This is the IC. If your character has been accepted, feel free to start posting!
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I'll post some more helpful stuff here later, like the rules and accepted characters.
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An impressive, sleek black building rose above most of its neighbors, cutting into the Boston skyline. Frequented by irate and moody older businessmen, the office building was owned by the American branch of a wealthy corporation overseas. The lobby of the ground floor was decorated ornately, boasting pearly marble pillars that stood out against the deep blue walls. Flourishes of red caught the eye, along with various tropical plants and miniature statues. The room was immaculate, and rightly so; the building employed dozens of janitorial staff. The large double-doored elevator located to the right of the polished mahogany reception desk glided open, and a charming, slender man with sharp Irish features and chocolate brown eyes and hair matching his expensive suit strode out. He was younger, much younger than the other businessmen around him, and if not for his overwhelming air of authority and expensive tastes, one may assume that he was an intern or newly hired college student.
He passed the reception desk and greeted the pretty blonde receptionist with a smile. The young woman, who had worked at the desk for nearly a year since leaving college, returned the smile and called out, "Until Monday then, Mr. Murray!" Over his shoulder, the handsome man replied, "Looking forward to it, Brooke," and walked out onto the sidewalk. It was a warm Friday afternoon, around two o'clock, and Neil Murray was glad that his car, a BMW Z4 Convertible, was waiting for him at the front of the building. Neil nodded politely, and the Valet gave him the keys and left. Popping the small trunk of the two-door sports car, Neil put his briefcase inside, and then went around to the driver's side. He put the key in and turned it, the engine roaring to life after barely more than a second.
The Boston streets weren't too bad at a time this early, and as Neil got onto Interstate 93 heading north he ran through in his head what he knew about the person he was picking up. She was a Tufts University student, three years younger than Neil's twenty-four. She was Australian born, but of Irish descent. Her father had sent her here for college, and for the experience of living in a foreign country. Her father, Phillip McCarthy, was the reason why Neil was pulling escort duty today, not some random driver. The McCarthy family was one of the most influential families in Australia, and Phillip was the current head of an organization there. An organization that wouldn't exactly be called legal, and an organization nearly one hundred years old. Phillip was head of the Australian branch, and Frederick O'Reilley, son of the late founder Jamie O'Reilley, head of the original branch in the British Isles. There was a third branch as well, claiming territory in the United States. My branch, thought Neil Murray, current head of the American Éire's Champions Irish Mob.
Of course Neil had heard of Josie McCarthy, the beautiful heiress to the Australian ECS throne. He had even met her once, but it was years ago and he didn't remember many details. But he knew her reputation: a charming, elegant, sly girl, unafraid to get her hands dirty with the more illegal dealings of the ECS - because not all of it was, in fact, illegal. She'd been getting a lot of attention lately, as when she takes over, Josie will be the first female to lead any of the ECS branches. Though Neil wasn't jealous of her predetermined fame; he had already gotten his share of accolades for being the first leader to be born outside of Ireland. He did, however, wonder how Josie was like away from her duties in Australia, as just a plain old college student.
I guess I'm about to find out, he thought as he pulled up to Tufts. Though he started by scanning the surrounding area for any sign of her, Neil soon shrugged and gave up. He didn't know what the hell she looked like, could barely even remember her from their meeting at that formal ECS event fifteen years ago. He unbuckled and got out of the car, standing at the door with the engine still running. Waiting there, and feeling more and more like a fool with every passing confused glance by a college student, Neil eventually decided that he needed to change tactics. I think I have some paper in the trunk, and perhaps a sharpie.. He popped the rear, and went back to search. It took about thirty seconds to retrieve both items, and another fifteen to write 'Josie McCarthy' in big black letters. Neil closed the trunk, and went back around to the driver's side door. Not expecting anything at all to be out of the ordinary, he moved to go hold the paper up in the air. But something stopped him. Or rather someone, sitting in the driver's seat of his car. A younger woman, copper-brown hair flowing around her tanned face and green eyes. She looked completely out of place amongst the other, paler New England college students walking past the vehicle.
She was grinning up at him vivaciously, obviously pleased with herself for tricking him. Neil stared at her, his eyebrow arched, before simply saying, "You must be Josie." She nodded, blinked, and then said, "So you're my driver?" Neil opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it and offered a nod.
"Nice car," Josie said enthusiastically. "Can I drive it? Please?" Neil shrugged and replied, "Go for it!" before hopping in the passenger seat. Great, less work for me, he thought as Miss McCarthy put the car to drive and pulled away from Tufts.
"So what's your name, anyway?" Josie asked, clearly not knowing who she was talking to. Obviously she was expecting just a common driver sent from the American branch as courtesy.
"Neil, Neil Murray!" Josie's eyes went wide and she swerved to the right, before quickly correcting her course. She glanced over at him and said, "You're Neil Murray? Why didn't you tell me?!" Neil smiled, glad that he had been able to surprise her as much as she had to him earlier.
