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Hayden quirked his head to the side and grinned a little, he swung the Bren down, he let it hang there, over one arm, almost easily. He nodded, "What do you mean more practical." He looked at Sean then patted the WW2 era work house LMG, "There's nothing more practical then a Bren gun my son." He chuckles, "Let's just hope I don't have to use those pan mags eh? Thirty round roars are already massive." He grins, and stretches hiking the weapon up over his shoulder, "You just wait...and I'll try and keep my demons under wraps." He grins brightly, "Alright...so here we are. Guns, good workhorses. Now we need more work. And start to gain some idea about our target." he sniffs, "I'm wondering if we shouldn't try and make a deal with the dev..." He trails off.

Victor's arrival with the amazons beside him was almost what he was about to reference. The warrioress with the face bling motioned. And the other with the tattoo smiled, "Come with us." And victor leads the way to the limo again. The Amazons having the crew put their weapons into the trunk of the limo and then board up the pair jumping into the front, taking over driving.

Hayden as they are loading their guns whispers, "Take what you can, give nothing up that you can help. We need his help right now, but I rather think he could fleece us for everything we have and leave us without a lead to our name. So don't let our mission slip if you can. I know I'm not all that trusting, but if this guy could I really do think he'd drop us in a heart beat." He sniffs and places his Bren in the trunk then leans over and pets the barrel of his gun, "Don't worry sweetie we'll be back." And ducks out of the way as they close the trunk.

Hayden heads for the door into the vehicle but stops at the last moment holding the door open, "Ladies first." He grins at Sean, "Come on then lovey." And gets ready to duck back out of the way. It's not until everyone else is in that he gets into the limo.

Victor waiting there and the limo starts to roll once everyone is inside.

Victor is quiet for a time, but he sits there. Suave and fair. But with a roguish quality to him at the same time. A huge smile on his face, peaked goatee showing off abit maybe and his fine suit, which now that everyone is close seems to have some kevlar weaved into it. He sits taking up the entire back seat while the four mercs are relegated to the side seats. Victor nods, "So then, to brass tacks yes? What are four prime end operatives like you doing here in Matanbai huh? Tagayi even. Gods of the old countries I mean look at you." He gestures to them, "Anyone of you could show your face at a diamond mine and get the security chief position by presense alone. Live like kings or queens after ward on the money of telling other gun hands what to do. But yet here you are." He hums, "Yes, there's something off. I wanna know what it is hmm? Give me a little sugar? Hmmm?" He chuckles, "Recompense maybe? for your first job? And this meeting I'm going to get you?" He wiggles his eyebrows at the women as if his charms would be enough to get them to start talking, or...maybe stripping. Who knows?

Hayden hides his snort of derision and amusement behind what looks like a fake sneeze, "This guy...can't decide if I want to hate him or love him." He says out of the corner of his mouth to Bethan. He then clears his throat, "Just...wanted to see what the place is all about." He starts with, "Hired on by the Red Cross as muscle...and then well you came along." Certainly rang with a little bit of truth somehow. He looks around the car to see what everyone else thought of the ploy.
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Bethan nodded to Yekatarina, taking a brief look at him before looking back at her, . In some strange way, despite the fact that Yekatarina was the person she was trained to probably kill if there was any sudden shift in the plates of geopolitics, she liked her more than Sean at this point in time, hell, maybe even trusted her more. What a fucking world, she thought to herself, as she unloaded and checked the Russian pistol over. A simpler built tool, and no doubt explained the cheaper cost.

"That's his appeal. For better and worse." Bethan replied, the GSh a strange pistol even in spite of the piece feeling different, she had to admit, it had it's appeal.
"Hardly like you can open bottles with a Glock. But that is an accurate, reliable tool. And about as common as the clap in the West. Simple enough too." She added, trading back the Glock for the GSh that belonged to Yekatarina, knowing with Victor here, it was time to get going.

---

As the team made their way over, Sean could certainly feel they were going to get asked some questions, and already the look he'd sent back at Bethan, and vice-versa, confirmed enough. While loading their rifles into the boot, or trunk of the car, Hayden had his own comment to make out of earshot. Looking directly at Hayden, Sean pfft'd, and gave his two cents.
"I fucking said this, nothing comes for free, Hayden. He knows his hand. He just doesn't want to get thrown out of the poker game when he goes all in." Sean retorted in a hushed whisper, putting both his FAL and P226 inside, before then heading back to the entry and clambering in. Bethan did the same and kept quiet, on a silent agreement as they clambered into the side seats of the limo. Pulling away, the two stayed silent for the most part, well, until the question came. The inevitable question that they knew would come.

The comment to Bethan by Hayden was enough to make her feel a little uncomfortable, and Bethan realised in that moment when asked it was best to probably let Sean handle this one. He was trying a ploy, but Bethan wasn't in, though yet, Sean was looking like he knew something going on. As much as she fucking hated him, she knew Sean's use. She wasn't stupid, she understood full well that when it came to being a full of shit liar, Sean Mason was the best at it. A world class bullshitter who could convince you that water was dry, as he leaned in, taking a sip of water.

"Well....me and my partner got dropped into the north of the country, hunting down some bastard in COGS that had a price on his head. When that didn't work out, I thought to try our luck wherever the hell anyone would take us. I'm a criminal back home, and it doesn't look like I can return. Got caught in the drugs trade, but I was looking for a way out anyway into security work. So here we are, I suppose, Victor. Brought my wife along for the trip, and she is fucking loving every second of it." He began, and in honesty, not far off reality. The scary thing about Sean was, it wasn't even the fact it was a lie, it was what came with the package of the burly Ulsterman with an awful lot of truth in that. Bethan gave a disaproving luck, the Irish charm of him certainly embelishing the truth, but in a way that would want you to almost carry on drinking to hear what more shit he had to say.

"I was thinking Colombia was the place to go, but you know what....I almost kinda think I can see why Lonely Planet say this is the hotspot for mercs to go to. We can make ourselves some dollar. And besides...you think I could work at a diamond mine with a criminal conviction? And besides, you think diamond mine security would pay as well as what I know a firm like yours would in the end? Shit, Victor. I'd be crap at managing people, doing paperwork, it ain't my thing. But getting the job done, getting my hands dirty...and making my retirement money so I can find a nice beach in Spain, now that sounds like a fuckin' plan." Sean's Irish tone was almost poetic, almost a wry chuckle forming.

"So yeah, your contact sounds like an interesting connection. These two over there," Nodding to Yekatarina and Hayden, "Probably ran out of road wherever they were, took whatever they could before we met. That's why we're not exactly working in the mines. But we're still capable, as you saw. And now we have proper tools...I have a funny feeling you have more work and more diamonds than a mine could give us. Call it a guess Victor, but I have a feeling that this mutually works for us."
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She managed not to roll her eyes at Victor’s attitude, starting to understand the amazons’ plight of dealing with this all the time. The Russian let the others speak their piece first. Some of the most effective lies were based on truth. Nice to see Sean seemed to be headed in that direction, at least as far as she knew, as it more or less matched what she was going to do. If the others had spun some wild tale, she might have had to adjust her line of bullshit on the spot. Sean even led into it by accident. She left a brief pause after Sean was done, waiting to see if Bethan wanted to add anything onto it before speaking up. “And some fucking road that was, all the way from the South.” Yekaterina chuckled, “Leeeeeeet's just say my former employers and I aren’t on speaking terms anymore, and I thought it would be wise to make new friends elsewhere and get out of sight and out of mind as they say. Where I came from, not only do the walls have ears, but they like to get friendly with walls elsewhere so they know what’s going on all around the globe. And unfortunately, a cozy, high-paying job at a diamond mine isn’t the most inconspicuous way to disappear for a while. And as Sean here pointed out, this comes with a lot less paperwork, so here I am.”

