1965-08-14 - Shanghai Shakedown, 1922
Summary: Despite efforts to forewarn Kent, he's still taken into brief custody. Ambrose disagrees with someone attempting to take his pawn. Violently.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
lamont ambrose 

A handful of meditations have come and gone since the Jackal stumbled into the Shadow's den, unable to see clearly for his grief. All have been relatively calm and all have left with Ambrose silent and Kent alive — a good thing, both!

It's a few hours after sunset, when the city nightlife comes alive. Now, normally, the Jackal is one smooth criminal. Fleet of foot and certain of placement, his usual arrival on the balcony is a thing of grace and innate understanding of his abilities.

Not this time.

Almost like a game bird with buckshot-clipped wings, he lands on the overhanging architecture with flailing arms and actually rolls into the vertical railing slats. They resonate with a quiet whump as he bounces off of them in a tangle of limbs and then he's scrambling to his feet. The khaki pants are dirty at the knees and the matching vest has a huge smear of some tarry black substance on it — oil? Half-melted opium? The hasty wrapping of the dark headscarf has already fallen apart to show his face and part of his mussed brown hair.

"Black!!!" If a whisper could shout, that's it as he strides in under the overhang. "Black, get up, wake up, get — "

The CRACK of a gun interrupts him. A puft of red lifts from his left scapula to throw the joint forwards and with a rusty inhale, he stumbles off deeper into the bedroom. Collapse follows to his right side. Wide eyes flash and his mouth opens and closes as he fights to make words come out instead of the pained sounds that clog up his throat.

Luck or fate or prudence, call it what you like. But it has a hand in tonight. Because, for a wonder, Kent is not high as a kite nor drunk nor asleep. HE's sitting calmly at his desk, reading by the light of a green-shaded lamp.

He looks up as Ambrose comes in, rising already. The report of the gun has him lunging for Ambrose, the better to drag him into the shadows of the corner of the bedroom, presumably out of the line of fire. Once he's got him there, he's turning him to try and examine the wound. He hasn't yet raised hisvoice to call his servants. It might be all they could do is get shot.

The Jackal can't help the cry of pain that escapes him upon being moved. Red is staining the back of Ambrose's vest at a moderate pace. The hole in the fabric reveals that the bullet is lodged in the plate of his shoulder-blade and the risk of bone having crackled outwards from impact is high. By the uncontrolled faint twitching of his left hand, he's either reacting without thought to burning pain or attempting to see if he can move the limb at all.

"It's Anisimov," he finally gets out, white around the mouth, naming one of the the recently-deceased Vasiliev's lieutenants now apparently working almost hand-in-hand with John Li. "Tarnished buttons." His personal nickname for the policemen paid off to ignore certain things and hare after others. "They mean to raid." His face is parchment-pale and eyes glossy as they roll to look at Kent.

Kent's face has gone grim and pale. "Anisimov by himself I could take. But I don't dare kill coppers. Not here. This…." Was supposed to be his hidden sanctuary, the place that the other foreigners, the other white men, didn't know he had. He shakes his head. "We have to get you out of here….are they here for me, as well, do you know? Or just you?" He's working briskly to pack the wound, for the moment, with linen handkerchiefs hastily snatched from a drawer. Clean, at least.

Into the courtyard below a handful of men in uniforms run, shouting commands at one another in Shanghainese. The sudden pounding on the front doors can be heard both within and -out of the residence itself. They demand that Mister Black show himself or lethal force will be used. They probably mean 'and' lethal force will be used.

"They didn't come for me," Ambrose replies in a wavering voice. "Lucky shot…bloody bastards firing at an opportune target. It's a gamble — Li's…gambling that you're here." He flashes teeth in a feral grimace at the touch of cloth to the gunshot wound. "Go. It's not fatal." He grins, a curl sharp and agonized. His right hand flexes tightly to strain tendons. "I can Suggest they have better things to do than haul me off and — " His voice cuts out into a groan at the shove of clean linen and his eyes go exceptionally glassy. "…or I'll sic the curse on them, maybe that." Hard to be magnanimous when a bullet's lodged in your shoulder-blade.

"No," Kent says, curtly. "Even if you are impossible to kill permanently, I won't leave you here to their tender mercies." There's the gabble of frightened staff below. "Can you climb out the bathroom window? IT drops on to another roof top. I'll can probably keep them from seeing you…."

