|Dante "Inferno" Zaragoza - Death'll find you... (xolotl) wrote in repose,|
@ 2019-11-24 18:17:00
|“Hey kid, make sure Edgar’s bike gets pulled in before you leave.” Was the call from the shop owner, Mike as he’d begun to wipe down his workstation in preparation of leaving for the day. He was a nice enough guy, older. Probably around her dad’s age. Which automatically meant she’d had a soft spot for the man the first time they met. That soft spot was only increased by knowing Mike was somehow connected to the shop she’d grown up working in. There was a twinge of sadness at the thought of leaving Mike’s shop so soon - if she was going to Repose that drive wasn’t happening - after starting. Sure it’d been about a year but… It always felt like time was slipping by just a little faster with every second gone by. |
“You got it.” Dante responded with a grin to Mike. He was a good guy. It was great that they’d been able to negotiate a somewhat flexible working agreement and even if Dante hated the idea of leaving on some level it had been a point of agreement they’d put in place upon her being hired. MIke seemed to think she was meant for her own shop and didn’t want to make her feel like she couldn’t grow and pursue her own career. While Dante? Well… The other side of her life was filled with darkness and a sweet guy like Mike? He didn’t deserve that in his shop.
It would be some hours before the shop would close for the evening and extra care was taken to pulling in Edgar’s bike. It was an absolutely breathtaking machine too. A 1946 Harley Davidson EL Knucklehead Bobber and even just laying her hands on it was nearly enough to… Well. It was a beautiful bike. A beautiful bike she wouldn’t mind driving fast and then finding someone else to help her ride it hard. What a beautiful night that would be. Maybe someday she could afford a 46 knucklehead bobber of her own but… Well, she’d have to live that long.
Yet a fantasy was all the thought would remain. There was work to be done. First was closing the shop and everything that entailed from putting up parts, re-arranging tools, cashing out and taking inventory to have a part order list ready for the next morning. There were a few other things that would wait until the morning however as fingers itched and toes tapped while shutting off the last of the shop lights. It would be easy to retrieve her own bike out of the shop storage and suit up. Mike had been an angel allowing her to store it there while it needed ‘repairs’ and to have things ‘rebuilt’. Hopefully, someday, she could repay his sincere kindness to her lies and deceit appropriately.
The last adjustment to the suit was made so that all gear sat snugly after tucking her personal cell phone so that it sat directly against a segment of her own skin. While she could hack into local cameras, stop lights and things without direct contact with another digital system it was much, much, easier with a direct connection, even one just as small as her cell phone strapped against her arm. A quick weaponry inventory was taken - one shock baton, one taser knuckle, the G19 pistol and clip, the .357 Magnum and its ammo, the grenade she’d lifted from the goods and two flashbangs - before eyes came to rest on the pouches she’d made to keep Katagawa’s powered off phones inside of. The pouches were snatched up and shoved into a pocket with a small electronics toolkit and a laptop before the bike would be walked out of the back of the shop. The door behind her was locked and with a moment to secure everything for her trip off Inferno went into the night.
On a night like tonight the road called to Dante. The air was cool, the grime of the city adding just enough smell and humidity that it wasn’t quite uncomfortable but people tended towards their homes instead of the city streets. It was peaceful.
Maybe if her life was different, on a night like tonight, she’d be out carelessly racing her motorcycle too fast in too tight quarters and laughing like the world would never quite catch up. While Dante would never admit it openly to herself there would always be something in her that longed to be the care-free 20-something that she should have been. Her whole life had been stolen from her by one person on one night too many years ago and…
She still couldn’t let it go.
There was a low displeased noise released as the throttle was turned causing the bike to pick up speed. It was an easy drive, one she’d memorized months ago as the location had proven useful more than not. Her mind pinged away at the connection to the local network of technology and mechanical tools around her to change a stop light green or mask her movement through the city through mild camera interference. It was always better to cover your tracks preemptively than end up in a shoot out later.
Getting out from the shop a ways there was a left turn here, a right turn there and then forward half a mile before turning into the parking lot of an abandoned looking office building. It was easy to lift the bike and carry it up a set of stairs in the back before placing it down on the small area before the door. Gloved hands moved to adjust the boards - which claimed no one should enter the building for safety reasons - so that she could easily move herself and Evade through before re-arranging the boards and closing the door behind herself.
