Logs:The Job Got Done

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The Job Got Done

Characters: Louis Rhys
Date: 2019-11-13
Summary: Why does the job never go smooth?
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

Councilman Edgar Trudeau is well-known for being a principled man. A loudly principled man, filled with the Holy Spirit and family values. He has a blond wife of socially acceptable pedigree and two beautiful children of acceptable levels of obedience, and the whole family looks prim and gorgeous on campaign posters, which might be one of the reason he's been elected three times.

He also has a 'good friend' named Jason, who has a modest ranch house with a large porch in the heart of the city. The usual arrangement - meeting a few nights a week at a motel to 'work late', and it's served them well enough for a few years. But suddenly Jason stopped returning Edgar's calls, and it turns out that - whatever his other hypocrisies - Edgar actually cares about the guy. Enough to call in a favor from a recent transplant to the city, Louis, to check up on the man and see what's going on. /Quietly/.

So Louis waits until after sundown, and approaches the house, his car parked a couple of blocks away. Instead of his usual suits, he's dressed down to a pale cream turtleneck and pressed slacks - still slightly better quality than is usual in the neighborhood, but not overly so. He's observing the house as he approaches. It's a nice little place, with vinyl siding, painted decorative shutters, and blinds pulled tight. There are no lights on, and there's no car in the driveway.

There's a late 80's Honda Accord Ex parked at the curb, three blocks away (perhaps near Louis', perhaps not). There's a touch of rust to the rear wheel wells indicating that, no, this isn't someone's retro hobby car. It's a functional beater - the kind of thing that young pizza delivery drivers invest in, and innocuous in most neighbourhoods that don't pay too much mind to food delivery traffic.

From there, Rhys went on foot. He keeps his knit cap in his jacket pocket, wrapped around his lockpicking kit, when he does his initial walk-by - scanning traffic on the street as much as he peeks at the residence in question for any hint of light from a backroom.

Rhys didn't have much to go on, at first. A couple of hotel room bills tucked into a suit pocket. From there, he'd gone to the hotel - a shadow that crept into both computer registry and security footage before settling in to stalk his way through social media. The address was a more difficult grab, but he got there eventually - posing as someone he wasn't, trying to get a hold of someone to get something they'd lost to them.

He's not a shadow, now. Just a lone figure walking up the street. One who walks up the driveway to a neighbouring house and slips around the outside, just in time not to notice Louis approaching the house. He means to check the back door, moving between backyards of quietly occupied ranchers.

As Louis is approaching the front, he just misses Rhys slipping around the back, at least for the moment. This is a wellness check - sort of - so Louis is easy and ambling as he heads up the porch stairs and gives a sharp knock on the door. "Mister Lorraine?"

No answer. And there's no flicker of movement or lights in response to the noise as Rhys quietly approaches the back door. There's a porch here, too, although it's smaller and has an empty garbage bin tucked into a corner. The window, one of the few non-shaded ones, looks into a dark, small kitchen. There are shapes on the counter, dishes in the sink, although the details are difficult to make out from here.

Meanwhile, receiving no answer, Louis reached out a gloved hand (for the cold, of course) and tests the front door. Locked. As is the back door, for that matter.

Rhys moves smoothly through the neighbour's backyard, slipping around a playground and foot powered toy car on his way to the fence and hops it with quiet, breathless ease. His gloves take the full brunt of the splinter - not fingerless, today, but rather a set of leather driving gloves. He quiets to the sharp sound of knuckles rapping against a door, slowing his movements as he gets near enough the rear windows to peek in - to let his kindred senses shed some shadows and give him the shapes of dishes within. Penultimately, he checks the garbage bin and finds it lacking.

He tries the backdoor before slipping the knit cap from his pocket - taking the lockpicking kit in hand before pulling the hat down to his ears. A pick and a screwdriver, minute, made for this task, he tickles the tumblers with dexterous fingers as he applies pressure from the screwdriver to lock any in place that he succeeds with.

This isn't a wellness check, for him. He's out for secrets.

And at the front door? Louis is reaching under his sweater to pull out a small lockpicking kit of his own. At either end of the house, the two men work almost in sync, and get through the locks at about the same time. Louis enters the house without hesitation, not wanting to be seen on the porch doing suspicious fiddling for too long.

When the doors open, they can both smell the faint, musty odor of mold, of dishes left too long in the sink - although it's stronger for Rhys, obviously. Rhys can also see that several of the lower cabinets have been opened, and left open. And Louis? He can see the living room and the sliced open cushions and overturned furniture. "Oh dear," he says as he closes the door behind him.

It's a practiced entry once the kit is back in Rhys' pocket. The dulled thud of workboots on linoleum managed carefully. He pulls the door shut behind him with the knob turned and scans the kitchen, forgoing the click of the bolt sliding back into place once it's flush within the door frame. His nostrils flare - he takes in air for the sole purpose of scent. Hints of abandonment - in a rush, things left behind to rot. His brow furrows. It looks like the place may have been tossed. Though, he doesn't have a line of sight on the living room to know that as definitively as Louis.

He slips a hand inside his right jacket pocket, fingers fitting snug around the handle of the compact 9mm SIG Sauer there, on the expectation that he might bump into the source of the mess. His thumb pulls the hammer back, readying it for the round already in the chamber. This 'click' he can't avoid, as minute as it may be. He pads slowly, rolling heavy boots over the floor gradually on his way to the opposite wall, to slip around to hallway or living room. Does he hear the voice? The door closing at the opposite end of the house?

