2020-04-21: Truth Or Dare

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Featuring River, Nikita Sokolov
Rating R
Synopsis River and Nik continue their investigation into the kidnappings. Please note, extreme gore and a lot of strong language.

Gang wars. Turf wars. Drugs wars. Marble wars. Well, maybe not marbles, but considering just how little it takes for people to fight, it wouldn't surprise River any if there was such a thing. On this dark, dreary, and wet evening, the private investigator has shifted her investigation of a missing and possibly endangered child to the streets of Back Maryland. The neighborhood that absolutely no one wants to ever have anything to do with it, if they can help it.

The tattoo that River 'saw' with her powers came from a relatively new and young gang to the Atlantic City population. They call themselves the 'Knock Out Kings', the tattoo is large, ugly and noticeable, a boxing glove with a crown on top. Rumor has it they enjoy evenings at a small bar not far from the Marina, yet still within Back Maryland.

Thus, in the darkened alleyway of a dingy, loud, and smoky establishment, River (and Vesper) stand out in the rain, and gaze towards the dark doors. The dog with River, Vesper, sits patiently by her master's side, ears perked, listening, on guard, and when a familiar smell hits her, she woofs silently. Not an angry, 'I don't know this person', but a friendly, 'Hey, do you have any more granola?'

Any city has its underbelly, the seedy side where the less than desirables filter down to grow and fester like mold. Unfortunately, that's nothing new to Nikita these days - while he was fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment that was far away from the hard scrabble life that leads most to gangs or crime, it's and environment that he's found himself travelling through in recent years. Its not his favorite, but that's where the problems are - problems which he has found he enjoys fixing.

With his jacket over his torso, Nikita doesn't have many of his own tattoos on display, though he's got enough ink across his arms and torso that he'd likely fit in well with the normal clientele of any bar here in the recesses of Back Maryland. He's got a beat-up but still fairly stylish leather trilby hat on his head, keeping the rain off his hair, and slips out of the shadows to cross towards River and Vesper. No more granola, sadly, though he does give the faithful dog a scritch behind the ear before addressing her master. "You look like you're having second thoughts," he commends lightly to her, before nodding towards the dingy bar. The neon lights over the door fizzle in and out of functionality, the red lettering switching from 'The Friendly Shell' to a partially blacked-out 'The F iend y hell' at seemingly random. Only the lighted conch shell that is at the side of the lettering remains constantly lit, yellow in color. Regardless of the name, the establishment really doesn't look at all inviting.

"I don't mind heading in on my own," Nikita continues then, a slow grin creeping at the corners of his mouth. "Hell, maybe I'll beat all their asses at darts and just get the scoop out of them that way. Might be easier to loosen their lips with some friendly competition rather than up and starting to ask suspicious questions...." As he speaks, Nikita's eyes flicker to the battered doors of the bar as they bang open, a slovenly and clearly drunk ganger in his mid twenties stumbling out into the alley. Thick smoke and the loud din of both people and music drifting outside with him.

The gentle scritch behind the ear sends Vesper's body to just wriggle, tail thumping loudly against the wet pavement. The thump of her tail also brings with it a splash of water, as the wet pavement sloshes and splashes with each happy little thwap of her large tail.

"I am not having second thoughts." River announces with a raise of her chin, and attitude of one that probably really did have second thoughts, and just didn't want to admit it.

In contrast to the tall Russian's many tattoos, River is more of a drenched trout, versus a husky would-be gang member. "I am merely pondering the best -- plan to handle this."

Nikita's suggestion of just going in and 'playing' nice does bring a slight bob of River's head. Her gaze flickers towards the drunk kid that stumbles out on his own. It's always nice when one of the pack heads out on its own. "You go, see what you can find out. Work your charm." One hand draws out the concealed weapon she's carrying. "Vesper and I are going to go have a little talk with our drunk friend over there."

And with that, River's voice echoes, "Come." And the faithful police dog immediately stops sniffing Nik's jackets for anything to eat, and is immediately walking by River's side, as the one time cop keeps to the shadows and moves towards the stumbling drunk.

Inside the bar, there's a loud crash of noise, followed by a ruckus of laughter.

Giving his sleuthing partner a quirked eyebrow, Nikita keeps his voice low as she indicates her plans to engage with the drunk gang member. "Be careful," he states simply. It's not a forceful command - just a reminder, though Nikita is well aware of River's credentials and her history. Still. This is a rough neighborhood. He doesn't belabor the concern, though, and after he's said his peace he turns towards the bar, straightens his back and shoulders a little bit, and then strides into the bar with all the purpose and confidence of someone who either frequents this particular bar alot, or someone who just frequents dives like this in general and doesn't have any fear about what might be inside.