"You never asked, Miss McCarthy."
The next twenty or so minutes flew by, with Neil and Josie mostly talking about ECS politics. Neil had had the car swept for bugs - he did once a week - so he knew that it was secure. Neil told Josie about how there had been a significant increase in criminal increase in L.A. recently, and they were watching out for a sudden decrease to occur, signifying that organized crime had begun to take over. They hadn't seen it yet, but were watching. Josie informed him that the Aussie ECS had just taken over most of the drug trade in the Philippines. Though the two talked business, they both seemed to hit it off well. It was surprising to Neil, as he noted that he and Josie were basically the same person. Generally, he thought to himself, that doesn't end well. When he dropped Josie off at her apartment in Boston, she quickly asked him to coffee.
"I don't have anything better to do," She said, "and if you're not busy.." Unfortunately, he was busy. Extremely, exhaustingly busy. First Chicago, he resolved. Then L.A., to check on things. With no time to waste, he got in the BMW and sped toward the airport.
East Los Angeles
Mike Cortez stepped out on to the front porch of his home and looked around. His bike was in the driveway beside his wife's black SUV. Mike's truck was inside the garage. He only used it when the weather was bad, which wasn't often in LA, or when he needed to move something heavy. He heard the sound of laughter down the block and looked down the street. A group of about ten men, kids more than anything, were down at the corner hanging out. They all wore bright yellow, the sign of the Emperadores, a mid-level Latino street gang in LA. Compared to the Los Guerreros, the gang that owned the neighborhood when Mike was a boy, the Emperadores were pussies.
Mike stepped out on to his short cut lawn and to his bike. He snapped his helmet on and started his Fatboy. He let the engine purr underneath him for a few moments before he began to back out the driveway. He swung out and rode down the street towards the kids on the corner. They had all stopped talking when they heard Mike start his bike up, now they were all staring as he came to the stop sign beside them.
"Hey, Mister Cortez," said one of the boys. Caesar was his name. He had played football with Jose, Mike's oldest son. On instinct, Caesar's eyes fell to Mike's cut. The patches announced that not only was Mike Cortez a fully patched member of The Horde Motorcycle Club, but he was also a "Bad Motherfucker" and president of the LA chapter. Anyone with any knowledge of MCs knew how quickly he could sic an entire pack of angry, motorcycle riding men on someone.
"Boys," he said with a curt nod.
Any other gang, any other territory, they would have given him shit and called him names. He had been called names back when he first patched on with the Horde. The white boys had called him a Beaner and a good for nothing Mexican, and his own people had called him things like gringo and coconut, brown on the outside but white on the inside, but he proved his worth with the Horde and most of the Latinos he ran across knew better than to fuck with him. Not since the war back in the 90's.
Mike gave the kids a wave as he went through the intersection and through the Barrio. The neighborhood had changed some since he had grown up, but not too much. Despite not being involved, he had to admit that the East LA gangs kept the peace here pretty well. It was nearly worth the trade off of the occasional gang war that brought ten or twelve dead chollo bodies with it.
He hit the freeway and was out of East LA at damn near warpspeed. A half hour later Mike was rolling through the streets of Eagle Rock to the clubhouse. He pulled off the street and went down a winding dirt road to the two story building with a large logo of a cartoon Genghis Khan laughing maniacally outside of it. It was here, nearly fifty years ago, that the Amsel brothers started The Horde Motorcycle Club. It had been raided many times by cops, feds, and rival gangs. Back in the 70's, it was torched by a pissed off old lady. But, no matter what happened, the Horde always rebuilt. Mike killed the engine on his bike and popped the kickstand. He removed his helmet and climbed off the Fatboy. He was halfway to the door when it burst open.
"Mike," yelled the fat middle aged man as he came out. He was Arthur "Woody" Penwood, a member of the Horde's LA Chapter since '89. At present, Woody served as the club's sergeant at arms. "We got a problem."
"What's wrong, Woody?" asked Mike. Mike didn't panic, he never did. He had learned that panic only led to mistakes and sloppiness.
"It's your boy, Hector. Someone tried to take him out."
Mike balled his fists up on instinct. He could feel anger starting to rise, but he pushed it down. There would be time to release that anger later.
"Where is he?"
"Inside," wheezed Woody. "He's alright, just got a little skinned up from road rash. He was on a mule run from Phoenix with Yo-Yo. They were halfway back to LA when some assholes in a silver humvee sideswiped him. They got out and fired on him and Yo-Yo. Hector was able to get up and hop on Yo-Yo's bike. They got away, but they had to ditch Hector's bike."
"Alright," said Mike. He began to run the thread through his mind, assembling a plan. "Listen to me very carefully, Woody." He said the last part slowly to make sure Woody would grasp the seriousness of his tone. "Call up everybody and get them to the clubhouse. Also, call in some muscle from Bakersfield. Next mule run is tonight, right? Well, when we go up to Portland, we'll go in force. Dare them to make a move."
