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File: thug quest 31.jpg (108 KB, 1080x1350)
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In the year 1986, crime in the United States is at an all-time high. Criminals, drugs, and guns flow in and out of the country from everywhere in the world, and the gateway to it all is the coastal paradise, Heat City. On the neon-soaked streets of this beating heart of scum and villany, you can get whatever you want -- if you can pay the price.

You are Alexandra Schafer, Alex to your friends, formerly a mercenary and operator in the high-stakes world of private military contractors. In war zones across Europe and Africa, in dusty fields and high hills and bombed-out towns, you walked a killer's road for anyone who had the money and connections to hire your team. You got orders from the boss, you followed them, you got paid. It was simple. When that all went wrong, you had to leave everything behind. Ever since you're just an ordinary gun for hire in the mean streets of Heat City, America.

At least you were, until a job went south and your employer tried to backstab you. It wasn't even personal. Just blowback as part of an asshole kid's power play, which itself is just part of some big-picture scheme. But it got you good and mad all the same. Now your goal is to track down whoever's responsible, the man pulling the kid's strings and running things behind the scenes, and show him just what you think about that.

For better or worse that's mostly involved playing minder to a great lump of muscle called Johnny Bones, an ordinary thug who happened to get wrapped up in the same situation as you. Ever since then he's been bulldozing his way through one problem after another, and in the process, he's got both of you tangled up in the conflict between two rival crime syndicates and escalating a tense standoff into all-out war.

Meanwhile you just do your best to keep both of you from being killed. He always manages to get in over his head.
>>
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>>2568332

Updates: http://twitter.com/ravenkingquests

Previous Threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Thug%20Quest

Discord: https://discord.gg/3HegtNU
>>
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>>2568332
>>2568336


So a good example of how Johnny always gets himself into trouble would be how five minutes ago he jumped into a hovercraft and went speeding off into a swamp full of drug runners, with only a teenage girl as backup, leaving you behind.

You stand in a swamp shanty, the walls chewed up by bullet holes. You're surrounded by Triad corpses and holding a mostly-spent assault rifle. Stepping outside, you survey the ruins of the sprawling mess of shacks the Triads were using as a depot for drug runs into the city. Then you head out to the dock and look out at the path through the mangroves that Johnny disappeared into. The water is still disturbed by the hovercraft's passage.

You just know he's getting into trouble without you. Again.

"Should we go after him?" asks the girl next to you. This is the other teenager, the twin of the one who left with Johnny. Addy, she says. Lot of enthusiasm and not much else. You're mostly on your own for this one.

There's a speedboat you and the girl can use to follow Johnny and, once again, stop him from getting himself killed. Before that, you:

>Call him on the two-way radio.
>Search the wrecked drug depot for cash, drugs, or information.
>Check the Triad bodies for anything useful, and make sure they're all dead.
>Switch weapons for something with more ammo.
>Say something to Addy.
>Write-in
>>
>>2568372
>>Search the wrecked drug depot for cash, drugs, or information.
>>
>>2568372
>Search the wrecked drug depot for cash, drugs, or information.
>Check the Triad bodies for anything useful, and make sure they're all dead.
>Say something to Addy
Help
>>
>>2568372
>Call him on the two-way radio.
I like Alex's internal monologue already. Good shit QM.
>>
>>2568372
>Call him on the two-way radio.
>"Go make sure these guys are dead and take anything that looks useful. You did good by the way."
>>
>>2568372
>>Check the Triad bodies for anything useful, and make sure they're all dead.
>>
>>2568372
>>2568375
>>2568379
>>2568380
>>2568383
>>2568463


"We'll go after him soon," you say to Addy. "First we need to check this place over. I'll look around for anything useful. You go make sure these guys are dead. How's your ammo?"

The girl checks her snub-nosed revolver's cylinder, rummages in her pockets, then shrugs. "Empty."

You pick up one of the Triad gangsters' pistols from the ground and scrutinize it. Type 77, service weapon for China's PLA, 7.62 caliber. Good enough. You spin it around to hand it to Addy grip-first. "Use this if you have to." She takes it with a delighted grin and skips off.

Ignoring the occasional pistol shot and the sadistic glee of the girl who is clearly enjoying her job too much, you start searching the remains of the swamp shacks. You find some stacks of cash, some duffel bags of black lotus, and some papers written in Chinese. You grab some of the more important-looking papers and stuff them into one of your vest's empty pockets. In the other pocket you put what looks like the highest-denomination bankroll.

Now's probably a good time to see what Johnny's gotten himself into. You detach the two-way radio from the clip at your shoulder and hold it up. "Hey tough guy. What's your sitch?"

Over the radio you hear the big lug's voice, distorted with static. "Hey Alex. I seem to have got myself into a spot of trouble."

What a surprise. "Oh yeah? What sort of trouble today?"

"Well, me and Madison are each in separate airboats in the middle of a lake, and we're pinned down by a sniper. We can't start up the boats without getting tagged. And we have no idea where he is."

"Coordinates?"

"Maybe half a klick west, as the crow flies."

Looks like another average day of pulling Johnny's ass out of the fire. "I'll do what I can. Just remember this the next time you think about charging off without me. For now, sit tight until I get there."

"Roger."

(Continued)
>>
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>>2568520

Addy rejoins you with a big smile on her face and fresh blood on her sneakers. Both of you get into the speedboat, and after a few yanks on the ripcord you get the old motor sputtering to life. Been a while since you steered a boat, but the basics are pretty obvious. You open the throttle and the boat heads out into the dense network of winding rivers and hidden lakes, steering west as best you can.

Coordinating with Johnny and what landmarks he remembers from his rapid journey through the swamp, you manage to get your boat close without being spotted -- or at least, without being shot at. Just around the corner of a thicket of mangrove trees you can see a wide-open lake with two airboats just sitting there right in the middle. You delay calling Johnny to alert him you're there, in case he gives it away somehow. For now you've still got surprise on your side.

Choose 2:
>What is the best way in?
>What is the best escape route?
>What should I be on the lookout for?
>What is the biggest threat to me?
>What is the most vulnerable to me?
>What is my enemy's position?
>Write-in
>>
>>2568528
>What is my enemy's position?
>What is the biggest threat to me?
>>
>>2568528
>>What is my enemy's position?
>What is the most vulnerable to me?
>>
>>2568528
>What should I be on the lookout for?
>What is my enemy's position?
>>
>>2568528
>What is my enemy's position?
>What is the best way in?
>>
>>2568528
>What is my enemy's position?
>What is the most vulnerable to me?
>>
>>2568528
>>2568531
>>2568536
>>2568540
>>2568610
>>2568612
The enemy is vulnerable to you as long as you have the element of surprise. Snipers have to stay zeroed in on their targets. Any lapse in concentration gives an opportunity to escape. So as long as you can act without getting spotted first, you should have the advantage.

You check your ammo reserves for your assault rifle, but you don't have any more magazines than the last five or six times you checked. Probably should've swapped weapons or restocked your clips when you had the chance. Too late now.

"Johnny," you say quietly into the radio. "Can you at least tell me what direction the shots were coming from?"

"North, I think," he says. "We sacrificed Madison's hat to check and the bullet line was straight north-to-south."

You survey the terrain. To the north and west are the mangrove thickets. To the east is a patch of muddy islands covered in dense foliage. You get out your rifle, put your eye to the scope, and begin to slowly examine the woods to the north.

The seconds tick past. Any moment now you might get spotted yourself and take a bullet in the head. Veteran snipers like to aim for the "apricot", a spot where the brain stem meets the brain, where the target dies instantly on impact. Here one moment, gone the next. If you were taken out right now, you'd probably never even realize it.

After a few tense minutes you spot the telltale glint of light reflecting on glass.

>Fire at the glint.
>Paddle the boat around to flank from the west.
>Abandon the boat and trek through the mud to flank from the east.
>Tell Addy to follow you.
>Tell Addy to separate and cause a distraction.
>Tell Addy to stay on the boat and keep her head down.
>Write-in
>>
>>2568528
>What should I be on the lookout for?
>What is the most vulnerable to me?
>>
>>2568635
>Fire at the glint and immediately preposition in case there's more than one snipers lurking around
>>
>>2568640
reposition*
>>
>>2568635
>>Fire at the glint.
>Tell Addy to stay on the boat and keep her head down.
>>
>>2568635
>>2568640
>>2568643

"Keep your head down," you say quietly to Addy. She flattens herself in the bottom of the airboat as best she can.

Slowly and carefully, you raise your rifle to point at the glint of light, and squeeze the trigger.


>Roll! First 1d10 only.

1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: They're forced to back off.
7-10: Direct hit.
>>
Rolled 2 (1d10)

>>2568658
>>
Rolled 1 (1d10)

>>2568658
Wonder what would have happened if I did it instead
>>
Rolled 1 (1d10)

>>2568658

>>2568665
Ditto this, but with good dice instead. I predict a 9.
>>
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>>2568665
>>2568677
I think the other quests stole our good dice
>>
Rolled 7, 9, 8, 5, 2, 9 = 40 (6d10)

>>2568681
Bad dice purge
>>
>>2568635
>>2568658
>>2568662


You hit your target and see the glass shatter. For a long few moments you wonder if you've hit your target. Then just as you lean back, a bullet whistles by the spot your head occupied just a moment ago, slashing the side of your neck with a stinging pain. You take cover in the bottom of the airboat alongside Addy, who screams in fear as several more shots ring out, the reports of a high-powered sniper, Dragunov SVD-63 maybe. Some of them ricochet off the metal frame of the airboat fan and engine.

The airboat's gas tank takes a hit, and a jet of fire gouts from the leak. Flaming gasoline spills out and sets fire to the airboat. "Out of the boat!" you shout at Addy, dragging her up and over the side, bullets whizzing by overhead, and you both splash into the muddy water.

Staying underwater, you haul Addy along until you reach the roots of the mangroves extending down into the soil, then haul yourself and the girl out of the water. You keep the trees between you and the sniper's real position. You take a moment to cough out some water along with some algae. Disgusting. You gingerly probe the bullet slash on your neck. Painful but not life-threatening, assuming you can wash the swamp muck out of it soon enough.

