Who: Cobb and Chris. What: On Eames' recommendation, Cobb tests Chris to see if he's fit for the team. Where: Inception door, the warehouse. When: A few weeks back, shortly after this. Warnings/Rating: Dream firefights.
Keep Sunday and Monday free, Chris had told Azeneth when she’d been unceremoniously dumped back in the hotel after her walk through the door, and when she’d asked why, he said business. Which meant work, and - if her memory served her right - lot interesting, and so she’d done as asked and finished up all her project deadlines by noon on work with someone through a different door. It was a little amusing and a little worrisome and a Sunday. Two o’clock at the hotel was the instruction, accompanied by the faintly-amused-a-little-bitter declaration that hey, she’d get to see him in action for once.
A small part of Azeneth debated whether or not that was a good thing - if Chris was being petty and lashing out against her complaining about how boring he’d been those first few times through. But it was a small part, and she was just a little excited as the minutes ticked by and deposited her outside the grand-and-grandiose hotel once more. She unlocked the gate with the wrought-iron key and slipped in through the front door, taking a deep breath of mildew and dust and fantasy and fiction brought to life.
She stood in the front entryway and glanced around. A bald brick wall was the descriptor provided in her mind, which meant against the gray once-splendor of the hotel’s interior, it would be hard to miss the intended. It looked like she was first, slim and dark-haired and wearing green and camo to blend in with the desert sands that she didn’t actually spend all that much time out in (to her own disappointment). Azeneth made her way to the grand staircase and leaned against the banister, glancing over the blackberry that connected her to the world of the hotel’s almost-occupants to see who or what was on the rise that afternoon. She was probably going to miss any action, and so would he, being busy doing actual work.
Actual work that wasn’t paperwork, she hoped.
For the most part, Bas and Dom didn't talk or interfere with one another's lives, beyond the 'I need to go to the Door,' that Basilio occasionally got from the man he shared a brain with. If he could make time for it, he usually did, but when he'd gotten the request for time on Sunday, he just shrugged and didn't make any plans for the day. Most Sunday's he relaxed anyway, sleeping in to noon instead of ten, waking up to shower, grab a bite to eat and wash his baby.
Once he was done, it was just about time to leave. While he wasn't expecting trouble, he still put on his shoulder holster over his white wife beater, his gun fitting comfortably inside it. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. After locking up his house, he got in his car and pulled out of the driveway with a roar from the engine. It didn't take long to get to the hotel. As usual, there were a few cars out there, not many, but enough to know that the place wasn't empty yet.
He made sure to park a few spots down from anyone else. His baby was wide and while most new cars wouldn't even put a dent in her, he didn't feel like tempting fate. Locking her up behind him, he strode to the gate and let himself in. He locked that as well before entering the hotel and sliding his sunglasses off. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust, but there was only one person waiting in the lobby, a sharp edged girl, Hispanic possibly. "Hey."
While Azeneth was not overfond of old places and older architecture, she looked around at the inside of the hotel, admiring the little pieces of art deco that caught her eye and the way that the sun streamed through dust-covered windows into splintered beams of light. It was quiet in here, its own little ecosystem of dust and dust mites and no humans to interrupt it … except her, of course. And the occasional passers-by who also needed access to a door or two. Like the man who strode in the door, sunglasses and stoicism and a gun holster wildly visible against the white of his shirt. She looked at it critically but didn’t let any tension show - there weren’t any barked commands in her skull, which meant the point man had either expected this or wasn’t seeing a threat.
“Hey,” she said in response, not moving from her spot by the banister. Gun aside, the ‘bald brick wall’ descriptor certainly came close to fitting. “You’ve got a dreamwalker looking for a sharpshooter?”
Little and Hispanic was apt. "Yeah," he said, grinning, all easy going white teeth as settled his sunglasses on his shaved, shiny head. The distance from the door to the banister was easily eaten up by his long legs and somewhere, perhaps because she was a girl, Basilio dug out some old manners and held a hand out to her.
"He and I don't talk much though. I'm Basilio." Beyond door requests and 'watch out for so-and-so' for the most time, they didn't talk. Bas knew something was going down on his side, but Cobb was tight lipped about it -- as he was about most things -- and it was easier just to let the other man do his thing while he did his. It worked out well for them. "Shall we?" He asked, tilting his head to indicate the stairs.
