1963-12-07 - Hunting For Allies
Summary: The World's Greatest Hunter takes some time out of his schedule for a meeting with a persistent mercenary.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
cable kraven 


Once a day for several weeks, a white-haired, eyepatch-wearing newcomer to Sister Margaret's showed up to chat briefly with the bartender, check the board, then leave. While some of the regulars know him by now as 'Cable', none of them know a thing about the man's history, or even his activities prior to 1963; before his recent pattern of dropping in for daily visits, he was an intermittent patron who laughed little and tended to keep to himself.

The regulars generally know better than to go poking too deeply into other people's business, though, lest someone decide to return the favor; everyone has a skeleton or two, after all.

The topic of conversation never varied: Kraven the Hunter, and arranging a meeting— not as a client, or a fan, but as another professional seeking a face to face sit down. Sometimes, money exchanged hands; other times, Cable would whisper things in the bartender's ear, leading hushed calls and new opportunities once the big man was gone.

Today, like every other, he arrives with a brown trenchcoat over dark slacks, a white dress shirt, and tie, white hair covered by a fedora. Bee-lining towards the bartender, he flicks his eyes around the dank surroundings - as one must in a place like this - and slides cold, gloved fingers into a coat pocket to clutch a wad of bills in preparation.

*

Today, The Hunter was waiting. He is not a small, subtle man, Sergei Kravinoff, and he occupies the centre most table, a pint of ale in front of him. Beside the man, a dog lies on the floor, quiet and obedient. At Cable's entrance, the large bull mastiff perks its head up, and lets out a quiet huff to gain her master's attention. Sergei's eyes look first to the hound, and then to the door where the silver-haired man has come in. "Cable," Kraven's voice booms; he is, as stated, not one for subtlety. "You have sought me, and I have come." The man's voice is thick with a Russian accent, but his English is perfect, not the broken verse of peasants who picked up the language out of necessity and only the bare minimum at that; this was a man who learned to speak it young, and properly. "Join me, share a pint of ale, and tell me what business you seek with Kraven the Hunter," he practically shouts, without much concern for who might be listening. A chair is kicked out from under the table, indicating the seat he should take.

*

Cable actually pauses momentarily when the Russian giant and his companion seize his sweeping gaze, scanning the pair of them up and down. His hand slowly slides out of his pocket; a picture of Kraven the Hunter from a hunting enthusiasts' magazine slides into his field of vision and digital lines link the flesh and blood man's face to the photographic one's. The booming voice draws his mouth into a tight line, but this quickly fades as he approaches the table, doffing the hat and leaving his coat in place.

"Good to finally meet you. Which do you prefer?" he begins as he draws near enough to extend his right hand to the Hunter. "Your time's appreciated; I'll try to make this meeting worth it."

When - if - handshakes are exchanged, Cable takes the offered seat and scoots closer. Even if his gesture is ignored, he takes the seat and scoots closer.

"I'm looking to bring a few capable people together to do something that no one of us possibly could," he then says in hushed tones while leaning across and folding his hands atop the table.

*

"You may call me Sergei, if you wish," Kraven replies with a very firm, bordering on crushing, handshake. "I am eager to hear what it is you have to discuss, Mister Cable. Any man who would put such an effort in to make this meeting deserves to at least be heard, yes?" He leans forward to pick up the pint glass, draining much of its contents before setting it back down. Somewhere in the bar, his server is no doubt preparing to order him another. She's been instructed not to let him run dry, and the money offered would ensure she not fail at her task. "You speak of a great challenge, and this intrigues me," he says when Cable starts to talk about his purpose. "Tell me more, Mister Cable."

*

"Sergei, then," the mutant repeats with a slight nod. From an inside pocket, Cable draws a pair of cigars and offers one across the table. "Somewhere out there is a monster," he begins before biting the end of his cigar off and spitting it to the table, "who believes himself to be immortal." A match is drawn from and struck against a nearby 'book, and then after a shallow inhale, he lets out a little smoke. "He's had thousands of years to grow comfortable in that belief, to let it curdle into delusions of godhood. He sleeps - often - but when he's awake, he's sure to visit chaos and destruction upon the world for no reason other than that he believes it to be his sacred duty— and right."

