For The Love Of Life 1 5 7

[02:27] <Minaplo> [The VTOL would be leaving in 40 minutes, taking another load of civilians away to safety.-
[02:34] <Minaplo> [Sitting on a seat in the waiting lounge was a young woman. She was beautiful, with soft, gentle features and large blue eyes. She was wearing a white sweater over a knee-length black skirt, her legs clad in black sheer stockings tucked into boots. A luggage bag sat against her legs.-
[02:39] <Minaplo> [The seats next to her were unoccupied, albeit not for long. A tall, wiry man with bright blue eyes, immaculate suit and vest ensemble and trilby hat arrived, sitting to her right. He reached into his coat, taking out an electronic cigarette.-
[02:39] <Minaplo> [The woman looked over at him quizzically. Mr. Blue shrugged.-
[02:39] <Minaplo> ["Rei told me I should quit, what's it to you?" He muttered.-
[02:44] <Minaplo> ["Just odd is all." Said the woman quietly. "Here to see me off?"-
[02:46] <Minaplo> ["Partly." Said Blue. He reached into his coat and took out his wallet. E-cigarette wedged in his mouth, he opened the wallet, taking out a wad of notes, which he handed to the woman. "Two weeks of wages in advance for my best waitress." He said with a smirk.-
[02:51] <Minaplo> [The woman eyed the money for a moment, before quickly taking it and tucking it away in a handbag. "Are you expecting trouble?"-
[02:51] <Minaplo> ["Don't I always?" Asked Blue, taking the cigarette out of his mouth.-
[02:52] <Minaplo> ["More than usual." Asked the woman.-
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["Alright, then. Yeah, I admit it." Said Blue. "When the cat's away… You packed your weapons?"-
[02:58] <Minaplo> ["Both the old and the new." Said the woman with a nod.-
[02:59] <Minaplo> ["You packed that barzilite coat I made you?" Asked Blue, putting the cig back in his mouth and taking a puff, the plastic end lighting up as he did so.-
[02:59] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said the woman.-
[02:59] <Minaplo> ["You go and stalk Guillory one last time?" Asked Mr. Blue without skipping a beat.-
[02:59] <Minaplo> ["I Wh-what?"-
[03:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh please." Mr. Blue's smirk was smug. "You've been tailing him for months as is. I know your game, girl. You totally snatched one last peek, dintcha?"-
[03:08] <Minaplo> [The woman's cheeks were a bright red as she glared at Blue.-
[03:09] <Minaplo> ["I'm still amazed he hasn't recognised you yet." Said Blue. "He ain't in the grill all -that- often, but the way you ogle him, you'd think he'd catch on sooner or later."-
[03:14] <Minaplo> ["S-Shut up." Said the woman, lowering her head. "I'm careful."-
[03:14] <Minaplo> ["You're a stalker." Said Blue.-
[03:14] <Minaplo> ["That's your fault." Snapped the woman.-
[03:15] <Minaplo> ["Partly." Said Blue airily. "I'll be the big man, take it on the chin. I -did- ask for you to spy for me… And he really is so dreamy-weamy, isn't he? He's like a big beautiful ice cream with a bright red cherry on top that you just want to lick and nibble at all day long…"-
[03:16] <Minaplo> [The woman stared at Blue, her eyes wide like saucers.-
[03:16] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, that was a little too erotic, wasn't it?" Said Blue thoughtfully.-
[03:17] <Minaplo> ["Maybe you're the one with the problem." Muttered the woman.-
[03:17] <Minaplo> [Blue rolled his eyes. "You took the time to say your goodbyes to your brother?"-
[03:18] <Minaplo> [The woman shifted in her seat, nodding. "Yes. He's still in a coma, and I had to cause a minor diversion to get a moment with him, but I said my goodbyes, yes."-
[03:20] <Minaplo> ["I can't promise you anything, butterfly, but I'll try to keep an eye out for him." Said Blue.-
[03:21] <Minaplo> ["You always have." She said with a small smile.-
[03:22] <Minaplo> [There was a moment of silence.-
[03:28] <Minaplo> [Blue lifted his left hand, taking a clump of the woman's hair, rubbing it between thumb and forefinger. "Strawberry blonde. Damn, butterfly, no wonder Guillory doesn't recognise you. Sometimes it's hard to remember what you actually look like."-
[03:28] <Minaplo> ["That's the idea." She said, her smile replaced by an impish grin.-
