A Little Too Greedy

July 16, 2017:

Nerina's thieving finally catches up to her with disastrous results.

New York City

Characters

NPCs: Yakuza

Mentions: Featherweight

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Deep in a clouded night a pair of black vans roll to a stop in front of a dilapidated tenement building in one of New York City's former industrial districts as a cold breeze whips down the street behind them. The rear doors open and groups of men pour out and make their way inside the building wearing jackets that bulge worryingly from their contents.

Two crisp *clicks* resound against the pavement as the lead van's passenger steps onto the street and straightens the edges of his tailored suit. An aid steps up beside him lugging a large metal case in one arm and shows him the face of a cell phone. The man's stern features peer down at it, illuminated harshly by its sterile backlight, then squint upwards to the apartment's higher floors.

"<She's on the third floor, move quietly.>" Instructions pass through the air into an array of earpieces and the men inside begin a careful, orderly ascent up the stairs as each reaches into his jacket and reaches for a plastic grip…

Upstairs and so far oblivious to the group below her, a vagabond ninja is stealing a few moments of sleep in an empty, drafty room. Her backpack is puffed together as a pillow and the small black-painted woman is huddled on her side behind the door frame, as well out of sight as she can comfortably be. Tucked away in a tiny fold of her jacket is an even tinier chip.

"<Last room down the hall.>"

One by one the men slip down the hall and crowd around the last doorway, room 301, and produced the weapons concealed in their jackets. They're not pistols or knives but stun batons and taser guns with freshly loaded cartridges. The pins in the lock click as they're met by a key and the door creeks open on old, ill-tended hinges.

The ninja jolts awake just in time to watch the door beside her swing open and a flashlight paint a beam across the floor. Her slitted eyes widen as she rises to her feet and pins herself against the wall, already sliding the concealed sheathe of a knife down her arm.

"We know you're here, rat. Come out peaceful or we will hurt you," the man in front purrs sadistically as he allows a moment to lapse for the ninja to appear. There's no blur of black fabric within the suite, no resigned footsteps, and no sound of hasty retreat. He grins and suddenly slams the door the rest of the way open before turning and firing in the same direction, casting the beam of a flashlight ahead of two sharp electrodes.

The electrodes stick themselves impotently into a patch of bare wall. There's no ninja within the light's reach, only her weather-worn backpack.

Most of the men crowd into the room while two remain in the hallway, their lights and weapons casting a bright vigil across the suite, banishing the quiet dark of the night in an instant.

Compressed between the door and the wall, the ninja holds her breath and a single orange eye peeks sideways at her bag as the leader crouches down beside it curiously while loading a fresh cartridge into his gun.

Unhurried, with the smug sadism of a cat closing in on a bird, the man looks around from his crouch; he looks right… then left… brown and orange eyes meet and he grins a little more.

Exploding from her hiding place, Nerina dives for the man as a knife thrusts out of her sleeve towards his chest. In the same instant he twists, presenting his arm to the blade instead, and two electrodes to the assassin's stomach.

The ninja screams in time with a loud *pop!* as the tightly-bound waist of her jacket strains from the force of a small explosion and she jolts backwards. Nerina stumbles for barely a moment before her limbs pour out her garments into an inky black puddle on the floor, chased by assisting shots from the other men in the room that turn large slow-dissolving clumps into tiny fountains of oil-black droplets.

The black naiad pool rushes for the doorway and the safety of the hall behind it, shimmering with an eerie blueish sheen as passes from the world of one flashlight into that of the next.

"She's oil! Stop the oil!" The leader shouts. Listening calmly twenty feet below, the sharp-suited yakuza - the man above him - raises an eyebrow at the news from his ear piece and reaches into his aid's large case to prepare something a little more special.