Good thing they were seated on the side seats, because that allowed her to see both Victor and some of her companions, watching for any hint of two and two coming together. The incident wasn’t covered on Russian news, then again a lot wasn’t, but the western world had a knack for digging up the Motherland’s secrets, and who knows where a corporation like SAMC had ears of its own? A dozen civilian and five GRU casualties. Could that slip through the intelligence gathering net? Surely not. Only question then was if the news trickled down to the other three operators, if they were still in favor with their employers by that point. The others will probably take exception to that second part when - not if - it comes up. Seemed to be the part Moscow was bothered by at the very least, though for different reasons.

“I wouldn’t call what we have ‘proper’ tools quite yet, we’re still missing a few things, but that’s nothing another handful of weird coal couldn’t fix.” They were still pretty much naked when rounds started flying. Personally, she would’ve liked four class 4 plates at least for her inner peace, but that would probably remain nothing more than a dream for a few weeks or more. “And Sean? If you’re wanted in Britain and they find you on your beach in Spain, aren’t you getting sent right back to old Albion? I guess on the bright side, you’d get to fly with British Airways for free, silver lining right?” She added with a grin before turning back to Victor, asking a question of her own to test the waters. “This introduction you mentioned? Renting us out to an associate of yours?”
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As the Limo moved along they spoke. Victor smiling rather brightly. Deviously even, "Ahhh so a quartet of prime grade mercs came on into this grand nation for so many different reasons. Ahhh seems like a grand fantasy almost. So few come here for reasons outside of wanting to cause hell." as if to prove his point the limo rounds onto the high way, and rounding another bend there's a four car pile up and there's fighting between SAMC and COGS mercs on the side of the road. Several dead bodies or people dying. But the traffic just moves along. It's almost like being on an East Indian road where it's four lanes across but there are 10 lanes worth of cars side by side. It's incredible. And almost no one seems to be worried about the fire fight in fact.

The lyrically speaking Amazon clicks and sings something and her partner hums, "Just a minor scuffle sir. Looks like the COGS folk will win though." Victor hums. Watching as they pass, "Everyday it gets worse. Mr. Muloway the CEO of SAMC, is expecting something big. So we're starting to...stealthily prepare." The Driver clicks something and looks over her shoulder at Victor admonishingly. The other nodding, "Sir...is it wise?" Victor waves them off, "They're mine my dear. I'll tell them anything I damn well please. Obai and the others on the Board can kiss my ass when I'm briefing my own." A very clear hint of possessiveness there. Almost dangerously so. He clears his throat. "Sorry...that may have come out wrong." He leans back on his seat, "I'll explain at some point."

He goes silent just for a little. Then takes another breath. But is cut off as Hayden says, "Sir listen...can we just you know. Find out what's going on? You said we're meeting someone?"

Victor blinks and seems a little lost then smacks the side of his head, "Ahhh I forgot I'm sorry. I'm just so happy you see. Yes yes." He sniffs, "You see, I have more work for you. But if I start utilizing such an effective team like yourselves so much so quickly, the other board members will get a sniff of it. And they'll try and take you. So I'm not so much renting you out, as loaning you out with a high return to a friend of mine let's call him." Ahead a sign, for several turn off coming up, "Outside of the company lands like where we all met, there is lines of power drawn across the city. One big job like the one I gave you is a taster. But someone else I know can make a great deal of use of you all." One of the signs ahead reads, Downtown another Bayo'yigai Residential and a third Tiulo Slums both the slums and the residential on the same turn off. And that's the way the limo turns.

Victor grins, "I'm taking you to meet a gang lord. Name of Melani Bowaylo, opposite of a thorn in my side Edgar Malkia. Melani, runs a gang that deals in protections, drugs, guns and land scams. She could use your help maybe against Edgar." His eyes narrow, "I urge you to stay away from Malkia. Edgar Malkia is a blood thirsty, blood drinking psychopath. Who kills women, and chops mens hands off with a machete from what I hear. Almost cut one of my girls up there once." The second of the two turns and taps a spot just behind her ear where there is just a faint scar, "He tried to cut me when Victor and I went to talk to him."

Hayden nods, "So you want us to work with this Bowaylo?" Victor smiles and nods as the Limo rolls into the slums, "Yes. Both gangs operate out of Tiulo here. Luckily we're already in Melani's turf. so there won't be any molotov's thrown at us as we drive." He grins, "You'll love her. Melani is a gem. Just be ready to fight if you encounter some of Malkia's savages."
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The conversation glided past what Sean thought might have thought it would have potentially gotten stagnant, thankfully the fact that there was enough truth padding the real motive they were all here covering their tracks. Victor, if he were to find out Sean reasoned, guessed he'd no longer want them in his employ. Though the way he was speaking, Sean could even see the way he was beginning to work.

For a scumbag he could see what Victor was going through, maybe he wasn't as slick or as efficient as Bethan was, but Sean knew how to read people, high and mighty or not. The way he spoke to his guards, and the possesive nature he had suggested almost a bet he was making on their ability. No doubt it reflected in the fact that he was going against the board. Sean made a very convenient mental note right there.

Whatever the fuck Victor was doing, he was doing it on his own back. Obai Muloway more likely than not didn't know the full scale of what his Directors were doing under him as CEO, and that meant it wasn't going to just be warfare in the slums, but warfare at corporate. He might have someone higher up in the board that was friendly with him, but right now, Victor was going rogue. That meant if he got found out, Sean knew their little party in turn were dead. And given that so far COGS had shot at them, there was no guarantee that would work for them. Although, anything could happen.

It was like walking on a tightrope over a volcano, and it would more likely than not go awry in time. Either with Victor literally taking what he wanted through Sean and the team, or falling down and taking them all with him.

A reassuring thought, but one that he put away. And knew he would share with the team if they hadn't already started thinking about it, when Victor talked about the rest. So they were being pimped out to some thugs, it sounded like. Sean didn't like it, but fuck it, they had gotten paid so far. They would get more no doubt from this, and perhaps, some other connections. The description did not sound positive, and well, the more they heard, the more they were getting into some dangerous shit.

The poverty outside was staggering, it was row after row of tinshacks and mudhuts, the stuff that got shown on Red Nose Day or other programmes back home of kids in dirt-poor poverty. War only made that even worse, and hell, the more Sean thought about it, while the big bad city had opportunity, it had equal chance to join them in that squalor or worse, end up dead.

"Sean, this your territory, gangsters and all, yeah?" Bethan asked, Sean chuckling as he shrugged, looking back from out the window.
"The fella who drinks blood sounds like one scary bastard. Proper Heart of Darkness stuff, like. Rules through fear though, guy probably thinks he's fucking immortal from it. Alright, I'm interested to hear what's in store for us with Melani." Sean replied to the team and general and then Victor, looking across to Bethan after ignoring her, Yekatarina and Hayden in turn, before turning his gaze back to Victor, not wanting to ask questions but still knowing full well it was going to be a different job. A risky question, but then again, Victor had gotten his in.
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So they were getting introduced to the Tangayi bratva. Or a ragtag bunch of idiots with guns made from boiler plates and hose clamps, they’d see in a few minutes. “How do we tell your friend’s people from the other side? Probably won’t be as easy as red and blue bandanas.” Yekaterina wanted to know at the mention of being ready to fight the other side. On the plus side, if their temporary new boss was dealing with guns, they needed a supplier. Unless they were actually trying to be the next Khyber Pass. Probably wouldn’t be their target directly, but you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? And if most of the guns in the country came from the Hyena, then these people were either connected to his - or their - lackeys, most likely as local distributors, or they were competition. Maybe they know people, who know people, who know the man, the myth, the legend himself. Maybe they hated his guts and had some dirt to share. Either way, there could be some sort of thread to pull. They just had to be careful about it. She liked her kneecaps intact and all fingers attached.

