The Dance Around St. Johns

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Location  • Quarantine Zone

Date  • 2020-06-20

Summary  • Mages investigate St. Johns, only to meet an extraordinary pimp and his hos.


Sentinels, Guardians, and one maverick of a Ladder have gathered today, in the gorgeous Cathedral Park, to work their various geomancies, soothesayings, and scrying; to poke around, ask around, and--most importantly--work around the St. Johns Gulmoth. It isn’t that it is some invisible field that will end their lives the moment they walk into it. Not at all. Though this gulmoth is a proven point of extreme danger, the main point of sticking outside the edge of its “bubble” so carefully is to avoid the taint of the Resonance pouring from it. Even right up to that very edge it is almost palpable to the Awakened sense. It is oil’s surface tension about to spill outward. It is the building hum before an explosion. It is the wave before the crash. That sense of Inexorable Change is not a positive one. Insert any other words in, however, and it is no more accurate. Inevitable Death. Unstoppable Onslaught. Relentless Alteration. Unbending Perturbation. None of it is uncomfortable enough to fit the pure profanity of that Resonance. Perhaps Inflexibly Profane would apply.

However, beneath that Resonance there are more subtle Resonances--almost impossible to sense due to their pettiness compared to that grand, foul abyss. These are the fingerprints left by Awakened manipulation that Detective Lucille Grace discovered. Following those threads quickly becomes impossible--to most--in a tangled mass of Sleeper culpability and manipulation. Someone guiding Sleepers not in the way not at all unlike the Silver Ladder and their Cryptopolies, but with a far more ulterior and sinister motive. Bringing whatever’s pushing from the other side of this meta-sphincter through.

The volunteers are gathered in Cathedral Park where they, by a homeless Mage that drifts around the park that has great experience in surviving on the edge of that bubble. Her name is Alicia. Not Aleeecia. Alisha. But spelled Alicia. She’s a bit of a character; her attention span short and her skittishness considerable, but she kindly extends her abilities to each of the volunteers; starting with Grace and ending with Pagan; whom the effect doesn’t work on at first. She has to try again (at a penalty) to buff him up. #BigMageProblems

”Okay, listen. You’ve got like forty-five minutes of juice. Get in there, look around, get out. But here’s the thing. And I can’t stress this enough.” She snaps her fingers at Grace, “You listening to me, bacon-donut-biter-oink-oink?” A moment later and she restresses while stomping her foot, “Do. Not. Use. Magic. Don’t. Just don’t.” She nods towards the other end of the park. “Before you guys even get to that apartment building, you’ll be thick in it. On the other side? That’s the ghetto. If you aren’t back here in like… fifty-six minutes?” There’s a shrug. “I’m gonna assume y’all ‘er deeeeeaaaaad. Questions?”

Nine checks his watch. He checks it twice. He then promptly sets an alarm for approximately 45 minutes rather than 56. He snaps it so that the alarm starts ticking down on one of his watches, and then he tugs his sleeve a bit.

Nine does not look like a man who you would want to mug. Not because he's big or intimidating. No.

The man looks like he's the sort of man who is a mugger. Not a muggee. He is the man who you toss coins at out of pity because he's obviously drank it all away somewhere. Haggard is the best descriptor. He offers a smile and a wink. "No worries. I don't use a lot anyways."

"Keeping it on the downlow, yes," Cavalier states matter-of-factly. He's dressing down today, in an outfit that looks more appropriate for a Kuwaiti soccer fan: a 'Fly Emirates' T-shirt, Lycra leggings, an overall outfit that could've been had for three bucks and change at a thrift store but on him just screams that he voluntarily paid three hundred fifty for it just because he's the scion of oil wealth and that makes him so much better than everyone else. Maybe he's born with it. Maybe it's Mastigos. A nylon satchel is slung over his shoulder, a 5.11 X-Ray Rush, the preferred very expensive cheapass bag of boogaloo boys across the United States. You've got to pay a whole lot of money to look this trashy, and damn it if he doesn't succeed. "Grace, you're on point. We'll follow your lead."

Pagan looks like a cop even when he's trying not to look like a cop. The more scruff he gets, the more he looks like a cop that wants to be a GQ model. So instead of trying to fight it, he's wearing what a police officer or solider on leave might for a jog around town. Loose clothes, phone strapped to his arm, earbuds in, water on his hip. But really the water bottle is a battery bank and he's their comms guy; all mundane solutions in effect so other forms of communication don't have to be relied on. He tags onto what Avi says with, "No pressure, kid," as he hands out an tiny, pale earbud to each of them; getting them all on one channel. "Gonna shoot the first person that touches their ear while they talk right in the knee, I swear it. Don't do it. Just be cool. Coooool." He smiles at Gin as he gives hers and lips at her, 'I-hope-you-get-to-shoot-a-bitch.' She gets a wink after that.

Gin actually has a weapon this time. She won't likely need it, but she has it. She checks over her gear quickly, keeping to herself. She occasionally looks between those gathered, but she really says nothing. She's too busy going over everything again and again in her head, trying to tie together what she can without the use of any magical prowess. "None." She retorts to the bit about questions. Her gun is reholstered, her game face is on, let's do this.