"He gave me the old shaving mirror trick," you mutter to yourself once you've got your breath back. "That son of a bitch."

"The what?" asks Addy.

"Ah -- it's a sharpshooter trick where before you get into your firing position, you set up a little mirror somewhere else. Anyone trying to counter-snipe sees it, thinks it's your rifle scope, shoots it. Gives away their position. Just like now."

Okay, so your rifle was back in the boat, which is now sinking into the swamp while on fire. You still have your pistol, but all your ammo is wet now, so it has a pretty good chance of misfiring. You check your radio, it fizzles but seems to be working. So you've got a combat knife and a radio up against a sniper with a high-powered rifle who knows how to duel another sharpshooter.

Perfect.

You've been in worse situations, right? There was that time in Zaire in the farmhouse, or that time you were stranded out in the open desert in Iran. This one is starting to get up there, though. And it keeps getting worse.

Addy asks, "So what do we--"

"I'm thinking," you growl at her.

The sniper saw you get out of the boat. He'll know you're in the trees close by, and he'll be watching closely. Johnny might be able to make a move, but what can he even do out there?

You take an educated guess at the sniper's real location. Looking over the landscape, you think that you might be able to make it there on foot. Whether you can do it without getting blasted is another story.

>Ask Johnny to cause a distraction while you approach in stealth.
>Ask Addy to cause a distraction.
>Cause a distraction yourself so Johnny can do something.
>Get Johnny to drive his airboat around and pick you up.
>Write-in
>>
>>2568708
>>Cause a distraction yourself so Johnny can do something.
Can't have the big lug getting shot now.
>>
>>2568708
>Cause a distraction yourself so Johnny can do something.
We have better cover so it’s safer for us to be the focus of attention
>>
>>2568708
>>Cause a distraction yourself so Johnny can do something.

Can we set anything on fire?
>>
>>2568708
>Cause a distraction yourself so Johnny can do something.
>>
>>2568708
>Ask Johnny to cause a distraction while you approach in stealth.
Johnny's the tank. He's meant to be the one distracting enemies. C'mon, anons.
>>
>>2568708
>>2568710
>>2568714
>>2568725
>>2568731


Your radio crackles and fizzles. "You all right?" you can make out Johnny saying. "What happened?"

"Shaving mirror trick," you say.

"Ah shit. He knows what he's doing then."

"Look, let's try this -- I'll cause a distraction. While the sniper's focused on me, that'll give you a chance to do something.

"Do what? I'm out of rifle ammo and I've got no idea where this son of a bitch is."

"My guess is that thicket to the northeast with three trees coming out the top. You've still got your pistol, right? When I draw the shooter's attention, charge the boat straight at him. If you pick up enough speed you should be able to use the front of the boat as cover. Once you get close, take him out or force him towards me."

"Are you sure? This sounds like -- well, it sounds more like one of my plans, if you get me."

You sigh and rub at the bloody wound in your neck. "Tell me about it. We're running out of options, Johnny. Just be ready."

You empty your canteen of water, then take out all your pistol bullets. You sort out the ones that look least likely to misfire and load one magazine for yourself. Then you take the rest of the bullets and dump them all into the canteen. At least a few should fire off. With some lighter fluid and a strip ripped off the bottom of your shirt, you create a fuse.

"I saw a man do this once in Tanzania," you say to Addy. "It worked out great." He didn't survive the encounter, but you don't mention that part.

You throw the improvised bullet grenade as hard as you can, then run in the other direction.

>Roll! First 1d10 is you, second is Johnny, third is ???

Your roll:
1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: You get closer at a cost.
7-10: You evade the sniper's fire and get closer.
>>
Rolled 8 (1d10)

>>2568759
>>
Rolled 1 (1d10)

>>2568759
Clutch time.
>>
>>2568762
Welp, that's it. I'm not gonna roll again for this thread. I was 4CxWvNjY, just swapped from 4G to WiFi.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d10)

>>2568759
>>
>>2568762
>>2568766
Typical
>>
>>2568759
Look. I'm just saying, a large enough fire like say from our gas tank if we can make it spread can provide a cover of smoke.

Anyways this is the 80s. Forest firest are cool.
>>
>>2568759
>>2568761
>>2568762
>>2568766


Your improvised noisemaker goes off, the bullets firing off and rattling around in the metal canteen, several of them punching out but none of them hitting anything except trees. The sniper takes the bait, several high-caliber shots firing into that area, cutting paths at chest height through the branches and leaves. You're running in the other direction, though, and for the moment you're concealed. Or at least no bullets are heading in your direction.

You hear an airboat motor gunning to life. Between the trees you can see Johnny's boat moving forward, and the man himself by the engine, steering straight for the thicket you pointed out. Over the rising roar of the engine you can hear him shouting, but not what he's saying. The enemy sniper begins to fire, the bullets ricocheting off the metal frame. Just before the boat reaches the thicket, a shot lodges in the fan mechanism, and the gears crunch to a sudden halt. The fan splits apart, chunks of fan blade flying in all directions. The boat swerves, crashes sideways into the mangroves, and flips over upside-down. The gas tank bursts, and the boat goes up in flames.

Okay, that could have gone better.

You don't see what happened to Johnny during all this, but you give him a 50/50 chance to come out practically unharmed.

The other option, of course, is that he ate a sniper bullet or a chunk of wayward airboat debris and is now helpless in the face of the enemy sniper.

You hurry forward.

The fire from Johnny's airboat begins to spread to the mangrove thicket. Your eyes are drawn to a motion nearby and you see a figure clad in a ghillie suit, a camouflague outfit covered in foliage of the swamp, holding a big rifle and hurrying away from the rising flames.

You hear footsteps behind you. Addy catches up to you, breathing heavily. You grab her by the shoulder and point towards the burning airship. "Addy, go see if Johnny's all right. I mean, it's Johnny, so he probably is. But you better check."

"What about you?"

You take out your pistol, not confident at all that it will fire, but ready to try. "I'm going after this son of a bitch."

>Chase after him, don't give him a chance to hide and set up again.
>Stay low and hidden, track the sniper's path.
>Circle around and approach at an angle.
>Write-in
>>
>>2568810
>>Stay low and hidden, track the sniper's path.
>>
>>2568810
>Stay low and hidden, track the sniper's path.
>>
>>2568810
>>Write-in

Can we make the fire bigger?

>Chase after him, don't give him a chance to hide and set up again.

Snipers are not fans of being rushed.
>>
>>2568815
>make the fire bigger
Not when Johnny's the most likely one to get caught in it. That said.

>Chase after him, don't give him a chance to hide and set up again.
Trying to play it stealthy when we have a rare chance to rush him down while he's repositioning is just letting him play his game again for no good reason.
>>
>>2568810
>Chase after him, don't give him a chance to hide and set up again.
>>
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>>2568815
>>2568819
>>2568829

Addy runs off to the flaming wreckage of the airboat while you stare after the fleeing figure in the camouflage suit.

He's not going anywhere. You won't let this guy get into hiding and play his games again. Time to change roles from mouse to cat. Pistol at the ready, you run after the enemy sniper, planning to rush him down before he can reposition. Finding and following a path of trampled foliage, you plunge deeper into the Greenglades swamp, hot on the trail of your quarry.
>>
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>>2568843
More tomorrow!
>>
>>2568850
Thanks bossman
>>
>>2568850
Thanks for the run, Glorious Leader. Good to see things from best girl's perspective.
>>
>>2568850
Glawd to see ya back Bawss Bawss
>>
This takes place in not-Florida?
>>
>>2569272
Not-Miami, pretty much, yeah.
>>
>>2568843
>>2568850


You hustle through the Greenglade swamp, crossing waterlogged meadows, passing through groves of vine-covered trees, and jumping over algae-infested streams. You stay hot on the trail of the enemy sniper who's just up ahead, the ghillie suit only visible against the foliage due to motion. He's weighed down by the rifle and heavy camouflage gear. With just a pistol on you, you're gaining ground. You stay fast enough to keep gaining while still keeping a lookout for sinkholes and crocodiles. You know that if you let this bastard get out of eyeshot, he'll get the chance to hide and turn the tables on you. So you'll just have to catch him before that happens.

>Roll! First 1d10 is you, second is ???, third is ???

1-3: The enemy sniper escapes.
4-6: You catch them, but you've had to follow them where they wanted to go.
7-10: You catch them after driving them right where you want them. (Say where)
>>
Rolled 3 (1d10)

>>2570904
>>
Rolled 6 (1d10)

>>2570904
>>
Rolled 7 (1d10)

>>2570904
Dice, give us something good.
>>
>>2570904
>>2570909
>>2570912
>>2570916

In your pursuit you disturb a briar bush full of crows. The birds explode into the air in front of you, flapping and cawing as they rise into the sky. The sniper turns and aims his rifle, and you throw yourself down to the muddy ground as the shot cracks overhead. Staying low, you rapidly stomach-crawl to some long grass nearby and take cover inside.

You take a moment to catch your breath and watch the birds fly upward. A murder of crows, they call it, a part of your brain informs you. How appropriate.

You stomach-crawl forward a few more yards, trying to avoid mud in your clothes and failing. You grimace at the unpleasant squelching. A slow-moving river runs nearby. You think about using it as cover to get closer, but hesitate, some instinct warning you, before you spot that a nearby log isn't actually a log. You avoid the floating gator with a nice wide detour, making sure you don't wake him up.

Figuring you're far enough away, you cautiously poke your head up above the grass. Nothing shoots it off. The sniper looks like they're long gone, repositioning somewhere else probably. Looks like your cat and mouse game will continue, only this time you're the mouse.

>Roll! First 1d10 only.
1-3: You get caught out, right where the sniper wants you.
4-6: You get caught out, but it's in a place of your choosing
7-10: You escape clean and have another chance to turn the tables.
>>
Rolled 9 (1d10)

>>2570982
>>
>>2570985
Niiice
>>
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>>2570991
>>
>>2570982
>>2570985

Staying low in the waist-deep river, you make your way through the swamp with your sturdy boots squashing in the mud. You keep one eye on the tall grasses and twisted trees ahead of you, looking for likely hiding spots for a sharpshooter, and the other on the river behind you, making sure that gator isn't coming after you. You keep your P226 pistol above the waterline -- no sense in getting it wet a second time. You give each bullet in there about an even chance of going off or misfiring.

