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A note from Gorilladin

This is the first chapter to include the skill system I am working with, so of course I'd love comments and notes on that whole thing.  It's my intention to keep it simple, with a totally passive skill system that can naturally build itself around each individual player, but is also malleable to create a class with if one so chooses.  Also, a close friend pointed out that skills can get repetitive for readers, so the quotation system is primarily there to keep them interesting to read.  As a disclaimer, I may or may not have read or seen the quotes origins.  I also may or may not agree with the content of the quotes, they are merely there to provide a little flavor to the skills and illuminate how they are used in the game.

Chapter 2

Expectations

Gunfire erupted almost instantly as he stepped out, impacts peppering the street and wall directly to his left. Kurt ducked and ran, acting on instinct as he darted out into the street. He tried to look for the shooter, but was nearly struck by a rounded yellow taxi cab sliding to a stop with a squeal of tires and an angry horn blare. Ignoring the driver’s impolite shouts, Kurt ran hunched over, trying to dart between cars as the traffic around him began to back up.

Another burst of gunfire spattered the area near him, sinking into the NPC vehicles and causing the civilians to instantly panic. The traffic jam moved as a herd, all pushing forward at the same time. Kurt was knocked down by a passing vehicle with a panicked woman inside. As she passed his prostrate form, he heard her screaming wordlessly. His elbow throbbed with simulated pain, and a quick glance at his phones home screen showed a drop of about a fifth of his total health bar next to a little rotating dollar sign icon and the number ‘100.’

The last of the traffic jam moved past him, and he scrambled to get back to his feet. A throaty burst of gunfire sounded again, rounds striking the ground around him as he changed direction. This time he got a decent look at where the shooter was firing from, a second story window directly across from the spawning building. As Kurt reached for his handgun, he heard a hollow puff sound from behind him. A rocket streaked into the window and the street was rocked by an explosion, debris raining into the NPC traffic and causing the panicked drivers to streak off in different directions.

Still firmly planted on his ass, Kurt looked up to where the smoke trail from the rocket led. A man in a tactical outfit wearing obvious thick armor gave him a crisp salute before turning to run from his position. Kurt watched wide eyed as the man sprinted to the lip of the building and jumped, turning in midair to swing into the wall and rappel down. As Kurt watched this happen, a disgustingly orange car rumbled to a stop next to him. It was an old lowrider style 1963 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors and an absurdly long hood and trunk. Seated in the driver’s seat was Jimmy, a big smile plastered on his face.

“Get in scrub, before you get us both killed!” He leaned over and extended a hand to his friend. Jimmy always had a big smile on his face, and kept his sandy hair in a short buzz. He looked around, suspicious for a moment. “Somebody shootin’ off rpgs around here?”

Kurt scrambled on his hands and knees to dive into the car, as Jimmy pulled away from the curb at as high a speed as the car would allow. He was wearing a plain white sleeveless undershirt, with several gold and silver chains around his neck and a pair of bright orange swimming trunks. “What the hell was that!?” Kurt scrambled to get his legs in the door of the moving vehicle as it swung closed.

Jimmy played with the radio, glancing up at the windshield occasionally to steer. “A pretty clean pickup, I’d say.” He looked over at Kurt huddled in the seat, slid half way onto the floor of the car. “Why, you get hit or something?”

“I’ve been in game all of twenty seconds, and somebody shot at me and then somebody else blew something up and then swung away. Why was he swinging?!” Kurt pulled himself up into the seat, fastening his seat belt with shaking hands. He glanced at his phones main menu to see his health bar restored. It was only then he realized that his elbow no longer hurt.

With a chuckle, Jimmy turned a corner and continued driving. “Welcome to the Life man.” He glanced in his review mirror at the mess they had left behind. “Spawn campers. Scum of Illusion, but what can you do?” He shrugged.

“Hit them with a rocket, apparently.” Kurt leaned forward and patted his gun, making sure it was still in place. It hadn’t moved, to his relief.

