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Rendition

 
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Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:58 pm    Post subject: Rendition Reply with quote

It was late Friday afternoon, a time Alain found increasingly convenient to meet with the city's governor. The roar of activity at Town Hall died to a murmur, and with many of Alain's own partners and allies already making plans and winding down for the weekend, it was a rare time when he could (usually) count on not being bothered.

He arrived five minutes after the beginning of his four o'clock appointment, again bearing treats: two bottles of porter, a small loaf of bread, and cheese to go with it. "Sorry," he greeted her as he entered the office. "Traffic."

"For what?" Fio nodded at Trista over Alain's shoulder, who'd been gesturing that she was about to leave. Alain's Friday afternoon arrival usually meant that she got to leave early. It was all becoming their routine. "Have a good weekend," she added for the secretary's benefit.

Alain tapped his watch, but shrugged; she didn't seem to care he was a little late. "The beer's from a company called Port City," he explained as he set the bottles down. "One of my new in-laws sent me a whole case as a gift, from their America place. Something about the Potomac?" The geography of Sophie's homeworld, while physically identical to Alain's, politically made little sense to him. He shrugged again.

"Near my home," she murmured, though almost certainly not the same iteration of it. Trista locked the outer office door when she left. The click carried. "So what have you been up to this afternoon to make you so very late for our chat?" Not that she had noticed, or that he was so very late at all.

She pushed her chair away from the desk and gestured for him to make himself comfortable in their 'usual' spot, where she clearly intended to follow.

He cut the bread and cheese into slices, with the paper bag they came in serving as the platter for it, and helped himself to a little and washed it down with a swig of porter. "I didn't hear about Dyarhk until I got back."

"That was something of a shock, wasn't it? I found out just before the advisory council meeting." She got herself settled in the armchair across from him and reached for a bottle of the porter, to try it first. It made a very satisfying sound as she twisted the cap off and she let the metal top tinkle against the table.

"Poor bastard," he murmured into another sip of his porter. He was quiet for a long moment. "Remember that business with Vanderhorst, and Camp Devotion?"

"How could I forget?" The first sip had a mellow sort of a bite to it, and she contemplated it, she studied him across the lip of the bottle. "Some of those people refused to leave that camp, even after we offered them relocation."

"They're probably afraid of retaliation," Alain frowned. There was another pause. "I may have had a few people conduct a few... internal network searches at their company, if you follow me. Unfortunately, by this method, nothing's legally admissible as evidence... but we know it's there. Vanderhorst committed very serious fraud to put these poor people in their current situation. We just need an excuse to get at it. A warrant that would justify the Watch shaking down his company. That's had me stuck for a while..."

That was not news... they had suspected it from the beginning, so she wasn't a bit surprised. "Until?" she asked, reaching at last for some bread and cheese from the paper bag platter.

"Lieutenant O'Brien from the Southbridge Rifles in WestEnd tells me Stars End wants our help with a murder case. His captain was about to ask you to send someone their way. A man in Stars End," he began, extracting a report from within his jacket and passing it over, "Oliver Dwight, turned up dead not too long ago. He was working as an 'opportunities consultant' for our friends at Vanderhorst, looking at debt in troubled communities in Stars End, but he hid a few things from his employers. Namely the fact that he was a labor activist, and was still collecting paychecks from a socialist newsletter up to the day he died."

"One of these days, Alain, you are going to come to visit, just for the sake of a visit." A wry coo of a murmur before she popped the last of the bread she was holding into her mouth and wiped her hands together to scatter the evidence of crumbs. Only then did she reach for the file and flip it open in her lap to poke through it. It wasn't a case she was familiar with - yet.

"When that happens, be sure to warn my people about my doppelganger." He took another swig of beer. "Stars End hasn't made the labor connection yet, this is just what SPI turned up in the last forty-eight hours... Right now we're following a lead that he could've done interviews at Camp Devotion before he took this job. Which means our refugees could be in even more danger than they already are."

"I'd like you to recommend me to the authorities in Stars End, Fio. I've done this before, many times. I can prove Vanderhorst is behind the murder, and once we have the warrant to look for evidence, we'll find those contracts... and finish what Dyarhk started."

"What is the name of the Watch Captain your Lieutenant O'Brien talked to?" She frowned over some detail in the report and flipped the page to continue puzzling through the scrawl of whoever wrote the report. Her eyes ticked up toward his.

