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[Open] Adapting To A New Environment

Imai pockets his knife after catching the blaster. He must have been blessed by Lady Luck to already get his blaster back, but he has no time to thank her. Imai fires on the crate-bound gangsters. The two frontmost gangsters are shot down as they run across the board. The rest of the crate-bound gangsters scatter off their perch as Imai’s shots whiz by them, with Kentigern and Shug firing poorly aimed shots at Imai as they escape. Several gangsters land painfully on the ground, while a couple others roll down the boxes below them. Imai immediately turns toward the gangster swarm down below and provides cover fire for Peter and Sinclair. As individuals are shot down one by one, a wave of panic and confusion runs through the crowd. The gangsters scatter, some running for cover while others barrel straight for Imai. The few gangsters still fighting Peter quickly fall to his cuts and bashes. Imai sees this occur out of the corner of his eye, and takes a moment to check on Peter. He has stopped in place with his knees bent and his sword at his side. His furious expression has turned to one that is calmer and wearier. The number of hits Peter took is shown by his padded armor, which is covered in several notable dents and tears, and blood is trickling out from under his sleeves. Imai returns his focus to the crowd and takes aim, but then he notices that Sinclair is in trouble.

More gangsters have surrounded Sinclair, with the leader standing in front, pointing a blaster at his head. All that's keeping Sinclair from experiencing their wrath are his threats toward the struggling hostage in his grasp. Imai would go to help, if in the next instant he didn't see the flash of a pistol in the corner of his eye. He looks, then jumps behind the crate for cover as the powerful payload of Peter's energy pistol narrowly misses him. As Imai balances on the edge of the crate below the top crate, Shug shouts, "Die ye bastard!"

Another powerful shot blasts a hole in Imai's covering crate. The shaking nearly throws Imai off-balance. He slams his back against the crate and raises his blaster. "Shit!" He says out loud, before noticing the gangsters climbing up after him. With no options, he retreats deeper into the warehouse, diving from cover to cover as he alternates between firing at the chasing gangsters and firing at Shug.

As Imai is chased off, Peter makes a snap decision to save Sinclair first. He grits his teeth and makes a vicious warface as he steps over an unconscious body, then breaks out into a run. The gangsters, with fearful looks in their eyes, raise their poles and start to charge forward, but then Kentigern's voice booms, "HOLD IT!" The gangsters stop and look wide-eyed back at their leader. "Let him get a good look at this!" A few gangsters nod before they all spread out, allowing Peter to see Sinclair's sticky situation. Peter's warface drops; now his look is one of subdued anger and bewilderment. He lowers his sword, letting it hang by his side. The leader turns to face Peter, his pistol still trained on Sinclair's head. All that can be heard is the gunfire being exchanged by Imai and Shug. Kentigern gives a pissed-off smile as he stares right into Peter's eyes. "Ya piece of shit. I didn't expect a Prime to be visitin' my headquarters today."

"How do you know I'm a Prime?" Peter asks between breaths. There is a loud THWACK! And then the gunfire goes silent. For a moment, Peter glances at where the sound came from, but he immediately goes back to staring at Kentigern.

Unphased by the sound, Kentigern says, "Look around you! You killed half me men! No ordinary person can do that!"

Peter is silent.

"Now what I want to know is," Kentigern ponders, "why are you here? You some kinda vigilante thinkin’ he's doin' the right thing?"

Peter laughs out his nose. "That's the second time someone's called me that." He tugs at his padded armor. "I didn't expect this to be considered the 'vigilante look' around here."

"Focus, Peter!" Sinclair shouts.

Kentigern looks back at Sinclair with a great fury. "You shut the fuck up you upper tier brat. This is between me and the Prime!" The situation is interrupted by a sudden shuffling of feet coming from the opposite side of the crate pile. Three gangsters, with Imai laying limp in their grasp, emerge from the deeper end of the warehouse. Peter's and Sinclair's eyes widen, while Kentigern gives a hearty laugh. Imai is knocked out, with blood leaking out the side of his head. His eyelids are lightly fluttering. The alien-faced gangsters is standing behind Imai and has his staff pressed against Imai's throat. The staff is slightly spattered with blood. The two other gangsters are standing at opposite ends of Imai and holding his arms. The one to his right has gotten a hold of Imai's pistol, and is aiming it at his head. Kentigern's grin becomes more satisfied than angry. "That's some good thinking, you three. If the Prime or knife-man make any moves, shoot him." Kentigern looks back at Peter. Peter glances around the room and notes that there's nine gangsters left, then realizes there's a tenth gangster: Shug, who is peeking from behind one of the boxes. No doubt Shug's intending on giving him a surprise shot. Peter looks back at Kentigern with a frown.

