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 Inception - Ace Job

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Prisma*Illya
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:47 pm

Well, this was unexpected. Was she a tease playing hard to get, or just a wild card? Ned planned to find out.

His eyebrows raised as she drained her second mojito glass, climbing higher with every sip. When she handed the glass to him and turned to stalk off, he had to smile.

"I've got the remainder of my ruined evening to drink away."

If that wasn't a veiled invitation, then he didn't know what was.

Shoving the glass into the hand of the nearest toga-wearing chump, Ned hurried in long strides after the young woman, who was ascending the stairs even now.

"Now, that's no way to spend an evening," he said, catching up to her and smoothly inserting himself in front of her. "Clearly, you're upset about something. So go on, tell me. I'll take the hit. I'm a good listener."

He smiled and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, allowing his fingers to brush ever so slightly across her skin.

"Then you can go back to having fun. A pretty girl like you shouldn't be spending the night locked up from the world."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Tue Dec 09, 2014 12:09 pm

The woman gave Ned another irritated look when he stepped in front of her, blocking the route up the stairs. She opened her mouth, probably to tell him to bug off, but before she spoke the words, she paused, looking him up and down.

"I'm working on an art project." She said slowly, seemingly unsure of whether or not to share her circumstances with the man before her. "My date for the evening, who was going to be the model for the project, stood me up for some skank in the music department." She rolled her eyes at that, but it didn't completely mask the pained look on her face.

"So, I find myself with a project that needs finishing and no model to pose for it."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:16 pm

Ned raised his eyebrows at her dilemma and jumped up another stair.

"You needed a model, and you didn't think to ask me?" he asked, striking a ludicrously intense pose to make her laugh.

"No, seriously," he said, grinning. "I'll help you out if you really need it. It's no problem."

--------------------

"He sure knows how to get in touch with his inner girl," Hunter mused, shaking his head as he monitored the stair cam. Even knowing it was John, he still had no way of telling it was really him.

Well, the way things were going, John would have the Mark wrapped around his finger shortly. Better make themselves scarce.

The Architect surveyed the room to make sure nothing was out of place, then maneuvered into the closet next to Trevor.

"Hope you're comfortable," he muttered, shutting the doors. "We could be in here a while."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:47 pm

The woman raised an eyebrow at Ned's pose, the slightest hint of a smile pulling at her lips. "I appreciate the offer." She replied, sounding a little more cheerful than before. "But I couldn't ask you to give up your evening to help me, especially since I don't even have a way of compensating you."

Her eyes drifted downwards, and she bit her lower lip, looking hesitant. "Unless, of course, you'd consider it compensation enough that I paint my picture of you without my toga on?"

------------------------------------------

"Considerin how many lady friends he goes through in a month, I wouldn't be surprised if they've infected his soul somehow." Trevor quipped back, pushing himself into the inside of the closet. "I don't think he'll keep us waitin for long. The less he interacts with the Mark before we put him under, the more padding he'll have later if we fail. John knows how to play it cool."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:14 pm

Ned was pleased to see that the girl was cracking through her brusque fa├žade and was finally able to smile.

"It's no big deal, really," he said, smiling in return. When she offered his compensation, he raised both eyebrows.

"Isn't it the paintee that's supposed to get naked, not the painter?" he laughed, moving to let her continue her way up the stairs. "But I do like to think outside the lines. Clothes are overrated anyway, don't you think?"

He winked and followed after her toward the room she had set up, feeling that the night had taken an intriguing turn.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Fri Dec 12, 2014 1:08 pm

A slight blush crept up the woman's pale cheeks at Ned's question, but she maintained eye contact. It was almost as if her pride wouldn't allow her to be embarrassed by her own actions. "Normally, yes, the model is usually the one to get naked. However, I'm sort of between paychecks right now. So, I can't think of another way to compensate you for your time."

She turned to lead him down the hallway, giggling slightly at his comment about clothes being overrated. "So, that's why we're wearing bed sheets tonight then? Because clothing is overrated?"

