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The Baccarat Gala
#1
Continued from: Window Shopping

After the incident at that blasted book store, Mr Arrabat had been far more cooperative about sticking to the itinerary. Even after the delay with the Custodians, they still arrived well ahead of their driver, whom Hood spotted stuck in traffic barely two blocks from where they had gotten out of the car.

The Baccarat Mansion was a lavish structure, made more so for the expensive banners that were rolled down the building's face, bearing the Baccarat seal and of some of the most important guests to the night's fundraiser gala.

A steady stream of expensive cars and limos lined the street towards the mansion's entrance, and CCD police played an important role in the horrible traffic congestion, as they closed off intersections and gave gala invitees priority. Only a handful of guests would deign to dismount and walk, not wanting to be seen doing something so indignant.

Mr Arrabat didn't seem the type to care what others might think if he were to simply walk up to the building. The two were met at the first landing of the steps leading to the mansion's open doors, where a handful of men that were obviously well-dressed guards kept an eye things, and a dozen valets waited to park the cars of anyone who had actually decided to drive themselves.

A concierge accepted Mr Arrabat's invitation and Hood's papers, and the two were allowed in after their names were checked off the list. The two walked in together, and Hood absently adjusted his tie before glancing down at the old man. "Well sir. Safe and sound. I'll be out back if you need me."


Mr Arrabat chuckled and nodded, "Yes well, at least there was some excitement tonight, yes? I will send for you once I am ready to leave."
And with that, the old Italian man moved into the main room, where guests mingled among the glass-encased displays of the Baccarat's finest works of art. Staff circled to deliver drinks or bore platters of expensive snacks, beautiful women hung on the arms of men three times their age were common place, and every second person was just a total waste of skin. In Hood's mind, at least.

He skirted wide of that room, moving to one of the side halls used by the serving staff. One of the servants actually tried to stop him at first, but after getting one good look at him the young man suddenly found himself busy inspecting the tray of empty drink glasses he was carrying.

Soon enough he found himself to the...what was the term? Veranda? Porch? A sign of the wealth and power of the Baccarat's was that their mansion, in the heart of Moscow, sported what passed locally as a rather expansive yard and garden. Guests mingled there too, talking and enjoying pipes or cigarettes. Most of the bodyguards guests had brought were secreted away in a small outbuilding in the yard, a bit out of the way of the main house.

They were allowed to come and go of course, especially if summoned by their client, but most made a point of staying out from under foot of their betters. There was little danger to their clients at the gala, after all. Hood's reason for being present was double-edged, however. Both as Mr Arrabat's escort, and an added bit of security for the Atharim, so he stayed closer to the house.

He loosened his tie and produced a cigar and cutter, with the cap tucked into a pocket rather then simply being discarded as some of the guests had done. Then a deft flick of his wrist and the cigar was lit, a few practiced puffs to get it smoldering nicely. That done, Hood just stood with near perfect stillness, calmly studying the garden and yard, especially the gaggle of bodyguards, the lay of the wall, the cameras, even the guests. He was being payed very well for this job, so he would make a good show of it, at least.
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#2
Jaxen strolled up to the Maison some thirty minutes following Mr. Arrabat. Unlike the old man, digital identification alone got him in the building. Of course, it was never about actual protection. The Baccarat staff weren’t authenticating any of the identification, only cross-checking names with those on ‘the list.’ It was about elitism. If you want in, your name had to be on the list. To get on the list, you had to have the right connections. It was all one, long-standing, annoying trope dating back to powdered wigs and joustings. And avoiding that the exact sort of thing was what landed Jaxen in Mumbai for his teenage years. Which explained the look of shock on his older ‘sister’s’ darling face when she saw him meandering through display cases.

“Jaxen!”
She exclaimed, scolding already, blinking with that same sort of irritated woman-flutter that also proceeded Aisha’s string of colorful insults only that morning. He didn’t know if it were the serrated daggers cutting from her dark eyes or the heat in her open-palmed slap, but either way, bearing the brunt of her volcanic anger was worth losing a date tonight. Speaking of blackened waterfalls of hair whipping about, Zoey’s tilted, accusing eyes were waiting on his answer.

