Playing Both Sides

May 08, 2017:

Sid Cancer digs up the dirt that Batman ordered him to find, only to be confronted with a legend of the Gotham underworld. Sid decides that betrayal is his only option of survival, but knows he'll have to manipulate many variables.

Upper Midtown Manhattan

Not known for its tourist trade, Upper Manhattan is generally
considered to start at the base of Central Park, along 59th Street, though
you're just as likely to hear New Yorkers tell you to look north of 96th
Street. It's one of the most affluent areas in the U.S., a center of
business and commerce and upscale residences ranging from the mansions of
the Upper East Side to the high-end condos and luxury high rises of the
Upper West Side. While its most northerly neighborhoods may not quite rival
the two sweeping swathes of ritz and power that flank the great park, even
traditionally poor Harlem has seen considerable gentrification over the past
two or three decades.
A neighborhood of about one hundred fifty thousand people at the
northern end of Manhattan, Washington Heights is chiefly famous for having
suffered a devastating crime wave in the 1980's related to the crack cocaine
epidemic, though during the 90's the crime rate was driven down by
aggressive policing and urban renewal. Presently it has one of the lowest
crime rates in the nation.
Harlem used to be a mostly African-American through the decades,
though this is no longer true (African-Americans are presently about 40 of
the population.) The neighborhood has been the site of a number of amazing
artistic booms, usually followed by equally devastating busts. Presently the
area is slowly gentrifying, as is much of Manhattan. Other places of note
include the Harlem Dance Theater whose troupe has toured internationally,
the Harlem School of Arts, two well regarded hospitals and the City College
of New York.
Morningside Heights hosts Colombia University and several other
educational institutions and seminaries. Because of the proliferation of
schools it's often known as the 'Academic Acropolis.' It's also the location
of Grant's Tomb and several famous restaurants. What housing exists is
mostly split between students and teachers/residents.
As the name implies Upper East side is the north eastern part of
Manhattan Island. Once known as the Silk Stocking District, this is one of
the most affluent areas in New York City. Collectively the neighborhood has
about two hundred thousand inhabitants, and is home to some of the finest
residences in New York, including the last of the River Villas.
Guggenheim Museum is a famous art museum located at 5th Avenue and
89th street. It's cylindrical profile is quite distinct. Originally
established as a place to display non objective art, the collection later
transformed into the one renowned today under a series of distinguished
curators.
Carnegie is the iconic music hall of New York. Other venues are
newer, sleeker or lager (though Carnegie can hold a bit over 3600 in three
auditoriums.) The Hall puts on about 200 shows a year, and is further often
rented out so that there tends to be always something going on any given
day.
Located, as might be expected, in the northwest end of Manhattan
Island, Upper West Side mostly serves to house the people who work in the
Midtown commercial districts. It has a reputation for being the intellectual
and cultural center of New York. Of other particular note is the
Bloomingdale District along Bloomingdale Road which houses several
landmarks.
The American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH),
located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, is one of the
largest and most celebrated museums in the world. Located in park-like
grounds across the street from Central Park, the museum complex comprises 27
interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, in addition
to a planetarium and a library.

Characters

NPCs: Mafia Accountant

Mentions: Batman

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Maxwell Sidney had bitten off quite the piece of jerky to chew on this time. He had been hired by a potential Russian spy to negotiate a deal with an Italian Don who appeared to have planned a last ditch operation to save his life from the dogs breathing down his neck, in the form of the other Italian families. The Capo had gotten angry, short-tempered, and jealous, the mark of a man descending into the madness of a dying business network. Max had seen it before, but he had never seen it happen to an organization as prestigious as Gotham City's Italian Mafia, even if this boss was aging and the Batman had claimed the city over a decade previous.

Batman had personally tasked him with finding the party behind the Russian spy and the deal with the embattled mob boss for quite the hefty sum of military-grade plastic explosives, stolen from a National Guard transport by the typical sophisticated work of the Russian Mob. He had eliminated a bank job and a heist, there were simply no openings in the tradewinds of Gotham City's underworld. That left an assassination or two (more like two dozen, with that amount of plastique). The trail had led out of Gotham City, with a lucky break for Sid Cancer; he had happened to contact an old contact in the Tong, and they had informed him of a syndicate out of Shanghai involved in New York City that dealt in arms, with a potential mysterious patron that resembled a Gotham villain from days of old. It was just a rumor.

Maybe it was the same informant…or maybe another who told the Red Hood that someone had followed a trail from the Russians to them. He still doesn't like killing for the sake of killing…but with all this poking around he figured he'd come himself and see just what the Hell was going on. Red Hood has his guns at hand and even in hand as he waits at one of the designated spots where the other was told to go.

"So, I'm curious." is said through the speaker of his red, featureless helm. "Just what are you getting out of this? I mean, is it actually worth your life?"

Sid Cancer strolls through the night, a black rainslicker trenchcoat worn over his modified tuxedo. He carries an umbrella with him in his right hand, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Moving towards the location of the meet with his informant, contacted through his modest network of contacts in Manhattan, he takes a deep drag on his cigarette, a whispery chuckle escaping him as he exhales and pulls the cigarette away in his left hand.

His informant was a local accountant that handled books for cooked companies that needed to pay protection, this particular accountant the one holding the account for the plastique's storage location. The informant quivers on the ground beneath Red Hood, looking up in fear. "Please, sir, I didn't know…He's one of ours…He's a deal closer, they call him Sid Cancer…He got hired to work for a Russian to move some merchandise…There was an interruption in the deal is all we know…" His face blanches, as he whispers, "The Bat showed up."

Maxwell slows his steps as he sees the Red Hood near the parking lot behind the fishmonger where the meet was designated, tilting his umbrella forward in the light, windy, wispy rain that mists past them. He moves to a halt as he sees the guns, frozen in place, not daring move an inch until he sees how the situation develops. He's no quiet movement specialist, not even schooled an iota on survival.

This is why he doesn't like using middle-men. There's an audible sigh at the mention of the Bat, "If you were in Gotham, that's a given. Idiot." He goes to flick the butt of the gun against the accountant's head; if it doesn't knock him out, it'll give him one hell of a headache. This is why he wanted to stay out of Gotham…too many damn Bats…even if he is familiar with them.

The gun in his other hand shifts to aim at the trench-coated man making his way towards the 'meet'. "Which side are you on? And don't bother lying to me. I haven't shot this one yet tonight and I'm itching."

The accountant lets out a whimper as he's knocked out, slumping spread and limp, head lolling sideways.

Maxwell raises his left hand, to show the lack of threat, keeping his right hand on the umbrella in view. "I'm one of yours. The name's Sid Cancer." He doesn't bother with his real name. That's only for the police, and the DMV. "I'm the guy the accountant was talking about." He slowly lowers his left hand, fingers relaxing inwards as he steps forward, despite the gun pointed at him, taking a drag off the cigarette in his left hand. "I deal in organization, management, troubleshooting, finance, deals, all of it, for patriotic scoundrels like ourselves."

"Not one of mine," Red Hood points out, his attention turned to 'Sid'. The gun also doesn't waver, "I don't need your resume. I need to know why you're here." Because the accountant said the Bat interfered. He doesn't usually let the criminal sort walk so there's a wariness. "You should know better then, than to get involved in Gotham business."

"I'm here to talk to our friend here," Sid says, coming to a halt as his loyalty is denied. He gestures at the man on the ground. "He's got a cargo in one of his warehouses, and a man who hired me to close a deal was trying to sell it." Sid quietly looks to the side and down, inhaling another drag on his cigarette. "Explosives." He blows smoke, coughing with a faint choke to his throat that makes the sound shallow. He lifts his eyes to the featureless mask. "The Bat suspects that I may have been hired by Russian intelligence. But I know his type." His mouth spreads into a grin, showing a missing incisor. "Grandiose theories. So you can guess my dilemma. I have to snoop for the Bat, or I get beaten into a pulp. And I'm not an altar boy anymore, Mr. Hood, I can't pray for any more miracles."

The gun is pulled back but it doesn't mean that it's not at the ready. The red helmet turns to look at the man that was knocked out before it turns back to the other, "So, what sort of information do you need to bring back to him? Don't try to lie unless you have the best poker face ever. He'll know." Damn him. "Doubt you'd get beaten that badly. He's growing soft."