The other guy’s description, on the other hand, painted a clear picture of the type of person - and thus an entire organization to a certain extent - the removal of which she signed up for the army in the first place. Forget the loony bin, straight into the trash. A certified piece of human garbage even the team’s Welsh moral compass wouldn’t have to feel sorry for. Yes, there was usually a difference between the group and individual members, but the way she saw it, they either worked for someone like this because they wanted to and shooting that was public service, or they had nothing else left to do in life and then one might consider it a fucked up form of mercy. But an arsehole was hard to tell from a person through one’s sights anyway.

Unlike Sean, she was going to ask questions. She expected maybe half would be answered at most, and she was going to ask the same things to Bowaylo anyway, but strike the iron while it’s hot. “Anything we should know about the slum or Bowaylo? Such as what is her turf and what is bandit country?” She went to reach for the map, mouthing a quiet curse as she remembered the map was in her rig in the trunk, “How well equipped and organized are Malkia’s thugs? Are we looking at a one and done type of deal or long-term help? And has your friend indicated to you what she wants? Must have, at least a hint, since you decided to bring us and not an accountant, a cook and two janitors. What is it? Another kidnapping, removing undesirables, scaring people into submission or just ‘Go there and do as much damage to the wannabe vampire as you can.’?” She rapid-fired some more questions, trying to conceal that her patience with Victor’s corporate way of talking a lot but saying very little beginning to wear thin.
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Victor grins brightly, "Honestly I could answer every question you've all just thrown my way, but I think it'd be alot better for you to hear it from the source herself." The limo comes to a stop and Victor's two warrioress amazonian African badasses open the door for them. Victor someone despite havign to climb over everyone ends up getting out first.

And as the others are clamoring out he's already walking into the midst of what looks like a bustling food court yard. People from the neighbourhood gathering to grab food, sit and eat on available space. It's a view of the simpler people oriented things here. Despite it being in a gang infested area, it's a light amid the darkness. The people seem safe and happy to some extent. The actual fighting perhaps far removed? Who really knows. It seems someone is keeping this neighbourhood from going to the dogs anyway.

Before Hayden even thinks of following though he goes over and pops the trunk of the limo, and digs out the guns. No matter how it might seem that Victor thinks it's safe and the two African Amazons seem unarmed, Hayden is paranoid, and maybe a little cracked and he's not going anywhere without his new killer tool. He slings the WW2 era LMG over his shoulder, and waits for the others. He looks around, "I just feel like we ought to have our iron nearby just in case. Just carry it in a way that doesn't look like we're ready to draw." He waits for the others then starts moving in Victor's wake.

They move through the area with all the eateries and kitchens. Hayden grabbing a free sample of some kind of dried meat, he'll get the squirts from something eventually why not risk it early? He gnaws at the rather nice tasting and textured dried something as they follow Victor out of the courtyard and into the shade and shadows cast by the buildings around them. Some looking like apartments, some looking like corrugated sheet metal made houses. There's brick in places, or mud walls in others. It's a mish mash of the poorer styles of building all over the place.

And then suddenly light. Ahead Victor is throwing his arms open and calling, "Melani! Baby! I've come back!"

The sight that greets the four mercs though as they enter the light is something almost out of a horror movie perhaps. There are people trussed up on walls, hanging by chains, hooks and rope. Atleast three bodies hung from balconies around the large open area. The evidence of having been hung with barbed wire clear as day. Makeshift cages and cells built into the ground. Gang members patrolling the area. And others on the roof tops around. Most of them armed like the toughs and mercs they've seen already.

And sitting on a throne made of what looks like an old buss engine, and four seperate cars is a woman with long dread locks, tattoos and scars on her face, and swinging a long thing shiv in one hand around like it's a conductors baton. She looks over and spots Victor then Hayden, Sean, Bethan and Katrina. The woman, obviously Melani growls, "Victor, what the shit are you doing here again? And who the fuck are those four? You're bringing people here without letting me know? Who the fuck are they?"

And Victor, only grins, as if the horror of the yard around them is invisible to the man.
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And of course Victor weaseled out of answering anything. He was a corporate executive after all, it would be weird if he didn’t. But that itself wasn’t even the most infuriating part, oh no. That honor belonged to Victor admitting he knew the answers, but choosing not to answer. She managed to not groan or roll her eyes in frustration. Maybe growing up in Brezhnev and Andropov’s Soviet Union was useful for something after all. She followed Hayden’s lead and dug her gear from the back of the limo, slinging the rifle, set to safe and with the stock folded, over one shoulder and the rigging over the other. Not because she thought they would need it, but because it was pretty much all she had to her name except the clothes on her back and a sole diamond in her wallet, and like Hell she’d leave the stuff out of her sight unless absolutely necessary.

Passing by numerous stalls offering various food, ranging from completely unidentifiable through vaguely familiar to something she was almost certain was a rat, Victor led them deeper into the district. After a while of moving through the district, their path snaking in a way that made remembering where they came from a bit of a challenge, they finally rounded a corner and…

…And first impressions were not great. Asking Victor too many questions likely carried a risk if he didn’t like them, sure, but she had a feeling that doing the same here would’ve had much more dire consequences. Before now, she considered the locals to be somewhere between chimps and neanderthals on the mentality scale. Now, she had proof of it. And leaning toward the chimpanzee side by the looks of it, except these people had guns and could probably swim. Caution would have to be exercised here, and her previous conviction that weapons would not be needed here was slowly vanishing. Not like they would help against these numbers. Maybe as a quick exit. And if this was described as the better alternative to a complete butcher? Either the other guy was that bad, or Victor lied. Normally, one wouldn’t wish for the latter, but here…

She slowed down until she was side by side with Bethan, “Hey, could you do me a solid? If it ever looks like I’m going to get captured, vent my head, will you? I’ll save you a spot in Hell next to an AC unit.” the Russian whispered to the Welshwoman, keeping her attention at the guards to keep her mind off the mutilated bodies surrounding them, not quite managing to hide her apprehension.

“Your well-dressed associate here,” Yekaterina started in response to Melani’s question and Victor’s silence, gesturing to the latter as she spoke and avoiding the word ‘friend’ for good measure, “said you have some problems that need solving and brought us along to do just that.”
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It was highly discomforting in the arrival to the slum, the two Brits staying quiet as they took their weaponry and followed the Russian, the South African and the two tall, imposing figures of the larger African women. They seemed out of their depth, this slum feeling less poor, yet even more on the brink in what horrors they were likely to come into. For now, the two held back from the free samples, and just followed, curious about what they were getting. Neither were fully prepared, and even in spite of Bethan's willingness to try and see some good in humanity, felt like she was seeing none of it. Not even Sean would, becuase when they walked into that room, that all changed.

