Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC [Ch. 5]

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Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC [Ch. 5]

Post by Horsenhero » Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:08 am

January 7th, 1996. It has been exactly one year since the Wild Card event that changed your life. Over the past twelve months, you recovered as best you could. Cobbled together your old life or started a new one, as necessary. And just when things were beginning to go well, some gang of government men-in-black corner you and hand you an "invitation" to attend a meeting today, at some swank new office building at Blake St. & Brighton Blvd.

The office building you are ushered through could be any of hundreds in the metro area. Five stories tall, mirrored windows, revolving door into the lobby, key cards required to go any further than that point and a massive security desk, staffed by the traditional Jeckyll & Hyde security team. Only two things differentiate this particular structure from all the others like it. First, it is newly constructed within the last six months, on the north side of downtown, where the trendy shopping and nightclub district collides with railyards and old, mostly abandoned, warehouses. Second, when construction was completed, it immediately began to hum with quiet activity, though not even the local homeless and joker squatters can tell you exactly what that activity is.

Walking through the halls, led by your guide, a serious looking, young, african-american man in an italian suit, you have a chance to study yourself and your erstwhile companions...fellow "invitees", to be certain. The mirrored, ultra-modern walls allow you to contrast and compare the group. A man in a rumpled suit jacket and porkpie hat, who has not removed either his sunglasses or earbuds once. a towering Joker, with a bull's head, atop his massive frame. A Minotaur, straight out of myth, who needs to stoop, just a little in the cyclopean hallways to keep his head from bumping the ceiling. A serious looking man, with darting eyes, who keeps flexing the muscles of his forearms. Nervous twitch? Paranoid? A tall young girl, wearing a barely concealed, ballistic vest and carrying of all things, a quarterstaff. On her belt is a large, snap-closure, leather pouch. A handsome man, somehow familiar looking, dressed to impress follows on the guide's heels, with the confident swagger of a runway model. Bringing up the rear, by necessity, a lanky young man, with aquiline features, intense eyes, bare, taloned feet and an iimpressive set of feathered wings. Before the Wild Card outbreak, such a group would have been notable by its composition. Nowadays, it is ounly their universal discomfiture that marks them as unusual.

The man leads you into a conference room. It is obvious they knew exactly whom to expect, since chairs designed for both the Minotaur and the Raptor-man are present. Waiting patiently at the head of the table is a tall, gorgeous, young woman, in a tastefully designed suit. Reclined in a chair to her right is a man in a well kept, but, obviously off-the-rack, sport jacket and slacks. He is business casual, foregoing a tie and despite his "professional" appearance, gives off the vibe of someone accustomed to danger. After you've all taken your seats, the woman speaks.

"Thank you all for coming. My name is Rebekah Killenbrooke. I know you are all wondering why you've been asked to meet here today, so I'll get right to the point. I asked you all here to recruit you for government contract work." She pauses as if to assess your reactions. After a bare moment, she continues. "Two years ago, a plot nearly came to fruition to wipe the entirety of your kind, Wild Carders, off the face of the earth. At the climax of this event, a conspiracy within the United States and other governments world-wide was revealed. This conspiracy, which is now assumed to have been shattered or at least truncated, has been dubbed -The Card Sharks. The end result of the operation that brought down the conspiracy has resultes in some heightened tensions, both nationally and internationally, for the government of our nation. As a result, the government has decided it may be wise to finally accept a proposal that my husband, who is unable to join us, made to them several years ago."

"The idea," She continues after having paused to take a drink of water. "is that a civilian group of agents, under contract to the government, would be formed to investigate and counter threats to the nation, both internal and external, that may be beyond the scope of local authorities or may cause diplomatic difficulties for the nation, should a foreign government discover U.S. involvement."

"After serious background work and careful consideration, Killenbrooke International would like to hire you..." She gestures at the assembled group."...for the job."

"For now, I'd like to hand the floor over to the Governments' representative here...Major Michel Slaughter, USMC-retired."

As she moves to sit in the chair to her left, the hard-bitten man stands.

"Thank you ma'am." He says. His voice is less than sibilant. He speaks in the gravelly tones of a Marine DI, who has spent too many years smoking and drinking hard. "As Mrs. Killenbrooke here has said, I represent the interests of the government of this great nation of ours. I'm not going to tell you fairy tales or give you some inspirational speech or sales pitch. I'm going to tell you the truth."