“What’d you say? Oh. Why didn’t I tell the family I was back in Moscow?”
He trailed off, catching a glimpse of his profile in one of those glass cases. It seemed his run-in with the floor of that dusty bookshop did good things for his hair. It was looking purposefully disheveled at the moment, and you simply can’t fake that kind of authenticity. Of course, it was the fine-lined laser beam cutting along the seam of the case’s door which more fully captured his attention.

Satisfied, he continued matter-of-factly. “Simple, my dear sister, I did not want any of you to know.”
He turned back to her, snatching a champagne glass from a passing tray as he did, only to hold it aloft and study the crystal rainbows piercing the liquid like rays of sunshine streaking through broken clouds. “This is nice stuff,”
he said idly then took a drink and blinked while the thin line of Zoey’s lips twisted with frustration.

“Except you, of course, Zo!”
He wrapped his arm around her skeletal little shoulders and steered her through the crowd once more. She was half a foot-shorter than he, but the sisterly-frustration soon melted a few steps into the tour. Of all his siblings, he actually liked his adopted one the most. Probably because she was actually unrelated.

A good thirty minutes was plenty of time to circle the room, check out the windows, vents, grates and most importantly, every single case. They were rigged almost exactly the same as any high-dollar jewelry store and his fingers itched to caress the glass. Of course, thirty minutes was plenty of time to smudge surprisingly clear fingerprints everywhere he could be sure they’d last the night. Then there was plenty of running his fingers through his hair, often paired with a cheeky grin, and flicking the loose bits in key places. He was planting DNA, obviously. In case some wayward sample found its way into sensors during the future investigation on the horizon, Jaxen Marveet would register as a recent guest in Baccarat, a fact to render any evidence of his involvement as invalid. Such tricks wouldn’t work at the Kremlin, of course. At least as far as what he heard about their technology. Then again, only a fool would rob the Kremlin.

It was also enough time to warrant the need to take a leak. The facilities were shown to him, and were put to good use as well, one might say. And not just for the mirrors. This red tie was great, too. Now that he had a proper mirror for a critique. It was bright red, narrow and sleek. The remaining clothes were snug, even for such formal attire. It was habit, actually. Cloth flapping in the wind simply wasn’t practical.

Done, Jaxen took the long way back round to the main room. Walking around like you owned the place went a long way toward freedom, but he eventually found restricted areas. Not the sort barred by velvet ropes and pleasant little signs, but with actual barricades. Involving muscles. And bullets. Things Jaxen definitely steered clear of, though his interest was certainly piqued.

He ended up outside, one hand draped loose in a pocket. Just a guy taking a little stroll.
"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."
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#3
Hood let out a long exhale of cigar smoke, absently worrying at the uncut end to savor the taste of it. The technological security of the yard seemed about what he would expect of so rich an establishment. Undoubtedly, some high-end security company. He had to hope they had a separate system, that no outside organization knew of.

His gaze slowly swept from right to left; scanning left to right, much like when you were trying to read, was an ingrained motion and people missed details. Right to left required more attention, and details were more likely to stand out.

Details like a familiar face in a fresh change of clothes. A quiet harrumph of annoyance, and he pulled away the cigar long enough to tap some ash clear while watching the man's meandering around the room. At first glance, the man obviously hadn't seen a day of work in his life. The sort of spoiled rich brat that paid people to do things for him. Perhaps his interest was entirely artistic in nature. And maybe he just really enjoyed the feel of glass. Yeah, right.

And that probably would have been the entirety of Hood's opinion of Jaxen, had they not crossed paths at that damn book store. Jaxen knew a pick pocket, fairly well apparently. The lad had listened to the pretty-boy without a fuss. So what did that mean? That Jaxen had risen to riches through hard work from a life on the streets? Unlikely. Maybe he was paranoid...he was probably paranoid...Hood frowned briefly...yeah, he was paranoid. But it was usually for good reason. So Jaxen wasn't just some flimsy useless rich kid who loved art.

By the time Jaxen wandered outside, Hood's cigar was down to a well-chewed nub. A passing waiter's eyes bulged in surprise when Hood dropped the dead cigar into an empty wine glass on the man's tray, but like before, the waiter took one look at Hood and continued on his way rather them voicing an objection.