Azeneth took the offered hand and shook it.
“Same here,” she said, with a half-smile. “I only get orders and the occasional insult. Azeneth.” With the short introductions finished, she nodded and followed Basilio as he headed up the stairs. Her own door was on the main floor, tucked away in the back somewhere. Where he was headed, she was ready to follow right up to the edge where they switched roles and wound up in other bodies, other minds.
The building anticipation wasn’t just hers, though. It was for the most part, but there was some slipping in from Chris as he waited to see what was going to happen. All the fighting, all the rage built up over the years - and now everything had taken such a strange turn, leaving him on his way to fighting in dreams. Bizarre to think about, stranger that it was actually happening.
But it was something to do, and something potentially worthwhile. And it would keep him occupied. Better this than so many other things - like waiting in the back of a college girl’s head for the chance to get out and fight? Azeneth thought wryly, only to get a dismissive response.
“After you,” she said, when they stopped at his door.
It was always strange, going from Basilio's world to Cobb's, but it didn't stop him from sliding the key into the door and stepping through the warehouse in Paris. His height didn't change that much, but he certainly became more compact, less like a brick wall and more like a very fit man with hair.
"Did Eames tell you how this works?" Even if he had, Cobb wouldn't throw him into the deep end on the first time. He'd let him learn how it worked in a non violent dream first before taking him into one that wasn't. They always did better when they could play before they were forced to fight.
Turning around, he paused a little to make sure that Azeneth made it through. "The first time, I just want you to get used to how it feels, what you can and can't do."
The change was more drastic from Azeneth to Chris - it was abrupt, and not some morphological nightmare, thankfully, but it was still a startling change to go from five-and-some feet of slim woman to six-and-some feet of mostly muscle and grim countenance - and male to boot. She took a breath before following Basilio through the door and it was Chris that let it out, rolling his shoulders and looking around at the spacious, mostly-empty warehouse. It looked used, occupied - but not busy or cluttered. The air felt clean(ish). There was sun coming through the high windows. Oddly pleasant.
“Not really. Only that it was in dreams.” That dying wasn’t permanent. He fixed Cobb with a level look, hands in his pockets. A practice round was ideal; they had some time, after all, if not infinite, and he didn’t much enjoy walking into a situation blind. “All right. How does it work?” Did they just … go to sleep?
"Okay." Cobb went to get one of their PASIV's. There were plenty of tables to pick from, but he set it down on one closest to two chairs. While he didn't expect Ariadne or Arthur to come through, he wanted to get through this with Chris first. "We're going to get hooked up to this and then, you fall asleep. You wake up in a dream, but the first thing you've gotta learn is that you can change it. You want to change the weapon you've got? The layout of the building? You can do it. First time though, I'll be the dreamer, I'll create the world we're in, but your subconscious is the one that populates it."
He paused then, looking back at the man that moved like he had some training. They were different than most others, like they knew where their center of gravity was and they were used to using it. Or using weapons. If he could do it, he'd be a good guy to have along. "Got all of that?"
Chris didn’t dream much, especially not lately. When he did, it wasn’t lucid dreaming. So the idea that the dream could change because he wanted it to was unfamiliar, but not bad - that meant he could stop anything unwanted in its tracks, right? Change what wasn’t supposed to be there into something useful. The idea of being able to switch weapons at will was an appealing one, too.
“Yeah.” He was still a little hazy on the finer points - and some of the clearer ones, it felt like - but there was nothing like experience to brush any doubts away. He sat down on the second chair and looked at the device in the briefcase. Oddly mechanical and complex for something to put you to sleep. A faint tinge of unease rose up in the back of his mind, but he fought it down. It was dreaming, for god’s sake. It would keep him and his brain on the right track, and - ideally - stay in the world of dreaming.
He wasn’t quite sure he wanted to know what happened when nightmares started to surface during the whole process.
Through all of this, Cobb assumed that there was nothing in Chris' subconscious that was worth hiding from.
