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A simple job
Ryker did not prefer fast hits. He liked to learn and plan. Human beings were irrational bastards that required study. Unfortunately, these orders could only be written by one man, and he could be a sensitive bitch sometimes thinking the world revolved around him. The hit was to take place tonight, fine by him. He had nothing else to do except pay Yun Kao a visit. Ryker watched a few inciting clips on the way across town, viewing only out of sheer amusement for the mockery. The Kremlin's response was not surprising, though a twinge of curiosity made him wonder at who was being sent to entertain the actor himself.

The mark lived in a turn of the century home on the Golden edge of Moscow, so the forty-five minute drive provided adequate time to study. Boda was an elderly man of surprising athleticism for his age. Imprisoned on three separate occasions in various Russian prisons going back to the 1990’s, he certainly lived his fair share of darker experiences. The guy survived wars, Gulags and Putin. It was either a complete shame or utterly fitting he would be meeting his end like this. As it was, there was a bullet with Boda’s name on it.

Ryker did not expect much of a challenge.

Pervaya liniya turned down the job. Unsurprising, really, considering how honest Jaxen was about who was likely footing the bill for the hit. But on the other hand, despite some bad blood between the company and Jaxen's father, he did come from a well connected family. So they did forward the request.

Hood was still on the subway when the message came in. Anonymously, of course. Pervaya liniya didn't want any direct connection after all, although there was some doubt that the CCD government would make any direct moves against them anyway. Shadow wars were meant to be exactly that. Personal grudges had no place there. Usually. But while they did hold some concern of possible repercussions from the government, they were equally sure there would be ones from Mr White if he learned they had held back the information of the job from him.

A few moments of thought, considering the next stop of the metro system line, the location of the client's address, his nearest safe-house, which was too far away to be of any use on such short notice. The CCD wouldn't send a full team. It would be both a waste of effort for one old man, and they wouldn't make the message as clear. So he'd probably be able to make due with what he had on hand.

Hood did not like Jaxen. The man was a self-obsessed playboy thief. A rich kid that hadn't known a real day of strife or challenge in his life. Oh, he'd been through some hard times, sure, but nothing real. He seemed to figure himself some big thing. Probably prided himself on giving the Atharim the slip. Probably didn't know how close they had been to him on more then one occasion, thanks to Hood.

But the kid wasn't a total shit-stain, unlike his idiot of a father. And he had the money to foot the bill, probably. And probably wasn't stupid enough to try and slight Hood for it, either. Again, unlike his father. Not that the money mattered.

Some CCD agent was about to get sent to kill an old man because of some stupid insult. One of a laundry list of reasons he hated politicians. Too fucking pitiful to deal with things themselves. Too self-important to be able to brush aside shit that didn't matter.

The train neared the next metro station, and Hood stood and grabbed an overhead rail. The hint of a smile on his face didn't touch his eyes. Not exactly. They were coldly amused. The promise of a far more interesting challenge then that shithead Bolevsky idiot's goons had posed.

Once upon a time, Hood had been a good little soldier. In it for the flag, for freedom, for AMERICA damn it. A few dead African dictators. A couple not dictators that hadn't towed the American political agenda. A few of their families. At least in South America he'd mostly been offing secessionist 'freedom fighters' that got their funding from the cartels. Mostly scum bags, the lot of them.

Did what he was told, went where he was needed, killed who needed killing. Whether they deserved it or not. He didn't loose any sleep over it. Men, women, children. Whatever. But he'd woken up eventually. Found that there was a far more interesting challenge out there. Killing humans was easy.

Monsters? That was far more interesting. Anyone could point a gun and kill a man. A monster though...that was where the real thrill was.

But an agent? Someone that was still walking the path he had once shared? He'd be pissed if whoever the fuck the CCD was sending to kill an old man wasn't worth his time. Especially pissed with Jaxen for wasting his time. Of course, it was equally possible they would act like fucking adults and let the insult slide.

He snorted at the thought. God damned easily triggered thin-skinned pansies.