From there it was easy to move up a couple floors and into an enclosed office space that had one window and one door. Evade was placed to be ready for action and Inferno shifted, moving to the make shift workspace she’d made for herself here in the months prior. It wasn’t much really just a table, a lamp, a stool and a few tools or parts in the room but when paired with the things she’d brought? It was more than enough to meet all the vigilante’s needs.
There was a long, considering look given to the signal blocking pouch after it was retrieved from her pocket before - with a sigh - Inferno would unfurl her tools, lay everything out, take off her helmet, sit down herself and then open the pouch and remove the phones from it. Moments after pocketing them from Katagawa back at the warehouse she’d turned the power off on both - which worked to block tracking well enough for pretty much anyone who didn’t have Nasa clearance - before dropping them into the bags as soon as she’d gotten her hands on them. No additional review of the devices had been done and now? Tonight? Well, now was that time.
Now it was time to find her next target.
Each phone would be turned over in her hands before - ‘this is a bad idea’ - powering them both on to assure the devices still worked. Eyes narrowed as she carefully watched the devices power on. They did still seem to be working and with that confirmed the devices were unlocked with a gentle mental nudge - to check they hadn’t been remotely wiped - before both devices were turned back off. Flipping over the first one the back panel of the phone was popped off and fingers dipped in for the battery, pulling the small pack and-
That was a bug.
That was a bug and she’d just turned the phones on with a fucking bug in them.
Frantically, the phones were rapidly shoved back inside the signal blocking bag and the bag went into a pocket. If someone had seen that signal blip? It was likely that they’d be here soon. The Capital was very large in some regards while also being incredibly easy to cross in minutes if you were willing to speed, run lights and take alternative routes from her experience. Both hands grabbed at her helmet pulling it on as quickly as she could manage and snapping the latches into place appropriately well still assuring none of the helmet’s functionality would be impaired.
Inferno drew both the Magnum and the G19; aiming one at the window and the other at the door of the room. If someone was coming?
Well, she was standing there counting up to ten minutes before any other decision or possibility was even going to be remotely considered.
The signal on the phones had only lasted until they'd gone off and into the bags, but Leena had stayed that night, watching the cops as they took apart the warehouse and carted Katagawa and his goons in cuffs instead of zip ties. Of course, being able to listen in to everything had been a help too, and when the blip of the phones locations died, she hadn't worried.
The other vigilante -- the one without any name since she hadn't seen fit to introduce herself -- knew how to handle herself. Either she'd found the bugs or disabled the phones, and eventually Leena had left the warehouse for home, her body aching pleasantly.
What she didn't expect was the little chime on her phone when the bugs checked in again. Phones must be on -- and she screenshotted the address before they flicked off again. Too quick, she must have turned the phones off, and if she hadn't found the bugs earlier, she'd have found them now. Should she go? It could be a trap if someone else had gotten their hands on the phones, but if it was the other woman -- her instincts said leap.
It took her all of three seconds to leave her tree perch in Repose and to return to her bike. There was no suit this time, but it was the same vehicle, and this time all she had on was her usual attire: jeans that were slightly too big, a t-shirt, books, and a hoodie. Her hair was tied back into a ponytail, showing off her shaved undercut.
Tugging her helmet on, she started driving for the Capital, and she was halfway there when her stomach gave a mild complaint. Food. Food was needed. Should she stop and get something for both of them? Something to break the ice since she was, essentially, invading her space? It was a good move to do with a cat, and thus instead of going all the way to the address that had blipped up on her screen, she stopped at a pizza joint she knew, got an extra large pizza with everything, and waited until it was ready.
Motorcycle plus pizza? Not so easy, but she strapped it down behind her and took off again, slowing down as she turned onto the road where the blip had been. It was a lot of buildings without lights, either empty or abandoned, and she checked her GPS again, stopping in front of the same place that the bug had indicated. Parking her bike and leaving it on the sidewalk in front, she unstrapped the pizza and went looking for a door.
The window would be next, but the door wasn't hidden, and she knocked, loudly. "Hey!" She called out. "You didn't give me your name! And I've got pizza--" She practically sang.
