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L&d: Act Ii, Rainbow Rising Rp

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#61 RogueSpear

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 05:24 AM

Conference Room B,
Rainbow Stables,
International Zone,
Solaris City, Solaris VII,
June 16th, 3031, 16:00 Hours,

Jack nodded to himself. At precisely 16:00 hours, the buzzer from the main gate sounded in the reception and he turned off the p-comm unit he and Von Bremen had been using to listen for it. A wall mounted screen showed the receptionist turning off her p-comm, smoothing down her skirt and giving her top a sharp tug to remove any wrinkles or bunching.

Jack adjusted his own clothing. He wore a specially tailored burgundy velvet blazer with a bulletproof poly-amarid lining that did an excellent job of hiding the two snubnose holdout lasers in flick rigs in his sleeves and a compact machine pistol in a shoulder rig. Thin metal-ceramic composite scales sewn into a long sleeved poly-amarid undershirt provided flexible protection against small arms and edged weapons, worn under a steel grey silk shirt with a starched high collar that hid a half inch thick composite band. A clip on tie to match the blazer contained a lump of face hardened titanium-steel alloy spalled from a battlemech, equally viable as throat protection or a makeshift flail. His suit trousers were pure Terran cotton lining, black, over a thick poly-amarid weave, held up by a black leather belt with a sheathed kukri. The kukri had an ivory handle, old and on the edge of turning from white to yellow, with a ruby pommel stone bound in white gold. It’s sheath was soft leather and bore the name Cosgarach in white gold scrollwork. An embossed silver belt buckle proudly bore the icon of the hammer Mjollnir and fully encapsulated a small hand grenade. Polished leather boots the colour of coal at midnight were laced tightly with fresh laces, steel caps burnished to a lustrous sheen and composite plating completely hidden. Black leather fingerless gloves bearing a three quarter inch thick steel plate across the back with a graven Mjollnir rounded out the ensemble.

On a smaller man, these concealed protections would have been obvious, but with Jack’s bulk it would only be noticed by those who knew how to look. Simon Hennith knew where to look, but wouldn’t need to. Jack had bought the suit, rigs, guns and boots from him almost a decade before as down payment and equipment for a job. Jack hadn’t seen Hennith since and had no doubts that the merchant would remember his wares.

The conference room they were sitting in was Room B, chosen because it had two entrances and exits with two glass walls and two walls that were windows. Two guards with laser pistols holstered stood in the hall, looking like regular corporate bodymen in formal suits with a wired earpiece and standing at ease at the door to the conference room and end of the hall respectively. A squad of Von Bremen’s best soldiers were behind the second door to the room, in full combat dress with a plethora of wargear crammed into what was usually the advertising department. In addition to the usual laser pistols and submachine guns, Jack had insisted on shotguns, flashbangs, magnetic pulse grenades, two light machine guns and a Defiance A4L small laser that had been laboriously taken apart and rebuilt on a rotating assembly with a line to a powered up Taysider. Ostensibly, the Urbanmech was going through reactor testing in the main yard, in reality Jack had chosen that the Rainbow Stables delegation sat with their backs to the window so if need be he could propel himself out it, landing on a scaffolding net hanging from the wall and be closing the cockpit of Taysider in just a few seconds.

Von Bremen had deemed these measures excessive, no doubt continuing to think so even now as he ran his fingers across his own navy pinstripe suit and adjusted his hat, touching three concealed knives Jack had been able to spot through careful study while they waited. Nevertheless, he had arranged matters as his leashed ex-pirate had dictated, watching the proceedings with an amused smirk. Briefly, it reappeared when the LOKI agent turned to see Jack checking the load on his pistol. “Quite prepare, Mr. Churchill?”

Jack grunted, reloading the weapon and tapping two extra magazines back into place on the holster. “As we can be, Mr. Bremen.” The formal manner of address was another point Jack had been insistent on. “There he is now.”