In fact, he doesn't even pause once he's entered to scope out the source of the crash. Instead, he only gives the place the quickest of scans, just enough to get the layout of the place, and to verify that yes, indeed, there is a dartboard up on the wall. Or, what passes for one. Hasn't seemed to get much use, but - Nikita shrugs mentally. It'll do. Sauntering to the bar, he catches the barkeep's attention and states in a slightly thicker-than-normal Russian accent, "Vodka, please. If you have anything else here than American beer, that is..."

Meanwhile, outside the bar, the drunk gang member is still shambling and shuffling a bit, heading in the general direction of the two battered and beaten dumpsters that are towards the end of the alley. The big blue bins are just about overflowing with all sorts of trash and refuse and the stench that emanates from them is pretty horrible. Part of the reason for that awful odor may also be revealed by the drunk's next actions - position himself to face the corner space made by the dumpster and the wall of the building, his head bent down a bit, as he reaches towards the front of his pants in the unmistakable motion of a man who's preparing to relieve himself.

Inside the bar, things quiet just a bit as the tall Russian makes his way inside, though a quick glance at the man's physique and appearance, and things return to their normal clamor of drunken rowdiness. The loud noise came from one of the younger kids, obviously more than drunk, he's got the appearance of going straight into alcohol poisoning. The young man, barely twenty-one (if that) has managed to miss his chair entirely and ended up on the ground. In his descent, he toppled over the table full of bottles.

An old, rough looking waitress is cussing the youth out, going so far as to kick the young man in the balls, forcing him to hug himself into a ball and cry out in pain. "You stupid fuck." The old woman is yelling, which causes the gang members around the boy to laugh even louder.

Content that the boy has learned his lesson, the woman goes back shoveling with a very old broom the contents to the corner of the room, while the gang members seek a new bit of entertainment, for the boy has passed out.

"Yo, Russky. We're not in Russia asshole, here we drink BEER." Which elicits even more laughter from the group. The barkeep plops a very dirty shot glass onto the table, and fills it up with Vodka from the lowest shelf in there. "There you go beautiful." He states with a winning smile.

As for River and Vesper? Well. The young man about to relieve himself will feel the cold metal of River's gun against his neck, along with a single hand there. "Make one move and you'll have more to worry about than the smell coming from this garbage can." Vesper is letting out a low, dangerous growl, her ears laid back, body stiff and prepared to protect her owner at all costs.

Giving the hapless young inebriate a passing glance, Nikita can only shake his head minutely - especially at the rather hard and harsh treatment by the waitress. Taking in a breath and allowing himself the briefest of 'ookay, so this is *that* kind of place' expressions on his face, he watches as the barkeep fills the unwashed shot glass (and notes the quality - or lack thereof - of the vodka used) and then gives a nod of acknowledgement to the service. "Spaseeba," he answers in an almost cheeky tone, before lifting up the shot glass and slamming it back in a single gulp, thunking the shot glass back on the bar with a bit of a wince at the low caliber of the alcohol.

Then, he addresses the hecklers from the rest of the bar. "Beer? You mean you drink piss water," he answers, still laying the accent on thick. "Everyone knows that's all American beer is. Piss water and swill." He motions for the barkeep to give him another shot of Vodka, before he starts moving towards the little used dartboard. "I tell you what. You have anyone here who plays darts? If you can beat me, I buy the whole place round of whatever drink you want. Piss water. Piss whiskey. You name it." Though he's only had the one shot, he starts to play up just a little bit that maybe he's already had a few before coming here, taking a moment to find his footing as he starts to awkwardly pluck the darts out of the board. "What do you say?"

Out by the dumpster, the lone gang member doesn't even have his zipper down when he feels that cold metal barrel pressed against the back of his neck. "Oh... oh god..." he whimpers out, and then the foul smell of the trash is joined by an even more acrid odor as the poor kid actually wets himself. "Oh geeze, Stewie was right. Look, I got the money, I mean, I can get the money... Just don't..." The kid starts to trail of a bit then, as if suddenly realizing in his drunken stupor where he is. ".. Fuck.. Fuck! You know the whole gang is just... right inside, right? Like, they'll kill you so fast, man...." Of course, he's still shaking a bit like the proverbial leaf, but at least he's starting to get a little more courage to him.

With a very soft, yet quick *CRACK*, River knocks the butt of her gun against the youth's head, just at the point that will give him a pretty severe headache when he wakes up, and probably a minor concussion, but it isn't going to kill him. She doesn't bother catching the body as it drops. She's already picked up enough from his clothing, alone, to get a good idea the entire gang is involved in the kidnappings. It isn't just one or two kids.