He glares hard at the group for a moment before continuing. "I don't like this idea. I don't like civilians involved in the work of professionals, but, I didn't make this decision. So...here is the scoop. At the end of the events in Israel involving the Cards Sharks, a U.S. Department of Justice Ace, captured the international terrorist, known as Black Dog. This left the radical, joker terrorist organization called the Twisted Fists without a titular head AND with a hard-on to hurt the United States. It also strained U.S.-Israeli relations, since said Ace was operating in their territory without their direct sanction. Unfortunately, since said Ace is a listed agent of the DOJ, there could be no plausible deniability. The powers-that-be, have determined not to let that sort of incident happen again. So, nationally your job will be to investigate things and events the Federal Government has interest in, but, no right to stomp on local toes and internationally, your job will be to enact the will of our government, but, should you get caught...we have no idea who you are."

"This deal pays well, but, it bites." He says, turning his back to you, to study...who knows what. Perhaps it is just that the full impact of what is being asked of you, leaves him unwilling to look you in the eyes. "I run point for SCARE regionally, so I can promise you...if you decline, you won't face any harassment. If you accept...well, the pay that Killenbrooke International has secured for you, might make some four stars green with envy."

Turning back around, he fixes you once more with his hard stare. "That's all. That's the deal. Lay your health and lives on the line for a country that may be forced to abandon you if you get caught."

He glances at Rebekah before speaking. "They're all yours at this point, unless they get smart, and tell you where to stick your proposition." Then, with a quick nod of the head, he leaves.

Mrs. Killenbrooke grunts in annoyance at his little editorial comments, but, composes herself quickly and resumes her spot at the head of the table.

"Now I don't expect an answer right away, but, I will need one within twenty-four hours. Are their any questions before I allow you to discuss this offer?"
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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by whiteprofit » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:28 am

Art "Artillery" Armes

Art Ames, was a business man through and through. He looked at this like any contractual agreement and quickly saw that it was quite a one sided deal. And before the virus had infected him, he would have thought this the kind of proposition only happened in movies or comic books. He reflected back at what he would have done a year ago and smiled inwardly at how crazy it would have seemed. But now it seemed almost normal, and frankly, welcome.

He had no idea how the outbreak had affected the lives of the others in this room, so he couldn't speak for their motivation, but he for one saw this as an opportunity. He understood that he would be risking his life and if caught, would be promptly abandoned by the very people and government who he was helping. That was pretty crazy in itself. The promise of money wasn't even that great considering the time spent overseas and in the heart of foreign politics and war plots. Actually, there looked to be very little to gain from this kind of deal. That is, unless you had lost almost everything, and longed for a way to get some of it back. And besides, being bullet absorbent made one a little cocky, Art knew from experience. But, honestly, He thought, How much danger could there really be?

Art processed this and then found a question he did want answered. "Ms Killenbrooke, what is your part in this?" Art, the professional, asked in a way to frame his real question as polite as possible. He was quite curious why an obviously wealthy woman would get involved in such a poor scheme as this. Did she have a relationship to the outbreak?
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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Godwall » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:58 am

Peter Charleston

Wings are not comfortable. Shopping for outsized clothes and getting a tailor to customise it all was an additional pain Pete could really do without. But flight... god, flying made it all worth it. Feeling a thermal picking you up and dragging you higher, higher, ever higher...

Peter's footsteps clacked on the hard stone floors as he walked towards his appointment. He consciously suppressed the head bobbing motion people had noticed he started to do while walking; he knew he needed to look good for this. Through the door, on to the chair. Well, not a chair really. It was more like a perch. He couldn't really sit back on a chair without hurting his wings. Pete hopped up onto the perch, his talons curling around it like fingers. His wings, muddy brown with white tips, were curled up around and behind him in a protective fashion. His hands were clasped together in front of him.

A pair of sharp eyes darted across each person in the room, picking up minutia on the that wouldn't be noticable to normal eyes. Small muscle twitches, fleeting facial expressions. The Minotaur was pretty hard to get a read on. He had no idea how to read facial expressions on something that didn't have a human face. The Killenbrook woman was dressed beautifully and Slaughter (what a name!) was in smart clothes too. A pretty strong contrast to Pete's... shabby outfit. Dark hoody under a long dusty duffle coat with cuts down the back to accommodate his wings. Tatty jeans. It would be pretty damn obvious from the way he dressed that he wasn't going to be turning a paying job odwn.

