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Dockside Caper: First Come, First Served

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Continuation of The Long Road Ahead and Play Hard, Deal Harder.


The Heavy Handers were not a small gang. They held significant territory shoreside, from which they smuggled in drugs and dealt drugs in equal measures. They had their alliances, some widely known and some less than advertised. They did not have any sort of controlling stake in the fate of Limsa Lominsa's criminal element, themselves, but they did control a significant portion of drugs.


Few would mess with them carelessly.


Zhi had been a busy lass the past few days. She'd investigated the supply lines of one Captain Caereyn Doendragasyn in order to see who had misappropriated his goods. She'd appropriated one Rurutani -- renaming him in the process, and calling him Flit (short for flittermouse) in her mockingly affectionate way -- for her own purposes and to the Cap'n's benefit. He'd been hired into the Heavy Handers as a base patrol guard She'd found answers, and more questions.


Now they went to settle some things.


She'd scoped out Flit's assignment on the docks, knew that he was to be on a wandering patrol between three small, closely-built warehouses. These, the Handers owned under a double alias (and what that pretty piece of information had cost, Zhi didn't want to think about), and where their smugglers stashed the goods holding the drugs.


She was walking that way alongside Captain Doendragasyn. The goal was for him to walk past Flit while Flit was on guard duty, and for the two men to strike up a conversation, playing at being old buddies. The plan had been quickly conceived, and there were numerous holes. They were playing fast and loose, but with other committments squeezing in on Zhi, she'd been unable to set it up any other way.


Zhi herself was playing bored hired muscle as backup, though she sure as shit wasn't no strongarm and would be useless if for some ungodly reason things came down to a fight. Eh, details. Point was, she would be there if they needed a verbal boost.


"That's him," she murmured to the Cap'n, giving a subtle jerk of her head towards Flit. They were in the Handers' woods now, though as long as they didn't try to sell anything without permission they'd be left alone. Or pissed anyone off, but that went for anywhere in Limsa. "Long lost friend, remember. Keep it simple. Let's go."

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Caer offered a subtle nod, without looking to Zhi.  "I'm on him."  He said, breaking away from her a bit to ensure his path crossed with the targets.


He got ever closer, adjusting his pace and direction as to make the crossing appear as organic as possible, until finally, they were were close enough.


"Whoa, whoa, whoa.  There's a face I haven't seen for a -hell- of a long time, now...!"

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Ruru walked between the buildings quietly, scanning the area for trouble, but moreso looking for the "mate" that Kink had assured him would be meeting him there. His simple brown hempen garb and red eyepatch screamed to the world that he was an easy target and one inclined to being easily overtaken.


His training as a Paladin and at the Archer's guild in Gridania told a different story. But the men and women on the docks didn't know that, didn't need to know that. He kept the sharp dagger, the same one he'd held to Oath's throat, in his belt hidden from view in case he needed to act quickly.


As he walked he glanced a man walking toward him and when he called out to him, he stopped and smiled. This was the man. Ruru reacted with only mild shock, restraining the urge to look at the man as he would a stranger and smiled.


"By the Twelve it has been too long!"

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Zhi drifted alongside the Cap'n, keeping a weather eye on the surroundings while still being able to pass for bored. She gave Flit a languorous up and down stare, not seeming to register him as anything more than a temporary distraction.


No supervisors in sight, yet.

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Caer nodded, smiling,trying his best to portray his role in the farce.


"-Too- long...!  I recall that wager we made last time.  Seems there's a bottle of rum up in the air."  Caer said.  He then lowered his voice, taking on a more serious tone through the false banter.


"Let's make it quick, hmm?"  He said.

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Ruru looked at the man, still smiling, not breaking the charade and flashed a glance at Kink, a questioning look.


His voice dropped as well and while still cheerful in expression he stated quite simply, "It will happen when it happens. Rush it and all we'll do is arouse suspicion."


He raised his voice back to a louder pitch and nodded. "Aye....or was it two bottles, you old swindler? Hedging bets in case you lose is what I think."


He laughed loud and nodded.

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"Boss's been bitchin' 'bout business again," Zhi said, in the tone of one long suffering, with the expression of someone who really isn't listening to the conversation and couldn't give a flying chamberpot about what the current topic was.


She gave each of them a glance, and then resumed staring at their surroundings.

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Ruru glanced at Kink and then back at tall Elezen before grinning and continuing.


