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A note from Gorilladin

First and formost, I apologize for the short chapter.  Its hovering around 2900 words, and I understand that's not great. I typically put my chapter breaks at thematically appropriate locations, however, as opposed to word count.  So by way of example, chapter 4 is a nice long one, just over 7k words (pre edited).

That said, there's a decent amount of content in this chapter, with some key game mechanics making their first appearance and little bit of the item/loot system being introduced.

Thanks for the read guys!

Chapter 3

Making Contact

 

“I am genuinely stunned that worked dude.” Jimmy was beaming, taking in their new surroundings. The room was lush, with thick cloth curtains draped from the ceiling around each booth for privacy. The bar itself was tucked away in a corner, manned by a single bartender leaning across the shining hardwood with a bored look on his face. The majority of the room was dedicated to the various booths scattered around the outskirts and a simple dance floor in the center of the room, facing a stage.

A bored looking jazz band was crooning a song on stage, while the room ignored them. Most of the people in the bar were sitting at tables, alone. There were a few eyes on Kurt and Jimmy as they entered, but mostly they were ignored. Both men had notification pings to attend to, but Kurt led Jimmy to the bar first, motioning him to keep a low profile. Once at the bar, they checked their new skills.

Jimmy smiled at his. “That got me a new rank in Liar, nicely done. Ohhh, Disguise too! Very cool. Not…you know…skills I use often, but still.”

Kurt opened his to take a look.

 

 

Primary

Planning. Rank 1. (Interaction)

“I love it when a plan comes together!” –The A-team 1983-1987 and 2010

Planning is critical to the success of most criminal endeavors. Increases NPC competence when involved in a plan by 1% Decreases cost (if any) of resources required for any organized plan. (Determined by reputation; both player and faction)

 

 

Secondary

Disguise. Rank 1. (Interaction)

“Naked is the best disguise.” -Unknown.

A well thought out disguise can get you surprisingly far in criminal activities. Increases success rate of appropriate disguises by 1% Reduces cost (if any) of disguise acquisition by 1%

 

“I sure am getting a lot of skills.” He mused as the bartender finally noticed them.

Jimmy nodded, ordering his drink. “Whiskey sour.” He turned back to Kurt. “Yeah, that’s how it is at first. You do any old thing and unlock rank one. You have to do a lot more for higher ranks, so the skill dumps will stop soon. Those specialist skills are a big deal to get though.”

The bartender glared at Kurt with annoyance. Ignoring him, Kurt scowled at the drink in front of Jimmy disbelievingly. “You can drink in this?”

With a slurp and a satisfied smacking sound, Jimmy plonked his glass on the counter. “Hell yeah. There’s all kinds of stuff like that, even hard drugs if you really want. I’m told the effects are not exactly realistic, and they don’t last very long, but you get like stat exchanges and stuff. Some people have been using the game to beat their addictions in real life though, like to prescription stuff or booze, it’s kind of cool.”

“Thought we didn’t have stats??” Kurt scowled in confusion, browsing through a laminated menu.

“Eh, kind of. Its stuff like alcohol making you seem friendlier to NPCs while screwing up your aim, that kind of thing.” Jimmy enjoyed another swig of his drink, swirling the ice cubes.

Finally looking back to the bartender, Kurt shook his head slowly. “Uhh…coffee?” This seemed to annoy the bartender even more, though he did set a white porcelain cup down in front of Kurt and fill it with steaming black liquid. Taking a sip, Kurt was pleasantly surprised to discover it was delicious. After he finished the small cup he felt a surge of energy pass down his spine, and started fidgeting with his cup.

“Ooh, coffee is a good one. Hard to buy the stuff in real life anymore, but they base the flavor off actual coffee, not that Caff-Faux junk.” Jimmy threw back the rest of his glass and set it down with a clink of ice-cubes. “So. Where’s the jobs in this place?” This comment earned him a look of disgust from the barkeeper. Narrowing his eyes, Jimmy reached into his pocket while giving the barkeeper a nasty look. The man backed away and started polishing a glass, trying hard to look anywhere but at Jimmy.

Rolling his eyes, Kurt swiveled in his seat, looking out over the tables. After a moment, he nodded to himself. “Check it out. It looks like there’s a bunch of que…job…givers? Whatever, contacts. Nobody is dressed exactly the same, maybe that’s important?” Coming to a decision, he patted Jimmy on the arm and moved towards a table.

A woman wearing an expensive looking small black dress was seated at the table, partially obscured by the curtain. She was engrossed in an old looking paperback novel with no cover and barely looked up as the men sat down at her table. Without waiting for them to speak, she reached down beside her chair and slid three small envelopes onto the table in front of them. Each was made of different colored paper. One was green, one red, and the final envelope was black.

Without thinking about it, Kurt reached for the black envelope. As soon as he touched it, the woman removed the other two from the table, set a black telescoping tube in their place, and gave them a sharp nod towards the door. Kurt took the tube and stood to leave, tipping an imaginary hat to the woman.

