Night of the Hunter

February 21, 2018:

M'Baku, in search of his people, faces off against Astrea, who is following her own trail. Brief appearance by Cassandra Cain.

Chinatown

A warehouse butting up against a Chinatown alley.

Characters

NPCs: Sweatshop administration, Wakandan emigrants

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Night-time in Chinatown:

A light misting rain cools down the temperature somewhat, but it's already a bit warmer this season than in past years. The city that never sleeps is fully awake here, not only in the streets where vendors ply their trades but in the cramped, run-down buildings that open to narrow alleys and hidden routes.

In these spaces, workers strain to produce goods in overly hot or cold conditions and little room in which to labor.

Most windows to these buildings are painted or otherwise covered from the inside, hiding the goings-on within.

One such window - a large, multi-pane window covered with yellowed newspaper on the second storey of a warehouse-style structure - shatters outward over the puddle-ridden street below. Glass tinkles and plinks onto asphalt and water, while the body of a man lands wih a wet THUD near a dumpster.

In the hole where the window had been, a second individual, a woman, flails. She's held up by a large figure whose form is masked by shadow.

That form, however, is recognizable to those whose senses are attuned to the mystical - it exudes some pheremone, some aura, of its supernatural nature.

"Please! Don't! Don't!" the woman hanging in the air cries, her voice filled with panic.

It wasn't that she was tracking M'Baku, not by any stretch. She was just in Chinatown checking out the strange sights and things that are so different from other parts of the city. It was then that she sensed something odd. She almost smelled it. She made her way over toward where she senses the thing that is creating this. She spots the building as the dumpster is hit by the body of a man and a woman screams out. She whips out her hammer and her pistol and rushes in the direction of the warehouse immediately. Her jacket flails out behind her as she leaps to the top of the dumpster and then hits the hole in the wall in two strides, "Pardon me…what is going on?"

Cassandra is in New York City pursuing someone. She's lost their scent and ended up wandering into the most familiar part of the city. chinatown. The people here speak in a familiar way and move with body language she comprehends, even if their words are at least somewhat lost on her. She is eating a couple of baozi served to her on parchment after she captured a would-be robber as he ran away from the stand.

The petite, athletic Chinese girl is a couple blocks away when the screams begin but she understands instantly. The last of the baozi is shoved into her mouth and the paper crumpled into a pocket before the young woman casts around and steps into an alley to all but run up the wall of a nearby building. She does grab window sills to help herself up. At least the windows are covered so no one will see. She quickly makes her way across the rooftops toward the disturbance.

That didn't sound like someone dropped a piano.

Holding the woman out through the hole in the wall is a large black man dressed in an assortment of leathers and furs. The expression on his face - deeply furrowed brows, large eyes, and snarled mouth - is one of fury.

As another woman suddenly appears, leaping into the space beside him, the man tenses, and the woman hanging in his grasp gurgles in a futile attempt to breathe.

The room behind the man looks like nothing so much as a sweatshop - but for electronics components rather than for garments. Half-finished circuitboards sit in piles beside small work spaces with soldering irons, wire, microchips, and resistors.

The individuals sitting at these work spaces come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds - but those who are most terrified resemble the fur-cload man. Some of them weep, clutching at one another in fear or shock.

The man tilts his head at a slight angle and asks in a thick accent of not-immediately-determinable origin: "I am /M'Baku!/" he shouts, almost barking out his name. "Who … are you?" His nostrils flare. "And why do you /bother/ me, stranger?"

The woman in his grasp begins to shake and utter nonsensical sounds before she goes limp.

"I bother ye because ya appear to be attackin' a woman." She points her pistol up at M'Baku as casually as one might point at a item on a menu, "Now beast, I don't know what ye are or where ye came from, but I'm tellin' ya. Regardless of what she might be to ya, you better have a damned good explanation for this." The irish, almost celtic lilt in her voice comes through in all her words as she keeps her gaze on him, "Now, what ya doin' here and what's this all about?" She hmms and nods her head as she keeps her pistol trained on him, "Afore I put ya down and then do my own investigatin'." She then clicks back the hammer, "And I recommend ya gently put the lass down."