After moving a decent distance you get out of the water and survey the terrain. All right, if you were the enemy sniper, where would you be? Probably there, on that hill. But then he might expect you to go to the hill, and set up by that tree, so he could catch you on the approach. But then he might expect you to to go to the tree, and set up by those bushes, so he could catch you --

Shaking off the circular reasoning, you head for the first place your instincts warned you about, staying in cover and looping around at an angle. Very slowly and cautiously, you approach the potential hiding spot. Barely daring to breathe, you look around carefully and spot some foliage that isn't quite lined up right. There he is, right through that line of trees. You can see his rifle poking out, aimed right at where he thinks you would approach from. Too bad for him he was wrong.

>Take aim and fire, hoping you get a clean bullet.
>Sneak close and hold them at gunpoint, bluffing that your gun works fine.
>Sneak close and attack with your knife.
>Write-in.
>>
>>2571046
>>Sneak close and attack with your knife.
>>
>Sneak close and attack with your knife.
>>
>>2571046
>Sneak close and attack with your knife.
>>
>>2571046
>Sneak close and attack with your knife.
>>
>>2571046
>>2571049
>>2571050
>>2571052
>>2571062


Switching the pistol to your left hand and drawing your sharp combat knife with your right, you begin to stealthily creep forward and around to the rear of the enemy sniper's position. Once you get in knifework range, you'll turn his kidneys into swiss cheese. All you have to do is get close enough without stepping on a stray branch and getting your head blown off. Easy, right? You feel the knife trembling in your hand. Adrenaline or fear? Either one could be deadly. Taking a deep breath and feeling your heart racing in your chest, you force your nerves to steady and carefully move forward again.

>Roll! First 1d10 is you, second is ???, third is ???
Your roll:
1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: The enemy is forced to retreat.
7-10: You shank a bitch.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d10)

>>2571076
>>
>>2571079
Time for some woodcarving.

Anon, roll more. You are Dice Jesus.
>>
Rolled 5 (1d10)

>>2571076
>>
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>>2571080
I'm suspicious, though. Trust not the fickle dice gods.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d10)

>>2571076
>>
>>2571076
Does the 10 mean we get his sweet sniper rifle too?
>>
>>2571076
>>2571079
>>2571081
>>2571084


As you stalk through the swamp, you have vivid memories of those lessons in woodcraft in the Black Forest as a little girl. Where to step softly. Where to move quickly. How to use the leaves and branches and briars as visual screens to approach your quarry. You follow through on those lessons now, thinking back to those days.

You were maybe eight years old, twenty years ago now, but you can almost hear his voice as if he were right beside you in the present, his gruff bluster mixed with affection. "And then, Alexa, when you are close enough? Then you strike! Pow!" Your father would poke you in the ribs to point to your kidneys, and you were ticklish back then and you would laugh and slaps his hands away. You remember his bearded face, his loving smile, that feeling you had that nothing bad could ever happen to you as long as he was around.

And yet it did.

You shake off the image. No time for the past. You may have let someone close to you get hurt before. But you won't let it happen again. Not this time.

You get within striking dance of the sniper, still facing away, his Dragunov rifle pointing in the direction you started from. Is this a trick? No -- he actually doesn't know you're here.

This is your chance.

Holding your breath, you sneak closer, ever closer, until the moment is just right.

You lunge forward and with a cry of exertion you plunge the combat knife right under the sniper's ribs and into the kidneys. You immediately withdraw and go for a rapid series of stabs, the old "sewing machine". The sniper doesn't make so much as a sound -- not a grunt or so much as a whimper -- but he does twist around in between stabs to try and defend himself. He brings his rifle up to block, and your knife plunges straight into the wooden stock of the rifle. You twist and struggle, and wrench both weapons away, landing in the mud behind you.

You're standing over the sniper, and he's on his back and bleeding badly. He'll die in about twenty minutes without medical attention, which he's not likely to find out here.

He struggles to stand up and can't, his leg on his wounded side giving out from under, and he collapses onto his back again. You find his eyes hidden among all that camouflage, staring up at you with a look you can't describe.

>Finish him off.
>Ask him something. (Say what)
>Sit down, light a cigarette, offer him one.
>Sit down, light a cigarette, don't get close.
>Write-in
>>
>>2571168
>Finish him off.
Don't hesitate.
>>
>>2571168
>Finish him off.
Give the guy a quick death at least.

Oof. Can't wait to unlock that Tragic Backstory™ on Alex.
>>
>>2571168
>"You're pretty good"
>Finish him off
>>
>>2571168
> Finish him off
>>
>>2571172
>Sit down, light a cigarette, offer him one.
>>
>>2571211
>>2571168
Oops
>>
>>2571168
>>2571172
>>2571175
>>2571179
>>2571188

You take a few steps back, still keeping your eyes on the wounded sniper, and pull your knife out of the rifle stock. You wipe it off, toss it into the air, and catch it again. You look down at the sniper, judging the distance. He looks up at you, breathing heavily.

"You're pretty good," you admit, touching the dried blood on your neck and collar. "Almost had me with the mirror. But I guess you're not used to fighting idiots who keep on attacking. Sometimes you lose to something so stupid you never expect it. That's just how it is." With that you throw the knife, and it lands point-first in the sniper's eye, lodging up to the hilt.

Satisfied he's dead, you walk up to him and look down at the body. Surely this is the infamous Forest, the wilderness assassin, the Five Elements' stealth expert and sniper. Name unknown, identity unknown.

Your curiosity gets the better of you, and you decide to have a look for yourself. You plant your muddy boot on their chest, grab the knife, and withdraw it with a grunt. A glassy eye stares up at you alongside the ruined, bloody socket. You use the knife to cut away all the foliage used as camouflage. Eventually you get to the hat and mask under it all, which you pull off.

It was a woman. No, not even a woman -- a girl. Maybe twenty years old, if that.

Could this really be the legendary killer? Forest's earliest known kill dates back over ten years ago. Either this girl picked it up from somebody else, a mentor who chose to train a young girl as his successor, someone whose identity she later assumed -- or she's been assassin since she was a child. You don't know which would be worse.

What kind of pressures would push a young girl into that position? What kind of childhood would lead to that?

One kind of like yours, you suppose.

(Continued)
>>
>>2571237

You check the sniper's pockets. Some kind of special-issue PLA pistol, a few odds and ends of survival gear, nothing else. No ID, no wallet, no documents, nothing. Oh well. You definitely didn't out of this empty-handed. You head over to the big sniper rifle and pull it free of the mud. Dragunov SVD-63, just like you thought. Hell yeah. Always wanted one of these. Clean it up a little and it should be good as new. You check it over and note a few alterations. Customized for Forest's use? Very cool. No way you're letting Johnny have this one.

You radio ahead to let the others know you're done. Then you sling the rifle over your shoulder and start walking back the way you came.

When you get to the mangrove shoreline, you find the twins and Johnny sitting in the one functioning airboat. Johnny has his shirt off and the girls are bandaging his ribs. When he sees you approach he tries to stand up but winces in pain and grabs at his side. The twins push him back down, scolding him.

"Hey, Alex," he says when you get close enough. "How'd it go out there?"

"Well enough."

"I see you found a new gun."

"That I did." You look him over and see a big piece of metal protruding from his ribs, the bandages holding it in place. "What the hell happened to you?"

"Piece of the airboat fan." He grimaces. "Didn't hit anything important, just hurts like a son of a bitch, and if I pull it out I'll, you know, bleed to death. Sooner we get to the Doc's place the better, I'm thinking. Can you drive?"

You're completely exhausted, your neck aches where you got shot earlier, your nerves are fried from all the adrenaline, and you're still seeing that girl's dead face with your knife wound in it, but you say, "No problem," and climb up into the driver's seat.

Soon the airboat is in motion over the waters of the Greenglade, heading east back towards Heat City. You're too tired to say anything, Johnny doesn't want to move much with a chunk of fan sticking out of him, and the girls take the hint and stay quiet. You hear only the rhythmic hum of the engine and fan, and the wind blowing past, as you journey out of the swamps.

(Continued)
>>
>>2571254
>>2571237
I refuse to believe that's Water until Johnny IDs her.

Snipers don't work alone after all. They usually have a spotter.

So if it IS water, we should still be on alert for her Spotter.
>>
>>2571254

It takes you a while and you have to call in Ken for a ride, but you manage to make it to the street doc's place and get Johnny into the basement before that chunk of metal in his side pierces an organ. The doc is an old black guy Johnny calls "Inch" who gets more pissed off every time Johnny shows up with his increasingly preposterous injuries.

"An airboat fan?" he says. "Get the fuck out of here. No, seriously. Get the fuck out. Pack up your shit and get out of my hospital, Johnny. This is too much!"

"Come on, Inch," Johnny says. "You know we've got the money for it. You don't want to run me a volume discount, that's fine, but--"

"It ain't about money, Johnny! It's too much heat for me! Someone's gonna find out I'm still helping you, and then what's gonna happen to me? Could be anybody. Half the damn city wants you dead. I can't have them coming after me to try and get to you. I just can't."

You're sitting on a rickety chair nearby. You need to come to Johnny's defense on this one, but you don't even know what to say. The doc's right. Being associated with this guy is a dangerous move.

>We'll pay you whatever it takes.
>We can protect you.
>You'll help him right now or I'll make you do it.
>Help him now and this is the last time. We'll find someone else after this.
>Let's try a regular hospital. We can say it was a boating accident.
>Write-in
>>
>>2571262
>>Help him now and this is the last time. We'll find someone else after this

Come on Inch, one last favor
>>
>>2571262
>Help him now and this is the last time. We'll find someone else after this.
Cat gonna know some people right?
>>
>>2571262
>>You'll help him right now or I'll make you do it.
>>
>>2571262
>We can protect you.
I will do whatever possible to make sure Inch becomes One Of Us. He's great.
>>
>>2571262
>>We can protect you.
>>
>>2571262
>>Write-in

See if he has any referrals for us then. But he has to fix us up this one last time, since we're already here.
>>
>>2571262
> We can protect you and make you rich

If you need a tiebreaker.
>>
>>2571262
>>2571266
>>2571267
>>2571279

"Help him right now and this is the last time," you say from your chair. "After this we'll find someone else." The street doc turns around and gives you a steely look. You meet it, and add, "We're already here."