Her hand rested on the door knob at the end of the hallway, and she turned it, stepping inside. She motioned for Ned to do the same and then closed it behind him when he followed. The room was tidy for the most part, bed neatly made, nothing littering the floor (aside from a stack of Vogue magazines that peeked out from under the bed on the near side). An easel stood in the corner of the room, the best vantage point for seeing the bed, and a simply stool sat beside it with a tray of paint tubes resting on it.

"Please, make yourself comfortable. I'll need a moment to setup." The woman said, crossing the room to the easel, which she quickly put a canvas onto.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:21 pm

Ned followed the young woman to a room at the end of the upstairs where it was far quieter, away from all the activity down below.

His companion let them in and began busying herself with an easel and some paints, leaving him to survey the room for himself.

"Not a bad setup," he mused, nodding as stuck his hands in his pockets and looked around.
The young woman had her back to him, obviously consumed with setting for her painting. Ned smirked and sat down on the bed, figuring he might as well get set up too.

When she finally turned around, Ned smiled up at her from the bed, unabashedly nude as the day he was born. One leg was thrown over the other, providing some very minor attempt at modesty, while simultaneously displaying his pale, smooth backside for all to see.

"So, was I supposed to get naked too for this too then?" he asked, grinning cheekily. "We were a little unclear on the whole thing."

From the closet, Hunter had to stifle a groan and banish the image from his mind.

"Didn't need to see that," Hunter thought ruefully.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:11 am

After the woman sat out all the paints she apparently deemed necessary, she turned to find Ned on the bed, naked. Again, a blush highlighted her pale skin, but her eyes traveled up and down his body, much like a brush stroking the canvas. "Yes, you'll do nicely. I'd intended to do two paintings actually. One with the toga on, and one with it off." She cleared her throat. "I guess we'll start with off."

She stepped towards him, her long fingers sinking into the space behind his knee, and she lifted his leg, bending it at an angle so that his foot rested in front of his privates. "You're very flexible..." The woman noted, taking a step back to survey her subject. "Prop your head up with your arm. You can use one of the pillows if you'd like." She turned her head one way and then the other before nodding.

"I guess I should probably uphold my end of the deal then..." She reached down, wrapping her slender fingers around the bottom of her toga and began to pull it upwards. Halfway up, she stopped and squirmed a little, as if she were stuck in the fabric. "Just a second... I've just got to-!" She jerked the fabric and suddenly staggered forward, dropping onto Ned and slamming his skull into the headboard of the bed with enough force to knock him unconscious.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Tue Dec 16, 2014 1:55 pm

Hunter sighed and pushed open the closet, shaking his head.

"I was expecting a little more finesse from you," he said to John, opening up a drawer and pulling out the PASIV. "But, whatever works, I guess."

He set the PASIV down on the bed and glanced at the Mark before quickly turning away. After being knocked out, his foot had become dislodged from its tactful placement.

"Could you please cover that up?" he asked, waiting until John had thrown the discarded toga over the Mark's body. With that out of the way, Hunter hooked up the IV to the Mark's arm, then looked between Trevor and the bed.

"You take the bed. I'll take the floor," he said, feeling less likely to carry on mental trauma that way. With a nod to John, they laid down and waited for the sharp prick before their eyelids fell heavily of their own volition.

--------------------

"This is it," Ned thought, taking a deep breath and adjusting his suit. He winced at the dull throb in his head, then popped another Advil to curb it. He needed his full attention on the presentation at hand. Checking that he had his materials, he braced himself, head held high, and strolled into the boardroom.

--------------------

Hunter gave the microphone discreetly attached to the collar of his suit a tap to make sure Trevor could hear everything filtering through it. The tiny camera on his glasses would give the Extractor a visual feed into the room as well from his position in the hall.

"Ready?" he muttered softly before the doors opened. Hunter looked up from his seat as the Mark entered the boardroom, looking quite pleased with himself.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the board," he said with a sort of charming smugness, "I have the idea that will put Ace Advertising into the Fortune 100."

He set his poster backward, obscuring it from the room as everyone - Hunter especially - leaned in with anticipation.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:51 pm

"Finesse my ass..." John responded, still looking and sounding like the woman that had led the Mark to the room. "This guy is a hundred years too early to be making passes on a girl this hot."