"Gal'yorran... which is another reason I need your help, Fio." He rubbed the back of his neck, narrowly suppressing a smirk as he looked out the window. "He brought me in twice in 2006, on charges of assault and unlawful use of a deadly weapon. Neither charge stuck... but I'm pretty sure he knew I did it."

Fio clucked her tongue at him, laughter sparking in her eyes. "What a bad boy you are, Alain. I'm going to tell him it's community service if you're not careful." She checked the directory, picked up her phone and dialed.

The call started poorly. Captain Gal'yorran was alternately enraged and obscene at the recommendation of the "criminal scum" Alain DeMuer, but eventually the Governor prevailed. After several minutes of terse conversation, Fio replaced the cradle and announced,

"I believe you have your buy-in."

((Adapted from live play with Fio Helston, with thanks! Builds off of the events in Scarred: Live Aid, especially the last four posts.))
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Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
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Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Put in temporary transfer requests for Detectives Ste.-Marie and Hasteroff. We can pay them with two grand from our informant budget -- of course I realize that. Do you realize how much you overpay your birds?"

"I won't have my precinct assaulting our best informants, Mr. DeMuer."

Alain looked up from the phone in the middle of what had until very recently been a storage room at the Stars End Bayside Precinct, and found himself face to face with Captain Gal'yorran. Two milky eyes blinked right back at him. "You don't hit them, Captain," he slowly replied, replacing the receiver in the cradle. "Just remind them what you have on them, and why they're singing in the first place. That's all."

"That's all," Gal'yorran echoed, as a sharp reminder. It was nearly impossible to tell where his eyes were looking: they'd been damaged years ago when a local don threw acid in his face, but the moment they restored his sight he saw the advantage and stopped them re-coloring his eyes. Most men hated that stare, likely Alain too, and Gal'yorran pressed that advantage. He advanced across the room to the lone table that had been set up so far, with two phones and two chairs and a uniformed cop, Alain's new 'assistant,' in one of them. Then he turned his head to the bulletin board, littered with maps and photographs, brushing past the rookie cops bustling by with all the boxes from storage. "It's not a bad start, DeMuer..." He licked his dry lips and lifted his head, looking(?) back again. "What are you thinking?"

Alain stayed put, leaning on the edge of the table, folding his arms tightly across his chest. He hated working in places like this almost as much as he hated officers like Gal'yorran. He'd rarely had to explain himself so much at SPI... "That Dwight Oliver changed faces pretty well. The moment he started working at Vanderhorst, his old life vanished. New apartment, no more girlfriend... He even stopped going to his favorite haunts."

"He was better than we thought?" Gal'yorran raised a white eyebrow.

"No," Alain suppressed a grin (probably a good idea, that). "But whoever pulled his strings was. I think, once he got established, he still had regular contact with someone from the Popular Standard, his old newspaper. You showed me his account, that he got payments from a shell company that must belong to the Standard. Transfers were indirect, bank to cash, cash back to bank, always done on the tenth, twentieth and last days of each month, except he missed his last payment. Cash was taken outta that shell company's account, never made it to Dwight's account... never made it back in, either."

"They must've been meetings," Gal'yorran conceded, and following the logic, added, "and whoever he met didn't find him that last time. That paper doesn't have much to spare, they wouldn't have torched the cash."

"We'd see it coming back in somewhere," Alain agreed, "but we don't. Someone took the money and ran with it. Something scared him good. Somehow I don't think he made it far..." He trailed off, frowning at the map on the bulletin board.

Gal'yorran looked nonplussed, at least as much as was possible for him. "How do you know that, DeMuer?" skeptically.

"Call it a hunch." Alain grabbed his coat and informed his assistant, "Take over. When the detectives get here, tell them to start at Dwight's apartment... and see where it takes them." Before she could protest, he was hurrying to the door, leaving the rest of setting up in her hands.

"What the hell are you up to, DeMuer?" Gal'yorran shot after him, following him halfway to the door.

"We'll hang out at Dwight's place 'til we get hungry, thirsty..." He grinned. "Then find ourselves a burger and beer. Reporters like greasy dives just as much as us detectives, right? And don't worry - I'll bring back the receipts."

The doors slid shut after Alain. Gal'yorran stood there, hanging his head for about five seconds. One of the cops bumped into him again, and he upended the box with both hands, scattering old case files all over the floor. "That son of a goddamn b****!" he roared, and stalked away to his office, slamming the door behind him.
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"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
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Alain DeMuer
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It had been one month since the Bayside Precinct launched its undercover investigation. For most of the first week Alain worked closely with the two detectives he'd been assigned, Ste.-Marie and Hasteroff, until he was sure the case was in good hands. This wouldn't be over in a hurry, no matter how much they seemed to unravel early on.

