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Skid marks

April 16, 2012 in RP by Hibiki

Standing at the window, he watched the streak of fire trail its way across the sky, growing incredibly bright as it approached the city.  It was audible now, a dull roar through the glass.  He took another hit and kept his vision locked on the crashing vessel.  His eyes zoomed in, attempted to read signatures and markings on the side of the ship but the smoke and flame were obscuring it all. Odds and ends snapped off as it descended, and the bottom of the hull glowed red hot.  It crushed comms towers, snapped its way through cables and struts like a hot knife through butter, and vanished to the south.  The ground rumbled for a moment as the man-made meteorite found its final rest in Hangars Liquides.

“Goddamn.”  This is where some people would say, he thought, “There goes the neighborhood!”

He ashed the half-smoked joint in the ashtray he held.  His mask was on the windows sill, propped and grinning up at him. He’d barely walked in the door and had time to light a smoke before the fireworks started, and now he was compelled to leave again.  Dropping the demi-joint in the ashtray he scooped up his face from the window sill, and spun around for the door.

At the crash site…

The approach to the wreck was difficult.  It had tucked itself deep in a corner of the southern sector, wreaking hell the whole way through.  A ship-shaped hole had been punched through a few buildings, and debris was everywhere.  From small things as innocent as crew patches and rations to  whole bulkheads and interior systems, strewn about like entrails after a jungle feast.  The heat was tremendous, even from far away, and the fires still burned their way through the remaining fuel left in the crashed ship.  The cargo crates from inside were also thrown all over, a few open to reveal various sundries, some medical supplies and raw chemicals.  He prayed nothing too toxic was in the broken containers, and found himself a good vantage point to survey the scene.

The very next thing he noticed was a Crimson, one of Lawrence’s guard.  Then another, and another.  They were lining up corpses under sheets a short distance from the crash, and organizing the chaos that was the ship’s manifest.  He saw no sign of his friend the captain.

“Hey!”

Spotted, Hibiki freezes in place.  One of the Crimsons had been scouting the area for more bodies/valuables just outside of his perception, and he’d been made.  Hibiki turned towards the voice now, a young sergeant trotting up to him in full armor and helmet.

“This area’s currently under Crimson watch mister…” he stopped, studying Hibiki’s demonic, wooden face.  “Mr. Ochs, oh man…” he began again, his demeanor adjusting.  “I am so sorry I didn’t uh…didn’t recognize you.”

Hibiki raised his eyebrows, pursing his lips in amusement; it was the kind of expression one did behind a mask.  “Not a problem, my good man.  I was just in the area and happened to notice a space ship crashing.”

The soldier nodded.  “No ID on the vessel yet sir, but as soon as we know anything I’m sure the commander will be in touch with you.  For now we’re keeping civilians clear of the area, but of course you’re welcome to observe the cleanup, Mr. Ochs.”

“That won’t be nessescary,” Hibiki shook his head.  He looked over the man’s shoulder at the rows of bodies, and those tasty looking cargo crates.  Later he would have to find out how much of the booty Lawrence got away with…and sneak out some of his own if he got the chance.

He exchanged goodbyes with the trooper, who turned back to his duties with the unit and left Hibiki standing just at the edge of their little quarantine zone.  Lawrence would be his next stop then…but in a few hours.  The crash was news, and he had to get an idea of what the world had to say about it.  He turned away from the wreck now and headed back towards the center of town.  The glow of the wreck cast huge, wavering shadows…perfect for him to step into and out of sight.

I wonder what happens next…or if someone’s going to come looking for their lost ship?  Lots of questions…I can’t wait for the answers to start rolling in.

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A drink and some drugs

April 6, 2012 in RP by Hibiki

Hibiki: “Demetra, was it?”

Demetra Holtz lifts her head as a cab parks itself by the side of the terminal. She checks her specs while giving Hibiki a neutral face, unable to find a way to react, “Yes, and you’re Hibiki, right?” A twitch of a smile forms.