Trevor chuckled while the woman grabbed the discarded toga from the foot of the bed and threw it over Ned's nude form. "Beauty's in the eye of the beholder I guess." Trevor quipped as he sat down on the bed and reached for the PASIV machine.

"Yeah, I've met your wife." The woman shot back, rolling her eyes.

"And what did you think of her, gov?" Trevor asked with a grin.

"You're one lucky bastard, you know that?"

Trevor laughed at that. "Just remember, you can look, but you can't touch." He sniped back.

"Like I'd want to." The woman responded. "She'd rip my fingers off and feed them to me."

"Gotta love your Latina mercenaries." Trevor said, giving John a wink before shoving the needle into his wrist.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Yeah, let's get this on with." Trevor responded through the microphone as he leaned back in his chair outside the conference room. "Corporate offices make my fingers itchy. Too many juicy little things to steal laying around."

He reached across the desk he was sitting at and grabbed a design magazine, which he pretended to thumb through while listening to the conversation in the conference room.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:21 pm

Hunter awaited breathlessly for Ned to begin his presentation. But at that moment, two men in dark suits entered the room. The first stood at in the doorway, carefully watching the hallway. The other approached Ned, who looked confused and annoyed by the interruption, and began to whisper in his ear.

The Architect immediately felt his blood begin to drain. This wasn't supposed to happen. What was going on here.

Ned seemed as perplexed as Hunter, but all at once his expression seemed to shift, locking into a waxen mask as he nodded ever-so-slightly to the man in the suit.

Oh crap. He knew.

Ned and the two men suddenly made a break from the room, and Hunter frantically pulled at the microphone as he hurried after them.

"Trevor, it's gone wrong. The Mark knows, and-"

He stopped short as the sound of a gun went off, and he ducked behind a potted tree as a bullet pinged off the wall next to him.

"His subconscious is militarized!"

Ned was a clever young man. No doubt, in the world of corporate espionage, he'd gotten some training to make sure this very thing wouldn't happen to him. Fortunate, really, for him.

That proved most unfortunate for them, however.

--------------------

In the level above, the front door to the frat house burst open as several armed and dangerous-looking men stormed in, shoving aside the partiers as they looked around for something.

Or someone.

[OOC: I'll leave the details of the first level to you, Payne.]

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:30 pm

Trevor continued to thumb through his magazine, pretending not to notice anything else around him. The best way to remain unnoticed was to blend, do as the projections did, at least until he came up with a solution. "Keep your nickers on, gov." He spoke into the mic without looking up from his reading. "Just lay low until..."

The sound of gunshots brought his attention to the hallway, along with all of the projections in the office. Some of them looked curious, but most looked scared. "Bloody hell..." Trevor groaned, tossing his magazine back onto the desk and putting a palm to his forehead before slowly dragging it down his face. "What part of lay low do you bloody Americans not understand?"

Another gunshot echoed down the hall, and a man in a dark suit emerged from the door to Trevor's left, escorting the Mark toward the stairs. The majority of the projections were now scattering, and the ones that weren't had instead opted to hide under their desks.

Trevor waited for the suited man and the Mark to turn the corner and enter the hall before he slowly rose to his feet and moved towards the open door that led to the conference room. From beneath his pinstriped coat, Trevor produced a silenced pistol, and he flipped the safety before turning the corner and putting a bullet in the back of the second suited man's head.

As the projection fell, he turned the pistol towards where Hunter had ducked behind a file cabinet. "I'd shoot you too if you weren't the bloody dreamer." He growled, looking more than a little irate. "What did I say during all the practice runs?" Trevor didn't wait for a response. Instead, he answered his own question aloud. "Whatever happens, don't panic, and don't do anything bloody stupid!"

Taking a deep breath, he lowered the barrel of the pistol and put a second round into the suited man's back, more for stress relief than anything else. "Now, this entire layer is compromised..." Trevor grumbled, taking a look at his watch. "Two seconds in the first layer for every minute here... I need two minutes to get John and myself ready back in the first layer. That means I need you to keep them here for an hour. Can you do that, gov?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:08 pm

"Oh put a cork in it," Hunter snapped irritably, getting to his feet. "Limey bastard..."