The floor plan of the house is fairly simple. The living room is the largest room, leading into an open dining area, with the kitchen to the right of that, and a hallway to the left of it going back to some closed doors. So, Rhys and Louis are essentially around a corner from each other, and in the dark stillness of the house, they easily note that /someone/ is there, just out of sight.

Louis goes still for a moment, then sidles away from the windows to try to blend into the shadows. The cream-colored sweater doesn't make that the easiest thing, but hey, he was dressed to reassure and create trust, not actually planning to walk into...whatever this is. There's exasperation in his expression as he goes low, moving quietly to try and get a look around the corner without exposing himself.

Rhys doesn't often go the reassuring way. He bypasses people rather than charming them - the exceptions are often violent. He's in dark tones, from the black knit cap on his head to the dark work boots on his feet. The voice and the sound of the door shutting down get him moving any faster, but do direct his movements to that opposite corner. He handgun exits his pocket as he rests against the wall and listens, quiet, before quickly peeking out and ducking pack - the afterimage of a glow in the dark man bleeding in his pupil against the dark. His finger goes from over the trigger-guard to over the trigger.

"Unless you want to be a particularly punctured night light," he starts, voice gruff - maybe he was a smoker, in the way back, before the onset of frenzy at the sight of a lighter. And back when breathing meant something. "You'll keep your voice down and walk out into the center of the room."

Louis freezes. His hands come up, although he dextriously slips the lockpicking kit up his sleeve and lets the motion carry it down to rest at the curve of his elbow. His eyes fix on the place where the voice emerged, even if he can't see around corners, and he slowly walks to the center of the room. "I'd rather remain unpunctured, if it matters," Louis says, his voice low and calm, pitched to radiate harmless compliance. It's a smooth voice, and one that has that peculiar lack of accent you only get by being trained out of one.

Rhys listens for footsteps. Listens for any shuffling clothes that might indicate that he's being drawn on. And, for good measure, he does another quick peek around the corner to be sure. Ducks back, processes what he saw as best he can, then properly sticks his head out from around the corner. He squints, pale blue eyes trying to suss out features from the glow - passingly familiar with the type. Enough to know that it may be hard to match up mien to an image. And it may be too dark yet to gauge the overlying mask, with effort. "Not the owner of this place," he assumes - Jason, he means. The gun stays cocked. Another thought creeps in - one that's unique to this city. He has to ask. "You a - whatchacallit-" he starts. His own accent worn down too much by moving around, and blending in with the grunge. "Signatory?"

Louis notes when Rhys pops back around and his eyes narrow momentarily behind his glasses, trying to identify the other man in the brief moments he has, even as he's being scrutinized himself. His hands remain up, and he doesn't seem to be carrying any weapon at all. He makes a noncommital noise at the first statement, but he smiles, faintly, at the second. "Yes." A moment's pause and thought, before he hazards, "I wasn't aware of any arrangements that Mister Lorraine had made with, ah, unusual friends. My apologies if I am trespassing on a staked claim?" There's maybe a hint of amused emphasis on 'staked', because who can resist a pun?

A sigh takes effort. An intake of useless air to expel not as words or a particular sound. But old habits, like old kindred, die hard. Rhys shows his gun, around the corner, so that it's a silhouette against the kitchen behind him and the low light let in through the windows. He uses his thumb to ease the hammer back down, then steps out. Gun held down at his side, rather than returned to the pocket he'd retrieved it from. A grunt replies to the pun. A step up from a sigh.

"If he's anyone's juicebox, he's not mine," he retorts. He gets a look at the state of the living room and takes a quick glance for halls that lead elsewhere from here - bedrooms, washrooms, anything not yet checked. But he keeps any eye on his present company otherwise, despite the deescalation. He points with his chin, at Louis, as he sizes the Lost up in the low light of the room. "You? Got anything to do with why the place looks the way it does?"

A smile flashes out in the dark at the grunt, and seeing the gun move down to Rhys' side, it stays for a while and decides to make itself comfortable on Louis' face. Eyes of light move under his skin, blinking out of unison for a moment before dissolving into random, firework-like displays of faint light. "That's a relief. And no, I've no real acquaintance with the gentleman. I was simply asked to check in on him." He pauses, then clears his throat. "Mind if I drop the hands? Eventually, they do start to cramp."

The hall is attached to the left hand side of the living room and dining room area, and appears to be fairly short. There's one door on each side of the hall, and one at the end of the hall. They're all closed.

Age makes a kindred jaded. But a glow in the dark man still warrants extra looks, sussing out details of mien. "By who?" he asks, plainly, with reference to checking in. And he shrugs at the inquiry about keeping his hands up. "Do what you like. Just hang around for a bit, if you'd please," he answers - no real warmth in his tone, but no threat either. He dips his head toward the hallway toward the closed doors. "After all, you're here to check in on the guy. May as well check what's behind doors number one and two." He starts toward said hall, urging Louis along with him. "You have a key? Was the front door locked?" he asks, whether not not he gets a straight answer from the previous question.

"A concerned party," Louis says, cheerful but firm. "With reason to be concerned, apparently." And from the brief look that surfaces under the air of good-natured harmlessness he's trying to project, maybe one who he's thinking about asking some pointed questions about that reason and why he wasn't warned about it. He does lower his arms, though, with a sigh of relief. "Are you here on someone else's behalf, as well? And that sounds lovely. Thank you." A slight inclination of his head as if it was entirely a request and suggestion, and not one given by a vampire with a gun. He doesn't need a lot of urging. "The front door was locked. As was, I imagine," a look back towards the kitchen, "the back door." An amused, sidelong look towards Rhys.