When Killenbrook asked if they had any questions, Pete shook his head. He needed the money, since almost no-one else was going to touch a Joker like him. No-one legal anyway. He began to wonder about the other Aces and Jokers in the room, what they might bring to the table. The Minotaur was pretty obvious in what he offered. Big guy, big muscles. Probably not pleasant to get on the wrong side of.

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Bluecross » Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:42 pm

Michael Jones: Minos


Mike had some idea of what to expect when the G men ‘invited’ him to a meeting. Despite the low-key approach he knew that it wasn’t really a casual invitation. If I was in trouble, they wouldn’t bother asking so nicely… …so they must want something from me. But what?

Arriving at the building Mike was pleasantly surprised by the level of organisation and funding the place had. The conference room really got him thinking. These guys are for real, they made a chair specially for me. That means they have been watching me, and I didn’t pick up on it. I’m getting rusty. Not good.

Easing himself into the large, reinforced chair that was surely meant for him, Mike looked around the group assembled in the room. He was glad to see that he wasn’t the only one with obvious changes. To his left sat – no, perched – a bird-man. This guy won’t miss much, thought Mike. look at the way he’s checking everyone out. The others looked normal, but Mike knew there was going to be more to them than met the eye. At least Mike hoped there was, more so as the briefing went on. We’re not going to last five minutes in the field if these guys aren’t more than a bunch of kids and freaks. I sure hope they know what they’re getting themselves into.

The whole set-up troubled Mike. It looked like some private cowboy outfit. Killenbrooke International. Huh. At least they have money, but do they have experience? Are they going to send us out there and get us all killed in some half-assed private war? The only thing that reassured Mike was the soldier. He at least knew what he was doing. Despite his reservations, Mike decided to hear them out. Maybe here was a way he could do something useful with his life. A small spark of hope, the first for nearly a year, began to grow inside Mike.
"I know gun fu"
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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Macguffin » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:03 pm

As Oz walks down the hallway his conciousness skims off the minds of the people around him, seeing what they see and hearing what they hear. He doesn't delve to deeply, doesn't try to pry into the minds of the others, just keeps walking... though the hunger the minotaur feels is a palpable thing to him.

After Killenbrooke answers Arty's question Oz has one of his own,
"Mrs. Killenbrooke... it strikes me that the kind of work you want to do has to be hush hush. Generally I think of myself as a traditional 4th estate champion of truth, justice, and all that good stuff. You know a way we can reconcile that?"

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Horsenhero » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:15 pm

Ms. Killenbrooke, what is your part in all this?
If Arty Armes question caught the young woman off guard, she did a good job of hiding her surprise. Instead, she turned, looked into his eyes and smiled a...less than completely pleasant smile.

"I suppose Mr. Armes, I could tell you that as the current head of a privately held business concern, with a questionable past, I have suddenly become a super-patriot, and wish to make up for past misdeeds by aiding my country any way I can. I could also tell you the moon is made of cheese and Elvis and Jim Morrison are alive and living on an island in the carribean. The truth is, Killenbrooke International is a company that is heavily invested in bad things. When Ethiopia and Eritrea were fighting their decade long war, we brokered arms deals for both sides or at least my husband did. When the warlords of Somalia or Sudan need weapons or information, we act as the go-between, so that the governments of the United States, Russia, France, Japan and the like can say they, never had a thing to do with it." She paused for a moment to collect her thoughts, or perhaps study his reaction.
"The future for companies like ours, is not, I believe in the business of being a middleman between government A and questionable group B. Not anymore. The world is becoming a smaller, better connected, more dangerous place. The future for us, is not in AR-15's or Kalishnikov's...it lies in people and information. I believe Wild Cards are the people, and through Wild Card operatives we shall gain the contacts and information. Not to say we are lacking in either. However, private concerns such as ours are always at the mercy of the powers-that-be, so a patron is necessary. My husband made the offer of such services to the United States Government before and they turned us down, however, after the Card Sharks fiasco, they seem to have experienced a change of heart."
"Essentially Mr. Armes, you are an experiment. One financed by the U.S. government and expedited by this company. For your time and effort, we'll pay you handsomely...and who knows? You may actually accomplish some good in the world, by fighting these entrenched conspiracies or investigating those events local authorities are not prepared to deal with."

After Arty's question, she turns to Oz, when he speaks up. This time, the smile on her face is wry, almost mischievous.