"We?" asked Woody.
"Someone tried to kill my son, Woody. I'm going with you. For these sons of a bitches sake, there better not be an ambush."
Anastasia Alexandrov peered from the dark tinted passenger window, her smoldering cigarette gripped between her thumb and forefinger. She blew out a stream of smoke and her ice blue eyes examined the target. He as a young man, wearing baggy pants and his hair in tight cornrows. The gangster glanced once at the pair of black Range Rovers and looked away nervously. He was standing near the steps to a tenement and he was not alone. Several other young men sat or stood around, all of them dressed in the same jeans and wore a variety of shirts that had purple in them. The colors of the Jesters, a black street gang that ran a very poor section of the South Side Chicago, dealing crack to locals and coke to whites from the other side of town.
The driver, a large man with sharp cheekbones leaned over and murmured in Russian, “It figures Sergei would be buying dope from these two-bits. Are you sure it was the one in the braids?”
Stasia nodded slowly, “Da, Ivan. You know I have my sources.” She took another long drag from her cigarette, her red lipstick staining the filter. She narrowed her eyes and felt her anger welling up, thinking of Nikolai trapped in prison while that rat scurried free. In his last phone call he had mentioned a possible informant and she acted quickly on the tip. “Get ready, we take him now.”
With that she snuffed her cigarette and slipped on her sunglasses against the bright summer sun that shone outside the darkened interior of the truck. She picked up her AK-47, it’s polished wooden stock gleaming dully in the low light, chambering a round and set it to full automatic. The other two men in the car followed her lead, cocking their weapons and one of them chuckled in a low voice.
“Finally, an excuse to shoot these filth,” a wiry man in the back who had a monstrous AA-12 on his lap and he stroked it lovingly. “Isn’t that right, darling?”
Ivan spoke briefly into his cell phone and punched the gas and the Range Rover squealed, careening up onto the sidewalk and the other car whipped around them and cut off the retreat to the corner. The gangbangers were instantly up and reaching for their handguns but Stasia and her men were already out of their trucks and firing at full automatic.
She moved quickly, firing from the hip, her high heeled black boots clicking on the concrete. Her long blonde hair was gathered in a ponytail and the oversized old demin jacket looked out of place on her slender, elegant frame. She could hear the rapid loud blasts from Vladimir’s automatic shotgun and watched the gangsters diving for cover, shouting in terror at the sudden violent assault. She shot at two that dove behind some trash cans and heard them cry out in pain. Stasia watched her men move with practiced ease and she smiled slightly at the chaos they caused. Niko would have been proud of her, the gangsters scattered like roaches, hardly firing back as they dove for cover.
Ivan ran up to the cowering man in the cornrows and grabbed him by the back of the neck, ripping the gun from his hand and shoved him toward their Range Rover. His fellow thieves covered him as some of the gangsters got brave and began to fire back shots wildly in their direction. Stasia turned and fired again, blasting another one, this time it looked fatal by the red spouts that erupted from his chest as he fell, dropping his pistol. They jumped back into the Range Rover with their target and sped off, followed closely by the other truck. The usually bustling South Chicago street was silent as people hid in their apartments and no sirens were heard.
They raced out of the area, taking a meandering route back to their headquarters on the more affluent northwest side of the city. No one in the truck spoke and the young man in cornrows was sweating as he stared at his kidnappers. They were all white, most with fair hair and several crude tattoos. The one who grabbed him wore an expensive leather jacket and the woman was a stunning platinum blonde with cold pale eyes. He sunk down in his seat, silently cursing the day he met Sergei Petrov and his fat wallet.
Joe sat at the table beside the President of the Horde Chicago chapter. Sitting in their clubhouse. They were having a vote. A couple of prospects. Who proved their worth. Were being decided upon. If they should be allowed to become patched members. The vote was obvious. It was unanimous. Both Prospects. They both received full patches and become full members of the Horde MC.
That was done. The real club business would begin. There was a new gang in Chicago. A Street Gang, the Jesters. Were stepping on biker toes. They originally offered friendship. Which the Horde refused. Friendship had to be earned. Not something given over night. The Jesters didn't like hearing no. They started causing trouble for the drug mulers in the Horde. Stealing packages. Threatening a lone member on the road. Enough was enough.
They had a vote. A vote on whether they should go to war with this street level gang. They didn't want to just jump into something. The blowback could cost them. Cost the mother Charter back in L.A. Joe, V.P of this chapter. Was a thinker as well as a fighter. He voted no to the conflict just yet. It was rejected for now. Especially after word Joe had received.
"We can't go to war just yet. There's word from the Mother Charter. The son of the Prez, Mike. Was attacked." Joe reported to his fellow brothers. "We could already be in a war" Joe continued. They can't be fighting on two fronts. Once this sh#t was dealt with by the Mother Charter. They could handle these street thugs. Deal with that problem for good.