Jimmy noticed, raising an eyebrow. “You won’t lose your gun dude. Whatever holster you have will just keep it in place, even if it should technically fall out. Part of the mechanics.” He paused and thought for a moment. “I mean, you can lose it yourself. Like if you panic in a gun fight like a chump or something.” With that he reached beside his seat and pulled out a blocky looking submachine gun with an ugly loop at the business end, ported heatsink around the base of the barrel, and a wire frame stock. The gun was gold plated, and had a white rabbits foot charm hanging from the trigger guard. He folded the magazine port down from under the barrel, slid out the stock with his teeth, and laughed at the incredulous look on his friend’s face.

“What in the hell is that thing?!” Kurt pulled his wrist up to the gun and tapped the middle of his screen, but the scan option wouldn’t engage.

“Can’t scan down anybody else’s gear while it’s on em. Here, try now.” He set the gun onto the center console of the car, swerving slightly to avoid a collision and slowing down a bit.

Kurt hovered his wrist over the gun and swiped the scan option. This time, the scanner spit out a page for him to look at. The gun was a MAT 49 submachine gun. It boasted a 32-round magazine, and bonuses to concealment when in its folded down state. Kurt noted that the bonuses were shot to hell with the addition of the gold plating, and the gun had an aggro warning floating in place next to its nameplate.

MAT 49

Submachine Gun. Primary/Secondary. Firearm drops upon death and can be picked up by any player in the vicinity.

Caliber: 9mm.

Rate of Fire: 600 rounds per minute.

Capacity: 32 round magazine.

 

“Aggro?” Kurt swiped the screen closed, and Jimmy slid the gun back into his lap.

“Yeah, it’s part of the mechanics. Bigger more impressive guns tend to get a lot more attention in a fight.” He shrugged. “I’ve never really noticed a difference though.”

His eyebrow raised, Kurt turned to look at his friend. “You get in a lot of gunfights?”

Jimmy just smiled in response. He kept driving them a distance from the spawn point, into a residential area. As he pulled over to an empty curb, he looked around, scanning different areas. “OK, I think we’re clear. First things first, pull up your options menu and turn off aim assist.”

Kurt looked at him in confusion. “But I’ve never fired a gun before. Shouldn’t I keep that on?”

Shaking his head, Jimmy quickly explained; “Naw, it just turns near misses into center mass hits or grazes occasionally, like one in five or something. But, aim assist being turned off basically means that it no longer applies to you. At all.” He raised his eyebrows significantly, before slumping with a sigh. “If you have YOUR aim assist off, nobody else’s works against you. The learning curve is a little steeper sure, but you’ll pick it up in no time, and this tiny detail makes a massive difference.”

Offering a shrug, Kurt swiped through his options menu and turned off aim assist. “Right, done. Now when I miss all my shots, it’ll be your fault.”

Jimmy laughed. “Just start off with close range, you’ll be fine. Oh hey, you wanna drive man?”

With a nod, Kurt moved to exit the car. “Sure.” A notification popped up on his wrist, and he swiped at it as he moved around the back of the car to the driver’s side.

Primary

Liar Rank 1. (Interaction)

“All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.” Bob Dylan -2000

Dishonesty is a core concept in the criminal world. Any dishonest interaction receives a 1% bonus to succeed when interacting with NPCs of any kind. This skill will also occasionally help cover up mistakes (stammers, misplaced words, etc.) in dishonest interactions with other players.

 

Frowning, Kurt swiped the notification away. He flopped down in the driver’s seat and pursed his lips in annoyance. After managing a series of adjustments to the mirrors and seats, he buckled his seat belt and pulled away from the curb. Jimmy chuckled beside him, shaking his head.

“Wearing your seat belt like it’s the real world man. You really are a noob.” He swiped at his own wrist a few times, before leaning over and making a tossing motion at the windshield. A map sprang into view in front of Kurt, who promptly swiped it out of his main field of view to a corner of the windshield. A line in bright red was shown cutting through the city streets. “Would you kindly follow that? We have a little business to attend to.” The last was said with a smile that made Kurt uncomfortable.

Two additional notifications popped up on Kurt’s wrist, and he carefully swiped them open while driving.

Primary

Driving Rank 1. (Mobility)

“In driving, one assumes the danger of destroying life, beginning with one’s own.” Richard T. Kelly -2011

The skilled operation of basic motor vehicles is essential to any criminal operation. Vehicle speed, handling, and durability is increased by 1% This bonus applies to any vehicle the player operates.

 

Primary

Cartography Rank 1. (Mobility)

“Are we there yet??” -Unknown

Clever use of the map can be instrumental to several aspects of criminal activities. Mini-map notification radius and sensitivity increased by 1%

 

He nodded with an appreciative shrug. Jimmy had been folding the stock on his SMG when Kurt opened the skill notifications, and peered over his shoulder. “What’d you get?”

“Uhh…map and driving?” Kurt glanced at the notifications again, before swerving to avoid a civilian as he exited the neighborhood, earning a colorful shout from the NPC.

Jimmy laughed. “Just don’t kill us playing with your menus dude.”

Chuckling along with his friend, Kurt continued on the route the GPS laid out for them. The streets were sparsely populated with run down houses, graffiti covered warehouses, and unpleasant looking NPCs. Within a few moments, they were nearing the end of the red line. Jimmy rolled down his window, clutching the SMG in his lap. Sensing what was coming, Kurt pulled over abruptly. “What are we doing Jimmy?”

Jimmy flashed him a toothy smile. “A drive by man, c’mon. Those guys up there in the blue shorts are a rival gang; I gotta keep em in check.” Seeing Kurt grip the steering wheel tighter, he made a soothing motion with one hand. “It’s just a bunch of NPCs dude, its fine. They don’t even shoot back half the time. We just spray em down, you drive us out of here to someplace safe to wait out the heat, and then you can pick the next thing we do.”

Shaking his head, Kurt pulled away from the curb and started driving at a slow crawl towards the NPC gang. Young men wearing matching basketball shorts and bandanas stood clustered around a car in a driveway. They appeared to be playing a game, slapping playing cards down and jostling each other. Noting that they were on his side of the car, Kurt slouched down in his seat a little, trying to make himself a smaller target.

“OK, keep it steady, here we go.” Jimmy climbed part way out of his window, sitting on the windowsill and aiming his gun out over the roof of the car. “Raise up now muthafuckas!” The gun blew apart the suddenly still air in a series of sharp thuds, raining shells across the roof of the car as bullets ripped into the gang member NPCs. Kurt watched wide eyed as the men fell in a heap, their own firearms exploding into silver dust as they went down.

With a hoot of success and a slap to the roof, Jimmy slid back into his seat. He dropped out the spent magazine from his MAT 49 and fished a fresh one from his pocket, slipping it into place and tapping the bolt back into ready position against the dashboard. “Go dude!” He looked out the rear windshield as police sirens began to sound in the nearby distance.

Pressing the spongey accelerator to the floor, Kurt noticed with a small degree of panic that the mini-map on the windshield had changed its outline. Red and blue lights dimly flashed around the outside of it, and two small gold bars pressed together in a slight V shape firmly sat above it. The Heat indicator seemed to follow a general theme of police ranks. The car fishtailed slightly as he turned a corner, its wheels squealing in protest. Jimmy laughed as he was tossed into the car door.

Glancing at the mini-map on the windshield, Kurt noticed a red and blue strobing dot coming down the street towards them from their front. He turned quickly, cutting through a parking lot tucked into an alley. The streets were full of debris and people, and Kurt swerved madly as he attempted to avoid them. The dot on the mini-map followed them down the alley, and Kurt glanced at his rearview to see a black and white Crown Victoria police cruiser slide into the alley and accelerate frighteningly.

With another of his gleeful laughs, Jimmy started climbing out of the window again. “You suck at this my man, pick up the pace!” He roared with laughter as he opened fire on the police cruiser behind them, his chains and necklaces whipping in the wind. His rounds struck the windshield and caused the driver to swerve into a nearby parked car. Kurt made another turn, looking for an open road. Quickly, he found an onramp to the freeway and floored the gas pedal again, cutting off a civilian NPC.