Following another puff, he sends a cloud towards the ceiling, then leans even nearer. "I want to find his resting place and cut his throat before he knows what's happening to him— or, failing that, I want to put him down before he's able to do too much harm. Either way, I want— I need to kill a god, and I can't do it alone. I've asked you here because I need to build a squad that can do the job— and I can't think of many people I'd like to have on that squad more than the greatest hunter in the world."

*

If you want to enlist Kraven the Hunter to your cause, there are a few surefire ways to ensure success. You appeal to his ego, which Cable has done. Implying that there is no way he could fathom a successful hunt of this nature without Kraven's skill and prowess, the ego of The Hunter is satisfied. You appeal to his sense of purpose, delivering a challenge worthy of his ability; a God you say? The mention of world-class destruction and the chance to save it in fact makes little difference to Kraven, but the chance to hunt and kill a being of such power, that is the ticket. A challenge worthy of him, certainly. There is but one thing missing.

Sergei takes the cigar, drawing it to his nose, smelling along its length in a single long intake of breath. There is no sign that he either approves, or doesn't, and he doesn't yet move to smoke it. "A god," he repeats after a moment. "You wish to hunt, and destroy a god." It takes a moment, but after chewing on the concept of a deity dead at his feet, a wide smile breaks out on his face. "The spirits must have guided me, Mister Cable, for this is challenge I dare not refuse. The hunt of a lifetime!" Kraven draws a lighter from an unseen pocket, chomps the end of the cigar and spits it to the side, and lights it. He inhales a long drag, and exhales the smoke slowly, savouring its flavour and the way the smoke fills and warms his lungs. "I will join you on this quest. My price is that I am allowed to keep the head of this 'god' as my trophy. And a fair share of whatever treasure we may obtain." Because gods are never without a large stash of gold and jewels. At least not in Kraven's own thinking.

*

Somewhere in the bar, a server whose mind races with giddy thoughts of the absurd tip she's gonna receive from the loud Russkie goes momentarily rigid, then reaches up to rub her now faintly throbbing head.

"There's a catch," says Cable as smoke wafts over him, his own cigar still held low between his fingers. "When I say that I need to 'build' a squad— I mean it. Even if I knew where the quarry was, right now - and I don't, even if I could guarantee that he was asleep - I can't - it would be nothing short of suicide to gather up a posse and break into his temple tomorrow— you understand? I'm envisioning a mercenary unit that grows to one day turn its experience and resources towards killing a god— while digging up and destroying whatever cults, or loyal generals may already be working towards his ends in the world."

The server swings by with ales for the two men, prompting Cable to straighten up and keep his eye on her. She gets a low, "Keep mine coming," and a couple of bills from what would have been the bartender's wad before she can leave.

"In other words: delayed gratification." Following a long drag and a tap of ash on the ground, he adds, "Should be plenty of treasure in it regardless, though— and I couldn't care less what you did with the head, frankly." Following another beat, he adds, "Long as it's sterilized, first," with a grimace and a lower tone.

*

"One does not undertake any hunt lightly, or unprepared, Mister Cable. It is not enough to have guns, and know the location of your quarry. You think, you plan, you prepare for every contingency. Only when you know your prey, in every way but having smelled its skin and tasted its blood, do you go for the kill. I am not a neophyte in these matters, Mister Cable." Kraven downs the remainder of his ale, before moving onto the next glass. His hand moves quickly, slapping the girl's rear hard enough to make a satisfying sound, but not so hard that it would actually hurt her; which judging by his size, would not have been difficult. "If there is preliminary work to be done, we shall do it. Gather your compatriots, build your team. Count me among them."