More pounding on the front door, boom-boom-boom, echoes from downstairs followed by another repetition of the demands to have one Mister Black come out right now!!!

"You want me to what?" It's a mostly rhetorical question because Ambrose lets out another rusted groan afterwards. His eyes squinch shut briefly and he nods despite the glisten of sweat on his forehead. His skin is clammy and sure to cause sharp pins-and-needles anywhere he's touched by another hand. "Yes — yes, I can climb out. You cannot…" Pant. "You cannot mean to take them? You need to leave, Black. These are Li's men," he says even as he's attempting to lurch to his feet. He desperately needs assistance getting into the washroom as is, given how his knees seem weak.

"I want you to get away," Kent hisses. "I can deal with them," It might be bravado, or stupidity, or a sudden urge to commit suicide by cop. "You have to *go*, Atherton. They'll kill you as a possible witness. I will pretend to go willingly, and then I'll get away. If I try and fight here, or resist, they will kill my servants."

Finally, he's on his feet. The Jackal weaves heavily to one side, away from Kent, before making a shambling path across the room.

"You bloody idiot," Ambrose hisses from where he leans heavily now against the doorframe of the washroom. "They will kill you for your stupid pluck! What, you expect to slip free of them? There must be half a dozen men out there with guns!!!"

BOOM-BOOM-BOOM. Last chance, the dirty coppers are shouting out, accompanied by commands to go around the sides of the residence in case anyone's trying to escape there.

He's already heading for the door, having hastily skinned on his boots. No doing this barefoot. Kent casts an insouciant grin back over his shoulder, one limned at the edge with madness like light around a cracked doorway. "You underestimate me, Ambrose," he says. "Now run," And then he's gone, clattering down the stairs to face down the police. The ring is on his finger, and his heart is in his throat. It feels like taking off into a storm.

"Black! BLACK!!!" Ambrose goes another notch woozier yet as he watches the man disappear out of the room. His ears are ringing. "…oh God," he breathes, frozen into listening with his heart in his throat. "Nngh!" The sound is agonized frustration incarnate when he realizes that he doesn't have a hope of sussing out what on earth the other man is up to, much less any conversation beneath the shouting now in the courtyard. He hates the excitement he can hear by tone with an intensity that sets his already churning stomach to acid.

"Dammit all to hell," he hisses as he slips into the bathroom and over to its window. The betrayal of a red smear will be seen on the window sill, but out he goes. He lands on the roof described by Kent and then his knees give out as the jolt whitens his vision. He kneels there in the shadow cast by both night and the building itself, attempting to catch his breath and not betray his position by further sound.

Kent comes down the stairs, having arranged his features in an expression of stern irritation. Like a schoolmaster displeased to find his pupils misbehaving, but otherwise calm. In his shirtsleeves and pants, the opal ring a spark of fire on his left hand.

No fear or hesitation in his posture, as he comes into view. Gambling that they won't gun him down in front of his servants - a bet he's not entirely certain he will win.

There's a good chance that Kent will recognize the Captain of this particular force. The man immediately steps forwards, brushing by one of the servants in outright dismissal at the sudden appearance of the man of the manor.

"Robert Black, you are under arrest. Come with us," says he, branding a pair of handcuffs that glint silvery in the interior lighting of the house. They aren't going to take 'no' for an answer, apparently. The Captain is accompanied by two of his subordinates who definitely toe the line of roughly grabbing up each of Kent's arms and turning him about abruptly. Handcuffs click into place and then the Captain has a steely grip at the bend of his elbow. "We've got some questions for you," he continues angrily in Shanghainese.

Probably "How deep would you like your grave?"

There's too many to fight, or reliably evade. Resisting arrest will just have them roughing him up, or killing him for attempting to escape. "What is the meaning of this?" he asks, quietly, but with that steelly note in his voice. Showing no signs of fear. "What are you charging me with?" Trying to catch the Captain's eye, the better to work his will on him. Not that he needs the eye contact.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 12

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 20

Uh oh. Even as Kent might reach with his ophidian abilities, there's the vague sense of a…barrier around the Captain's mind. He just appears more irritated yet at the demand for information. One of the men responsible for capturing Kent's arms initially shoves at a servant standing too nearby, setting the young man to stumbling back against the wall in shock.

