Friday, October 7, 2016

Kragor the Merc: Raising the Stakes


Time flies. Another month has passed with the Apex Predators. Yes, the name has stuck. Felt a bit silly at first but you need a name and now no one is laughing. Though admittedly I'm not nearly in as good a shape as I want to be but I am getting there. That thing about teaching old dogs is just some silly bullshit, ain't it?

Thoughts drifted towards my old team now and then - you know, those whose bodies rot on the mountain side of Dukkha thanks to their stupidity. But this was different; even Juron had acquired a certain professional outlook you wouldn't expect from someone who regularly put needles in his arm for the fun of it. As money kept coming it was a transformation for all of us. Did I mention Juron somehow managed to acquire - and pay for - a fiberplate armor? For my part I was determined not to let old habits get in the way of it this time. Lucas early morning jog had once made me laugh but admittedly he never came up last when trekking in the wild. I just hope no one recognized me in those old sweats as I tailed him around town - haven't worn them for years so odds are on my side I guess. Despite the cold air I haven't been as sweaty for ages and I probably used the showers more often the last few weeks than two months prior combined. It does seem to be paying off however; a patrol job on foot isn't pure hell anymore.

A slightly less welcome observation was the money spending cycle. The more you earn the more you spend. Seen it before - done it before. That's how you end up with nothing left when the shit eventually hit the fan. But getting older is supposed to make you wiser? I'll be damned if I fall back into that hole ever again. From now on there is only one direction: forward.

Other things were moving as well: Erza and me had spent some time looking for more intel on the sword-swinger dude who chopped Lucas' arm off. While Erza had gained some solid information about how to contact the guy - don't know how the fuck that's supposed to work out - I struck a bit of luck on a side track. Tyrgil Blackbourne - a corp "friend" of mine - didn't know anything about the person I was asking about but did remember an old inquiry I'd made about a bounty. Apparently there was rumors floating around town about several high profile bounties being seen in the outskirts of town, as if someone was arranging to keep them out of sight. Also some people spreading the rumors have ended up dead, which in this town serves as a sort of proof-of-authenticity. It certainly seemed worth looking into, though it would take some time.

As a new month dawned we found an interesting offer from the Lightbringers. From my knowledge a bunch of whacky religious dudes but apparently in need of "escort and security". Our meeting with them the following morning was... interesting. Ed, who had been caught up on a different job, wasn't there but we others had all suited up in our new gear - better gear, better payment after all - only to find out we wouldn't find out very much. We were to meet with a guy who was heading out to dinner on a ferry anchoring a few hours off the shore. We'd be protecting him along with performing additional "requests" which would be explained on the way. All which was actually printed on the contract was our payment. It would be interesting.

As it turned out it was going to be more cloak and dagger than I had expected. The ferry turned out to be a luxury cruise and we would probably be required to "fit in". This meant we made a stop at the market on our way to the pick-up spot to buy some suitable clothes. I don't really want to talk about it.

In addition the Lightbringers provided us with some low profile gear and some standard suits before we met up with our protegĂ©e named Duran on his private yacht. He served us drinks and food and seemed far too less business-minded for my taste. The small crew seemed experienced - probably in more fields than required by their current duties of handling the boat and serving drinks. It was all just a show - the question was for what purpose.

Eventually, as we left the harbor, Duran explained that our main task once we reached the ferry was to collect a suitcase from a contact of his working below deck. Said suitcase should then be delivered to a private pier in the outskirts of Dormicas, while he was to stay aboard the ferry. It was very unlike anything we've done before, but not outside our capacity. Posing as Duran's body guards for 24h hour on the ferry proved easy enough - as was picking up the suitcase. It was during the 12h back to shore that our skills would be put to a more difficult test.

As we anticipated the authorities could be interfering we discussed a suitable story. Eventually it was decided that Lucas would play the role as the owner of Duran's yacht while Angeline and Erza would change to their newly bought bikinis (I said I didn't want to talk about it) and pose as floozies. Thankfully I got the role as Lucas' legal counsel. What we were to do with Juron we didn't know; Erza forced him to hide away his fiberplate and then we just hoped no one would notice him.

The story was put to the test as we was boarded by a coastal patrol vessel. Let's just say we survived - and no one else died either for that matter. At the end of the day we got paid and while I don't mind the odd undercover mission I definitely want more time to prepare an outfit for the next one. And brace my mind for what ever the others come up with, apparently.

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