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TheAbsurdist

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April 20th.

There were in the wrong part of town.  The criminals.  Well at least the wrong timing for the wrong part of town.  It didn't really help that they were in a neck of the woods (also know as The Docks) that Wildcat resided in.  Or more accurately where he had his day job, and then a couple things out of place, and it led him here, during a shipment.  Which had to go through here, air travel and shipping being a bit more watched than the sea and ocean going stuff.

Which meant that one dude was taking a boomerang to the face, which was a polite response to the man drawing a gun.  It was akin to say, 'No, sir, I do not believe that is a topic that belongs in our conversation.'  The other three did put up a bit of a fight, however.

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Wildcat certainly didn't object to a fight, however.  While ostensibly not the main reason he was out here doing the things he did, it was nonetheless a fairly substantial motivation.  If he brought a beat-down to punks who deserved what was coming to them, he not only was doing a civic duty...more or less...but he was keeping his feral aggression blunted to the point where he was less likely to snap at someone who didn't have it coming in the slightest.

That, however, was long term and fell under the realm of 'defined goals'.  Here and now, it was all about tactics to deal with the next few seconds.

The high-impact poly boomerang slapped back into his open hand after banking off Goon 2's face, and he immediately ducked and faded left, bringing himself into melee range with Goon 3, frustrating the aim of Goon 1 who had also drawn a pistol.  The gun barked, but the shot went well wide as he was unable to clearly sight on the elusively moving target that Wildcat was presenting.

Wildcat's elbow made solid contact with Goon 3's torso, just above the kidney, sending the man sprawling painfully to the floor, and the boomerang flicked out with unerring accuracy to jar the gun from Goon 1's hand, a stinging impact that caused the man to yelp and reflexively grab at his wrist, even as the boomerang smacked back home again.

Now -- where had Goon 4 gotten off to?

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The scream alerted Wildcat to the location of the other one, who had broken away, and managed to scramble over a fence.  That was where he found the source of his terror.  When Wildcat made his way over it, he would see the dark clothed other.  Well dark clothed, apart from the hockey mask, and wielding a pierce of rebar with tape making a handle of sorts.  It added to the effect of Errant being something out of a slasher movie.  "Where were you running off to Mr. Jennings?"  I was hoping to have a talk with you."  The voice was dry, dispassionate, almost alien as the head tilted and the person regards the criminal that was cowering before him on his knees.  The man's hands were held up defensively towards the masked individual.

"What... what... who... what... who..."  It was clear that Mr. Jennings was in the grips of blind panic, the kind that tended to lock up thoughts, and muscles.

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Balanced atop the fence himself, Wildcat regarded the tableau below with a certain amount of bemusement.  He'd be critical of someone suiting up in dark clothes and a hockey mask, beating on people with an improvised club, but...

Well.  Pot; Kettle.  I have some concerns about your hue....

"Don't let me interrupt," he observed, unconsciously lowering his voice to a more growly octave.  "I'm not one to interfere with another man's beating; I'm just going to have to ask you straight out here, not to kill him."  His tone was grim, and he tried to put a bit of the crack of doom into it.

"If you go that far...well, then you and I are going to have to have a talk ourselves, capisce?"

...now why did he say that?  He was going to sound like some kinda stereotypical Mafioso if he kept that up....

Edited by Mad Scientist

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The other turned his head, the voice was clearly masculine or having extensive modulation, and he looked more fully at the perched Wildcat.  "That was a statement."   The rest of his expression lost behind the hard white surface of the hockey mask.  And when the criminal  took advantage of, or tried to take advantage of the distraction, the masked man spun and hit him with the metal stick.  which would just him back to the ground unconscious.

"Mr. Jennings... I am disappointed.  Very disappointed.  Tell me about the shipment now.  If you do I wont hit you again."  His tone still so cold, distant.  "Give me the name of the man who hired you."

 

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Wildcat found himself down off the fence without realizing exactly that he was planning on moving.  He had no idea who this dude was, but what he did know was, he seemed to be more than a little bit of a loose cannon.  He did seem to know the thug he was accosting, either personally or through some pretty good detective work, but....

"Hey now, buddy, how about you give the man a chance to answer?" he suggested, prowling about the pair until he could see each of them equally.  "The whole 'fear of pain' thing can work wonders, but you have to let them think the pain will stop if they spill what they know."  He made his tone reasonable, matter of fact -- not cold, like his counterpart, but blasé enough.

The whole hockey mask thing was evoking a serious 'movie monster serial killer' vibe, and it had him decidedly uneasy.  Sure, he had just been beating up on these guys himself, but this dude seemed a little...sociopathic.