"Resisting arrest," growls the Captain. And then comes the brutal sock to the solar plexus by the beefier of the two associates, set to drive the wind and words out of the tall pale captive. "Come along, Black." Even if the punch was hard enough to injure internally, the police force drags their captive out of the place and onto the street. To the Mariah it is, a hearse-like model with a stony-faced officer sitting at the wheel.

The servants know better than to try and tangle with a clot of foreign devils like those. Especially the cops. They scatter - some of them presumably to notify what allies Kent has.

No time to show dismay, before that blow knocks the wind out of him. Stony-faced and pale, trying to suck air in past that momentary disruption. Still no attempt to drag his heels.

From on high on the roof, a pair of glassy cerulean eyes watch as the officers unceremoniously frog-march Kent over to the back of the Mariah. Twin doors are thrown open and then the two bruiser-cops escort him into the depths of the vehicle. Two other cops, probably lower down the pay-grade, disappear into the back as well before both doors slam shut. The hard-eyed Captain walks back up and to the passenger-side door before he pauses and scans the area around the house.

Ambrose ducks down, pressing his face flat to the rooftop, until he hears the engine start up. He risks another look yet as he sees the vehicle slip into motion and lets out a strangled shouted curse-word before cringing long and hard. Bullet's still in his shoulderblade and there goes the one man able to help him attain a form of peace he thought impossible.

"Fuck! Black, you insufferable bloody bastard!" Wrenching himself to his feet, he then begins to break into a roof-runner's pace. He's apparently going to tail the vehicle, even if it means risking further damage to his shoulder.

Insufferable, indeed. EVen as he struggles for breath, he's reaching out again to try and touch the minds of the cops with him. Make at least one reluctant to do real damage, perhaps. Someone willing to have an attack of conscience - hoping they're not going to just dump him in Soochow Creek after a bullet to the brain…

Four against one isn't good odds.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d4 for: 2

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 19

Everyone in the back of the Mariah is either bored or antsy for the next step in prosecuting Kent…whatever that entails. The beefier of the two lieutenants is gazing off somewhere over the pale captive's shoulder; the other lieutenant's expression takes on a glazing that's easily recognizable as influence setting in to his mind, at least. The other two low-grade cops are talking to one another quietly in Shanghainese. Suddenly, the conversation takes a turn.

"…this isn't right," says one, making the other shorter man draw up in surprise. "It isn't legal. We didn't follow procedure." Now he's got everyone's attention — and then the second lieutenant chimes in.

"Yes, it isn't procedure. He's innocent." Laugh, Kent — laugh away internally.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" This is the bruiser, now glaring at his comrade as if he's grown a third eye. "Shut up. It's business."

Kent himself isn't making a sound. He's got his eyes closed, head drooping, apparently entirely docile and apathetic to his fate. Not doing anything, surely.

All the while his brain working furiously, those unseen tendrils reaching out to the weaker minds around him. This is wrong. They'll suffer when it's found out that they were used to murder an innocent man for the sake of gangsters' business, surely. They should stop this.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d2 for: 2

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 14

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 1

"He is innocent," the low-grade cop insists, looking nervous for doing so. The bruiser narrows his eyes and slowly rises to his feet, sensing weakness and thinking to remove it.

"Bert, stop," says the other lieutenant, grabbing at the beefier man's arm to halt him in his purpose. The bruiser, Bert, wheels about, fist raised.

"We follow orders, James, whether we like it or not," he growls, almost bear-like in the small confines of the back of the Mariah.

To the Sight, the entire back of the Mariah has now filled with carbon-grey smoke. The mental wave overtakes the remaining two officers and it's almost as if they all sigh at once in relief.

"…y'know, he needs to be processed correctly," the first of the two low-grade cops, once surprised and now stupefied, insists. Bert nods and makes it way towards the front of the space before pounding on the door.

"Hey, Cap'n, we have a bone to pick with — "

That's the sound of a bullet embedding itself in the wall of the Mariah, nowhere near its intended target of the driver — but it's sure as hell enough to startle the driver into swerving violently on the side street he's currently traveling. The Mariah begins to careen madly back and forth on the wetted cobblestones, in total hindwheel traction failure, and the contents of the back are jumbled…to put it nicely.

