The Coldest War

A Dish Best Served Cold

Specialist Beckett was having a nightmare. A tentacled horror was tearing through a squad of men and women dressed, armed, and armored as she was. The gurgling of blood through pierced lungs, the screams and moans of the dying punctuated the still, stale air as the horror stalked off, not defeated, but perhaps bored. She woke to the barren concrete room into which she and Specialist Jackson were being kept to find her head cradled by Jackson, who was singing soothingly to her. A scruffy Have Rat poked her head in, apparently in response to the nightmare screams, but soon lost interest. Suddenly, the single bare light-bulb went dark, and the distant sound of gunfire had the confused young soldier grabbing her rifle and hunkering down to weather an attack…

In Cass’ clinic, Silver continued to contemplate the events of the previous day. No longer injured, but now aware of who was behind the aborted attack on her club, she contemplated continuing the ruse when suddenly the lights went out and she heard the sound of gunfire. She sprang to her feet, grabbed a scalpel off a nearby tray, and ran out of the clinic, leaving a bewildered Cass to leave instructions to her people and go skidding in her wake…

In her office, Miss Stockton was going through some papers when suddenly the electricity to the building cut out, and she heard the sounds of massed gunfire from far below. Springing into action, she used the emergency phone (which had its own power supply) to contact a few of the Regents, locking down the hydroponics levels and the market, and activating the emergency defenses before grabbing her shotgun and heading downstairs…

In the parking garage, Firestone was sleeping in his Firebird when the sound of gunfire woke him. He sprang out to see his gang, Team Badass, gathering their weapons and gear in preparation for a fight. Massive sheets of metal clanged over the grate leading out of the garage, meaning whatever fight they were about to engage in would have to be on foot, and neither Firestone nor his Team were really all that good at fighting without their vehicles…

In the Supper Club, Rhyme had finished comforting Twice and was helping to clean the damage done during Silver’s ruse the previous night. Kitty was training Absinthe in non-lethal violence, and the other staff were preparing for the later crowds when suddenly gunfire erupted from below. Rhyme sprinted to the new quarters of the Cygnet Committee and the Rocket Men to fetch reinforcements, only to realize that Cali had them all in a drugged-out hunger-fast, presumably to inspire visions like those Rhyme herself has. Leaving the Rocket Men to sluggishly gather their weapons, Rhyme called out a prayer to the Action Man and sprinted on ahead…

Sunny had just finished a night of casual sex with the two mercenaries “No One” and “Of Consequence.” As she stepped out the door to their room into the hall, she heard gunfire coming from the lobby of Mount Safeco. She patted her immense shotgun and went to investigate…

Mount Safeco was under attack. An immense, massed mob of savages in assorted small arms were taking potshots into the fortified lobby of the building while the entrenched Have Rats returned fire. Silver arrived in an unfortunately open position and took a bullet as she headed down to the lobby from the second-floor balcony. She dropped her scalpel, but attempted to take a knife from a convenient Have Rat, only to take a bullet to the skull. Fortunately it traveled under the scalp and didn’t penetrate the bone, but it did knock her unconscious for a few moments. Cass, arriving a bit later, noted Silver’s prone form and roused her.

Rhyme arrived and immediately attempted to tap into the Madness to understand the meaning of this attack. She got a strong pulsing red sensation of revenge. Firestone and Team Badass arrived. Firestone left the Team to bolster the Have Rats while he himself went to drag Rhyme out of the crossfire.

Sunny arrived near the lobby, but her keen senses noted that the two mercs she had just been with were following her, and drawing weapons. Suddenly aware that she had been sleeping with the enemy, she confronted them, and rather rapidly dispatched them both in a shower of gore that artfully splattered across her near-naked form.

Mizz Stockton arrived on the scene and took immediate charge of the Have Rats, directing their return fire and ordering vats of boiling… liquid… down on the invaders.

Rhyme, with Firestone, came to the sudden conclusion that although the massed attack was dangerous, it seemed likely to be a feint. Hearing Sunny’s shouts to the mercs who had been living in a rented room in Mount Safeco, Rhyme realized that the real enemy had already infiltrated the building. She shouted across the battle to Sunny about the hydroponics, and ran off to scale many many stairs with Firestone panting behind her, leaving the battle just as the dazed and confused Rocket Men arrived to bolster the Have Rats. They arrived, panting and gasping, just in time to see a small squad of well-armed mercs force the sealed door to the hydroponics bay open. Leading them was the scarred form of Rolfball!