The detective gives their guest speaker a moment to finish. Lucille barely lifts an eyebrow at the donut comment, because if you’re going to pick someone out, it isn’t going to be the big man in front of you. It’s probably going to be the person that wants to use magic to find all the things. Lucille simply offers Alicia a nod of understanding.

”Me?” She looks over at Cavalier, “I know about as much as anyone here about what we’re going to find exactly, so yes. Let’s get going, then.” She’s in yet another business suit, though rather than a skirt, she’s in pants. Just in case she needed to do some running. She smoothes her suit jacket down, feeling the familiar profile of her holster beneath it, just in case. Taking the earbud from Pagan, she places it carefully in her ear. Brown hair held cleanly behind her in a ponytail, she turns to look ahead of them, beginning the walk toward the apartment building that Alicia had been pointing at.

Grace has partially disconnected.

Pagan opens his mouth to as if he’s going to immediately say something after ‘Lets’ get going, then,’ but he stops himself and closes his mouth. Instead, he looks around a little, as he starts to walk across the field, and upnods at 9-to-5. “You look like you live here, bro. Nice disguise.” How very little he knows. Without really waiting for a response, he let’s everyone know, “I’m just going to kinda jog around and mingle and see if I can charm a couple old ladies into giving up some intel as I help them across the road and shit. Gonna give you all space since I always stick out.”

As they are getting closer to the Schrunk Riverview Tower--the aforementioned apartment building--they can quickly see that what was once supposed to be the pride of Portland is far from so. It’s still light out, but there is no shame that hides the junkies from its stoop or causes the two hookers in the lobby to be less than advertising. Through the breezeway and out the next set of doors and it really is another world. Behind them is a beautiful park (admittedly filled with trash on this edge of it) yet before them is a mess of urban sprawl at its worst; a road so in need of repair that no one would want to drive their car on it is a crowded, urban, clusterfuck of people in the post-Corona world. Pagan immediately splits off sharp to the right at a jog; likely already getting eyed for potential mugging despite his size.

What is there to look at? Auras. Patterns. Numerous esoteric things, to be sure, but also how these things affect a populace. This is very much fengshui territory, but that is one of a thousand approaches that can be taken to investigating this; not just purely investigative matters themselves.

"You fine folks ever read Tobin's _Spirit Guide_? Professor Stantz's marginalia has something of interest there. Something about how high spires are metaphysically connected with crossdimensional rips. I don't know, I was only reading it to seduce this librarian who was working the esoteric collection stacks at Harvard." Cavalier gives a shrug. "But he's the expert on crossdimensional rips, so." Cavalier points off towards the tower. "If you believe him, that's the place to start looking."

"This guy. He thinks I read." 9's voice is jovial as he shoves his hands into his coat pockets, hunkering himself down a bit. "Welp, I'm off that way then." He offers to Cavalier, before he starts shambling his way down the pavement.

For extra getting into character, it appears that he's taking swigs from a bottle.

Nine is a character actor.

Cavalier states disdainfully to Nine, "You never studied."

Gin sticks out for her own reasons, but she seems blissfully unaware of just exactly how much she doesn't fit at this particular moment. She looks like if druids got fashionable. Savage chic. She's draped in a pixie cut asymmetrical dress with weird leather-and-cloth bracers that leave her fingers to poke free. Perhaps this is what she thinks people in this sort of area should be wearing. I mean, it has a cloth mask that can be pulled up, and a really bitchin' mega-deep hood that could possibly give her some sort of wastelander LARP vibes that apparently pass for thuggy in her weird little world. Either that or she was wearing it and didn't have time to change. Take your pick. When Nine turns to leave, Gin looks mortified, "You're just going to leave me here?" She blinks. Twice. "How dare you..." She moves after him, some shuffle-step nonsense that ... oh, who knows what she's going for here. Damnit, Jim. She's a marksman, not a lowlife. She catches up easily enough, hands stuffed into pockets that seem out of place on a dress of all things. "What, uh... what would you like me to do?"

Gin Joint gets whistled at by a group of guys; hollering starting as soon as the catcalls do. "That's some easy-access shit right there! Yeeeet!" The commentary is endless, but they don't follow her as she goes by. It's not dark enough for that yet.

Cavalier counters the jerks by the simple expedient of lifting his cellphone and snapping photographs of them as he passes by. Odds are they don't give half a damn. Odds are that in six weeks when strange and mysterious upheavals in their lives leave them tearing their clothes, Job-like, and lamenting the fact they exist, they won't even connect their current travails with how they dared to insult one of the Awakened weeks before.

But that doesn't mean one won't have followed from the other.

There’s a quiet, frustrated sigh from the com belonging to Detective Grace. “Okay, I think I found something.” Though there is nobody there standing right there to show, she's pulled out her notepad and doodles on it. “Any one of you familiar with gang tags and things of that sort? That’s not really my specialty at the precinct. But I think I see a pattern here. Just can’t discern which are gang tags…” Her voice slows as her doodling and thinking both increase.