"Ha!" M'Baku laughs, a grin spreading across his face. "Ha ha ha!" His voice is loud and rings out over the street.

"First of all," he says in his own thick accent, "you sound ridiculous. And second - " M'Baku relaxes his grip on the woman, who begins falling silently toward the ground below.

"I doubt your 'investigating,' given the need for my own presence here," the man says with a heavy, perhaps exaggerated, sigh, as he brushes his palms against one another.

The workers nearby continue to tremble and cry and embrace one another anxiously. A few voices call out in a foreign tongue, and M'Baku turns his head before responding in a harsh tone.

Something is whispered in an almost ominous, echoing tone as she changes the bullet inside the .50 caliber, magically enhanced pistol, into a non-lethal round and fires right at M'Baku's chest. She then attempts to leap to the ground at speed to land in a crouch and catch the falling woman, "Damned beast man." She calls out as she tries to save the woman before saying, "I care not how ya feel about how I speak, just as long as you go down and stay down." She then looks at the woman, "As for ya, I imagine ya better speak up quick lest I lose patience and down you, too."

M'Baku reels backward from the force of the shot, bouncing one shoulder blade off the window frame and rolling on the floor before he can catch himself.

He grunts, blinking, and looks at his chest. "Guns…unghh. Why is it…always guns?"

The man attempts to push himself to his feet. Some of the workers flee, running out the nearest exits. Others scurry to hide under their tables. A few sit, unmoving, heads bowed, tears streaming down their faces.

Meanwhile, outside, the woman is saved - but barely! She wheezes, trying to breathe, and seems to have difficulty speaking. "Ape…" she whispers. "Stealing…stealing my…"

"Useless." She states and then she considers, "Ya know, that looked like slavery in there." She nods her head, "I ain't got much in the way of knowledge of your world…but I know shit when I see it." She then idly helps the woman up a moment only to punch her in the face, "You go for a nap now and I'll go deal with the monkey man." She then hops back up on to the dumpster and looks up.

"Listen here, big man. I don't know what manner of beast ya might be, but ye should probably not be just be throwing people all about to make your point." She taps her hammer to her shoulder lightly even as she flips open her pistol, break barrel style, and whispers something while another shell appears and she flips it shut, "Why don't ya have a hop down and explain to me why I shouldn't switch to lethal rounds?"

M'Baku, getting back to his feet, clutches his chest with one hand and tries to stretch his other arm, a grimace on his face.

When the woman reappears, he shakes his head. "I do not answer to petulant foreigners who think they know my ways. /Our/ ways," he adds, nodding his head toward the workers frozen with fear. He says something in the other language and one of the workers stares at him for a moment before nodding and responding in kind.

"Hmmm," M'Baku says. He frowns and takes a deep breath, his chest heaving, which causes him to wince slightly. "They tell me they are here by choice. They are 'working'. So be it." M'Baku spits on the floor. "Shameful."

A blink and then she tilts her head, "Petulant foriegner? Says the monkey beast 'ere." She points around, "You 'ardly seem in any position to call anyone that." She then idly looks to the side, "So, they're workin'?" She then frowns and takes a breath, "So, what you're sayin' you're just an a-hole or perhaps a really s**t hero." She then sighs, "Why don't ya move along before I decide to be more a hunter than a hero?" She slides her pistol away.

His lip curling into a sneer, M'Baku shakes his head. "One day, you may experience the great gorilla god and be awed. As you have not, I will pity you. But them - " he adds, pointing to the workers, " - they rejected him. They deserve only scorn! Pfah!"

One last hard glare at the workers, M'Baku shouts and leaps out the window into the night's darkness.

The workers, meanwhile, whisper to one another for a long moment. Then, one speaks up in a voice cracked and quiet: "Are…we…in trouble?"

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