The Forgotten (MA)

((OOC: As of right now this is reserved for Piper/ Jade and Jacob. If anyone else wants in, message me. Keep in mind that at times this will be MA themed, and I think I will have it marked so that people can avoid it if they choose.))

---

It started small.... barely noticeable at first. 

A homeless person was missing. 

Okay, so perhaps they were vagrant and had simply moved on? It wasn't unheard of. Easily dismissed and not taken as a top priority. Then a few more happened... And then several more. 

Before long, it was not just the homeless that were coming up missing. Piper was sitting on her futon, pouring over a college course selection book, highlighter balancing precariously on the end of her bill as she scanned her choices. Her thoughts, admittedly, were not on the weak and vulnerable of St. Canard. Rather, on which classes she would start at St. Canard University. 

She was just about to draw a neon mark over "Biochemistry" when the news report blaring from her TV caught her ear. 

Reporter: "Good afternoon folks, Guy Everyman here with a special bulletin from St. Canard P.D. Officials would like to ask the general public to keep on the look out for one Prissy Puffington, of St. Canard's upper north side. She went missing around 2 PM last night, and her parents are offering a fifty thousand dollar reward for anyone who can offer a tip to lead to her safe return." A picture of a small Puffin in what was clearly a designer dress flashed across screen. " She is 20 years old, stands three foot, four inches and has black and white feathering. If you have seen her, or know her location, please contact the number below."

The screen flashed back to the reporter. "Miss Puffington's disappearance is one of several that have been sweeping the city in the past few months, and with the growing number of reports, rumors of a trafficking ring have began to circulate. St. Canard P.D. has not confirmed this, but urgently reminds everyone to be aware of their surroundings. Now back to your regularly sch--"

Remote in hand, Piper turned off her television. She'd heard rumors of some goings on, but to be frank... she'd kept a low profile. Malicia's work kept her busy, and because it was such a lucrative venue, she did not wish to risk exposure through her more petty pass times. 

But this one bugged her. Perhaps because she was the same age as the girl who had gone missing. After a few silent moments, lost in though... she stood up and pulled out her cell phone. Her finger hovered for a moment... wondering if this was something she could really turn to Jacob about. In her mind, she knew what she was planning to do... and he had asked that she keep him in the loop about anything she was attempting. 

She bit her lip. Piper had no idea if this would work or not. If nothing more, she could discuss it with someone who had a lot more experience than her. Pressing her contact, she quickly texted Jacob, not wanting to bother him if he wasn't free. 

"I am plotting."

    • DarkwingPsycho
      DarkwingPsycho

      The phone buzzed in his pocket just as he was pulling into the driveway of his mansion hidden in the mountains on the other side of the bay.  He eased the Jaguar to a stop, then pulled out the device and smiled when he recognized the number.

      And what are you plotting? 

      His mind was probably on other ideas than what she was actually considering.

      • Piper/ Jade
        Piper/ Jade

        "Trouble." She quipped back, because it was true.

        "These disappearances." She added quickly before he got too detailed. "I want to look into them. See what I can find out. Maybe go under cover."

        Like a spy.

        She sat back down and waited for his reply.

        • DarkwingPsycho
          DarkwingPsycho

          Better to call, he thought, on this than gather details over text messages.  When she answered, he asked for clarification, "Which disappearances?"

          Then, once she answered, "...You want to get yourself taken?  Piper, that's..."  The hesitation and worry was clear in his voice.  He sighed.  "How?"

          • Piper/ Jade
            Piper/ Jade

            She... hadn’t thought that far ahead.

            ”Um... I figured I would just hang around in dangerous areas and see if I get picked up.” She shifted in her seat... yeah, this was sounding dumber by the minute. “‘I was going to look into it first...” she added quickly, meaning she hadn’t researched enough to have a plan right this very second. 

            • DarkwingPsycho
              DarkwingPsycho

              "SHUSH is looking into it, but they're spread pretty thin," Jacob said to her gently.  "And the police..."   He made a dismissive noise.  "Piper...what do you hope to do once you're inside?"

              • Piper/ Jade
                Piper/ Jade

                “take down the bad guys.” She said simply. “‘or free some people. Pass on intel to SHUSH.” She shrugged. “things are for stealing. People are not.” See, she had a moral code. 

                “It’s a threat to me regardless.” She added, “And I do not like to be threatened. Plus think of Lilly. If she didn’t have Celia around, I’d probably go guard her myself.” She toyed with the hem of her shirt, “I’d like your help. If you can spare it.”

                I miss you and want to work with you on something... I could have just gotten a cookie kit and invited you over, but this seems more exciting. But she couldn’t say that. It sounded too clingy... and he hated clinginess. 

                • DarkwingPsycho
                  DarkwingPsycho

                  He had to chuckle a little, but not in a patronizing way.  "Just like that, huh?"  Her mentioning Lilly and Celia got his attention, and he took the idea a little more seriously.

                  He mulled it over a little.  "You really want to do this?" he asked her carefully.  I couldn't bear it if something happened to you.

                  • Piper/ Jade
                    Piper/ Jade

                    “Yes” She said softly. “‘I do. One last hurrah before school starts.”

                    Wait, had she told him she was going back to school? Oh, probably not... oh well. It had been a pretty abrupt decision.

                    ”So I will snoop around the bad side... ask a few people... See what I can find out. If there is a pattern I can go off of that. If not, I might just have to take a shot in the dark.” She let her head fall back. “‘I won’t draw too much attention. I don’t want them to know I am looking into it, and I don’t want the police to catch on.”

                    She grinned.... the police couldn’t catch a mayfly in June, let alone a criminal. She was more concerned about Darkwing doofus coming after her.

                    • DarkwingPsycho
                      DarkwingPsycho

                      "Hang on, school?"  He blinked.  Somewhere in the back of his mind that thought only served to remind him of their wide age difference.  A thought quickly dismissed.

                      "No shots in the dark," he said firmly.  "If we're going to do this, we're doing it right.  I'll get what intel I can from SHUSH and we can review it together.  Perhaps...it might do to have someone go in with you.  As back-up.  Someone who can also blend in and be able to be there if things go awry."  Jacob knew he could better serve her as an outside party with resources at his disposal than trying to covertly do this with her.

                      • Piper/ Jade
                        Piper/ Jade

                        She pouted slightly... she wanted to play with him... but she trusted his judgment. “ Alright.” She said softly, smiling to herself. “‘we can set up a meeting once we have all the info we can get. Let me know who you have in mind.” piper was wary of new people.

                        Then she prattled on a bit about going on to get her degree. She only had a GED, but she wanted a real degree so she could be worth something more. