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The Brewery
It had been an interesting month. World events aside, of course, as he generally didn't care much about those sorts of things. So the big-boss-man of the CCD had declared himself a GOD. Fuck it, he was just another one of those magic users the Atharim hated so much. Standard racism bullshit, really. They were different, they were powerful, and they could do a lot of damage if one wanted to, but most seemed to have been keeping a pretty low profile for the past decade or so. Hell, he'd only ever met a handful of them, himself. Certainly more then most folks might have, but not terribly surprising considering he would occasionally moonlight to help the Atharim.

Something he hadn't been called on for, lately. But, if he hadn't missed his guess, there was probably a lot going on over there at their secret hidey-hole. He had no way of fully grasping what the Ascendancy's revalation meant for the Atharim on a global scale; they had connections to the Church, from what he understood. Which could make things very awkward for the Vatican.

But, that was exactly the sort of thing he didn't much care about. Outside of how he could make a buck and whether he could find a good fight, of course. Money was still flowing faster then he could spend it, but the fights? He hadn't had a good one in far too long. Pervaya Iiniya Securities had drawn steady business, the list of high-profile clients grew longer by the day, as did the list of employees the security company employed. And with Koloman's departure for Algeria, the competition for the top-shelf jobs had dropped off.

The Brewery was one of Moscow's best kept secrets in gun-fanatic circles. As its name hinted, it had once been a brewery, but all that remained of the old building was the two basement levels which housed a gun range, exclusive club, and various tool shops and services open only to members.

A fire back in the mid-'90s had destroyed much of the historic building at street level, but the foundation and basement levels had been painstakingly salvaged and restored. The location had changed hands repeatedly over the following thirty years, until finally becoming The Brewery back in the 20's.

What had once been corridors housing barrels and brewing equipment, had been re-purposed as weapons ranges or Close-Quarters-Battle lanes. Thick brick walls and ceilings, coated with thick layers of near-invisible polymers that prevented ricochets or damage to the old brick, absorbed most of the noise the club users could generate.

Naturally, Hood had his own range set up in the basement of one of the partially demolished Soviet-era tenement blocks near where he lived, but The Brewery had an excellent scotch bar and he didn't have to clean up after himself. And it helped that the company office was located in the modern office complex that sat on top of the old brewery foundation, only a couple kilometers from the heart of the CCD itself.

The smell of spent propellants, the ever-lingering scent of the old brewery, and of course the far cleaner aroma of the fine scotch in his glass. The muffled sound of weapons fire beyond the intervening wall between the club and the ranges, coupled with the sound of the handful of club members, seated usually in pairs or small groups, tending to pistols or discussing current events, new firearms, or whatever else floated their boats.

The place always felt empty, or near enough to it to suit his preferences. The Brewery could accommodate fifty shooters at any time, between the various firing ranges and courses, and while there were thousands of members on the books, many of whom didn't live in DI, it was a rare day to see more then a few score members present.

After his rather impromptu discussion with Mr Sigma himself, and their surprising discovery of mutual interests, Hood had been busy. Mr Marveet the Eldest was a rich, powerful man. And with such riches and power came an impressive home, an impressive security system, teams of professional bodyguards, and the usual arrogant certainty that money made one untouchable.

Low tech had proven the way of the game, as his drones couldn't get close to the Marveet mansion without their cameras being blinded by lasers mounted on motion-sensitive emitters. Curtains were photo-scrambling fabrics, the windows mirrored against imaging systems. He had no doubt that signals going in or out were tracked. Everything a house needed to protect it from rival businessmen, common burglars, or would-be kidnappers.

Luckily for Hood, he wasn't any of those things.
The news spread quickly through the bar. Everyone present was aware of the climate at street level. The revelation that magic was real, that wizards walked the street, that the Ascendancy himself was going to making some big public display.

Hood had found his way to The Brewery because, at the end of the day, he had no fucks to give about that sort of thing. Well, not entirely true. It would make for some degree of difficulty for folks in his line of work; magic users would certainly make for some very qualified bodyguards, after all.

But the young'un upstarts weren't much of a threat to his way of living, yet. They didn't have what he did. A life of experience. They were young, inexperienced, and with the way things were going, many would grow up in a world where they weren't challenged. They would not develop the skills needed to excel in his world. And so, he had nothing to worry about.

A fresh uproar in the bar; declarations to pull up the news on the displays. A live stream of the Red Square, of the crowds that had gathered there in protest, in devotion, in uncertainty. He didn't pay it much mind, instead sipping his scotch and reading an article on advances in conventional propellant technologies. The science of the chemistry was lost on him, but he could appreciate the end result. With the CCD military having embraced caseless ammunition, conventional arms manufacturers had been forced to step up their game, to keep competitive.

Odorless, reduced sound, reduced weight, improved quality control for grain count and propellant load. Lighter ammunition meant more could be carried. Especially important for heavy or support weapon systems. And of course...

He raised an eyebrow as a skittering of dust fell from the ceiling, a few flecks of dust landing in his drink. The walls shook, and Hood laid a hand over his snifter of scotch until it settled. A glance to the displays showed the end of Lenin's tomb. "Inconsiderate prick."

The politics behind the display were evident. Broadcast live, internationally, the removal of an icon of a previous failed administration that some still managed to see through rose-tinted glasses (even in the '40s people still lamented to the 'glory days' of the USSR). With the seemingly impossible feat, anything could then seem entirely possible.

The dust settled, the camera displayed roaring crowds of supporters. They had all been swayed by the display, or at least by the crowd psyche at least. Humans in groups tended to be stupid, gullible, and easily swayed by the majority.

His attention diverted back to the glass in front of him, and a few dabs of his finger into the drink gathered most of the offending particles. The world was changing every day, but at the root of it all, they were all still human. And human motivation, greed, corruption, and ever so rarely hope, never changed.

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