He had to think. Trevor was already prepared to scrap this level, but he wasn't so certain. He had the advantage. He knew the layout. He could get to the Mark and get the plans.

"Do what you have to do," he said, pulling a pistol from his own suit jacket and flipping the safety with practiced skill.

"I did work for the DoD. I know how to use a gun," the Architect replied, seeing Trevor's look. He didn't add that it had only been in a practice range, never on people...

Not real people. He had to keep that in mind. Just projections.

Nodding to Trevor, he took off down the hallway, bringing up the plans for the layout in his mind. If the Mark had taken the staircase on that end, he'd be on the upper floor right now.

Hunter burst through the staircase door, then immediately had to duck as a bullet thudded into the door behind him.

Note to self: take doors slowly.

Hunter snapped the gun up as the projection realized his miss, then shot the man in the shoulder. The Architect got up and steeled himself before putting a bullet through the projection's heart.

It wasn't a dead person on his hands. It was just one projection down.

"Gotta catch up," he murmured, hurrying up the rest of the stairs.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:45 pm

"Bloody American!" Trevor responded as Hunter made for the door. "I don't care if you go after the information, but Whatever you do, don't screw up and let the dream collapse before the hour is up! And for Christ's sake, don't let the bastard fall into that limbo hole you left in the middle of the dream!"

Still grumbling to himself about how much of a headache Americans were, Trevor spun the silenced pistol to point at his own skull and pulled the trigger.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

John had only just began checking the monitors when Trevor sat up on the bed. "We've got trouble, gov."

"I know." John responded, pulling one of the switches to modify the hallway outside. "They're still searching the lower floor, but they'll make their way upstairs soon."

"They're here too?" Trevor growled, getting up and moving to the monitors.

"I take it the second level didn't go well?" John quipped.

"No time for that now." Trevor responded quickly. "Hunter's buying us some time. How's your Hanged Man impression?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:33 pm

It had to be the strangest game of cat and mouse ever played, where one minute you could be bearing down on the mouse, and the next hunted down by a swarm of fierce felines.

As Hunter ducked through the maze room and back into the hallway, slamming the door shut on the confused shouts and gunfire in the maze behind, he had to stop to catch his breath and get his bearings.

So close. He'd been right on the Mark's heels when a gang of projections had forced him off-track and into the maze room to try to lose them.

And now he'd lost sight of his quarry again. How long had this been going on now?

As luck would have it, Ned suddenly barreled into the hallway, evidently confused by the layout of the dream. For one moment, the two stopped to stare at one another.

Then, as though a starting pistol had been fired, both sprang into action simultaneously.

Ned was fast, but Hunter was faster. The Architect threw himself into the Mark, knocking both of them to the floor. Just then, a projection rounded the corner and fired, missing both narrowly. The distraction was enough for Ned to wriggle loose and aim a kick back, connecting painfully with Hunter's jaw.

Hunter fell back, dazed, but snatched up his gun and fired at the projection a few rounds, managing to nail a fatal hit and drop the man.

Now the Mark was getting away again, but this would be the last time. Hunter leaped to his feet and fired just in front of the Mark, stopping him short. In a brief moment, Hunter was able to maneuver himself across from the Mark, cutting off all escape.

Ned tensed, his hand groping back against the doorknob. He threw the door open, only to find inky blackness below.

No escape. The situation seemed hopeless.

But as Ned clutched his poster more tightly, he was suddenly seized by an idea. Before Hunter could move, the Mark hurled it into the space behind him, the object disappearing from view in a moment.

"Good luck stealing that now," Ned laughed, smirking at the young man in front of him.

Hunter grimaced, his hands tightening on the barrel of the pistol. His eyes flickered to the watch, its hand slowly ticking. Nodding to himself, Hunter raised his eyes, narrowed his gaze, and fired.

The bullet hit Ned between the eyes, killing him in an instant. As the lifeless corpse fell back into the darkness, Hunter sighed and turned the barrel on his own head, hoping as he squeezed the trigger that whatever Trevor and John had in mind, they were ready to go at it.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:55 pm

Trevor had just finished dragging Hunter's limp body to the closet when he heard a groan of discomfort come from the bed. Without a second thought, he reached over to the Mark's wrist and jerked out the needle, retracting it into the suitcase, which was then kicked across the floor and into the closet, where it came to a stop against Hunter's leg. On top of the suitcase was a single sticky note, telling Hunter to keep the projections out of the bedroom.