Joe grabbed his phone as he walked out the clubhouse. He sat on his Harley as he dialed the number of Woody. The Sgt. At arms. They had met at a number of occasions. Bike rallys. Club meets. At general get-together. He needed him to know. This Charter was there. "Hey, Woody. It's me. You let Mike and the others know. The Chicago charter has your back brother. Give us the word. We will ride" He said smiling. He always liked meeting up with woody. A good hardcore biker through and through.
James sat hunched over on an old park bench, leaning on his knees with his elbows. The scattered shade from the oak tree swaying gently above him provided a cool escape from the scorching midday sun. His face was buried in his trembling hands, being roughly massaged by his tense fingers. He hadn't slept last night, the insomniac that he was; his mind kept him awake with rampant arguments between the delusions of his birth parents, whom he had never seen. Their constant bickering used to drive him to madness, but he had learned to cope over the years, and no sleep wasn't such a bad trade-off.
With a groan, James gazed through the openings between his overlapped hands. He was in a public playground, where screaming kids ran wild, and careless parents laid back. He stared at the metal contraption centered in the square lot, winding, dipping, and slanting. It was someone's job to make some stupid crap and plop it in some useless place. And he got paid. What bullshit, he muttered, causing some adults on a nearby bench to look over in slight irritation. James plunged his tired eyes back into darkness, and began rubbing his face wildly into his palms.
After moments of dozing off, James felt a weak grip on his right shoulder, followed by the cheap metal bench creaking as it lowered. James lazily looked to the side with squinted eyes, annoyed by the sudden interruption. James recognized the guy. He had a shitty orange tan, with an even shittier mustache that made him look like a pedophile, at least, that's what James thought. He was a regular customer, but James never bothered to get his name. "What the fuck do you want?" James groaned, despite knowing the answer.
"You know what I want, so just give it," the guy replied urgently. "Christ, you want it that bad?" James said rhetorically, reaching into his pants pocket. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. At least do it somewhere else. We're in a park, for fuck's sake!" the regular suddenly said, his urgency seemingly having left him. "Shut the fuck up and just give me the money," Jim demanded, scrounging out a few small bags of white powder, not bothering to count how many he had taken out. The man hesitated, but James's clear frustration at the situation showed on his grimaced face. He quickly pulled out a few bills, and began mouthing their amounts as he counted. With another groan, James pulled the large bills from his hand, left the cocaine, and ran out of the park. He expected the police to be on their way, it was obvious someone would've called them by now, seeing as their deal wasn't exactly discreet.
James shoved the bills into his pocket, and jogged, which quickly turned into a run, a few blocks away. Stopping in a familiar area, he panted for a minute, spit, and resumed his walk.
When they reached the well appointed townhome in the Ukrainian neighborhood they hustled their prey inside and locked the doors. One of the men from the second car sat on the porch, hiding his handgun under his jacket and watching the streets closely. He lit a cigarette and nodded at one of the neighbors who quickly looked away.
Inside, the large townhome was nicely decorated and had several computers and large flat screen televisions on the wall with plush comfortable chairs and sofas. Ivan pushed the gangster into a bedroom that was empty but for a wooden chair and a dresser in the corner. The floor was covered in plastic sheeting and Tyrone nearly lost control of his bladder. The big Russian tied him to the chair, his hands bound to the wooden arms and he stood apart, waiting for Stasia.
She looked at the frightened man and put her hands on her hips, her snug jeans accentuating her long legs. Stasia removed her worn denim jacket that was several sizes too big for her and gave to Ivan to hold. It had belonged to her brother Nikolai, he worn it since he was a teenager back in Russia, it was his lucky charm. She now wore it until she could give it back to him when he got out of prison. Her black tank top clung to her, it was hot in the room without any air conditioning.
“Tyrone. Where is Sergei?” She stared down at him, Vlad and Ivan flanking her, their faces like chiseled stone.
“I don’t know where he at. He ain’t bought shit from me in weeks,” Tyrone licked his lips nervously, while it was technically true, he had met the Russian just a few days ago when he had called him about buying three kilos of coke. It was a tall order and Tyrone was not sure he could fill it but the money was too good to resist.
Stasia made subtle motion to Vlad who opened the top drawer of the simple wooden dresser and removed an item. “I do not like liars, Tyrone. It wastes my time and it makes it worse for you. Answer me with the truth or I let him play with you.”
Vlad turned and grinned, he had a pair of garden pruners in his hand. Tyrone’s eyes went wide and he stuttered slightly. “Aight, he did call me almost a week ago, looking to score a shit load of coke. I didn’t have enough for him so we didn’t make any deals. But he didn’t say where he was.”
Stasia clucked her tongue and spoke to Vladimir in Russian, “He is lying, I can smell it coming off of him. Scare him enough to make him honest but do not hurt him too badly.”