The bodies all over, and absolute brutality was like if someone rolled the worst of Bosnia and Iraq into one for the two, the sight of dead people, bodies flayed and hung up on barbed wire like some fucked up, insane trophy. There was no words for it. Sean was sickened, but Bethan was positively horrified. Shit, it made putting those poor bastards out of their misery seem like an actual positive. Perhaps a bullet to the head was a compliment, a mark of respect compared to what these fuckers were doing to themselves. And these were the good guys, the people paying them, Bethan wondered...she like Yekatarina hoped the other guy was at least worse, or a lie. And as the Russian muttered to her, the Welshwoman muttered back too.

"Same for me too. Fucking hell..." Bethan tried to keep quiet, Sean keeping his stomach together as he followed through, watching as Victor got a bollocking from Melani, the big shiv in her hand clearly not without use.

Diamonds may have paid, but in here, they were good as dead money or not, when this Melani was angry. She had that fire in her- like the Amazons almost, yet she seemed even more positively fucking possessed, and dismissive of Victor. He let Yekatarina do the talking first, walking into frame and nodding to Yekatarina.
"The sort of problems we seem to be able to fix. We have tools, and we're happy to abide. Like she says, just here as the fella says so. Now, between you, what's the gig?" Sean started, knowing full well the tension in the room was high, but even in spite of everything, he had to defuse it a little, and the Irish wit just trickled through.

"Please don't say we're turning more people into kebabs though."
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Victor with a smile steps off to the side. A brief look at the two Super-African women would say that they are not pleased to be here. They follow along with Victor as he heads for what looks like a bar. He posts up there ordering something that looks like it's smoking. Hayden looks around unable to keep his eyes away from all the gore. He swallows thickly, and rubs his forehead. The gore and dead. Being at the front of the pack he could be forgiven being unable to miss it. But what he can't be forgiven for is the rush he feels.

He gulps and looks up at Melani while at the same time seeing a double image, a different woman a different place. The woman screaming Do it already Moses! We've come this far! In his mind he can feel a heavy Squad Assault Weapon in his hands. And the trigger pinned down to the iron.

Hayden gasps and shakes his head. And look sup in time for Melani to surge down from her throne leading with that shiv. Without really thinking about it Hayden pulls his tomahawk, swinging it in an upper cut, which Melani catches, batting aside, she dashes forward almost using the long thin twisted piece of metal like a rapier. And it's done in a moment. The tip of the shiv pressed to Hayden's throat, ready to drive in. She growls, "Why didn't you finish it?" She says angrily. Hayden's lips part slightly in an almost evil grin, "Why didn't you?" Melani hums looking down at where the diamond shaped head of the tomahawk it pressed to her ribs. Hayden swallows, "Yeah exactly." Melani lowers her shiv and Hayden does the same. But a second later she grabs Hayden by the chin and stares into his eyes, "You've got a touch of madness in there don't you pretty boy?" Hayden just narrows his eyes and shoves the hand away, "Don't have a clue what you mean."

Melani takes a step away, then as she's climbing back up to her throne she addresses Sean, Beth and Kat, "You're all pretty interesting folks to be paling around with something like him. Fine I can make use of you. Victor I don't know what game you're fucking playing here, but thank you. I have new toys."

Melani grins and motions to the guards, "Spread out. I wanna talk to these ones alone more or less."

Hayden slides his tomahawk away but keeps his hand nice and close to it just in case. Melani speaks again, "I'm not going to be sending you lot anywhere to butcher nothing first off. That's my job. And it keeps my neighbourhood safe. Because Malkia's thugs don't come this way knowing they may get strung up, maybe made into sausage." She sniffs, "But to work for me, you got to know the players. So, I'm throwing you to the lions first thing. Tiulo is split almost right in two right now. Malkia and I have almost equal footing. Except for one thing, Malkia has his foot in the door over in the nicer residential area. And I need to know how."

She grabs a piece of something meat looking off a platter using it like a baton for a moment, splattering some sort of red sauce on the floor, "I want you to go over, 20 blocks to the northwest, you'll be in Malkia's territory. Look around, observe his people, observe his turf. And see if you can learn anything about him. And then, when you have some intell. come back and talk to me about it. Tell me what you learned. And then maybe I'll give you some other work. For this job, I have 5 gemstones for each of you, no more. Don't think you're worth much more then that yet." She bites into the hunk of red sauced meat then growls with a mouthful, "Victor! Finish your drink then come and talk to me." She rounds on the four, "You four, get the fuck moving."

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She had no fucking clue what was happening. Psychopath grand melee, blue-on-blue on top of it, unfolding before her very own eyes. And not much she could do to break it up. Sure, she could drop the rigging and have the rifle trained on the two weirdos in no time, but with the two this close to each other and with the stock folded, the chance of hitting Hayden by accident was too high. She could’ve drawn the Gesha, but what good would either of those be? It’d be about five seconds at most before Melani’s goons came running, and then what? End of the road. So she did the only thing that made any sense in this situation: Backed up, gesturing for the two Britons to do the same, putting some space between herself and the knife-wielding maniac.

Yekaterina didn’t need to be told twice to leave, taking the lead and extending her steps to get out of that place as soon as she was able while still maintaining the illusion of a dignified exit. “Jesus Christ. And I thought Chechnya was bad. I wish I had taken time to make friends in the air force, one Sukhoi with a few air-fuel bombs in there would be a service to humanity. Probably the same deal on the other side of the line, too, I’m afraid we’re about to see.” She grumbled once she was sure they were out of earshot, stopping to put the Poyas-A rig she’d bought on under her jacket and retrieved the map, folding it out on a nearby empty stall to try to figure out where they were, where they were going and which way they should run if things turned sour. Maybe they should’ve kept the Caddie, if not as transport, then to be sacrificed to the mob while they disappeared.

“So, how do we want to approach this? Like last time, we’ll be pretty hard to miss around here, unless we can find an errant can of brown shoe cream.” She stated the obvious, “Think we’ll have a better chance if we spread out and stay in visual contact, or do you want to take a chance as a group or two pairs?” Yekaterina offered, inwardly wondering how much more use they’d get out of the phones provided to them by Victor as they walked. It’d be exceptionally rotten luck if one of them got hit with the ‘We are sorry, but your credit is insufficient.’ message when trying to let the others know they were being surrounded by angry-looking locals armed with crowbars and carving knives. This would’ve been easier up North, where she and bethan could’ve - no, would’ve been obliged by local customs - to cover their heads, and they’d all be able to blend in a little more. Still, could’ve been worse, too. From what she remembered from school, white Britons would probably be hard-pressed to find a friend just South of Matanbai’s border.
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The scene was disintergrating, fast, and Sean and Bethan both felt the same about how unhinged Melani was being. It was one pull of a finger away from turning dirty, making their Mexican Standoff look almost ordinary in this situation, watching Hayden nearly get stabbed and impaled on a pound-shop piece of metal. The more Bethan watched the more he watched as Hayden seemed to be falling apart, unafraid of dying, unafraid of letting go. Something she'd seen earlier, that fire in his eyes. Like a lack of control was in there, and it worried her. He was capable, no doubt all the shit he'd done was legitimate. But he'd sold his soul to the devil too long ago, and it was gone. Shit, she was feeling the same in this hellhole, Melani now calming down as Bethan looked only to Yekatarina and following her move, not Sean in that moment, a mutual look.

The gang leader explained the job, and the two Brits stayed quiet, listening throughout. It wasn't a lot of money, hell, it was nothing much compared to their last, but it was an in. But this couldn't continue. Sean made a mental note, and didn't say anything stupid. The girl had hung up bodies in here. He had no intention of joining them, as arrogant as he could be, he knew she was batshit insane and if this was the good person in this situation, she didn't want to learn what it would turn into if they were up against Malkia. Nodding in agreement, Sean made sure he made a mental note to make an exit strategy before they ended up way in over their heads here.