The minutes felt like hours. Waiting impatiently with tensed muscles and ears straining to hear any possible detail or problem that might occur Inferno stood there with guns trained on the door and window for the whole ten minutes she’d set out to wait. Yet, no one would seem to arrive even after a full fifteen minutes having passed since she’d triggered the bug. Did that mean no one was going to show? Maybe but… There was a chill creeping up her spine that paranoia only exacerbated. Yeah, she’d be keeping her helmet on for the rest of the time spent here. There was no option now but to get what she needed done as quickly as possible while keeping an ear out and exiting the building as fast as possible. This worksite would need to be torched from her rotation of potential spots to hide and work. It was tempting to literally burn the entire building down but that wasn’t… Right.
Instead Inferno uneasily set one gun down on the table and re-holstered the second. The pouch was retrieved and the phones taken out with any bugs being found and removed as her very first act. Any bug found was dropped into the signal blocking pouch before Inferno set to extracting the information she’d need from the phone. While the other vigilante she’d run into needed a device to do that, Inferno was her own data ripping device. Wrapping the first phone in one gloved hand eyes would gloss over, data lines running across eyes under the helmet.
Just as the data rip from first phone finished the obvious sound of a motorcycle came roaring into her ears. It was easy to hear with so little around and even felt like it echoed around the halls of the abandoned building a bit before sounding like it had come to a stop... Maybe it hadn’t but…
“Activate voice coverage.” Was whispered and instantly the voice modulator kicked in to mask her voice.
The phones were rapidly shoved in the signal blocking bag and then into her pocket as one hand fetched up the .357 Magnum. Standing without moving the stool was easy and the gun was leveled at the door. The knock honestly startled her even though Inferno had been expecting noise, a knock sure as hell wasn’t the noise she’d prepped herself for, and the voice that followed? Eyes narrowed. The voice was….
Inferno’s jaw tensed before pulling a long breath in through her nose.
“Come in.” Was offered in sing-song response and the hammer of the magnum was clicked back with no attempts made to mask the sound of the gun being readied at all.
She didn't need any heightened sense of hearing for the hammer pulling back on the gun, and Leena finally paused, because the voice was definitely familiar, but she wasn't eager to get shot at.
Like at all.
Fuck. The other vigilante did have a love for guns that she remembered, a love that Leena did not share. "For fuck's sake, do not shoot me.” She should have worn the suit. Should have, but it was too late now as she turned the knob on the door with a sigh and eased it open, the pizza box leading the way for her slow, well declared movements.
If she had to use the box as a distraction, she would, but she was hoping she wouldn't have to. She barely noticed her tailbone going numb, or the once more present tail that wafted behind her.
“Don’t give me reason to.” Was flatly quipped back without missing a beat in response to the command to not shoot. Right now this other vigilante was making all the right moves to get herself shot. Dropping in on a mission? Fucking up plans? Dropping in on a worksite? Yeah, Dante was completely keeping a running list of offenses at this point.
And yeah, that voice was familiar.
Inferno waited patiently, still as a statue as the door was slowly opened, and it would reveal her standing there with the gun leveled about head height….
Was that a fucking pizza box?!
The box caused an obvious change in stance as her weight shifted back, a hand absently reaching for the pouch the other vigilante had seen her pull the shock batons from before. Yet, nothing would be retrieved, not yet.
“Open it.” The gun muzzle gestured towards the box. It smelled like pizza but there was no chances being taken here.
Guns? Check. Vigilante? Check. No bullets fired? Currently a check and hoping to remain that way.
"Yep." She still moved slow, reaching around the lid to open it facing Still Nameless. Inside it was just as promised, cheesy, greasy goodness, big thin slices New York Style, and laden with all the regulars: onions, mushrooms, olives, peppers, bacon, sausage, ham, and most of all, cheese.
Her stomach gave an audible if unhappy rumble at being so close and yet so empty. Soon. Her hand shifted on the bottom of the box, fingers getting a little hot from the pizza's presence. "Can we put the guns away now and I'll set this down? Assuming you recognize me. If you don't, just cover the top half of my face."
Inferno’s stance would adjust slightly at the opening of the box - obviously attempting to assess it for threat or hidden malicious intent - before some, but not all, of the defensiveness began to slip away.