The trip from the metro to the client's house was short. He didn't much enjoy using taxis, but they served their purpose. Moscow was a city of pansy-assed rich kids, sure, but the public transit was better then anything he'd seen State side. And if the public transit couldn't get him there, he had two perfectly good feed.

But when in a hurry, one had to stoop to the level of the lazy.

He was dropped off a block out and paid cash before sliding out of the back seat of the taxi, sliding his LandWarrior glasses on, lenses auto-tinted to a light-enhancing yellow. The black and grey shemagh he wore around his neck much like a casual scarf, was treated with photo-reflective threads and thermal neutral chemicals. To the naked eye, it was maybe a bit flashy in a few of the odd threads. On a camera, it was a chaotic glare that fouled digital imagery enough to obscure his face. And in flash photography, it was a veritable explosion of light. On a thermal imaging system, it was a cold band separating the top of his head from the rest of his body.

He was in business casual; his business with the would-be kingpin kid hadn't warranted any real effort in the wardrobe department. Of course, the jacket and pants had stab-proof weaves, and he wore a very expensive pullet-proof vest under it all. It too sported the same sort of thermal neutral chemical treatment, although not so much as to draw unwanted attention from the casual security guard; it simply fouled his thermal image enough to make it impossible to tell his identity off his thermal pattern...if one were well equipped enough to do so. He wasn't packed for bear. Again, the boy and his cronies hadn't been worth the effort. Revolver and pistol. A knife.

A short walk from where he'd been dropped by the taxi gave him a chance to study the neighborhood. Spot some cameras, assess the mark's home. And then he made his way up to the front door.

When Boda departed the theater, he wasn’t checking over his shoulder. His mistrust of society was accepted decades ago, and for that reason, he assumed someone was always out to get him. In that light, he also accepted that he would not live his life in fear: the exact opposite, actually. He lived each day as though it were his last because one of these days it would be. Until then, he was fucking alive.

To that end, he quite contentedly drove himself back and forth from the city. One of the reasons he lived in the outrageous turn-of-the century house in the Golden Ring countryside was for the sole purpose of a long commute. Like the sumptuous curves and flashy exterior of his home, the car that pulled to the property was carved from a silhouette of reckless abandon. About fifteen years ago, a new car manufacturing trend swept the 2030’s. All the classic companies of Italy, the UK, Germany and Russia released vintage replica models of their 1930's lines. As soon as Boda saw his first one, he purchased the very vehicle that rumbled up the drive to the garage: a car with swooping front arches, a silvered grill, two windscreens, roaring pipes and white-wall tyres.

Normally, he would park in the garage and enter the house from inside. This time, however, an alert warned him about 5 minutes out that there was a visitor on his front porch: however the image of the man’s face was obliterated from the camera. Given the events of the night, he didn’t expect a government agent to knock on the door and politely request to arrest him. Having been arrested dozens of times in his life, usually for propagating anti-nationalist ideals that verged (theoretically) on treason, disunity, and mongering, a humorless grin pushed the accelerator to the floor. He rolled to a stop in front of the house in clear view of his visitor.

A slamming car door announced his arrival, assuming the dismantled muffler didn’t, and Boda Oszkar emerged. A grumble knuckled at the small of his back a moment as his muscles lengthened, growing older was another resistance he would fight to the end of his days. House recognizing his approach, lights on the exterior flushed anew, illuminating the delicate paint-job and carvings of the historical architecture.
“Ho there. I’m too tired to be arrested tonight. So you can go about your business and come back tomorrow,” he called as he boldly strolled the walk-way, flinging his hands dismissively as he did.

Grizzled eyes only slightly wary for the man in the suit met his visitor. Slender cane (for decoration more than functionality) swirled theatrically at his side, but knurled hands were ready to wield it defensively if he had to. It wouldn’t be the first time he smacked some young shit-head fuller of himself than he ought to be.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Hood stood with arms crossed, a casual pose rather than one meant to be intimidating or judging. There was a moment's appreciation for the art of the vehicle; he could appreciate beautiful things, he just didn't have any need for them himself. Nor much interest in those that went out of their way to procure them, outside the depths of their wallets he supposed. He had little use for money of course, but it certainly made it easier to keep his cabinets and gun vault stocked and safehouses paid up.