"Yes, the fourth estate. The noble and incorruptible press. You do represent that very thing Calvin,...may I call you Calvin? Anyway, you are a crusader, but you are involved in a new media format, that as yet, most pay no attention to.
It is 1996 after all, and the wholesale fall of traditional news outlets has not yet begun.
However, I feel that an endeavor like ours needs a conscience and so, with some trepidation, we have asked you to be a functioning operative here."
She cocks an eyebrow at Oz and chuckles. "Think of the access to a shadowy world that you will have Mr. Osmond. Think of the book deals down the line. This is the sort of thing that has pulitzer written all over it...assuming of course, you survive."

"Are there any other questions? Have I answered you gentlemen completely enough? Do you need to think about this awhile or are you ready to sign up? From here, everything depends on you."

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by whiteprofit » Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:02 pm

Art "Artillery" Armes

Arty nods with a pleasant, close lipped smile, happy with that answer. He appreciated the honesty and was glad that she had a little kick to her. And just like that, the business man had made up his mind.
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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Macguffin » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:57 am

Horsenhero wrote:
Ms. Killenbrooke, what is your part in all this?
"Yes, the fourth estate. The noble and incorruptible press. You do represent that very thing Calvin,...may I call you Calvin? Anyway, you are a crusader, but you are involved in a new media format, that as yet, most pay no attention to.
It is 1996 after all, and the wholesale fall of traditional news outlets has not yet begun.
However, I feel that an endeavor like ours needs a conscience and so, with some trepidation, we have asked you to be a functioning operative here."
She cocks an eyebrow at Oz and chuckles. "Think of the access to a shadowy world that you will have Mr. Osmond. Think of the book deals down the line. This is the sort of thing that has pulitzer written all over it...assuming of course, you survive."

"Are there any other questions? Have I answered you gentlemen completely enough? Do you need to think about this awhile or are you ready to sign up? From here, everything depends on you."
Oz smiles wryly, "For all that you or I or both may regret it, I am in Ms. Killenbrooke. This feels like the kind of story that doesn't come around too often."

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by FuzzyBoots » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:17 am

Tarot
Angela squirmed a bit in her seat as she listened to the talk. This is the big time here... special task forces, sinister conspiracies, so cool! She glanced at her potential teammates. Looks like they can handle themselves alright. Some of them are kinda freaky looking though. Thank God I lucked out in the Wild Card lottery!
"I'm in," she said, trying to deepen her voice sufficiently to sound older. "I look forward to working with all of you."
OOC: Taking 10 on the Bluff to make herself sound older. 10+9=19 is fairly respectable.

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by sirzanek » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:24 am

Johnny Hydra

When the invitation had arrived, Johnny initially thought that it was just another one of Saul's crappy pitches for an even crappier movie. Though he had to hand it to him, for a weasley little talent pimp, it was an impressive set up. The guys actually looked like spooks. Then he read the non-descript card and his heart surged and stomach dropped, in that order. After almost a year of looking for a way to use his "talents" for a good cause, why did this feel so damn scary? Ah well, perhaps it was just a case of a bad first impression.
Getting ready for the meeting, Johnny chose his best suit, a slick charcoal grey Armani, with a jade green slik button down and black loafers. Way above his typical pay grade, but liberated from the wardrobe department of "Corporate Raiders" (top notch film about disgruntled employees turned ninja) after a particularly adventurous tryst with a costumer.
The group that assmebled for the meeting was....not what Johnny was expecting. Not that he really knew what to expect. Seeing the Bird man and the Minotaur (reminder, get them on a team and code name them Cock and Bull...) he was reminded how fortunate he had been. Sure his ace was disturbing to see, but he could turn it off. The other, Johnny wasn't so sure about. Ipod and the other guy seemed to be there to fill out the brain department, though Johnny fully realized that either one might have drawn an ace that allowed them to kill with a glance. Maybe that was the reason for the shades... The others he wasn't so sure. It was time to chime in.
"Hey, I'm all for the whole A-team, Mission Impossible thing. Quality shows. As for getting shot at, flung off of buildings, and generally blown up for no recognition? Hell, that's what I do, well, did. But, if there is one thing my agent taught me, it was always look at the fine print. Is this one of those, 'Once you join the agency, you're in it for life' kind of things? I mean the whole scene of the agent yelling 'That's it I quit!!' and the handler drawing a gun and saying 'You can't quit, Jack' is a classic for a reason, right? And are you going to be asking us to, I don't know, slaughter a third world village because it's 'tactically significant'? Where's the line, or is this whole thing based on the idea that we are going to be leaving the line so far behind us that it isn't worth worrying about?"