Inch scowls and turns his back on you. But he waves Johnny over in the direction of the operating area. "Get your ass on the table." He looks back at you. "Need me to take at that neck?"

"It's fine," you say, pushing yourself up to a standing position. "I've got to go. Johnny, see if you can get a referral from this guy once you're done. I'll take care of the girls."

You drive back to the Marsh and to Johnny's place, careful to watch over your shoulder for a tail. You let yourself in with the key Johnny hides in his plant pot out front. Once inside, you head straight to the kitchen, pour yourself a nice tall glass of whiskey and take it to the living room where you collapse on the couch.

Another day, another disaster averted. You saved Johnny's life from a disaster of his own making. Again. All it took was plunging into an alligator's hunting grounds and going up against a world-class sharpshooter with only a pistol and a knife. No problem, right?

You take a drink of whiskey and light a cigarette, still slumped against the couch back, too tired even to sit up fully.

Being Johnny's number two is hard work sometimes.

You must have dozed off, because you snap to wakefulness when you feel something touching you from behind. Your adrenaline surges for a moment before you realize it's just the twins. One of them is holding your hair, undoing your braid, carefully untangling each loop while keeping the plaits separated. The other is kneeling beside you on the couch with a first aid kit spread out, sorting through the different bandages. She looks up and sees you watching her, and grins. "Johnny taught us what to do for gunshots. You helped him so we're gonna help you, okay?"

"Okay," you say, not in a position to argue. You decide to just let it happen. You lean back, enjoying the sensation of the girl's fingers running through your hair, the relief of tension as your braid slowly comes undone, and you take a rare moment to actually let yourself relax.
>>
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>>2571312

More Alex Quest tomorrow!
>>
>>2571315
>we're getting more Alex tomorrow
Nice. I'm enjoying the Alex POV. Just makes me appreciate her even more.

Good run boss.
>>
>>2571315
Lies.
>>
>>2572869
Sorry anon, today took a lot out of me. Not sure when exactly but Alex Quest and this thread will resume, stay tuned.
>>
>>2572886
No worries broseph.
>>
>>2572886
> Is 4chan being weird for anyone else?
>>
>>2571312
Why would you undo the braid, isn't it better to sleep with it in a braid
>>
>>2574120
Playing with hair is grooming behaviour which primates and mammals in general find calming after stressful situations.
>>
>>2572886
Must have moar
>>
>>2568635
You're use apocalypse world for this, aren't you?
>>
>>2576805
Your wish will soon be granted, anon.

>>2577108
It is partly based on Apocalypse World, yep. I created a crime-themed PbtA system a few years back, and I'm using that.
>>
>>2571312

The twenty-five story drop is dizzying, the lights of the streets and cars so far below, but you step up into the helicopter all the same. Then you turn back and hold out your hand to Johnny. He's looking at you, reaching out to you, when it happens. The red blossom in his chest. The slow turn away, revealing the woman standing behind him. More shots. And then he's going over the edge. You reach for him but he's too far away. All you can do is watch as he falls, his figure growing smaller and smaller, until --

You wake up with a stifled gasp. Your body is hot as a furnace, your skin is covered in sweat, your clothes sticking. Looking around wildly, you see you're in Johnny's living room, and nobody is currently falling to their death. Sighing, you hold your face in your hands, letting the fear flow away and the present flood back in.

That's right. You were just in the swamp. Taking out the Triads' airboat shipping depot. Everyone got out again, but as usual it was a near thing. Johnny got a piece of shrapnel in his ribs, and you took a shot to the neck that a few inches the other way could've cut your jugular or spine. Just another ordinary day in your life now.

The twins are sleeping, one sprawled on the couch next to you, the other lying curled up on the floor like a cat. Rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, you look at the dim light outside, then check a clock and see that it's 4 AM. Christ.

You pull on your boots, get in your car, and head back to your place to shower and change.

When you get there, the elevator is busted again, so you trudge up the stairs to your fifth floor apartment, uncomfortable in your sweat-sticky clothes.

You pause at your apartment door for a moment. You think of the team's opinion of you. What do they imagine your place is like?

Some kind of spartan, militaristic setup probably, with white walls and clean floors. Gun collection and mementos of your travels stored neatly in glass cases with hand-written labels. A kitchen with six identical glasses and six identical plates, a fridge well-stocked with vegetables and nutrional supplements. A bed made every morning. Laundry put away neatly in the hamper.

They'd probably be disappointed by the reality.

(Continued)
>>
>>2577516

You open the door and go inside, having to kick a laundry bag of dirty clothes out of your way. You step over the old pizza boxes, head to the workbench, and thump down the briefcase containing the disassembled Dragnuov next to the grease-stained toolbox.

"I'm home," you announce.

Your dog runs out from the back room, scampering past the empty Chinese delivery boxes and ammo crates. You bend over and hold out your arms, and he jumps up into them, affectionately licking at your face. You hug him and laugh at the ticklish sensation of his rough tongue on your nose.

You have no idea what kind of dog he is. Some kind of terrier mutt, you guess. You found him in the alley a few months ago eating garbage, and like the fool you are, you couldn't walk away. Ever since then he's lived here.

This little goofball's name is:

>Buddy
>Rascal
>Bear
>Duke
>Johnny
>Write-in
>>
>>2577527
>Roger
>>
>>2577527
>>Duke
>>
>>2577527
>Johnny
>>
>>2577527
>Duke
Cause I know a Duke and he reminds me of a dog
>>
>>2577527
>>Duke
>>
>>2577516
>Duke
>>
>>2577527
>>2577577
>>2577600
>>2577623
>>2577679

Duke wriggles out of your hands and runs off to the kitchen. He impatiently trots in place beside his food bowl, looking up at you with his tongue hanging out. You scoop him a bowl of food and leave him to devour it.

Heading towards the bathroom, you strip off your bloodstained and sweaty clothes and drop them on the floor behind you, leaving a line of clothing articles leading down the hallway. You start the shower and get in, turning the heat up to almost scalding in an attempt to breath some life into yourself. For several minutes you just stand under the stream of hot water, feeling the blood and dirt wash away, before you get around to scrubbing yourself clean.

You get out and, before towelling off, you brace your hands on the sink and look at yourself in the small mirror above, still steamed up from the hot water. That crack is still there, a spiderweb of crooked lines running out from an impact mark. The main vertical crack runs through your right eye when you look at it. You remember coming home after the Dragon's Nest and seeing Johnny fall, the moment when you lashed out in frustration and weakness, the sensation of glass smashing under your fist, the hollow feeling of staring at yourself in the broken mirror. You wrapped up your bloodied knuckles and told the others you were injured in the heist, and they believed you.

You stare at the crack across your eye. It's like the mirror-world version of you has a deep scar. Your own face shows nothing. You feel nothing. The you in the mirror holds all your pain.

Turning away, you head to your messy bed and flop down, hoping to catch an hour or two more of sleep before the bright sunrise makes it impossible.

Later the next day, you find yourself facing an altogether different challenge. A difficulty which you found yourself completely unprepared for.

(Continued)
>>
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>>2577767

"What do you think?" asks Catherine. "Blue, red or white?"

You're at some incredibly upscale women's fashion store, and Catherine is forcing you to pick out a dress for yourself.

When you arrived, she greeted the attendants by name and soon had them preparing several high-end party dresses for you to choose from. You stare at them, clueless as to how this stuff works. The one fancy dress you own was picked out for you by a friend several years ago. "Why can't I wear my own dress?" you ask.

"The one you wore to Enigma, that time?" Catherine keeps her polite smile fixed. "I'm afraid that won't do, my dear. The people where we're headed have a very fine sense of these things."

"What things?"

"Well, I imagine that when you have an interaction with someone in your circles, you notice many things them that I wouldn't. What type of gun they use, for instance, and what that says about them. You may notice a certain way they hold it, or a certain way the grip was rubbed away, and that would tell you something else. By the time you were finished, you would have learned a great deal about what manner of warrior they are, without asking anything." Cat's dark eyes look at you, measuring. "In the same way, I learn a great deal about you without asking, but the things I learn are different. I see your nails and know you haven't had a manicure in years. I see your hair and know that you cut it yourself with a pair of small scissors. The way a dress strap is tied, the way someone stands in their shoes, all of these tell me something. The people we'll be seeing are very conscious of these small details of appearance, all of which cumulatively add to their impression. And impression is critical."

"And I give the wrong impression," you say, trying and failing not to grumble.

"Only when you're pretending to be one of my friends from high society," Catherine says. "But you needn't worry about a thing. After we're finished here, the girls at the salon next door will work their magic, and you'll look as fashionable as any debutante."

This sucks. When Cat called you up and said she had a side job that she wanted Johnny to handle but he was out of action, you said okay. You had no idea you were in for something like this.

You turn back to the dresses. Red and slinky. Blue and classy. White and fluffy. You'll take a t-shirt and blue jeans over these any day. But a job's a job, and you'll do what you have to do.

>The blue one suits you the best.
>The red one is the sexiest.
>The white one will make people understimate you.
>Let Cat decide.
>>
>>2577778
>>The red one is the sexiest.
Let's throw Alex a bone here.
>>
>>2577778
>The blue one suits you the best.
>>
>>2577778
>Let Cat decide
>>
>>2577778
>Let Cat decide
>>
>>2577778
>wear a pimping fur coat
>>
>>2577778
>>Let Cat decide.
>>
>>2577778
>The blue one suits you the best.
>>
Changing to blue to let Alex actually choose.
>>
>>2577778
>The red one is the sexiest.
>>
>>2577767
Awww, I have a shih-tzu named Duke. Nice.
>>
>>2577778
>The blue one suits you the best.
>>
>>2577778
>>The blue one suits you the best.
>>
>>2577778
>>2577788
>>2577791
>>2577807
>>2577816
>>2577827
>>2577837
>>2577887
>>2577958


You approach the blue dress and hold it up. It's got what looks like a clean, practical cut to you, and the dark blue is nice. Out of all the strange and frilly clothes you've seen today, this was maybe the one thing that actually felt like "you".