In two days they'd found the name of Dwight Oliver's contact after they hinted to the Popular Standard they'd get their missing money back: Emily Owen, the newspaper's deputy editor and a veteran reporter and activist. Alain knew her by reputation, that she'd run before, and run far, so they placed travel restrictions on her. Ste.-Marie and Hasteroff kept tabs on Dwight's old haunts and waited.

In the meantime Alain had other responsibilities, businesses and a small country to run, but he couldn't keep the case out of his thoughts. It didn't help that Camp Devotion had been completely emptied when, on a rainy Sunday morning, he decided to drive out there to clear his mind. They'd been moved to a rock quarry nearby, the locals said, to begin working off their debts to Vanderhorst & Sons.

The sight of over one thousand poor men, women and children hauling rock down a mountain festered in his mind, stoked him to a rage whenever he remembered it. But there had been nothing to do then but drive away from the sorry scene, and nothing to do now but control his anger and wait, and pray that fewer than normal perished from this back-breaking labor.

Cases like these, Alain knew from experience, required patience.

It was late at night when it happened. He was up reading through old intelligence reports from SPI, waiting for Sophie to return home from a charity dinner, and his cell started ringing. Ste.-Marie. "What's up?"

Hasteroff's just made contact with Owen!

"What? How?"

You'd be proud of this one, Al. Hasteroff's idea. Only way to draw Owen out is become just like Dwight Oliver. We leaked that we had dirt on Vanderhorst's labor camps onto a labor activist 'net board we think she's been using. Brilliant, right?

"Son of a b*tch," Alain swore. He paused, stared at the clock on the nightstand... then yanked the drawer open, grabbing his Makarov pistol and holster. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Good detective work! Jesus, Al. She doesn't even know he's a cop. She's awful scared, though.

"Of course she's ****ing scared, Oliver's killer could be there any minute!"

Oh Jesus.

"Tell him to run, detective. Tell Hasteroff to take Miss Owen and get the hell outta there. Where are they?"

Ronnie's Dive, near SEB -- someone's just cut the signal, something's wrong...

Alain could tell when a detective was losing it. The quickest fix for the problem was giving them fresh orders: "Call for backup. Then call Gal'yorran and get his authorization for a swat team." He was already out the door, staring down their New Haven Road toward Fool's Luck Bay, and Star's End beyond it. "I'll be there in five."

The Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle pealed out of the driveway and roared away, racing toward the glittering lights of the spaceport. The haunting images of the rock quarry were replaced by a single driving thought: Hasteroff and Owen were running out of time.
_________________
"All warfare is based on deception."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
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Alain DeMuer
Ancient Wyrm
Ancient Wyrm


Joined: 18 Jul 2006
Posts: 783
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Jobs: Gumshoe, Gunsmith
Can Be Found: RhyDin or Drasill
85676.20 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The police were already on the scene, the light from Alain's motorcycle catching an officer's reflective vest. The man stopped him for a moment, but as soon as Alain raised his helmet's visor waved him on. They had tape and barricades up all the way out to the other side of the street from Ronnie's Dive. He counted six cars and ten cops that he could see, already interviewing witnesses. One man was bleeding from a head wound, huddled in a blanket, clearly in shock as paramedics pulled him into a waiting ambulance.

Alain tucked his helmet under his arm and fished his badge out of his jacket pocket, clipped it to his belt. He was three steps from a detective he recognized, about to ask him a question, when he heard the familiar whiff of air that came right before a strike. Someone closed in from behind and off to one side, the perfect blind spot, and clipped his cheek with their fist.

"God damn you, DeMuer! How could you let this happen?"

Gal'yorran. Alain felt the tip of his cheekbone, where one of the captain's bony knuckles had grazed him and drawn blood. It would bruise soon. "Hasteroff. Where is he?"

Gal'yorran paused. Another man might have darted his eyes to the ground here, but in this light, Alain couldn't tell. "Inside with the paramedics. Still conscious."

"Owen?"

"Dead." Gal'yorran grabbed a hold of Alain's jacket and raised a fist, as the cops behind him rushed to restrain him. "I swear to every devil in Hell, DeMuer, if Hasteroff -- "

"You need to teach your detectives a little more restraint, captain," Alain replied coldly. It was a shock to the system for Gal'yorran, and the two officers within earshot, hearing something so callous. They stepped away, and Alain stepped inside with his poker face carefully maintained. His lips kept a thin, expressionless line past an officer and two forensic specialists, past Emily Owen and what remained of her head, over to the paramedic tending to the young detective.