Vesper just lets out a soft sniff of indifference as the body drops, her ears quirk this way and that, as River sweeps through the kid's pockets, and divests him of his wallet, weapons, cell phone, and a couple hundred in gambling chips. Shifting the boy so it appears he just passed out where he stood, River draws back to the safety of her car, she'll get more information in peace and quiet.

Inside? Things are working pretty well for Nik, at least as far as egging kids on. One of the gang members at the back rises upwards, "You look really familiar to me. What do you want if you win? Don't go all cocky unless you've got something you want." The young man is a bit older than the others, and as he stands, the others quiet down.

As for the barkeep he fills the ugly shot glass up again and winks coyly at Nik. He slips a napkin under the shot glass, on it is a telephone number.

Feigning complete ignorance as to looking 'familiar', Nikita just shrugs. "I have never been in here before, I think I would have remembered," he states plainly, plucking the last of the darts out of the dart board as he turns back around. He gives a grin that is equal parts disarming and drunk, before adding afterwards, "Maybe I just have... one of those faces?" With the darts in hand, he starts to move away from the dart board then, keeping his attention on the individual who's stood up and begun to respond to the challenge. "What do I want..." he muses. "If I win..." he draws it out a little bit, as if having to think hard to either come up with something he wants, or to form the words for it, or both. "If I win, I want your gang's boss. And not just the gangleader," he's quick to clarify. "I mean, the one your gangleader reports to. The man in the shadows. The big cheese. Whatever it is you call him."

Taking a step back towards the bar, then, Nik reaches out to take the filled shot glass, still looking out towards the quieted bar and the would-be challenger as he takes another rapid-fire downing of the shot, a brisk 'tsh-aaah!' sound escaping his throat afterwards. He lifts his other hand - the one holding the darts - to wipe at his mouth with the back of his jacket sleeve. "I'm thinking of starting a new Russian gang in town and want to pay him a visit. After all, the Knock Out Kings are supposed to be the baddest crew in town." He lays it on pretty thick as he turns to set the glass back down on the bar, finally catching sight of the phone number scrawled there on the napkin. The digits give Nik a bit of a start - he's already glancing away from the napkin before the number there registers, causing him to double-take a bit before giving the bartender a *very* awkward half-wave and smile in return.

It's as though everyone in the entire room has now turned to look at the tall Russian. The music has even stopped, either those in charge have turned off the loud, metal music, or even the radio itself is in a state of 'gasp'. The man speaking to Nik licks his lips a moment, before offering a smile that isn't really a smile at all. "Who says anyone is in charge other than me, Arnold?" His hands wave outwards in a gestured shrug. "I'm the one who calls the shots. I'm the one that says jump and these assholes ask just how high. There aint no body else in charge here, and I don't quite like the direction this conversation is going."

The 'leader' of the Kings draws up towards Nik, taking a couple steps closer. He's still a few feet away but is closing the distance pretty quickly. "We are the baddest, and we don't get that name by talking shit. I think you're a cop, and I think you better get the hell out of here before we see just how far those darts will go up your fucking ass."

There's a slight wrinkle to Nikita's nose as the gangleader not only professes that he doesn't report to anyone else, but also has the inbred temerity to compare Nik to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sure, on the one hand it's kind of flattering - the guy is built, even at 70-whatever he is these days - but Nik is clearly playing up his Russian heritage. Arnie is Austrian! But - those quibbles are quickly shoved to the back burner - as things are starting to turn a little south. Clearly, it's been awhile since he's done any sort of information gathering like this...

Nik scans the bar quickly, dark eyes sweeping across the area infront of him. There's at least seven gang members. The waitress, who clearly doesn't mind getting violent. The barkeep - who actually might side with Nikita, apparently. Or at least not side against him. Still... He's doing the math, counting the number of darts he's got in his hand and the number of knives he's got concealed on his person. Not that he's necessarily *looking* for trouble but... Well. Nik starts to smile just a little bit. Maybe he is.

"No, you're *supposed* to be the baddest, but you're just a bunch of piss-drinking old maids, looks like," he answers, the tone of his voice making a subtle shift from confident to taunting. He's keeping very mindful of the distance between himself and the leader though decides to let this play out for just a little longer. "So, maybe we just skip to the end, and you tell me what I want to know so I don't have to hurt any of you. Because I know for a fact, that only shots *you* call are for your puppet master. You couldn't even run a tab, let alone a whole gang by yourself." As he speaks, Nik is subtly maneuvering the darts in his one hand, readying them for rapid deployment, while also prepping the concealed knife in the right sleeve of his jacket for quick accessibility when - not if at this point - this hits the fan.