Just outside the doorway, two stun batons rake an arcing trail across the floor and corral black drops back into the room like a pair of electric squeegees. Nerina rushes backwards from their showering sparks and leaps from the ground, reforming in a dive towards the man closest to her in the room. There's no sword in her hand or sandals on her feet; the ninja's human effects are left in a pile where they fell. The naiad now is amorphous, featureless, flowing in between a rolling current and a humanoid shade.

Her hand distends as it reaches for and envelopes the man's head and her torso contorts and thins itself into an inhumanly narrow stream to dodge his flail and the shots from her back. Flooding up and around him like a tsunami, the ninja just barely forms a face behind him as he chokes somewhere in her inky abyss.

Mixed shouts of 'monster' and curses pass across the room in English and Japanese as the remaining men fan out to encircle the ninja. Gesturing his guards inside, the leader calmly shuts then locks the door behind them and turns back to Nerina with unflinching focus in his eyes.

"You can't kill us all," he assures as he fires without hesitation at the head of his subordinate. There's a loud *pop!* and a gurgled scream as the naiad's death grip is literally blown away from his face and the man falls forward to retch the remains of her hold onto the floor.

Nerina jolts back from the shock, half-formed into a mockery of human form. Her head whips around, cringes from the stark light while finding company on all sides. The pool at her feet gathers back together and the ninja's body slowly refills to something featureless but recognizable. A young woman, a trapped one, without hostages or a weapon to fight back. She'd grimace if she'd bothered to form lips.

"Okay…" she surrenders gruffly, a sound that comes defiantly from the whole of her watery mass with a hint of an aquatic echo. "You caught me… I'll… cooperate." Quietly, among quivers that pass up and down her body like ripples on a pond, a small locket passes up her throat and opens within the space of her mouth.

The ninja swallows.

"There… you're only so dumb," the leader praises as he gestures two men up to take hold of her. "Stay human or we'll shock you until there's nothing left. You've made too many mistakes to die that quickly."

"Hmph!" Nerina grunts defiantly as she's lifted bodily from the ground by hands beneath her shoulders and the pulse-stopping cold of current-hungry electrodes press against her bare sides. The naiad's body begins to lose its watery texture and gain back truly human shape. A skeleton, hair, and all the tiny hallmarks and imperfections that mark one person unique, special, and memorable among the throngs of humanity - except that all of it's dyed coal and oil blacks.

She's an emaciated young woman, barely five feet tall with shoulder-length hair in disarray and the promise of a curved, healthy physique that was curtailed by too little to eat. Memorable, just perhaps, if someone's been reading enough of the right local news. Growing out of her collar as the ninja fully materializes, twin gold and silver lockets come to rest upon her collar, having so far hidden deeper inside.

The leader walks in close with a satisfied glint in his eyes and presses his gun to the naiad's chest as he leans in to stare her in the face. "All this trouble… I was expecting someone more."

Nerina sucks in a breath. She can't help but imagine the feeling of all three weapons fired on her at once, what might happen to her next - but there's another reason for the cat-eyed ninja to be holding her breath. Closing her eyes and turning her attention inwards, she recalls a skill she'd learned in front of a bathroom mirror, one that's made all the easier by her panicked desire to be anywhere else.

The gray-skinned young woman begins to fade like a mirage on the desert and disappears from sight just as she passes weightlessly through the arms supporting her. Left behind to clatter to the floor are her twined necklaces - one gold and one silver.

Batons and guns fire impotently at where Nerina was, finding no purchase in the empty air.

"We've got a problem; she just disappeared."

Falling invisibly and intangibly through the building, the black-dyed young woman reappears as she drops to her hands and knees on the ground floor and gasps as she gulps down a deep lungful of air then pants to catch her breath. "Andrina's" shoulders and back heave while she recovers herself, only to freeze when she hears the ominous rising hum of a something charging.

"Not well enough," the dark-suited yakuza concludes nearby as the thick, rectangular barrel of his rifle disgorges a glowing red beam at the mutant-turned-nuhuman.

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