Leaving the building, Sean and Bethan didn't hestiate either to agree with Yekatarina, now out of earshot, the former replying first to Yekatarina's shock.
"Well, we're in the heart of darkness now, girl. More skin on offer in there than a whorehouse. Nuke it from space, yeah?" Sean only said to her, a wry fucked up smirk on his face, trying to almost comparmentalise the situation by not staying in horror, but making what any squaddie would do in that situation - call it for the insanity it was. Bethan sighed in response, not taking that same tack, looking across at the map and quickly figuring out the situation and what they needed to do. The suggestion of pairs rung out to her as well- she knew who she'd rather work with.

"Pairs sounds like a plan, Kat. I checked mine, looks like it's fine for now. I suggest we hide our weapons, me and Kat get headcoverings on, Sean and Hayden find a vehicle in the neighborhood to steal and create a distraction while we get some intel, gives us transport outside of SAMC's provision too so when we need to we can get out of here if the situation goes downhill. We can find out where he's based, what his crews do, and then go back. Should be enough for Melani to act on." Bethan replied, her reasoned approach rebutted quickly by Sean, who had seen something the others hadn't perhaps noticed.

==

"Hold the fuck on. We're getting paid five diamonds. I know it's an intel job, but we just paid 20 to go steal a truck. I'm not saying we're being lowballed, but there's no guarantee we've just been shit up by Victor here, surely?" Sean's comment was horror to Bethan, who was now even further from believing it had any shred of reality left in him after today's incidents.

"What, you've got ideas now? Shit, here we go..."

"We're being paid five fucking diamonds. She's paying us a pittance to go deal with some warlord who would gut us worse than those poor bastards in her house. And if Malkia's a threat, then he can't be alone, I bet you he's got support if he's putting up a fight. No doubt that Victor wants them dead because well....COGS are helping them...and this is the easiest way to get at them. Seems rather fuckin' logical?"

"What, we try and go our own way...against a guy that just gave us a lead up into SAMC's leadership? Oh fuck, and the guys that shot us earlier, Sean? Some psycho warlord who is paranoid as shit isn't going to kill us on sight, you don't think? Fuck, the price of stupid goes up ten dollars a barrel and I'm going to drill a hole in your fucking head at this rate." She replied, almost flabergasted at the thought, totally in disbelief that he would even think that through- he was suggesting playing with even more fire than they had already.

"They're both gangsters playing each side. Way I see it, law of the jungle, everyone's a fucking psycho and they're hoping we stay on side. There's no loyalty here, and this gets us nowhere but loyal to Victor. Which may I remind you if you didn't so fucking noticed, Victor's doing this outside of SAMC's remit to make a point. If he pisses it up, he's dead meat. Malkia on the other hand, might reward the intel we have and give us an idea of who his contact is in COGS. They don't know us personally after all, and in exchange for a favour, we get closer. Then we can find and whack this Hyena bastard and get out of here. Not sure about you, but this place is hardly five stars."

"Sean, WE are dead fucking meat if we do that. You cannot be serious." Bethan looked over in Yekatarina's direction after, hoping she agreed in the least, that her partner was being ridiculous at this point- for her, a veteran medic it just seemed out of order to break from that line of control. Whatever his fucked up mind had in play was clearly willing to play the sides, but with that came the risks involved.

"I'm not saying we do it. I'm saying we think about it. Staying loyal to Victor is going to last us so long, Hayden, you must agree, right? Just remember that when Melani has us hanging by meathooks and Victor is smiling when he realises he could abuse some Westerners for nothing. The guy has plenty of diamonds and clearly wants to be a bigshot, and that road is gonna run out sometime. I've seen fuckers like them. Bigger they are, harder they fall. There's no single way up the chain here, way things work here, you beg, borrow or steal to get somewhere." Sean added, sighing, checking his shitty mobile over, then turning back to Bethan.

"Fine. Let's try your plan. Hayden, I guess we can go find a Hilux or something to go steal. We need wheels, gives us more of a chance later. Yekatarina, Beth, if you find out what you can and call us, we'll go from there. If you need help, we'll join in. Try not to get shot at though, yeah?" Sean relented, knowing that even if he had a point, it was probably best not to go with it yet. But the thought was out there now, and he knew that if there was another job that paid as badly as this, Sean was going to reconsider the arrangement here if they weren't getting anywhere and were being put in harm's way.
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As Bethan and Sean explained their plans, Yekaterina tried to fit her rifle into the backpack to hide it. It was getting crowded in there, and her efforts to conceal the barrel sticking up out of the bag by wrapping a spare shirt around it were interrupted by the lovebirds getting into each other's hair again.

“If there were ten of us, I’d say that Sean and Hayden could go talk to Malkia, see if he’s willing to deal. But if the wizards in his head tell him you looked at him funny and he turns you into cheburek filling, that’d be 50% losses for us and we can’t afford that, our mission outcome is doubtful enough as it is. Besides, we’re unproven, sent out on a trial run. If she’s as paranoid as I think she might be, then I got 100 Rubles that say we’ll have a tail.” She tried to break up the argument. She didn’t think Victor had any reason to do that when he sent them to steal the truck, but here, she wasn’t that sure. “And what intel do we have that Malkia would be interested in in the first place? We can claim that Victor is striking out on his own, but this isn’t a political process in mother Russia, you can’t just say ‘He’s bad, trust me, I know when I see that.’ and expect it to work, I don’t think our word holds much weight around here. And I don’t think gangsters and warlords are someone we want to hitch our wagon to. If you want to play the sides, then I suggest we stick with Victor until we have some hard evidence that he's working outside of the company hierarchy and go talk to someone from SAMC directly. Fuck, we should’ve kept that MAN dossier. And even then, if we’re willing to sell out Victor, that wouldn’t paint us as a reliable workforce, would it?”

Sean’s ideas, however, did give her an idea. “Either way, I think Sean is partially correct. Having dirt on people doesn’t hurt as long as they don’t learn about it. And when someone decides to throw us to the sharks, we could use it to buy us some friends - however temporary - and burn whichever bastard tried to screw us over in one move. So I say from now on, we hold onto documents, maybe see about at least some of us getting a dictaphone or a phone that can record audio to try and record important conversations - like the slimeball revealing that he’s working outside of company chain of command in the limo on the way here, that wasn’t the smartest thing to do by any metric - maybe even a camera in case we come across something we can’t hold onto.” She presented her thoughts, the thought of selling out Victor having crossed her mind on the ride here, Sean’s thoughts extending that line of thought to anyone outside of the three westerners currently standing around her.
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The quartet hurried out ahead of two of Melani's thugs stalking behind them. It wasn't until they are out in the eatery that it's safe to talk and talk they do. Hayden looking a little haunted after what had happened. It had been so quick. He shakes his head and tunes back into his teammates? Yeah we'll go with that.

He listens to the ideas, looking back over his shoulder to see some of Melani's men watching them from afar. He directs the others out a little more, "Come on." They start walking down the street, "So first objective. Wheels. Should have kept that caddy you're right. Even if it was a loaner. Jeep, Hummer, fucking Ural even. We're bound to find something around here." They kept walking and he whispered, "We've got atleast two of that crazy bitches thugs following us. Keep moving for now." The limo is still where it's parked though and he's almost tempted to say they jack that. He actually slows, forgetting about the thugs behind them and sets a hand on t he hood of the limo, "Almost want to take this...think we can hot wire it? It's up armored right? Likely has some food in it too, not to mention the drinks. Maybe we can sell that shit?"