He reduced his speed once on the freeway and kept a paranoid eye on the mini-map, watching several other red and blue flashing dots converge on the cruiser Jimmy had shot. “Don’t we get in more trouble shooting at the cops?”

Jimmy scoffed, relaxing in his seat with an arm casually thrown over the bench seats backing. “Naw man, only if you kill em. The two bar is for popping off in public, so they are already doing the whole ‘armed and dangerous’ bit. You kill one and it goes up, but not just for shooting at em. If you got a one bar and shot at em, it’d bump up to a two bar though.”

Kurt drove down an off ramp to avoid another police dot on the map coming their way, and then weaved through a few alleyways until the bars began to flicker. He parked the car and turned the key to the off position, keeping an eye on the map. After a moment, the flashing bars simply dropped off the screen and they were free from the Heat.

“Look, we have to talk for a minute.” Jimmy was uncharacteristically serious, looking over at him from the passenger seat.

Nodding, Kurt met his friend’s intense gaze. “What’s up?”

Jimmy squinted at him for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “This game isn’t like that fantasy stuff we played as kids.” He paused for effect. “We are not heroes. There is going to come a moment where you’ll get a little tickle in the back of your head. You’ll wonder what would happen if you just...did something. Something bad, probably. What we would normally think of as bad anyway.” He stopped and looked out the windshield for a moment. “When that moment comes, do yourself a huge favor and find out.” Kurt wondered for a moment if his friend was joking, but Jimmy seemed to be past his strange moment. “So what now? Your turn. I’m down for pretty much anything.” He casually reloaded his SMG again, the empty magazine falling to dust as it landed on the floor of the car.

“Uhh…I dunno. What can we do?” Kurt frowned as he spoke. He hadn’t thought this far ahead.

Jimmy started counting on his fingers. “We can knock over a corner store, hit an armored car, rob a bank, or go hunting players. A lot of the stuff is actually kind of hard, but it’s all pretty fun, and even if you fail you typically get rep. Just don’t get taken alive, getting busted sucks.”

Kurt scowled at his friend. “How?”

“So the cops take all your gear, you get nothing back except your starter gun and clothes. They impound your, excuse me, MY car, which is a pain to get back. Plus you take a pretty major rep hit. It’s all about the rep, so you want to avoid getting taken alive. Only chumps and tiny baby nublets do that anyway. Go down fighting, its way more fun. You get respawned at your safehouse, but since you don’t have one yet, I added you to mine.” He folded his SMG back into its holster position and slid it into his shorts pocket. “Let’s go.” With that, he opened the door and stepped out, stretching.

Popping open the driver’s side door, Kurt followed him out into the street. “Your car ok there?”

Jimmy turned around, walking backwards as he looked. “Yeah man, its fine. Once the game detects you leaving it, it’s just recalled to the garage system. We can always just call for it. I got a guy for that.” He spread his arms out wide in a shrug. “Well, an NPC guy, but still. Free service when you get your rep up enough in a faction or start running turf.”

As they walked towards the main road, Kurt had time to take in the city a bit. They were in what his mini-map identified as ‘The Downtown Cluster.’ The buildings were made of brick and concrete, and stretched high above their heads into the dizzying heights. People were everywhere, and Kurt quickly discovered it was unsettling to realize he couldn’t tell if they were players or NPCs.

“Hey Jimmy, how do you tell who’s a player and who’s just an NPC?” He messed with his wrist device as he walked, searching the scan menu for options.

“Ha! That’s part of the charm my friend. You can’t. Not in any official way anyhow. If you see a chump walking around looking at his wrist like you right now it’s a dead giveaway, but otherwise you have to rely on your wits.” He gave his friend an amused glance as Kurt hurriedly swiped his phone away. “But really, you’ll get used to it and start to know. The NPCs are a little predictable sometimes. So are the players.”

Scanning the streets, Kurt noticed a young man walking towards them with his wrist in front of his face. He tapped at it a couple of times before swiping it away and continuing towards them. Kurt reached slowly for his gun, but the young man raised his arms and plastered an amusing expression onto his face.