The man that emerged from the vehicle sent up a few flags in the back of his mind. Tiresome. Flamboyant. Self important. But, he had to give some leeway in that respect; what he'd learned of the old codger meant the bastard had at least stood by his guns for a long time, and had weathered more than a few Russian storms.

He watched the old man stroll up the walk, the brief, probably honest display of age-related ache. Otherwise, nimble enough. Fit. Fit enough to run or survive a few hard hours of work, but probably too damn stubborn to actually run if it came to that. Probably part of Jaxen's reasoning for reaching out to him for the job to begin with. Also entirely possible the idiot had drawn up a bit too much trouble to be handled, knew it, and was throwing him into the fray to see if it'd get him off the shit's books.

"If Jaxen wanted me for the job, I highly doubt they're going to be sending a squad car around for you this time, Mr Oszkar." He moved a bit aside to let the old man reach his own front door. There was no offering of a business card, since Pervaya had nothing to do with Hood being there.

As soon as the visitor name-dropped his flamboyant young friend, Boda outright groaned. “Ah well fuck then.” It was a rather shallow sweep that assessed the young one which followed, momentarily delaying the measures that allowed him entrance to his own goddamned home. So Jaxen thought things were severe enough to send a guard dog. This one was rough around the edges, but fine enough to look at. “Tell Jaxen next time he goes to the trouble, I want a prettier puppy.” Amused, a wave of the hand granted the visitor entrance after him. It was entirely likely the fellow was lying, so on good measure, the first thing Boda did was stroll straight through the foyer, drop his shit on a table, and plant himself squarely before the home bar.

The interior of the mansion was arranged like any Victorian home. A grand staircase, ornate carvings, a parlor and reception room; heavy draperies were displayed alongside modern art pieces, many of which of an erotic theme. The bar, however, was a source of pride and joy. Boda carved the wood himself, stained and polished to a reddish gleam. He poured two glasses of strong amber liquid, and laid one out for his guest. He was well-accustomed to entertaining. Of course, one of his many gun hordes were set behind the bar. Just in case the dog thought to bite after being let inside.

The liquid burned something terrible on the back of his throat, but the warmth settling his stomach was welcome. A cough cleared his lungs, weighty lids settling on his guest. “I can handle anything they send me.” With that, he laid a revolver on the counter before shoving the glass forward, “A drink for the trouble of the drive then you can go. Unless you’re wanting to stay around, in which case give me a few minutes.” Another reason to curse the weight of age. Young ones assumed they could get it up with the snap of the fingers, and it was true. But fuck he was tired and sometimes a goddamned pill was worth the few minutes’ wait.  

So no threats, just options.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
It would have been for the best if he was already inside the house by the time the old man arrived, but reports from social media estimated there wasn’t enough time between Boda's departure from the theatre and his arrival at home. So Ryker slummed it in a parked car about half a mile from the house itself. A hover drone kept an eye on the street from the air. The thing about drones that made Ryker prefer the little nuisances was that they were invisible to infrared and too small to be captured by traditional optical eyesights. Electromagnetic radiation might reveal a blip on only the most advanced of military-grade scanners. No civilian was going to own such a piece of technology. Ryker wasn’t worried that he would be detected.

The old man lived alone and was something of a paranoid bastard. After reading the man’s history, he had good reason to sleep with a knife under his pillow, though such wouldn't save him tonight. Other than the security system, which according to his billing records was a standard run-of-the-mill retail service, a gun in the nightstand, and possibly a random booby-trap/homemade trip-wire bullshit, the ordeal should be over and done with shortly after lights out.

What Ryker did not expect was the arrival of an extra body. The drone’s visuals, admittedly not the highest-graded technology that the agency provided, had trouble scanning the individual. At first Ryker thought it was some sort of error, but closer inspection revealed extremely specific discrepancies that indicated a complication that wrung a frown to his lips.