She ignored him completely, turning a little further away in her seat. Kurt shrugged and moved back to the bar. Before he could even open his mouth, the bartender turned away from him and vigorously polished a glass. While Kurt scowled, Jimmy smacked him on the shoulder with the back of his hand, nodding towards the entrance. “Check it out.”

Grif had walked in and was scanning the tables, looking closely at faces. Both Kurt and Jimmy reached for their firearms while turning away. “Is there a back way out of here?” The bartender turned around at Kurt’s question, a mildly horrified look on his face. It was in that moment Grif spotted them.

“Hey asshole!” He walked towards them as he pulled out his revolver, firing it. Jimmy took a round in the stomach and grunted, trying to get his gun out of his pocket. Before either of them could retrieve their own guns, half a dozen NPCs stood up and gunned down Grif. Afterwards, they went back to their tasks as if nothing had happened, chatting amiably and sipping drinks.

Kurt laughed appreciatively as Grif hit the floor and bled out, his revolver falling to dust before his body did the same. “Guess we know not to go starting fights in contact bars. C’mon man, let’s get lost.” Jimmy nodded, picking at the hole in his suit jacket as it automatically closed itself, thread reaching across the gap to connect. He didn’t seem to be in any pain, and Kurt questioned him as they left through the back door. “Doesn’t it hurt to get shot?” He remembered his own close call with the taxi cab at his spawn point.

Jimmy laughed. “Hell yeah it does. Not as much for me anymore though. It’s the kind of thing you get used to quick and I have a lot of skills in that area. I get reduced damage and can take more bullets. I kind of get shot a lot.”

With a snort of laughter, Kurt tore the top of the envelope off, pouring the contents into his hand. It contained two small scraps of note paper and a single polaroid photograph. The photograph showed a painting, the details of which were too small to really make out. It looked to Kurt like an ancient battle scene, with many men riding horses towards each other in a desert. On the first scrap of paper was an address with an office number. On the second was another address with the word ‘Delivery’ scribbled beneath it.

Looking over his shoulder, Jimmy snorted. “Nice. What are we supposed to do with that?!”

Kurt pointed at the picture. “Look at the edges there, it’s in a frame. I think it’s at this first address and we’re supposed to steal it and take it to the delivery address. Is this…I think it’s an art heist.”

Jimmy blinked at the realization. “Huh. Wonder what you’re dragging me into.”

Slipping the items back into the envelope and pocketing it, Kurt smiled. “Let’s go find out.” He stepped out of the stinking alleyway and looked up and down the street for a moment. “I don’t remember where we parked. Does that matter?”

“Ha, no! I never do either. This city is weird and confusing, but I do kind of love it. I’ll just call for it.” He started swiping at his wrist.

Scanning the various people on the street, Kurt spoke over his shoulder. “Do you have anything a little more subdued? We probably need to be sneaky on this job.”

Still messing with his phone, Jimmy waved his friend off, before turning to the alleyway and speaking. “Yeah, it’s me. Bring the car around would you?” He paused for a moment. “No, the…what is it? The black one. How many black cars do I have? OK, fine…no shut up…yes. The black sedan is fine, just bring it here.”

He turned away, exasperated. Kurt chuckled from his place on the curb. “So what kind of car are we getting?”

“Shut up dude, I have no idea.” Jimmy shrugged his annoyance. “Probably a black sedan of some sort.”

When the car arrived, a young man wearing sports attire and a bright orange headband got out of the driver’s seat and tossed a key fob to Jimmy before jogging off down the road. The car was a hearse, with a bright white cross painted on the back window. Kurt laughed as Jimmy swiped at his wrist furiously.

“Don’t sweat it; I’ll get us a ride. Saw this in a movie.” He stepped out into the street and raised his handgun, pointing it at a nearby driver. The NPC had been moving at a crawl in traffic, and when Kurt threatened him, he simply dove out of the car and ran away. Kurt shrugged. “That was easy.”

As they were getting in the car, Jimmy shrugged. “Yeah big guy, they have a handful of responses to being jacked. Just wait until one of them runs you down for trying that.”

The car was a simple light grey four door sedan, and carried a name that Kurt recognized from his enjoyment of older movies, Toyota Camry. While it didn’t have the pure speed of Jimmy’s lowrider, it was much easier to drive and felt more responsive to Kurt. He swiped up his map, glancing between the windshield and his wrist as he input the address and was given a waypoint. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the map up onto the windshield and then swiped it down to a corner again.

Frowning for a moment, Kurt tapped at a corner to expand the map. It was covered in swatches of color that bordered on each other. Most of the areas with a colored overview were large, but the odd occasional one was small as well, causing Kurt’s eyebrow to peak in confusion. “Hey Jimmy, why is the map all different colors?”

Jimmy popped the seat control, flopping backwards with a comfortable sigh. “That’s just the turf, don’t worry about it yet.”

Kurt scowled at that, turning to glare at Jimmy for a moment. “Tell me when I’m older?”