That he was not expecting, and can't take credit for. Unfortunately….it means that his control over those weaker minds just snaps. It's hard to concentrate when you're being rattled around like a die in a tin cup, and Kent isn't yet the master he will be, after the efforts of the monks of Shambhala. He's reduced to curling in on himself, trying to protect his head as best he can.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 9

Beware the flail of limb and tossed body, for impacts are sudden and jarring. Teeth might click and bite at cheek, joints to bend the wrong way or take the sudden blunt thump against the inner wall of the Mariah. Either way, the driver continues to have trouble controlling the vehicle. The Captain is shouting irately from the front, his voice nearly drowned out by the squealing of trouble tires and then the cacophony of startled chickens as the vehicle goes straight through a vendor's stand. Feathers fly as the birds scatter and black tiremarks mark where the travel continues onwards.

On a nearby rooftop, Ambrose is watching from between his fingers — literally — the revolver's still-hot barrel just barely not singeing his ear as he whispers profanities under his breath on repeat.

Kent's definitely had his chimes rung. He's dizzy and bruised - there's no way to brace without his hands free. And now the rebound of the power snapping has the bamboozled cops coming to their senses, all the angrier for the oncoming wreck. They're shouting at the driver as well.

It takes another three-hundred feet or so to get the vehicle's motion stabilized and it comes to a screeching, acridly-scented halt. There are feathers resting in various places on the frame and the Captain is absolutely chewing out the driver, who has his hands lifted up in placation.

The four cops inside the back of the Mariah are all yelling at one another as well, rattled in various ways themselves on top of being released from the brief mind control imposed upon them.

" — a witch! Goddamn witch!"

"That does not exist, Thomas!"

"Fuck you, James, I know what I felt!" Thomas, the first of the low-grade cops, points a finger at the dazed Mister Black. "He did something!"

"He didn't do jack-shit," the second low-grade cop insists, actually of his own accord this time. Whoops, someone's not completely loyal. Bert turns and simply punches the man hard enough to set his neck to swinging about with a disturbing crackle. A slump and the low-grade cop falls face-first onto the floor of the Mariah.

"Bert! The fuck?!" Thomas shouts, staring at the bruiser with whale-white eyes.

"He was going to rat us out." And with that…Bert turns his attention upon Kent. "Get on your feet, rat spittle." He grabs up the front of Kent's shirt and slams him hard against the interior wall. "Go on, if you did it. Do it again." The man's beady dark eyes glare daggers, fearlessly meeting Kent's pale eyes.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 19

It doesn't take a lot of acting to feign being battered and confused. Mostly the truth. He stares into Bert's eyes, and pastes on an expression of utter confusion. "Do what? I didn't do anything. I haven't done anything." Believe me, whispers that voice at the back of Bert's mind.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 14

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 17

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 1

Bert's expression goes concerned and then there he's setting Kent back down on his feet. "Nope. He's done nothing at all," the bruiser reports even as he keeps a steadying grip on the linen shirt. At this point, Thomas is as far back into the front corner of the Mariah as can be managed looking horrified and James is spluttering.

"No! No, Bert, he — Captain! CAPTAIN!" This guy can shout and the sound of opening car doors doesn't bode well.

And then the sound of another shot embedding itself in the side of the Mariah. Dent number two — good job, Ambrose, you can hit the side of a barn and not the Captain striding alongside it. The man wheels with a shout and immediately draws his own weapon, a far more formidable model, before he scurries around the far side of the vehicle. Thomas yelps at the resounding CLUNK and then James is pulling his own gun and rising in order to join the Captain outside. The driver is also on the safe side of the vehicle now.

Kent's doing his best to brace himself against the inside wall of the truck….but he jerks away and nearly falls at the sound of the second shot impacting. He ends up collapsed on the bench, half-fallen over, trying to lever himself up. No comment from him, as if to speak further might provoke the one who's accusing him of witchery.

"Watch him," James commands of poor Thomas even as he's leaving the Mariah by one door. "Bert, you stay. Captain's going to need to know of this." He gives their captive one last moderately frightened look before exiting and then closing the door. Bert gives the low-grade cop a degrading sneer before looking back to Kent.

"It's the twentieth century, Thomas, get your fool head into it," he comments. "This man hasn't done a damn thing. He's got no spine, even if he's innocent."

Outside and around the far side of the Mariah, James in having a quick and heated discussion with the Captain. The driver's inching around towards the windows again to peer through them and see if he can suss out where on earth the bullets are coming from.