Sunny saw Rhyme and Firestone take off, and sought to make her own way up to the hydroponics, only to take an unfortunate wrong turn, ending up in the market, where a beleaguered Marketman was trying to rally the civilians to resist the wanton violence of another small gang of mercs led by a one-eyed, scarred old man. Sunny used pure bad-ass to bring him up short, before systematically murdering him and his whole squad.

Meanwhile, in the lobby, a recovering Silver gauged the scene and came to a similar conclusion as Rhyme. She sprang to her feet, taking even more gunfire in the halls as she sped back up to the Supper Club, with Cass at her heels. They arrived to find Kitty grievously wounded and bleeding out on the stairs, and heard shouts and gunfire from within. Absinthe was single-handedly holding out against a small squad of heavily armed mercs led by Smog. Dustwich was dead or dying on the ground. Despite already being badly wounded, Silver momentarily considered charging furiously into her club and into the waiting gunfire of a far superior force before deciding instead to rely on pure stone-cold bluffery to convince Smog that his plan had failed, that he was outmaneuvered and outgunned, despite having only a medic and a badly wounded bouncer to back her up.

At the hydroponics, Rolfball ordered his men to kill Rhyme and Firestone. Firestone unloaded his magnum into them, receiving a number of bullets himself for his trouble. Rhyme, however, filled with the power of the Action Man, avoided gunfire with eerie grace, tossing a throwing knife into Rolfball’s gimp knee, dropping him to the ground, and in a flurry of steel, taking out half his squad. The fight was over fairly quick, with Rhyme once more unscathed, and Firestone once more badly wounded. Rolfball himself, exercising intelligence, relinquished his rifle and permitted himself to be taken captive.

Back in the Supper Club, Silver received some surprising aid as Twice called out from a back room, in an eerie, dead voice, confirmation of Silver’s threats. Smog proved once more to be the coward Silver always knew he was, preferring poison and backstabbing to a straight-up fight. He and his squad fled Silver’s steely gaze. Cass then sprang into action, saving Kitty’s life, but barely, stabilizing Absinthe, and realizing that there was, sadly, nothing to be done for Dustwich.

In the lobby, Mizz Stockton led the combined forces of the Have Rats, Team Badass, and the Rocket Men to a rousing victory, routing the savages who had doubtless been promised the rich spoils of the tower, only to find death.

And then, the cleanup began.

Eventually, Specialist Beckett, hearing no more gunfire, and realizing her room was no longer guarded, emerged to survey the aftermath. Those Have Rats who recognized her didn’t make a big deal out of it, but rather pressed her into service cleaning up the wounded and the dead, fortifying broken fortifications, etcetera. She ran across Amy, who was her usual creepy self, and Mice who seemed much more interested in the more typical things young men want from clean, healthy, attractive young women. He invited her up to the Supper Club where they could talk.

In the Supper Club, Silver waited, being bandaged by Cass, for the inevitable arrival of the Reclaimer. The eerie gas-masked figure took longer than usual to arrive, presumably because of the sheer number of corpses to dispose of. The Reclaimer took a moment to speak with Silver before gently bearing away the corpse of Dustwich. It appeared as if Smog had succeeded in completing his vendetta against his lovely former employee.

Silver retreated to a back room to rest and mourn while Rhyme spoke with Beckett and saw visions of the strange world from which she came. Rhyme helped tease out a few more of Beckett’s elusive memories while the Supper Club, embodying the philosophy that the show must go on, opened for business. Rhyme showed Beckett the bathing room where Beckett, unused to such luxury, consented to permit herself to be washed by Mice, who clearly enjoyed an opportunity to run his hands across her body.

Firestone was treated by Cass and left to sleep off the drugs in his Firebird, under the careful watch of Team Badass. Sunny got a few bandages herself, and returned to the Supper Club. Mizz Stockton spent the rest of the day putting her house in order, stopping only to raise a wry eyebrow as the electricity mysteriously came back on at about 4pm. The timing of the blackout was… rather suspicious. In all, only one member of the Have Rats died in the attack, the unfortunate Tam.

The residents of Mount Safeco rested and licked their wounds. Of the three ringleaders of the attack, one was slain, Rolfball was captured, and Smog was still missing.

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