Hibiki bows as a reply. “Hibiki Ochs. Local miscreant.”

Demetra Holtz snickers, “That’s good to know.” There was a tone of light flirtation. “Right, I actually need to stop by later. I’ve run out of products.”

Hibiki: “Ah.  Apparently you also know what I do.  Perhaps a drink would be in order?”   Hibiki gestures to the bar. “I’m sure I could help you more if I knew a little about you.”

“Ah-yeah, I could use a drink, Mr. Ochs.”

“Good good, come. ”

Hibiki calls over the android server.  “What is your poison today, Demetra?”

Demetra taps her upper thighs in a light beat before replying, “I just like simple vodka. Screw driver for tonight, please?” She takes off her glasses to show off her pleading doe eyes.

“And a gin and tonic for me,” he says, dimissing the droid with a wave. He straightens his coat, and checks his cuffs. “So tell me Demetra, what is it you do?”

Demetra dips her fingertips into the front pocket of her jacket, pulling out a holo card, “I work with the Hauer-Bosch company.”

Hibiki takes the card, turning it over in his fingertips carefully. “The shipping firm? I was unaware they had a satellite office here in Hangars Liquides,” He studies the card a few moments longer. “I assume you don’t unload the barges.”

Demetra raises her shoulders as she nods, “Yeah, I’m like the manager for this branch, but I go by Chief..” She fumbles with her wavy curls, “I know, it’s not an exciting job.”

Hibiki pockets the card, watching the girl professionally fidgeting next to him with a careful eye. His lips curve into a thin smile. “Kacho, we’ll call you then. And kacho, managing at Hauer-Bosch is no small feat. You must be well educated…” and then he adds, with a quieter edge “And well connected…”

Demetra notices their drinks arrive and carefully grabs hers, sipping at it to test out the quality but doesn’t share her opinion. “Networking is what I’m good at. Although, that depends.. Are you enjoying this girl’s company?”

Hibiki takes the drink and sips it. He can’t taste anything, entirely by choice, and the liquid is stored for later disposal. When in Rome. “I am, yes,” he says with his best toothy smile. “Is that how you network with everyone? Entertain them first?”

Demetra adds, “Well, if we’re talking about you, it seems that way.” The rest of her drink is downed, wanting to get that buzz; thank goodness for the cabs nearby. “Actually, I just try to make a relationship with others.”

Hibiki nods, sipping again. “It’s a good way to do business. Is business good?”

Demetra orders another drink while turning to rest her side against the sofa, facing Hibiki in a more comfortable fashion, “Oh yes, a pretty good start, since we just began the branch. I’m hoping it’ll be one of the hot topics in other people’s conversations.”

“Some people say Hauer-Bosch has got nasty skeletons in their closet..Some dubious practices.  You wouldn’t be mixed up in any of that, of course…”

“Of course not. Like I said, we’re a new store.”

Hibiki nods, smiling and drinking. As he lined up rumors with facts the big picture was slowly painting itself. “So when you’re not working…you like to do what?  I assume that’s why you’ve been referred to me.”

Demetra lifts her new glass to him, “I like to drink and enjoy my free time. I like my guilty pleasures as much as anyone else.”

“For me vice is a full time job,” he says, swirling his drink and finishing it. “I exist to provide it.”

Demetra giggles then covers her mouth and sighs before saying, “You must be dedicated.” Her empty glass is taken away by the droid.

Hibiki bows his head, flourishing his hand. “Someone has to. It’s nice to operate in a city free of the usual chaff to wade through as well…no cameras, no cops, no tax…”

Demetra parts her lips, “Mm, that’s a good sign for me to double the pay of my security.”

“Paranoid corporate talk.  The streets are as safe as the boardroom, if you know how to behave.”

“I’m new. Maybe I could find someone who could give me a few hints on how to behave.”