The doors are very standard interior doors of pressboard and fake brass knobs. Neither of them seem damaged, but as they move towards the first, Louis says, "Stop." He goes to one knee without seeing in Rhys obeys, and reaches for something in the short, brown carpet. He picks it up and holds it up where Rhys can see it - a sliver of glass with silvered backing and something dark staining one side of it. Once his attention has been drawn to it, Rhys can smell the blood. And likely more of it behind the nearest door, although there doesn't seem to be a lot of it, and it's a couple of days old at least.

"A concerned party," Rhys parrots back on the subject of who sent him. True, but in a much more vague sense - different concerns. He's much more forthcoming about the backdoor. A subtle dip of his chin as they move toward the hallway. "Locked." His conclusion follows, shortly. "If we don't find a broken window behind one of these doors, we can assume whoever fucked the place up had a key or a-" sideways glance. "Similar professional skillset."

He stops as Louis demands. And he watches, quiet, gun rising incrementally toward the hall. The he lowers it when he sees the sliver. And his nostrils flare when a familiar scent entices. His senses follow one stain to the scent of another. Behind the nearest door. Aged. "Abduction?" he supposes, as a theory, before approaching the nearest door - gun up in one hand as he opens, slowly, with the other. His gloves leaving done of his prints behind, though he grasps carefully, as not to disrupt evidence already there.

"Or we're about to walk into a murder scene, and I /hate/ those," Louis laments, quietly. He can't smell the blood or its quantities, apparently. He rises slowly to his feet, taking a handkerchief from his slacks pocket and wrapping the sliver neatly into it before slipping it into his pocket to have his hands free. He follows contentedly behind Rhys, stepping light and quiet in his shadow.

The interior door opens easily, revealing what must be the master bedroom. It was a nice one, at one point, decorated in a casually masculine style. Now? Now it looks like a hurricane came through. There's the frame of a full-length mirror in one corner, by the closet, and the glass has been broken out of it to litter the carpet. The clothes have been dumped unceremoniously out of the closet, shoeboxes opened, a couple of pieces of luggage open, their lining torn - as are the sheets, the mattress, bedspread, and pillows. Someone was VERY thorough in looking for something, but even under the noise, Rhys can vaguely reconstruct the scene, helped by his keen senses and the pervasive scent of old blood. Someone was standing in front of the closet, when they must have been ambushed, their head smashed into the mirror from the side. Before they could bleed much, they were removed from the room - they must have been wrapped up, because Rhys can't smell much blood outside the room - and then the room was searched.

Louis frowns into the darkness. "Can't see a damned thing," he admits. "Is there a corpse?"

"Wouldn't be my first empty corpse," Rhys comments off-hand, for his perception of blood - without naming it thusly. He enters the bedroom carefully, the barrel of his gun sweeping along with his gaze until the door is fully open and he as stepped inside. The furrow of his brow loosening as he links damaged objects and mess into a working reconstruction. He kneels at the mirror and takes a deep breath in through his nostrils, committing detail to memory - a scent he can recall and track by, later.

"No," he answers. "Not here anyway." He stands and turns to face Louis and points to a mirror in the dark with his thumb. "Looks like someone might have brained him. Put him in something, and hauled him out in a daze. Not bad work - they remembered to lock the doors." He sounds impressed. "Though, they might not be done with the guy if they tore all this shit up looking for something."

Louis just makes a grimace at Rhys' back at the 'empty corpse' remark; Rhys might catch it in the shattered and shadowed reflection of the mirror. He holds his breath, though, until the other man confirms that there are no dead guys here. "That's a relief," he mutters, although he moves to one side to look more closely at some of the damaged materials. "Mister Lorraine fell out of contact three days ago," he volunteers after a moment. "Does that match what you're seeing?" A thoughtful pause. "And if they were in a hurry to get him out of the house, then someone might have come /back/ to toss the place at leisure. Perhaps when he didn't, or couldn't, tell them what they wanted to know. They would have had his keys at that point, in all likelihood, so getting in and out wouldn't have looked particularly suspicious."

From the blood traces, this could be true - a lot of the dumped clothes are lying on top of the blood, but not overly stained, suggesting it had already begun to dry when the clothes landed on it. "They must have been frustrated to leave the place like this. I wonder if he died in questioning," Louis muses, and for all his professed distaste, it's a mild and practical observation with no particular disgust behind it.

Rhys is, at least, quite certain that the man - and he can tell that the blood came from a healthy man in his mid thirties, human with nothing 'unusual' that could be detected by blood - was alive when he was taken out of the room.

"Blood is a couple of days old," Rhys confirms for Louis. If he noticed the response to his quip about drained corpses, he doesn't visibly respond - even to relish it. He just keeps his default, neutral yet vaguely threatening countenance in place. "Was alive when he left the room, at least," he adds, after further processing. As for the theory that he died during questioning? He shrugs. "Likely. That, or he's alive and severely beat to shit. Torture wouldn't work if he honestly doesn't know where what they're looking for is," he adds. It's a detective's back and forth - only, from a much more crooked angle.

"Nothing from your employer to indicate he has anything worth the trouble?" he asks. He slides the closet door open to peek inside. And, afterward, lifts his chin toward the door out of the room. "Got one more to clear."

The closet is empty, but for heaps of clothes and opened shoe boxes, and shoes. The way someone has gone through and very deliberately torn open linings and emptied the boxes suggests that whatever they were looking for, it was small and presumably concealable.