“I know your voice.” The gun remained leveled for a moment longer.
“Inferno.” A beat. “Since you need a name.” Another beat as she continued to assess the situation they were both now in. This was suboptimal at best. Finally, the gun would slowly begin to lower with eyes kept on the other person the entire time. There was an audible huff of air through the helmet before the gun was finally strapped back into its holster slowly. A hesitation in movement was present before Inferno would step backwards, keeping the other in her peripheral vision as items began to be collected off the small work table without a word.
"Mmm, we didn't talk a lot," Leena pointed out, but she did visibly relax once the gun was lowered. That was true -- there hadn't been conversation outside the relaying of needed information, and that was hardly a dialogue. "But we did meet when you were grabbing those phones." Unless the woman -- still guesswork 90% positive -- was not the one that had grabbed them.
She nodded her head to where she was cleaning off the work table. "You want the pie there?" She probably needed to say more though, could feel that emptiness of things unsaid that needed to be voiced crawling along the back of her neck.
"So, I realize that our last meeting was chaotic, but I also think we worked well together for just having met like 30 seconds before. And maybe you don't want a partner, and that's cool, I'm not sure I do either, but it might be good to have someone to talk this shit out with, you know? There are some things only other vigilantes are going to get." That, and she had like 3 friends ever. It was time to branch out.
“Don’t need to.” Was the rebuttal. It didn’t really matter if there was a lot of talking or not the fact of the matter was that Artemis? Leena B? They were the same person and Dante had heard enough of her speech and caught the unusual eye color to know better.
“I know who you are.” These words were a bit hard edged, annoyance flicking around her tone. This didn’t need to be happening. Shouldn’t be fucking happening. When the other woman asked about where to place the pizza an absent gesture - one to indicate she didn’t care - was given on a hand waving dismissively in the air and items that had been collected off the table were beginning to be inserted into pockets, as if picking up to leave.
“Chaotic?” She couldn’t repress the disapproving scoff or the building anger but it did stop her from leaving.
“That was a fucking trainwreck. You-“ There was venom behind the pronoun as a finger raised to point at the other person. “Ruined my fucking plans. I should have fucking shot you.” At this point there was no way the anger wasn’t obvious. Underneath the helmet Dante’s jaw locked with teeth gritted and a low hiss emitted as she attempted to ease out of the anger.
“I’m not your fucking friend and you need to stay the fuck out of my way.”
The growled out bit of knowing who she was -- that had her standing up a little straighter, pupils going narrow as she tried to suss out who Inferno was. Follow the evidence. It was staring her right in the face, and her mind whirred even as the other woman kept speaking.
Then came the venom. The last time she'd heard that, she'd been with Eddie, and she hadn't deserved it then. She wasn't sure she deserved it now, either, but at least she was the one that had apparently angered her, and so it wasn't misplaced, but Leena was never up to being anyone's punching bag.
'What did you fail to do?' Was on the tip of her tongue, but she guessed that asking now was bad, and perhaps coming here, even with pizza, was worse. It was an invasion that she probably would have hated if she was on the other side of this equation. Her shoulders went back, chest out, decision made as she inhaled and nodded. "Okay. Keep the pizza, yeah? It's good." And it shouldn't go waste as she left it on the cleaned off table and headed for the door.
“I don’t fucking want it.” Was growled back as a few more items were picked up and tucked away on her person. What else did she need to remove from this location before she could remove it from her rotation? It was only then that Inferno would allow her gaze to venture away from the other woman to take in what was still about them. Silence would permeate for a moment longer before she moved to pick up a couple other odds and ends - things that had been left here prior to tonight - and tuck them away as well before moving to lift - the obviously unregistered - motorcycle onto a shoulder to carry it out of the building. It was only then that she’d notice the pizza left on the table.
It would cause her to pause and eye the damn thing for a moment.
“Artemis.” The name was called out and felt heavy in her mouth but it was the name she’d been given for these circumstances. As far as she was concerned the person here right now was Artemis and the person she’d met in the coffee shop? Well…
“There’s a guy, two blocks south. Homeless. He’d love a good meal.” The bike's weight was shifted uncomfortably. Why was she doing this? Why was she still standing here? Why wasn’t she blowing off the other woman who kept fucking invading her life and space and fucking up her plans?