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The man was gibbering now, crushed by the weight of something, as he was on his knees, his hands on his face, sobbing.  It certainly wasn't the blow he had endured, not in the slightest.  That had been to stop him from running.  He started to sputter, and he could only make noises, and not really articulate anything, ad he shook his head slowly.  Unable to really say anything, or do anything... he was sobbing, and crying like he believed he was in a slasher movie, and the guy behind him was going to kill him.  "That's... that's not how it is supposed to be... this... this..."

 

Errant slowly slide the metal bar over his shoulder, and pressed it against Jennings' throat, before he other hand grasped at his hair and tugged his head back.  "I am not sorry Mr. Jennings, you've already made life choices that were questionable.  Imagine how disappointed your mother is, or would be, if you had the spine to actually speak to her...  Running weapons.  Don't tell me you don't know what it is... Flechette rounds designed to go through armor.  Police armor.  Do you sleep well at night, Mr. Jennings?  Don't answer that.  I already know.  Now tell me who hired you to unload the weapons?"

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Wildcat still didn't know who this masked figure was, but he was willing to cut him a little more slack once he heard details of the shipment.  He'd heard it was some sort of black-market thing, probably weapons -- but cop killer rounds?  Not to mention a few of the heroes that were running about the city?  This was some serious business, and the information being looked for was...important.

"I'd tell him, if I were you, Jennings," he said conversationally, dropping into an easy crouch as he watched on.  "I can smell blood on that rebar; I'm pretty sure he's killed people with it before."  That was a total fabrication, of course -- he wasn't really close enough to smell whether or not there was blood on the crude weapon.

That didn't mean it couldn't still be true, of course.

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It was then everything started to go... off.  Whispers, a chorus of them, on the edge of Wildcat's senses.  He couldn't quite hear them but the message was clear, if stark and unrelentingly.  Hopelessness.  A susurrus that nipped and underminded a psyche like innumerable tiny, hungry mouths.  Like Jennings.  

"I'll tell you!  It was a middle man... or something, I don't know, but it was five gees just to move some boxes, that's it man!  Jesus!"

"Thank you Mr. Jennings."  The whispers stopped, and Errant pulled back from the kneeling man.  Of course the masked man lunged forward hitting a knee against the back of his head, masking something else in the process, and sending Jennings sprawling to the ground insensate.  Then it was a matter of reaching down to start using zip ties on the guy's wrists and then ankles.

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Wildcat couldn't help but note how...cold...this guy was.  He wasn't lashing out emotionally, but calculatingly, and that made him more than just a little leery of the guy.

"So...is there a plan, or do you just beat on guys until you find one that knows something?" he inquired, trying to shake off the momentary unease at the chorus of whispers.  He'd become accustomed to hearing more than most people, and murmurs that were beyond most's capacity to pick up weren't exactly new to him -- but this had still felt...odd.

"You can call me Wildcat, by the way," he introduced himself, straightening again and stowing his boomerang in its loops a the small of his back.  "There's a few more the other side of the fence -- at least, there were, a couple of minutes ago," he admitted.

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"Apropos."  And it was clear he meant the others name.

He slowly straightened up to his feet and looked at Wildcat over his shoulder, as he was perfectly willing to show his back to the other hero.  "Catharsis is always a good auxilliary plan.  By the way one of them is getting up."  He was getting more and more cagey with this stuff, he had gotten help, and these were more traditional weapons that Horatio was moving, and that scared him.  Because it meant he wasn't testing, he was selling.  He needed to find those guns now.  Even if the weapons were taken care of.

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Glancing sharply at the mysterious, unnamed man, Wildcat kicked up a broken fragment of pallet board, snatched it out of the air and flung it to clip the man behind the ear just as he rising to his feet.  The goon collapsed again, and he turned his attention back to the masked man.

"Okay, first of all, I didn't understand, like, one word in five there," he protested, wondering why it was that people with overblown educations felt the need to flaunt it.  "Second of all, when someone introduces themself, it's kind of a social skill thing to give a name in return, all right?  I mean, I can make one up for you, but you'd probably prefer something you came up with on your own."  Most people wouldn't take well to being called 'Mask Psycho', he was fairly sure.

Waving a hand to take in the warehouse and the battered thugs, he turned his look back on MP.  "You seem to be up on what's going on here.  Care to explain?" he prodded.

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"Also good social skills to not walk around after dark in funny masks and beat people up.  It's a sign of latent sociopathy.  Errant is a good enough name for me, and I am hunting an arms dealer that I feel is behind this particular deal.  Though the weapons are a little more...  normal than what he trades in, so I am concerned.  And he wont have a direct link to actual head of the operation, so we are going to wait for the middle man and see if we can get any closer."

His tone still cold, clinical, it would seem that regardless of anything else, this guy was not precisely a leader of men.  "Let's get these guys all bound up, and go get their van."

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Wildcat frowned.  "Normal weapons are a bad thing?" he observed, flipping one of the goons over and pulling a heavy 'double loop' zip tie off his harness to apply to the man's wrists.  "Wouldn't--"  He broke off abruptly.

"Wait, 'we'?" he repeated.  "When did we become a we, exactly?"  He wasn't sure he was all that sanguine with the idea of being a 'we' with this cold, masked sociopath...and he wasn't even entirely certain what 'sanguine' meant in the first place.

He absently sniffed over the man as he tightened the zip ties about his wrists, checking for anything...unusual...that might be relevant later.

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"The moment I intruded, and explained to you what they are doing.  Once I told you, you weren't going to stand down.  So I am cutting out a lot of the mincing, and then you skulking around waiting to see what happens."  The one at his feet, he searches and pulled out his wallet, looking for something, more than likely, as he didn't find it, and then stuffed it back into the man's pocket.  And then he started to frisk him brusquely.

"Change in M.O.  Someone does that, they are out of their comfort zone, and they will start to act like a cornered animal.  Dangerous."  He pulled a hold out pistol out of the bottom of the guy's pant leg, and he popped the clip, and ejected the round in the thing.  "In this case he goes from staging exotic tech weapon demos to more...  Bleeding edge military grade weapons.  He is moving stuff fast, to recoup losses impacted by efforts to stop the other stuff."

And then he looked up at Wildcat, "He's gone from nanite augmentation to a automatic weapon that will tear apart most conventional armor like it was tissue paper."

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Ahhh.  Now he understood, at least as it most applied to him.

"So, he's gone from weird stuff only a few people might be interested in, to dangerous stuff that any number of people want to get their hands on," he replied grimly.  "Fine.  'We'," he agreed, choosing to ignore some of the additional words he didn't know the meaning of.  Some people just had to talk big, even when it wasn't necessary.

"I'm guessing that it's probably not a good idea to have all these guys scattered about if we're trying to catch a middle man, huh?" he observed as he fastened another set of double-loop zip ties around the wrists of the last of the thugs.  "We should stash them somewhere out of sight.  I've, ah, got above-average senses; I can keep a lookout for him.  Whoever he is.  Do we know who this middle-man is going to be?" he asked curiously.

Edited by Mad Scientist

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A frown on his face then, though it was under a hockey mask, so it wasn't like Wildcat could see.  "It would be a good idea to move them.  He is supposed to show in a cargo van, and as far as I can tell none of them got a message off that they were interrupted.  I don't have a name or face, the head boss uses the name Horatio.  He tends to hire whoever for stuff, that way there is not known henchmen.  I guess.  Haven't gotten close enough to ask questions."

And then he stood still for a moment and cocked his head, as he felt with the web, "This way."  And then he grabbed a guy, and started to drag him around a corner and into an alley.  Once there he propped up the guy against a dumpster, and pulled out some heavy duty tape, putting over that guys mouth before he roughly lifted and dumped the man in.  It was out of sight, and away from the drop.

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Taking hold of a pair of men by their belts, one in each hand, Wildcat carried them like a pair of briefcases as he followed Mask Psyc--er, 'Errant' around the corner.  His nose wrinkled with distaste at the stench emerging from the dumpster, but only by reflex -- it wasn't like he hadn't passed by dumpsters before, or spent even more time around them now that he was working a hero beat.

"Makes sense -- throw the garbage in the dumpster," he told Errant approvingly.  He held up first one, then the other, to have their tape applied, and then tossed them none-too-gently one after the other into the trash.  "I'll grab the last one," he offered, surmising that he was more physically formidable than his companion was, and was back in moments with the fourth goon who received the same treatment.

"Cargo van, huh?" he mused, dusting off his hands.  "That definitely limits the approach -- I'll keep watch from the roof," he suggested.  "We got a game plan for when he shows?"

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"There will likely be at least one bodyguard, if the middle man isn't capable by their own.  Which is likely.  I'll be on the ground, and when they get out of the van, we pounce.  That's really all we can do.  Don't worry, I will have something waiting for when they get here, hopefully it will stop them from getting suspicious.  But we are going to be winging this."  He seemed to take minimal offense tothe assertion he wasn't physically as strong as Wildcat.

Of course Errant resolved this issue by being ten pounds of crazy in a five pound bag.  "Ideally they wont have anything fancy.   I'll take point."

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Wildcat shrugged.  "This is your party," he agreed.  If they were operating in his own neighbourhood he'd likely feel different, but down here at the waterfront he was willing to defer to someone else.  The entire city wasn't his territory, he wasn't going to get pissy about it.

"Don't get your ass shot off," he recommended, then with a series of bounds and clambering ascents made his way to the warehouse rooftop.  He prowled the surface for a bit, getting the lay of the footing and obstacles, then picked a spot in which he could lie in wait while watching the approach.  While he preferred to be moving, by inclination, he was willing to lie in ambush -- that was as much of the hunt as anything else, and sometimes you just had to wait for your prey to come to you.

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"Your vote of confidence and concern is noted."   The dry response came immediately, as he moved over by the boxes of what was to be picked up later.  And then came the waiting.  As if to add to the creep factor  Errant didn't move, and if it wasn't for what he could do, Wildcat might believe the strange guy wasn't breathing.

Eventually a change happened, and broke the stillness of the moment.  Or boredom if you preferred that word.  WIldcat might.  Not that Errant was thinking overly of that, as he shifted towards looking in the direction of the van that was coming.  It rounded a bend and stopped, light shining at Errant, who lifted up a hand in response, and... it wasn't Errant.  It was Jennings there, in the space Errant had been, and he rounded the boxes to stand to the side.

The doors opened, and three figures stepped out, two goons who looked like there were out of a country club, with khakis and polos, with the third being dressed up in a suit.  Looking all high fashion, and not like arms dealers at all.  Yuppies perhaps.

 

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Well.  Not what he had been expecting from armed goons, but at least the armed part was as expected, even if they were taking pains to conceal their pieces.  He'd have been all for jumping down there and laying down another smackdown, if it wasn't for the fact that he caught sight of -- apparently -- 'Mr. Jennings'.

Well again.  It appeared that Mask Psycho had more going for him than just a piece of rebar and a complete lack of consideration of other peoples' physical well-being.  He was likely less twitchy about the idea of shapeshifters than most -- people disguised the way they looked, the way they dressed, even the way they talked, but only rarely their scent.  The nose knows, y'know?

Holding his position and remaining still, he watched to see just how this was going to play out.  He was ready to move if necessary -- the moment violence broke out, he would be down there contributing his share.

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Except he smelled like Jennings too.  He was, effectively, another Jennings.  And likely it wouldn't matter, as to match their preppy attire, each of the men was wearing enough cologne or body spray or whatever to choke a whale.  Well it would feel that way to Wild Cat.  The Not Jennings moved up to them, and one of the larger preppy guys (the second one) held a hand up, "Stop..."  And then he moved to scan one of the barcodes with a smart phone, or something that looked like it, before he popped open one of the crates and looked in the interior boxes, opening one.  It was a bit eerie, but Not Jennings said nothing, apart from shifting uncomfortably.  After what felt like an eternity the guy looked over his shoulder at one in the suit.  "This is it."

The man in the suit stepped forward, and reached into his pocket, pulling out a small envelop and he smiled at Not Jennings.  "Thank you Chris, it was good to do business with you and your friends.  Which by the way, where are they?"

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Whelp, Wildcat could see that this wasn't playing out right -- for whatever reason, the spokesgoon with the jacket didn't seem to be buying the fake Mr. Jennings.  Was--

Was that a hand dropping toward his mostly-concealed gun?  Whatever, the ploy for more subtle information gathering was clearly over, time for a more...direct route.

The dark-clad hero catapulted himself over the rooftop edge, dropping in a silent arc that ended with a snapped-out foot catching the spokesgoon full in the chest with punishing force.  The man went flying a couple of paces backwards to crash, unmoving, onto the hard ground, while Wildcat backflipped off his point of contact to land in a crouch, glaring at the motionless thug.

"I kicked their sorry asses, just like I did yours," he growled, amber eyes flashing in the street lighting like an animal's.  "And in a moment," he went on, eyes shifting to the pair still standing, "yours."

He was, however still keeping a wary portion of his attention upon the unknown quantity still within the van.

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GM

The suit was not expecting that.  Really who could?  The dropkick sent him back to the bumped of the van and into a heap.  The goons were going for their weapons but they were slow.

The guy in the van was not, as he lunged forward, crashing through the windscreen like a bull, and then springing off the hood of the van at Wildcat.  Fortunately for the hero the man miss judged, and sailed over the crouched hero, and landing in a skidding landing and turning around.  He was big, bigger than even the goons.  Six and half feet of pure muscle, rage, and probably some designer steroids, and he was looking right at Wildcat with a deranged grin.

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