"I'm hard to read, by being quite easy, but he has other methods, I'm sure," Maxwell says, his grin fading into a relieved smile, tilting his head downwards to look at Red Hood's feet with an odd forward lurch onto the balls of his feet inside his dress shoes. "He wants to know what the plastique is for. The Russian doesn't know, he's just the sales agent. The Italians want it, the Russians were contacted to set up the theft from the freighter it was on and bring it here for safe keeping, so the Bat didn't touch it." He drops his cigarette at his feet, rubbing it out with his foot as he shifts back to a neutral balance. He reaches to the back of his neck uncomfortably with his left hand, scratching it as he regards the Red Hood with upraised eyes at the thought of the Bat going soft. "Maybe not soft. Precise."

Red Hood just gives a grunt, "Sure. You can think that. 'Precise'. " He doesn't sound terribly convinced. "He won't touch it until it gets into Gotham. If it stays here, however…" then Batman won't bother it. This isn't his jurisdiction. "So. Your job is to report now? Or are you supposed to pass word to the end-buyers and also tip Batman off? Exactly -why- are you here to talk to him?" He nods to the unconscious accountant.

Maxwell furrows his brow, before he looks up and above Red Hood, to the back of the closed fishmonger's outlet, the mist waving by in the night. "Interesting." He looks back down to the mask. "I'm a paid consultant, and I have a certain reputation to uphold, requiring the report of the breach in the network. And Batman never specified that this was against his request. Batman knows that I have been tasked with this mission, and two of the major principles, including my primary employee, witnessed my forcible indenture against my client's interests." He tips his chin up, regarding the vigilante with his cool hazel eyes, gleaming with glossy distance, but sharp as a tact from the subtle show of the flesh around them. "He was a link in the chain towards the satisfaction of Batman's charge. And it appears you are the next stage." He slips his left hand in the pocket of his trenchcoat. "So, here we are."

"I'm not interested in Batman getting his endgame. I'm more interested in making sure I get my money. I suppose it now depends on what path you choose to take." Red Hood remains where he's perched, seemingly relaxed despite having firearms at the ready and wearing a helmet. "So. What are you going to do?"

Maxwell pulls a pack of Marlboro Reds, nearly empty, out of his trenchcoat pocket, pulling a cigarette out with his mouth as he contemplates. He gazes at himself to signal the submission and thought, pulling an old Bic out and flicking it alive, sparking his poison of choice. He slides his lighter back into the pocket, and he slowly pulls his cigarette away with two fingers, as he looks up. He breathes deeply, feeling his mind roll, and he grins, raising his eyebrows. "I say we play a game of misdirection. We give Batman the purpose of the plastique, and arrange a force at the location of the target as a diversion while the operation takes place. All convicts, all of them being offered monetary support to close friends on the outside, so they don't mind being arrested or fighting. That way, we get primo talent, the mission, whatever it may be, goes down, and the Batman gets some closure. Enough to leave my benefactor alone as he fades in the night, long enough at least to skip town."

"As long as I get my full fee, I don't really care what happens." When one is mercenary, that seems to be the end-all. "Just make sure that happens and you can arrange that misdirection to your heart's content." Red Hood straightens and pushes away from the wall he was leaning against. "He's not dead," is offered in regards to the accountant. "He'll just have a good headache when he wakes up. Then you can arrange things with him." Seeing as he doesn't work for the Syndicate.

"Of course," Maxwell murmurs quietly, looking down over the accountant. He pulls a cellphone out of his pocket, sticking his cigarette to the side and squinting his eye shut to avoid the smoke drifting over his face, dialing a pickup signal with his left thumb. A local taxi service, just for his ilk, an essential resource when in any city, in his line of work. "The Don will give you your fee, we'll transport the plastique in, then I'll go back to Gotham and let the Bat pick me up for questioning. Then, everything will slide into place." He turns to the side, murmuring into the cellphone with a street address and a name, 'Hudsucker', before he says a few more words, then hangs up. "I'll see you on the other side, Mr. Hood."

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