Even during this he was kinda listening to the others and their plans.

He jerked his head at the others, "Wait a sec, you guys wanna split up? Is that a good idea? I mean sure Sean and I could head out there. But I don't think it's a good idea to split up." He leaned on the limo and hummed, "It's true it feels like we're being low balled, after the last job 5 gemstones a piece doesn't sound like much at all. Not enough to risk splitting the group really." He didn't sound he was convinced himself though.

He nodded though, "Can't see anything really wrong with it in the end. So the girls find themselves some veils. Go look around, see what they can find, gather intel." He nodded, "As for Sean and I. We're going to visit Malkia? God damn I hope the guy isn't a blood thirsty bastage like we're told he is."

He spotted the two thugs approaching one of them growling something in swahili for all he knew. They unshipped their guns and advanced. Hayden jerked his head, "Go...the good squad are getting closer."
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“No you aren’t, not yet at least, we want you two to live.” Yekaterina replied to Hayden’s inquiry, briefly wondering how much that was true for Bethan before banishing the thought. “Hands off the limo. Big, cumbersome, no doubt fitted with an immobilizer, probably costs an arm and a leg to fuel up and Victor would want it back, if not because he needs it, then to send a message he’s not to be fucked with. Look for older cars. Less electronics to break down or prevent you from starting it without a key in the first place, though if you could get one with keys, all the better. If you get a choice, get petrol over diesel engine. Shit petrol is a lot less likely to screw up the engine than shit diesel, and diesels generally have a shorter service life.” The Russian recommended, “I guess Beth and I are going shoplifting then. No one tell my mother.” she added with a grin.

Setting out to the North-West, Yekaterina ushered her British compatriot down a side street running perpendicular to the direction indicated by their unhinged employer after just a few dozen meters. “Through here, let’s circle around the block. I want to see how many of these butchers we have tailing us.” she said quietly, reasoning that anyone completing the normally pointless circle along with them was following them. She stopped at the next intersection to look at a signpost, sparing a glance behind them to see one of the men Hayden had indicated to them earlier rounding the corner, stopping to speak briefly with another, both continuing down the street afterward. She guessed the other half of the original pair was probably tailing the guys. Continuing the ring around the block, she looked back once again near the end of it, masking the movement by taking out her phone and turning around to look for an angle when the display was shaded from the sun. Both were still there. “Seems like just those two, at least for now. Best let them think we’re blissfully unaware, lest they might care enough to switch with someone else.” She noted to Bethan, unsure whether the two were concerned with being unnoticed. “From what I’m getting from the psychopath-in-chief, they’ll probably stop short of entering Malkia’s territory. Found something we can hide our faces with yet?”
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Bethan couldn't help but agree with Yekatarina, but at the least was glad the team was going their seperate ways. It had to be said, Sean's idea was fucking crazy, and she didn't like the fact Hayden saw something in it. They had to play it by the rules for now, stick to some order in this chaos, or they'd join the wolves. She had nothing to add, well, aside from agreeing with Yekatarina and following her lead. With that, they were split, and well on their way to get moving through.

Moving through the streets, she knew they were women in an African slum, hardly the look she wanted to keep, and worse still, wearing camo. Not ideal, but hey, she knew they had to get themselves sorted. Yekatarina's comment was prompt, but one Bethan was already thinking about as they made their way in.

"Give me five minutes. I'll have us sorted for a covering. I won't tell your mam if you don't tell mine. Those fellas following us, keep moving, and they'll make a decision who they follow."

With that, Bethan vanished, and by the time she came back, had what she needed- two veils, traded for a diamond, but done unscrupulously and quickly. The diamond had done the talking, although it left her poorer than she liked. The men hadn't followed her- more likely than not, they were on Yekatarina. She wasn't a hard spot when she came back around, and moving through to an alley, they had a chance to at least cover up, out of sight and of the two goons following Yekatarina and Bethan.

Throwing her partner the grey veil, she put her own on, a black one, making her look awfully like a nun. She had to feel for Yekatarina, years of killing Chechens and now here she was, veiled up. It had to be killing her more than it was Bethan, but hey, it was what it was.

"Let's not piss around, we need to get in closer. Keep your head down best as you can. The alley will buy us a little time, and if they're not smart, they won't know us." The streets felt chaotic, strange, but they'd faded into the crowd, hiding the packs and all as best as they could.

Making their way closer in, the neighborhood felt flooded with people, nonetheless the two that had been stalking the two lads now off her and Yekatarina's trail. She couldn't tell one goon with an AK from another, but it was good enough as a starting position to try and understand things. She felt comfortable with the Russian, oddly enough, despite the fact she knew in an ordinary situation she was taught to mistrust the Ruskies, she felt Yekatarina felt genuine, honest, flawed perhaps but someone capable. Someone who had grown up in the shit of Russia, and no doubt found Chechnya a trial by fire. But there was this unbroken nature to her, like she was straight in a situation that demanded it. Something Bethan respected, that had to be said. And with veils on, they had the opportunity to get in closer, giving them a chance to at least understand what was going on. A lot of goons, and around the majority of the area there were technicals with gangsters in the back, dotted with the occasional sight of gangs in the streets themselves.

"Looks like they have seriously wanted to bulk up this area. Weapons are all Eastern Bloc. Less South-African, more ex-Soviet. Bought from COGS, or whoever COGS normally buy from. Not sure. But that could be something. Well, Melani would know that, surely...." Bethan spoke under the veil to Yekatarina, moving past a group of traders, keeping an eye out. And eventually, that it did, noticing something else on the bustling roads, something that felt as out of place as they did in that moment.

"Wait, hold on. That car there, the Mercedes. In a place like this, can't be someone unimportant, can it?" Bethan mused, nodding as she began to keep her eye on it, and while aware following would be impossible, at the least they could copy it's directions on the busy streets, mingling with the crowd that slowed traffic down to the pace of a strong jog.

------

Sean in the meantime saw those two goons approaching, and with a wry nod to Hayden, knew they had to find some transport, and lose their tail. Perhaps some curious locals, who had seen them coming into Malkia's turf, and wanted to find out why two western mercs were on their front door. Keeping an eye over his shoulder, they looked like the two that had been looking for the girls, and now had diverted their attention to him and Hayden,

"Follow my lead then. Let's not do this in the open. They'll keep coming, mate....we drop them, and we get moving quickly before we get spotted again." Sean knew that while in this turf they'd have eyes all over, only those two were beaming at them right now, and they had a chance to stop this before it escalated it. It was a chance to break whoever was coming, and rather than getting shot, getting them close in would work better. In an alley they'd follow, and finding a blindspot, they could make that work, and that is what Sean did, knowing that the gangsters would be chasing them in now they'd broken line of sight.

Moving around the corner of a shack, Sean drew his machete and holding back in a dark corner, waited, patient as ever, hearing the men barking and fanning out. One of them turned directly to Sean's position in cover, and was greeted with a hard headbutt, throwing a punch Sean could take and flank with a machete straight to the side. The man's croak was that- a hit to the lungs between the ribcage made it quick for Sean to draw the machete out and slit his throat with the sharp edge, exhaling hard as he watched Hayden move on his man. The Northern Irishman wasn't a stranger to fighting, and this machete, as brutal as it was, was just a bigger tool in his hand, sharp and blunt at the same time, able to just do the job when swung. It wasn't fun, but dragging the two bodies out of the way, he knew they'd be left in the open and more likely than not, left to rot. Not a great idea to be killing already, but then again, they hadn't been left much else as a choice. Running would make them look even more exposed, and given the brief moment they had in the alley, it was enough. Strange how Sean felt comfortable with this, but then again, he'd seen the reality earlier on. They'd do the same to him if he didn't first, and he'd seen enough people getting stabbed to understand you didn't come back from it.

