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Red Eye

 
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Ketch Creeley
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 03 Jun 2014
Posts: 206
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 2:39 pm    Post subject: Red Eye Reply with quote

Something was on fire.

Again.

Acrid smoke, gunpowder, melted plastic, other scents of char were thick in the air as Ketch exited the parking garage and turned down an alley that cut through shadowy rows of Dockside warehouses on his way back to the apartment.

Of late, Ketch kept up with the news enough to figure out which areas of the city might be a centipede crawl of gridlocked traffic or choked with gawkers, but other than that knew not the cause behind the fires and explosions that had plagued the city during the Fall. Wasn’t often necessary in RhyDin: causes changed frequently and in the end seemed to amount to little. Something was burning. For some reason. The things he cared about were not in its path. That was enough. The prevalence, the season, or maybe some combination of both had done much to desensitize him.

This must have happened recently, though, because he’d heard nothing of it through the town car’s radio.

It was late at night. Or early morning. And there was no reason for him to continue to moonlight the odd weeknight as a chauffeur ferrying around RhyDin’s wealthy. His construction business was doing fine. Better than fine if he went by the numbers. While his reticence to discuss anything of personal depth was a blight on his few relationships, that same intensely private nature served him well with his clients, whose paranoia increased in direct proportion to the amount of money and power they had. Rightfully so in a place like this. Over the course of a few seasons, Ketch’s reputation for being tight-lipped had spread and he’d gone from having passing familiarity with New Haven to being able to look at one of the austere brownstones and remember exactly where their safe was kept, what sort of wards protected them, and the might of the people (a loose generalization) within. RhyDin’s denizens paid well for confidence in someone’s silence.

But the thing was, he still liked carting people around. Or maybe it wasn’t that he liked it, precisely, but found a vaguely nostalgic comfort in driving the streets at night as he’d done when he’d first arrived six years ago. Two months spent with the Black Cab Co. learning the city and its strange hierarchy and echelons until he and Mimi knew it as well as they knew the lines in their own palms. After all, what better way to learn a city than to throw yourself at the mercy of its streets? Ketch, much as he was now, wasn’t a particularly personable driver, but was dependable. Mimi had more character, got her clients to open up and would relay their secrets to Ketch after their shifts like she was catching him up on the latest episode of a soap opera. The job hadn’t been a regular gig for long but they maintained their relationship with the owner, Max, and it’d come in handy more than a few times while they were operating in the city. Upon return two summers ago, Max had agreed to let Ketch use his fleet of cars under the table as long as the majority of the profit went to him. Since it’d never been about the money in the first place, that was fine with Ketch. So he’d show up unannounced once or twice a month, wearing an old three-piece, walking the garage to see what was available. He and Max would trade a few stories, keys, and he’d be on his way. Sometimes he’d take on whatever jobs Max had on hand, but most often it was a private call from someone he’d done some construction work for. Not surprisingly, value for discretion extended beyond someone’s possessions and into their external affairs. Ketch didn’t mind that either. For as unassuming as he was, there was thin vein of pride in him that liked being a safe harbor for someone else’s dirty secrets.

Tonight’s run had been sedate and Ketch figured the Worthams must have just called on him because they were comfortable with him and because he didn’t try to make small talk between destinations. He dropped them at three different addresses, waiting approximately 45 minutes each time.

The driving itself had been smooth, though, and the city relatively quiet. He’d leaned against the hood of the car at the curb while he waited, smoking cigarettes, listening to music filter out of the car window, and watching the wind move leaves and debris down the street. In essence, it was a mobile version of his usual late night brooding, he just got paid a little for it. At the end of the night Ketch had the fare, a hefty tip, and a headache from the Wortham’s insidiously low-key brand of arguing that was an irritating mixture of passive-aggressive and barely-leashed fury.

********

The street had been mostly quiet, but as Ketch continued down it, the noise-level increased from Dockside’s usual undercurrent buzz of debauchery to a rising din of chaos while the scent of smoke grew thicker. Another turn found him suddenly in the midst of a hive of city personnel: firefighters, ambulance crew, Watch members buzzing around cordoning off sections of street and warehouses, speaking into comm devices. Ketch thought he detected a faint orange glow beyond one of the trucks, but it was hard to tell and he could go no further anyway. The street was choked with glass, ash, trash, twisted plastic, and metal. A Watch member passed right in front of him without seeming to notice his presence, stretching yellow tape inches shy of his lapel.

Ketch watched for another five minutes before giving up on trying to figure out what the hell had happened and turning to go. Steps crunched over what felt like glass and a scrap of paper fluttered by and stuck to the toe of his shoe. Kicking to dislodge it sent the paper fluttering free and beneath the sole of his shoe jagged bits of dull glass fanned outwards. He couldn’t tell what he’d stepped on initially, but there on a dark spot of asphalt was a darker faceted stone, so deeply red it was nearly black and so similar to one the Sylph had given him that he instinctively touched the top of his thigh, seeking its unobtrusive outline in his pocket to ensure it was still there. Beneath his thumb, it was as cool and silent as it’d been for weeks. Dropping to a crouch, Ketch glanced backwards over his shoulder before tipping forward for a closer inspection.

Touching the tip of an index finger to the stone was like touching an electrical socket. No. It was like touching an inverted whirlpool that’d been electrified. It wasn’t a feeling he was used to; far more forceful than the cool flow of an imprint and almost blisteringly hot. His first instinct was to draw back from the stone as if from a hot stove but his second was to push back and see what happened. Not having reversed the direction of his ability in some time made his attempt rusty and weak, and he could feel the stone’s resistance to the backflow as if he’d run up against a solid wall. Instead of the hammer he meant his force to be, it was more akin to a stream of water from a hose: enough the keep the stone’s forceful progression at bay, but not enough to breach the borders of the stone itself. Maybe that was fortunate in its own way. Out came his handkerchief then and, wrapping it around the tip of his finger, Ketch touched the stone once more. With the barrier of cotton, the stone was cool and inactive and Ketch felt confident enough in that to bundle the stone into his pocket and start back down the street, detouring the warehouse carnage while thumbing his phone to life. The number he tapped in was one he’d never forgotten.

“Hey. Yeah. I just came across something I think you’ll find interesting.”

(This post ties in with this playable and also the word prompt 'fall' from here.)
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