Jack nodded at the screen, where the main doors had just opened. Two men entered the reception and Jack smiled when he heard Von Bremen gasp. The first man was a giant. Standing nearly eight feet tall, Tol Ehiwe was Simon Hennith’s bodyguard. Heavy mech grade armour swathed his immense form in inch thick slabs, immaculately enamelled in a cool, deep blue. Pneumatic pistons could be seen as he walked, panels on his legs and arms sliding as they moved, the soles of his feet crushing the rich carpet flat behind him. He carried a curved longsword at his waist, large enough to be a greatsword on any other man, a wrist mounted laser rifle, and a man portable PPC was slung against the reactor dome on his back. His head was bare, showing long, flowing dreadlocks that swayed as he surveyed the room. His skin was dark, in stark contrast to the bare metal around his left eye – a cybernetic that glowed like ice at the end of a cradle of protruding sensors. His right eye was blue by nature, glowering in a tight frown. More pistons could be seen against bulging muscle under the skin of his neck.

“I…see why you wanted the laser.” Von Bremen said slowly.
“Heh, I’d have told you about him properly but…” Jack waved a hand at the screen. “Has to be seen to be believed, don’t he?”

Von Bremen narrowed his eyes slightly, tearing them from the screen. “Your accent’s gone Jack.”

Jack shrugged and rubbed a freshly trimmed beard. Gone were the greying walrus tusks and bulging neckbeard, he now sported a carefully cropped midlength beard and close trimmed moustache less than half an hour old. At ten to three, the barber had arrived and shaved him in the living room, in front of his bemused teammates while they completed their discussions. No doubt there’d be questions later, but such was the price of timing.

“Different appearances for different men, Mr. Bremen. I’m sure you have a few of your own.”

The screen swapped to a second camera to follow their guests as they moved through the facility. “Tol Ehiwe is a cyborg. If you look into it, your contacts could possibly find out for sure, but the stories always start that he nearly died protecting Mr. Hennith out in the periphery, usually saying it was Sigurd or some other world in the Oberon Confederation . This was the early days, before Hennith mad enough of a reputation for himself. The one I tend to believe is he was selling mech parts to a lieutenant of Redjack Ryan’s. Deal went south when the Rebels decided they didn’t want to pay. Cue some posturing, Hennith’s men start getting intimidated. Some of them put down their guns and leave. Now Hennith’s outnumbered, unsure if his men are gonna fight, and about to be short a few million c-bills. Hennith’s arguing, but it’s weaker now. Head rebel gets impatient and draws a weapon. Tol Ehiwe blows his hand off. Another rebel draws, he gets put down. Then there’s a bunch of shooting that ends with Simon Hennith stumbling back onto a dropship with a case of c-bills in one hand and half of Tol Ehiwe in the other, still shooting. No idea what happened, but some folk will tell you they swear they knew a guy who knew a guy who was on the dropship and he said he saw a dead battlemech when they flew off.”

He paused, watching the two wait outside an elevator while the greeter checked the weight limit before heading for the stairs. "Only, they didn’t go too far. Fifteen minutes later, they land a Trojan dropship in the parking lot of a hospital complex. Simon Hennith and two crewman hauled Ehiwe out on a stretcher, straight into the main doors. Hennith reportedly pulled a pistol and demanded immediate treatment by their best doctor and promised them the full case of c-bills. Ehiwe went in for surgery while Hennith purchased an entire surgery theatre, piled it on to the dropship and hired staff to keep him under alive. Next time they showed up, Tol Ehiwe looked like an Atlas’ baby and Hennith was selling one to the Ministry of Canopus in return for a more elegant job and continued upkeep.”

Von Bremen eyed the monitor as the juggernaut in question left the stairwell. “Half of him you say?”

Jack shrugged. “He got better. I got to see him in action once. Took a hit from a man pack PPC and barely even slowed down. Last time I saw him, he was carrying it. Claimed it was the same gun. Looks like he’s still got it. So…” Jack gestured at the door.

“The laser, yes.” Finished Von Bremen. He shifted his weight and turned to face their guests directly. The glass walls of the conference room allowed them to see them approach, Tol Ehiwe hunched over and barely avoiding the ceiling with his lurching gait. “I suspect I should have asked for them to be disarmed.”