Meanwhile... in the car, River has managed to get a lot of information in the small amount of stuff that she's stolen from the drunk (and now knocked out), gang member. It's enough to have a basic idea of where they might be keeping the kids, though it doesn't tell WHO is behind the kidnappings, it does show where these gang members are hiding the kids before they're sent off to - well, River doesn't want to think about that part.

So completely focused upon her own little world, she's yet to really look inside the bar. "Vesper, come, guard." The dog, who had been curled up on the seat next to River, lifts her head up and barks once, clambering out of the car as River does. Moving back to the darkened alleyway next to the establishment, River casts a glance inside one of the windows, noting that things are not going so well for Nik. "Ah. Boogers. So, Vesp how much do you like Nik?" As the dog wags her tail happily by the name and lets out a soft 'woof' of happiness, River is forced to admit. "Okay, fine. We'll see what we can do to save his ass."

INSIDE the establishment, is a different story altogether. Nik's words are just fueling the flames of annoyance with the group. They're all getting to their feet at this point, and no one is crumbling under Nik's taunts. In fact, they're all pretty well riled up. Though, they don't -do- anything just yet, they're waiting for what the man speaking to Nik might do next.

As for the barkeep - he lets out a soft sigh of disappointment, his shoulders sagging downwards. He loses the best good looking guys to these rat bastards. The man turns around and steps into the back rooms, as does the waitress with a grumbled, "Jimmy, just kill this sick fuck. You mess anything else up in this room and you and your trash kids aint coming back in here." Though she does move on out of the room and to the safety of the back.

'Jimmy' as his name might be, tilts his head to one side. "So you're a tough guy, huh? So ready to die? I told ya, I am the one in charge." And he points to his chest, before slowly pulling his shirt open to reveal a large gun in his belt. "Listen mother fucker, I gave you a chance, which you didn't take. So it's pain time."

Well, to be honest, Nikita didn't really think the gangleader would take the easy way out. And, he actually finds himself smiling just a little bit more as the rest of the gang starts to get up out of their chairs as well. He can't deny that he's enjoying the rush of danger at the scenario - clearly outnumbered as he is - but he also has a pretty healthy confidence in his abilities and his chances. The only question is - how many of his cards does he play at once?

The gun does give Nik a small bit of a pause - but really, the weapon is clearly more for show than anything else. And it's still stuck there in Jimmy's belt - right where it's not going to do the guy one bit of good at all. What Jimmy - or the rest of the Knock Out Kings, for that matter - don't realize, is that Nik is already armed. "Pain time?" he echoes, lifting his eyebrows. "I don't like it when people lie to me, Jim-bob. You aren't the one in charge. But you are right about one thing. It *is* pain time..." And then, with a speedy flick of his wrist that may be too fast for some of the gang members to even see what he's done, Nik hurls one of the darts at Jimmy with an accuracy honed by years and years of practice and dedication. Only, he doesn't just throw it 'at' Jimmy. Nik aims the dart straight at Jimmy's right eye. And even as the dart is zinging through the air, Nik's got another dart ready to go, and a slender throwing knife slipped into his other hand - either (or both) of which he's able to send at the hands of any gangers who are foolish enough to try to actually pull a weapon on him. "The dart just blinds," Nik warns, his dark eyes sweeping across the room as he addresses the gang. "The knife? It can kill."

Still peaking through the window, River lets out a slow whistle. "Eh, he can take care of himself, Vesp." The dog just looks slightly confused, her head tilting to one side, ears perked upwards. Vesper then lets out a soft, impatient whine, forcing River to scowl. "Oh come on, don't make me feel like that. You and I both know he's a big boy, he can.." At the WOOF, River continues to scowl. "Okay, fine I knew it, I knew you liked him more than me." Vesper's entire body wriggles at that, her tail flapping against the wind, the rain, and anything else that will get in her way. "Vesper. Guard."

Inside - things are far more chaotic. As Nik does his own taunting, Jimmy's hand begins to draw towards his gun, only to suddenly scream out in terror and pain. The hand that was going for his gun is suddenly grabbing hold of a dart sticking into his eyeball. "AAAA!!" He continues to scream, flailing around in agony, shock, and terror.

The others are slow to respond, their eyes widening, one even passes right out. Thud. Onto the ground. Splat. One at the doorway begins to draw for his gun, only to suddenly have his entire body begin to spasm, "nnnNnnNnnnNnnn.." Is all he gets out, before he drops to the ground, drool and spit coming out of his mouth, while River stands behind him, a gun in one hand, a taser in another.