Shortly thereafter, Ryker gathered the gear he brought for the occasion, including a rifle case, and headed toward the house. His own attire was fairly standard issue by the agency for such jobs, but he wasn’t out to topple governments here, only avoid the most obvious of implications. By the time the lights could be seen glowing through the trees, his previous plan for approach adapted to the turn of events.

On foot, he ducked low, careful to avoid disturbing the brush running the back of the property. Not until the right time, and this wasn’t it.  Not yet; he'd need to set up first.
He declined the drink. The comments were dismissed alongside the...interesting...interior decoration. He had little interest in art to begin with, and the old coot's tastes were about as ridiculous as his fashion sense. But, again, the old bastard had survived enough shit storms to be allowed a few eccentricities. "Not entirely your decision, that. That shit must actually like you, if he reached out to me."

He turned slowly to study the main room, to ponder the house at large. "They won't want it to look like an accident. More likely a B&E that went bad. So that there's no direct connection to it being a sanctioned hit, but just enough grey area that anyone else will think twice." Of course, considering current events and revelations, it was just as likely the government would send some dickless magic weaver to scurry over and give the old man a heart attack or something. A few more years and a few might even be experienced enough to worry him.

He stepped back into the foyer for a moment, to eye the keypad of the house's security system, before shaking his head. Expensive, surely, but not worth the money. Hell, he'd set those idiot Atharim up with both the tech and the SOPs (standard operating procedures) to have made their headquarters damn well impenetrable, but at the end of the day, a system could only be as good as the people operating it. That whole fiasco was still a bit of a grey area, but asides from ferreting a few of the more level headed twits out of the city, there'd only been the two that had come to give him any trouble. Hadn't really heard from them after that.

He glanced at the windows next, pondered the layout of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. "Hell. You could always call the police, ask them to have me removed. Maybe you're smart enough to have a gun behind that pretty bar, try force me out that way. But see, I'm not really here for you. Or for that idiot that asked for me. I'm really hoping that whoever they send after you is at least mildly entertaining." Killing a few wanna-be mafioso's hadn't done much to quell his boredom of late.

Boda’s growing concern was held behind leathery cheeks that otherwise revealed little, but other mannerisms gave away a foreboding sense of alarm. Jaxen was over-protective, but the caliber of man currently occupying his living room was exaggeratingly calm. Not here for a paycheck, but for the fight to come. A man selective about the fights he engages. Boda was no fool. He shoved sticks up the government’s ass for decades and he assumed he would find himself in the bottom of a dumpster someday. So long as he was dead by then, who the fuck cared; corpses didn’t decorate their graves.

In the end, he rubbed his chin thoughtfully before returning the revolver to its place.
“I’m going to bed. These old bones want a feather pillow and silk pajamas. Maybe they’re the last ones I’ll ever wear. I might as well enjoy it while I can.” The sarcastic façade bricked up his concern until it was imprisoned far from the surface. A casual wave offered the lower-most floor of his home to the – he stopped on the first step on the stairs, “What’s your name again?” Then a shrug followed. He’d likely forget it by morning anyway.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jaxen +
Loki +
+ Jole +
Forty-five uneventful minutes passed after Boda climbed the stairs and anything else happened. Ryker’s original plan was exactly as predicted: breaking and entering, ransack, steal and execute as messily as possible. This was prior to learning a second body occupied the house; the advanced body armor giving away the status of a master. Had he elected a more amateur self-protection system, Ryker would have underestimated the man. Something that might have worked in his favor. Instead, the armor stirred alarms in Ryker’s analytical mind that said go slow. Take care. Study. Plan. Plan again. Plan a third time.. But the meniality of the task was colored a slightly different tint now. A thrill pulsed through his body as it churned gears of thought in his mind. A challenge; not for him, but slightly more than he was expecting.

Boda’s security system was fitted with an exterior camera system like any other house, but standard with his company’s service contract came visible light and infra-red monitoring of the vulnerable points of entry. There were thresholds, of course. Nobody wanted to call the police because the body heat signature of a raccoon was prowling the foundations of the house. Therefore, Boda was careful to maintain his distance well out of range of sensors.