Vlad looked at her with a sneer of derision but blinked and it was gone. He grabbed the man’s pinky finger and put the pruners to it, pressing hard enough for him to feel the pinch and Tyrone struggled, panting in fear. He stared at the wiry man who had crude prison tattoos along his neck and and he saw nothing in his eyes, they were flat and cold. He swallowed hard and cursed.
“Fuck, lady! Aight, I saw Sergei, I talked to the dude but he didn’t tell me where he was staying, just that the feds had set him up nice but he needed some coke. Stupid fucker for talking like that, must have been high. Just call this motherfucker off, lady,” Tyrone pleaded.
Stasia stared at him and felt the eyes of her men on her, waiting to see what she would do. She did not think the drug dealer knew much more about Sergei, his answer seemed genuine and he had no reason really to protect that rat except for the fact the rat could make him money. Her temper flared at the thought of him living large on the government’s teat while her brother was rotting in some prison cell. She nodded at Vlad and made a motion with her hand like a scissor cutting.
Vlad grinned and snapped the pruners down, severing the man’s little finger and he screamed in pain, cursing them. The finger fell to the floor and the blood ran out onto the plastic. The wiry Russian laughed and his flat eyes sparked with life and he held up pruners and put them against Tyrone’s fourth finger which had a large gold nugget ring and snapped that finger off as well. The drug dealer shrieked in agony and Vlad picked up the bloody ring, grinning.
Stasia looked back and she frowned, “Vlad, stop now. I only said one.”
Vlad looked at her with barely concealed disdain and shrugged, pocketing the ring. He rose and walked away from the tied man. He was blubbering and moaning, his hand bleeding freely. He spit on the wounded man and laughed, “You’re lucky this woman is softhearted. I would leave you with nothing but your thumbs. You'd never be able to jack off again.”
She glared at Vlad and jerked her head, her ponytail swaying. He stepped aside, his eyes sliding a look of malice at her he sets the pruners on the dresser. She reached up and took a small dish off the top, it held coarse sea salt. Stasia walked over and knelt by the man, her hand touching his wounded one.
“Anything else you remember, anything at all?” she asked.
“I said no, lady! I told you everything,” Tyrone groaned.
“I don’t believe you,” Stasia grabbed his wounded hand and shoved the finger stumps into the rough salt, grinding them in. The man screamed in fresh agony and he shook with pain. “Any little detail, anything at all? Does this jog your memory?”
“Fuckin bitch! He...he was wearing something I ain’t seen him wear before,” he gasped. “He was wearing a Lakers t-shirt....he was always a Bulls fan, I thought that was fucked up. I asked...oh fuck that hurts! I asked him what that was about and he just smiled and said he...decided to switch teams.”
Stasia took away the salt and nodded. “Good boy, Tyrone.”
She stood and turned on her heel, gesturing to Ivan to follow her into the hallway. She tapped her boot on the hardwood floor and smiled grimly. She reached into her pocket for a soft back of Marlboro Reds and shook one out, lighting it with her silver zippo, a gift from her brother that they all carried, etched with one word, Vor.
“I think I know where our rat is hiding now,” she said, blowing out a stream of smoke. “Who do we know in LA?”
Horde MC Clubhouse
"Brothers," Mike said with an outreached hand.
He was standing in the parking lot of the clubhouse with the members of the LA chapter. Six more Horde bikers had just arrived, their cuts announcing that they were members of the Horde's Bakersfield chapter. As rowdy as the Horde had been over the years, the Bakersfield charter took it to the next level. Most of the members had that Okie shit-kicker accent that came from their parents and grandparents, Oklahoma farmers that had moved west to Bakersfield during the Dust Bowl. They were some of the reddest rednecks Mike had ever met, and there had been some friction from them when he had patched in.
They didn't like a Latino joining the Horde, let alone the mother chapter, but they had all but shut up when Mike proved he was capable at the outlaw biker game. When he had been voted in as president, it was the Bakersfield chapter that turned out to be his most staunch supporters, as well as his most potent weapon. Anytime the Horde had a major problem, they used Bakersfield like a gun and just aimed them in the right direction.
"How's it going, prez?" asked the huge man with the bushy black beard. Little Walter Stevens was the VP of the Bakersfield charter. Little Walter was a man who specialized in hurting, as Mike had witnesses firsthand many times. Mike and Little Walter shook hands and he shook hands with the rest of the Bakersfield guys as they all exchanged pleasantries with Mike's men and headed inside.
"So, you all know what happened," Mike said once everyone was sitting and settled in the tables inside the clubhouse's rec room. Mike remained standing as he addressed the bikers. "Pretty much, tonight me and my guys will ride out as escorts for our mules. Bakersfield, you'll be following maybe a mile back. If anybody tries to start some shit, they'll soon back off when they see we have extra muscle on top of what we already brought out."