"You never invite me to the fun parties." She offers to Nik, Vesper growling menacing at another gang member, while the others at the back, begin to lower their weapons to the ground. "Lll..Look man, we don't .. oh God I'm going to be sick.."

With a very satisfied look on his face, Nik watches the leader clutch at his eye and flail about, blood and gooey eye remains splotting about everywhere. Of course, he's still keeping track of the rest of the room - the hapless and gutless wonder that faints at the sight of the eye-shot. Others who are just standing there, dumb founded and in shock. And... movement at the doorway. Nik whirls towards the ganger who's foolish enough to attempt to pull a gun, arm extended and knife just about to leave his fingertips when the ganger spasms and shudders and drops to the ground in a drooling mess - River and Vesper posed quite dramatically behind.

With a quirk of his grin, Nik pulls his arm back, idly flipping the knife upwards to twirl in the air before he catches it almost lazily. "I *did* invite you," Nik answers, "But you wanted to stay in the alley. Still," he continues, smiling broader. "You're just in time for truth or dare." With that, he turns to the others, who are now wisely standing down. And trying not to look at the scrambling, wailing, bleeding, eye-socket clutching excuse for a gang-leader on the floor. "Right. Now, where were we? I believe I was asking who the gang reports to? And I don't mean the pirate Jim, here," he nods to the leader. "Unless..." he balances his knife on his finger, easily holding it vertically by the point, before flicking his hand and catching the weapon by the hilt so that he can point it out towards the gang. "You'd rather take the dare instead?"

"We.. We don't know his name." One of them stutters out, hands lifting upwards in a 'don't shoot' manner. "Seriously. Only Jimmy talks to him, they never meet up. Everything is handed off through dead drops and cell phone conversations."

Jimmy is on the ground at this point, curled into a ball, which gives River an easy access to collect up the mentioned cell phone, which she promptly, and some how mysteriously, unlocks with the man's code.

Vesper, for her part, continues to growl in a very menacing manner to one of the men, considering her size, and the fierceness of her appearance, you wouldn't know the dog would rather roll over on her back and have her belly rubbed than do this.

The gang member continues to stutter out. "You're going to die for this." The young man begins to get a bit more fierce, "You both. You're dead. Dead. When they find out what happened, knowing who they are wont help you."

Still idly playing with the slender blade in his hand, Nikita seems utterly unimpressed - by both the sudden compliance of the one gang member who finally decided to get wise and help out, as well as the threats that are soon afterwards levied his and River's way. He watches River do her thing - a bit jealous at the fact that she can even use the cell phone properly without difficulty, let alone just unlock the code like that as easy-as-you-please. But. That's her thing. Nikita's thing is the knives. And, well, strange stealth when it's called for. But he will readily admit, he prefers the knives much better. He also makes a mental note to himself to keep a better stock of granola bars and turkey jerky in his pockets, as Vesper is certainly doing her part as well.

Finally, when the man is done ranting - or, at least takes a breath - Nikita seems to ponder the gravity of the 'warning' that's been given. "When they find out what happened... Hm," he ponders, turning towards River. "What do you think? Sounds like we can't trust these gentlemen to keep our secret for us... Might be our best course of action is to just make a clean sweep of the place, just kill everyone." He turns away then and starts to walk across the room as he mock-deliberates, darts still in his 'off' hand, while his right hand still keeps the slender knife at the ready. "I mean. It could be a mercy, you know. After all, if we don't get to this big boss first... Maybe they'll want to punish the whole lot of these guys anyways. That could be really bad." He pauses, turning back to face River again, and then states as if they're the only two in the room. "Your call."

Several minutes later....

River's small, entirely electric car is whipping down the streets, heading towards their destination. It isn't exactly too comfortable for Nik, considering he's in the passenger's side, with a large German Shepherd on his lap, currently licking his face with abandon. The vehicle River drives is very tiny, and usually only contains herself and Vesper. Having a passenger is something new.

"I've got a location on the kids from the first gang member." River is saying then, "At least where they had them about twenty four hours ago." She continues, glancing at Nik and Vesper, smirking then continuing at her high speed pace. "Good work on getting the names behind the scenes, though that part, I think I'll leave to you just like the gang members." River isn't an idiot, she knows her strengths and weaknesses.

Back at the bar .... an ambulance is pulled up outside, along with a number of patrol cars, several of the gang members are wandering around in a glazed daze, while Jimmy is being put into the ambulance. "Nah man, don't know anything, it's all a blank ...."