“They would have left.” Jack cleared his throat just before the door opened and stood.
“Mr. Hennith, Tol Ehiwe, welcome to the Rainbow Stables,” Von Bremen began, extending a hand. Tol Ehiwe entered the room, looking each of them up and down as he was welcomed. Simon Henning came through second, and paused. He wore a well tailored suit of rich, sea green chanderi silk, which hung close to his thin frame with no room to carry a concealed weapon. A matching trilby covered a receding hairline and bore a cropped salt and pepper beard. Piercing green eyes gave Von Bremen a cursory once over and locked in on Jack.
“Thank you, Mr. Bremen.” Replied Simon Hennith, removing his hat. Tol Ehiwe enclosed Von Bremen’s hand up to the wrist in one massive gauntlet and shook. There was a moment’s delay before Von Bremen gestured towards the guest’s side of the table and cleared his throat.

“Please, sit.”

“It is good to see you again, Jack Churchill.” Rumbled the bodyguard. “It has been too long since we last talked.”

“Indeed it has,” Jack replied smoothly, still standing. His accent now was rich and deep, Von Bremen shot a glance his way. If he didn’t know better, he’d have thought the voice belonged to a Lyran noble. Perhaps he stole it too, once upon a time. “I’d offer you a seat but I doubt my employer owns one you wouldn’t shatter.”

The cyborg nodded solemnly, pulling one away from the table. “Indeed, few men do. Fortunately, Mr. Hennith saw fit for me to bring my own.” The giant’s legs bent, his torso straightening, and a lever swivelled out from his armoured back to form a stand with a large skid to distribute the weight. Tol Ehiwe folded his arms, staring at Jack impassively, and sat.

“Awesome.” Jack grinned. “Would it be impertinent to ask when you had that installed?”

The giant smiled broadly, revealing pearly white teeth. “A year or two back, after a particularly lengthy set of negotiations. Mr. Hennith and the customer sat for hours, while myself and the customer’s guards stood for hours. No problem for me, but it left them somewhat uncomfortable.”

“How charitable of you, Mighty Ehiwe,” Jack smiled, seating himself across from Hennith. “I did not think you had such generosity in you. Perhaps it was added in a recent patch?”
Von Bremen smiled tightly as the armoured warrior laughed loud, Jack joining in while Hennith sat impassively. The merchant’s hands were clasped in front of him, leaning back in his seat, with the disposition of a father humouring his children.

“I have missed your humour, Jack Churchill,” Smiled Ehiwe, “Few dare to jest at my expense, still. Perhaps if I were taller?”

“Ahem,” Interrupted Hennith, leaning forward. “Perhaps not. Ehiwe has been having delusions of becoming the galaxy’s first human battlemech. Bringing him to Solaris has done nothing to curb these flights of fancy. I hope you have not wasted the trip, Mr. Churchill.”

Jack’s smile disappeared so swiftly Von Bremen felt a chill ripple up his spine. He had never seen a genuine smile vanish so swiftly or Jack look so calm and at peace.

“Might I ask why you have made this trip, Mr. Hennith?” Von Bremen asked, inserting himself into the conversation as gracefully as he could. Jack had left a wealth of information out of why they were meeting this man.

The merchant didn’t even look at him. “Does your employer need to be present?” He asked Jack.

Jack continued to meet his gaze. “I would have said no, Mr. Hennith, but as you came to him instead of me I had little choice in the matter. The nature of my contract you could say. I’m sure you understand why.”

Hennith inclined his head. “Regrettably at the time we were told you were residing on sight. Mr. Bremen’s…associates are quite adept at turning aside inquiries.” He turned to look at Von Bremen, locking eyes in a way that left him entirely sure that Simon Hennith knew well who Jack’s employers really were. “Mr. Churchill entered into my employ as a third party contractor nine years ago to aid in retrieving an item for my collection. The nature of his background afforded him certain skills and knowledge not normally available on the periphery. Over some months, Mr. Churchill was able to form connections to the owner of the item, introduce himself and enter the owner’s home.” He returned his view to Jack. “Unfortunately, something seems to have gone wrong.”