Following his gaze to the PASIV, Cobb added, "It's how we dream share. Otherwise, it's just dreaming." Or in his case, the PASIV was the only way he could dream at all. Pulling out the electrodes and the wires, he started getting them set up. "Get comfortable. Now I'm only going to put us down for about five minutes, but that'll give us close to an hour down there. Your brain functions faster in dream time, so it's going to make time feel slower."
He squatted down beside the other man. "Wrist."
Chris leaned back in the chair slightly and turned his arm over, exposing his wrist. Wires, electrodes … it didn’t sit entirely well with him, but he told himself again that it was dreaming. Almost certainly just dreaming, nothing more or less. Five minutes’ time unconscious - and where his paranoia and distrust extended far beyond most people’s, he wasn’t finding a reason to be suspicious here. The whole situation was bizarre enough as it was. A little more strangeness wasn’t going to be a huge deal.
But his subconscious was another thing altogether. As neither Eames nor Cobb had made mention of the idea of hunting something through nightmares, Chris didn’t bring it up himself. Didn’t everybody have the damn things sometimes? It wasn’t as if every night was a hellish recollection of his life, after all. (Or, rather, hadn’t been. Without time and effort to exhaust himself to the edges of consciousness, they’d been seeping back in, infecting not only his mind, but hers … )
“I’ll take your word for it.”
Cobb fastened the band around his wrist. After so long doing this, it didn't matter anything to him to get settled into his own chair, legs extended out in front of him before he fixed his own electrode on.
"Close your eyes," he said as he reached over to hit the button in the center of the PASIV.
It took a moment, but then he was there. It was his typical space, a corner cobble stone street, buildings made out of stone and glass instead of metal. It looked like a corner that could have belonged in any number of old European cities, which was exactly what he was aiming for. On the far corner was a cafe, serving coffees and pastries, and down one road a small farmer's market.
He turned to the other man and stretched out one hand, as if gesturing to him. "We're not going to go into how to create a dream, I want you to get used to the feeling of it. Now give yourself a gun. Just imagine one, any one."
One minute, Chris was still in the warehouse. He leaned back, took a breath, shut his eyes - and seconds later there he was, standing in a city. New England? Europe? Somewhere that he wasn’t used to, that much was for sure. But the transition didn’t feel abrupt. He almost didn’t remember being back in the warehouse - unless he really focused on it, and on the other man standing nearby, watching him carefully.
It felt real. It looked real. Everything was real enough, even if the edges and corners of things were a little vague until he actually turned his head to look at them, at which point the details … appeared. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and took the suggestion into mind. Focus on something he was used to. Easy enough.
The one he was most used to, had with him on every mission, was the Beretta 92, and he imagined it right at his side, as ever. The weight, the feel, the mechanisms for reloading and firing. When there was the sudden heaviness at his hip, he looked over - it was there, same as it always was, ready for action. Chris pulled it out of the holster and ran his fingers over it to make sure it was right. Dream or not, a gun had to be in at least good condition to fire safely.
Cobb nodded. "Now, if you get hurt, it's still going to hurt. But if you die, it's going to wake you up," he explained as he started walking down the road. He hated standing in one place for dreams.
And for once, he wasn't worried about what would happen if Mal showed up. Chris was new to him, just as he'd be new to the whole team and his wife as well, if she did happen to reappear. More than that, he didn't have to worry about Chris asking him a lot of uncomfortable questions about where she was, or where she might be.
It was relieving and he smiled a little as he concentrated enough to have a tank come rolling down the street. "Whatever you can imagine, you can create."
Chris followed Cobb, pausing only momentarily to watch the tank suddenly appear. The other people around gave it the same sort of surprised look - and that was the moment when he realized there were other people around, perfectly normal, unmentionable people. But it was a city, even if it was all just a dream; people would be there even in dreams. Just living and hardly noticing a tank.
Bizarre, but. Again. Dreams.
“There’s no limits?” He put away the gun and watched the sky, clouds drifting, the sun mostly hidden by the height of the buildings. “No consequences? No … barriers to that kind of thing?” It almost seemed too easy. There had to be some limitations somewhere. There always were. Didn’t matter how real or fake something seemed.
