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Swallowed by shadows
#1
Some time passed before Andre drudged up the nerve to find his brother. The day he intended to walk into the Kremlin, flash his name, and hope for the best, something unexpected happened.

He was riding the subway to the central district, surrounded by mid-level wealth and mid-rung levels of power. It was the same in Chicago, kind of. Back home, he rode the subway toward the downtown district, where two stops ahead of his own would pour out money, power, ambition and corruption that would climb the steel skyscrapers and rule the rest of them.

Andre was never among that class. Though he was dressed suitably today in a purple button-down, black slacks, sensible shoes and a casual jacket. It was the kind of thing he wore on duty as a detective working cases: professional, but he knew he was sexy as fuck in purple.

Such was why he noticed an out of place poor dude stumble into his train. He was tall, brown-skinned, and wore a long trench-coat, stained and tattered around the lower hem and the hood drawn up. Others sneered and stepped aside. One actually pinched their nose and squeezed their way up the train.  Andre frowned. The guy was clearly homeless, or close to it in a city of golden bricks. For all he knew, the guy worked a 60-hour week and brought home barely nothing to live on. Regardless, he obviously didn’t shower. He did stink some strong ass.

Andre frowned and offered him his seat.

The guy didn’t look up beyond a passing nod and deposited himself into the plastic molding. Andre swayed as the car moved onward, creeping closer to the Kremlin, but along the way he checked on the guy. Just in case something unexpected happened. Nothing did. He assumed the fellow slept. Maybe he worked nights. It was the morning commute after all.

They were close to downtown when the guy suddenly got off. The hood fell back briefly, and Andre caught a glimpse of a bald scalp that seemed to shine oddly in the light.

Just as the doors closed, Andre thrust an arm to stop their full sealing, and squeezed onto the platform. The man in the trench coat had his hands thrust in his pockets, shoulders curled downward with the weight of a burden upon them, hurrying toward the stairs to the surface. Andre glanced over his shoulder as the train sped onward toward a destination that he was okay with procrastinating one more day. Besides, he wanted to make sure the poor man was okay. He could offer to buy him breakfast and hear his story. Just to learn about the life of people living in the city his brother practically ruled.

He followed him from a casual distance. The streets were busy with morning workers, but they weren’t quite at the Kremlin district. The blocks changed after a few minutes. The river crossed by an ornate pedestrian bridge.  They came to a park that Andre didn’t recognize the name, but it was mostly green space. On the other side, the scenery changed, and Andre assumed the neighborhood was transitioning into a poorer, more obscure one that the distant high-rises ignored.

He was about to give up and go elsewhere when the man suddenly, and quite energetically, hopped a short fence, traversed flower beds, and slithered into a water-run off system. Naturally surprised, Andre looked around as though wondering if this was normal behavior for the area, then followed carefully. When he arrived to the edge of the run-off, the man was gone. The only thing to be seen was a culvert that plunged into darkness. The safety bars crossing the hole were mangled to an opening.

“The hell?” He said to himself as he jumped down, entering a whole new world as the shadows swallowed him up.
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#2
So the underground facility was pretty cool, all things considered. I mean yeah, there was the cell and questions and shit. But it wasn't his first circus and wouldn't be his last either. The guys in black were not bad, really. At least one or two of them. Taichechski and Monserre seemed alright. It had been Taichechski who had put Ryker down. Which he got, totally.

The guy had been seriously out of it. Mik had tried to explain as best he could about those creatures, the way they had jumped on Ryker and Ivan and Li. Who knew how it affected them. Tried to help the guy out.

Anyway, Mik talked a storm and evidently there was footage and eyewitnesses and shit and pretty soon he wasn't really a prisoner. Yeah, they had questions and of course they tested him a bit.

Hot little number seemed to be in charge but despite the face and an ass that didn't quit she didn't have much in the way of personality. Or at least didn't respond to his charms, which ultimately meant the same for him. Not that he needed people to wanna fuck him. As long as they laughed along with him, got his jokes, and in general seemed laid back, they all got on well.

And if they did, well...pluses right?

So ANYWAY (again!) he and two of the Rods- that was how he knew they were cool. He called them that with all the filthy innuendo he could invest it with and they laughed, responding in ways that made it clear this was an old joke between them- so yeah, anyway, they all ended up sparring a bit.

Not like Mik was gonna join their program. He wasn't the joining kind. Nor was he a moron. But just like that, he had a couple new guys he could call on for a beer and the like. Not sure if they'd be able to go. But having connections to guys like them had to be worth something.

The Lady had made that night memorable. Connections. Fun with the Yakuza. Fighting those creatures. It was what he loved about her. Yeah, she'd kill you if you weren't careful.

But if you played well, she made sure it was worth your while.

So not a few days later he was blinking into the bright sun, the smell of fresh rain in the air, the distant clouds grey and moving on their way. He hoped Ryker would be OK. He did what he could for the guy. And he thought those guys below would make sure he was taken care of.