"There'll be time to figure the symbolism later," Cavalier says, apparently having a conversation with no one at all -- which just means everyone assumes he's talking on a Bluetooth headset. Which he is. "Let's keep moving. Collect now, analyze later."

On the comms, Pagan can be heard, "Lucifer-" That's Grace. Lucy=Lucifer. "Aren't you the Detective? Aren't you the one that just did your and my tests on local gang signs and initiations? If I get a paycut because of you... well, I won't notice. But still!"

"You keep me from getting hurt." Nine offers to Gin, "And, y'know. Point out everything to me please. I'm gonna be busy. I just blend in a bit."

Shuffle coat. Shuffle coat. Oh god, he's reaching for his waistband. Oh wait, it's okay. He's pulling a little handheld flip thing. Chunkier than a phone. Looks custom - and by custom, we mean 'he's somehow managed to fit all of this absolute shit together and by the power of screaming it now works'. ( )

He toggles the power on the thing, tilting the screen a bit so that the sides protect from glare. A moment to boot from it's SD card, and a quick fiddle for the repurposed NEST camera that's glued to the back of it to be lifted up, and he takes a few snap pictures of the various gang symbols in a slow panoramic pan.

“You’re all going to learn that waiting is not my speciality,” Lucille whispers smartly. Despite her words, she puts her notepad away once she notices Nine coming up. She backs up and away as he begins the pan. “I am the detective. Some of that stuff is common. Some of the symbols here? I haven’t seen them before, or just pretty much never. I get it. It’s time to brush up.” Grace moves her arm up like she’s about to point at one particular tag that she’s giving a hard look at, and then seems to think better of it, tapping her upper lip instead. “No, I just don’t recognize it.”

Gin's head turns toward the people that're offering cat calls, icy eyes a little wider than they should be on her face as she stares across at them with all the malice a Pulchritudinous Frost Midget is capable of. It'd be a lot more convincing if they knew her. 'Easy access', goodness, if they only knew. If they only knew... One of her hands lifts sharply, her bottom lip pulled over her teeth, her other hand slapping against the inside of her elbow as that fist comes up, "UP YE, YA ROACH HOACHED FUCKCRUMPETS!" She returns. Apparently subtlty is not the name of her game this evening. In fact, she then looses some mocking laughter, blows a raspberry in their general direction and continues after Nine. "Wanks." She asides to him as she gets close. This, of course, on the heels of Nine talking about blending in. Her eyes, keener than many, are forever scanning the area for signs. Fate mages, right? Ey? Signs? Something out of the ordinary, something particularly interesting that stands out in the general nonsense of this particular locale. "Might want to blend -better-," She informs Nine, "Folk're taking notice," She up-tilts her chin toward some folk that seem to be noticing that pictures are being taken. Maybe it was Avi they noticed. Whatever it is, she's made a note of their interest, and it's best Nine knows anyway. She wets her lips before continuing, still striding along after Nine. Maybe they'll think she's just a really bougie tweaker, and this scrublord somehow has the good stuff. "There's a lot going on here," She speaks low, "Nefarious lot, not that that was in question," She reports, "Importer," She squints toward an alley that's being passed, with an Importer, "Definitely shady, might want to make note," It's likely all of this is being afforded to the others via some headset or ... something. "Massage clinic, definitely a cover for something, possibly black market profitable." Her lips purse, her steps taking on that vapid sort of skipping that's popular amongst club or candy kids as she keeps pace with Nine, "Obvious organized, street level crime coming out of theee..." She squints, "Schrunk Riverview Tower." She points out everything her elven eyes see, before quirking a brow and turning her attentions to Nine. "What do you want to focus on?"

Pagan's voice on comms isn't panting, but he's obviously been running a little. His heart rate is up. "I'm gathering a few samples for later, in-depth analysis. See, Lucy, you're not the only one that can be a nerd. I'm going to totally pretend like I wear glasses and everything." In the background he can be heard leaving a voice note on his phone. "Tink, give me a head's up to buy some horn-rimmed or otherwise awful glasses on the way home." Face turned away from the phone on their arm he asks, "Do you guys think I'd get stabbed if I tried to buy drugs here sometime? Because I figure I'll just make my own drugs if I wanna try them, but it's always good to have a plan B."

There’s a fingersnap that is pretty audible from Lucille’s com. Probably because she forgot it was in. But at least she’s not touching it. “Hooo-wait! Gin, I have an idea.” Grace swivels on her heel toward the woman walking along with Nine. She walks up to her and then lowers her voice. “So, what if we check out some of these places that you’re picking up on? We can look for a common marker in each of these places. I said that some of these random crimes had a pattern, so maybe someone left a calling card. You wanna go take a peek? “ The whisper gets a little more rushed as an impromptu investigation looms. She’s excited, as is evidenced in the sparkling of her blue eyes, and slightly bridging of her fingers.

Nine checks his watch to check the time, before he takes another picture. Then another. THen he bothers to check the local Wifi around here to see if there's anything to record. Business names. You know. LOCAL_CAFE_PRINTER on open wifi that you print out 50 black sheets of paper on to kill their printer because the barista gave you full milk when you asked for soy because you have an allergy to dairy but you still want coffee.