"Have you called up Starr or his people, yet?" asked Gene, Mike's VP. Abel Starr was the man the Horde ran mule for. He got coke and weed from somewhere below Mexico and managed to get it through the border at Arizona. From the Arizona border, the Horde took over and delivered the shit to Starr's people in LA and Portland. From there, he cut and sold it through all his different dealers and fronts.
"I sent a message to his number two man. If this shit is blowback from something on his end, he'll be the first to tell me. But for now, we're operating on the theory that this attack was the work scavengers or gangbangers looking to make a quick score."
Nods all around. Mike rubbed his hands together and looked at the clock on the wall.
"We got a few hours to kill before we gotta roll out, so relax and just wait. Bakersfield boys, enjoy yourself and remember what's yours is ours."
There were good natured murmurs all around as Mike left the rec room and headed to the back of the clubhouse. There was a makeshift armory set up in the back. Woody was busy cleaning a shotgun while a tall, dark-haired Latino man opened up a box of bullets. His cut was still new, the words J. Cortez freshly sewn on his patch.
"Hey," Juan Cortez said to his father as Mike entered the room. Mike nodded at his son and gave him a soft pat on the back.
"Everything good here, Woody? This fuckup isn't causing your trouble?"
"Oh, he's fucking up," Woody replied. He fiddled with the pump-action on the shotgun until it smoothly clacked up and down. "But I'm used to it by now. Seems that the Cortez fellas have a tendency to be born fuckups."
"That that they do," joked Mike. "What can I say? Ain't got nothing worth a damn, but at least I passed something on to my kids."
"I guess I get it honest," said Juan with a smirk. He looked at his father and changed the topic. "Do you know if Hector's coming tonight?"
"No," said Mike. "He's staying behind with Pete and Baxter."
"But he's not too hurt," protested Juan.
"I know, but he left his bike in Arizona, remember? Unless you want him riding your sister's old pink Huffy, or sitting bitch seat on your bike, he's gotta stay behind."
Juan mulled over his father's words before finally accepted them and going back to work. Mike watched as Woody, satisfied that the shotgun was ready, moved on to cleaning a nine millimeter. Meanwhile, Juan began loading bullets into clips for spare ammo.
"Juan," Mike finally said. "Tonight, when we ride. I'd like for you to stay close to me."
"Alright," Juan said without protest. Juan had a feeling his father would ask that, considering what had happened with Hector this morning. Mike stood there, watching as his son, his own flesh and blood, went about his work for the club. All those years ago when he had been a prospect, Mike couldn't imagine he'd be president of the Horde, both his sons as fully patched members. But, damn, it was real. And, judging by the muscle and guns, he aimed to keep it real for as long as he could.
The Murray's private jet touched down at Chicago Midway International Airport after about two hours of flight. Neil generally tried to avoid landing at O'hare due to the insanity of trying to find your way out of the place once you've disembarked. A black SUV was waiting for him outside the airport, with an older, grizzled man in the driver's seat. Neil knew that the SUV was reinforced at the windows and inside the doors - he had had all of his vehicles improved defensively after an attack on his life a year back - however he could not see any of the reinforcements from the exterior, which meant that it would not be a target out on the road.
He climbed in the back, and greeted the driver. The man mentioned that his name was Robert, to which Neil replied "Good to meet you Rob," while looking over the vehicle's interior. It was rather lavish inside, but that was by Neil's request. "Who says luxury and practicality can't go together?" he recalled telling the manufacturer. He pressed the button to open the mid-section console that would normally house a cup holder. However, it too had been modified, and as the compartment slid out he found himself staring at a large 10mm Colt handgun. The gun held only eight rounds, and the 10mm bullet had since been all-but replaced by the 9mm, but Neil liked it for the weight and the sheer power. He made sure that all of his vehicles had this gun or another Colt hidden somewhere inside. That was another thing that Neil did for ECS appearances - since his father had started the branch in the United States, it just made sense to Neil to use only American made guns. After all, there really weren't too many Irish firearm companies around anyway.
Neil made sure to keep the gun quite accessible as the SUV drove through Russian-controlled territory. He didn't expect a problem, especially since the ECS were on fairly good terms with the Russian Mob, and they were driving through the outskirts of their territory. It was the quickest way to the ECS warehouse on the other side of town, and Neil held the gun in his lap just in case. Rob looked at him in the rearview mirror, nodding to show that he was prepared as well.
They made it to their destination after fifteen minutes, and pulled up at the front of the building. The ECS warehouse was huge - comprised of the warehouse itself, where all of their illegal dealings were based out of, as well as a smaller brown office building next door. Further down the street was an ECS-owned apartment complex, providing housing for their local "employees". Neil thanked Rob and stepped through the door to the warehouse, watching as at first a few, and then most of the employees stopped what they were doing to see the Boss. After three years at charge, nearly all members of the American ECS completely accepted him as their leader. Though some didn't; Sam Murray was loved, at times idolized, and a select few did not think that his only son could live up to the reputation. And since the ECS had been almost exclusively at peace during Neil's reign, he had not yet had a chance to really "prove himself" in their opinions.