Hibiki turns to face her, his wrapped head cocking to the side slightly. “Oh? And you’d have me leading this class, I assume.”

Demetra Holtz tries to mask her intrigue by smiling, then pulls her shades back on, “If you’re volunteering..”

Hibiki shakes his head.  “I know about as much as this city as you. The rest of it is just keeping your eyes open and having a sense of humor.  Class dismissed.”

Demetra Holtz ‘s laugh indicates that she caught on to his joke quite well, but it was probably the drinking that helped, “Ha, that is the best lesson I’ve ever had.”

“Wow, you must have had shitty educators.”  Hibiki stands. “Are you looking to make a purchase, kacho?”

Demetra Holtz stands with him, “Yeah..I’d like to see what you have.”

“I’ll take you to my apartment.”  Hibiki fastens his coat and slides his hands into his pockets.

“Do I need to be blind folded?”
“No.  I share a squat in an abandoned NovaSEC corporate lodging facility with a local girl…Djehan?”

And as they walked, Hibiki told her the story of his arrival in Hangars Liquides, of meeting his current roommate.  He wondered, as they walked, if she had noticed through the booze that he was a full body cyborg.  Her wandering eyes betrayed a hidden energy this corporate butterfly was keeping locked away. This city could be infectious to those looking to take risks, however…and before too long he was quietly wondering if she’d been sent to do more than just buy drugs.  After a short walk through empty streets, they came to the door of the shared apartment.

Demetra Holtz makes her way into the room from behind him, eyeing the couch and cigarettes, “How can you not be with your room mate? You like women, don’t you?”

Hibiki settles in, removing his jacket and draping it across the chair in front of the terminal. He immediately lights a pipe, ready packed, sitting on the small end table. “By now I know well enough not to shit where I eat,” he said, a bald-faced lie, “And as for liking women of course I do, but I know when and exactly how much to like them too.”

Demetra Holtz shakes her head in some disapproval and drapes her own jacket on the counter of the bar then finds a nice place to sit, in the more darker corner of the couch. “I see. Thanks for the drinks earlier.”

Hibiki offers her the pipe. “Business ethics demanded I offer tribute upon our meeting. It was what had to happen. Now though…now we talk about what I do.”

Demetra Holtz takes a couple of hits, getting a little flushed in the face as she hands it back to him. After a moment, she exhales and pulls back her hair, “Mm, if you’d like to tell me, then go ahead.”

Hibiki nods in approval at her smoking skills. “I sell drugs, hard to find liquors and spirits, artwork and gemstones.”

Demetra perks up when he says gemstones; never hear that too often, “I do love jewelry.. I’d wear pounds of it, if the occasion asks for it..” She sinks into the corner, then asks, “Can I see some of those? And..some music would be great. Sorry if I’m a bad guest, I can be a little demanding.”

Hibiki stands, wirelessly accessing the media screen across the room to play some quiet electronica. “One moment.” He crosses the room and vanishes…returning a minute later with a black case.

Demetra says as he enters back into the room, quite casually, “I always thought about dressing up as a slave girl, with those silks and have a head dress with lots of bangles and cuffs..I’d shine in all the right places.”

Hibiki opens the case, displaying a grid of gems seperated by color.

Demetra perks her brows to the gems of colors and types and definitely doesn’t hide her joy of seeing them, “I love you collection, Mr. Ochs.”

“Take your time,” Hibiki passes her the case. “Financing is available.”

Demetra settles it in her lap as her eyes examine them, “…” she closes it before the screaming in her head told her to buy the pink one. “Mm, I’ll have to come back to you when business is hot.”

“Ahhhh, no worries of course.”

Demetra slides the case towards him reluctantly and touches her bare neck while looking up at him, “May I also see the drugs you carry? I mean, I’m more of a..” she mumbles the rest of her sentence.

Hibiki smiles, taking the case back.and replacing it with another. This one is filled with small, plastic baggies. Each baggie has a small sample. Each sample is a different narcotic.  “Marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy…or the more exotic tastes.  And if I don’t have it, I can get it.”

