Description: After jumping through several hoops to make contact with the elite band of mercenaries known as Kira's Dragoons, Gabriel finds herself getting the black bag treatment when she requests a meeting in person. Fortunately, Kira proves to be in the mood for travel and a deal is made, allowing the rich cultist to leave with her life. Her dignity is another matter entirely.
The first thing that the young woman notices when the hazy of drug induced stupor begins to fade and she regains consciousness by slow inches is the heat. Africa is not a kind place to those unused to its intense weather. The coastal cities aren't so bad with the cool winds that blow in from the ocean but the further one travels inland the more unforgiving the blazing sun overhead becomes. However, even by those standards, the place where she is now is practically a furnace.
Which brings her to the second point that is likely to come up - she has no idea where she might be at the moment. A bag of thick black cloth is pulled firmly over her head so thickly woven that not even a faint trace of light is visible through its surface. This only makes the heat situation more unpleasant as the warmth of her own breath has no where to escape and just ends up circling around inside the hood.
It would be a simple matter to alleviate this problem were her hands not firmly bound behind her back. The sharp bite of metal against her flesh lets her know that it is handcuffs that hold her firm rather than rope or string. The links have been closed very tightly to prevent any ideas that she might be able to wiggle out of her bonds through contortionist tricks or double joints.
The heavy whine of an old diesel engine fills the air around her, the constant jolts of impact from tightly wound shocks working to keep the vehicle she's apparently in from tipping over as it crosses rough terrain. No one speaks throughout the trip though a scratching tinny output of a radio receiver occasionally spits out words in a harsh language that sounds Slavic in origin, leaving her with little but her thoughts and the sweltering heat to keep her company.
The trip after her awakening takes about a half an hour as best she can tell. The crunch of tires on gravel and then pavement brings about a noticable change from the the cracking of branches and the rustling of grass against the doors by her head. Eventually, the car comes to a stop and the engine dies. The door nearest to her swings open and a pair of thick gruff hands take her by the shoulders, hauling Gabriel to her feet without much in the way of gentleness.
"Walk," an equally unpleasant male voice says and gives her a light shove. She is guided through a small network of passageways, still sporting her fashionable headwear, so the trip doesn't give her much of a view to enjoy. After a few minutes of travel, the guard guides her into a small room and the heavy metallic door swings shut with an ominous click behind her.
Almost immediately, the man's hands clamp onto her neck from behind and he growls again in warning, "Do not move." The hands quickly move down over her body in the tell-tale pats of a body check as the unknown guard searches her for weapons. Apparently satisfied with this, he moves on to the next step, which is to remove her clothes.
Gabriel's vest is sheared off with a knife while her long pants are pulled to the floor leaving her with nothing but her underwear. These are checked too but she's allowed to keep them. Once all of that is complete, she's dragged over to a simple metal folding chair and sat down. Only then is the bag on her head removed.
The room that she finds herself in is rather small, barely more than a small office really. It is completely and devoid of decorations save for the wooden table at which she is seated. A simple overhead light dangles from its cord casting a pale cone of illumination down onto the center of the room. It's cold in here, almost polar compared to the heat outside.
Across from her sits another woman, pale and blonde with pretty features and a wicked grin on her face. A thin gray tank top shirt covers her torso, stuck to her skin in several places by sweat, while loose camo-pattern grey fatigues and military issue boots cover her legs. Kira reclines in a chair similar to the one that Gabriel occupies though hers looks a great deal more comfortable. A glass filled with some measure of brown liquid and slick from the condensation of the ice within is hoisted in her hand, offering the Asian a toast.
"Welcome," Kira says with a mildly dramatic flare, "to the Dragon's Nest."
Already thoughts of regret would be expected to coarse through anyone's mind. Probably the first thing that happens when the haze lifts is to wonder what you got yourself into. Did Gabriel wonder that now, or when she felt the sting of an unexpected prick at the back of her neck. Yes, it all started inocuous enough.
She couldn't truly blame her captors, there were warning bells, lots of them. The thing was that people in this line of work weren't easy to find nor did they advertise by regular channels and Gabriel needed these people. She'd had very limited luck coming up with people to do her dirty work on her own and so when one of her contacts through a friend of a friend recommended this shady group of mercenaries, Gabriel decided to chance it.
Initial contact was simple, a phone call at a specific time to answer some questions, no we'll contact you next, just wait. And so Gabriel did. Probably a background check, she knew they were trying to figure out if she was something other than she appeared. What would they find? Hieress to a fortune left my deceased parents, stellar academic performance, could of done anything she wanted with her life, some murky dealings in a cult and more recently questionable activities? Gabriel didn't dwell on these questions.