He looks back towards Gin, "Plenty of fun things. But the tower seems to be everything." He glances at Grace, then back to Gin, "Your choice."

When Grace comes walking up to her, Gin turns quickly to meet her. She listens, then gives a shallow bob of her head, "Perfect. Sounds like a plan. I doubt splitting is a particularly good idea, mind you, unless you'd like to bring," She chin-lifts toward Avi, "And I'll take," She over-the-shoulder-thumb-jabs toward Nine, "See if we can find those common threads and weave something we're willing to wear." Whatever that means. There's a reassuring smile on her too-pale lips, though, broad enough to reveal the dimples she usually hides with her stellar resting bitch face.

Comparing the graffiti patterns Grace found among the places of interest noticed by Gin Joint does help eliminate the bulk of the tags. However, it doesn’t narrow it down to just one. There are layers of tags, street art, paint overs, and so many questionable stains that a(nother) murder scene here would likely be overlapping with a previous one.

There are four tags of interest. One is a skull stylized in letters that, frankly, no one here can read. Another is DKZ. The DKZ tag is all over the place, however. It’s one that was hard to eliminate with any filter due to that. There is also a tag that appears to be a bullet pointing down with letters incorporated, but, once again, no one is able to make sense of it. Lastly, the simplest of the four tags, a blood drop sans other markings.

"Twelve minutes to go. We're better off leaving early rather than leaving late and getting caught out."

Nine is obviously a man of great wit and skill when it comes to dealing with times. Either that or he's absolutely paranoid about being caught out in the open when his magic falls off.

Prrrrrrrobably that.

Pagan's voice comes in crystal clear on the comms, but quiet in the earpiece. "Hey, not sure if you guys are tracking, but we're down to about twenty minutes. I'm not going to get anything else. Shall we rendezvous in the lobby of the Schrunk and go poke around in there Scooby style for a bit?" If anyone is looking around, they might see him about an eighth of a mile down Decatur heading back in their direction; drinking from the water bottle that's only half water bottle.

It's a dangerous thing, curiosity. But Gin is not a cat. Sure, she might act like one sometimes. Nice when you're feeding her, utterly disinterested in the general state of your existance otherwise, enjoys a good sunbeam, -might- bite you, but you just really want to touch her. It's a cruel thing, really. In any case, she hears both Nine and Pagan, and she glances to Grace with arched brows and avid interest in which path she intends to pick. "Personally, I simply must know what's to be found. Terribly sorry should this go against anyone else's plans, but ... fortune, she favours the bold, and I can't bare the prospect of disappointing her." She tried to wait. She really did. But, she's already making her way downtown, walkin' fast, faces pass and she's homebou--er. Towerbound.

Silence as Grace ponders, until there’s another sigh. “I can’t leave here without checking it out. It’s a biggie. Sorry, Nine, but if we hurry we can still be back in time.” The excitement in her eyes co-mingles with another look - one of, ‘there’s no way I’m leaving that lead behind’, stuck in her mindset. Lucille begins to crane her neck, it popping up, tossing her ponytail a bit. “I’m, uh, I’m heading over there.” She begins a quick job toward Pagan, evidently having spotted him up the road. “Come on…” She doesn’t leave any room left for argument, but she’s not going to drag him. Grace might be pretty tiny, but she’s pretty quick on her feet, too. Off with Gin, who seems to share her sentiment.

Nine checks his watch. He frowns. He looks back up towards the two as they leave, and there's obviously a moment where Nine calculates how worth it that it might be to absolutely abandon the lot of them.

There's a sigh. He folds up his little homemade computer and puts it aside, and begins jogging after the lot of them. With one hand holding on to his belt. The other's probably palming his little revolver just to make sure.

Culmination heads towards Schrunk Riverview Tower.

Culmination arrives from Schrunk Riverview Tower.

Schrunk Riverview Tower is an eleven-story eyesore in St. Johns. It has been condemned for over a year, but the efforts to demolish it to use the property for something else have all been unsuccessful. It was cleared out shortly after being condemned, but has since been left largely unmolested by the authorities. This has allowed it to become the wretched hive of scum and villainy it is today.

There are no working utilities in this building, but that has not dissuaded squatters from being present on every floor. The Tower (as many a streetkid refers to the building) is large enough that no single gang can effectively claim it all as turf. Different floors and even parts of floors are spoken for. The conflict here ranges from economic competition and tag wars to extortion and violence.

Uniformed members of the Portland Police Bureau are seen here regularly, but typically are focused on completing whatever objective they need to in order to get out.

Pagan's a Guardian that actually exercises like being able to run faster might save the world someday. Or he's a Life Adept. Definitely one of those two. Whatever the case, once it seems they're all going to the tower? He's there fairly quickly. It's not too weird to see people running through, but when he runs in one side and doesn't run out the back, one of the old dudes chilling in the shade looks over at his buddy and says, "You know they smell the pussy upstairs when they're running through and they dead stop! Am I right?" They laugh. Pagan doesn't seem to notice or he's just very good at selectively ignoring.