Demetra Holtz tilts her head and clears her throat, “Nice.”  She asks in her soft voice, “Vicodin? Can I buy that from you?”

“Third row in, from the right. Second slot down,” he says, gesturing at the box. “I actually have a synthetic that’s really, really great. Off market Chinese…practically local.  But very good”

“May I sample it?”

“Of course.  Take the baggie.”

Demetra goes ahead and takes it as permitted and closes the case, “Mm, this is going to make me feel so great..results may vary, right?” She snickers.

Hibiki laughs. “I think you’ll be fine.”

Demetra stands from the couch and shakes the box a little bit, “Mm, I think I just started dealer ship here.”

“Good!”  Hibiki applauds.  “This is good. You can work for me.”

Demetra thought it was the toxins in her system and she misheard, but no he was pretty clear, “Work for you, Mr. Ochs?” Her eyes fall on the box then to him, knowing where this is going, “You want to be the skeletons in my closet?”

“Speaking candidly, Hauer-Bosch has enough already.”  Hibiki holds out his hand for the case. “I doubt I’d really add all that much to your plate.”

Demetra Holtz grimaces as she hands him the case and has a moment ot take the pills, then replying after a swallow, “Ah, I don’t see much of an issue. What am I getting in this deal? Vicodin?”

Hibiki laughs out loud, a full laugh. “You’re not actually going to work for me? Right? I mean, not only will I not let you work for me, but you are most certainly not someone I would hire to sell.  Just do me the favor of telling people where you got it, and we’ll call it square on your first order.”

Demetra now believes she definitely heard him wrong, “Right, haha, this is why I’m sober at work.” She touches the side of her face, “I’m too pretty to sell that stuff on the streets..”

“I agree,” Hibiki says, relaxing into the smoke. “Better just sticking to whatever it is you do.”

Demetra sighs through her parted lips, “Oh yes, I’ll stick with it till I’m old and weathered.” She maneuvers herself around him but feels lost, “Mm, where is your bathroom?”

Hibiki points to a door by the bar.

Demetra Holtz disappears for about fifteen minutes and returns to the couches, looking relaxed, “Sorry, I had to make sure that I still looked this hot.”

Hibiki has been relaxing, rolling joints patiently. “No worries. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

Demetra can hear his professional tone and gestures towards the entrance, “I guess I’m good and hooked. You’re a wonderful business man. You just got yourself another client.” A chuckle escapes her, hugging onto herself and closes her eyes, losing track of time.

Hibiki stands, courteously follows her to the front door.  “And here…my card,” Hibiki hands her his own holocard.

Demetra stands at the door and takes his card then realises and grabs her jacket real quick, then uses her free arm to give him a friendly side hug, “Oh, thank you, Mr. Ochs.I had a really good time.”

Hibiki is a little surprised at the hug, raising his arms as she moved in. He smiles though, and bows as she steps back.  “It was my pleasure, Demetra. Do take care in the city.”

“Thank you, I will.”

And the door closed behind her.  Hibiki turned back to the large bank of windows, unlit joint in hand.  He lit it, planting his palms on the window sill and watched the girl walk away from the building, off into the Hangars Liquides night.  The thin smoke curled off the end of the joint, dulling the glow of the neon lights.

She gave me a fucking hug? The tapestry that was Demetra in his mind was very strange to behold.  Up until that moment he had her number: Repressed corporate dog, closet narcissist, bad at coping but good at performing.  The hug threw it all off.  He frowned, the joint almost completely gone now.  Sex was one thing, but hugs reeked of daddy issues, of new business tactics he may be unfamiliar with.  Demetra was a customer and a walking advertisement, but he  staunchly promised himself not to encourage a friendship any deeper than the one they’d established in the past two hours.  One wrong motion could ruin and entire future of profits.  I miss handshakes.