Next was the meeting, in a warehouse in South Africa. Come alone. So she did and was made to wait. At first no one else showed up, probably they were checking to make sure she had done all that was instructed. Eventually someone did and she was informed that it was the point of no return, she would be allowed to meet with someone if she compliled or she could walk now. She complied. Sharp pain. Undisclosed time later, a metal chair in nothing but her undergarmets. Here.
Obviously not dressed to seduce, Gabriel has simple off white small clothes that cover what they need to. She shouldn't be bashful, she's no more exposed than she might be at a beach (actually her swimsuit is way more modest but that's for another time). Still, her eyebrow twitches and it's clear in her rigidity that she's very annoyed. She was told to bring no weapons and she actually complied, which was probably for the best. Though being a crusader of light. . A pure heart, she finds this a little humilating and off putting.
Steeling herself and folding her hands in her lap, refusing to show any hint of this getting to her. . Except she already has, in that she looked mildly irritated, she ssquares her shoulders, sets her chin and looks at the woman across from her down her nose.
"I do sincerely hope this sort of greeting is not your habit, " Gabriel begins in her prim and proper voice (the best one she can do in her panties)
"Because if it is this may have negative implications for our future business. . But since I've come this far, am I to understand you can make deals, because I have a job I need to hire able warriors for."
Somewhere deep in her heart of hearts Gabriel appreciates that she isn't suffering the heat as much as tank(top) girl over there.
Kira's smug expression doesn't alter in the least as she watches her would-be employer process her new surroundings and the situation that she finds herself in. All of the emotions and feelings that were creeping through Gabriel's mind right at this moment were precisely the point of the round about process by which she had been brought before the mercenary leader.
All of it was carefully crafted, carefully planned. The clandestine meetings, the waiting periods, the Hollywood spy bullshit; it was a game designed to throw the woman off her usual rythms. Most of the time the people who could afford her services were either rich snobs or powerful warlords, both of which are used to getting their way. Being thrust into a situation where they were neither in control nor capable of simply throwing their weight around to get what they wanted put Kira firmly in seat of power in their negotiations which is precisely where she intends to stay.
"You should be glad," Kira says in response, leaning back into the soft cushions of her office chair. The plush leather padding creaks softly from well-worn use. The mercenary's voice is upbeat and decidely feminine though it carries an obvious tone of authority behind the thick Slavic accent. "Most people who come through my doors don't get to keep their knickers. Consider it a... show of respect."
She inclines her head slightly in an obviously mocking fashion while bringing the glass up to tap on her temple. A large heavy-set man steps forward out of the shadows a moment later and tosses a simple manilla folder onto the table between then. Kira takes a sip from her drink and then sets it aside, reaching forward to flip the folder open revealing a small stack of printouts.
"Gabriel Kai. Dead parents. Good grades. Rich family." She flips the page, not really reading any of the words having already memorized the dossier. This is just more of the show. "Some strange business with the cult of 'the Glorious Goddess'? Sound right?" She glances up across the table but shrugs without waiting for a response and continues. "A few minor criminal offenses here and there but otherwise very boring. So..."
The folder is flipped shut and Kira leans forward to rest her elbows on the table, hands bridging together beneath her angular chin. Thick tribal tattoos cover both of her arms, a feature that becomes much more apparent now that she is leaning into the faint light. They don't look very friendly, unlike her casual tone. Her expression is likewise that of an amused smile but there is an obvious edge to the gentle blue ovals of her eyes.
"What does a pretty little rich girl want from Kira and her Dragoons, mmm?"
Off her game but doing her best to keep step. Gabriel spares not a thought for the why, only the what. She scowls, but only minutely at the mention of getting to keep her knickers. Off handedly commenting to that, "How magnamimus, really dressed as I am I scarcely see the difference." It's a lie of course, there is a very big different for her aspiring to rather prudish standards, but she doesn't allow that part to be expressed. . No doubt it's in the file somewhere.
She listens immovably to her rap sheet, as though a detective were asking her why she decided to burn something to the ground with such a bright future. Well of course all the rich and powerful play their games, Gabriel just for whatever reason prefers to get her own hands dirty more than others. Possibly because while she has a fortune, she doesn't have much in the way of income save for the interest accured. She could easily live a life of luxury, but she probably can't afford to own her own snydicate. . Unless it paid. Neverthe less she replies,
"I have need of associates to assist me in my lesser activities which require more brute force than mental capacity." She pauses dramatically and steeples her fingers under her chin, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees.
"For this I have decided the recently or less recently incarcerated should have a second chance at redemption, but in order to free them from their bonds I will need a hand which can be guided with proper experience and training. That is what I require of your hand, help me free my future associates, deal with anyone who gets in the way and I suppose any whom refuse my generous offer should be made an example of." The last part she says with distaste, perhaps as though she does not care for the idea of killing people, or perhaps getting her shoes dirty. She looks at her bare feet and then leans back, crossing one leg over the other and turns her head briefly to look around the room. Kira hasn't been truly glared at yet, but any of her associates in the room with them now will be.
