(2016-06-19) Night Shift: The Recruit
Night Shift: The Recruit
Summary: Rebecca Valdes breaks into a wealthy apartment block looking for valuables and the thrill of living life on the dark-side. Little does she know that her activities are being observed, by someone with interesting intentions…
Date: IC Date (2016-06-19)
Related: None
NPCs: Mouse (Night Shift member), Digger (Night Shift member)
Scene Runner: N/A
Social/Plot: Social

Fade in…

Just before two-thirty in the morning, the skies only with intermittent clouds. The streets below are, as ever, filled with people. That isn't anything new; Manhattan really is the city that never sleeps, though — even with the many and varied people of the costumed and super-powered sorts, it still isn't terribly often that someone is crawling along the side of a skyscraper. At least, not without also leaving webbing behind as something of an impromptu calling card.

Yet that's exactly what's happening. A female figure clad in black pulls herself up onto a balcony of a high-rent apartment complex, quietly running across to a wall where she — actually runs up it. Three steps take her up the wall, then she kicks off and stretches her hands up to grab a smaller balcony above so she can quietly hoist herself up and step to a secure-looking door, then she pulls a set of lock picks from one of the pouches on her belt. Less than sixty seconds later, she's in.

It is not unobserved.

Floating in the air high above the street, a figure in a black cloak watches the young thief bypass the security and make her way inside. Beneath his hood, the figure smiles. Billows of impenetrable blackness roll off the figure's body and cloak like smoke, dissipating in the night air — then forming a trail behind him as he silently flies on glider wings toward the apartment complex.

Observing the building through mystical 'eyes' as it were, the figure watches men and women inside their apartments — looking through walls, clothes, flesh… everything. There is more security inside the complex (in addition to locked doors and the occasional camera); a few guards patrol the area — armed only with torches and radios. These are not the high-paid, licenced to carry conceal weapons kind of guards — although some apartments display more security than others.

The figure alights upon a different balcony, observing the thief through the walls.

Naturally, the female figure is entering one of the higher-end apartments; she isn't in this for the cheap thrills. Well. She isn't in this for the cheap thrills. The expensive thrills, and the chance to throw the fig at people who deserve it — that does make a nice addition to the take, it must be said. The figure walks carefully on the balls of her feet, the shoes making next to no noise on the floor as she enters the living area — then the figure suddenly drops to the floor behind a couch as a dark-suited man comes around the corner from the entryway.

Crawling on the ground not terribly unlike one of the many spider-themed costumed crowd, she makes her way around the sofa, matching her movements to those of the guard — then she's up in a run, dashing behind the guard. Whether a quiet sound, the movement of air, or whatever else alerted him, by the time he turns around, she leaps up to grab onto the railing of the upper level, and hauls herself up. A moment spent watching his shadow, then when the man goes on about his business, the figure makes her way to the apartment owner's office.

The figure smiles again.

Watching this thief at work is proving to be an amusing venture, and the shadowy man breaks into the building using techniques of his own. He opens a door silently by means of a little gadget taken from his belt. Entering an apartment, he observes an elderly couple watching television in the lounge room beside him, and then glides over to the far door.

He opens it.

Shadows appear to gather along the floor and walls of the hallway that connects all the apartments on his level. They creep like black stains over each surface (rather than just filling the room) and halt to look like normal shadows.

Which just happen to cover any security cameras in Darkforce. The figure ducks into an elevator and floats up a level to put himself on the same floor as the female thief, all the while watching her through the walls with his mystical sight.

There is something different about this level. There are more security guards — some of them carrying concealed weapons — and each apartment has slightly better deterrents than a mere lock on the door. Still, it is hardly 'Fort Knox'. These residents can simply afford more.

What will you do now, little mouse? the figure wonders, scanning the apartments here to spot anything that might interest a thief with a taste for danger…and shinies.

The thief in question paused, mid-step, when the shadows creeped along, though by the time her head whips around, she apparently doesn't see anything amiss. Still — her head tilts a little; she saw something, and she rarely misses much. A beat spent staying stock-still save for the tiny movement of her chest from her breathing, then she faces forward again and steps to the door to the office. Crouching next to it, she pulls her hood down and places the right side of her head against the door; movement. Heavy footsteps. Guard; no, two guards.

Pulling back, she places her right hand against the door and rubs the tips of her gloved fingertips against it, then curls her fingers to make the faintest rubbing sound; not scratching, just the tiniest scuffing sounds. She wants them curious, not on high alert. Standing up again, she stands to the right of the door, back to the wall.