On the floor beside the bed, John, once more appearing as the woman who had lured Ned to the bedroom, laid motionless in a pool of blood, a bullet hole in between her exposed breasts.

With a quick slide of his foot, Trevor closed the closet and stood over the bed cleaning the barrel of his pistol with a handkerchief. "Good ta see you're alright, sah." He chirped cheerfully as Ned opened his eyes.
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:00 pm

Hunter blinked in surprise as reality asserted itself.

No, not reality. Just the first level of the dream, he had to remind himself. It took a moment to register that he was in the closet before he saw the note stuck to the PASIV.

/Keep projections away./

The Architect sighed and got up, peering out through the slits in the closet door. He could see the Mark coming around, and Trevor preparing for gambit they were going to run.

Well, it wasn't his concern. For the moment, he needed to focus on defenses.

Peering at the monitors, he could see the projections racing up the stairs, out for blood. Thinking quickly, he switched the first lever, shifting the walls by the stairs to shuttle them all into the first decoy bedroom. He'd have them running in circles for a while.

--------------------

Ned groaned and looked around the dimly lit room, trying to remember what had happened. Was he naked?

Oh yes, the party. Where had his little artsy minx gotten off to?

He sat up, only to see the attractive young lady face-up on the carpet, a bullet hole large and wide for all to see.

Ned could only gasp and stare in horror, trying to make sense of it, when a sudden voice to his side made him lurch to his right to take in the threat.

"What... what do you want with me?" he asked, his voice weak but gaining strength.

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:34 am

Trevor regarded Ned with a passive expression as he finished cleaning off the barrel of his gun and slipped it beneath his coat. "It's not me you need to worry about, sah." He responded, waving a hand towards the woman laying on the floor, drawing Ned's attention back to her still form.

Upon closer inspection of the woman, it would be easy to see the belt around her waist, which held an assortment of throwing blades, and the strap on the inside of her thigh, which kept a rather wicked looking knife in place.

"You see, I'm on your side, sah." Trevor continued, holding out his hand in an offer to help Ned off of the bed. "Can't say the same about her, or the blokes she was with."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Wed Jan 07, 2015 11:58 am

Ned stared at his would-be rescuer in surprise, then at the woman on the floor.

"So... I'm still dreaming then."

Yes, it had to be. Where else would he get "help" from? This must be a projection of his subconscious, helping him resist extraction.

Taking the hand offered to him, Ned got off the bed and hastily retrieved his clothes to dress.

"So, what now then?" he asked, eyeing the gun in Trevor's hand with some trepidation. "Should I just... shoot myself and wake up?"

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:20 pm

Trevor seemed to consider Ned's words for a moment before pulling his gun back out and looking at it thoughtfully. "Perhaps..." He mumbled, aiming the gun in Ned's direction for a second before hesitantly pulling it back up to point at the ceiling.

"But first... First, we should probably check and make sure the hatters didn't already get what they came for, right?" With a quick motion, Trevor stashed the gun back inside his coat. "I mean, you were knocked out for a good half hour, sah. They could have already made off with the goods."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:07 am

Ned nodded slowly at Trevor's words, feeling it would be best to cover his bases. However...

"Look, I got some training on the down-low for this sort of thing. I guess that's where you come in" he said, gesturing vaguely in Trevor's direction. "But I'm still not entirely sure how all this works. How do I know whether they've taken anything or not?"

The advertising whiz looked around the room, trying to remember.

"Eh... safe. Safe, right? Or something to store secrets? And my mind sticks things in there."

He seemed like he was catching up to speed, his movements becoming more excited.

"Right. Right, so I find the safe and check to see if anything has been removed. And if all is safe, I pop a cap and swim out of here before they can touch it."

--------------------

Hunter listened vaguely to the conversation outside the closet, feeling that this Mr. Charles gambit might actually work.

