be outdone, walked alongside her with a dangerous look at the bulky man, all 5-foot-something of him trying to play the enforcer card. To his credit, he looked quite intimidating, despite his stature. It had to be the coat.

The two walked down a trio of hallways, through similarly guarded doors. Prescott's password got them through all three, and soon enough they were in a large warehouse stuffed to the brim with what almost looked like a kind of convention. Lines of booths, stocked with the wild and weird, went up and down the building, long thoroughfares being walked by a truly eclectic bunch of ne'er-do-wells. An undercurrent of danger filled the air, along with a low hum of conversation as crooks and cons browsed, bartered, haggled, bought and sold all kinds of things, from guns with runic markings (guaranteed to bolster accuracy!) to bags of dragon's teeth (instant thugs, going cheap!).

Push fought down the urge to start blasting, noting the rather sizeable number of criminals in the building. Mobsters of all stripes were here, as well as color from some of the local gangs (at least, the ones who'd support this kinda thing, he kinda doubted the Crusaders would try their luck here). Instead, he cast his eyes about, trying to spot at least an office somewhere. Probably high-up, whoever was in charge of this market definitley had to have some kind of high-up place to supervise. Idly, he offered his arm to his new compatriot, speaking dryly in an atrocious Russian accent.

"Vell zen, Natasha; up for some browzeenk?"

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