“Don’t shoot, I’m friendly. I also have nothing on me worth taking, all my cash is clean.” He raised the suit jacket he was wearing to show them. A familiar revolver was all that he had tucked away, so Kurt eased the hammer of his gun back down and let it rest in his holster.

“Go away.” Jimmy brushed past, one hand in his pocket.

“Well, let’s at least talk to the guy. Maybe he knows something cool to do.” Kurt shrugged and then extended his hand. “Kurt. Nice to meet you.”

The young man looked shocked for a moment. He quickly recovered. “Griff, very nice to meet you Kurt.” He enthusiastically shook Kurt’s hand, using both of his own. “It’s just really cool to meet you. Thanks for not shooting me, that part sucks.”

Jimmy walked over and broke up the handshake, slapping downward on the awkward physical engagement. “Don’t talk to this guy, he’s a grifter. He’s a grifter named Griff. Get lost grifter, or your dreams of not being shot will get popped. As will you. Get popped, that is.” He paused for a moment, looking between Kurt and Griff. “I will shoot you, is that part clear?” He looked to Kurt. “I just don’t want him getting mixed messages, you know.”

Kurt frowned. “He’s not doing anything, just let me talk to him.” Jimmy threw his arms up in defeat and walked a few feet away. He kept his hand in the pocket that held his folded down SMG while watching them.

“Thank you, Kurt. Really, thank you again.” He ran a hand through his hair briefly. “Look, I represent a guild of sorts in this game. We help inexperienced players with startup gear, consumables, advice, even contacts for quests and other guilds.” He gestured with his hands as he spoke, causing Kurt to scowl slightly.

“So you do recruiting?” He asked the question already assuming what the pitch would be.

“Outreach, but yeah pretty much. The guild is Pyramid International. We have a good system. When you first join up, the guild provides everything you need to run quests and takes a small cut of your earnings to make sure we can keep helping new players and keep growing. Then as you help recruit new players, the cut the guild takes goes down. Or you can always just find a new guild if you want. I personally enjoy helping new players, so I stick around.” The young man gave him a hopeful smile as he finished his pitch.

Jimmy pushed off the wall and drew his SMG, starting to fold the magazine into position. “Right, I’m shooting him.”

Kurt stepped between them and raised his arms to Jimmy. “Hang on man, I could really use this.” He nodded towards the wall and they turned away from Griff for a moment. Poking Jimmy in the side, he engaged an old signal for subterfuge, from their fantasy game days. Kurt spoke low, but in a voice loud enough to be heard by their hopeful scammer. “I really don’t know what I’m doing yet, and this guild sounds like a sweet deal.”

Playing his role perfectly, Jimmy scowled at him and turned back to the wall, shaking his head with pursed lips. “Do whatever man, your game.”

Turning back to Griff, he smiled disarmingly. “Sorry. Just sorting some stuff out.” As Griff nodded empathetically, he continued. “So, I’m new, as you gathered. Just started today and I just got my first skill ranks, but haven’t made any money yet. Is there a sign-up fee?”

Griff pulled a face. “I mean, yeah. Two thousand bugsy gets you in the door, but you’ll be making bank in no time with all the help you get.”

Kurt pretended to think about it for a moment. “Well…I don’t even have a thousand yet.” He turned to Jimmy. “Would you spot me?”

The glare that reached him informed him of Jimmy’s annoyance, but his friend answered anyway. “No.”

Turning back to Griff, Kurt smiled again. “Pyramid International, right? I’ll be sure to look you guys up when I make some money.” He turned to leave.

Griff stepped in front of him, arms raised slightly in a ‘hold on’ motion. “Tell you what my friend. You have to pay the guild directly to join, but I’m happy as a clam to front you the bugsy. Actually, you don’t even have to pay me back, getting a recruit will shave five percent off my share with the big guys.