He adjusted his tie, tightening it a bit now that he was done with his cigar, and half turned towards Jaxen. "Got two pieces of advice for you. First piece. Let that idiot runt of yours know, he causes me any more trouble, I'll cut his index fingers off."
To exemplify the comment, he produced a second cigar and neatly cut the tip off with the same snip as before; it would take little imagination to figure out that that tool, with a strong hand, could easily take a finger off. "Second piece? You want to visit the Baccarat Mansion again, best way to do it? Front door, with an invitation in hand."


Out came his zippo and he lit his second cigar; they were middle-of-the-road things. Probably from an actual dedicated smoke shop, but definitely not off the top shelf. His tone was quiet, such that it wouldn't be overheard by any other guests; he wasn't out to publicly embarrass Jaxen, after all. Just some friendly advice, of the sort meant to steer someone away from a bullet between the eyes.
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#4
There were a few sort of details in the world Jaxen made a point to keep in his periphery. One strolled by about then, on her way elsewhere in a flutter of diamonds nestled low on her neckline. Another pricked his eyes up and lateral: the tell-tale dot of a camera lens in a corner. Then there was the buzzing vibration of the Wallet in its holster. As the warning was thankfully quiet all night, he'd let himself relax a little. Take his time.

He could spot a woman's drink three sips before it was empty like a hound to the scent. Of course, such a talent did no man a lick of good unless he could identify with a single glance the composition of drink in her hand so to bring her a refill. Unfortunately, Jaxen couldn't smell gin in a juniper store let alone guess specific compositions. He'd have better luck throwing darts blindfolded and stumbling drunk; actually, that he could do. Kind of. So he couldn't identify a drink, but he could get on well with the bartender early. An extra payoff later and while some broad's date was off waiting in line to get her a refill, in swoops Jaxen with a cold glass and succulent garnish. The knight in shining armor. At least, a knight bearing alcohol. Which was about the same thing.

He unfortunately did not spot rent-a-cop so early on as he himself had been. In fact, there were far more fascinating things to monopolize Jaxen's attention than one security guard with a stick up his ass. Although he had not half-bad taste in cigars. In fact, it was the sweet musk of cigar aromas which turned Jax more than the chunk of meat that was -- what did the old man call him? Ahh yes. Mister White. Poor bastard.

He checked out his nails while Mr. White made his show. Which was actually rather impressive. And the extra bit with the snipping of the cigar? Jaxen felt his brows raise in surprise. So much so, Jaxen barked out a short, amused laugh.

"Yeah? Well if that one bothers you again, my good man, you have my full permission to cut off anything you want!"
He double tapped Hood on the chest, hard, with one curled finger. Pretty sure the man wouldn't rip his arm out of his socket for doing so. This one seemed like the sort to like his personal space. He wondered how that sack of skin Denis would take to having things snipped off. He'd probably be adverse to the idea.

But it was the second piece of advice sunk in far more deeply. So much so, Jaxen stood back, looking thoroughly impressed, nodding as he glanced around. He rubbed the shorn stubble on his chin thoughtfully as his mind geared into mental images of barricaded rooms, guards, muscle, and guns. Now, what, private security was threatening he keep to the front door? Actually, come to think of it--
"The front door, huh?"
The door itself wasn't anything outstanding. The usual sort of thing for Nikolskaya street. Security encasing the door probably made it impenetrable. But probably left a lot of room in the bed for when maybe slept over. And that was the sort of niche-specialty Jaxen could fill all night long.

He eye'd the newly lit cigar: the label, the ease by which it took to flame. Then there was the careless way by which Mr. White dropped the ashes and tip. Composed upon the image of the same annoyed man in the bookshop, Jaxen felt he had a decent read on the man sharing his air space.

"Oh come on, Mister White? Is it? What's a mall-cop care about a place like this? Unless your old man's pimping you out to Baccarat on the side? That smells fantastic by the way."
He nodded at the orange glow diffusing in and out of brightness every few moments. "You don't happen to have a third shoved down in some pocket do you?"
Jax grinned expectantly. He had to ask.
Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Jul 22 2013, 06:36 PM.
"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."
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#5
The pretty-boy was certainly a ballsy one. The real question though, was whether Jaxen's bravado came from wealth and naivety, or from real world experience and actual testicular fortitude. Hood lowered his gaze marginally to watch Jaxen poke him in the chest, and when he looked back up his features had hardened. There was no barely-contained-rage, no dangerous smirk, his features were just...harder. There was a long and well-savored thought of breaking the man's hand, or maybe his elbow too. Dislocate the shoulder, or break his knee?

