Freddy Copperfield"I don't wanna wake him up.""Someone's gotta.""Why don't you do it?"
The Slums ⚙
Freddy slowly drifted into consciousness, his blurred vision pulsing in and out of focus. He jerked up suddenly with a start as he regained his bearings. Calloused hands slid desperately against paper, accidentally shoving a large pile of paper to the floor, before finding purchase on the rigid wooden surface of his desk. He raised his head, eyes scanning around the room quickly. Atop the desk at which he was seated was a large spread of paperwork, heavily marked with red pen. One sported a small dark circle -about where Freddy's face might've been resting just a moment ago. Alongside the papers was a slice of butterscotch pie, and a stack of coin. Before Freddy stood a pair of imposing figures, just in the doorway."That works, too."
One of the two commented, crossing her arms. Lizzie seemed to always have a grimace on her face -bred in the slums of The Core, Lizzie had a rather gritty disposition. Some might call Lizzie short tempered, volatile, the like. Freddy preferred to see her as passionate. Though the tall woman was generally considered abrasive and loud by most, few brought it up to her face, as she always was looking for an excuse to start a fight. She looked down at Freddy, and raised an eyebrow at the half-eaten pie on the desk, which he quickly shoved to the side as color rose to his cheeks. "It's real important, sir."
Spoke the other figure, a man of massive proportions wringing his fingers just behind the doorway. Jack Dime shuffled forward, one hand nervously scratching at his backside. The man was strong, smart, and not bad on the eyes -a natural gang leader, if he weren't so damn timid. The man rarely carried a piece even, out of fear. As he approached closer to the desk, he pulled out a file full of papers, handing them to Freddy. The older man rubbed fatigue from his eyes, before his fingers fumbled to grab the papers. He flicked through them absentmindedly, eyes scanning them through a pair of small reading glasses. "Johnathan Gills? What are 'ese for, he late on 'is payments again?"
Freddy asked, rubbing the bridge of his eyes as he dropped the papers. He continued before they could respond. "Go to 'is place, tell him not to worry about any interest, just the payment. That'll get him to pay up. After he does, take a fingah for me."
Freddy muttered, waving a hand to dismiss the two. Lizzie stepped up closer, pushing the papers back to Freddy. "Not quite. There's more. Katy Kandor. Emily Smith. Joseph Hunter."
Lizzie said, pointing to the individual pages in the file."Them's the tenants from apartment 23, yeah?"
Freddy interrupted, recognizing the pattern. "That's right. Don't think we can plan on collecting rent from any of them, though."
Lizzie said, eliciting a confused look from Freddy. Before he asked, she flipped to the back of the file, where multiple photographs of dead bodies were enclosed. "Dewalt sent us these just an hour ago. Everyone in the apartment, torn apart. Said he had some trouble pulling any cash off of them -something about it being hard to tell where one body started and another ended."
She said, emotionless. Freddy looked at the photos for just a moment, before shutting his eyes tight and shoving them to the side. He rubbed his eyelids, standing up from his desk. "Goddamn it. Call Dewalt, Foal, and Herman. We're goin' for a walk."
Freddy said, pulling his gun from the desk drawer, and tucking it into his belt.
Walking down the road, Freddy's crew did not cut much of an imposing figure, but anyone who had been in the slums for more than a day knew better than to interrupt the party. They murmured amongst themselves as they walked, introspecting the possible causes of apartment 23's massacre. Freddy frowned, feeling something very off in the air. He put a hand up, getting the attention of the group. "Oi, is it just me, or is there a 'ell of a lot less gunfire than usual?"
Freddy asked, looking around with narrowed eyes. Feeling a chilled drop of water splash on his face, Freddy let out a sigh, and lit a cigar. Puffing out a cloud of smoke, he felt a comfortable warmth reinvigorate him.
"It's probably nothing. Don't get so worked up, Teddy." Spoke the rough voice of John Dewalt, a man who seemed to perpetually have a gun in hand. Freddy shrugged, taking another puff before he again began walking. It didn't take the group long to arrive at the building, sanctioned off by Watchman tape. Not missing a step, Freddy ripped through the tape blocking off the door as he strode into the apartment, greeted by the weak chime of a bell, and the heavy stench of death. He coughed as he walked in, quickly switching from breathing through his nose to through his mouth. Even that didn't help cut down on the smell, so he held his handkerchief up to his nose, breathing through his would-be gas mask. Many of the corpses were lined up here -or at least they had been in the photographs. All that remained were pools of blood and scratches across the walls."What happened, Dew? The spooks take the bodies or something?"
Asked a trembling Dime.
"Nah, can't be. White hats never clean up the mess for us -something weird is going on here." John answered gruffly. "Whatever it is, I ain't a fan. Dime, you and Dewalt start lettin' next of kin know. Sooner th' better. Herman, Foal, Lizzie? You're wif me. We've got some sleuthin' to do."