He could see about checking on Ori. But given her mood the last time, yeah no. He was itching for fun. Not the kind to bite him in the ass....well no, that wasn't true. He didn't mind that kind of danger, as long as it might lead to some real fun. She was a cat, he guessed. Playful only when it suited. And given her last experience, he doubted she would be smiling for a while- at least not in anyway he'd like.

Later, though.

So, what to do. He was antsy, feeling his oats. Being around those guys had amped his hunger. What they were doing was fucking awesome. If it didn't mean he'd have to suck Brandon's dick (Metaphorically speaking, anyway. He had no interest in being subservient to anyone, least of all the Ass-endancy), he might have even tried to spend more time training with them.

But freedom and the sky was better than the alternative.

Still, he felt a hunger. Killing those things had been a rush. Yeah, it was probably stupid. But fun was like that. Li had said there were things in the tunnels. And hey, it wasn't like he had lost.

Why not? He took a few lines and eventually was in one of the older neighborhoods. Kolo territory. Not too bad, really. Not as well kept as others. Didnt take long before he found a drainage system and followed it down. He kept a hand on his jacket pocket, feeling the lighter, as he slowly made his way into the tunnels. After a moment, he seized the power- and almost wished he didn't.

Shit but it stunk down here. Shit, of course. Garbage. Runoff. Unwashed bodies of people. They looked at him, the few he saw. A few made movements that might have been the beginnings of an attack. A small flame at his right hand put the kibosh on that.

He smirked as he walked passed. He supposed he better pay attention. He began to hum to himself, stringing together directions in a little song. Easy peasy, really. Musical breadcrumbs.

He hope the Lady was about. Could be fun.
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
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#3
An ominous splash squeaked under his shoes. Andre cringed to wonder what he walked through. He’d been dressed for the Kremlin, and posh, brotherly reunions, not sewer trekking. Speaking of. Shit, but what was that smell? Oh yeah. Probably shit.

What a brilliant asshole he was.

He turned around to go back. As he reached the hole, he realized there was no way out. The drop down had no handholds with which to climb back out. The Force was no good to him here, unless he could levitate, which wasn’t a thing. With a frown, he sparked up a good beam of light to carry in his hand. At least he could try to avoid the worst of the muck seeing where he was going.

The sewer went on for what he assumed was a couple of blocks before meeting up with other drain waters. Over his head, smaller pipes constantly dripped a dark flow. Rats squeaked just outside the throw of his laser light. He held the beam like a sword, glowing hilt and all. It was all glow and show. Having tested it once or twice, he had yet to make the light actually slice anything like a proper lightsaber. Did look cool as shit, though.

Sometimes he saw sealed up manholes. There were stairs that ended at concrete walls. The whistle and rumble of distant subway trains thundered through the ground. He had to know he was trespassing somewhere irresponsible, but the curiosity (and lack of exit), pulled him ever-onward.

Finally, signs of civilization showed itself in the form of graffiti. He paused along the wall, holding up the beam of light. Most was in Russian, but there were shapes and symbols mixed in the design. There were older layers behind the newest.

He almost lost his balance on a swath of slimesickle, which would have really pissed him off to fall into the sewer water. That’d be the kind of funk that never washed out. After that, Andre was glad to hear noises echoing in the stony distance.
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#4
He made a light- dark green as it happened, so that it didn't bother his vision too much if he needed to drop it. He wasn't sure where that'd come from. Maybe videos of night vision or whatever. Not like he actually knew what he was talking about. And not like it really bothered him that much anyway.

The stank was the thing that kept his attention. Or rather, keeping it off his clothes. As in don't slip. Seriously, bro. As in he'd have to use a flame to burn off a layer of skin just to feel clean. And though he tried, he couldn't think of a way to make any of that sexy time. Smells had a way of hijacking hormones and ruining things. If he was smart, he might know why.

But he wasn't and chalked it up to yet another mystery.

So he was humming and avoiding any slips into funkitude, starting to wonder what the hell the Lady had him doing down here. Yeah, he chuckled to himself at that. Her fault, the bitch. Always leading him on.

He stopped and looked back. It was black, of course. With his mean green light he'd be fine, especially with his little trail song. Yeah, he was done.

In that moment, he heard a noise. Muttering or something. Was a fair distance away but the power brought the sound to him more clearly. Probably more tunnel dwellers. Idly, he wondered what kind of crazy made a person decide to stay down here permanently. Brandon and his "kingdom" he thought. What a fucking joke. Well, that was the big secret, right?

Still, he was curious. Why did people live here?

He moved in the direction of the sound. In the distance he saw a shape- nothing looming larger than life, not like at Li's dojo anyway. "Hey! If you're looking for the heart of good funk I'd say you found it, fella." He waited patiently, though the power was at hand if it turned out to be a mistake.

After all, he had to give the Lady her chance, didn't he?
"Good and ill. 
We're like the wind, 
we blows both ways."
- Mad Sweeney, American Gods
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