You look over at Cat. "What do you think?"

"I was about to suggest that one myself," Cat says. "I think it suits your sober demeanor rather well, don't you?" She nods to the sales girls. "Ring it up for me, please."

You take out your wallet to get your credit card, but Cat gently places a hand on your wrist. "It's my pleasure, dear. Think of it as a gift. Or an advance payment, if you don't like gifts. Whichever you prefer." She glances down at your ratty wallet with raised eyebrows. "My goodness. You don't own a handbag, do you? Of course you don't. We'll stop by a place I know. After the salon."

You feel incredibly awkward in public wearing the blue dress. Your legs are totally exposed, and it's awfully tight in the waist. And the chest. But at least you went with the one that you felt all right in, and you're able to maintain some pride -- and your balance, in the relatively modest heeled shoes that went with the dress.

At the salon the girls immediately set to work, and you get caught up in a whirlwind of attendants fussing and primping all over you. They tie your hair up all fancy, trim your nails and paint them blue to match your dress, chattering all the while about celebrities you've never heard of and clubs you've never been to. You feel a little like a queen bee being serviced by drones.

Next door, Cat buys you a handbag that costs a years' worth of rent at your apartment. Carrying it over your shoulder, you try to feel more natural about holding it by pretending it's a gun on a strap. The driver holds the door open for you as you get into the backseat of Cat's car alongside her.

"Don't tell Johnny about this," you warn the driver as he gets back into the front seat. "Or Roxie. In fact, don't ever tell anyone. Take the secret to your grave. Or I'll find you."

"My lips are sealed," Kaz says as he pulls out to join the slow-moving flow of traffic.

You start back across the bridge to Sunset Beach and Cat's house, there to await the party in a few short hours. Cat is looking out at the brilliant pink light of the sunset over the water, and seems to be lost in thought.

>Ask if all this is really necessary, with the dress and everything.
>Ask her to go over the plan again.
>Ask her what her ambitions are, when the Triad and Yakuza are finished.
>Ask her about her relationship with Johnny.
>Compliment her on knowing her way around high society.
>Ask her about something else. (Write-in)
>Think about something. (Write-in)
>>
>>2577985
>>Ask if all this is really necessary, with the dress and everything.
>>
>>2577985
>Ask her to go over the plan again
>>
>>2577985
>Ask her about her relationship with Johnny.
>Think about that cool rifle we just snagged.
>>
>>2577985
>Ask her to go over the plan again.
Because we are a professional
>Ask her about her relationship with Johnny.
Because his life isn't hard enough, and blast it, I'm sure Alex is at least almost as curious about her response as I am.
>>
>>2577985
>Ask her to go over the plan again.
>Ask her what her ambitions are, when the Triad and Yakuza are finished.
>>
>>2577985
>Ask her what her ambitions are, when the Triad and Yakuza are finished.
>>
>>2577985
>Ask her about her relationship with Johnny.
>>
>>2577994
>>2578000
>>2578018
>>2578023
>>2578033

>Ask her to go over the plan again.
>Ask her about her relationship with Johnny.

Writing.
>>
>>2577985
>twitter pic is actually cute.
Huh. I noticed alex exists.

>Ask her about her relationship with Johnny.
>>
>>2577985
>>2578081


"Let's go over the plan," you say to Catherine. "We show up at this fancy high-rise of yours and join the party. Then what?"

Still watching the sunset, Catherine says, "You will infiltrate the rear rooms and locate the host's study. Inside will be his computer. With the communication device in your handbag, you will contact the hacker Zero. He will guide you through the process of bypassing the computer's security systems and finding the information we require. If you are discovered or challenged before you begin, you will merely claim to be a vacuous party girl who was lost, or imply you had arranged a sexual dalliance there." She turns to give you an ironic smile with that suggestion. "If you are interrupted, use your skills to do whatever is necessary, but quietly as possible. Once you have transmitted the information to Zero, you will return to the party and find me, and we will leave."

"Sounds simple enough. How did you plan to use Johnny for this job? Was he going to wear a dress?"

Catherine laughs quietly at that. "No, I had a different, more elaborate tactic in mind for his approach. This will be much more efficient. I'm glad to be working with you directly, Alex. Johnny's style of work can at times be rather, shall we say, unrefined. I'm sure you understand what I mean."

(Continued)
>>
>>2578209

The quiet hangs in the air a few moments longer. You're not sure how to broach the subject, or even whether you should. This might be a terrible idea. But eventually you go ahead and say, "So. You and Johnny."

Cat is taking a cigarette out of a pack she keeps in the car. She looks at you, pausing in mid-motion. "Yes? What about us?"

"You two seem to be getting along pretty well. Working together."

"Why, yes, indeed." Cat raises the cigarette to her lips, inhales as she lights it, and breathes out. "I have information and connections, he has drive and power. We suit each other's purposes nicely. Don't you think so?"

"Yeah, I mean, the business relationship seems solid. You two seem like you're, I don't know. Friends?"

"I do like to think that Johnny and I friends, of course. He is a charming fellow, after all, and I enjoy his company. I enjoy yours as well, Alex, even if you don't believe so."

"Th-thanks," you say.

Catherine watches you carefully. Then she says, "Of course, it's only natural for you to take an interest in Johnny's relationships. As his professional partner, of course." She smiles again as she takes another breath from her cigarette, and you look into her clever eyes and see the hint of smugness there and you know she's seen right through you.

You keep telling yourself that Johnny is just the guy who's going to lead you to revenge on Ivan and his puppet-master. He's just a grunt, a tool, a good guy but in the end nothing more than a big dumb thug to stand in front and take the heat while you do the work.

So why do you keep having thoughts about him? Why do you think of his strongly muscled back and broad shoulders? Why do you imagine tracing your fingers down the scars on his face, or running them through his short hair?

Just a girl's feelings, you keep telling yourself. Something you should have left behind a long time ago. Something that the fewer people know about, the better.

And now Cat knows.

Fuck.

Her smile softens as she sees your distress. She reaches across the seat and rests her hand on top of yours for a moment. Her fingers are soft and smooth and perfect, totally without the calluses and scars on your own. "Don't worry about him tonight, darling. Tonight it's just us girls, and we've got a job to do. So let's put that aside for now."

The car pulls up to Cat's place, and Kaz opens the door for you, then gets back in. "See you in an hour," Cat calls, waving him good-bye as he drives off. She then turns to you and gestures to her door. "Care for a drink while we wait?"

(Continued)
>>
>>2578264


Later that night you're in the backseat of the car again, driving into the heart of the city towards Castle Green. The night has set in, and the neon signs of the city blaze in pink and blue against the dark backdrop of the sky. Above you is are the towering high-rises, the citadels of the city's rich and famous. One of them is your destination tonight.

You check your handbag for the weapons you brought along.

Choose 2:
>Knife
>Mace spray
>Taser
>Pistol, regular
>Pistol, pocket
>SMG, small
>Write-in, has to fit in a handbag


Cat's changed into her own fancy dress for the evening. She takes out a cigarette from her pack, then hands you one as well. "I hope you're ready, Alex." She pauses and touches a finger to her chin. "Oh, I've just thought of something. If you're meant to be a member of high society, you'd be educated on many of the personages who will be here. We'd best say you're an out-of-towner. That will explain any lapses in knowledge or etiquette. What would you say is your best accent, my dear?"

>German, from your childhood
>British, imitating your father's friend
>Valley girl, parroting a celebrity you keep seeing on TV
>Uhhh, I'm not doing that.
>Write-in.
>>
>>2578274
>>Knife
>Pistol, pocket

>German, from your childhood
>>
>>2578274
>Pistol, pocket
>Write-in, has to fit in a handbag
Grenade.
>German, from your childhood
>>
>>2578274
>Taser
>Pistol, pocket

>German, from your childhood
>>
>>2578274
>Collapsible baton
>Pistol, pocket
>German, from your childhood
>>
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Unfortunately I must leave for tonight anons, but I will return tomorrow, when the party will commence!
>>
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>>2578291
Thanks for the cute Alex, bossman.
>>
>>2578291
I'm digging the alextude
Best girl
>>
>>2578274
>Knife
>Pistol, pocket

>German, from your childhood
>>
>>2578297
Oh and thanks for running of course
>>
>>2578291
thanks for running king
>>
>>2578274
>knife
>pistol regular

Knife should be enough for stealth with a pistol ready for when the plan fucks up because you always assume the plan will fuck up
>german
>>
>>2578274
>Mace spray
Plausible.
>Taser
Also plausible. In case something goes wrong and we have to show the contents of our handbag.

>British, imitating your father's friend

>>2578291
Good run, Generalissimo Raven. Looking forward to more Alex.
>>
>>2578274
>Knife
>Pistol, pocket

>German, from your childhood
>>
>>2578283
supporting
>>
>>2578514
This.
>>
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>>2578274
>>2578277
>>2578279
>>2578282
>>2578283
>>2578298
>>2578310
>>2578514
>>2579347
>>2579628


Inside your handbag, buried under a layer of junk, are your switchblade knife and detective special. Even if you probably won't need to use them tonight, you feel better having them there. Of course, if somebody found them inside they might find it odd, so you'll just have to insist on privacy.

If Cat wants you to try an accent, you'd better stick with one you know. Acting isn't your strong suit. You think back to your childhood, learning English from your father and his heavy German inflections. Phrases and inflections stir in your memory. Clearing your throat, you try a familiar phrase. "Vas ist los? Nicht ist los, alles kaput." Hesitantly, you attempt the accent. "Ahh -- is gud, ja? I am from Bavaria, have you ever been? If you've never skiied in the Alps, you simply must try it. It can be dangerous, but if you run into trouble, you simply call your helicopter and woosh! He picks you up!"

"Excellent," Cat says. "You shall be Alice von Hildebrand, my young cousin from Munich. You seem to be familiar with the speech patterns?"