Of course, he couldn't exactly hospitalize some pansy rich kid at an expensive gala. Not without repercussions. So he let the insult pass, this time. The man's questions were met with a quiet frown; especially regarding the cigars. He had brought four, in case this job turned out to be painfully long and boring, and the thought of sharing one with this fellow was less then appealing.

"I couldn't give two flying fucks about this place."
He rolled his cigar between his teeth briefly, then pulled a third cigar from an inside jacked pocket, handing it to Jaxen. "Consider it a piece of friendly advice. Not worth the trouble."
There was nothing friendly about his tone. There wasn't anything particularly threatening either; it was a simple statement of fact. He didn't care about the Baccarat mansion; it was what was underneath that mattered, and there was no chance this fancy-suited twit would get anywhere close to what was down there. They'd kill him first. Hell, they'd probably kill him just for breaking in. Hence the advice to just not cause any trouble.

The cigar snip and lighter were offered as needed, and Hood thumbed the ash from his cigar before taking another few puffs to keep it smoldering properly. Of course, if the lad did go ahead and try, then it would be a good test of the Atharim's security. Try and fail, and Hood would probably be able to negotiate a small bonus for his under-the-table consultation work he was currently doing. And if the lad succeeded, somehow, to get in and out with a sack full of loot, it would mean that the company he worked for would get a security consultation contract. So either way, it was good for Hood.
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#6
For a long---incredibly long---second, Jaxen worried he'd pushed things too far. Hood darkened considerably, and Jax was keenly aware of their difference in size. Then there was that gun he so kindly showed the Red Square devils back at that bookstore. Of course, in the back of his mind, Jaxen was not worried about being shot in the back. No, that was relatively unlikely, unless Hood was a maniac, in which case the man's employer was going to be in shit up to their eyeballs if one of their own shoots up the very place he was sent to protect. Nah, Jax was far more concerned about the greater possibility of simply being punched in the face. But he didn't back down. The thing about Jax, he could take his mistakes like a man. And take serious notes about how to handle things for the next go-around.

But Hood did nothing of the sort. Instead he offered the very thing Jaxen asked: another cigar. And the thrill of victory curled down Jaxen's spine. He grinned, quite surprised at the generous gift, and gave the cigar a playful roll through his fingers. More so when Hood volunteered the snip and lighter without Jaxen having to ask for them, though there was something about the time limits of matches he preferred more than a zippo.

"Much thanks my good man."
He gave the cigar a savoring sniff and exhaled fondly. He tore the slim foil off. It was a label he recognized though had yet to try before. He wasn't quite the snob about such things as he ought. After all, a cheap cigar was still a cigar.

He got the thing going easily enough and returned Hood's things to him. The two men just stood there in silence for a while, and for Jaxen's part, enjoyed himself. In the interim, he tapped ash into an empty Old Fashioned glass someone abandoned nearby. Just because Jaxen intended on robbing the place didn't mean he didn't respect it. So far the item leading the race for his interest was a sweet little horsehead figurine. The animal's head was tucked down tight, as though being reigned in or perhaps held in a prancing pose, and its mane was tied into short knots. Something about it caught his eye. Though he wasn't sure why. It's not like he knew anything about horses. There was, however, a figurine of a long, curling snake looped through the branches of a display case like a serpent in a tree. That thing sent shivers down his spine. Enough that he stayed on lingered on the other side of the room for a while. Fucking snakes.

He eventually meandered back into considering Hood's advice, seriously considering it. For at least a second or two. As far as he could tell, and Jaxen knew what he was about, getting in and out of here would be no more complicated than surfing a podunk roadside jewelry store. Just the kind of thing to get his blood flowing. His jaw parted, and Jax let the smoke leak out slowly. It really wasn't a half-bad cigar. "Nah. No trouble at all."
Then he thought for a second and offered a hand, "Jaxen, a pleasure. So. What branch were you in?"
He lifted his brows, actually curious and not just to size up the guy; well, not completely anyway. Almost every high-profile security worth their salt were former military. Any billionaire rich kid could see that. At least, the ones that paid attention.
"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."
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#7
Hood was beginning to suspect the man's bravado was less wealth and ignorance and more from having actually experienced things in his life. That was illustrated by Jaxen's momentary doubt; most useless rich kids couldn't even process the thought that someone may just up and punch them, protected as they were with their wealth and power. So at least there might have been some substance to Jaxen. And it lent credence to his belief that the pretty boy was here for more interesting, if ill-advised, reasons then most of the other guests.