Searching the guy's pockets, he found a set of keys, what looked like a Toyota badge.
"Well, that might sort us out. Now we just gotta find a Toyota around here....tell you what, Hayden, I'll go find whatever the hell it is, if it's parked close. Give me a call when you're closer in, or about to get stabbed. I'll come grab ya." Sean threw the keys into the air and caught them, dragging the poor bastard's corpse back as far as he could into a small ditch in the alley, unlikely to be the first body that had been dumped in there, Sean guessed. With that, Sean went on the hunt and knew he was looking for a Hilux, or something of that description- some wheels to get them moving while he knew Hayden could take a look around.
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The feeling on the street grew by the minute, the fact that the two women were outnumbered and out of their skins never more prominent. It had to be said, Bethan trusted Yekaterina, more than she had initially imagined she would. She felt paranoid, weird around the general team, but around her, even in spite of all the fucked up mess, she felt a bond that she could trust her more than the other two. Not even a feminine thing- it felt more true to her that in the chaos, there was someone actually thinking shit through.

Still, it would mean whatever it meant when they had a job to do- and a Merc to slowly follow.

At least their newfound target would be hard to lose, standing out of the surroundings like it did. "Good eyes. One of us stays on it, the other tries to get ahead?" There wasn't enough of them for this, and they probably didn't even have the right sort of training to follow people around. She felt like the only thing they had going for them was whoever was in that Merc thinking they were above it all and not paying attention, and the lads once - if, that is - they got some wheels.

It was a feeling Bethan shared, nodding back to the Russian, a subtle one at that.
"I'll get ahead. If you lose me, call." Bethan replied, not needing to say much and guessing hopefully the Russian would understand her uncouth, straight manner, not really in the mood to go into semantics. SFSG training would have shown her the measure of that all the way, but even then, it was more in a reconaissance, combat capacity. This was far from it, it was gangland, and a measure Bethan felt completely out of her skin for. With that note on her mind, she separated from Yekatarina, making her way across the road and now speeding up her walk, a bit more brisk and trying to keep contact on it whilst taking a cut through in the alleys, trying to get away from prying eyes.

Keeping to the wall, Yekaterian continued along the road, one eye on the car, the other on the people around. For the most part ignoring the trigger men, she was trying to fit in, though she felt like a square peg in a round hole. After half a minute of weaving through the foot traffic, the Mercedes suddenly stopped at the side of the road, the passenger getting out and entering the alley running between two rundown apartments, the car continuing where it had been going previously. The Russian made a note of the sign on a nearby corner, staying on their quarry until it took a left inBethan's direction. Hoping the British woman would take over, she crossed the street and hurried through a parallel aley to head it off before it got lost in the district.

Bethan moved onto the pedestrian, the maze-like structure of the suburbs giving her a chance to run on after them, though not running at pace, but keeping up. She knew she couldn't do that, well, looking to obvious for one, but waiting if it really went to shit. The Merc still hadn't seen her, and neither had any of the other gangsters, more likely than not unable to see given how the hubub in the streets masked their movement. The passenger kept moving, and was headed towards another set of buildings, these looking significantly nicer than the shack that they'd gone into. It felt more upmarket, and if this Malkia was a butcher, he certainly had a higher taste in infrastructure, trading metal tin-shacks for actual shitty concrete and mud-brick of some sort, with a small apartment block. Bethan took her phone and put it to ear, leaning against the building wall she was by and looking over, watching the man enter the complex and head inside, no other armed men visible.
"Round the corner, looks like the passenger's out and headed towards a nicer complex. I say nicer, it looks like the only building up to any sort of potential code...written in the 50s. Can you pick up the car?" Bethan said once the phone's dial had finished, hoping her colleague had the other end.

"Yea, I got him, moving, eeehh... Southeast I think?" Yekaterina briefly stuttered as she tried to piece the map together in her head, "Should I stay on him or get back to you, we're spreading out pretty thin here."

Bethan muttered a curse, knowing full well they'd probably deviated too far now, and regrouping was probably a better idea. She'd picked up at least one of the passengers, and from the looks of him, he looked significantly richer than the rest of the people in the street, albeit not by much. Unlikely to be Malkia, but potentially a Lieutenant, or someone who he trusted, perhaps this wasn't even his abode but a store of sorts. Something worth staking out, and it resonated in Bethan's head that it was better to go for this than continue to stay divided.
"Shit, just keep that bearing in mind, let's regroup. I headed west, from you probably north-west. I'm by a building with a bunch of graffiti on it, lemme know when you have visual." Bethan replied, herself unsure but masking it as best as she could, knowing the two of them were not going to be good at this stalking thing, but could at least focus on one thing at a time at the least, right?

Yekaterina stopped, taking a few seconds to burn the image of the car - plate, make, model, the lot - into her memory before turning back. "I'll go back the way I came, place is a maze." As she walked, she sent a short message to the other 50% of the team to elt them know where they were and what they were doing. Having returned to the place where the passenger disembarked, she followed what she believed to be West until she caught a glimpse of a semi-decent looking building. A compass was added onto her eventual shopping list. "You see anything of note? Guards, cargo, communications equipment?"

Bethan could only eyeball, taking a look at what it was, the sight of the apartment block having nothing in the way of obvious arms or cargo, well, a satellite dish on the roof proved they had access to Football as it looked like one of the few luxuries they had managed to scrap together. Aside from that, a couple of Hiluxes outside and the fact it stuck out with nicer quarters did get Bethan thinking- this must have been some sort of focal point for Malkia's thugs to go to, not so much a barrack but a rally point. A couple of crates outside could have had anything, along with a lone cargo container that looked rusted to all hell.
"Not much at all, but they look like they're using it as a gathering point. Few more of them inside, the guy I followed looks like he's got some rank on him. Few bits of supplies, but not much at all." Bethan replied, adjusting the veil a little as she watched her back, aware that now in the quieter part of the residential area she would stick out, and that only boded poorly if she was caught out. No amount of running would get her away from bullets.

A gathering point, but for what, the thoughts raced around the Russian's head. Close to the border, somewhat out of the way, officer-type come to visit. It didn't strike Yekaterina like it was supposed to be a launching point for an attack, else Beth probably wouldn't have used the term 'Few more...'. No rush then. "I see it. Say we each stand around each on one side some way away and get the lads here, see who comes and goes?" The Russian asked, picking a shaded spot in one of the alleys connecting the apartment with a bigger street, unable to think of anything better they could do in that situation.
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BigPapaBelial I have seen you...I have watched you...

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The boys moved off, leaving the girls to their part for now. They needed to find them a set of wheels. The pair set off. And Hayden kept the pair that were on the girls after first but were now on them. He hummed. And was about to ask how Sean wanted to handle this. When Sean took the ball in hand. He nodded, "Alright I got your back." They moved off. Staying in view, forcing the pair of gangers to jog to catch up when Hayden and Sean turned corners or made distance. Hayden whispered, "Got no fieldcraft in them. Bet they think it's their turf why would they need it."