"So what brings you around these parts, old friend? The old sea air?"


His eye flashed to Kink as he asked though it was fast and then back to the man.

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"Scouting for talent, actually.  I can always use a few extra backs that don't mind breaking.  What better backs than those that won't be missed?"  Caer answered with a slight smirk.


"And what about you?  Out for a stroll or looking for some...hired companionship?"

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Ruru chuckled and shook his head, his eye scanning the area quickly and keeping the banter up, his voice loud enough but not overbearing.


"Companionship? Ah you old dog, you'll never change, will you? Sadly, no. I don't really have the time to have fun like that. I'm on duty here, on patrol around this area."


His arm gave a wide sweep of the buildings around them and he grinned.


"Not exactly the most glamorous detail but it pays coin and that's all I really care about, you know?"

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Zhi hadn't really expected the supervisor of the guards to show up immediately. Likely whoever it was had a few people on beat, and wouldn't check on them except in the case of new guards, like Flit. And even then, Zhi doubted it would be the supervisor personally showing up, but some other underling superior to a newbie like Flit. Whichever it was, Zhi didn't care so long as they were taken back to the supervisor and the Cap'n had his shot at sniffing around. It was the least complicated option.


It was a good thing, in this sole instance, that the Handers were as uptight about security as they were. Sure as shit, a guard swung around about five minutes after the conversation had started, expression going tight and pinched as he saw Flit engaged in conversation rather than ensuring the security of the area.


He was an elezen, tall and haggard looking, with a few tell-tale signs of hard drug use marring his skin. Sadly, he looked and smelled sober. Too bad.


"Hey! What d'you think you're doing? Better not be shooting th'shit, or I'll skin you meself!"

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Ruru looked at the guard with a priceless expression of innocence and shook his head.


"No sir! I was doin' my job as I was informed this morning! Right! But then look at these two....accusin' me of skirtin' my duties!"


He was laying on a heavy performance for the guard and had an accusatory look toward Kink the man with her. With his hand balled up into a fist and his thumb extended he gestured back to the two as he still faced the guard.


"And now they're all 'Who's in charge around here? I wanna speak to that person blah blah blah'. It's crap I tell you. I just wanna get back to my job, but they're insistent! Go on and ask 'em. And I dare 'em! Make your damned report but I wasn't skirtin' my job at all. Hells your keeping me from them right now!"

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Caer looked back at the guard, and pu ton his "disgusted" face to go along with the ruse.  He looked back to Ruru.


"About time someone showed up.  You flunkies are such a pain to deal with."


He turned back to the guard, starting to slowly approach him.  "Yes, we were rattling the little guys cage.  What of it?"

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"Ain't seen you afore. Whaddya want? Why're you harassin' one o' th'Hander's own?" The man was eying the Cap'n and Zhi with the sort of look that suggested he was thinking of all the myriad ways he could kill them and hide the bodies.


It was a common way of looking at people in that side of town.


Not. . .exactly what Zhi'd had in mind, but the dice had been cast and there wasn't anything to do but wait and see how it all panned out. She kept her bored expression in place, though she did shift so she was facing the newcomer. As long as no one drew a weapon, things could still fall out the way they were supposed to.


She started to sweat under the heat of the sun. Come on, Nald'thal, tip it this way. . ..

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"Look, I'm just tryin' to do my job around here! Rattling my cage? I got half a mind to run you through on general principle!"


He turned to the guard and motioned with both arsm, half pleading. "Sir, I'd liek to get back to work. But I'm askin' these two 'cage-rattlers'.." The words said with thick sarcasm and half venom. "....I'm askin' they be taken to the boss. I want to make sure they know not to screw with me while I'm on duty, and if they wanna lodge a complaint?" He bowed low, mockingly at the two. "Then let 'em."

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"And that is the attitude I was talking about...!  You think you can talk to anyone you want any -way- you want because you're in with the Heavy Handers?  Maybe I -should- go to the boss and bring to light your rudeness.  You're primary skill seems to be making enemies, so all you'll do is bring down more heat on your group.  Not that I care."  Caer replied, scornfully.

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Ruru waved a hand dismissively.


"Well go on with you! Report me. Lucky I don't cleave you myself."


He looked at the guard and shrugged. "What do you want me to do? I just want to get back to work. I say let him make his  complaint to the boss. I'll laugh my arse off watching him get pointed right out the door."