Once everyone is there--even the reluctant 9-to-5 and his watch steadily ticking down--he takes point going up the stairs; taking them two at a time because that's easier at his height, not due to being in a rush. He glances at his watch as he moves onto the second floor and immediately stops.

Before the group, on that second floor, is a desk blocking most of the hallway. At it is a man with more gold in his teeth than the river valleys and hills of Oregon ever had. He's wearing a bright orange suit with a red-orange, criss-crossed pinstripe, and he's got a matching bowler hat with a peacock feather sticking out of it. Pagan stands there in stunned disbelief as the man at the desk goes from having his ankles criss-crossed on it to jumping to his feet. "Well I do belief we have some customerfs!" He claps hia hands together twice and the most wratchet women (and some others if eyes peer close enough) are done up in ghetto style to high caliber; these might be doped up hos, but they're doped up hos that brush their teeth.

"Are all of you together?" The orange-suited man asks as he leans in and pokes his index fingers together without realizing how suggestive it is. "You hear for the Groupon deal?" The question is followed with the bowler jumping up and down as the man's eyebrows waggle.

Woop. What's this, then? Gin looks momentarily baffled, strange hoary gaze gazing upon whorey hoes. That's hard to say, but you should try it anyway. She stares toward the fellow, and his gaggle of what she assumes are his ... employees ... her mind going about a million miles a minute as she attempts to find the words to use, the stance to take, the expression to wear. What seems an eternity to her is scant seconds to anyone on the outside of her frantic plan. "Do I look like the sorta bitch that needs -groupons-?" She looks offended, her head jerking back, the skin above her nose wrinkling, a 'pFFF!' provided to cap it all off. "Lookin' for the best. What you got?"

Nine gets to the top of the stairs. He does not look like he enjoyed it in the slightest. His breath comes out in a soft puff as he clears the top step, and he pauses to put his hands on the small of his back and push for a moment as he straightens. "Stairs.." He states inbetween a few breaths.

Then. Behold. Hookers! He stares at the man with his hands clasped together and a suit that Nine just HAS to know where he got it from. "Holy shit. I love your hat." Hookers? OK. That can come later.

By default, Lucille tends to let the large Guardian stand in front of her, or to the side. This was one of those ‘in front of’ times. Her eyes peer past him though, and quickly regard the rather loudly dressed man. From top to bottom, he reminds Grace slightly of a giant cheese with a feather sticking out of his head, which makes her smile. Just a little bit. She is uncertain of exactly what to say though, her mouth opening to stammer something when Gin Joint comes at the man with the save. The detective tosses the woman a thankful look, with lips thinned, corners upturned. She’s trying not to laugh, but she gives Gin a thumbs up.

"Hot diggity damn!" The man reaches across the desk to try and take Gin's hand, and she allows him to do so. He only claps the tip of her fingers, however, drawing her in closer to his desk as he spins her around slowly like they're dancing with a desk between them. Only one spin, though, and then he releases her. He's a gentleman like that. "I'm Bally Ballerby, and yous the mofst, sexi-efts, pretty-eyed, leather-clad thing I done ever had FSEEN, girl, and I specialize in in jufst that persuasion." Whether the odd way he speaks is an impediment or a character trait is very difficult to say. "Two hundred dollars will get you an hour," he tells her in low tones the others will have to strain to hear... or would if not for their comms in place. "With either Jafsmine or Harmone." Both names are said pronounced far more exotic than they should be. "Fo' tree-fity? I'll have Jafs give you the love while Harmone tickles your belly button from the wrong end, you P! Y! T! Mmh!" He does a little dance in place as he looks at her, then abruptly stops and pop locks his hat off; holding it out towards 9-to-5 and exposing his perfect cornrows. "It's yours for seventy-five dollahs, man." He pulls it back and rolls it onto his head.

"Disgusting." Pagan doesn't project it, but he does say it loud enough to get a look from their host. However, the big guy is leaving before the orange-clad man really get any further. "I'll be outside making sure you're left unmo-" He winces at his words. "-unharmed, ma'am." He walks back to the landing between the stairs and out of sight; likely up to something as he whispers, "You don't got an hour, Gin! Better get a discount!"

For his part, Cav breaks out his cell phone and begins taking photographs of this place -- lots of them, fulsomely. As if to forestall any objection from Pimptastic McHuggyBear, he looks over his shoulders and offers a broad, guileless smile, the kind of thing he must practice for hours each day. "I'm totally Yelping this. You got a page on Stumptown Sexxxy?" he asks in a broad, vaguely Middle Eastern accent. _Of course_ the Mastigos knows the Dark Web site that reviews Portland's sex workers.

It's barely a flash of expression, Gin's brow momentarily creasing before smoothing out again. She allows him to do what he's going to do, she even dutifully turns to allow him to admire THE VIEW. (With Whoopi Goldberg) Her smile is perfect, it spreads wide, almost playful to bring those dimples back out again. She turns her head slightly to offer the coyest of winks in Grace's direction for her thumbs up, but she could well be winking at anybody, so far as the thugs are concerned. She turns back to look toward Bally, eyes lazily half-lidding as she gives him the most salacious once-over someone like her can manage, her grin turning more wry smirk than anything. She takes in a quick breath through her nose as Pagan makes his exit and whispers his words, and she leans forward against the desk, one hand placing itself atop it so that she can -really- get close, her free hand moving toward his hat to GIN-gerly lift it, unless he moves to stop her. "How about one fifty, I keep the hat as a souvenier, and I agree to come back some time, mm?" She places the hat on her head instead. She somehow makes that quite fetching. Colours, you know, they just -pop- on someone like her. "Whaddaya say?"