They exchanged a few words about his condition. Yes, it was bad. Yes, he was stable, for now: they were waiting for a helicopter to take him to a better-equipped facility up the coast. It would arrive in minutes. The paramedic checked Hasteroff once more before stepping away, just out of earshot for a whisper.

"Hey kid," Alain said as he took a knee beside him. The detective looked over dimly and opened his hand, and Alain took it, squeezing it. "What's the damages?"

"Ha," Hasteroff smiled weakly. "I don't think that date went very well... I'll be fine, Al. Things got fubar. Sorry, Al - I thought we had him..."

Alain shook his head. "Tell me what happened."

"I sat down with Owen there, once she knew who I was, she wanted to talk about Devotion. Said Vanderhorst's labor contracts were forged, Dwight nearly proved it, she could too if she got access... She'd gone to meet Dwight in an alley near here with no CCTV, their usual spot, was running late when this guy shows up with white hair and bright blue eyes, blows his brains out and drags him away. It was the same guy tonight who walked in and shot up the place. Dye job and contacts, but... we can still get a face match."

Alain shook his head again. "He hacked the security cameras."

Hasteroff coughed out a laugh and turned his hand over in Alain's, dropping a ring. "Not all of them." A ring with a single glassy black stone in the center, the same kind SPI developed four years ago... "Standard issue," he grinned. The next second the grin vanished. "I wanted to save her, Al. I tried."

They were familiar words, and they struck hard. "I know."

"His ride's here," the paramedic announced. "He needs to leave now."

As they wheeled Hasteroff out on a gurney, Gal'yorran stepped back into the building to find Alain standing in front of Emily Owen's body with his hands shoved into his pockets, not looking anywhere else, not saying anything. Gal'yorran stopped beside him, turning his head to look where he looked, then back to the other man.

"She's dead and he might be crippled. I wonder if they knew what they were getting into... both of them." His lips drew sharply downward. "I hope it was worth it, DeMuer."

"Not clean," Alain said at last, and dropped the small black stone into Gal'yorran's hand. "But he thinks so. That's an image orb, with audio and video of everything that happened tonight. Call me when your team gets an ID match. You'll want a hacking warrant as soon as you've got your match, so get your people ready for it." He zipped up his jacket and made for the door.

"Was it worth it?" Gal'yorran echoed in a snarl at his retreating back.

"One woman died to catch her colleague's killer, and for her cause, which just might save two thousand people." Alain stopped by the door but did not look back as he added, "You do the math."

Gal'yorran watched Alain leave, balled his hands into fists and screamed after him: "Answer the ****ing question!"
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~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
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Alain DeMuer
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The quarry was a long drive from RhyDin, in a deep valley on the far side of a rocky. The nearest point of interest was a high mountain pass, highly charged by the forces of the Nexus and leading into several other realms: this and the lay of the land made communication with the outside world almost impossible, and outside observation equally difficult. Few had mapped the area, its legal jurisdiction all the more murky as a result... making it more or less the Wild West for anyone out here.

Which was just how Guy Vanderhorst wanted it. "Look lively, folks!" he barked from his perch on a rock outcropping by the main trail down into the quarry as a chained procession of refugees plodded by on their way to another morning of back-breaking work. "Just eleven more years - twelve, tops!"

And at that point most of them would be dead. The thought had occurred to Vanderhorst before, and it meant less mess in the long run, less of these miserable souls running around preaching the evils of how this man and his company had their debts repaid through indentured servitude. This little venture was already turning a tidy profit. He set his thumbs in his belt loops and breathed a long, satisfied sigh, giving an approving nod to one of his 'security' supervisors marching by with the servants.

Today was a good day. "Could go fishing again," he murmured, considering the lake far down the trail. And there would be no one to bother him, no way to reach him out here... He could afford to blow off another day away from the office. What's the worst that could happen?

"Boss!" The sharp cry and a dozen weapons cocking alerted him to a familiar figure picking his way down the trail, but one he had not expected to see. With Dyarhk dead, he hadn't expected any meddling at all, certainly not --

"Alain f***ing DeMuer. How thoughtful of you to visit us here." Vanderhorst folded his arms, watching the Baron approach and standing his ground. What was the man doing coming out here, trying to intimidate him? On my turf?!