"Ahh -- I spent some time babysitting some German blue bloods, picked up a few things."

"How fortuitous." Cat doesn't look at you or say anything else, but you know she's making a mental catalogue of each detail you give away about yourself.

The car pulls up. You look out the window at a modern apartment tower. There's a garden and trees out front. The big glass doors have their own doorman, and a security desk in the front lobby. Kaz gets out and jogs around to open your door. You step out onto the sidewalk, feeling the cool evening breeze on your bare legs, the high hem of your dress fluttering against your thighs. You cross your arms, trying not to feel exposed.

Cat follows after you, stepping out of the car. She turns to talk to Kaz for a moment, smiling. Her dress is charcoal grey, longer than yours but almost backless, revealing the graceful curve of her neck under her short bob of black hair, the pale skin of her flawless back. Thin but high side slits are designed to give tantalizing glimpses of her bare legs. You have to admit that she is beautiful.

Of course Johnny has a thing for her. How could he not?

Never mind that now. You've got a job to do.

Kaz tips his hat as he goes to leave, and you wave goodbye. As Cat joins you, you say to her, "How do I look?"

Cat's eyes flicker up and down your body, and she nods in satisfaction. "Perfect."

"You don't look so bad yourself," you say. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say we were a couple of classy dames about to have a good time at a party."

"But we do know better, don't we?" Cat's smile takes on a hint of mischief. "Anything else before we go inside?"

>I'm ready.
>What will you be doing while I'm busy?
>Who should I be watching out for in there?
>We should have some kind of signal in case of trouble.
>Try not to get kidnapped again.
>Write-in
>>
>>2580896
>We should have some kind of signal in case of
trouble.
>How tight is security?
>>
>>2580896
>Who should I be watching out for in there?
Anyone who could call us out?
>>
>>2580922
Adding
>"If things go bad we'll have to exit on our own. Let's agree to a rendezvous point."
>>
>>2580896
>Who should I be watching out for in there?
and
>rendezvous point
>>
>>2581032
This
>>
>>2580896
>We should have some kind of signal in case of trouble.
>Who should I be watching out for in there?
>>
>>2580896
>>2580924
>>2580966
>>2581032
>>2581037
>>2581102


"Who should I be watching out for in there?" you ask Cat.

"Everyone," she replies. "Assume that everyone you meet has a hidden agenda. In life, but especially in there. One thing you should perhaps know is the host. An international financier and shipping magnate by the name of Marcus Addington. The entire highest floor and roof of the building is his personal penthouse. If you encounter him, stick to simple flattery. It should get you everywhere. Anything else?"

You take a moment to think. "We should have some kind of signal in case we need the other person's help. And set up a rendezvous point, in case things go bad, and we have to exit on our own."

Catherine stifles a laugh. "Ever the professional. Very well. Our code word for tonight is "labyrinth", or if words are impossible, a simple tug on the ear." She demonstrates. Then she points to another high-rise down the street. "If we're separated, we shall meet in that building's garage. I've asked Kaz to wait for us there, in case we need his assistance."

You have plenty of other questions, but you get the feeling you could prepare for this for a long time and never actually be ready. "All right, then. Let's do this."

The elevator is a clean white box with no buttons for floors. Just a numbered security keypad. Cat puts in a four-digit combination, and the elevator begins moving. You take a long, silent ride up in this small, isolated space that seems to be removed from everything. When you arrive at the sixteenth floor, the doors open onto a completely different world than the Heat City you know.

(Continued)
>>
>>2581180

Soundtrack: Vivaldi -- Spring https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFWQgxXM_b8#t=10s

Cat sweeps out of the elevator room with flawless confidence, and trying to emulate her, you follow. You find yourself entering into a vast room with pillars and sculptures on pedestals and fancy lights that hang from the ceiling. A crowd of about fifty people are in here, dressed in penguin suits and peacock dresses, hobnobbing amongst themselves in small knots of quiet conversation. Classical music plays over the whole affair which at first you figure must be a great sound system, but as you step further into the room, you see the second-floor gallery overlooking this main area and the live string quartet performing there.

A servant steps forward. Cat hands him two white folded cards, her invitations presumably. "Catherine Yamada and her cousin, Alice von Hildebrand." The servant bows his head, takes the cards, and backs away.

You feel your heartbeat thumping in your chest as you look out over the group of Heat City's rich and famous. Okay. All you have to do is sneak into a business magnate's private quarters which could easily have security systems, then hack into his computer with instructions via remote, and exfiltrate the site, all while pretending to be a Bavarian ingenue. How hard could it be?

You feel something and realize that Cat is taking your hand in hers. She gives it a gentle squeeze, her eyes still looking forward as she carefully observes the party goers. "You'll be fine, dear. Who knows? You might even enjoy yourself. Now come along." She lets go of your hand and steps forward into the crowd.

You hang back a moment to try and get a read on the area. To your left is the gallery with the musicians and some stairs leading up, while doors lead further into the penthouse. Ahead of you is the big main room with most of the guests, and beyond it, you can see big glass doors leading to a large balcony looking out over the city. To your right is a cigar room where several of the men are having one of those conversations men have to help them feel very important about themselves.

Choose 2:
>What's your best escape route?
>Who is the biggest threat here?
>What should you be on the lookout for?
>Who's in control here?
>What is something vulnerable to you?
>Write-in
>>
>>2581188
>>What's your best escape route?
>What should you be on the lookout for?
>>
>>2581188
>What's your best escape route?
>What’s the best route to your objective
>>
>>2581193
>What's your best escape route?
>What’s the best route to your objective
>>
>>2581188
>>What's your best escape route?
>What should you be on the lookout for?
>>
>>2581188
>What's your best escape route?
>What should you be on the lookout for?
>>
>>2581193
supporting
>>
>>2581188
>>2581191
>>2581193
>>2581206
>>2581215
>>2581219
>>2581263

The first thing you do, of course, is look around for escape routes. The best way to get out of here, of course, would be to maintain your cover and just walk out with Cat. If you had to split up, though, that elevator with the keypad is probably unuseable unless you got the codes somehow. So for a secondary route you're looking at either sixteen stories of emergency stairway, or somehow getting hold of a very, very long rope. Maybe this Marcus Addington is a mountain climber.

There's more live security than you expected. Guys who are too big, their suit shoulders too ill-fitting, to be guests, their jackets showing the tell-tale signs of pistols in shoulder holsters. You spot several cameras as well, though they mostly seem to be set up to prevent intruders from getting inside. Still, you'll have to be on the lookout when you try to pull off something clandestine.

Cat has engaged a group of business types in conversation, already putting her wit to work as they laugh at a comment of hers. You consider whether to join her to take some cues on how to interact with these types, or start your exploration of the penthouse. Hard to say what the best way is to your objective, the study. You're not familiar with these types of floor-sized apartments. It could be either left through the doors or right through the cigar room. Obviously it's not outside, but the balcony ahead of you might give you an overall view of the place.

>Join Cat in the conversation.
>Try talking to someone on your own.
>Ask someone where the toilets are.
>Ask someone where you can find Marcus Addington, the host.
>Go to the balcony.
>Go to the cigar room.
>See where the doors under the musician gallery lead.
>Write-in.
>>
>>2581308
>Just stand near Cat, watching the room.
>>
>>2581308
>Just stand near Cat, watching the room.
Eyes open, wait for the moment to leave for the target.
>>
>>2581308
>Join Cat in the conversation.
>>
>>2581308
>>Join Cat in the conversation.
>>
>>2581308
>Go to the balcony.
>>
>>2581308
>>Join Cat in the conversation.
>>
>>2581308
>>2581317
>>2581324
>>2581338
>>2581348
>>2581404


Not ready to cast yourself adrift here, you join Cat. Although you were hoping to stand behind her not saying anything, when she notices your presence she immediately takes your arm and pulls you into the circle of conversation. In retrospect, maybe it would've looked weird just lurking on the outside of the circle not talking to anyone. If you were here in your usual capacity as bodyguard, sure, but you're supposed to be a bimbo here to party. Got to mingle, whether you like it or not.

"Don't be shy, dear," Cat tells you with a smile. "Everyone, this my cousin Alice, who's visiting us here in America for the first time."

You feel exposed and awkward in front of these men in your dress, your legs bare and your boobs pushed up. Some of them at least have the decency to pretend they aren't checking out your cleavage. With no alternatives, you put a big smile on your face and slip into the Bavarian ingenue persona. "Ja, I come to America, is very nice."

"Alice is a member of the von Hildebrand family," Cat confides in them. "Very distinguished lineage."

"I've known a few heiresses in my time," one of the men says. "Mostly concerned with squandering the family fortune on parties and jet-setting. Hedonists and wastrels." He takes a sip from a champagne glass, watching you to see how you'll react.

You keep your smile plastered on, not sure what to say. Cat explains, "Mister Porter is somewhat aggrieved by his daughter's financial extravagance."

"Good for nothing girl spent half a million on a helicopter," he growls. "What is she going to use a damn helicopter for?"

"Oh, but you need a helicopter for skiing," you say innocently. "Have you ever been the Alps?"

(Continued)
>>
>>2581528


You do your best to play your part in this and several other conversations. You laugh and smile and keep your accent in place, and excuse your ignorance on being a simple-headed rich girl from a castle in Bavaria, who only knows about America from television. The people you talk to blur together in a montage of expensive clothes and accessories, arrogance, and a general disdain of anyone with a net worth under eight figures.

Cat shepherds you through it all, a steady and reassuring presence, often linking her arm in yours as she guides you through the room. She carries most of the conversational duties, and gives you gentle verbal nudges in certain directions whenever you find yourself in an awkward spot.

She also points out the host, Marcus Addington, a portly man with a bushy mustache. You keep your eye on him. A couple times he disappears by himself off into the right-hand corridors, via a set of doors you couldn't see from the entrance. He doesn't change clothes, so you think it's possible he might be checking on his study down there.

After some time of this, Cat takes a drink glass for both of you from a passing waiter's tray, hands you one, and heads out onto the balcony. You follow her, taking a sip of the drink as you do so, and your lip wrinkles. Not really your thing. Too fizzy.