But Ned's subconscious was clearly not going down without a fight. After being herded back through the same series of rooms, they'd apparently begun to realize - to some extent - what was happening, and now were taking a more direct approach.

Several projections were wielding sledgehammers and bashing through the walls, blazing a trail directly toward the room they were hiding. Now Hunter was simply maneuvering walls to make as many barriers as possible and stall out as long as he could for this gambit to run its course.

"Come on, Trevor, get a move on," he thought, wiping sweat from his forehead as the projections burst through another wall. He could almost hear their muffled movements now...

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:13 am

Trevor remained silent for a moment while Ned thought out loud. It was better to let the man reach his own conclusions and then simply reinforce them. That way, he seemed to be nothing more than a piece of the Mark's subconscious.

"Absolutely right, sah!" Trevor responded when Ned mentioned a safe place, giving his fingers a snap for extra flare. "If they've not already gotten their grubby mitts on it, the secret they're looking for will be in a safe place somewhere."

He looked around the room thoughtfully. It would be suspicious if he pointed out the location of the safe. So, he couldn't really point Ned in the right direction... Or could he?

"If'n you're lookin for a good place to start, sah, the little minx was pokin around the far wall over there when I came in. Seemed to be lookin for somethin."
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Sun Jan 11, 2015 3:09 pm

Ned nodded to Trevor and hurried over to the far wall, searching along its surface for the safe. When he pressed on one panel, it sunk inward before swinging out, revealing a safe behind it.

"Okay, I found it," Ned said, grinning. "But, the combination... I don't have one."

From outside, the sounds of the projections had grown so close and loud as to become noticeable. Ned turned from the safe and looked to the door, brows furrowed.

"What's going on out there?" he prompted. "Are they coming after me?"

His eyes flickered to Trevor's gun before going back to the door.

"Well, you're my security, right? Go out there and stop them."

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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:15 pm

Only a look of slight concern crossed Trevor's face as Ned told him to go deal with the projections. He made no move to the door. Instead, he stepped over to the safe to get a closer look at it.

"Not to worry, sah. While you were comin around, I took the liberty of placing a little surprise in the hallway for anyone else attempting to reach this room. So, when they're close enough for me ta guard the door, I'll know about it."

Trevor ran his fingers along the side of the safe, frowning at it. "It's an older model, but definitely thick enough ta keep us out for a while without the combination. Looks like it takes a 4 digit imput, sah. Maybe try some 4 digit numbers that are familiar to you? Last 4 digits of your social security, or maybe the last 4 digits of your first phone number?"
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PostSubject: Re: Inception - Ace Job   Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:44 pm

Ned frowned at Trevor's lack of compliance, but it was true that getting into the safe was a top priority, so he let it slide.

"Four digits, huh?" he mused, running a hand over the knob. He knew four digits that he frequently used - a combination of his two childhood home addresses.

3...

4...

1...

Ned's hand paused on the dial, hesitating to enter the last number. His eyes drifted to the corpse of the young woman on the floor, and he pursed his lips.

The projection's story made sense. After all, she could have lured him upstairs for just such a purpose. And she had knocked him out quite unceremoniously, if he recalled.

But still... there was no way to verify that the story is bodyguard had fed him was the truth. In this dream, he might only be able to trust himself.

Dream...

Slowly, Ned reached with one hand for the dial, turning it gently toward the last number, while the other reached into his pocket.

6...

Ned popped the safe door open, stepping back simultaneously with a gun raised in his other hand. Inside the safe, the back of his design poster could be seen peeking out.

"Well, I've got it covered from here," Ned said, waving the gun at Trevor. "Why don't you go out there and deal with those other projections then?"

At the moment, they sounded very close. In fact-

With a loud thud, a bullet buried itself in the door to the room. Ned jumped slightly, his eyes flickering over to the door as he backed in front of the closet.

Suddenly, Hunter threw open the closet door, leaping onto Ned from behind. The two toppled to the floor as a louder bang sounded outside the door, pieces of wood splintering around the doorknob as the projections outside tried to force it open.

"Trevor, go!" Hunter shouted, grappling with the Mark for control of his gun while the safe hung open, inviting them in.

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