Kurt stepped back, making an unsure face. “I wouldn’t want to be a leech or anything…”

Practically grinning, Griff messed with his phone for a moment. Kurt was sure to act surprised when a notification of fund transfer showed up on his own. “Two thousand bugsy sent. That’ll get you in, just make sure you tell them in the application that it was me who recruited you.” Griff made a finger-guns motion at Kurt and clicked his tongue. “Tell you what; I’ll throw in a bonus.” He started messing with his phone again, swiping around until he found what he was looking for. A simple tap and he leaned his wrist towards Kurt’s. When they touched wrists, a location pinged as marked on Kurt’s map. “That is a contact bar. It’s like this games version of a quest hub, consider it a signing bonus.”

Then the moment happened. Kurt narrowed his eyes for an instant, feeling the sensation Jimmy had warned him about. “Thanks a lot Griff.” He turned to face Jimmy and gave him a knowing smile. “Oh hey, Griff?” The young man looked back up at him, an inquisitive expression already in place. Kurt raised his Beretta. “You shouldn’t try to scam people.” His finger clenched and the gun kicked in his hand, a flare of yellow flame and a puff of cordite replacing Griff’s visage in front of him.

Multiple notifications pinged from his wrist as Jimmy howled in laughter. They started running down a side street while NPCs around them panicked and scattered. They cut through the alley and ran across the following intersection into another alley way, turning to avoid the red and blue dots heading their way on the map.

Kurt turned in a quick circle, his wrist in front of him. “um…this way!” Leading Jimmy into a nearby apartment building, he quickly ran up a few flights of stairs and sat in a hallway windowsill over-looking the main street.

Jimmy was still laughing when he caught up. “Dude, that was amazing. That was your first kill too!” He gave Kurt a respectfully amazed look. “…That is an amazing first kill. On a player no less. That’s gotta be mad xp, what’d you get?”

Kurt swiped off his map as the Heat bars faded away. He pulled up his notifications as Jimmy peered out the window.

 

Primary

Liar Rank 2. (Interaction)

“Liars need to have good memories.” Algernon Sidney

Dishonesty is a core concept in the criminal world. Any dishonest interaction receives a 2% bonus to succeed when interacting with NPCs of any kind. This skill will also occasionally help cover up mistakes (stammers, misplaced words, etc.) in dishonest interactions with other players.

 

 

Primary

Perception. Rank 1 (Interaction)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” -Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Noticing that which is not always obvious is a critical survival skill. Certain objects of use may become “focused” or pinged to the map. NPC interactions may also become more overt to the player. Chances of both benefits occurrences increase with rank.

 

Primary

Small Arms. Rank 1 (Combat)

“Oh c’mon. Guns don’t kill people…but they sure do help.” Shoot ‘em up, 2007.

Skilled use of basic firearms can assist in several tasks. Maximum damage with all firearms increased by 1%

 

Secondary

Underhanded. Rank 1. (Interaction)

“I love listening to lies when I know the truth.” Unknown.

Guided deception can profit those capable of outwitting their peers. Any cash or reputation rewards gained through use of deception are increased by 5% Increases dishonest interaction success rate by 1% Currently stacking with Liar rank 2. Total bonus increased to 3%

 

Specialist

Obfuscation. Rank 1 (Interaction)

“Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott, 1808

Deceptions involving multiple victims, using multiple veins of mistruth are complex to wield, but profit those capable. This isn’t just a lie, it’s bordering on politics. Adds a modifier to Liar and Underhanded skills, increasing each of their bonuses by a factor of 2. Total bonus success rate for applicable dishonest interactions increased by 6% Total reward gains for dishonest interactions increased by 10%

 

“I got a specialist skill. Obfuscation?” Kurt frowned at the skill. “It must have unlocked because I lied about needing a guild while I was lying about needing the loan? Ohhh, it’s a multiplier…that’s actually kind of over powered.”

With a quick yawn, Jimmy checked his own phone, scrolling through his skills to check their progress. “Naw man, that kind of stuff is super specific. Only comes into play if you keep being a liar, basically. Seems like you can build a class around that though, which is pretty cool.”

Turning his head, Kurt looked to his friend. “What class are you?”