Only two others are present in the room besides herself and Kira. The most obvious is the individual standing to her side who looks to be more of a businessman than a mercenary, wearing a proper suit rather than the casual fatigues of military members. The other is the man who 'escorted' her here. Man is a generous term, however, now that she gets a decent look at him. Gorilla would be a lot closer. He towers over her not but a few feet away, a steely frown meeting her petulent glare without even the trace of a flinch.
Kira's grin becomes positively devilish at the prudish girl's attempt to put on a brave face. Naturally, her personality has been accounted for. The various phone conversations and interactions she's had with their contacts and intermediaries were more than enough to get a read on her. Which is all the more reason why she's sitting here practically naked. Just another way to get Gabriel out of her element, make her uncomfortable and exposed.
The opportunity to enjoy the view isn't escaping Kira's notice either. Her eyes roam over the exposed flesh openly from time to time but only when she's sure Gabriel is watching. Little nudges here and there to keep her off balance and distracted.
"You want us to assist in storming prison facility? Da, that is easy enough. We are more than a match for guards, but this idea you have... turning prisoners into cheap labor?" She waves a hand through the air dismissively, face wrinkling up into a mess of crinkles in obvious disgust. "They will only be loyal so long as they are scared of you. And no discipline. Useless for anything other than random mayhem. Why you need these men?"
Eventually the stoney glares are pulled away from Kira's associates and back to Kira herself. Eventually you start to get used to the water, so to speak, and though Gabriel might look more clamy than usual, and perhaps easier to irritate, she is at least getting some assemblance of herself back. Drawing a deep breath. . Which she regrets instantly because well, every motion makes her feel exposed.. She decides she's not going to fight it, rather embraces it. Her eyes narrow and she places her hands on her knees, making no attempt to hide herself, no rather making it apparent she's making no attempt
Tossing her hair back and staring at Kira in the eyes when the latters wander she's almost daring her. Then she speaks,
"Yes, they will be disloyal, disorganized and generally incapable of handling anything that requires a delicate hand. " She holds up her hand as if to demonstrate what a delicate one might look like, "However should they step out of line. " She balls it into a fist.
"besides, this kind of crude labor force is percisely what I want, they will draw attention to themselves, they will cause trouble, they will draw some attention away from me, they will be hated for it and if they cross me I will purify them myself."
Probably in the folder somewhere, purification is a word Gabriel likes to use, but it's usually just a stand in for kill, destroy or otherwise snuff out. There might even be mention of her creative methods, water being her favorite. It's a good thing she didn't try to smuggle her glass shard in beacuse probably Kira even knows about Gabriel's favorite 'sword'.
Kira's brow quirks at the use of the word 'purify'. The intention behind the word is quite clear but it bothers her that her client can't just come out and say it. No, she's one of those people who hide their atrocities behind words and justifications. Annoying. But not unexpected. In her years of travel, one thing the mercenary has learned is that most people can't face the truth of who or what they are. They need pretty little lies like 'its for a good cause' or 'I'm serving a higher purpose'. That's why they need people like her to do their dirty work for them.
The chair creaks again noisly as Kira shifts her posture to consider something, drawing her steepled fingers in against the surface of her chest. She is by no means in a position where she absolutely /has/ to take this contract. Africa is never short of rebels, warlords, or kingpins looking for some extra muscle. However, it's also a pretty fucking terrible place in general. Hot, humid, and there's a greater than zero percent chance of being jumped by a damn lion or something on the front lawn. It would be nice to get out and stretch her legs.
"Very well. We will do this thing for you."
Kira snaps her fingers and the man in the suit steps forward with a briefcase that he retrieves from somewhere on the floor. A thin sheaf of papers is produced from within and handed to Kira who then tosses them across the table in Gabriel's direction.
"Standard contract. We offer services for one week for price of five hundred thousand American dollars. You pay ahead of time. In cash. When contract ends, you can offer to hire again but I decide if I want to deal with your bullshit any more at that point."
Kira rattles off the general overview of her documents with a bored toned. She hates paperwork but it never hurts to have a receipt. Incase she ever decides to pay taxes or some shit. Who knows. It keeps the pencil pushers off her back which is a good enough reason.
"If you don't like any part of that, fuck off."
Some small victory, Gabriel seems to think and would smile a little if she did smile. Apparently Kira is passed the intimidation stage and suddenly they might as well all be in suits. It figures that everything up until now was an act, kind of like a doctor pretending to be sickened by the sight of blood, or a soldier for that matter. Gabriel looks over the contract only briefly, but frankly she's not the most concerned in it. The thing isn't really binding in any court of law, more for the criminal under world. Still she's vaguely impressed at how well written it is.