Nine, for his part, is busy trying to find his wallet in some attempt to figure out how much cash he has A) On him, and B) Claim he has on him, and C) Claim others have on him to help him pay for the hat. He seems a bit absorbed in patting himself down, before he then watches Gin raise the hat up and eyeballs it.


Grace watches the verbal exchange with some amount of interest, even after Pagan walks off. She does suddenly remember Avi is there, and her face snaps over to him as she notices him snapping photos with his phone. Blue eyes widen a bit, brow lifting in worry as her head moves slightly from side to side as she scans not just the pimp, but all his hos, too. She moves over to Cavalier, and tries to gently nudge him with her foot a few times. “Stahhhhp, you’re gonna make this guy nervous,” she whispers, trying to stay below Gin in volume.

It takes him only half a second to do the math that effectively tells how much money he's making off of Gin's offer, but he seems more intrigued that desperate to have her coming back, but then--as he tools one of his grill edges with a long pinky nail--he nods. "Okay, girl. Bally Ballerby has defised youfs cute 'nough the promifse of youfs bringin' that tidy ass back up in hyah! NN! NN! NN!" He pumps his hands like he's starting a chainsaw. "We could be doin' fsome good, regulah b-

"HEY!" Bally points at Avi and--quick as a tweaker threatened by shadow people at four in the morning on a Wednesday, snatches a sawed-off shotgun out from under the desk and aims it at Avi. Suddenly, in a moment, the entire mien of the situation changes. What was about to be an exchange of $75 for a hat and sexual favors (both sides likely very pleased with this) has suddenly become seven hookers diving for the doors that lead back out of the hallway and one very angry, urban, orange leprechaun of a pimp. "Put your phone down, Forehead! Put your phone on the ground and get the fuck out here!"

OH SNAP, THEY'VE BEEN HAD! Gin jerks, hat still on her head, as that sawed-off comes up. She looks genuinely frightened! Oh, poor Gin. She's just a fine piece that he absolutely could have had a piece of, if only he wasn't pointing a gun in their direction. She turns to stare wide-eyed toward Avi for terribly judgmental, withering moments, her rage practically felt rolling off her like pissy little ripples interrupting a nice calm pond. Her nostrils flare, her lips press to a thin, tight line, and she turns back toward Bally. Time to get ballsy with Bally. "Hey, hey, -hey-, boo, shh," She smiles, reaches out toward Bally's face to redirect it her way, leaning forward just enough to place the most chaste of kisses on the tip of his nose. Unless, of course, he retreats or pushes her away. "C'mon, baby, you were gunna take care of me, right?" She practically purrs it at him, pulling back slightly so that he can have himself a good thoughtful stare into those unnervingly bright eyes. "Someone get him outta here, he's ruinin' my mood!" She barks at the others without looking away from the shotgun toting Bally.

"Look at his _hat_, Connie," Cavalier says to Grace. Let's hear it for on-the-fly cryptonyms. "This is a guy who wants to be seen and isn't scared of any fucking cops. Does that man look like he's scared of the fucking five-oh? No, 'cause he's running the fucking show. He's..."

And then the shotgun gets drawn.

"... apparently been burned by bad Yelp reviews," Avi finishes carefully, keeping his hands in full view, and being careful not to make any sudden moves. "We can do that. You want the phone, I get it." He fidgets with the phone for a few more seconds to pry open the SIM card slot, up until The Hat gets agitated. Well -- more agitated. "You want the SIM, too?" Cav says, conciliatory. "I get it, man, I get it. No hard feelings." Cav thumbs the screen-off button and drops the phone, then kicks it over well-out-of-the-way, as if it were a gun he was trying to ditch. Then, hands on his head, fingers interlocked, he begins to back out of the place, exactly as directed.

Funnily enough, Nine's looking the most nonplussed here. Or maybe not funnily - he was chugging from a bottle earlier. Up comes the sawn-off shotgun, and in the background Nine looks down towards the dropped phone, and sniffs loudly. Maybe it's obvious that Nine's got like a gun or something - but he's probably the least threatning person.


Goes his watch. "Shit. Got to take my stomach pills. Anyone got a coke?" He leans down as his watch goes to pat his pockets, leaning down to pull out a handful of change as he begins to waddle away. Nothing urgent to see here, buddy.

Grace blinks a few times, and then looks up at Avi, and back to the shotgun. The phone falling to the ground, and Avi kicking it over and then backing up. Nine’s fiddling around in his pockets, and Gin is up in that man’s face. While he’s holding a shotgun. Her eyes reveal her torn conflict. As an officer, as a fellow Mage. It’s a very tense moment, as a touch of sweat begins to grow on Grace’s brow. She takes a cautious step back, toward the door as well. Her hands are out where they can clearly be seen as she gives Gin the chance to diffuse the situation.