Louis considers the question as he steps lightly out of the room and back into the hall to open the other door. "I wouldn't have said so. Roughing him up, paying him off, even blackmail, yes. But this is likely to draw //attention// when someone eventually gets worried and breaks in." A cough. "I mean, someone more inclined to draw attention to such things than either of us. Friends. Family. It would lead to the kind of inquiry that my employer is unlikely to desire. And, at the same time, I wouldn't say my employer is important enough to do this to get leverage on him."

The other room is serving as a home office. Unsurprisingly, it is also torn to shit. The desk has had all its drawers removed and the desk itself has been turned over. A small filing cabinet has had the lock popped out with professional equipment, and tax forms and other paperwork are carpeting the floor. The street light is filtering faintly past the edges of the blinds, giving this room a little more light than the bedroom, so Louis' eyes scan the room. His eyebrows rise. "No computer." It's true. There's a computer desk, even a contact charger for an iPhone, but no signs of a smartphone, tablet, or larger device.

"Means for a short and probably fruitless investigation," Rhys says, as they wander into the second room - when he notes the professionally dealt with lock that backs up what they've assumed about the back and front doors. He keeps his gun down, this time, as he sweeps the room and scans what remains. A nod paid to the absence of electronics and the presence of their chargers, as pointed out by Louis. "Who's this guy to your employer?" he asks, as he does a slow circuit of the room, stepping around the inside of it as he looks out. "I mean, would this guy have been in place to record or notice something he shouldn't have? Small item could have been a flashdrive." A leap. Sure. He sees that response coming, though, and adds, "Assuming that he wasn't a drug or diamond dealer and there wasn't a maltese falcon stuffed into a throw pillow."

Louis gives Rhys a sidelong look, and another of those cheerful smiles. "Trade you," he says, after a moment. "You know I'm here to check on the guy. What are /you/ here for? And what should I call you? 'Hey, you' is rude, and 'please don't shoot me', while fervently accurate, lacks a certain dignity."

To the rest, he sighs, and reaches up to rub at his forehead, while sinuous figures of light writhe just under his skin. "A flashdrive or other...container would make sense. And he could have been. My employer wasn't worried about that, I'd bet on it. But that might just mean my employer's an idiot."

"You first," Rhys retorts, easy, on the subject of they are working for, respectively. He slips his compact pistol into the right pocket of his jacket. He's more up front about offering a name. "Rhys," he provides - and just that. Given that it's pronounced in the same manner as 'Reese', it might much more easily be assumed spelled in that manner. "You?" he asks in return - something to call him, even if it ends up being an alias.

"Either way. We both have our reasons for finding the guy. And the questions I mean to ask are easier answered by a living body, and not a corpse surrounded in scandal." More than just the truce of the accord. They share a task, for the time being.

Louis studies Rhys for a moment. "Someone in an intimate relationship with the young man, who would prefer not to be named, for reasons of personal and professional concern. And, like I said - I'm here to make sure Mister Lorraine is okay," a pause, "which he manifestly is not, but I'd like something more definitive to take back than 'missing, might be dead'." He offers his hand with a smile. "Louis." Another sign he's not from here; he doesn't use the French pronounciation, but rather pronounces every letter. "Shall we cooperate at least until we can discover where he ended up?"

Rhys grunts in a way that may imply, 'I'm not surprised' with concern to this unnamed person that has employed Louis' services. He takes the offered hand, firmly, and shakes it. He's cold as a corpse, and doesn't summon the blush of life to set the Lost at ease. "Where would you like to start?" he asks - in other words, agreeing with the option of cooperation, for now. He doesn't offer any kind of hint as to his own employer, after getting one from Louis - but maybe he'll still follow through on that, if pressed. "Toss the place and hope we find what they missed? Try to find blood outside, or a friend of the abductee to press?"

Louis returns the handshake, a flicker of some complex emotion flitting over his features at the coldness of it, even through two pairs of gloves. Once he's retrieved his hand, he says, mildly, "I was hoping we might /trade/ information, Mister Reese." He glances at the wreckage. "On my own, I'd probably ask the neighbors. This isn't a gated community, more's the pity, but every street has its nosy neighbor who has just been dreaming of the day someone needs the information he or she has been carefully amassing." He smiles. "But...could we find a blood trail, do you think? It would be faster, if we had a direct line, and if this /does/ turn into finding a corpse, the fewer people we speak to, the better, I think."

A corpse in leather gloves means, at least, that the texture of a dead hand isn't added to the mix. Rhys' hand drops back down to his side with the gesture complete. He starts back out for the hall, waiting in the door frame to continue on back to the living room. He addresses the next step, first, rather than the aforementioned trade of information. "We might. They were careful getting him out, but who knows what might have spilled between here and their destination," he says. His nostrils flare. An easy 40 meters of range on the scent of blood without concentrated effort. "Someone concerned with the notches in Jason's bedpost," he answers, at last. Which is true, in an indirect way. "Who would likewise prefer not to be named. I suppose you understand that, well enough."

Louis makes a thoughtful noise. "All right. As long as you're not out to kill the gentleman - if he's still alive - then I see no reason why we can't work together. And I respect confidentiality. My own, and that of others." He gives Rhys a brief upnod. "If you can get us a line on a blood trail, I think I can be of help in tracking it." A pause. "Probably."

Now that he's concentrating, Rhys can scent the trail, at least as far as the closed door - Jason was taken out the back, and from his own movements in that direction, Rhys remembers a thin line of trash woods that might have provided cover for an approach and extraction.

