Nobody Likes Having Enemies
rating: +26+x

"A para tech attack in broad daylight?"

Two men silently stood before their boss, having returned from a failed delivery of goods. Neither dared to even breathe as the most nightmarish of the company owners eyes rested upon them. The two clenched their fists in fear, their knuckles and faces drained of color as they stared straight ahead.

"Care to elaborate?"

"Y-yes sir. They set up a trap of some sort. It felt like we hit a dog or something, and then the next thing we knew the truck was floating. The goons came rushing out of from all the backstreets and robbed us blind. Before we could try doing anything, they disappeared. Drove their truck into thin air, sir."

"I see."

Percival Darke's long and decrepit fingertips drummed against the cold steel of the apparatus he was tethered to. His appearance was ghoulish, his sunken and corpse-like facial features accentuated by the darkness of the makeshift office. Though his sense of smell had long gone, Darke could tell that the two quivering messes before him were mortified.

"You are dismissed. Thank you."

They stared at each other in disbelief for a moment before deciding it was best not to question their situation. Both men nodded and left faster than Darke's chair could rotate. The machine crawled along on spider-like legs, carrying their master around with unmatched elegance. Coming to a stop before a window, the shell of a man looked down upon his empire. A massive warehouse full of goods, millions of dollars waiting to be made from the crates below.

With an array as profitable as his, finding competition was inevitable. It wasn't as if he and his company had gone in unprepared, though. He and his network of rats had spent months collecting information on the Spirit. Who they liked, who they didn't. Darke knew a few of their members were wielders of the Library's magic, but he had not expected for them to execute such a bold heist. Though this was more than a heist.

For too long had he been content to simply pay off the Outfit to continue pressuring the Spirit. Too long had he been hiding in plain sight, letting the police do his dirty work for him. Too long had he allowed criminal scum to leech money off of his business deals and hard work. Too long had he been passive.

But he found himself in a delicate situation. Though he had the liquid assets, weapons, manpower, and influence necessary to blow the entire city of Chicago into a blackened pit of ashes, that would be bad for business. Besides, armies of men outfitted with anomalous technologies and weapons were sure to draw the ire of the Foundation, which would be even worse for business.

Friends, on the other hand, were very good for business.

Darke thought back to the first time the Spirit met his company. A man named Cartwright had shown up at their freshly constructed central operation hub in Chicago. He made outrageous demands, demanding the company paid him and his thugs a cut of our profits 'for protection.' Naturally, he was promptly shown that Marshall, Carter, and Darke were more than capable of defending themselves.

In hindsight, turning the man inside out in front of his men may have been overkill. Darke had wanted to set a precedent at the time. He wanted the gangs of Chicago to know that they were not to be fucked with. Of course, this had greatly put a hamper on any possible relationship the two groups may have had, and had no doubt lead to the hostilities they were experiencing today.

Maybe he could try again. Maybe the Spirit and his company could be working partners. Their ability to operate under the nose of the Foundation and FBI would be invaluable in assisting with the movement of their goods. They even had their own trucks. All he would have to do is pay some clever pencil pusher to burn the books just right and no one would suspect a thing.

The mechanical legs of his device clinked against the tile floor, moving Darke towards his desk. He picked up the ornate rotary dial on his desk and used his decrepit, bony fingers to punch buttons and spin the device. The soft mechanical clicking of the rotor accompanied the muted sounds of Darke's artificial breathing device.

"Hello, Margarie. Please tell Alfred Pines to come down to my office. I have a message I need him to deliver to Richard Chappell."

A full moon shined bright on the docks of Lake Michigan. Members of the Spirit were busy loading an unassuming trolley with moonshine, guns, and other such supplies to be smuggled across Detroit and into Buffalo. The police had been paid to look the other way that night and the waters were calm. Everything was going according to plan.

Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack. Clack.

The sound of unexpected footsteps alerted a lookout, who produced his piece from the pocket of his coat. He jumped down from the crates he had been resting on and approached the mysterious figure emerging from the fog. It wore a trenchcoat and fedora, and the lookout couldn't quite make out his features in the darkness.

"Fixing for a swim this late at night?"

The figure threw his hands up in surrender.

"I come with a message for your boss."

The lookout raised an eyebrow and lowered his gun.

"And who the fuck are you?"

"Alfred Pines."

"Alright. And what's this message?"

"I represent the, uh, Bankers. My superior is interested in carrying out a business deal with your superior. Maybe we can reach an agreement together."

The lookout scoffed, putting his gun away. His conversational partner kept his arms up in the air as he further elaborated.

"If you'd like, I could meet one of your superiors next Thursday at the deli in Rush Street. That is all."

Upon concluding his message, Pines began a backwards pace away from the docks and the lookout. He stepped forward but decided against pursuing. His colleagues needed him to stay behind and keep an eye out for other vagrants such as this one.

With that, Pines slipped into the night. After putting a few blocks of distance between himself and the pier, he reached into his trenchcoat's pocket. He flipped it open, thumbing the pages until reaching his most recent to-do list.

To Do:

Interrogate Pines Ditch the body
Interrogation information in next two pages.
Got carried away. Need to get trenchcoat cleaned.
Arrange meeting between self + Spirit

He scratched out the latest to-do before scribbling in another.

* Very important date, THU AT MICKEY'S DELI!

Try French dip reuben sandwich this time, heard good things

One step closer to getting his damned hat back.

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