The information was starting to pile up, and the pieces were assembling on the board.  Hangars Liquides was slowly giving up its secrets and Hibiki was there to catch them all.  If Hauer-Bosch really was in the city full force then he could expect some business…and probably a little more.  He put out the joint.

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La Bodega

March 30, 2012 in RP by Hibiki

The rain had been falling for hours by now, and his clothes were soaked through.  His stroll through the city had been anything but a hospitable experience so far, and he was running low on reserve power.  Most of the street side outlets were burned out, or stuffed with gum and trash.  The bars were self service, and some had power outlets but he wanted privacy, somewhere to collect his thoughts on a day’s worth of walking.

He walked up a ramp, around a corner and into what appeared to be the maintenance entrance of a large apartment complex.  When the former city owners cleared out they left all the corporate housing intact, mostly furnished and no worse for the wear.  Ignored by the battles, or sometimes set up as improptu bases/hospitals/drug dens, they ended up either completely untouched and layered in dust, or gutted and graffiti covered.  The elevator was, as was to be expected, out of service.  The stairs were grimy, thick with scuff marks and or cracked steps leading up.  He climbed with his gloved hands stuff in his pockets, starting to feel the weight of many hours without chemical stimulation.  His addictions were getting stronger, he knew it…but he didn’t care.  As he climbed on in near pitch darkness, his night vision showed him the path.

The landing he picked to explore was the cleanest of them all so far, just far enough above street level that the squatters who knew better had settled up here on safer, more isolated floors.  There were footprints, recent ones too, and the odd fast food container thrown in a corner, but as he walked he kept his eyes on the door panels.  One was, miraculously, dimly lit, and he tapped it a few times to test for life. It buzzed at him angrily.  Taking out his interfacing cable he jacked into the door’s controls, quickly and easily slicing through the decade old locking software like a hot knife through digital butter.  The door opened, and Hibiki stepped inside.

The room was a horseshoe, curved around a small table with a kitchen to his right.  A large bank of windows gave him a rather spectacular view of the city, and he whistled in admiration.  There was furniture still, with cracked and stained  with years of abuse.  Two ashtrays, and several more makeshift ones were stuffed with cigarette butts.  The white residue of cocaine encrusted parts of a small mirror on the couch cushions.  There was a terminal, screen cracked and non functioning.  Fake potted plants dotted the space, and he was immediately taken by the charm of the little space.  He mentally claimed it immediately.  The security could be beefed up with a liberal application of hardware locks, maybe a camera doorbell, and that’s all it would take to make this little flat a little home.

He took off all the soaking clothes and draped them over the backs of a few chairs, and over the kitchen bar.  Drawing the curtains, he tossed the gruesome Oni mask he perpetually wore on the couch and stretched his jaw.  The mask restricted his face’s range of movement, a sensation he’d gotten used to over the thirty or so years he’d been wearing it, but he always instinctively stretched after wearing it for long periods of time.  Subconsciously, he supposed, it felt good to keep up the old habits.  He noticed books now, near where he tossed his mask.  Musty, untouched during the previous occupants stay most likely, but still intact.  Volumes of reference books, a few mystery novels and collected works.  A modest library.  He smiled, the touch of higher thinking amidst the evidence of lower life was actually really nice.

The power worked, even if the room’s main terminal did not, and soon he was laying down on one of the couches, his wrist split open with his auxiliary cable trailing from it to a nearby wall socket.  He had juice, and his body’s internal battery thanks him as it slowly pulled in power from the city.  He rolled a joint while propped up on his elbows, his meager stash beside him.  Web browser open in his vision, he called up his ties on the Silk Road.  Few of them actually lived here in Hangars Liquides, but he needed to start business as soon as possible, and he needed to know what was available.  The few internet contacts he regularly kept were now updated to his arrival in Hangars.  A couple of messages waited in his inbox from regulars in his former home, he answered them all in turn with the news of his departure.  He was systematically peeling away a whole layer of grime to reveal a fresh, new body.  As he worked he smoked, filling the room with the heavy scent of mary jane.