He looked about and followed Sean into the blindspot, a alcove between a bunch of huts and buildings. Hayden ducked behind a pillar made of tubing, helping to hold up several power poles. He reached up his sleeve to pull the tomahawk again. He peered half around the pillar, watching, waiting. His eyes narrowed. The two men almost running into the spot. Puffing from exertion and annoyance. One of them said something in French, which Hayden being from Canada just kinda understood, something about these two fucking tourists, and that Malkia wouldn't like it if they were allowed to roam too much. Hayden didn't bother repeating it. Yet.

And it happened like they figured. One of the men turned and made his way towards where Sean hid. And when Sean made his move, the second guy tried to run up to help his partner. Hayden slipped around the pillar, and used the handle of his tomahawk like a garrote. Right against the throat, he lifted the man by his adams apple, and had him dangling just above the ground. The man's face going quickly red, then blue. And then Hayden twisted.

SNAP!

And Hayden let the body drop. A little less blood.

He kneeled and started to look the body over, patting it down quickly, and with a gasp and grin pulls out a pair of rubies. And then again he tosses them in hand before tossing them both to Sean, "Here." He does another quick pat down of the man and pulls out a small switch blade, "Huh...I guess he was armed." He slips the knife into his pocket then picks the body up. As he does he spots Sean pulling the key set out, "Huh this was alot easier then I thought it'd be." He looked over suddenly, hearing movement. He quickly carried the corpse in his arms out of sight as a door opens just at the mouth of the alcove and two children and a older woman come out into the open. Hayden hums, "You go ahead, just look around. A Toyota is going to be sticking out like a sore thumb around here. I feel like Urals and Jeeps are more common about here so any kind of Toyota is going to be easy to find. And yeah I'll go see what else I can see around here. Maybe pick up some info or get a gander at anything else around here." He claps Sean on the shoulder and heads out.

Once out of sight Hayden lets out a shaky breath, eyes going wide. It's so easy to kill. It seems like it's getting easier. He looks down at his shaking hands as he hides his tomahawk away again. But then this place, this little country seems like it's normal. So strange.

The odd motion he makes as he sets a hand to the side of his head, is not missed a man, wild haired, riding in the back of a rickshaw that comes thumping by asks his guide to turn around and follow the man with the big gun down the street.

Meanwhile Sean seems to be in the clear. And good thing. He's free and clear. For now.

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Elsewhere the girls posted up at their meeting place are pretty well in a grand place.

They managed to get that view on one of Malkia's sort, pontentially. And for a group that was supposed to be a mob of madmen, or blood drinking psychos. The neighbourhood is...almost innocent. Clean, cleaner then Melani's section of the slums. There are tons more small shops, and people on the streets. People in the streets of Edgar Malkia's turf seem to feel they are more safe as well. There are older people sitting on patios playing cards of dominos. Small groups of people clustered around TVs in windows watching news or entertainment. Not something that the girls saw even a tiny bit of back in Melani's hood.

Something is really off about this entirely.

It's clear there either is a good deal of subterfuge going on, or someone was telling lies.

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Meanwhile again elsewhere Hayden is making his way away from Sean abit. Stopping on a corner, paying almost no mind as a rickshaw stops across the street from him. Hayden scans the area, shifting the big LMG on his shoulder. Not second guessing for a second taking it, but damn is it heavy.

With a sniff Hayden pushes off, heading back the way he came, looking to try and find Sean. There's something off about everything here. Something feels like it's not wrong. But right. And after everything they had seen earlier. This stunk of lies. And Hayden didn't like it one bit. As he got moving Hayden missed the rickshaw turning the man inside it, urging his guide to stay behind Hayden.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by FourtyTwo
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Sean nodded to Hayden, the switch-blade enough to reinforce that had it have come to it, the knives would be out the other way, but the rubies being a nice catch. In local currency, how much were these? Maybe half a diamond, maybe a quarter, maybe nothing at all. Who knew, but hey, it was a precious gem and something that would trade. Shit, Gold was probably going to be the real standard of things...he'd hope.

"Got it. You keep looking, I'll call." Sean replied, keys in hand, knowing that while Hayden was feeling conflicted, Sean understood the grit of this situation a bit further. Perhaps his own troubled mind was playing into it, but he saw it earlier on, that chaos, that violence, what they were willing to do. It was better he did that to them before they did it to him, and he felt no humanity in this place at all. He wished he could have a strong drink, because in a day he'd dropped out of the sky and straight into a fucking slum, and he felt like after they were done today, he'd pass out proper. It was worse than a day in Helmand, and that was something.

Finding the Toyota eventually came, as he dialled for Hayden's number, looking around inside the filthy Hilux, the 80s model of pickup truck one that would start first time. That was the thing about the Hilux, it was unkillable. It did stick out, but then again, it was now probably one of the few not carrying a DShK or M2 on the back of it now, a practical, reliable and useful tool for mobility and getting around. Even the absolutely agricultural diesel engine responded in turn, torquey and like a trophy truck in the corners, zero fucks given to actually handling well but just soaking up hard kerbs and bumps like it rolled across it. A true insergent's treasure.

"Hayden, it's Sean. Got the motor. Gonna head down the street, don't be too conspicuous but get yourself in. If it ain't you, I'll put a nine through whoever gets an idea. You got no lead?" Sean asked, the phone on the passenger seat, right next to where his Sig was sitting.

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The atmosphere even Bethan had to admit was calm, and calmer than what she was expecting. Yekatarina and her had stalked succesfully into the lion's den, and the drop they had now was impressive. She was almost under the premonition to call Sean, but for the moment wanted to keep observing, finding a pallet to sit on, still veiled up and still looking like she was innocent enough. She knew that ruse wouldn't last long, but it would for them to get what they needed, and if the boys had their end covered, get out of here.
"Ever get the feeling we're being bullshitted, Yekatarina? This is too nice."
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“Being bullshitted? Since I was about eight. Also known as ‘Tuesday’ in Russia. Why, thinking of Sean, or something about this place?” She joked. Bethan had a point though. She hadn’t given this as much thought as perhaps she should have, but she also thought of them as too insignificant to be lied to. They were fresh off the boat - or truck, or however the other three got into the country - and thus pretty much had to take whatever anyone was merciful enough to throw at them, so why bother lying? But the district around her told a different story.

“You’d have to be pretty desperate to think that you need to lie to a bunch of nobodies.” The Russian opined, “Then again, it’s not like it’s Mensa county around this part of the world, and this scene is hard to argue with.” She gestured to the fairly nice looking district around them, “And no human windchimes hanging anywhere, picture that.” Yekaterina paused in thought, and Bethan could’ve probably heard gears grinding in her head if she listened carefully enough, “You think we should try our luck here? With ghetto hoodlums?” She would’ve much preferred to stick to one of the corporations, whether through Victor or through finding their own path, perhaps the centralized way of Russian life drawing her to a larger, outwardly more powerful and secure organization.

Then an epiphany struck her square in the head like a ricochet against an altyn helmet. “I may have just thought of a way of learning more about this place though. On my way here, the official line of bullshit I fed to customs along the way was that I was a humanitarian worker going to Matanbai to see how all this is affecting the locals. If I leave my gear with you, I might be able to ask how life is in this part of town without raising too much suspicion while we wait.” She offered a suggestion, “Unless curiosity kills the cat, this is all a very elaborate ruse and Edik tries to turn me into a hat for my trouble.” Despite the attempt to lighten the mood, it reminded her of Melani’s throne room again and though the scarf covered her expression, the shift in her body language clearly expressed a measure of unease at the thought.
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