Freddy said, making a large sweeping motion with his hands.
The four made their way to the nearest mag train, Freddy's preferred method of transportation. When the passing bullet train was forced to slow in anticipation of an upcoming curve in the rail, Freddy and his crew took the opportunity to board. Less than legal, yes, but certainly expedited. When they arrived in the car, Lizzie spoke up."Usually the train's busier. More than... zero people."
She said, obviously made uncomfortable by the lack of people aboard. Freddy stepped forward, making his way up through the car. Completely deserted, which he found odd. The group had boarded on the second car -it was unusual to find an open space in any of the first five cars. He frowned, hand moving to his gun. "Somefin' about today is rubbin' me the wrong way. Keep 'em eyes wide open, dunno what's goin' on but I reckon it ain't gonna be pretty."
The man grumbled, head perking up as he heard a curious sound.Clink... Clink... Clink...
The sound echoed throughout the car, followed by a loud crash from behind. The group whirled around to find the source of the noise, Lizzy and Herman each whipping out their weapon of choice. In the car behind them, loud banging, scratching, and unearthly howls could be heard and almost felt, reverberating throughout. Lizzie moved towards the door that separated the cars, fire in her eyes, but was stopped by a gentle hand on her shoulder. Freddy pulled her back, raising a heavily ringed hand to put a finger up to his lips as he backed away from the door slowly.
Lizzie, disgruntled, holstered her weapon and followed Freddy. He pulled out one of his tablet computers, and quickly flicked through the applications, before he found his messaging application. A notification popped up, signaling a missed message.>D: Shit hit the fan Fred, call ASAP
Fred's naturally shaky fingers struggled to type out a response as he rolled his cigar around his mouth. >F: What's wrong Dimes?>D: Everything's deserted. Watch is on high alert. Something's fucking with our slums.>D: ...They're saying some crazy shit.>F: What kind of crazy shit?
Freddy's only response was a spinning circle, infuriatingly slow as it politely notified Freddy that he had a poor connection. He frowned, sending off a second message.>F: Stay safe out there.
>Message failed. Try again?
The train itself shook heavily, akin to a plane going through turbulence. A loud thud resounded, shivering the locomotive again. Freddy frowned, looking to the windows of the bullet train. He saw a glowing blue blur, before the train thudded again. Pulling out his small leather bound journal, Freddy jotted down a few notes, before being interrupted by yet another shuddering of the vehicle -this time feeling as if they had just run over a body. Another identical bump followed -then another, and another, and finally one massive bump. Everyone on the train could feel it -the unnatural shriek of the train being derailed from its magnetic line. Freddy hit the floor, arms spread wide to bring Lizzie and Foal down with him. The trio braced themselves against the floor, followed closely by Herman.
B O O M
When he awoke, he was wreathed in flame and smoke. The train has splayed itself across the road, burning a charred mark of carnage in it's wake. Shaking his head to properly awaken himself, Freddy saw a pair of Lizzies walking away, supporting a pair of Foals on their shoulder. Freddy squinted, raising himself up to his feet slowly. Slowly, the two pairs of people blurred into one, limping down the street. Freddy took a deep breath, quickly checking that his faculties were all in order, before sprinting after the two of them. Though he appeared old and weak, Freddy had plenty of juice in him yet.
Came the commanding voice from above. Freddy looked skyward, spotting the interceptor as it flew towards the sky. He put an arm around both Lizzie and Foal, leaning in close. "Either of ye seen Herman?"
He asked gruffly, ears still ringing. He guided the two of them towards the nearby exit ramp as they walked, slowed by Foals limping. A dark stain bore through his pant leg, slowly growing. As if in response, a loud scream was heard from the train wreckage. Herman leapt from the broken window of the crumpled train, superhuman speed pushing him towards the group. He was cut short as a blue glow sped behind even swifter. Claws punctured bone and flesh alike, stopping Herman in his tracks.
A low gurgle followed a spurt of blood from the burly man's mouth as his bright blue eyes glazed over. He reached behind him in a futile gesture, hand brushing gently across his murderers flesh. A frenzy of action, the glowing blue creature seemed hardly finished, as it brought it's claws down, rending the flesh of Herman's corpse. It let out a harsh growl, before sprinting towards Freddy and his entourage. Though the creature made uncannily fast progress, it was struck down before it made any significant distance -where it once had a head filled with toothy spikes, after the loud report of a gunshot, this head was replaced for the most part with large red-hot chunks of metal.
Freddy grimaced, holstering The Chunder, as he looked down at the headless corpse. "Are the two of ye okay? We need ta find somewhere to hole up 'till we can figure out what in the bloody hell is goin' on."
He said, scanning the area. He motioned to Lizzy and Foal, and they followed him to the road, where they walked close to a line of buildings obscured in shadow.
"THE SITUATION IS UNDER CONTROL."