When the door opens, she waits for the first guard to take a step out — then her right leg whips up, catching the guard on the chin and shoving him backward, able to say nothing, emitting a liquid-y gurgling sound as he stumbles back. She's in the room in a flash, fingers of her left hand curling to the next-to-base knuckles, shoving that hand into the second guard's windpipe.

Now the clock's really ticking.

The figure floating in the elevator shaft raises his chin, still observing. Efficient, if untidy, he thinks to himself regarding the thief's choice of tactics and execution. Hovering there in the air, his arms folded across his chest, he stiffens when hearing the elevator start to move once more. Silently, he moves to the doors and uses another gadget to get them to open.

Stepping through, he emerges right in the hallway where two security guards lie on the ground, and a certain thief has already ducked into the apartment. The elevator doors close. Darkforce rolls off his cloak and onto the floor of the hallway, spilling back on itself as it encounters the two inert (but alive) bodies. Concentrating a bit harder, the cloaked figure creates a 'current' of sorts out of the inky energy — like running water — and allows both bodies to 'wash' further inside the apartment.

And 'wash' they do.

It is apparently time for the figure to reveal his presence to the thief… in one fashion or another. The waves of Darkforce bearing the security guards inside also roll across the floor (but not very far). Depending on how close the thief is to the door, she may find herself caught in the undertow (quite literally). Rather than just filling the room with blackness, the 'watcher' merely has the shadows lengthen around the walls, and then several silhouettes — perfect replicas — step out of the walls.

Or appear to.

<~ A thief should be more careful… ~> the figure whispers, soft and sibilant. The voice does not come from the doorway, but from one of the other silhouettes. <~ More guards will be a while coming. A thief should move quickly… unless she wants to listen. ~>

When the inky whatever-it-really-is touches her shoe, the figure darts forward and turns, right hand coming up near her chin, left hand extended a bit, both curled into loose fists. The lens of her visor-style goggles stays blank, because of course it does. She's not one of the costumed crusaders, after all. Her head stays still, though it's not a huge stretch to imagine that the eyes behind the goggles are moving about, looking at the room, the slippery-looking shadows. Her heart is beating quicker; it's not often someone gets the drop on her — and she doesn't like it.

She also, however, isn't stupid. Whatever's going on, whatever super-powered-somebody-or-another is with her, if they wanted her caught and held for the police, she would have been already. Not that she hasn't come close more than a few times already, but this was the only time someone really, fully, truly had the drop on her — and they aren't using it to a "heroic" advantage.

Pragmatism wins.

"Talk," is all she says, her voice low and husky, unnaturally so as a watch of the muscular structure of her jaw would easily confirm. She's trying to disguise her voice as best as she can; the balaclava really doesn't do that much. And after saying that, she turns and heads to the computer in the corner, pulling a flash drive from a rear pocket on her belt as she goes. May as well do what she came to do while she listens; if he wanted her caught, she would be, after all.

The waves of blackness on the floor push back against the door, closing it, then the shadows part — hugging the walls, basically, blacking out the windows — leaving the thief standing there with what appears to be a trio of identical men in cloaks and cowls. All black.

<~ I mean you no harm, ~> whispers the same silhouette, lifting a hand with its palm facing toward the thief. <~ Consider my being here… a job offer — and your efforts… a resume. ~>

There is a pause.

<~ I am the Shroud, and I have been watching you for quite some time… Rebecca Valdes. How would you like to… ~> and one of the silhouettes walks past the thief, leaning in as if you whisper in her ear. <~ Up your game, so to speak? ~>

Shroud focuses his senses on the apartment complex around them; this apartment is empty, as is the hallway outside. The cameras have seen nothing — whether by Rebecca's skill or Shroud's powers. For the time being… they have little to fear.

Slipping the flash drive into a U.S.B. port, the figure starts tapping at the keyboard — though a touch slowly, since she's wearing gloves. Granted, gloves thin enough to be a second skin, but gloves nonetheless. Tiny bobs ofher head show her having to look at the keyboard frequently to make sure she's hitting the right keys, but it's not like she isn't paying attention to what's going on around her — especially when that shadow comes over. She tenses when it does, ready to start a fight if it seems like the shadowy — thing — is going to actually touch her, though thankfully that doesn't seem to be the case.

And though she outwardly appears no different at the mention of her name, the figure's heart rate does increase, as does her pulse. This — is bad news, but potentially not something that's unmanageable. "What resume?" she asks, still keeping her voice low and husky. "What job offer? Talk." Simple speech, hiding how much she's paying attention to him — attempting to do such, anyway, but the muscles in her eyes flick her gaze toward the shadows, even as she starts copying a virus from the flash drive that will download certain files then erase their existence from anywhere it can find them on-line.