"Son of a bitch." Peter thinks. "All I can do is stall. Damn it all!" Memories of his recent failures flash through his mind. Servo, caught in the monster's maw. A tendril going straight through Esther's back. Peter's arm shakes for a moment, but he calms himself.

Kentigern says, "Where were we? Ah, yes. So what the fuck are you doin' here if you ain't a vigilante?!"

Peter thinks for a bit.

"Hmmm..." Kentigern analyzes Peter's beaten condition. "For a Prime, you ain't looking too good. You must be a newbie." He says.

"Yes... I am new to the Omniverse." Peter says. "You want to know why I'm down here? I’m not here because I was looking for a fight. I was just searching for some way out of this universe."

Kentigern laughs for a moment, but his humor fades quickly. He looks at Peter with a furrowed brow, while tilting his head in wonder.

"At the time, it wasn't because I hated this place. I just wanted to return to my team." His hand instinctively reaches for his gauntlet, but he stops himself. "But having been here for a good while, I think we can both agree that this place is terrible. What I have to ask is, why the hell are you actively worsening this place?"

This hits a nerve. "It ain't us that's fuckin' this place up!" Kentigern shouts. "We've been pushed down on; downtrodden by the stormtroopers who control us, the rich who deny us life in their Tiers, and our baby-killin' rivals in this neighborhood! It's eat or be eaten because of them, if we don't follow that rule then we'll just be dead, dead, dead!" Kentigern has lost all composure; his face has gone completely red and it's taking all he has to keep his blaster pointed at Sinclair. The gangsters have turned all their attention on him, with eyes wide as dinnerplates. Some of them back away from him. "It's too late for us now! We're in this shithole, doin' what we can to survive! It's all about survival, and nothing more. Nothin' we can do to strive for somethin' greater." It feels good for Kentigern to let out some of that anger. He sighs deeply, inadvertently averting his eyes from Peter. When he looks back at Peter, he notices Peter's expression has changed. Peter is struggling not to smile, and this sight enrages Kentigern. "THAT'S ALL FUNNY TO YOU?!" He screams.

"S-sir--!" A gangster says. Kentigern looks, and his face turns to complete shock. Sinclair is gone, having escaped while everyone's attention was on Kentigern! The hostage, along with two other gangsters who tried to stop Sinclair, are lying dead on the floor.

Peter finally smiles. "Took you long enough to notice." He looks up at Shug for a moment; he too is now laying dead, as yet another silent victim of Sinclair's.

The irony that his own temper tantrum was the distraction Sinclair used to escape is not lost on Kentigern. He flips around. "YOU STUPID BASTARD!!" He looks at the gangsters holding Imai. "KILL HI-!" Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Sinclair drops onto those gangsters and pulls the pistol away from Imai's head. Shirk! He jams his knife into the pistol wielding gangster's heart! As the gangster lets go of Imai's arm and falls to the ground, the salaryman suddenly moves! He must've woke up at some point, but pretended to remain unconscious! Imai pulls out his knife and shoves it into the alien-headed gangster's side, then backwards-headbutts his nose. As the alien-head topples, the final gangster raises a fist, only for Sinclair to dash past him with a swift slash! As a cut opens up on the gangster's chest and he steps back in pain, Sinclair finishes him with a throat stab!

Kentigern and his remaining gangsters hardly have time to react to the sudden slaughter, because they hear Peter charging straight for them! Kentigern takes aim at Peter, but with a loud bang a hole opens up in his left arm! Kentigern lurches back, screaming in agony as he looks to his left. He sees Sinclair aiming Peter's pistol at him. Kentigern opens fire on Sinclair, forcing him and Imai to duck behind a crate for cover. At the same time, the three gangsters confront Peter. One swings his stick, but Peter parries the blow before slashing his neck. The second charges with stick raised, but Peter blocks him from swinging the stick by raising his arm, then bashes the hilt of his sword into the gangster's temple. The third hesitates. Peter dashes right past him, slashing straight through his throat without a second thought as he runs at Kentigern, who notices him! Kentigern aims his blaster at Peter. Just before he pulls the trigger, Peter stops and twists his whole body as he brings his sword to Kentigern's arm. The shot misses as the sword pushes Kentigern's arm away, cutting into it deeply and forcing him to drop the gun! Kentigern screams again, as Peter slams his foot into the side of Kentigern's knee! The leg bends the wrong way under Peter's weight; with a crack Kentigern topples to the floor! Pure instinct takes over as Peter stands tall on Kentigern's broken leg. He cuts Kentigern's neck, then plunges his sword into Kentigern's side! There is a long pause. Then, the leader coughs up blood. He's in too much pain to get up. His pupils dilate as his heart races. Though he refuses to accept it, he knows that it's all over. All he can do is press his hand against the cut on his neck to try and delay the inevitable.

Peter stares down at Kentigern. For a few moments, he is silent, only deeply breathing in and out. "I need to admit something: I understand why you've chosen this life. Though I don't fully trust the perspective you gave me of this world, I can tell you've been legitimately wronged. Did you have a happy life once?"