Let's try this again. See if he can get it to work in earnest - maybe even a compulsion to unbind him. He focusses his will on Bert and Thomas. Might be a way to even the odds, rather than sitting here like a chicken in a crate.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 14

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 14

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 15

There's the insinuation towards both of the men inside the Mariah — a flitting fancy that it would be a very good idea, a noble deed, to release their captive. Bert barely reacts. He simply keeps an eye on things; Kent might be innocent, but he's going nowhere.

Thomas on the other hand? He clasps at his temples briefly and grimaces. "No-no-no-NO-NO!!!" Surging to his feet, he takes a wild swing at Kent's face, all the better to rattle the man's marbles and prevent him from any sort of further witchcraft. "YOU KEEP YOUR WITCHCRAFT TO YOURSELF!!!" The yell resonates even as Bert single-handedly grabs up his arm and yanks him away, shouting back for him to stand down.

It's enough kerfuffle to make James and the Captain pause in their conversation and begin to turn and walk towards the back of the Mariah, guns hot.

CRACK!!! One of the front windows of the Mariah suddenly smashes as a bullet takes it through the center. Glass drifts down upon the crouched driver, who shouts something in Shanghainese loud enough to be heard inside the vehicle: "SHOOTER!"

He can't dodge it, but he can roll with it, or at least try to. It's still enough to ring Kent's chimes pretty thoroughly. Enough trying to coerce his captors, for the moment. He's rolling himself on to the floor, the better to make less of a target - sooner or later, those bullets are going to start coming through the metal.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 9

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 4

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 10

Once Thomas is back in his corner, almost curled upon himself still in apoplectic fright, Bert turns his attention back to their captive. "Get up off the floor, Black, no one would gun for you." He has so little respect for the sanctity of life that he attempts to handle Kent back up onto the seat. "Thomas, get out there with your gun and back up the Captain." The bruiser's still content to act the watch-dog, even if he's riding the compulsion that Kent is innocent; still has to be processed, after all.

Thomas skitters past and out of the back of the Mariah, almost bouncing off of James in the process. "He's — he's — witchcraft!" The other lieutenant bodily shoves him out of the way and to the far side of the vehicle with a dismissive grimace.

The next bullet slams solidly into the Mariah's open door and sets it to swinging almost into James. It's enough for the Captain and James to take a rough triangulation of where the shot came from and CRACK-CRACK, they fire back. Still quibbling about the mind powers, the believer-of-witchcraft huddles down behind a wheel.

Bert's stoic as can be, glancing over as his fellow cops pull triggers. "Looks like someone wants you back," he comments idly to Kent, looking back to him.

Ambrose is belly-flat to the rooftop and saved from return fire by the low clay lip of the roof's edging. He's blinking sweat out of his eyes and hoping that it's not blood he's tasting. Double — everything's gone double, how in the hell is he supposed to disable the Mariah, much less shoot back?!

Lamont goes with the manhandling. No comment on who's shooting. He gives Bert a look….and now he's trying again to get the man to let him go. Since they're the only one left in the back of the van, so to speak. "You're too smart to believe in witchcraft," he says, finally.

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 1

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 3

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 4

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 9

For his efforts, Kent gets a cuff upside the head. Bert's more heavily muscled than Thomas, so it's a solid impact, and he delivers it with a chilling lack of conscience.

"Depends on the sort. You're no better than anyone else I've come across," he says calmly even as a dark twinkle enter his eyes. Outside of the Mariah, the gunfight continues on. Bullets continue to fly. Ambrose's next shot takes out the window of the open back door. It's enough for the Captain and James to triangulate further; beware the narrow pinched displeasure on the face of the former. The driver has the best angle, but he's half-impeded by the vehicle itself. His bullet pufts up building material on the lip once more.

It bounces him off the wall of the van, and Kent's silent, reeling a little. It's accumulating into quite a beating. Then he's shouting, raising his voice in hopes of being heard by the fool on the rooftop. "Stop shooting!" No compulsion behind it, just the hope that Ambrose might listen for once.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 4

|ROLL| Lamont +rolls 1d20 for: 5

In the silence of ceased gunfire that follows, Kent's shout seems loud and sudden. There's no hearing it well from where Ambrose is crouched down, almost entrenched upon his lofty perch. He snarls at the empty chambers of one gun and holsters it for the other. The motion is enough to entice a strangled groan out of him — it gives his true position away to the driver.