He was set up in the woods behind the house, chosen a knoll behind which to nestle belly-down on the dirt to use the natural earth’s barricade and blunt any infrared sensor that might swing his direction. He hadn’t intended on using a sniper rifle tonight, but sometimes the situation called for adaptation. The scope followed the outline of the second-floor windows. Boda passed multiple times before the glass, but Ryker never fired unless he was certain of the outcome. Windows, walls, vents, attics... In the end, it was the back door that favored his attention. 

It required the shedding of his own blood to seize hold of his secret powers. The drawing of a blade over his arm was swift but made him wince with its sharpness. Heat pulsed, his fist clenched, but as soon as it did, that terrible light flooded. The twist of pain and pleasure stretched his skin from the inside until the moment passed to a dull throb. It would last only as long as the pain on his arm persisted. Either the power would drain away, or a new slice required its return.

He used the time wisely. Despite the enhanced vision, his one damaged eye watered the world between acuity and blindness. A moment of sea-sickness swarmed his brain until it settled with practiced focus on his normal eye. Maybe a minute or two passed, and the loss of his formerly perfected aim was a handicap only barely made up by his powers. Between the scope and the heightened vision of the world of the light, two little ropes dug into the handle of the back door. Metal and electricity vibrated between himself and the connection, and he dug further like twisting the knife plunged into someone’s chest. It was blunt. He couldn't differentiate the details of the internal mechanisms only that it existed and desired to overwhelm it from within. Two small sparks illuminated his success at disabling the locking mechanism, but rather than rush forward to breech the door, he remained where he was: belly down, scope to the eye, finger at the ready to fire the 40 yards between himself and whomever may appear. It took the entirety of his focus to aim, but the rage of his injuries were ignored; the associated tension would change his accuracy. An odd dichotomy; forcing himself into perfect calm while a storm of the power warred within.

Come out, come out wherever you are.
Hood Wrote:He couldn't fault the old fart. There was almost certain to be some wet-works agent(s) out to merc his ass, and the old loon just took a drink and went to bed. Since Pervaya Ilniya hadn't taken the job, he wasn't there on official business. Which meant he wasn't there as John White. Which, of course, was a false identity. If everything went the way he was expecting, whomever they had sent to off the old shit was going to fail, and whomever had ordered the hit was going to get their pecker slapped hard to make sure that it didn't happen again. This things weren't supposed to be spur-of-the-moment decisions, after all. No way any government could make an official decision on anything so quickly; probably a power move by some wanna-be mover-and-shaker, eager to prove his use to the higher ups.

"Hood." As good as anything; it was, after all, his preferred callsign. Let him make of it what he would.

And then the old man was gone up the stairs to his expensive pajamas, leaving Hood to walk the interior, closing blinds and curtains, checking windows to see if they were self-tinting. Turning off interior lights. Wouldn't do to be casting silhouettes. And then, that done, he found a seat. For a few minutes.

It wasn't long after that that the tell-tale sound of someone jimmying the lock of the back door. He tapped his revolver lightly on his knee a moment, head tilted a hair to listen to the sound, but his eye was still on the front door. Whomever they sent surely wouldn't be sloppy enough to be so loud picking a lock. Unless whatever wanna-be white-collar shit that ordered the hit didn't have access to anyone worth Hood's time, of course.

That would certainly be quite the piss off. Come all this way just to deal with some random two-bit hitman. Probably some ex-military wanna-be. Special forces wash out or some shit. That would be quite the disappointment. So much so, that he would probably try to figure out just who had made the call, maybe pay them a visit. More a thought exercise than an actual intent; better to just let the idiot get himself in shit with his bosses, and not get involved with CCD political house cleaning.

Seated in the living room, he couldn't exactly see the back door, but he didn't bother moving to check it. Let whomever it was come inside; the house had good sound proofing. If things played out right, he could have his fun with the idiot without the neighbors calling the cops.

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