Kentigern gives a sad look at Peter. He coughs up some more blood. "Y-yes..." He says with a quiet, raspy voice. "Before I--" He coughs several times. "I-- was summoned--" More coughing interrupts him.

Peter takes a deep breath through his nose. His eyes become wet. "I'm sorry... but only to a certain point. I understand why you've chosen this life, but I won't accept it. No matter how terrible your life has turned out, that gives you no right to hurt innocent people! Sinclair, Kazuhiro, and I had nothing against you before your men forcibly dragged us to this shithole. If that's how you treat everybody who just walks by, then you've been part of the problem."

Kentigern is silent. For several moments, not a single response comes out of him. Then, his eyes roll back into his head. With a terrible groan, he expires.

There was nothing left to do after that... Except for leave.

With the leader of their gang dead the Blameless O'Brian Bandits were no more. Hell, a major chunk of the most powerful member lay in pools all around their leaders' lifeless legacy. What had been left of the gangster, now scattered to hide among the rest of the rats in the gutters of Tier 5. Perhaps people even found the need to scurry deeper into the tiers in some vague attempt to continue to be anonymous in all of this.

As Imai blankly lead the way back to the elevator his companion's dealt with their personal feelings of the actions on their own. Peter could personally not get away fast enough but had no energy left to do so. He felt purely sick by what he now knew of this place and how they treated the people. Sinclair was as uneasy as usual around the supposed trooper, but as equally as exhausted as the other two. So much that he didn't even argue that they were blindly following his lead.

They stepped up to the elevator and someone pushed the call button. While the lift does as its command, Imai turned to the group.

"Okay. It's been a long night for us all, so I don't want to sugar coat anything. I just want to be frank here." he explained, taking a moment to decide the irony of Frank's name being a generally disliked metaphor. "I was assigned to come down here and see if you were interested in joining the EPD. The health benefits are the best in all of the Omniverse, the work is Emperor approved, and you won't have to take a lot of shit from people." he glanced in the direction they'd come from. "And you won't ever have to return to this shithole for less than a blacklisted prime."

Peter has been wondering when they were going to finish this conversation. With the raw truth at their backs and his mind full of desire for justice, the decision was easy. Now he just needed to muster up the energy, which all of them lacked. He felt like he'd been climbing a tower of shit all day, slipping on it, finding purchase on questionable platforms, and in the end, he had nothing to show for but this pile of crap he overcame. He would have liked to tell Imai a few things in a few tones, maybe get something out of this for the people as well as himself. He just couldn't find the strength.

"No." Peter all but grunted and sighed. "I could say I will think about it, but all I am concerned with now is a moment to myself."

Imai could probably have argued, but he was just as tired. It's been a lot more high-energy today than he originally thought. At least he got to meet the man of this single myth. "Here. Take my card. In case you change your mind." he pawed at his inner breast pocket and pulled out a black card with white details.

There was a strong sense of de je vu. The name and department were different, but Peter recognized the card's display as like the one he'd already received. The E.E. took it anyways and grunted a fed-up thanks. It was now that the elevator chimed, announcing the arrival of the platform. Before he could automatically step on, he felt Sinclair's hand around his elbow. When he looked back at the dark-skinned Shadow Marshal, he was warned not to follow with a shake of his head.

Looking back at Imai, Peter tried his best at a friendly smile. "No offense... But I think we will wait for the next one."

He looked offended, but like he wasn't able to express it. Nor desired to. "See ya." He claimed and then hit the button for his tier.

It was a long ride, a long walk, and finally a long breath as he sat down in his chair. No sooner than he did, was Frank back on him. Unable to deal with the asshole, he tells the guy - politely - to step off and go do his own work. Eventually putting in a full report as he was meant to, and the report going to the higher-ups. Climbing up the ladder until it stops in the hands of a general with an opinion of what went down.

Later Imai was executed as an example...


Peter turned to Sinclair. He wanted to ask about what that was but could logic it out himself. They didn't need the government breathing down their necks like this. In fact, he pulled out the other business card and tossed them into a nearby gutter. Enough of the past, given it didn't even matter anymore. He had a new idea, a dumb idea.

"What floor did you say the Avengers were on?" he asked his companion, gruffly.

"Tier Four. Something about a mansion." Sinclair said, hoping he got the right information.

"They're on the way up... Should we try that first? I'd say it can't hurt, but I really don't know at this point." Peter added, turning to the elevator's doors, pushing the up button so it would come back down to them. Then he sighed. What he wouldn't give for some good news.

Sinclair nodded.
[Image: source.gif]
"Centurion: I'll leave you to your work then Dust. Thanks for chatting!
Me: no problem. stay awesome!
Centurion: It's more of a passive ability"

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