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"You're killin' me, Lilikuso," the man growled, shooting a sharp glare at the smaller man. "An' you -- you wanna complain? Must be tough shit, comin' on our turf an' waggin' your tongue like a blimmin' schoolmarm. Take him t' see Hitchins, I'm sure she'll love t'hear all about it. In her office. I'll cover your patrol while you're gone." He glared at the Cap'n before stalking off.


Zhi's heartrate had sped during the exchange. She had no idea what the two sodding idiots in front of her were doing, but luckily for them it'd worked.


At the least, it was exciting. Exciting meant fun.


She gestured for Flit to show them the way.

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Ruru grumbled under his breath, as anyone would in that situation, and beckoned Kink and the man with her onward toward another building directly northeast of where they'd been talking. He said in a lower voice as they walked, "One of these days you'd think that man'd remember my name's Vivikuso and not Lilikuso....I think he does it on purpose anymore. Now come on..."


He didn't say much as they approached a wooden door in the building and he gave three sharp knocks, giving a quick glance to Kink and the man with an eye that screamed "I sure hope to all hells that you know the next move."

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Zhi saw both their expressions, and rolled her eyes. "Don't forget," she hissed. "Business talk. Need t'learn what they're shufflin' an' why. Don't piss 'er off, fancy?"


"Yeah?" The voice came from the other side of the door.


Zhi opened it before either of the two men had a chance to sass back at her. Today was one of those days when she could dish it out, but she wasn't taking it back.


She stepped out of the way, looked down at Flit with her bored bodyguard expression.


Beyond was a cramped little office, occupied by a small desk that was, in all actuality, a table that should have been used for someone's weekly card games. The woman behind it was miqo'te, seeker, and presently occupied with a pile of something blue and glittery scattered across the table. There was little in the way of paperwork, but there was. . .stuff. Crates of stuff. It took up most of the space in the tiny little room, with none of it open to casual inspection by eye.


But Zhi could smell something. She wasn't sure what, but something. Interesting.


The woman, Hitchins, looked over the three of them and settled on Flit. "What."

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Ruru looked at Hitchens and the words spilled from his lips, without a second thought of the conssequences. He had no time, no wiggle room to delay and think out his words.


With a thumb jerked to Kink, never looking at her, "Aye....this one's got a complaint....'bout me. So I figured I'd escort her here to make sure she didn't get lost."


He approached the desk and lowered his voice, gesturing to the man behind him. "This one's a client...had some questions about his goods 'round here. I figured it'd be best he speak to you rather than me half-assin' answers to him."


He glanced back to Kink and shook his head as he still spoke to Hitchens. "watch her....she's a bit feisty. And she's full of crap with her complaint."

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It was decided.


Zhavi was going to gut Flit the first chance she got.


Meanwhile, as Hitchins shifted her gaze to her, Zhi crossed her arms and hunched her shoulders. She did her best to look deflated, harmless, and chagrined. "Was a joke," she muttered, before the woman had a chance to offer challenge.


Zhi wouldn't be able to back up her position as 'bodyguard' if violence was offered. "He ain't able t'take jokes. Ain't gonna cause trouble fer me boss." She held up her hands. "Sorry." She gave her best insincere grin to the woman.


Hitchins was not well pleased. "You. Outside. Stay out o' th'Hander's yard from now on, or I'll see you off th'docks with my favorite pointy stick." She was, very pointedly, looking at Zhi. Well, shit.


On the tail end of those words, she looked to the Cap'n. "You. What d'you want?"


Zhi took a step backwards, not entirely sure what a bodyguard would do in such a situation. She left whether or not she should obey Hitchins and go outside up to the Cap'n's discretion. "Boss?"

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Caer raises his hand as if signaling for Zhi to stop, and he spoke directly to Hitchens.  "She will be out of your hair soon enough.  As will I, hopefully.  I do not intend to take up much of your time."


He motioned to Ruru.  "As the fellow says, I have a...concern, in regards to a specific line of goods passing through the area.  I've gone over the books, and the transactions stop in the upper middle, to lower upper links in the chain.  That puts the break in the line somewhere in the the Handers portion of the chain.  This is bad for business.  My own, and for the Handers as well.  Have you not noticed any discrepancy at all in your own ledgers?"  Caer asked, calmly, not attempting to make a scene or assert any sort of authority.

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