There's a very tense moment, but the Great Orange Pimpja suddenly pushes the shotgun down and puts a hand up in sign of surrender, apology, or 'can I get a holla?'. He purses his lips as he looks Gin Joint's face up and down and tsks. He speaks lowly; once again, only her and anyone trying to hear can hear him. "Girl, you so fuckin' fine I'd like, shit, almost let you'd fuck me and-" He hushes like this is some incredible secret. "-I'm gayer than two rainbows fucking each other in the ass at the same time." He gives her a quick peck where her cheek meets her lips, then the other side, then tucks the shotgun under his winged arm. "You come back here tomorrow morning before I get busy-" He looks over her shoulder and then back to her in a way that high school girls would be withered by and continues. "-I'll hook you up with my hat guy and get that cooter taken care of for you, girl. You get me? But now I gotta go powder my nose and shit, 'cause that big-dick Arab boy I just kicked outta the hallway? He almost got his fuckin' shit fucked up." His hat is placed perfectly back on his head, tapped down, then he walks over to collect the phone, picks it up, and walks into one of the rooms. "Goodday to youfs bitches," he tells the hallway before slamming the door.

"That's okay, boo," Gin whispers back before he can draw away, "You don't know what's under the dress." And when he does retreat, she gives him the most -scandalous- wink, and a brow pump to cap it off. "Pleasure doin' business." She kisses her fingertips, blows him said kiss, then gives him a wiggly-fingered wave over her shoulder as she strides away. Now, eyes wide on her face, her back to the pimp and hos, Gin begins casually striding her way right on out of here.

Cav begins heading back to the park -- walking, not running: never let 'em see you sweat -- and narrates some instructions to Grace, rat tat tat, once they're in the open and clear of eavesdroppers. "Call Lisa Friar, 555-7478; tell her Burner #4 is in the wind. She'll know what to do. Then we get back, check out the cloud, and pull down those photographs he didn't want us to take. We identify as many of these people as we can -- run the pictures by Vice, I'll bet at least some of them have sheets -- and then we start talking to them outside this place, where we can use more /interesting techniques/. Sound like a plan?"

Nine's already making his way down the stairs, but he does pause half-way to make sure that Gin and co are joining him. Of course, he's holding a little revolver in his hand. You know, you could laugh at small revolvers. But they still shoot bullets. You know - something something size - something something.

Either way, as soon as they all arrive he shuffles his way down the stairs. There's no brakes on the Nine wandering train. "You can do your cop stuff, I was honestly just going to follow them in a minivan and if any of them argued I was going to shoot them and kick them until they told me what I wanted. But man. You guys. You're all super complicated."

Pagan doesn't head out when 9-to-5 moves past. He waits for Gin Joint, but only so he can offer her a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. Where did he get it? Well, not here. It's far too clean for that and it's yet to be opened. After she passes, he finishes his head count and takes up the rear; kaboosing it out of there.

Out the back door and into the field, Pagan replies to Avi. "Not a bad plan, Cav, but, we should probably try and make a plan to check out the rest of that tower, too. I mean, not now. We're runnin' on fumes. Five minutes left and that's pushing it." He looks over at 9-to-5 with a scowl. "I mean, which 'them' though? Let's start slapping people around when we got a better idea of what people. Last thing we need is to get shot by a Sleeper while we're watching our asses for Seers, liches, and whatever else is trying to eat our balls."

"Banishers," Gin Joint adds as she walks past Pagan, graciously, gratefully accepting that hand sanitizer. By the look on her face, it won't be nearly enough, her breath a slow drag, her expression souring more and more with every moment that passes. She lifts her hand to pull the hat she stole, expertly, off her head to offer it toward Nine. "I'll need this for when I come back." She's actually planning to -do- that?? One supposes wisdom isn't her strong suit. She doesn't much comment on what everyone else is talking about, they have it well in hand without her offering her two cents, and she's already bitten a bullet this evening. She's tired. She's tired and she's cranky.

As the door slams, Grace jumps and immediately turns on her heels, heading for the stairs, quickly. She doesn’t need any encouragement as her heels clack on the stairs on the way down and out. Even though they have coms in, she still jumps when Avi starts rattling off instructions to her. She just shakes her head at it all and grabs her phone, sliding her fingers along it to dial out, and utters those six words quickly and quietly before hanging up. “That was really close. Gin saved our asses back there. I know it gets crazy sometimes, and you have to think on the fly, but all the plans at once almost backfired. We’re lucky Gin’s so pretty and convincing, because that could have been… disgusting.” She frowns a bit at using Pagan’s word, but it fits.

She crosses her arms in front of her as they walk, gesturing toward Pagan. “Yes. That. We do have to go back. But, we also do have a good amount of evidence that we’ve garnered, and now is a great time to get back and collaborate.” Her arms uncross only to allow her hands to wring against each other. “I can’t wait to get started.” Easily distracted by new leads, she begins to walk even more quickly.