The only limitation was the one that Cobb had to teach him. "If you are in someone else's dream and change it too much, they'll do what they just did," Cobb said, tilting his head to the populace of the dream. "And if you change it too much, they'll realize the foreign nature of the dreamer and converge on you."
He didn't explain what happened then, but Cobb didn't think he would need to.
"Changing weapons though?" Cobb shook his head. "A squadron of fighters or tanks?" Cobb nodded. That might trigger enough of a change to get a convergence, but he wasn't going to try that quite yet. "Keep that in mind."
Major things, then, pulled the world down around you. ‘Converge’ - he didn’t need that explained that to him. Maybe in his early days of living in a horror movie, he wouldn’t have imagined it so easily, but ever since Kijuju - hell, since missions before that one, even - the word conjured up the mental image of a hundred bloodthirsty infected rushing at him with one goal: kill.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so absolute here, but Chris wasn’t about to test his luck and push his limits so early on. He only wrapped his fingers around the comforting grip of the Beretta and nodded grimly.
“Seems straightforward enough.” He didn’t usually go in for big, flashy displays anyway. “They converge and kill, gets you kicked out, makes everything ten times more complicated than it was supposed to be?” Had to be tricky trying to get back into a dream that everybody else was still having.
"Yeah, sounds about right." Cobb didn't explain what would happen if Chris ended up in Limbo. It was hard enough to get there to begin with, though wisdom indicated he should tell. They weren't going to go that deep.
"Dying isn't going to kill you, but you want to stay alive for as long as you can," he said with a bit of a grin. None of them were of much use if they died within the first few minutes of the dream. Staying alive as long as possible was the better solution. "Not worth much if you die in the first couple of minutes before we get our jobs done," he pointed out.
"We've got some more time if you want to practice." Better that he do it now than later, when they were somewhere else and trying not to die, instead of here, where it was just a matter of learning.
“Just like any other day,” Chris muttered under his breath. Stay alive, end of story. Funny how many times he’d seen people fail on that. “Sure. Target practice, or actually getting something done?” However that would be set up in a dream. Easily, he thought, if all he had to do was think and there was a gun. Speaking of …
He glanced down at the Beretta and focused again. A thin thread of curiosity made him reach down and feel it again, trying to focus on it not being the 92 but the 93 - and it changed almost without him realizing it. It had always been the M93 now. That was a little unsettling, but at the same time, he reminded himself again of the current situation. Maybe lucid dreaming was everything people claimed it to be.
"Think of it like target practice, with moving targets." His gaze dropped to see the change in the gun and he gave a smile, a grim, humorless thing. Chris was catching on. "When we get inside, there will be others there, but they're only projections. You can shoot them without hurting anyone and once they're dead, they tend to stay that way."
It was the original intention of the Dreamshare program. Training for the government, teaching men and women how to fight and kill without actually placing them in harms way. It did what it was supposed to do, but it had opened up the way for corporate espionage, the ability to steal secrets directly from one person's mind. Cobb missed doing it. It was one thing to play in dreams, even his own, but he needed more.
Moving targets - so, again. Any other day. There was something a little unsettling about the idea of being able to kill pretty much anyone with no repercussions, since all it would do is result in waking up or, so he guessed in this case, nothing sincere if they'd never existed in the first place. Seemed like it made it too easy for people to get used to killing.
But that was more a concern for someone new to military operations. He’d spent more than half his life doing this kind of thing, and with way more permanent consequences. True, he’d never really gone out and had to turn his weapons against actual uninfected people, but killing people in a dream and killing zombies hell-bent on tearing him apart had an advantage over that. And besides, he wasn’t so much military anymore. For the most part, living people weren’t his problem until they went out trying to infect entire cities.
“Lead the way.” If it would continue here or move somewhere else, he was ready. Plus he wouldn’t have to worry about a potential infection here. Probably.
Dream time was easier to calculate outside, rather than inside and since they hadn't woken up yet, Cobb knew they still had to have time on the clock. Glancing down at his watch, he estimated it to be about another 20 minutes or so.