Wow, that was the probably more dialogue than Johnny had had in his last half dozen pictures....

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Horsenhero » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:18 pm

At Johnny's increasingly histrionic monologue, Rebekah chuckled. "No, I'm afraid this won't be all as dramatic as that. First, WE won't be asking you to do anything except investigate and take action, if you deem it necessary. I'm afraid in this business, there really isn't any -you're in it for life-we aren't the mafia. Plus the IRS tends to frown on the literal termination of employees, thereby depriving them of a tax paying citizen."

"As Major Slaughter said, this is about poking our, or rather...your collective noses into things that people in high places might want to know about AND answering tricky questions. It is a bit "Mission Impossible", but, unfortunately, it is not so much "A-Team". If bullets are fired, people could die. I actually imagined you'd relish this particular role, Mr. Haedropoulos...It is very James Bond meets the X-files."

"Now, I know Mr. Osmond, Mr. Armes and Ms. Talbot are in...at least nominally, do the rest of you need to think about it? If you do, I'll remind you that there is a twenty four hour time constraint. If we receive no answer within that time frame, our assumption is the answer is no and we'll start with our second tier candidates."

"If you do not need the extra time, we can start orientation immediately, if you'd like."

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by sirzanek » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:26 pm

Johnny Hydra

"Oh no, not turning down the part, just getting my motivation," Johnny says with an easy grin. "I'm in."

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Bluecross » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:14 pm

Minos

'Hmmm,' thought Mike, 'despite the Hollywood looks and the dramatic style, the question had been a good one.' He spoke, his voice deep and thick, booming in the room. "You've clarified the kind of work we'll be doing, Ms. Killenbrooke. Ccan you give us some idea what kinds of resources we'll have available, and what the command set-up will be? Who will we be taking orders from?"
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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Godwall » Mon Feb 22, 2010 7:47 pm

Peter Charleston

Oh good, the actor only speaks cliche. Better get a dictionary. Peter rolled his eyes when the smarmy guy across the table monologued. This was going to get old quickly.

While the others talked, he rolled his shoulders a little; even after a full year, he wasn't fully used to the awkward way the wing-joints sat on his shoulder blades and still felt a bit uncomfortable with them. "I'm in no condition financially to say no to a paying job, Miss Killenbrook. Whatever the others say, I'm definitely in and we can get started as soon as you feel necessary."

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Re: Wild Cards: Aces & 8's - IC

Post by Horsenhero » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:35 pm

Rebekah Killenbrooke, was tall, statuesque and gorgeous. Peter Charleston knew a little of her story, because he was a junkie for pop culture, celebrity culture...even counter culture. This was the sort of woman, who, before the outbreak would never have known he existed. She was an Israeli born super-model, who married a mysterious, fabulously wealthy man. Looking at the photo shoots she'd done for Cosmo, Vogue and other fashion rags, she wasn't the type of woman one would likely label as "sharp as tacks" businesswoman. You might think she'd be a righteous bitch, who would no more speak to a man like him, than she would eat spam from a can, but, she looked at him when he spoke and was...polite.

"Thank you Peter, the job is yours. It is Mrs. Killenbrooke however, I'm a married woman."

Then she turned to face Minos. Again, if there were any revulsion or reticence, she hid it expertly.

"Those are good questions Minos. So here are my best answers; you will have such resources as the company can dedicate to your division. You will take orders from no one, though Me, Donald Brookes, my head of security, our chief counsel, Magdalene Lawless or, of course, our federal contact, Major Slaughter may volunteer suggestions as to where you should direct your investigations."
"As to the question of who is in charge of this particular band of operatives? That will be up to you. You all share the same pay grade as far as the company is concerned."

She leans over to a small intercom built into the table and presses the call button. "Lucy, I think they're ready. You can show them to their offices any time."

Almost immediately, the door opens and a Joker waddles in. Standing just over four feet tall, with an equal diameter at its' midline, the individual looks like an orange sphere, with shocking orange hair and tangerine colored eyes. Her skin is rough, almost pebbly in its texture and she is dressed in a floral mumu.

"Hello gentlemen...and lady," She says in a high pitched, not quite squeaky voice. "I am your P.A., Lucille Baul. Make your jokes now, so they don't interfere with our working relationship later."

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