Another grunt. No, he's not getting paid to kill the man. But it's a reply, without insult, that indicates he's likely been paid to do similar in the past. That he doesn't have any scruples with regard to the task, if he's being asked to perform it. "Let's get to it," Rhys says, leading the way in silence from there - gesturing direction as he needs to as his nose leads him to the back door. He opens it, scans, and steps down off the back porch on the way to the aforementioned trash woods. He's being careful not to make too much noise again, seeing as how they went through the trouble of keeping the lights off inside - assuming that they haven't been noticed in their snooping.

Louis follows. For the most part, he leaves the tracking to the vampire - whatever affinities Louis might have, blood doesn't seem to be among them. But just being around him while he's trying to be helpful has a peculiar quality of sharpening focus - as long as Rhys is concentrating on trying to find Jason, his already keen senses seem to sharpen, and the distracting input of the cold autumn night seems easier to ignore. And he does manage to point out a couple of signs of passage - it looks like there were three people who carried Jason, judging from partial shoeprints the two men find in the scrub woods. The strip of woods winds between family homes, to several blocks away, where the trail emerges from the scrub woods, and seems to lead across the road to another small ranch house. It is dark, and there's no car in the driveway, but there's a garage with a closed door. A 'For Sale' sign is out front - it looks old, as if this house hasn't been particularly popular on the market. Louis breathes out. "They weren't expecting all that much trouble or to keep him from very long, to set up camp this close to his house."

Rhys keeps the knit cap on. There's no guaranteed way to seem above suspicion, searching through scrub bush in the middle of the night. He nods, acknowledging shoeprints that Louis points out while they're on their way. He holds up three fingers with an arched brow to confirm the variance in print with the Lost that spotted them, before moving on. At the edge of the woods, he pauses, holding back with Louis before moving any further forward. He squats down, limiting his silhouette against the darkened shade of trees behind and beside him as he inspects the house ahead.

"Makes sense. The place was torn up. Desperate. The kind of thing you do if you're going to go away quick ...or if the timer is running down, and you've already stuck around too long," he admits.

Louis nods to confirm that the three fingers match his observations as well. Other than that, he's silent as they move, and doesn't even complain about the mud getting on his very nice leather shoes. He eyes the house. It seems innocuous enough, and if there's any sort of occupation there, someone's done a professional job of erasing the traces of it. "How would you like to play this? We can split up again; this looks like a similar floor plan, so probably two doors. If there is someone in there, it might take them by surprise. Down side, it splits us up, and I do bleed when shot." A rueful little chuckle, there, though he seems content to take the risk. "We could also try to lure them out. If anyone's in there."

Rhys watches the house patiently. It's like he's striking items off a list in his head - filling the empty home ahead of them with three thugs and a hostage in the same manner he'd mentally recreated Jason meeting the mirror up close. "Did you know that garage door codes for realtors are usually just the address - zeroes replaced by nines," he says, like it's small talk. He can't quite tell from here if the garage has this feature. He slips his hand into his left jacket pocket and retrieves a suppressor for the pistol he removes from his right jacket pocket. It's no 'true to film' silencer, but it might be the difference between 'gunshots!' and 'was that a firecracker?' from the neighbours. "That way, the realtor can always remember the code, without making them all the same."

"Once we have a door open, I can get in unseen. What did you have in mind for getting them out?"

"I did not know that, Reese, and it is /fascinating/," Louis tells him, and not even the near whisper can hide the amusement in his voice. Not that he's really trying; that easy smile is peeking out around the edges of his serious expression. "As for luring them out...well, I think it'd be easiest for me to just walk up there and ask them to let me in." He clears his throat. "Nicely, of course. I'd knock. I'm not a barbarian."

"Guess it's kind of shop-talk," Rhys notes. At least, for where their respective occupations overlap. His eyebrows furrow as he considers Louis' stated distraction, until, finally, he shrugs. "Raises less questions from the neighbours," he decides - opting that, sure, let's go ahead with that. "Just give me a few to get to the backdoor. Even if they just decide to check you out, it'll get their attention while I deal with the lock." He attaches the suppressor to the end of his pistol and stands. As he steps out from the edge of the woods, toward the street, he - as well as his gun and clothes - vanishes entirely from sight.

"Can do," Louis says, with a quick grin. He stands up, checks his sweater and picks off a couple of stuck leaves. Then, after a moment, uses one of the leaves to try and wipe off some of the mud on the leather. It only SORT of works. He sighs, shakes his head, then heads out, moving with what he hopes is an easy confidence. His hand comes up and rubs over his bald pate, and he pauses for just a moment at the threshold of the yard, before stepping up and continuing on. He raps briskly on the door, like he clearly expects someone to be there. It's loud enough to definitely attract attention.

After a moment, the door of the still darkened house opens, and there's a man, maybe in his mid-forties, built like a pile of bricks, who stares at Louis. The Lost offers a bright smile. "The boss sent me to see--"


Whatever else Louis was going to say is cut out in a yelp of pain as he takes a ham-sized fist to face. "Hey, whatdya--" he's grabbed by the neck and snatched inside the house. The door slams shut.

Bright side? Louis DEFINITELY has their attention, so hey, getting in by the other door should be easy now.

Rhys is a creature of neither sight, scent, or sound. The blades of grass depress beneath his feet as his invisible workboots stock up around the garage to the side of the house. And he continues on, just so, into the backyard. The Mekhet is less than a shadow, but still substancially part of this world, rounding around to the back of the house and through the carefully manicured grass of a property for sale. He pauses there, listening - waiting for his queue to work on the door. He winces at the sound of fist impacting living flesh, and the wet thwack of an elastic jaw following the rest of the skull a little later that the rest, and reconnecting.