*

"Your prey," Cable gently but firmly suggests, "and hopefully, your team." He then raises a glass, tipping rims with Kraven's. "I'm glad to have you aboard, Sergei."

Following a long gulp, he sets the glass down and continues, "The quarry's name is Apocalypse. He's a mutant from the time of the pharoahs with access to hyperadvanced technology. Tends to attract fanatics to his banner while using a four-person commando unit he likes to refer to as his 'Horsemen' to spread terror and crush resistance; the only reason I'm confident that we have time to plan is that there isn't some asshole spreading famine or disease somewhere en masse to honor him." The mutant takes a moment to draw in a fresh lungful of smoke. "In case you'd like to attempt some research. I'm only familiar with the results of your process."

As the smoke billows around their table, he goes back into the inner lining of his coat, this time to offer over a metal disk with a red Phoenix symbol(yes, that one) set against a black background in a slightly lowered, concentric circle.

"Communication device. Tap the center to open a channel to me. Long press to summon my attention in an emergency— but know that if you do a long press, I will arrive, and my guns will be hot."

*

Kraven clinks his mug to Cables, and drinks, once more draining the majority. He listens as Cable details the information about the hunt and the prey, giving a soft grunt at the name. "Very biblical," he says in a gruff tone, almost derisively. "Any god who relies on machines and gadgets is no true god." Kraven's disdain for technology is well known, if Cable had done his homework on the man. He doesn't bother with it, having always preferred to do things the 'old fashioned' way, as it were. When Cable hands him the device, he looks at it with an expression that can only be described as somewhere between disdain and amusement. So small and delicate, like something a woman would carry in her purse. "Some sort of tiny radio, yes. I should only use it in the most dire of circumstances," he says, not asking but telling. The device is regarded another moment, and then slipped into a pocket somewhere. The cigar instead is afforded the most attention, as he brings it again to his lips and inhales deeply through the filter. "I will perform some investigation, yes. Do you have any other members of this team prepared? Is there a camp, or a meeting space at which we can convene to share information?"

*

"He does a hell of an impression, just the same," is Cable's quiet response to Kraven's disdain, delivered as a shroud falls across his features and refuses to fade until he's just about downed his ale.

"Thor and Loki of Asgard have agreed to offer their support, but Asgard has enough of its own problems that they may not be reliable outside of direct confrontation with Apocalypse and his appendages," he then says after a brisk shake of the head and squaring of the shoulderss. "I intend to keep them in the loop on the whole, but I'm not going to count on them for unity-building— especially with one of them in federal custody. I've got a couple more prospects in mind, but they don't know it just yet. As for a meeting space… not yet." Puff. "But we could. I've had my eye on a place in Hell's Kitchen for months, but some kind of cult moved in before I could claim it. Then vampires. And then, bugs. Wasn't worth the trouble of clearing out or defending, but the neighborhood seems to be turning around; only the one set of unthinkable invaders there, right now, the bugs. Until that's sorted, I've got an alternative… but it isn't on the map, and there's no car, boat, or plane that could get you there. I could work out a way to get you there, but nobody else can know that it exists."

*

"If you require assistance removing the pests, it should prove no difficulty for the likes of us," Kraven says boastfully, with a breath that exhales a large puff of cigar smoke into the air. "And I am very good at keeping secrets," Kraven adds, despite all evidence to the contrary. He's not quiet, or shy, but when it comes to important things, or at least things he considers to be important, he will take it to the grave. "Very well," Kraven speaks, standing from his chair and finishing his last guzzle of ale, setting the pint glass down on the table roughly. "I will meet you here in three days time, and we will discuss strategy and preparations. I look forward to the hunt, Mister Cable. It will be glorious, I have no doubt." He looks down at the very large dog who until now has sat quietly at the man's feet. "Come, Sasha," he commands, and the dog rises to follow. On his way out, Kraven hands the girl who had been serving him a wad of bills, and again slaps her rear before departing through the main doors. There is work to be done, now /two/ trophies to pursue!

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