Jack had the good grace to look embarrassed. “Before entering Mr. Hennith’s employ, he required that I leave the employ of my former associates. I continued in Mr. Hennith’s employ for some months unaware that they were keeping tabs on me. When they discovered my connection and interest in meeting the owner, they became alarmed and sought to seek me out as he was considered a rival of theirs. Regrettably at the time of their arrival I had entered the home of the owner. As they made their way to join us and discuss the matter, a pirate raid struck the world. In the fighting, the owner was slain and I barely made my own escape. Fortunately for Mr. Hennith, I had acquired the item he sought and was able to escape with it in my possession.”

Von Bremen’s face remained impassive, the skin around his eyes and mouth only tightening slightly. Nevertheless, the cobalt armoured Ehiwe turned his head to observe him. A light sweat broke out on his brow.

He was under no illusions as to Jack’s past but this was the first time he’d come directly into contact with it. He didn’t miss the careful wording or their implied meaning. Nor that Mr. Hennith has contracted Jack for the endeavour.

He began to think the security measures were not enough.

“I had heard of the unfortunate events. It was some time before we were able to find you again. Almost six years in fact, at the other end of the sphere. Some men would have been suspicious.”

Jack nodded politely, “Indeed some men would have been, but I’m sure once you determined the message was from me any suspicions you had soon vanished. I’m sure you understand my circumstances.”

Mr. Hennith nodded, equally polite, “Alas, you were not able to make the proposed meeting. I understand you could not source safe passage to us.”

“Only understandable, I’m sure.” Jack demurred, “We are both such busy men. We can be so hard to locate. Indeed, I believe Solaris VII is the longest I’ve lived in one place since. A strange twist of fate.”

Ehiwe smiled widely. “This, I know. For a while, I doubted we were truly friends, you made your finding so difficult.”

Jack gave a small laugh, so seemingly natural Von Bremen decided to make the man an actor if the arenas fell through. “I do hope you did not take it personally, friend Ehiwe, I should never wish to endure your ire.”

“A most advisable hope, Mr. Churchill.” Replied Mr. Hennith. “May we to business? I wish to see the item.”

“I’m afraid it’s not one I have immediately to hand,” Replied Jack, raising both hands apologetically to his sides even as Hennith frowned and Ehiwe stood, “But fear not, I am able to fetch it for you on a moment’s notice. First however, I should quite like to ensure there will be no reprisal or restriction of payment as penalty for the delay.”

Hennith stared coldly across the table at Jack. “I’m sure we needn’t fear any reprisal, Mr. Churchill,” Von Bremen said evenly as he could, “Though perhaps your payment would be more negotiable now than in the past.

The other three men looked at him. The moment stretched out just long enough for him to recognise the look. He’d given it himself more than once, over his career. It was the look one gave someone who had no idea what they were really talking about.

Mr. Hennith tapped the table with one finger. “I feel no need to restrict Mr. Churchill’s payment if he has the item.”

Jack positively radiated malice. Von Bremen had grown to recognise that glitter in Jack’s eyes. It was like that of a child that knew their favourite toy was within their grasp.
And that they were going to use it to pull the wings off a fly.

Someone was going to have a bad day and Jack was going to enjoy it. He actually relaxed a little. Jack’s enjoyment meant that it could not possibly be anyone in this room.

“Excellent. In that case, you shall have the item before you leave the premises.” Despite the sheer, evil glee radiating from him, Jack’s face and voice was calm. “I have kept it in a sealed container.” He drew a small remote from a pocket and placed it on the table in front of Hennith. “Here is the key for it. It must be pressed to the lock to open the container. Inside that container is the original vessel for the item, which lies within and contains the item. Where may we retrieve my reward?”

Simon Hennith stood, rebuttoning his suit jacket. “An unmarked hauler two streets over contains your wares. Tol Ehiwe has already signalled for it to make its way over, I’m sure. We may make the transfer in the courtyard if you are amenable pending satisfaction with the items.”

Jack and Von Bremen rose as well, buttoning their own jackets as Tol Ehiwe retracted his stand and returned to his looming crouch. “I think that would be very amenable to us. I shall meet you in the courtyard shortly if you would be so kind as to see our guests out while I return with their wares.”

Jack Churchill bowed eloquently and left before Von Bremen could argue, letting an evil grin split his face from ear to ear as he strode down the hall, fighting the urge to run all the way.





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