The Captain leans back at the man's wild handwave and squints at the following directional point: up at an angle, the lips read as "rooftop, single shooter". With a cold smirk, he leans in and whispers something to James. The lieutenant nods before holstering his gun. He steps up into the back of the Mariah and gives Kent a flat look.

"Bert, someone wants this gentleman back badly."

The bruiser looks over with a jaw-gritted frown, his arms folding more tightly where he stands. "He needs to be processed," he growls, again sounding a bit like a bear.

"Captain says bring him out," and James thumbs towards the back of the Mariah. Not one to disobey the Captain, the bruiser yanks Kent up by an arm, heedless of his shoulder socket or how the handcuffs might dig into wrists, and marches him out of the vehicle. Kent isn't shoved so much as pushed forwards to travel a few steps into the one waiting arm of the Captain.

His arm locks around Kent's neck, even with the minor height discrepancy, and out they step into view of the shooter — with the Captain's gun to the tuck of Kent's jaw. The muzzle is still warm enough to be uncomfortable. He simply waits. Shooter's going to have to poke his head up in a little anyways…

Of course, he flinches away from that ring of hot metal. Otherwise, he's as still as he can be. Straining for balance, arched back against the Captain, still dizzied by all the hits to the head he's taken. So much for his arrogant boast to Ambrose.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 17

And indeed, the shooter pops his head up. The betraying tuft of dark hair is first to show, tossed a little by the night breeze, and James hisses for the driver to hold…for now.

"SMP! You're interfering with official business!" The Captain's got a nice commanding voice that carries easily and might set Kent's ear to ringing. "Put down the gun and descend!"

Ambrose peers overtop the ledge of the roof. What he sees sets his guts to icing through. "Oh God," he breathes to himself, swallowing hard. He blinks to clear his vision again, ignoring how his left fingers have gone numb, and shouts back,

"Drop your guns and maybe I'll let you leave alive!" Oh yes, Kent will recognize that voice, even if it's a shout hollow underneath from blood loss. What inspiring cavalry!

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," Kent says, under his breath. "Run, you idiot!" he bellows up at Ambrose. Who is no doubt up there bleeding like a pig.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 3

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 16

"I told you to do the same damn thing!" Ambrose shouts back, irate and dizzy at the same time, not a good state to be in. The Captain digs the muzzle of his gun more firmly into the soft tissue until it half-impedes the flow of blood in Kent's neck.

"I wondered if this idiot was working with you, Black," he says quietly to his captive. A nod to the driver and the man continues his slow readjustment from behind the front wheel-well of the Mariah. James is watching as well though his view is impinged by the door. Bert is bored, given that he's now sat down inside the vehicle and put up one foot on the bench opposite. Oh Bert. "I'll be sure that the next bullet doesn't just clip his wings," the man continues before shaking Kent once in place. His voice rises in volume again to carry up to the roof. "Maybe we can come to a compromise, eh, my good man? Considering you're willing to rough up the paint job of my car. Come down and we'll talk, man to man."

"He's not working with me. If he was working with me, he wouldn't bloody *be here*," Kent hisses, venomously. "He's a quixotic moron who's decided to follow me, that's all." He shouts again, even though he knows better. "Get out of here, you bleeding idiot," he commands, voice raised.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 2

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 12

"Be quiet," he hisses back. And the butt of the Captain's gun aims for Kent's head. Talk about being batted about like a beachball this evening. He's aiming to stun, not to knock cold. Presuming impact, he then keeps his captive upright by brute strength alone. Bert smiles in honest amusement; chilling, that affection for the violence displayed. He lifts his voice once more. "You're testing my patience, my good man. Come down from your perch and we'll talk as gentlemen. Surely this man means so much to you that you wouldn't wish him further harm?"

"Let him go and then we'll talk!" Ambrose shouts back, just barely peering over the ledge. He knows he's a hard target right now, but he doesn't know about the creeping betterment of the driver's angle, step by silent side-step.

"There's someone trying to flank you," Kent yells, despite that blow. He's bruised and unsteady - that last blow has him sagging in the Captain's grip. "For god's sake, get out of there." Despair in his voice.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 7

The Captain sighs loudly before shoving Kent to his knees on the ground before him. The gun's aimed squarely at the back of the dark mussed hair; there's no way he can miss at this angle or distance.