The sky has grown dark and cloudy, but the night is lit up by the neon signs and traffic headlights of the city below. Cat goes to stand at the railing, looking out over the city, and you stand next to her. You hear a weary sigh escape her, and see her shoulders slump. You wonder just how hard all this is for her. She has the skills for it, sure, but how much does it take out of her to cajole and flatter these pompous fools?

>It must be hard dealing with all these finance guys hungry for a slice of your operation.
>It must be hard dealing with these snobs and their constant ego trips.
>It must be hard dealing with all these men who want a piece of your ass.
>Do you enjoy this at all?
>Thanks for your help.
>Write-in
>>
>>2581536
>Do you enjoy this at all?
>>
>>2581536
>It must be hard dealing with all these men who want a piece of your ass.
>>
>>2581536
>It must be hard dealing with all these finance guys hungry for a slice of your operation.
>Do you enjoy this at all?
>>
>>2581536
>It must be hard dealing with these snobs and their constant ego trips without using a gun
>>
>>2581536
>Do you enjoy this at all?
>Thanks for your help.
>>
>>2581536
>Thanks for your help.
>It must be hard dealing with all these men who want a piece of your ass.
>Do you enjoy this at all?

I'm hoping there'll be a point when Cat takes over Heat City where she'll go full on O-Ren Ishii on their asses.
>>
>>2581536
>It must be hard dealing with these snobs and their constant ego trips.
>Thanks for your help.
>>
>>2581536
>>2581539
>>2581542
>>2581544
>>2581553
>>2581560
>>2581564
>>2581568


"Thanks for your help," you say to Cat. "I'd have no idea what I was doing without you. This sort of thing is beyond me."

"Considering it was I who dragged you along, it's only fair I assist you however I can. Just remember to pursue our goal as best as you're able."

"I will. I've got a few ideas." You look back inside at the crowd of swaggering fat cats. "It must be hard dealing with these snobs and their constant ego trips. Without using a gun, I mean. And that's on top of all the guys wanting a piece of your ass."

Cat says, "To be desired grants you the use of a powerful weapon. But it is, sometimes, an exhausting one." She turns to you with a wry smile, glancing down at your cleavage. "Another reason I am glad to have you here at my side."

"You mean -- for moral support?" Instinctively you raise an arm to cover your chest.

"Oh, don't be so modest, Alex. You have magnificent breasts. It's unfortunate you only bring them out for this sort of occassion." Cat sips her drink, nonchalant at your embarassment. "This way we divide the duties of being leered at between us. That's fair, wouldn't you say?"

You feel heat creeping in to your cheeks. You're not used to blatant compliments on your breasts, from men or women. Wearing a tactical vest isn't exactly flattering in that regard.

Staying cool, you put down your drink, and take your cigarette pack out of your handbag. You bought the same brand as Cat for tonight, an extra detail to blend in. Lighting two, you hand her one, then lean against the railing, looking back into the party. "Do you enjoy this sort of thing at all?"

Cat takes a breath from the cigarette you gave her. She thinks about it for a moment. "Every once in a while, I have a conversation or encounter at one of these soirees that pleases me. For the most part, though, it's business. Work to be done, no more."

"So why do it?"

"Because I do enjoy luxury. I enjoy power and prestige. I enjoy answering to no-one but myself. And I do what it takes to maintain and grow those things. Sometimes that means maintaining unpleasant alliances for their future potential." She glances over at you. "We all have our battles to fight."

"That we do. Speaking of --" You see Addington waddling up the stairs to the second floor gallery, either to give some kind of speech or harangue the musicians. Either one's probably a good time to investigate that hallway.

Cat follows the line of your eyes. "Ah, yes. Now would be good. Best of luck." She raises her glass in a toast. "I'll be waiting."

(Continued)
>>
>>2581689


You head back inside and, when it seems like nobody is watching, step into the hallway you marked out earlier. The plush carpet means your steps are quiet, even in heels. You find several doors, the sort that would be appropriate for studies and libraries, but you can't tell which one would hold the computer. You decide to try one at random and hope for the best.

>Roll! First 1d10 only.
1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: An awkward encounter.
7-10: The room you were looking for, and empty.
>>
Rolled 5 (1d10)

>>2581695
>>
Rolled 2 (1d10)

>>2581695
Testing my dice
>>
>>2581695
Let's see what I would have rolled
>>
Rolled 7 (1d10)

>>2581709
Good grief I'm a tool. Redux, but with dice this time.
>>
>>2581695
>>2581700

Soundtrack: Luigi Boccherini -- Minuetto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSE15tLBdso

You open a door at random to find a man with his pants around his ankles, furiously jackrabbiting against a woman he has pinned up against the wall. She cries out "Oh, yes!" in a voice simulating near-orgasm, although her face looks bored, as though she were counting the minutes until her work shift ended. She notices you at the door, and flips you the bird with a look of annoyance, even as she continues. "Unnh, yes, harder! Ooooh--"

You shut the door, feeling your cheeks flush scarlet again as you walk away. Obviously you pretend to be unconcerned when there are witnesses, but you've never really gotten used to that sort of thing. Not a lot of experience. There's never been much time in your life for -- for that.

The second door is some kind of trophy or display room, filled with artifacts in glass cases and gaudy-looking artwork on the walls.

Inside the third door you find what you're looking for. A state-of-the-art personal computer. You shut the door behind you, prop a chair under the doorknob, and give the leg a solid kick with your heel, wedging the chair in place. That should give you a minute or two against unwanted interlopers.

You thump down your handbag on the desk next to the computer and haul out the bulky portable comms device that Zero gave you. What did he call this? A "cell phone"? He claimed that this would be the hot new thing in the future, maybe even replace regular phones. You can't imagine how that would work. But you tested it out and it does seem to work, so you'll give it a shot now. You put the phone to your ear and dial Zero's latest proxy number. He picks up immediately.

"Alex! Hello! Are you in awe of the wonders of modern technology, that we can speak at such a distance with such clarity? Truly the cell phone is a harbinger of another age, in which--"

"Sounds great Zero, but let's stick to the job for now, right? I'll hack this guy's computer for you but I have no idea how to use one of these, so you gotta walk me through it."

Zero starts guiding you through a long and complex process involving so many drives and disks and systems you quickly lose track of it all. You just tell him what you see, and punch in whatever he tells you to on the keyboard. After a series of screens displaying befuddling lines of text and code, you eventually get access to the main system, and thereby some kind of accounting program that displays spreadsheets and pie charts. Color graphics! Impressive technology.

Zero tells you what to look up and has you relay several strings of long numbers. It required a good amount of concentration, which is probably why you almost don't notice the presence outside the door before it's too late.

>Roll! Three 1d10 rolls count. First is you, second is Zero, third is ???
1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: Tough choice.
7-10: You're all right for now.
>>
Rolled 7 (1d10)

>>2581774
>>
>>2581774
Here we go.
>>
>>2581777
Damn it...
>>
Rolled 6 (1d10)

>>2581777
>>2581778
I just hate my history
>>
Rolled 6 (1d10)

>>2581774
>>
Rolled 10 (1d10)

>>2581776
Nice
>>
>>2581774
>>2581776
>>2581780
>>2581784


You hear something. What, you're not sure. But you look back at the door, and under the edge you see a shadow. Some instinct makes you get out of the computer chair and take a crouching position, right before you see a bullet burst through the door. It cracks the computer screen, the colored pie charts and spreadsheets glitching out as the internal wiring fizzles. Another two shots follow, directly aiming for whoever was sitting in that computer chair.

You grab your handbag and the weapons inside, and scramble into a hiding position behind a nearby couch, wondering just what the hell just happened. Something was missing. Something important. And then it hits you.

The shots were perfectly silent.

Breaking through the door and cracking the screen made noise, of course, but that would be easily covered up by the string quartet from the guest's perspective. How is that possible, though? Normally a so-called silencer only makes a gunshot slightly quieter than a jackhammer, instead of slightly louder. How could they shoot at you and make no sound?

It comes to you. A rumor you heard a couple years back. A Soviet project to develop a completely silent firearm, using special noiseless ammunition. A secret weapon for only the most elite assassins.

"Alex?" You can just hear Zero saying over the cell phone. "Are you there?"

The doorknob turns. The chair you propped up earlier keeps the door jammed shut. Then a powerful series of kicks delivered to the door splinters the frame and breaks the chair's legs. The door swings open.

You take a quick look around the side of the couch before ducking back. An Asian woman, tall, long dark hair, athletic figure in a flowing pale blue dress. A gun in her hand, one you've never seen before, but undoubtedly the silent pistol. In her other hand is some kind of device, a black box about the size of a book, that she was holding out at arm's length. And in her face -- her eyes -- cruelty, callous indifference, self-contained assurance. That face. Where have you seen her before?

And then it comes back. Dragon's Nest. Swimming in the indoor pool. Getting out, watching you, dripping water onto the tile floors. It was her. And then later on the roof, she was there again, and she --

She is Water, one of the five elements. And she's the woman who shot Johnny.

Choose 1:
>One of us will die tonight.
>I need to get both myself and Cat out of here.

Choose 1:
>Get close and attack with the knife.
>Fire the pocket pistol, even though it'll draw attention.
>Stay hidden.
>Write-in.
>>
>>2581825
>One of us will die tonight.

>Get close and attack with the knife.
>>
>>2581825
>One of us will die tonight.
>Stay hidden.
>>
>>2581825
>I need to get both myself and Cat out of here.
>Stay hidden.
>>
>>2581825
>>2581828
>>2581829
>>2581834


One of you will die tonight. Because if she doesn't kill you now, then you're absolutely, definitely going to kill her.

You stay quiet in place, barely daring to breathe, your heart pounding in your chest. You listen to Water's measured footfalls as she enters the room. Both of your weapons are in your handbag next to you, ready to go. You just have to wait until she gives you an opening, and then you'll --

Realizing the footsteps have stopped, you get a bad feeling right before a bullet streaks through the couch, right past your ear. You roll to the side, out of the path of another two shots. You get into a crouch, but Water has you dead to rights, the pistol aimed straight at you. You look down the barrel and for a moment your stomach drops into a pit and you think this is it, I fucked up, I'm done, and she pulls the trigger but it clicks on empty.