He entertained the thought of crushing the man's hand when he offered to shake, but in the end Hood just shook his hand. There was no Alpha Male display of grip, but it wasn't exactly friendly either. Just a nod to 'proper etiquette.'

"United States Marines. After the third I.O.U. fiasco, figured it was time for greener pastures."
He plucked his cigar and flicked the ash into the same discarded glass before taking another couple of puffs to keep it smoldering. Much like everything about him, there wasn't much emotion to the statement; it wasn't true of course, but there was some truth to it. The golden age of bottomless pockets was over, and in recent years the payroll department had actually run out of money to pay the troops. Never for more then a week or two before it would be sorted out, but it had made big news in the CCD, who had blown it out of proportions.
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#8
One hand shake and another little curl of a smile flecked Jax's expression. Mister White either had an extremely high threshold for annoyances or he was an extremely well-behaved little dog. Well, not exactly little dog. At least a mid-grown pomeranian. A really fluffy one. Jax was more of a cat-fellow himself. They were far less work. And less yappy.

He enjoyed the cigar a little while longer, trying to picture Mister White as an American marine. Though the man rose a level or two in Jaxen's mind for moving on out of that bottomless pit taking up the other side of the world. Not that the place was entirely worthless. Jax did just spend six months touring wine country California, mostly because the coasts were not quite as shiny as they were before the tsunamis of twenty-five years ago, at least, according to the pictures. Its not like Jaxen was a Cali surfer dude at four years old--he may have been four, but he wasn't retarded.

"Well Moscow is definitely green,"
he broke some time later. About the same time he noticed a smudge of ash having wafted on the wind toward his sleeve. His white sleeve. "Hrm,"
he mumbled to himself, considering the problem, tapping the cigar clean as he did. A couple more long draws of smoke, savoring the flavor in his mouth and truly far too relaxed to care about the sleeve at the moment. Or ever, really. But his time with the cigar was over. And so was this conversation with Mister White.

He dropped the discarded cigar in the aforementioned Old-Fashioned and gestured at his sleeve, small smudge of ash apparent on the cloth. "Suppose I should go take care of this,"
he grinned a devilish grin and ducked out. "Later, Mister White."


Back indoors, he pulled the red tie from his throat and dropped it in a trash can while making his way back toward the first floor restroom. Then, in a private moment, just before ducking up a flight of stairs linking the kitchen staff to the upper floors, he slipped the white tux jacket off and flipped it inside out. When he put it back on, he was the perfect image of a black-coated server. Where he worked back-halls for the duration of the gala, buying time until it was over. At least he could say he was invited in fair and square. He just simply didn't leave with everyone else.
"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."
Reply
#9
Hood was perfectly comfortable with Jaxen's long silence. He observed guests, or the escorting bodyguards off in the corner of the yard. He didn't seem terribly taken with any of the women that were wandering about; the occasional glance to appreciate the view, but none seemed able to distract him for more then a second or two before being dismissed. A beautiful woman was fine and dandy, but these ones didn't have much substance to them.

When Jaxen took his leave, Hood let him go without comment, just a vaguely affirmative grunt of acknowledgement, then discarded his own finished cigar and took to his rounds of the building. Either a stroke of luck, or added effort on Jaxen's part, the two didn't cross paths again, and eventually it came to the time that one of the servants gave Hood word that Mr Arrabat was ready to take his leave. They'd been there near five hours already, longer then he had expected the old man would want.

He had little doubt that Jaxen was still plotting to get himself into trouble, but if the Atharim couldn't protect their own front door from a burglar, then they had more issues then he had suspected. It would be interesting to see if they could handle it on their own, or if Jaxen would be smart enough to be spooked off before digging himself too deep.