"Oh, the finding out bit? Well shit, I got a ton of gang signs set up on this. Just do a reverse image search on google. Go to uh, whatchamcacall it, projects on oregonlive dot com, slash police, slash gang-dash-list. Calculate the zip address and the zips on the list. I can send you a copy of the publically accessible data. Find out the local gangs. Start from there."

Nine, "You kick a few of them around and it fucks with whoever's making the misery here. Misery equals money. But you tell me what you guys need, I'll give it to you lot."

Nine. The sharing person. Or it's laziness. "I could murder a donair. Gin. You want a donair?"

"This /is/ my plan for coming back," Cav answers Pagan matter-of-factly, still walking briskly. "Whatever's going on in there, whoever and whatever's behind it is making it as dangerous as possible for us to operate in there. So let's gather as much intel as possible on it from outside, to reduce the number of risks we need to take the next time we go in, so that we can take smart risks and better use our very limited investigatory time. I don't plan on letting that Cheetoh-striped bastard get the last of this."

"Bitch didn't even let me have his hat." Gin murmurs to Nine, applying and re-applying sanitizer to her hands as they walk. "I tried," She offers him apologetically, her shoulders lifting in a non-committal shrug. "When I come back tomorrow, I'll ask his hat guy ... though I can't actually conceive of why you would want to wear such an atrocious thi--," She squints, glancing toward him out the corner of her eyes, eyes that then narrow judgmentally. "Nevermind." She takes in a breath, heaves a sigh and gives him a soft nod, "Pure minted," She tells him, "That's what that idea is."

"Uh, for the record... I strongly considered using magic to not let you get shot in the face. For what it's worth." Pagan gives Avi a pat on the shoulders as he lengthens his stride to go claim a park bench near the understand of a bridge next to a memorial for a young girl that allegedly haunts the place. Oh yes. All true. All real. The view is gorgeous. A thousand feet away, the view is off a hooker's warted junk. The dissonance is incredible. The feeling now versus before is incredible.

Alicia (Alisha, not Alee- you get it) running towards the table with a red face gone almost purple. "I give you guys an hour of protection and tell you it's forty-five minutes and then you guys push it fifty minutes like-" She reaches them and can't speak anymore. She's just flailing all around. It really kicks up her body odor something fierce, but it's blessedly brief. "Fuck! You all owe me two Mana. Pay the fuck up."

"We're not late." Is Nine's statement of intent towards this whole thing. The mana is handed over without much concern, although Nine does seem to hang around until everyone else is pretty much done. "Man. If you got shot with a shotgun. Can I have your shoes? I mean. I don't know if they'll fit, but they could help my investigation -- could tie your laces together and throw them over a phone line.."

"Oh, that's a classic. Open fo binnus." Gin Joint provides in retort to Nine's question about shoes. Also, she should never say open fo binnus. With that accent, and that look, it's the thing of nightmares.

Grace begins to open her mouth, and then snaps it shut, eyeing Gin with those blues and bit of mirth. “I couldn’t tell if that accent was his gimmick, or if all that gold was impeding his speech. But hey. Open fo binnus?” She shrugs, sounding just as much, if not more ridiculous than Gin. She is in a suit, after all, rather than wearing something fun at least. She rolls her eyes, and then turns to Avi. “You. You can’t help investigate without a head. Just... keep it on there, right?” She stops fussing about it, apparently deciding that the group has just had quite enough excitement between the tower and Alicia’s freakout. “I’m glad everyone is okay. Now let’s put the evidence together when we can all get together again.” The look on her face is genuine relief as she offers the mages all a broad smile.

After getting all the pics in one spot, making some copies, and otherwise starting a package, it doesn't take long to start producing information by elmination; focusing the results of their search through the assets of the Sleeper agency that Grace and (to a lesser extend) Pagan have infiltrated as Detective Lucille Grace and Detective Blake Montgomery, respectively, if that was not clear; after Grace slips into PPB, pops down at a desk while no one notices her and plugs in a drive; while everyone else is sipping delicious, 'you'll never enjoy other cocoa like you enjoyed this cocoa' cocoa; after all that, they get their intel.

Three of the tags are, eventually, eliminated. The blood drop is associated with killings on both sides of the river, as well as in a few counties of California. The skull is unique to Portland, but not to St. Johns; associated with a Somalian crew that's no joking matter. The letters DKZ are some new, young crew running up through the west side of Portland and mostly full of suburban kids trying to slum it mixed with the urban kids that get them their drugs (for a good mark-up). What's left behind?

The bullet formed of letters that make no sense, if they are letters at all. There seems like maybe a Y and a Z are incorporated, but it could just as easily be an A and an N when turned on the side. A B is pointed out as if the ancient letter Berkano. There is not a damn record on the tag anyonewhere in the database, however.

As for the people, numerous hits come up. Petty crimes. Public indecency and soliciting (surpise?) chief among them. One person of note is there, however. The pimp is actually named Michael Jordan Brown and has a very long lack of a record. Not a single thing against him. Oh, but there's a folder. There's a folder! He's won fourteen cases against him in the last seven years just here in Portland. His lawyer on every single case was a public defender; free of cost to him, but not know for their win streaks. Different defenders, as well, but they always win.