He exhales and tries the knob with his free hand. There's give. He pulls it open and slips inside, closing it behind him with the same routine stealth as when he'd entered Jason's house. Regardless of whether what Louis did went the way he'd meant it to, the distraction worked.

This house is almost the same as the other, in the sense of floorplan. It's clear why it hasn't sold - Katrina and other floods have done a number on the foundation, and the floor slopes and dips in ways that suggest five figure repairs are needed. Still, the floorplan is simple enough - the kitchen Rhys just walked into, the living room, the same sort of hallway with its three doors - this time, they're open, and there's the glow of a banked lantern coming out of one of them. Rhys can smell blood, thick and fresh, coming from that direction.

And from the living room, where Louis is loudly flailing and protesting his treatment at the hands of two of the goons. They've slammed him up against the wall and are demanding to know who the hell he is and what the hell he thinks he's doing. We're going to say that his sputtering about his face, "You almost broke my jaw! This is entirely uncalled for--OW! Stop hitting - OW!" is all to selflessly divert the two goons' attention from Rhys' silent invasion. At least, that's definitely what he's going to claim when this is all over.

Another long inhale of of the air, here. The mold that's been fought to higher ground with salt from the sea degrades what's been warped by the sea. And beyond that, even stronger to his senses and often inciting the kindred equivalent of food cravings, blood. Rhys stalks out of the kitchen and into the living room, paying a cursory glance at Louis as he's worked over by the two goons - nothing lethal. For the moment. He withdraws into the hall, heading toward the lantern lit room and the strongest hit of what he's been sniffing for, carefully leaning around the doorframe as not to bump into anyone that might negate his supernatural cloak of absence. Keeping eyes and ears open for not just Jason, but a third member of this squatting crew.

The door to the room is open, and it's easy to get a look inside. There's the source of the blood - a naked man tied to a chair, who has been worked over with a thorough intensity. His breath is ragged and pained from what are probably multiple broken ribs, but there IS breath. His swollen eyes are closed, mouth hanging slightly open as he breathes.

Near him, standing in a wary posture with a length of PVC piping that's stained with blood, is number three of the goon squad - like the other two, he's large and clearly no stranger to violence, and he's staring at the door. "What the fuck is going on out there?" he calls out.

"I'm just a messenger," Louis is crying out, pretending to sound panicked. Maybe pretending. "You're not supposed to kill the messenger!" There's another couple of thuds of fists on body, and he lets out a groan of pain. "You have...won a fabulous prize...just sign on the...dotted line?" Another thud.

He's fine. This is fine.

Well attuned to the shadow and acquainted with this particular trick, Rhys isn't nervous about being seen as he slips inside the room. Though he does make sure to step out of the way of the ingress and egress to and from the room, once inside. He crouches, looking the beaten man over, assessing degree of injury from what's on the surface and quickly ruling out the possibility of Jason getting out on his own. But his eyes look swollen shut, which could be a plus concerning a mortal. Right. Next plan.

He stands, takes his time walking around the third man, and raises his handgun. He takes his time to level it, aiming it at the thug's head, pulling back the hammer with his thumb until that dully audible click indicates that it's locked at the ready. And, on his next exhale... he pulls the trigger.

From a distance, it's possible the sound that comes when the trigger is pulled gets taken for a car backfiring or some other harmless thing. For the people IN the house? It's hard to ignore what it really is. Especially when it's shortly followed by the sound of a body that once contained a human being dropping to the floor with a heavy, wet thud. This house is definitely never getting sold.

"What the fuck!" One of the two remaining goons shouts, turning in that direction. "Hold onto that asshole," he barks at goon 2.

But, quite suddenly, that is impossible. Goon 2 makes a sound of disbelief as Louis stops flailing and just slips free of his grip, although still making pained noises. He makes a gesture towards Goon 1, and the man stops in mid gallop towards the back room, and starts stumbling around, his eyes wide, blind and deaf to the world around him.

The cloak doesn't fall entirely. It continues to conceal Rhys, even as that heavy body strikes the ground after the deafening blast of a suppressed pistol in an enclosed room. But with the awareness that there's another in the house, and the onset adrenaline that comes with a gunshot so near, the little things start to matter - the creak of floorboards that indicate movement, or the vapor trailing up from the end of a silencer.

His gun is up and at the ready when he exits into the hallway, opting to deal with the two remaining hostiles alongside his partner of chance before dealing with the question of Jason and whether this crime scene could be cleaned up enough not to warrant questions and scandal in the aftermath. He slips out into the living room, edging toward the kitchen to slip into familiar cover. Quick assessment of the chaos - Loius slipping free, Goon 2 stumbling, Goon 1 intact. He aims at center mass of number 1, firing along the way. It may risk more sound - but a few possible firecrackers can silence a lot more worrisome screams.

Bang bang bang! The sound is deafening in the room, and the shots are good. The goon keels over, his hands going to his midsection and clutching as he bleeds out. The smell of blood fills the room. "Jesus Christ," Louis says, looking shaken by the violence. He glances at the last goon, whose eyes are beginning to clear. "You need to run," he tells the man, trying to impart the fact that /death is here/.

It's a real shame about the fact that, right now, this guy? /Absolutely hates/ Louis due to the backlash of the Contract. "This is YOUR fault," he shouts and lunges at Louis, who yelps and dodges out of the way, even as one arm curls protectively over his own bruised ribs. "You're a hard person to help!" he accuses the goon, ducking a meaty fist.