"Last chance, good man," he calls out, tone finally taking on a resonance of irritation. Ambrose swallows where he lies on the rooftop. Hard. His entire frame trembles as he realizes that he's down to his last few moves on the chessboard. The surface beneath him still holds warmth from the sun in stark contrast to the chill of his left elbow and down. It's basically a dead limb now, fingers hanging limply. Things double, haze out, and then clear as he pulls from the reserves of the Bane.

A single long hair silvers out at the nape of his neck.

"Fine!" He shouts back, the finest quaver in his voice. "I'm coming down, don't shoot!" Where is this absurd faith in his survival coming from?!

Moments like this, senses take on an acuteness they never have in the course of ordinary life. The scent of river water in the distance, the smoke and reek of the street, of gunfire. The feeling of the pavement under his knees, the pain in his head, the weight of the cuffs at his wrists.

Kent's silent, swaying, head bowed forwards. This is a better death than burning in a wrecked plane, but not by much. He looks up to try and spot Ambrose moving.

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 7

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 13

|ROLL| Ambrose +rolls 1d20 for: 9

It'll be easy enough to spot Ambrose. The absolute maniac first stands up, the gun still in his right hand; the left arm hangs limply at his side. A fearless drop to the building's fabric and then a half-attempted somersault in mid-air. He lands on his feet, but then immediately crumples to one knee. He swoons heavily to one side, so much so that he needs to stop himself from from collapsing by flattening the gun to the earth beneath his palm.

"I wondered if it was you along the rooftop," the Captain says quietly. The street itself is full of silent gawkers now, hidden behind cracked window drapes and panes and half-hiding behind the alleyway's corner. "Oh yes, I know you. You owe me men."

"Let him go," the Jackal says roughly even as he looks up at the man with burning hatred. "Let him go or you will regret it." That click is the sound of the Captain thumbing the safety off his gun again. His expression doesn't shift an iota. Apparently, he's not impressed. "Black." Ambrose looks at him and then narrows his eyes. There's the sense of mental static before the faint thought flies forth.

— trust me?

There's a hint of whimiscal humor in the message that comes in reply. To the death, you utter fool. He eyes Ambrose dimly - his head's already bruised and swelling, pain throbbing like a bass drum.

The blip of bleak humor rallies back in his mental retort: — bloody bastard. The barest swipe of fondness is there and gone like a wisp of cigarette smoke on the air. — might hurt. And with that, the last gambit goes into play.

Ambrose throws himself to one side with a heavy pull on the reserves of life-energy; it's a blur of motion onto his bad shoulder and the sudden pull of triggers all over the street fills the air with the suddenness of fireworks. Red blossoms and splatters and cries are heard here and there, violently agonized. Doors slam shut and then comes the roar of an approaching vehicle from one street over.

From the rooftop of the building across the street drops a trio of men dressed in nadir-black. Every one of their heads is covered by the wrappings of a matching headscarf. The driver never knows what hits him after the flash of silvery blade across his neck. James is brutally knifed in the back and has time for one sharp cry before the second knife ends him. Bert bumbles out of the back of the Mariah in time to see the Captain reeling backwards clutching at his chest. He roars in rage and turns to face Ambrose. He too meets a swift death by sudden garrote and the user whipping around him as if he were one big and beefy May Pole. Necks do make gross crackling sounds.

Oh, but Thomas. Poor un-doubting Thomas. He's frozen with his hands up and the sharp point of a long knife tucked beneath his chin.

And Kent has taken a bullet through what little skin lingers between clavicle and line of right shoulder in order for Ambrose to pip his Ace, a bright red victory on the Captain's chest where he lies staring up into the starry sky above, bubbling weakly.

It's a flesh wound, that one. But it hurts. Kent makes no sound of protest - he's busy swinging his gaze this way and that, stunned, aghast. Thought processes not firing on all cylinders. He's alive, if wounded. But there are three dead cops on the street.

There are quick and quiet commands between the trio of recent arrivals, spoken in a language of distant flat steppes and endless skies. From where he lies in the street, face gone grey, Ambrose coughs and has enough energy to raise his own voice to reply in the same language, rough as it is. A nod and the one menacing Thomas brings him from around the side of the Mariah. He's a nervous, chattering wreck now, and crumples to the street when his disguised handler shoves him down.