He would hit the streets again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after if he had to…but he swore within the week he would be turning profit.  It was not his nature to sit still, to let himself rot and rust pathetically.  It was his nature to provide, and consume, in that order, and little else.  Hibiki turned on some music, something from his personal storage that lulled what was left of his brain into a light and pleasant sleep, his first in three days.  As his operating system quietly went into standby, Hibiki dreamt he was walking along a path that went on into the horizon, curving over the edge of the earth into nothingness.  In this dream he realized running wouldn’t get him there any faster, if he was going no where, so in this dream he walked.

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On Approach

March 27, 2012 in RP by Hibiki

The VTOL dipped beneath the thick cloud layer, breaking through from a star lit night into a hell of smoke and pollution.  Beneath the aircraft lay the city Hangars Liquides, a sight that gave him as much comfort as concern.  The lights of the city were more of a dull glow than the bright lances of the more polished parts of the world.  He could smell the pollution in the air, felt his scrubbers come online to tackle the extra work of cleaning it out of his blood solution.  His eyes zoomed in on neon signs, twisting networks of curved streets.  The progress that had been made since the famous fall of the city sat atop the ruins and made a sort of strange melange of architecture.  He imagined a lot of people had gotten lost in the dark corners of the city, some of them probably forever.

“This is it, Mr. Ochs,” said the captain through the ship’s intercom.  The man at the door, Hibiki Ochs, turned to face the captain: a portly Serbian decked out in militia gear from various armies.   He piloted the VTOL with his arms crossed, a thick interface cable ran from his helmet’s electronics directly into the controls.  Hibiki  spoke to him through the intercom, the words streaming directly over the ship’s local network.

“I see.  And where am I getting dropped off?”

“Outside city limit.  I take VTOL over Hangars for too long, someone thinks maybe they get new VTOL, VTOL gets shot the fuck down.  Not today.”

The ship lurched to the side as it banked in low, dropping at an alarming rate.  Hibiki gripped the handle next to the door even harder, and shut off his internal gyroscope’s many warnings.

“I see,” he said again.

“Man of your talents, Ochs…I’m sure you will be at home in HL,” the captain said, pronouncing the letters as ‘EECH ELLL’.  The VTOL skimmed the waves now, and steady rain was just beginning to fall.

The VTOL came to rest on a small dock outside a partially opened access door.  The dock itself was a speck on the side of a massive city wall, crumbling in places and completely devoid of life. Remnants of the city’s former purpose, Hibiki supposed.

“Okay Ochs…this is you.”

Hibiki hopped off the deck onto the concrete platform.

“Maybe you find my cousin’s neice, Djehan…tell her that Dimitri says ‘go to hell!'”

Hibiki cocked his head to the side, hands in his pockets.  He didn’t have any luggage save for what was on his person at the moment.  He’d left his former home without so much as a word or a look back, and the hard ground of this new adventure felt good under his feet.  Djehan, he repeated in thought, and maybe Lawrence and the Crimsons…all in due time.

“Thanks again, Dimitri.  I owe you one,” Hibiki said with a bow, the wind from the VTOL whipping his hair about his face, over his mask.  He held up a hand to watch as the bulky, roaring aircraft lifted it’s bulky, roaring pilot back into the sky.

“Many more than one, Ochs!  But who is counting?!” Dimitri said with maniacal laughter, taking off into the night.  The signal cut immediately.

Hibiki turned, his now soaking wet duster bathed in blue path lighting along the deck, and walked towards the slightly ajar doors at the end of the dock.  They led into the city, and if there was one thing Hibiki knew how to do well it was make an entrance.  It was time for Hangars Liquides to meet Hibiki Ochs. No longer the high profile magnate he was…now just another cyborg drug dealer, here in a city almost devoid of any laws, with no money, no friends, and nothing but time to turn all that around.