That late in the evening, there was still plenty of traffic on the roads, but local authorities continued to give priority to the guests of the Baccarat Mansion's soiree, and Hood had little trouble having their car brought around. Not an hour later, Mr Arrabat was seen safely to his hotel, where other security measures were in place (the man's personal guards had arrived on a separate flight to help throw off those interested in tracking the old man's movements), and Hood was dismissed.
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#10
Jaxen kept to himself the rest of the night. He stayed out of public view for the most part. Excluding the one time this impromptu cover was nearly blown by some drunk idiot stomping back to the "servants dominion" demanding something which Jaxen said he'd fetch immediately, only to take the quickest route to a broom closet and stay there. At least long enough for the drunk to mumble out of audible range.

As this truly was an impromptu ordeal, he had no programmable ID cards. Wallet, yes. Blank swipes, no. Which required lifting one from another server. Which only increased his curiosity. What kind of crystal museum made servers swipe badges just to take a piss in their own bathrooms? Very curious.

Luckily, he did have the Wallet on hand. While he studied the engineering renderings earlier, there were surprising discrepancies between those digital files and what was staring at him square in the face. Like the men's bathroom he was currently touring. He was on the second floor, in the back of the building alongside those stairs leading down to the kitchens. According to the plans, the wall at which he was now staring should be shared with an old boiler room. Part of the system cleaned out and overhauled during the next-to-last round of the building's renovations. A boiler which should not be in operation. However, the Wallet was picking up magnetic frequencies consistent with the thrum of electrical equipment. Heavy electrical equipment. What the fuck was behind this wall?

In the hallway outside, if there was ever an entrance to the room it was now completely obliterated by new drywall and fancy wallpaper. Not one to be thrown off the scent idly, he ended up taking his time, all the while looking busy of course, and scoured the other areas of the floor for similarly configured magnetic disturbances.

He eventually figured out space in question was flanked by two load bearing walls. Which was odd to have configured in such close quarters unless--of course--they were bearing something really heavy upstairs. Which of course meant he had to find his way upstairs. About midnight he used his freshly swiped server's badge to let himself into the private residence of whatever heir was lucky enough to squalor in Baccarat billions now sucking down high-quality smog of inner Moscow. It was well after midnight by then and whoever lived up here had retired for the night. Or passed out. Or flat out wasn't there at all, and Jaxen was hardly worried about being caught.

The thrill of shock, however, tore through his veins when he realized what was up here. A bloody elevator. The doors were sealed tight, though, and the dim lights of a control panel glowed alongside. It was severely advanced. There was a QR reader to start the system. Likely upon verification it powered up the touchpad for keycodes. Then if that wasn't enough, which actually it wasn't, there was even a slot for blood samples, which meant a fucking DNA reader!

He turned around. A slow circle to study where he was. Somebody lived here, with a private elevator that skipped at least two floors. As there was no where to go up. It meant only one direction. Down.

The basements.

All thoughts of crystal figurines fled his mind.

Jaxen left the elevator behind. He had no hope of hacking something like that without adequate preparations and he was literally flying by the seat of his pants here. Yet he wasn't going to leave empty handed. The thrill of having to know carried him stealthily downward. Until he was back in the kitchens area, seeking clues around the same load-bearing walls behind which thrummed that same magnetic signature consistent with electronics. That meant the elevator shaft was riddled with security. Lasers. Motion capture software. Facial recognition cameras, likely.

His skin crawled uncontrollably. He had to know what was in the basements. He remembered passing muscle and guns when he first arrived, and understood now their presence. Though it was foolish to try for that entrance. If it was guarded, it was the obvious way in. And Jaxen never did what was obvious.

He searched the dark, freshly cleaned kitchens, thinking. From his time out back with Hood, he knew there were no usuable windows. There was no crawl space. There was no way in, but there had to be a way out. If only for keeping with fire code. Going through the floor itself? Another staircase?

Elevator shafts--There had to be a way to access the electrical. The building was constructed before such things existed, after all. Which meant the walls were bound by the limits of the decade the place was erected. If there was a way to access the electrical from inside, that meant there was a grid box somewhere, and that meant it could be shut down. He eventually found the panel in question, flipped open the door and stared at the sleek switches reminiscent of fuses, but the longer he stared the more he knew it was not going to work so easily. Such things always triggered alarms.