"Black." Ambrose meet his eyes from where he lies, gun having slid off a few feet beyond his reach. He's lying on his side on his bad shoulder as if roadkill, limp through all his limbs, but still with enough animation to curl a cold smirk. "Do…do your trick. Command him. He's yours…the bloody coward." One of the three approaches him now and blocks him half from view as he kneels down. The conversation continues sotto-voce, hard to hear overtop Thomas's whimpering.

It takes him a while to muster the thought necessary. "I can't," he says, quietly. "Not now." But he fixes that pale stare on Thomas. "You get to live," he tells the cop. "But you're going to go to the offices of the Times and confess how you were being used as a murder squad to take in an innocent man. Name names. Blame Li and blame his allies." There's a weight of command there, even without his power. "If you do this, I won't come for you and neither will he." He jerks his chin at Ambrose. "Do you understand?"

Thomas stares at the one who single-handedly warped the minds of his former fellow officers and then nods as fast as he can manage shy of clacking his teeth together.

"Yes, anything!" Then he breaks down into quiet weeping in relief at not being killed in the middle of the street as an example. The accolades will be many, from protestation at being used as a pawn to hailing the mercy of the man they captured to the quibbling claim of witchcraft and surviving basically unscathed through a hailstorm of bullets and blades.

The one speaking to Ambrose nods and rises to his feet. He walks past Kent without a word and then follows the sound of a body being moved. With a firm grip on the Captain's shirt sleeve, he drags the nearly-dead man past the handcuffed Englishman and over to the other one lying limply on the cobblestones. The Captain doesn't protest. One can see Ambrose reach out his hand and clutch it tightly around the officer's neck. A gasping inhale and then the would-be murderer goes dead-limp. Emphasis on dead.

Thomas wets himself.

"The keys for these cuffs, please," Kent says, sotto voce. Even he's not yet enough of an escape artist to work his way out without them. The day will come, though. He won't ever be caught like this again, if he can help himself.

Already recovering some of his dignity. He's alive. He's alive. And his enemies are going to regret this.

"They're on his bel-hel-hel-helt," sobs Thomas, now smelling of urine. He must mean the Captain's belt because the small ring glitters through the air over Kent's head not a second later. Behind him, another one of the mysterious arrivals catches it, kneels, and begins working at releasing him from the cuffs. Ambrose is apparently hale enough to wing the keys as such and he groans slowly as he works his way up onto one hip. He's still looking gaunt, but the severe lack of color has lessened. There's a feral wink in his eyes yet.

"I'd say we made an example of them." His face turns as he watches one of the men disappears into a side alley, leaving two watchful sets of eyes with faces hidden by the headscarves. "They won't find the bodies," he informs Kent with grim approval of tone.

It's like watching a cat recover its composure by grooming. Kent doesn't lick his own shoulder, but he does get up and brush himself off. As if he didn't look like he'd gone a few rounds with Joe Lewis.

"I agree," he says, after a moment, finally turning his attention to the masked confederates. They get a distant nod of approval. As if they were staff to be thanked. "And good. I think we'll have put Li on the back foot, at the very least," he sighs. "You need tending to." And he steps back, as if intending to withdraw. Apparently trusting Ambrose's allies to take care of him.

A small laugh can be heard from behind the hang of head and loose hair. Ambrose lifts his face slowly and tries to give Kent a smile. It's more of a grimace in the end.

"Scarper, Black. Before more buttons show. I'll find you," he promises quietly from where he rests upon the cobblestone street. The companion who disappeared into the side alley returns again and a quick discussion ensues amongst the three. They ignore Kent entirely at this point, making it plain where their loyalties lie. With gloved hands elaborately embroidered in metallic thread and sleeves with the same matching pattern in muted gleam, two of them march over and lift Ambrose to his feet by his armpits. He can't help the sharp groan and consequential paling, but there seems to be no ill will towards the two men. The third is beginning the process of moving the bodies into the back of the bullet-dented Mariah. That's…an unnatural amount of strength on display, especially in how Bert is tossed in as easily as a bushel of apples.

The Jackal attempts to give Kent a ragged little two-fingered salute from his temples as he's walked towards the passenger side of the vehicle and half-succeeds before appearing to sink back into the partially-exsanguinated daze saw earlier.

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