[19:17] <Minaplo> [A few minutes passed, and before long, the first boarding calls began to go out. People began to shift away from the waiting area; the woman sighed.-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["I think I'll go board." She said. "I always preferred getting on first."-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I know." Said Blue quietly. He pushed himself up out of his chair.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> [The woman did as well, bending down to grab the handle of her luggage. As she stood up again, Mr. Blue stepped forward, patting her on the shoulder before drawing her into a half hug. "Be good."-
[19:22] <Minaplo> ["I always am." She said with a small smile, giving him a full hug in return.-
[19:22] <Minaplo> ["That's a lie. You're lying." Said Mr. Blue, pulling back, his smirk having returned. "You're not gonna leave me on a lie, aren't you?"-
[19:22] <Minaplo> [She grinned, now.-
[19:24] <Minaplo> ["See you, Jesiah." Said the woman, patting him on the cheek.-
[19:25] <Minaplo> [And then she turned and walked away, heading off towards the VTOL chamber, turning once to wave.-
[19:25] <Minaplo> [Blue waved as well as she went.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> [He watched as she lined up, watched as she presented her hand to the digital scanner, watched as she gave her luggage to an attendant, watched as she boarded the VTOL.-
[19:26] <Minaplo> [And then he sat back down, took a puff on his e-cig, and waited.-
[19:36] <Minaplo> [About ten minutes later, a young man sat down next to Blue. He wore a very crisp suit, with a red tie, and a white vest, and silky burgundy inlays; his glasses were rimmed with gold, and as he reached up to adjust them, one would see a shiny diamond ring on his right hand.-
[19:43] <Minaplo> ["So she's gone, eh?" Said the Brofessor, folding his hands in front of him, elbows leaning on armrests.-
[19:44] <Minaplo> ["Yep." Said Blue.-
[19:46] <Minaplo> ["I'll be leaving soon myself." Said the Brofessor.-
[19:47] <Minaplo> ["Yep." Said Blue.-
[19:49] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[19:52] <Minaplo> [The silence went on for a few minutes before the Brofessor spoke again. "I've one last thing for you before I go. From our friends in the underworld."-
[19:53] <Minaplo> ["Go on."-
[19:53] <Minaplo> ["De Vries is dead." Said the Brofessor.-
[19:53] <Minaplo> ["I- whoa, wait, what?" Blue turned suddenly, giving the Brofessor a narrow look.-
[20:07] <Minaplo> ["Mmmhm." Said the Brofessor, looking totally unfazed. "Found her dead in her office. Initially put down to natural causes, but it looks like her kid hired a real doctor to have a look. A rare neurotoxin, it looks like."-
[20:08] <Minaplo> ["That all you got?" Asked Blue.-
[20:09] <Minaplo> ["Nope. I cross-checked it with other records I've stolen or bought, and it looks like the same neurotoxin was used to kill Washington."-
[20:11] <Minaplo> ["Caine." Said Blue, his voice low. "Son of a bitch. Ok, do we know -why-?"-
[20:12] <Minaplo> ["I don't have a hundred percent answer, but I do have some pretty convincing ones." Said the Brofessor.-
[20:12] <Minaplo> ["Go on."-
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["De Vries was in contact with people." Said the Brofessor. "Important- kinda- people. People with connections to the old Lib Nat regime."-#
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["And you know that…?"-
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["Because I provided the contact details." Said the Brofessor with just the hint of impatience. "Anyway, let's see. Two names from that upstart Wizard guy who's been whacking about- Anna Reinder and Edvard Durandi."-
[20:17] <Minaplo> ["I know 'em. Go on." Said Blue.-
[20:25] <Minaplo> ["A South African smuggler named Jansen…"-
[20:25] <Minaplo> ["Yep, yep." Blue nodded.-
[20:25] <Minaplo> ["John Brown, the Australian-"-
[20:25] <Minaplo> ["Brown? Was he -really- that LN?" Muttered Blue.-
[20:32] <Minaplo> [The Brofessor shrugged. "Sure. And Wu Yuanzhang."-
[20:32] <Minaplo> [There was silence as Blue considered this.-
[20:33] <Minaplo> ["A top scientist, a representative, smuggler, war hero and failed warlord. I'm thinking… Smuggler's the odd one out here… She wanted something?"-
[20:42] <Minaplo> ["That's what I thought, too." Said the Brofessor. "So, I did the responsible thing and looked up guys she contacted -after- those five… And one of them stood out. You remember Petrovic?"-
[20:42] <Minaplo> ["… Nope."-
[20:43] <Minaplo> ["Gap teeth, had one eye, spoke in a thick Serbian accent despite growing up in west London?"-
[20:43] <Minaplo> [Blue's eyes narrowed, clearly not getting it.-
[20:44] <Minaplo> ["Was once arrested in Italy for smuggling fourteen hundred assault rifles in several crates disguised as communion wafers…?"-