Into cover. Out of direct line of sight of the mortals - dying or stumbling both. And pop. There Rhys is again, gun and all. His jaw is tense, teeth clenched, breathing heavy through his nose as varied layers of blood flood his senses - but he keeps his head on straight. He's seen violence before - probably a great deal of it. And this won't be the last of it either.

He comes around, into the living room, gun raised in the direction of the only goon that's still presently on the move, lunging after the injured Lost. But he doesn't pull the trigger. "On your knees," he commands, without raising his voice above a conversational volume - though there is a growl to it. "And use your inside voice, or I'll put an extra hole in the back of your throat."

"Oh, fuck me sideways," the last goon moans. The writing is on the wall, and after a moment, he just glares fury at Louis, and sinks down on his knees, his hands going to the back of his head, fingers interlaced without being asked. "You fuckers just wasted bullets and time," he says, heavily. "And Kevin. You wasted Kevin. I /liked/ Kevin."

Louis stays well out of lunge range, delicately stepping around the spreading bloodstain. "I'm sure he was a lovely person when he wasn't beating someone to death," he says, sounding apparently sincere. "What makes you so sure we've wasted time?"

A glance towards Rhys, then the back room, the silent question clearly about the health of Jason.

The remaining goon sighs. "He doesn't fucking have it, okay? We were about to crack his skull and clean up. Should have already been out of here."

"I liked Kevin too. Nice, non-moving target," Rhys retorts. Not nearly as great at keeping captives calm as he is at getting them to put their hands up. The way he interlaces them is enough to get an amused grunt from Rhys. Gallows humor. "You've been arrested," he says, not asks - further evidence that they're dealing with pros. Or, rather, a professional. "And I have three bullets to waste before I need to reload, yet."

He keeps an ear and an eye out for flashing lights or sirens, hoping that this neighbourhood has an untrained manner what it comes to identifying the explosions of various powders. He gives Loius a nod in answer to that glance. Alive, at any rate. He gestures to the living goon with his gun, urging Louis in turn, toward chasing that line of inquiry - seeing if the Lost has a way into the subject of what they'd been looking for, without giving away the fact that they'd stumbled into this.

No lights or sirens. Yet. Although this isn't a bad neighborhood, and they probably don't have more than ten minutes before that changes. A fact of which Louis is keenly aware. "Where did it go, then?" he asks, trying to act like they absolutely know what the hell is going on here.

It doesn't work. The goon eyes him up and down, and barks laughter. "You have no fucking idea what I'm talking about, do you? Sheeit," he draws out the curse, "this is priceless. What a fucking disaster."

Louis casts his eyes up to Heaven. Like, /really/? But, caught out, he says, "Fine. Tell us what you were looking for, and why you thought Lorraine had it, or /that/ guy is going to shoot you. Probably in the head. It will be unpleasant for all of us, but most particularly you." It's not meant to be menacing; it's more of an exasperated observation.

But it's also pretty much the truth as Louis sees it, and that gets through where pretending knowledge didn't. "A flashdrive," he says, confirming Rhys' earlier guess. "An encrypted flashdrive. He picked it up from a woman he was seeing. Someone wanted it. Don't ask me who - got the job on the dark web. Don't ask me what was on the fucking thing, because I don't know. I just know he already passed it on to the next contact, and I have no idea where that fucker is."

Rhys raises his handgun, leveling the suppressor at the goon's head - as if only to accentuate the fact that, yes, he is fully prepared to shoot him if need be. Something like a chuckle does escape from him, though, at the confirmation that this was all over some manner of flashdrive. "How were you supposed to reach out to your employer once you had the drive?" he asks. And, because there's an itch of a secret there, out in the open to scratch - whether or not any of this is important to his particular job tonight. And who knows, it could be - the situation has evolved vastly from where he expected his night to go. He should just be happy he's the one holding the gun. "Who was the woman? Did you see the hand off take place?"

"E-mail, to arrange a dead drop," the goon says, heavily. His head droops. "I suppose you'll be wanting the address?"

"That would be helpful," Louis says, almost sympathetically.

"And then what?" He looks away from Louis to Rhys. "This is just a fucking job to me, and you've capped my crew. If I give you the address, and the woman, do I get to walk away from this?"

Louis bites back his instinctive agreement, instead taking a quick look at Rhys, the guy with the actual weapon, trying to measure his reaction to the idea.

Wheels are turning behind Rhys' eyes. Pale blue, cold and calculating as he sizes up the man asking for mercy. Reflecting on the heavy body on the floor of the room containing Jason and glancing at the other, bled out by the wall. "Honestly?" he asks, rhetorically, in the direction of the goon - which may, at first, seem like a bad sign. "I'd prefer it if you gave me as many reasons as I need to let you walk away from this. Starting with your address. And, if you have it on you, your wallet - on the floor in front of you. Slowly." He keeps his gun at the ready. "We get what we need from you, and I won't waste ya'. Scouts honor."

"Witnessed," Louis says, after Rhys speaks. He watches the vampire with dark, thoughtful eyes, then turns back to the goon. "Give us what we want without dishonesty, and promise not to seek any retribution, and he won't, uh, waste you."

The goon looks...skeptical about whether they're going to keep that word, but he nods, after a moment. "Shit, I'm not getting paid for this anyway," he mutters. He rattles off an e-mail address - it's a complicated, random series of letters and numbers with a proxy domain. Louis' lips move as he memorizes it. "Okay. And now the woman. What woman?"