It took a few seconds of concentrating, but eventually the sounds reached them first. A gunfight. Another few seconds and he had a set of comms, one that he held out to Chris as he fitted the earpiece into his right ear. They would have to use the city around them and Cobb already had an idea of where he'd like to be. "You prefer being up close and personal?" If so, he'd take one of the higher buildings and cover Chris.
The sound of gunfire was so familiar that Chris heard it almost before it started up in earnest, and he was watching the distance in an instant, his hand back on the handle of his gun. He took the communicator almost without looking over at Cobb, sliding it on and pulling out the gun. Dream or not, death or not, he wasn’t about to take this any less seriously than any other situation.
“Generally.” Though he could keep cover, and fairly well, too. But for the moment, he was going to stick with what he really knew, and that was getting into the action on the ground level with gun drawn and ready to strike. “Am I taking them out, or just getting somewhere?”
"I'll go up and cover you. Take out as many as you can. We'll go somewhere next time," Cobb said, almost relaxed before he ducked into a the corner building. The stairs led up to the roof, a position that would allow him to see anything going on while Chris was on the ground. "Ready when you are," he said into the comm as he set up his favored suppressed Blaser R93 LRS2 sniper rifle.
The last time he'd used it, he'd shot Mal. But she wasn't here this time, he told himself. He'd never have to shoot her again. Flipping open the view on the scope, he located Chris first, then in front of him. Hed wait to see how Chris handled the growing mass of angry, armed people before he fired a shot. He wanted to see what the man could do.
The hostile crowd started to form in one of the streets, slowly getting closer. They were armed - or at least some of them there - and they seemed to be focused on him. There were a few moments when he didn’t move as he tried to reassure himself that opening fire on hostile combatants wasn’t just turning his gun on civilians, no matter how peaceful they’d been before. And it was a dream. That was the one that kept slipping his mind. A dream. Nobody here was actually in any danger of dying, if Cobb and Eames were telling the truth - not even him.
A hostile crowd coming at him, some armed, some not, looking for his blood. It was like Kijuju all over again. He grimaced, steadied himself, lifted his weapon, and waited. It probably wasn’t a good idea to let them get too close, but none of them had fired at him just ye --
“Shit!” he snarled as a bullet zinged past him. All right, too much hesitation there. This wasn’t a test of his diplomacy skills, this was to see how long he could survive against a group of hostiles. Chris fired off three shots, taking out two and injuring a third, before moving back toward building cover. Another two bullets got two more in the arms, keeping them from shooting at him. At least temporarily.
There'd been no blood -- Chris hadn't been hit, but it had been a near thing. The close call had seemed to galvanize the other man into action, shots finally being fired. Cobb took out the two that Chris had wounded in the arms, leaving the first one he injured. He'd let the other man take care of that one as he picked off a few stragglers, ones that were trying to go down the alleyway to get behind the building the man was currently using as cover.
Some of them were smarter than others, just like humans. "You okay down there?" Cobb asked, the delay showing how much of an afterthought it was. He was used to having the members of his team and he knew when they were injured. He didn't have that with Chris -- yet.
The sound of distant gunfire behind him made him glance back very briefly, but there was nothing there. It wasn’t standard gunfire, though - the sound of a crack shot taking someone down from a distance. He wondered if that meant Cobb was doing more than observing, but didn’t think about it for too long. He was still a prime target.
“I’m fine. It missed.” Chris ducked down behind a car and checked his weapon out of habit before moving back up and firing at the oncomers, putting four down with injuries and one down for good. “Think I forgot to ask - does this go until I kill a set number, or until one of them kills me?” It was a little haunting to discuss. He’d taken bullets before, a lot of them. Even if they weren’t fatal, they hurt. A graze across the arm could be nasty enough.
Before he answered, Cobb looked down at his watch again. They still had fifteen minutes, roughly before they were brought out of the dream. "Until we're either woken up or you die." Cobb shot one that was trying to crawl under the car Chris was using for cover.
"If you're injured I will shoot you. Injuries may not be real, but they still hurt like hell, same as the world above. And you can still torture someone inside the dream to see if they'll give up any information." That was something he should know, not because they were going to torture anyone, but Cobb had shot Arthur more times than he could count to keep the other man from being used against them.