<~ A challenge. ~>

The response is suitably laconical — in keeping with the brusque and to-the-point style of conversation that Valdes is giving him. Shroud is smiling, although it is hardly visible. Valdes might hear it in his voice.

The shadows in the room shift like ink underwater, enveloping all the silhouettes and allowing Shroud to step into the light… without necessarily revealing where he had been standing the whole time. When the shadows pull back from either side of the desk with the computer on it, there is a small case on the floor near Rebecca's feet.

<~ Your skills exceed opportunity, ~> he goes on to say, in that same, eerie whisper. <~ And opportunity falls short of ample reward. You deserve to take part in a much larger game. Come work for me, Doctor Valdes. Join the Night Shift. ~> The Shroud motions with a hand toward the case he has left near her, and the darkness around him seems to coil like a snake about his arm… and gives the illusion of stretching his arm to touch the case.

The illusory limb vanishes like smoke in the wind.

<~ An incentive, ~> he explains. <~ And a test. Take it for yourself and never hear from me again. Or… ~> and he starts to melt into the shadows, bit by bit, again. <~ Put it to the kind of use someone such as yourself might… and the shadows will welcome you as one of their own. ~>

For a moment, the figure says nothing. She continues to tap at the keyboard with those small head-bobs of hers, though it might well be obvious her new acquaintance has gotten quite a bit more of her attention. It's obvious he knows about her — more than her name. She doesn't exactly advertise the fact that she went to college, itself, especially that she earned her Ph.D in psychology. He's done his homework, that's certain. And it's not like he was unknown, especially amongst the people she tended to associate with. He had a reputation, too — this meeting was very much like the ones she'd heard whispers of, and if it is legitimate — she could think of worse groups to be associated with, but would have problems thinking of better ones.

Eye muscles flick her gaze to the case, then back to the screen. She has no idea what's in the case; could be money, but that didn't seem his style. Not jewels, she's sure, gold, electronics, anything so — banal. That wouldn't fit the tales she's heard. It's not exactly a large case, though, either. Hmm. Taking it would be a contract — but if even half of what she's heard is true, then it would hardly be a Faustian deal.

Without a word, she slips the flash drive from the port with her left hand, her right hitting the Control, Alt, and Delete buttons to bring up the system's menu options, then she puts the computer to "sleep" again. Still without a word, she tucks the flash drive into its belt pouch, then grabs the case and runs to the nearest window. Scaling the wall to the roof next door with a case in-hand will make things difficult — but "difficult" wasn't always "bad", especially in a situation like this.

The Shroud watches her go.

Satisfied with how the… 'interview' has gone, he suddenly gestures out to either side of himself with his hands… and the shadows rolls away until they are completely gone. Placing his gloved hand on his hips, he walks toward the windows and stands there in silence for a couple of minutes.

Then he lifts his chin.

<~ Mouse, Digger — you may rise now. She is gone. ~>

Behind the Shroud, the two security guards climb to their feet — each one sporting a few injuries from Rebecca Valdes' attacks, but still doing reasonably well. Dusting themselves off, the larger of the two limbs over to his 'boss', rubbing his chin.

"That girl… packs a whallop, Shroud," he says with a groan. There is a similar expression of pain from the other 'guard'. The first one lets out a breath. "Mouse can't speak. She bruised his windpipe."

<~ It was necessary, ~> their leader replies, not turning around.

"Will she join?" Digger asks.

The Shroud lets out a breath and tracing a gloved finger over the glass of the window. Silent for a while, he lowers his hand again and gives a thoughtful nod of his head.

<~ We shall see. ~>

An hour later…

An apartment 8n Rebecca's building, one that's been converted into storage space. Boxes and crates and broken exercise equipment are set here and there, and on a stack of cardboard boxes sits the case. It's open, facing Rebecca and two youths. Her hood is back, the balaclava and goggles removed, and to her right is a young female mutant, scaly, looking almost part iguana. To her left is a young human-looking man, Caucasian. They're all staring at the neatly ordered documents in the case.

"What does this mean?" asks the young woman, her voice a harsh trill.

"I have no idea, mija, except that we're moving up in the world," Rebecca says. "Greg, you still know that guy who claims to know someone in the Night Watch?"

The young man nods once, staying silent.

"Pass the word. We want to meet with The Shroud."

He looks at her, and she looks back, a silent communication passing between them. Finally, he nods once, smiling, if a little, then turns to leave.


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