Jimmies shoulders rocked once with amusement. He reached into a pocket and produced a thin black stone box. As he extended his hand toward Kurt, the box clicked open and a paper card stood up on a metal stand. “I am Muscle. It’s a combat heavy thing, second level class. I’ve been working on a specialist upgrade for almost two years with no luck. This game is complicated.” Kurt plucked the card and looked at it.

Muscle

JimJam

 

“JimJam?” Kurt glanced up. “Care to explain, JimJam?” He suppressed the urge to snicker as Jimmy snatched the card back from him.

“Not particularly, scrote.” Jimmy scowled at the card before tucking it back into the holder. “Actually forgot about that. You don’t really use the cards for much.”

Standing up, Kurt moved towards the stairwell. “We should check that quest hub out.”

Shaking his head with a sigh, Jimmy moved to follow him. “Don’t say quest, dude. It’s like…missions or runs or jobs. Also, I should point out…that is the first place Grif is going to be looking for you.”

“And we can’t handle him?” Kurt gave his friend a knowing smile.

“Shut up.” Jimmy followed along willingly enough, but pulled a face when he saw their location.

Dusty red brick made up the wall front, grimy with years of rain and unadulterated age. People stood in a line in front of the building, leading up to a hulking man in a suit coat who wore sunglasses in spite of the encroaching dusk. Expensive looking cars were lined up in the street out front, and a nearby alleyway hinted at horrors to behold with a wafting smell of hot garbage.

Jimmy protested. “No way man. These places are impossible to get into. You have to somehow talk your way past the doorman, or just wait in line for like an hour.”

After standing in the street for a moment looking at the doorman, Kurt smiled. “Don’t worry Jimmy. I have a plan. Here’s what we do.” They conferred for a moment and Jimmy laughed while shaking his head. They went across the street to a strip mall clothing store and Kurt spent some of his ill-gotten gains on a new suit. He chose an understated dark grey suit with a light blue checkered dress shirt and a tie that matched his coat and pants perfectly. He added a pair of inexpensive black framed sunglasses. Jimmy entered a dressing room and came out wearing a black suit with a white shirt and red tie.

Frowning, he turned in a circle in front of the mirror once. “I don’t like this plan.” Kurt nodded and smiled. Noticing with some satisfaction that his hidden rear belt holster had transferred to the new suit pants, he fastened the bottom button on his coat and started walking across the street.

Approaching the doorman, Kurt simply walked up to move past him. The doorman immediately stuck out an arm and grabbed Kurt lightly, blocking his path. As Kurt recoiled from the arm with disgust, Jimmy stepped up to do his part.

“Hands off the client.” He spoke as authoritarian as he could, while trying to suppress a giggle. He also stepped between the doorman and Kurt, moving the doorman’s arm away gently.

The doorman looked surprised, but relented. “My apologies, sir. Names?”

Kurt sighed dramatically, looking at a fingernail. Jimmy stepped a little closer, leaning in to give the appearance of a secret he didn’t want the crowd knowing. “This is Mr. Kurtis, we’re expected.”

Flipping his single piece of paper over and back, the doorman began to look nervous. He re-read the list and then looked up at first Kurt, and then Jimmy with a look of anxiety. “Look, my list is obviously not updated. Go ahead in, and I’ll have a word with my coordinator.”

Jimmy slapped him jovially on the back. “You got it big man.” He then glanced between the door and the doorman expectantly.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Please, enjoy your visit.” He stepped forward and lowered his head respectfully as he held open the door for them. Kurt sniffed as he walked past, an offended look plastered on his features. Jimmy had a tough time stifling his laughter.

 

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A note from Gorilladin

A handful of things are in place currently that I'm not exactly married to, like the name of the grifters guild.  I've been told its pretty heavy handed, (which it totally is) but at the same time, I never meant it to be covert.  If you as a reader discover portions of this project that turn you off or on, do please let me know.  I'm all about this project being fun.


About the author

Gorilladin

Bio: Champion of the Light, defender of the innocent, bane of plantains.

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