Seeing some of the oncoming hostiles collapse as if shot confirmed that Cobb was up on some vantage point, making sure he didn’t get killed any quicker than necessary, and Chris felt a little less tense for the realization. That along with the set terms - and the new information - made him clench his jaw and move back from the car, firing the whole way until he could get to better cover.
“Good to know.” There was only a little sarcasm in his voice, tempered by the situation at hand, and he turned to make sure nobody was coming up behind him. There wasn’t, but there was a small group coming at him from separate alleys on either side. With a grimace he shot two, turned for another one, and dove around the corner of a building that seemed relatively safe when no-one shot him right away. “I’ll try to avoid it in general.”
"Good." Cobb said quietly, watching as Chris moved from behind the car, fired, and found a new vantage point. He didn't like having to shoot his own teammates, though he would if necessary. "You've got three coming up on your left. Armed." The guy was good. He wasn't Eames, wasn't a forger but he was trained and he knew how to handle a gun. As long as he didn't fuck up too badly, he could stay.
"You've got a big group coming up after them." There were a few stragglers following them, but once they were taken care of, and assuming they didn't pull in any more projections, Chris would be in the clear.
Cobb’s words were followed up by the arrival of the aforementioned armed hostiles, and Chris didn’t hesitate to put bullets in each of them, two-two-one and they were down. He crouched down again, back to the nearest wall, to reload his gun - something so instinctive to him that even in a dream, where he could have ostensibly limitless ammunition, it needed to be done. A big group, the other man said … then maybe the handgun wasn’t going to be the best option. He’d have to judge for himself the firepower needed once he saw them, so he started backing up, making for a fire escape and pulling himself up easily.
It wasn’t much of a vantage point, and it did make it a hell of a lot easier for them to see him, but he needed to see just how many were about to take him out.
They started in around the corner, and there … were a lot of them. Not a swarming horde, but a sizable number, more than enough to pose a problem. He took out the first few with the Beretta before putting it away and dropping off the fire escape, rushing around the nearest corner away from them, and … focusing. In his hands, something with the power to send the oncoming numbers back out of reach.
The shotgun formed in his hands, an Ithaca M37, the kind he’d carried more and more often into the field. Chris made sure it was loaded before rounding the corner once more and catching the hostiles by surprise with a few gutfuls of shotgun shells. It wouldn’t last long, but it’d cause enough chaos for him to finish off whoever was left with the Beretta.
Sometimes, in the field, the choice to change weapons had to be made. Cobb had made it himself on many occasions, but it took some getting used to as well. The idea that he could change his weapon with nothing more than a thought had taken some getting used to and he smiled briefly, privately, to see Chris doing it now.
Good. He still needed to reload, but that was ingrained. They didn't take it away from soldiers that were going into the field, it needed to be as much of a habit here as it was there. Forgetting to do it there could mean a very permanent death.
He fired his rifle once, twice, taking down two stragglers and just as he was about to take down another, his eyes opened to the warehouse in Paris. No longer on top of the building, he got up immediately, disconnecting himself from the PASIV, not stopping to see if Chris was awake yet as he ducked into a cubby hole and spun the top on the floor. It spun for several seconds and then fell. Reality.
Picking it up off the floor, he tucked it back into his pants pocket and returning to the other man. "How'd it feel?"
The first blast caught three, the second two; most of them were dead or dying when they hit the ground, and the force of the knockback made the people behind the first stagger and struggle to get around their bleeding comrades. Chris already had his handgun up, aiming one-handed, was pulling the trigger to take advantage of the distraction when --
It was a sudden awakening, and one that almost disoriented him. Though that was usually how he woke up from dreams these days, even if this one had been … moderately less unpleasant than they usually were. He stared up at the warehouse ceiling for a few long moments before Cobb spoke, watching him from a distance. He sat up. Tested his limbs, checked for the weapons that were no longer there.
“ … different,” he said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “But not in a bad way. I take it you do a lot of work like that, if combat readiness is the first thing you’re testing.” It was a subtle question, wondering just how much opposition Cobb and his team faced on a regular basis - and if that meant he was going in the direction of something on the wrong side of the law. Not necessarily something he’d refuse, though, depending.