He was quickly approached by the manager, a smaller blonde-haired and blue-eyed guy named Richard. Rick was the epitome of the stereotypical Irishman, flask of whiskey at his desk and all. But above that, Neil knew him to be loyal and competent, and that was why he had promoted Rick to manager two years prior.
"Hey Boss, what brings you to Chicago?" Rick asked, undoubtedly caught a bit off-guard by Neil's sudden and unannounced appearance.
"I wanted to check up on things here, make sure everything is running smoothly."
Around here? Sure," Rick waved his hand to indicate that everything was fine. Then he leaned in a bit closer; a completely unnecessary act, as they were the only two in the general area. "But from what I've heard, the Russians are doing pretty well for themselves too."
"Is that so?" Neil was wondering how the Mob across town was faring. He was also wondering if anything could be gained from working with them. "While I'm in town, could you call and set up a meeting with them? I figure I could get a bit of business done here after all."
Anastasia listened to Ivan as he named a few contacts they had in Los Angeles, it was not their strongest turf so they would have to call in a favor or two from gangs that the Russians were on decent terms with, which were not that many. She was about to speak when her phone rang in her jeans pocket and she looked at the caller ID. It was her boss, Grigoriy Vasilyev the head of midwest branch of the Russian mob and she waved Ivan away, walking into the living room to take the call. She was confident of the privacy as all of their cell phones were routinely updated with anti tracking and anti tapping software.
“Allo? Mr. Vasilyev, it is good to hear from you,” she said, taking a long drag off her cigarette as she heard his voice rumble over the phone.
“I heard you shot up those purple fools, there were no orders for that,” Grigoriy said in a bland and patient voice. “What are you doing, de'vachka?”
Stasia figured this call would come but not so soon. She frowned slightly at his nickname for her, it was degrading to be called little girl, even by the boss. She was sure he never called any of his other lieutenants little boy. She bit back a sarcastic reply and replied in her cool, professional tone, “We were after a man who knew Sergei, I am still looking for that rat bastard. We got some information we can use.”
“Nevermind that vermin, we have other business that needs attending to,” he said.
“Your brother is a true thief, Stasia, he is doing his time and he made sure no one else went down with him, despite that snitch’s betrayal,” Grigoriy reminded her. “Listen to his orders and act on his behalf, that is your job. You are making this thing with Petrov personal and that is not good business, de’vachka.”
It is personal, she thought, grinding her teeth against the cigarette filter. She took it out of her mouth and snuffed it out in a crystal ashtray full of red lipstick stained butts. It was her brother suffering because Sergei Petrov was a greedy, lying bastard. Nikolai, who believed so much in the honor of thieves, that he was blind to the faults of the man he had considered his close friend and right hand in the Shadow Brotherhood. Not that Sergei had always been treacherous but when his coke habit began to get serious, she knew it was a matter of time before it got the best of him.
“Da, sir, I will do as you say,” she responded.
“Good girl, keep it that way,” he said, his voice arrogant. “Now then, I need an assistant gardener. We have a potato bug in our patch. I will give you the details later, meet me tomorrow at the little coffee shop on Devon at eight o’clock. Oh, and don’t bring that madman, we have to at least appear civilized.”
With a chuckle at his own joke he hung up and she looked at her phone, tucking it back in her pocket. She suddenly felt tired and she sat down on one of the barstools at the large marble topped counter.
“Ivan, get me a drink, will you?”
With a nod he opened the freezer and took out a bottle of Russian Standard vodka, pouring them both a shot. “Do you want any orange juice with it?”
Stasia made a face at him, “Ivan, I’m not one of your American girlfriends, I drink properly.”
She downed the cold shot of vodka, licking her lips slightly at the tingle. He watched her for a moment and then knocked back his shot, pouring another. She waved him off when he offered her another.
“It looks like we are going to meet with the Irish,” she said after a pause. “Vasilyev wants me to come with him tomorrow. That is a first. He told me to leave Vlad behind but I will take you with me. I need people I trust.”
Ivan nodded and his eyes slid over her as he drank his second round. She was very attractive, a classic Russian beauty, but so cold and distant. It was always business with her, except for that one night, right after Nikolai was arrested and they had learned of the betrayal. He had seen her emotions, her vulnerability and he was moved by it, feeling protective of her. She had let him in but the next day she was the same, the door slamming shut in his face.
“I still want to work the LA angle, to find Sergei. I will not rest until that rat is caught,” she said, toying with the shot glass, catching his longing gaze. He averted his eyes quickly and she sighed. “Stop it, Ivan. I’ve already told you, it will not happen again. Quit looking at me like a lost puppy.”