"Five hundred thousand is a little steep for this particular job," She mentions casually but doesn't seem plussed, "But you are giving a weeks worth of service for that amount? What are the limitations?" She seems to have her calculating wheels turning inside of her head as she re-reads the contract. She's a relataively fast reader and given her academic background that might not be too surprising, actually she's holding it suspciously like a shield or .. clothes. It's kind of blocking any view of her chest. Maybe she isn't so clever as she thought, or good at pretending.
"Would you be amendable then for holding onto a hostage for me until the week is complete?" Inside of Gabriel's mind of course she is thinking of ransoming someone for part of the cost to recoup the money, after all, why not if she's got a week of well armed and trained mercenaries. She also adds conversationally,
"I'm surprised you give me a pen, you never know what I could do with it."
"The 'limitations'," Kira says with a frown, actually lifting her fingers into the air to make quotes, "are that you don't piss me off so much that I decide shooting you and going home is more fun than putting up with you."
That earns a smug look from the laywer-type who isn't quite as stone-faced as his muscular associate. Even McGuilla Gorilla gives an amused grunt. The remains of the merc's drink disappear down her throat in a bid to try and distract her from the fact that she actually has to talk about terms and shit like that. The fun part is over but as the boss it's still her job to take care of the boring bits.
"Me and whoever I decide to bring along for this job will be at your disposal however you see fit. You want us to play nanny for one of your VIPs? Fine, we can do that."
Her look shifts back to one of slight interest when Gabriel tries to play tough again. Oh, the game is still afoot, is it? Casually, Kira rises from her chair and draws a long combat knife from a sheath on her leg. She leans forward and sets the blade on the center of the desk at an equidistant point between them and then steps back, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Try your luck," Kira says, grinning. " You will find out /precisely/ what I can do with it."
A long pause. The knife, Kira. Gabriel seems to be gauging how much she actually wants to try her luck. Instead she's quick to sign the paper and then shove it toward th table with the pen.
"You know, I think I will accept your challenge at a later date. I did not get dragged out here to end our association before I even accomplish my objective." She pauses a moment for dramatic effect? Then continues,
"However after the task is complete I will give you the chance to test your might against a barely dressed hieress who I am certain would not prove to be too difficult to defeat."
Actually that took a lot of guts, Gabriel being a prude even making such a claim well it isn't like her, certainly to actually follow through it's debatable if she plans to back out if the chance comes. What is Gabriel afraid of? The knife? Certainly not. It's being seen in an outfit as revealing as this again.
"So do we have a deal?" Gabriel asks somewhat impatientally while wetting her lips and giving another fresh glare to Kira's associates. The sense that she might be nervous isn't in her face, and that it's hot here means any sweat beading on her skin would probably not be a dead give away, but the way her palms sit on her knees and dig in just a little, or how she curls her feet together under her chair, those are where her nerves are on display.
"Whatever you say, princess."
In truth, Kira is mildly impressed that the woman had the guts to keep sassing her when her situation is far from ideal but that could just be the ego of a spoiled rich brat at work. She's seen plenty of that type. The merc's eyes narrow slightly and she focuses the penetrating points of her tiny pupils on Gabriel as if she might be considering it but the knife quickly disappears it's holster once more.
The suited man gathers up the contrast with the look of an annoyed school teacher and spends a few moments straightening out their edges until everything is nice and neat before he glances over the signature and gives Kira a nod of approval. Clapping her hands together once, she says jovially, "Excellent! Now all we need is to receive payment and the details of your mission. Send word when you have them ready and someone will meet you to collect."
Gabriel's discomfort continues to remain noticable but no longer registers on the list of things that Kira cares about at this point. Meeting is over, business done, contract signed. Until she's been paid the rich girl isn't her problem any more. Kira turns and stalks off into the darkness of the far side of the room vanishing though another door and leaving her alone with the two men.
Gorilla's hand comes down on her shoulder just a moment before the black bag drops over her head again. Her hands are cuffed once more and she's hefted out of the chair with enough force that she doesn't have much choice but to walk or be run over. She doesn't get her clothes back. The walk through the facility back to the car becomes a bit more harrowing when she's both blind and half naked, never knowing who might be watching as she's paraded openly through the halls. One final display of who is in charge around here.
Fortunately, Kira isn't a complete neanderthal. A fresh pair of military slacks and a plain t-shirt are waiting in the back seat of the vehicle, both properly sized for Gabriel, and she's given enough time to put them on before being unceremoniously booted out into the streets of the African city where her original meeting was to be held.
Maybe next time it would be better to call.
Log created on 11:05:51 02/04/2015 by Kira Volkov, and last modified on 14:01:01 02/04/2015.