A huff from the goon. "I don't know much. Some professor at Tulane. The client said she was an anthropologist or something like that. No names. Maybe that asshole in the other room knows, if you can wake him up. We didn't give a shit where the drive came from, just where it went." He reaches for his pocket, eyes on Rhys, and carefully pulls out his wallet, laying it on the carpet, then replacing his hand to the back of his head.

"Okay, then, who took the drive?" Louis says, curious despite himself.

"He said she asked him to drop it off with a guy he met at a coffee shop. He didn't have the guy's name, just said they used hats to identify each other. No text history, either. Passed over the drive, walked away." He shrugs. "You want to try and shake down every asshole with a hat at the coffee shop, be my fucking guest." He names the chain coffee store and its address.

Rhys lifts a brow when Louis notes that the promise is witnessed. He likely knows enough about dealings with the Lost not to take that statement flippantly. But he doesn't make a fuss over it - and doesn't seem too worried about not pulling the trigger on this one. Rather, he takes a turn at listening to the email address and what the goon has to say about the aforementioned woman. "An anthropologist?" he asks, incredulous. Or maybe worried. There are few worse things than intersections between criminals and students of the past in these supernatural nights. Noting the coffee chain address in turn.

He keeps one hand on the gun and steps forward, dipping down slow to grab the wallet and step back. He checks what's inside and pockets it. "Alright. You tip off your employer, or tell anyone about us in any passing resemblance, I'm going to go to the address on your ID and hurt someone you care about - and if it's a fake, I'll just have to do a bit more digging to find that someone." He lowers the gun and looks to Louis. Unspoken question, 'Anything else?'

"Just one thing," Louis says, in response to that look, "The site where you got the job? Where's that?" The goon hesitates, looks at Rhys, then sighs, and spouts out a URL. Louis memorizes it carefully, repeating it back to make sure he's got it.

"Okay. Then...friend, what are you going to do next?" he asks the goon, staring at him.

The goon stares back, still thick with dislike and hostility. But, reluctantly, he says, "I'm going to get the fuck out here, and stay as far away from you and this cursed fucking job as I can. I'm not going to tip off anyone. I'm going to do my best to forget this ever happened."

"Witnessed," Louis says, gaining another 'you're a fucking weirdo' look from the goon. Then he says, "So get out of here. You're free to go."

Relief blankets the man's features. He honestly didn't think it was a possibility. He scrambles to his feet and freezes, looking at Rhys. He starts to back away, slowly, moving towards the door his hands still up. Provided he makes it there, he turns and runs.

<OOC> Louis says, "The wallet has some cash, and an ID - based on a cursory look, it probably IS fake, but it gives his name as Bryan Jenkins, from Shreveport. Other than that, it's carefully curated of personal information - a professional's wallet, and one who probably expects someone to take it off his corpse one day. No credit cards, no cards that might indicate where he shops or anything. But it might be possible to trace the maker of the ID with the right skills/connections."

A grunt. 'Good call', by sound, in response to Louis getting the URL. "Keep your head down, awhile," Rhys advises the goon. "And hopefully, when you reemerge after the heat dies down, we're on the same side next time." It's almost mocking, the tone he takes - but he follows through, as promised, and he keeps things professional enough. The gun stays down as the man turns and scrambles out of the house.

Rhys stands in silence, for a moment, another check for incoming sirens - or to see if he has any reason to revoke his promise. Either way, the goon is out of earshot when he talks again. "Two dead. No defensive wounds, from a gun absent from the scene. A victim that'll cite he had three captors," he summarizes. "Even if we don't have time to clean up, at least we know the cops won't be looking for anyone that looks like you or me."

The conversation was short and sweet; they probably have about five minutes to get out of dodge before the police show up. Louis looks at the dead guy on the floor for a while, then shakes himself. "In which case, it's probably better that Jason doesn't see us at all, since not even I can clean all of THIS up in the time remaining. Just," he holds up a hand, then turns to go look at the other room. Verifying the aliveness of his 'target', so to speak, and managing not to throw up at the sight of the guy with only a part of a head remaining. He at least knows enough to stay out of the blood and not touch anything.

He re-emerges a moment later, a bit wan beneath his dark skin. "Right. This was bracing." A hand falls to press against his ribs for a moment. "Mister Reese, I don't know if I can say that it was a /pleasure/ to make your acquaintance, but it was certainly /interesting/." He reaches into his own wallet, pulling out a card and offering it. "I just opened a jazz bar in Leonidas. If you like, drop by? We could speak further about all of," another look at the dead body, "this. But for now, I suspect we should make like the trees and leaf." A flicker of his smile returns.

Rhys stays in the living room while Louis checks on Jason. He seems to be of similar mind when it comes to maintaining their absence from the shootout, and the trail the police might just fall into naturally, given the givens. He takes the time to remove the suppressor from his compact handgun, fitting both, separately into opposite pockets. Readying himself to head out as he waits for Louis to reemerge.

"The job got done. In a way," he says, of Louis' task in particular, with regard to their interesting meaning. A kind of 'you take what you can get' kind of tone. He takes the card when it's offered, does a quick skim of it, and pockets that as well. Another brow lift at the notion that the man he just raided a small, professional crew with is the owner of a jazz club. And a snort, but not quite a chuckle at the pun landing in the presence of blood, death, and spent gunpowder. "You'll hear from me," he promises. Too many interesting avenues to chase down in the aftermath of a chaotic night.