Water tsks at the pistol. She efficiently ejects the ammo box and reaches for ammunition she has hidden inside her dress. Before she can reload, you take action.

>Roll 1d10. First one only.
1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: She's forced to back off.
7-10: You get the drop on her.

Also, choose:
>Tackle
>Gun
>Knife
>Lamp
>>
Rolled 2 (1d10)

>>2581862
>Knife
>>
Rolled 6 (1d10)

>>2581862
>Knife
>>
Rolled 7 (1d10)

>>2581862
>Knife

This sounds familiar...
>>
>>2581863
We're so fucked.
>>
>>2581862
>>2581863

You jump across to your handbag, reach inside, grab the knife, and raise it ready to throw. In that time, Water is able to load a single bullet, slam home the ammo box, aim, and fire. The bullet catches you in the left shoulder, scraping your bones as it passes through flesh, a brutal lance of pain that blasts outwards like fire. You stumble back, trying not to scream, trying to think past the pain and stars exploding in your head. Instinctively your right hand lets go of the knife and clutches at your useless shoulder, as though you could somehow knit the wound together. You sink to your knees.

When your vision clears, you can see Water is standing right in front of you. She's examining your pain, detatched and clinical. Like you're an insect she's just put on a pin for her collection, and is coldly watching as you die.

"How does it feel?" she asks in mildly accented English. "I almost killed your friend, that night on the roof. Now I will kill you. Do you feel angry?" She kicks you in the chest, knocking you onto your back. She raises her heeled shoe and stamps down on your wound and this time you do cry out, you can't stop it, it hurts oh shit it hurts! "Do you feel sad? Afraid?" She grinds her heel down. "Tell me before you die, won't you? I'm so curious to know."

Through it all there's one thing you keep track of the whole time. Where the knife landed when you dropped it.

You've got one chance at this.

>Roll 1d10
1-3: Shit happens.
4-6: You scare her off.
7-10: You get her good.
>>
Rolled 9 (1d10)

>>2581884
>>
>>2581884
I'm just gonna hold off this time.
>>
Rolled 7 (1d10)

>>2581884
CLUTCH TIME
>>
>>2581886
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2efniAndHY
>>
>>2581886
You. I like you.

RIP Water. Shouldn't have been a painthot.
>>
>>2581884
>>2581886

Mozart -- A Little Night Music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVTXlRxVdEY

Without warning you twist around, reach out with your good arm and grab the knife.

As though in slow motion you can see everything. Water's face changing as she sees what you've done. Your arm moving as you raise the weapon. The knife as it stabs it deep into Water's hamstring.

As she cries out in pain, you use the leverage to scramble forward and knock her off balance. In the struggle, you get on top of her. Once there you don't waste any time. Everything speeds up again as you plunge the knife into her neck, straight down. Her blood spills. Her eyes stare up at yours in a mixture of confusion and dawning horror.

You manage to say in a ragged voice, "Why don't you tell me?"

Yanking the knife free causes the trickle of blood to become a gush. Water's warm blood spills over your hands. She chokes and gurgles, grasping at her throat, unable to stop the flow.

"That's for Johnny," you say, staggering to your feet, dropping the knife. "And for me."

You pause a few moments to take in the sight of Johnny's nemesis dying. When the light fades from her eyes, you turn away.

Water's dress is made of some weird material, so to bind your wound you're forced to tear a strip off the bottom of your own dress. After tying the blue strip around your throbbing shoulder you realizing the phone is still squawking, so you stumble over to it and pick it up. "Y-yeah, Zero? H-how's it hanging, pal?"

"Alex! What the fuck? What happened? Are you all right?"

"Still standing."

"Okay, well -- we have enough data. You can get out of there now. Is Cat with you?"

You think about trying to collect Cat from out there with her friends. You look down at yourself, drenched in two people's blood. You imagine going out there looking like this. "Look, um -- Kaz has a car phone, right? Tell him to meet me at the bottom of the service stairway. I think it's, um. On the eastern side of the building."

"Alex, you don't sound so great --"

"I'm fine. Just tell him." You hang up the phone.

(Continued)
>>
>>2581910


Retrieving the murder weapon and putting it in your handbag, you move to the door in its splintered frame, open it slightly, and carefully look out. The string quartet is still playing on, the party-goers still engaged in lively conversation. The noise seems to have covered up the whole thing.

A side route through the servant's hall gets you to the service stairway.

A distraction created by tossing a champagne glass in another direction gets you past the security guard.

His keys get you through the door.

Now all you have to do is climb down sixteen flights of stairs. With a gunshot wound.

Okay, no problem. Just one step at a time, Alex. You just need to take that first step. Just take it. Go on. Do it you stupid bitch I know it hurts just go--

For a moment it's all too much. You sink to your knees, overwhelmed by pain and frustration and bottled-up rage. A single tear gets squeezed out of your eye. Wiping it away with your working arm, you push yourself up and make yourself walk to the top of the stairs.

Looking down at the descent, you decide to at least take your heels off first.

Johnny owes you for this one, you think as you take off your shoes and place them in your handbag. Big time.

You can add it to the list.
>>
That's all for tonight, anons.
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>>2581916
Thanks for running!
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>>2581916
Thanks for running, boss.

Jeez, two elements dead in one thread. Alex is a workhorse. Best girl has revealed herself.
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>>2581920
Welcome to the revolution, brother.
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>>2581920
Alex has always been Best Girl. Cat is for imouto and Roxy is a fuck buddy at best (something something sticking it in crazy). We really should do something nice for her once Johny hears about this.

Anyway thanks for the run King
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>>2581916
Wait, did we not loot Water's pistol and ammo?
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>>2581970
Fucking hope we did
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>>2582030
>100% silent shooting
So do I
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Cat and Alex would make a cute couple
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>>2584163
This, honestly.
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>>2584163
>>2584178
Jesus Christ, the moment they start acting friendly together you try to ship them.
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>>2581912


"Sorry about this," you say.

Doc Inch walks past you, carrying his glass of cheap liquor and ice cubes. He drains it in one go and slams it on the workbench next to his tools. He turns around to glare at you. "You said last time was the last time. That's what you said."

"I didn't know where else to go," you confess. At least you could pay in advance.

You're only wearing a paper-thin hospital gown, and the metal table you're sitting on is cold on your thighs. The doctor's bandages across your shoulder itch, but you prevent yourself from scratching. At least the gunshot doesn't hurt so much anymore after that cocktail of painkillers he gave you.

When you showed up, bloodied and torn up, the doc almost turned you away. But in the end he let you inside. He did his best to fix up your shoulder. The bones are all right, he says, so after a few weeks with your arm in a sling it should be useable again. A blood transfusion replaced some of what you'd spent on that study room floor and the staircase down.

It was only afterwards that he started to get really annoyed.

"Over ten years I been running this place," Inch says, pouring himself another drink. "Ten years. You know how many street docs last ten years in Heat City? The bad ones last maybe two. The good ones keep going until some big shot asshole "recruits" them as his private doc, then gets mad when they can't save his pet goon from a shot to the chest and has 'em taken out to the swamp. Food for the gators."

"You're right," you say. "I'm sorry." You don't have any excuses. Kaz drove you here, not knowing you'd made a promise to stay away. It was go to a regular hospital and get nailed by the cops, bleed out in Cat's car, or this.

Inch sits back heavily on an old creaky stool. He lets out a weary sigh. "Well, I couldn't say no to you, miss. That big dumb idiot you're always with, he's maxed out. He's done. Too much heat. But I'll squeeze in this one last treatment for you, because -- well, because you seem all right. That's all." He knocks back the drink, hiding his embarassment.

"Appreciate it," you say.

Inch puts down his glasses and shuffles over to a closet. He gets out an old box, puts it on the table beside you, and opens it. A basic set of clothes is in there, black t-shirt, jeans, sneakers. "Probably a little big for you. But I figure it's better than wearing half a party dress home."

"You're a good man, Doc." You start work on getting the shirt over your head, a tough job with one working arm.

"Ahh -- I ain't nothing. Just a damn fool who lost his medical license to the bottle, scraping by here. Doing what I can to keep other damn fools like you and Johnny alive." He sighs. "You give him my best, will you? I don't expect he'll survive all this. You might. But not Johnny. One of these days the whole city's gonna come down on him. Who's going to stop it? You?"

You tie your shoes and stand up. "Thanks for your help." And you walk out.

(Continued)
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>>2584252

Kaz is sitting in the driver's seat of Cat's car, smoking. When he sees you come out, he opens the door and starts to get out to help you, but you wave him off. You get into the backseat by yourself, and tell him, "My place."

"Sure thing." Kaz pulls away into the street. "You know I was thinking, Miss Cat probably won't be happy that I wasn't there to pick her up, but I think she'll understand once she finds out what happened."

"I left a bloody mess and a dead body behind," you say. "I'm sure she'll figure it out." You left quite a scene back there. At least you remembered to bring the murder weapon with you, and while you were at it, Water's specialized gear. That silent pistol sure seems like it could come in handy, and while you have no idea what the black box was that she was carrying, maybe Zero can tell you something about it.

"I guess you and Johnny will both need a few weeks to recover, huh," Kaz says. "After that, though, I mean, geez. Still got a Triad bounty on your heads, my old boss Kojiro wants all that money you stole for himself, and then you still want revenge on that Russian guy, right? Goddamn. You guys got a lot on your plate." Kaz glances at you in the rear-view mirror. "What comes next?"

"I don't know," you say, truthfully.

Through the car window you watch dawn begin to paint the early morning sky in rosy hues, making black silhouettes of the palm trees that rush past you in a steady rhythm as Kaz drives you uptown.
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>>2584256

Outro: Chromatics -- Cherry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjQ2jGUNSck

That officially marks the end of Thug Quest 31 and our Alex episode, anons. I hope you enjoyed yourself, and to see you next time on Thug Quest 32. Thanks for reading!
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>>2584260
Thanks for the Alex Quest, bossman.
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>>2584260
Thanks for running Raven.
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>>2584256
Catnapped




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