She wanted to snap to fucking trash it then, but the words remained thick behind her teeth and heavy on her tongue. It wasn't a good idea, but she had leaped without thinking, like her mom would have. She's not -- not her though, and she didn't land on her paws obviously, though she did stop, almost at the other door when she heard the name she'd given the other vigilante called out.
There were plenty of homeless people around, she was right. She inclined her head slightly, but a single look at her eyes now would only show those walls back up, so high they hid anything living behind them. She crossed the space in two very long steps, snapped the lid back on without her hands shaking and walked out. There was nothing left that needed to be said between them, and Inferno had made it perfectly clear that she wasn't wanted. No point in hanging around.
Securing the pizza again, she hopped back on her bike, no glance backward as she popped her helmet on and headed east, to the last spot she'd known where the homeless congregated.
But two blocks away was a guy underneath a streetlight. She tried not to judge, and he was clean, but his clothes had that look of too many nights spent on the street without anywhere protected to sleep. Slowing down, she pulled up on the sidewalk, and stopped the bike a few feet away from him.
"Hey," she said, kinda quiet.
"Hello," he replied.
There wasn't a sign out but -- one leap had already singed her tail earlier tonight. Caution was needed, even if it tasted bitter on the back of her throat. "You know anyone that could use a hot meal? I have a pizza here that I was going to share with a friend, but she didn't want it. I don't want it to go to waste, you know? Not a whole pie."
Leena wasn't the type to name drop, but it lingered on her tongue. "I'm actually looking for a friend of Inferno's--" Maybe that would help, maybe she'd get a fucking blank stare for her attempt.
It didn't though. Almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth, the man was grinning, lopsided and gap-toothed. "Yeah, I know her. She's good people."
Leena bobbed her head in a semblance of agreement. What she had seen of Inferno -- well. Rear view. "Then she sent you and yours dinner, okay?" She kicked the stand out and unstrapped the box, a little more wear and tear on it, but it was still hot and it still smelled of cheesy deliciousness.
The guy continued to talk about Inferno, about all she did for him, about all she did for some of the other men and women on the street, and Leena bobbed her head as she listened with half an ear. Listening or not listening, it didn't really change much because she was going to give this area and Inferno a wide berth from now on. "I'm glad she's good to you," she finally said as she handed the pizza over, box and all.
The exchange made, and all she wanted to do was to get out of here. "Have a good night," she added with a little smile as he popped the box open. "And enjoy." It wasn't even facetious as she popped the stand on her bike and sped off for her semblance of home.
There was a brief moment of realization, a split second of regret: All Artemis had been looking for was someone to connect to. All she wanted to do was connect. It froze Inferno in her tracks and any attempt to give chase was lost as her brain tried to process what was going on and how she’d possibly—
What if Artemis was a plant from Spider? It had been a thought rolling around her head since they first time they’d met. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
But none of Spider’s goons could act like that and there shouldn’t have been any way that Spider should have been able to connect Inferno and Dante. Hell, who knew if Spider would even remember Dante whenever they finally met face to face again. The two sides of her brain battled on and Artemis was out the door.
A heavy breath exhaled when the full realization of how alone she was in the abandoned building finally struck. Regardless, the shock of the whole thing still had her standing stalk still for another moment. Finally the motorcycle would be put down, the kickstand popped out to stabilize the bike and Inferno would land heavily on the seat with feet still off to one side on the floor. Elbows fell to her knees - it was a bit awkward - and Inferno’s head drooped.
“Fuck.” The word was lowly hissed and aimed at herself. She’d fucked up. Leena has said she was damaged, Artemis had been trying to reach out, to broach that damage and work forward, to get better and Inferno? As rightfully justified as she was in being upset that someone was thrusting themselves into situations where people would kill them as soon as look at them… Dante couldn’t have that death on her hands too. She was right to turn Artemis away. She was.
Though the argument happening in her head felt more like an attempt to convince herself than actual personal belief and.. That was dangerous all its own.
Dante would have to be nicer to Leena. That’s how she could make up for it. Not here, probably not now, and who knew if Inferno would ever see Artemis again, but Dante could see Leena, befriend Leena, and that was exactly what she’d have to do.