"Not always," Cobb said as he sat back down in his chair, the top a warm weight against his thigh. More often than not though, they were running into men working for Cobol and coupled with the growing number of people that were militarizing their minds to protect their thoughts from theft, Cobb knew they were going to need more combat training, not less.
And they were going to need more ways of getting in, under someone's guard but he was looking forward to that. Maybe he should arrange for Ariadne to have time in a few combat dreams. Maybe all of them. It'd be a good refresher and give them a chance to work together again. Later though. Cobb wanted another chance to explore his own dreams without anyone interrupting.
"It's not strictly legal, what we do." His gaze shifted to the other man's face. "Is that going to be a problem for you?"
Chris kept his own look even, if a little grim by nature. Legal and illegal - they were important, yeah. Hard to keep the law without them. But there were times when even he had ducked under the boundary of law in order to get where he needed to go, find who had to be found. Sometimes to put down people who had to be put down. Most of the time he had sanctions, permissions - the B.S.A.A. was a powerful organization - but sometimes …
“That depends on what kind of laws you’re breaking, and what you’re doing with whatever you go in to get. If you’re just gunning for a paycheck, no questions about what you might be doing to people in the long or short run, then yeah, I’m going to have a problem.” He gave a one-shoulder shrug as the adrenaline from the dream firefight trickled away. “But if it’s just against the law to do this in general, and you’re not going in knowing you’re ruining lives and not caring … pretty sure I can deal with it.”
Different worlds meant he probably wasn’t going to get put on leave by his superiors, and potentially jailed by them. He might be jailed here, but … best to think about that when it came down to it.
Cobb paused. They weren't mercenaries, they weren't out to kill anyone and he wasn't putting any of his team on the line to kill someone. That wasn't his damned job. Espionage on the other hand?
"Think of it like corporate espionage." Some of the information, he knew, did ruin lives. It changed them, mostly for the men who were trying to keep their secrets. But, he had no doubt that they would end up with both feet on the ground and perhaps a little wiser for it. That was the nature of what they did.
"We're not going into someone's mind to see if they're cheating on their wife, their husband, their weekly poker games. We're paid not to ask questions about what they're going to do with the information once we get it." If that was going to be a problem for Chris, better to know now.
Corporate espionage. Out of Chris’s usual purview, but in strange times like these, when every day was another dull walk through someone else’s life … a few years ago he would have said no. A month or two ago and he would have only considered it privately. Now, though, was different. Now was … more difficult.
Times changed, and so did people. He was no exception.
“All right,” Chris said with a slight nod before standing up (not unsteadily, already well used to the waking world again) and holding out a hand. “Consider it a deal. If you need a gun, send me a message. I’ll see what I can do.”
Though Cobb said that they didn't ask questions, he usually did. Grudges weren't of any interest to him and it was better not to get caught in the crosshairs of feuding rivals. He wouldn't put them at risk for that. Other things? Keeping one company out of complete dominance in a particular market? He didn't have a problem with that.
Noting that the other man was already adjusted to the waking world again, he offered up a brief smile. "Good," he said, reaching out to shake the other man's hand. "I'll see about getting us together for something, let you meet everyone." By then, they might have Eames back, but Cobb knew better than to guarantee that. What Eames did most of the time, hell, Ariadne and Arthur too, that was their business. He didn't ask, didn't push, and didn't interfere in whatever was going on between them. They spent enough time in one another's heads without adding unnecessary information to the mix.
"I'll leave you a note on the journals, let you know when then."
“All right. I’ll keep an eye out.” He paused, dropping the handshake. “Or one of us will. If you can get the message to my Vegas-side, she’ll pass it on. Her name’s Azeneth. She’s … got more time than I do.” Something he was still a little on-edge about, but there were worse situations, he guessed. “But she’s reliable.”
It was a strange situation - but dream or not, this was something different, something interesting … something that could keep him from spending too much time getting dragged down by the past that wouldn’t let go no matter what he did. So he wasn’t going to pass it up if there wasn’t a major moral concern involved. With one final nod toward Cobb, Chris headed back for the warehouse door.
If nothing else, it was nice to know that a few months trapped in someone else’s skull didn’t take away his fighting edge at all.