[20:44] <Minaplo> ["Oh. Oh right. That moron, how's he?"-
[20:44] <Minaplo> ["Dead." Said the Brofessor.-
[20:48] <Minaplo> ["Neurotoxin?" Guessed Blue.-
[20:48] <Minaplo> ["Uhh, no, actually, he was shot in the chest with a bolt shell."-
[20:48] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Blue grimaced. "Oh, shit, pity the janitors, who does that to a guy?"-
[20:51] <Minaplo> ["Well, luckily, I think I have an answer for that." Said the Brofessor. "Bolt shells- and bolters- are expensive guns. Who typically gets one?"-
[20:53] <Minaplo> ["Spec ops." Said Blue. "Uh… The fuckin' marines around here have bolters. Clicky fuckers stand by the door of my grill with their big fuckoff guns…"-
[20:54] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, ok," snapped the Brofessor, "Who else?"-
[20:54] <Minaplo> ["AEC, NERV… Iron Guard?"-
[20:54] <Minaplo> ["Not Iron Guard this time."-
[20:54] <Minaplo> ["Oh?" Mr. Blue cocked his head.-
[20:54] <Minaplo> ["Iron Guard shells don't leave bodies as, uh, -together- as this one was." Muttered the Brofessor.-
[20:58] <Minaplo> ["Fair enough. Which was it, then?" Asked Blue.-
[21:05] <Minaplo> ["Uhh… I'd wager spec ops, actually." Said the Brofessor. "I looked at the ballistic reports recovered in Bordeaux, where he was shot. They haven't realised it yet, but I've matched the machining of the detonation core fragments with a factory robot developed by the Peace Cannon Corporation."-
[21:05] <Minaplo> [Blue rolled his eyes.-
[21:05] <Minaplo> ["What?" the Brofessor frowned.-#
[21:08] <Minaplo> ["There's only one fuckin' group Peace Cannon sells bolt shells to." Said Blue. "The US Armed Forces. Of course. Of course it'd be an American who'd do a hit with a bolter."-
[21:09] <Minaplo> ["Aren't you American too?"-
[21:09] <Minaplo> ["Shut up." Said Blue. "Ok, so you're thinking US Spec Forces? That seems like fuckin' overkill for some random Serb smuggler in Bordeaux."-
[21:14] <Minaplo> ["Tell me about it." Said the Brofessor.-
[21:18] <Minaplo> [The Brofessor sighed, getting to his feet. "I'll keep you posted when able. This all stinks. Caine, Americans…"-
[21:23] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, no shit." Blue did not stand. "Do me a favour and just… Pay extra attention to the US?"-
[21:23] <Minaplo> ["Already on it." Said the Brofessor, adjusting his glasses.-
[21:26] <Minaplo> ["Good. Okay." Blue took another puff on his e-cig. "I need to head back to my bar, then. I left Sophia Simonides in charge, and I get the feelin' if I make a habit of that she'll take the damn thing over."-
[21:26] <Minaplo> ["Sophia Simonides?" the Brofessor's eyebrows rose. "Maybe I should stop by and have one quick drink…"-#
[21:27] <Minaplo> ["By all means, but if Zhang catches your ass and you've missed your flight, I ain't helpin'." Said Blue.-
[21:28] <Minaplo> ["Is she wearing the uniform-"-
[21:28] <Minaplo> ["Oh, piss off." Said Blue, getting to his feet.-
[21:29] <Minaplo> ["Tch. You're a dreamkiller. Don't get shot, Blue." Said the Brofessor, giving him a little sardonic wave before he turned and headed off towards his own flight.-
[21:30] <Minaplo> [Before long, Blue was alone.-
[21:31] <Minaplo> [He walked over to the open blast door that allowed passengers to enter the VTOL hangar bay. Blue slowly puffed on his e-cig as he watched the people- the few remainder- enter the shuttle.-
[21:32] <Minaplo> [De Vries- dead. Definitely a legend in her own right, one of the great brokers and smugglers of the age, dead, with the only piece of evidence being a rare neurotoxin.-
[21:33] <Minaplo> [Petrovic- dead. Not quite a legend, yet well-known for his craft, seemingly in spite of himself. Dead, very, very dead, his chest cavity blown apart by a well-placed bolter round from an American bolter.-
[21:43] <Minaplo> [Were the two deaths linked? They almost certainly were, yet if that were the case, then the leads were being killed off at a startling rate- and by two different parties, or so it seemed, unless there was misdirection at work.-
[21:48] <Minaplo> [And there was more. Something felt in his gut more than anything. The something that made him nervous about letting Medea leave.-
[21:49] <Minaplo> ["Something's wrong." Muttered Blue.-
[21:49] <Minaplo> [He puffed on his e-cig one last time, then tucked it into his shirt pocket before turning and walking away, leaving the hangar, the shuttle, and its cargo behind.]#

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