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Working the Street
There were always risks to working the street when trying to dig up information. Surveillance in the heart of DI was a hard thing to manage without being noticed. Cameras, security systems, high paid guards. And that was just the commercial sector. There was always the risk of running foul of a government-paid sort. A cop that actually gave two flying fucks and had a half decent eye for detail was a headache he rarely had any interest in dealing with. Luckily for him, Hood was very good at his job. His old job.

METZAVED Solutions held an office in one of the city's less prestigious high-rises. Still a sign of a very succesful company that there head offices were in Moscow, let alone only a few miles from the Red Square. To one of those 'careful eyes,' there was no way someone like Hood fit in with the local foot traffic. Tall, well built, and far too still. Everything about the man denied the likelihood of him being a computer programmer or common businessman.

Luckily, he did look like, and did work as, a security specialist and had the cards, equipment, and trade lingo to pull it off. After nearly a week of observation and espionage, Hood had gathered the information he needed. Persons of interests, financial and familial connections. Hell, he even knew what schools the Board of Investors had attended and what clubs they had been in...which, oddly, had proven the hardest part. Sad that a prestigious university had been harder to crack then a world-class programming company.

With the information gathered, it was just a matter of sorting through it for the next piece of the puzzle. He knew that someone was watching for whomever was poking around. The timely death of Mr Volodya Fyodorov, of Krasnyy Medved Security Solutions, the night he had given Hood the information that had led him to METZAVED, was ample sign that they were watching for nosy folks, but were probably expecting a reporter. How aggravated where they that no reporter had wormed out of the dirt yet?

As he often did when not working, Hood traveled by foot or metro. Considering the time of year, and the distance from METZAVED Solutions back to the safe-house, the metro was in order. He was one of few who enjoyed a small pocket of space on the otherwise crowded subway cars, and equally one of the few that had n real worry of pickpockets. In fact, he always hoped one would try their luck...but they never did.

The ride from the city center to his stop took the better part of an hour, and the train was steadily less crowded at each stop. It was still early in the day, such that most folks were headed the other way. The only ones that lingered were the homeless or the troublemakers. Of which there was no shortage in the Zamoskvorechye district.

There was a Kofe Khauz, a chain of 24 hour coffee joints popular mostly among the young crowd and night owls, located across from the Zamoskvorechye metro station, and Hood made his way towards it. Stopping for a cup of coffee would give him a chance to watch the metro station for any signs of pursuit; the next train was due twenty minutes after the one he had just left. Plenty of time to warm up and have a cup of coffee.

As he crossed the street, calmly waving traffic to a stop to allow his passage, he eyed a crew of shit-brained gopniks squatting at the mouth of an alley and being their usual public-nuisance selves. They were a pitiful Russian subculture that had somehow, and for the life of him he had no idea how, survived the many decades since their inception. Something to do with the fall of Soviets, as he understood it.

The group were up to their usual antics; loud 'music', bottles of cheap booze (probably homemade swill in recycled bottles) in hand, their ridiculous cheap brand-name sports attire. The alcohol and a dose of drugs was probably all that kept them from really noticing the winter chill, but who was he to tell them of the dangers of frostbite? Let them lose an ear or two.

They were the sort of people that Hood wanted to punch on sight. It was surely a sign of how well-adjusted he was to living among 'normal' people that he didn't go ahead and do it whenever the mood struck. He needed provocation first. It also made things easier with the law if anyone actually wanted to press charges. Self defense and all that.

So Hood had fully intended to ignore the gaggle of drunken idiots if it weren't for their own antics getting themselves onto his radar. It was a pretty cliche'd scene really. Really, the sudden convergence was almost enough for him to believe in a higher entity on high. One that must surely enjoy watching Hood punch things.

He was half way across the street when one of the idiot gopniks smashed an empty bottle of vodka on the sidewalk, spraying glass on baby carriage being pushed through the slush choked sidewalk, a woman and her baby on their way to the metro station to go into the big city. Another pair of tracksuit wearing idiots casually slashed an old man's grocery bag with a box cutter, and the group were laughing like the drunken idiots they were as they kicked the cans that fell out of the man's bags.

They weren't all that far out of his path, and he wasn't actually all that interested in a cup of coffee. Of course, he shouldn't have been drawing attention to himself, but how often was it that the universe handed him so ideal a punching bag?

The woman with the carriage hurried past, wanting nothing to do with the troublemakers, but the old man was someone Hood recognized from his neighborhood. Not the sort that could afford letting even just a few beaten up cans of food go to avoid a run in with a pack of gopnik thugs. The man was cursing the group out in Russian, which only earned him more laughs from the post-CCD generation punks.

Hood tugged his gloves on a touch tighter, flexing his fists a few times to make sure they had a good fit, then snatched one of the cans out of the air as a blond dye-job'd spiky-haired twit pitched it, likely meaning to hit the baby carriage. He bounced the can in his hand once, meeting eyes with the idiot that had thrown it, and just as the punk opened his gap-toothed mouth to curse Hood out for interfering in his fun, Hood whipped the can towards the idiot, catching him in the teeth.

The group, seven guys and two women, all froze in a brief moment of shock as one of their numbers was sent crumbling to the snow-crusted sidewalk, spitting blood and broken teeth. The old man didn't flinch though, simply snatching one of his cans from one of the momentarily frozen gopniks and quickly stepping out of the way. Or as quickly as man of his age could.

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