His friend chuckled from lounging position. “Alright, alright. Turf is for factions. You can basically just claim it, and as long as nobody confronts you about it, it’s yours to operate in. It’s not like you can’t go in somebody else’s turf, so it’s really not a huge deal until you need to start washing big amounts of cash.” Jimmy paused there, leaning up to look out the window. “Hell, you can even own a safehouse in somebody else’s turf. But yeah, you won’t need turf until you have a faction. The main benefit of it is cash washing. Once you claim turf, you can set up fronts in it for free and they will slowly wash your dirty cash to clean, which is…kind of important. You need clean cash for most big buys, like safehouses or good guns.”

Jimmy was cut off by the GPS pinging their arrival as they pulled up in front of the address they had been given. They had driven into the heart of the downtown cluster, into a grouping of skyscrapers and business complexes.

The building they were in front of stood imposingly on an entire block of the city. Kurt peered up through the windshield at the tall cylinder of a building. He guessed roughly forty floors before giving up and sitting back in his seat. Jimmy tapped his knuckles on the glass. “So what now?”

Kurt slipped the car back into drive and slowly pulled away from the curb while staring out the window at the building. “Let’s circle a little, I probably need a plan.”

Pulling his SMG from inside his jacket, Jimmy extended the magazine and flicked the safety off. Seeing Kurt’s sharp look, he waved a hand casually at his friend. “Just in case. Also, I’m starting to get a bad feeling about the colors on those envelopes.” He looked out the window, his eyes narrowing. “Pretty sure you shoulda picked green.”

Ignoring his friend, Kurt slowly drove into the buildings underground parking lot. As he was cruising around in the mostly empty lot, he noticed an employee section and drove past it while peering out the window. A simple chain link fence separated it from the rest of the parking lot, and an open door beyond the fence showed a staff room with lockers and cleaning equipment. Kurt pointed, showing Jimmy. “That’s our in. We get through the fence and take some cleaner or maintenance outfits, then make our way upstairs. Looks like the office we need is near the top floor. Says 41a on the note. Figure that means 41st floor?” He shrugged, as did Jimmy.

“Yeah, could work. We need to go hit a pawn shop first though. Get some stuff for this.” He swiped through his phone for a moment, before tossing a waypoint up on the screen. Kurt nodded and drove away, following his new way point to a run-down looking shop a few blocks away. Parking the car out front, Kurt took in the storefront. The windows were protected by thick metal bars across the outside, in a formation so tight a brick wouldn’t go through. Various items were clumped haphazardly in the windows, mostly music instruments in poor condition. The doorway was sunken into the buildings front, and had a metal gate that could come down to block the way in or out as needed. Kurt had never seen such a restrictive building.

Not missing a beat, Jimmy walked up and swung the door wide, to the sound of a small bell jingling. Kurt shrugged and followed him inside. Behind the counter against the wall slumped a very unhappy looking old man with stark white hair and a stubbly beard. He frowned at each of them, and said nothing.

“So…what is this place?” Kurt picked through some faded camouflage jackets while Jimmy went up to the counter at the back of the building.

“Here, gun mods. See what’s unlocked for you.” He leaned over the glass, staring at what appeared to be nothing. Kurt approached and looked down. The glass case was mostly empty, containing only a magazine and a suppressor.

Jimmy kept browsing the case beside him, looking at nothing and occasionally swiping at his wrist. After a moment of this, Kurt nudged him. “What are you looking at? This case is pretty much empty.”

His friend smiled. “It’s different for me; I have way more weapon skills. And I have rep with this guy.” He waved casually at the store owner, who instantly raised a middle finger back, an angry scowl on his face. “He’s in every basic pawn shop in the city. Never gets friendlier either. Anyway, I have more unlocks than you. You probably have the suppressor and first rank of the extended magazine, right?” Kurt nodded, wondering what was so interesting in the case for Jimmy.

After a bit of shopping around, they paid out roughly one thousand dollars to purchase their shopping list. Kurt bought the suppressor for his handgun. They also picked up a set of bolt cutters and some zip ties. The big-ticket items were the suppressor and the bolt cutters. Kurt looked to Jimmy to help pay, but the broad-shouldered man chuckled with a shrug.

“Uh, yeah, not so much dude. I never carry cash on me, and I just sold out my clean money yesterday, so I’m broke.” Jimmy smiled slightly. “Besides, this is your op. I’m just here to shoot stuff when it all goes to hell.” He looked away, his knowing smile firmly in place. “Which…it will.”

“Those are easily the most expensive bolt cutters on the planet.” Kurt was grousing as he drove, unhappy about what he felt were unreasonable prices.

Jimmy lifted them and clicked them together a couple of times. “Yep. That’s how it is though. You can buy a historically accurate battleship. Like…an actual ship of war with missile launchers and huge guns and stuff. It’s expensive, sure, but not as expensive as they actually were in this time period. Cruise missiles though? Woof, super expensive. The game scales prices on stuff.”

Frowning, Kurt drove down into the underground parking lot of their target building once more, backing the car into a parking space near the chain link fence blocking off the employee area. “So what? If something is useful, it’s expensive?”

Opening his door and getting out, Jimmy laughed. “More or less, yeah. Let’s go rob this place!”

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About the author

Gorilladin

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

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