He was sweating by then, not even having realized it from all the excitement. And undid the top few buttons of his shirt, shrugged off the jacket, wadded it up and placed it beneath one of the enormous gas grills. The next time the chefs turned it on, the jacket -- and all DNA -- would be instantly incinerated. Strange how so much fire was so easily contained.

The fresh air instantly made him feel cooler, and the refreshed memory lit a brilliant idea. Elevator shafts required proper air moving equipment to provide smoke control in the event of a fire. Pressurized shafts allow firefighters to make use of shafts, but the systems were also used for the case of evacuation. And where someone could evacuate. Someone could infiltrate.

Which meant, he had to start a fire. It'd give him a few minutes, but the depressurization would shut down in anticipation of evac-teams. The elevator itself would freeze in whatever position it was in, and Jaxen could easily shimmy down a wall. Bouldering was one of his hobbies, after all. And excellent practice for his main extracurricular activity.

He pulled a newly acquired zippo from his pants pocket, tossed it in his hands along with a handsomely amused smile, and flipped it open a few times. "Thank-you, Mister White,"
he said to himself. With the mall-cop's handy little zippo, the fire itself was easy to start. Smoke along the proper sensor immediately triggered silent alarms, but Jaxen was prepared. The second the thrumming of electronics silenced, he slipped into the shaft, zippo safely back in his pocket, and fingered his way down half a level to land atop the elevator itself, situated at basement level.

Heart pounding, he peered at the tower of darkness looming overhead, waited about a minute, then shimmied through the hatch and dropped inside. In Fire Escape mode, the depressurization made it possible to split the doors apart with his fingers, enough anyway that once began, they automatically opened all the way. Jaxen grinned victoriously and checked out what he'd discovered.

Into the middle of a shitstorm.

They of course knew he was coming. Not immediately, but those silent alarms were unusual to say the least. The Atharim weren't idiots, afterall. But right then, waltzing into a dragon's hoarde of Kremlin stolen jewels couldn't have shocked him more. Everything he knew about security pretty much disintegrated from his mind.

It was a brightly lit, wide open room. White-walled and new. Nothing at all like a dusty basement. Three guys in street clothes looked up, firearms aimed straight at his chest. A blink of an eye and Jaxen spun out of the door's entrance just as they started to close and the men opened fire. The crack of bullets embedding into the back of the elevator shook his ear drums until the fully sealed doors cut off the sound.

Too shocked to even give himself time to panic, he put a foot on a rail and jumped as hard as he could, gripping the edges of the hatch, swinging hard to get momentum, and kicked up with enough force to pull himself on up, just as the doors opened once more. He barely got his feet out of the way before rounds shot up in the space he literally just occupied.

From there he had no idea how he managed to climb so fast, nor where the strength came to do so eaisly. Yet it seemed like a millisecond later and he was scrambling back into the darkness of the kitchens. But the men in this building weren't idiots. Another pair were already running up.

The lights suddenly flipped on and Jaxen didn't take the time to look. He squinted, ducked and rolled. A moving target was harder to hit than a sitting duck after all. But these guys were good at their jobs. Not military! Not devils! What the hell were they!?

He had a decent head start, but he wasn't going as fast as he thought he ought to be running. But there wasn't time to consider why. He made it to the door he'd taken earlier when meeting Hood in the back. All evidence of their previous conversation was gone by now, but as soon as Jaxen hit fresh air, he accelerated. The fence across the garden was too high to climb. But the gate was fucking locked! Locked! He fumbled for his picking case from his jacket, but realized he didn't have it. Just the bloody wallet in its holster. Duh! He hadn't actually meant to break in this place tonight! Just check it out. Fuck! This is what happens when breaking from the plan.

He heard them coming. Heard the voices. All the way from across the garden, he fucking heard them getting close. He looked around, for some way up and over the wall. But it was impossible to jump. Even for him. "Shit!"
He ripped at the lock in frustration, and to his bloody luck, the thing fell off in his hand.

There wasn't time to consider the impossibility of that. But Jaxen went with it.

He threw the broken thing to the dirt and ran for it. Ran for his life.





<small>((Hood's zippo stolen with permission))</small>


Continued at Laying low


Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Jul 29 2013, 11:38 AM.
"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."
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