"Thoughtful how?" Alain asked as he drew closer, plainly ignoring the security personnel closing ranks behind him. He stopped ten paces away, looked down to consider the pistol at his hip, back up at Vanderhorst, then the edge of the outcropping behind him. "You're pretty high up," he decided to inform him.

Vanderhorst almost rolled his eyes at the threat, but didn't address it. "Thoughtful that you've come to visit us alone out here. Some people might argue that no one has jurisdiction out here. Anything could happen."

The Baron took another step, and the few personnel who did not already have weapons drawn, drew them now, fanning out around him. Vanderhorst put up a hand to stop them. He wanted to hear what the bastard had to say before killing him. "You're right. You've always had a good head for legal matters. This far out, legal authority can be decided at the owner's discretion. If officers from Star's End arrived here, and you asserted they had no rights here, they'd have to listen. No matter what happened next."

"That's right. So, you got a death wish or something?"

Alain only answered that question with a smirk. "I didn't come out here alone. I've brought fifteen knights with me, and they're waiting for my signal. They're watching us as we speak."

That stilled Vanderhorst's expression for a moment; then he scowled again and shot, "So what? You're gonna threaten me into turning myself in? You've got nothing, DeMuer."

"See..." Alain grimaced and shook his head, took a few steps closer while the security personnel darted looks between him and the surrounding forest where the knights were supposed to be watching. "We ran into a friend of yours on our way out to meet you. Hell, we weren't the only ones racing out to meet you. Us, Captain Gal'yorran with the Bayside unit, and a messenger from your offices. There was a raid at dawn. They found your security chief. He's confessed to killing Miss Owens and Mr. Dwight on your orders."

Vanderhorst paled. He took an instinctive step back, stopping himself short when he felt his heel wobble over open air. As DeMuer had said, he was pretty high up.

"What's more, during the raid that inevitably followed they found something else of interest. Fraudulent contracts. This isn't indentured servitude. It's slavery. I figure you're looking at abduction, assault, negligent homicide... many counts of each. Never mind all those nice officials and investigators you flashed your phony contracts at. If Bayside gets their way, I don't think you'll ever see the open air again."

"I'm not going to prison," Vanderhorst began with a snarl, and Alain's smirk vanished, replaced by cold fury.

"I hoped you'd say that," he replied coolly. "If it comes to a fight, I know my knights and I will win. We have the advantage of terrain and numbers. You're probably thinking how close I am to the middle of all this," he hissed, taking another step and grabbing him by the shirt. It would be so simple, just to throw him off the edge right now... "But I'll be perfectly honest with you... I don't care. I see two thousand tortured souls and I know what it's like to be where they are, to be at the bottom, to feel their pain. I know it's your doing, and I'm ready to die for one simple thing."

Vanderhorst stared in wide-eyed terror as Alain continued: "Your life. The fight will be over before the cops arrive, and even if it kills me, the knights will leave here with you. I have a special place set aside for the likes of you, where we ensure that you live a very long time, and for every moment of your long life all you will know is fear and pain."

"Sweet merciful gods, no! You sick bastard!" Vanderhorst wailed, scrambling out of his grasp and past him, stumbling on the rock and falling hard onto the trail. He pushed himself away on his hands as far as he could, backing up against an embankment, and shook his head, trembling from head to toe as the tears streamed down his face. "You sick bastard. You stay the hell away from me. I'll go with the cops."

He jerked to his feet, turned to the hills and screamed, "Gal'yorran! You hear me?! I'll go with you! I'm giving myself up!" He whirled back to face the Baron, but he was already moving on.

As much as he wanted it, Guy Vanderhorst would be spared the Baron's wrath, and in the end, there was more important work to do. Fifteen knights materialized from the treeline, joining his progress down the hill toward the swelling crowd of prisoners, ignoring the sound of approaching sirens as police vans tore down the dirt road towards the quarry. The knights fanned out to collect keys, unlock chains and locate the stores of food and water, while Alain picked a rock to have a better look at the people, and project his voice out to them.

"You're all free now. Your contracts with Vanderhorst & Sons are null and void, effective immediately. More people will be arriving soon to help out with supplies, shelter, and whatever medical assistance you need... But I want to talk to you about your new homes. You can return to RhyDin, or go wherever else you please... Or you can come with me to St. Aldwin. Most of our people came from hard lives, many of them out of bondage like you, but in St. Aldwin they live together and help one another. We're prepared to help you, too.

"The choice is yours."
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