The big man returned the bottle of vodka to the freezer, feeling his pride stung by her comment. He cursed himself silently for even bothering and took a moment to collect himself before turning to her.
“So tomorrow we go talk to the Micks,” he said, trying to sound normal. “What do you want to do with our guest in the back?”
Stasia stood up, “Shit. I hope Vlad hasn’t dismembered the poor bastard. I need him alive.”
They went down the hall and entered the spare room. Vlad was smoking a cigarette, standing over Tyrone who was openly weeping, his mouth gagged and his shirt cut off his body, leaving him bare chested. His back and chest marked with small round burns and tiny cuts made by a razor blade. She could see Vlad had used the sea salt to rub into the razor cuts. Stasia glared at the wiry man who looked back at her with a cold flat gaze.
She stepped in front of Tyrone who looked up at her with pleading eyes and she bent, putting her hands on her knees so she could speak to him face to face. “Do you see what happens to people that associate with rats?”
Tyrone nodded and she reached up and pulled out the makeshift gag. He gasped for breath and nodded again, desperate to please them.
“I’ve decided I will let you live but you have to do something for me,” she said.
“Yeah, whatever it is, yeah I’ll do it! Just make him stop!” Tyrone gasped.
“If you see, speak to, or even hear a whisper about Sergei Petrov, I want you to come tell me,” she replied.
Tyrone nodded vigorously and licked his dry lips, “You got it, lady. Fuck that rat bastard, if I’d known what he did, I wouldn’t have sold him shit. Snitches are bitches, you know.”
Despite the fear and pain Tyrone could not help but sneak a glance down the blonde woman’s tank top, checking out her cleavage. Stasia caught this and she backhanded him with bruising force, her rings cutting his cheek.
“Oh shit!” Tyrone winced and hung his head.
Stasia felt her temper flare and she hit him twice more in the face with her fist, making him whimper. “If you know what is best for you, you will do as I say. Or I will find you and turn you back over to his tender mercies. I will find your family, including that little girl you have and they will suffer before you die. Do you understand, Tyrone?”
He nodded, sobbing again as Vlad grinned at him with a sadistic smile, his dark eyes glinting.
“Yeah, lady, whatever you want. I’ll do it.”
Stasia turned to Ivan, “Drop him off somewhere, take Vlad with you.”
She did not really need to send them both but she felt uncomfortable around the man her brother used as his executioner. She could feel his dislike of her, which seemed to grow the longer Nikolai was away and she was in charge. His menace was real and if she did not need to keep him as an enforcer and as a favor to her brother she would have got rid of him. Besides, she could keep better tabs on him if he were close by. Vlad untied the prisoner and they blindfolded him, walking with him outside into the night.
She walked back to the kitchen and sat down, lighting another cigarette. The invitation to the meeting with the Irish mob from her boss had been unexpected, she knew he was barely tolerant of her in this precarious position of leadership. She assumed he allowed it because Nikolai was the one still calling the shots and he had been a loyal and productive thief, one of Grigoriy’s top men. She had never met any Irish mobsters and was curious to see for herself the men that ran the docks on the lake, a piece of pie that her boss had always envied.
The Engine under Joe roared into life. He made sure his helmet was on tight and off he went. He didn't travel alone. Two other full patch members road with him. After hearing of the attack on the Mother Charter. They were prepared for any attack on their door. Any. Not one member road alone anymore. They were off to their next mission. Drug running.
Joe parked up his ride as they reached the labs. Owned by the Horde MC. They were just every day homes. Looking pretty ordinary to the passer by. Most of these homes were abandoned to begin with though. They only had some life to them because of the MC. The MC also reached out to a cop. Known to be bent. They bribed a few more cops, known to patrol this area. To look the other way. They did. Money corrupts.
Joe walked inside. They had people outside of the MC here to actually make the stuff to sell. Less likely to be able to link it back to the MC. They were just thugs mainly. No common cause but the money they got paid. Every now and then. One would steal from the MC. They'd turn up the next day. Dead. That's how it worked in this world. Piss these kind of people off. You Get killed.
"You got the packages ready boys?" He asked. They nodded to him. Around 30 packages were sealed and ready to go. Joe had the idea to place them in cereal boxes. Have a half open cereal and pretend it's your snap. "Well. Bikers like cereal too" Samuel laughed. As he picked up a few packages. Heading back to his ride. They were the first group of 3 to come collect. The smaller groups could alert the next of a tail. Stop them from heading in. Joe was the brains behind this all.
Joe got back on his ride. Placing the cereal boxes into his pouches. "Let's roll out. We'll send a little extra to the Mother charter this shipment. They could use the extra cash at this time. We've got to help our L.A brothers out" Joe said to the two beside him. They were driving it to the border. They tried to push as much drugs out, as in. To keep the town from over dosing as it were.
As much as they liked the money made. Drugs wasn't their idea thing to be selling on the street. Not after seeing little kids get affected by it.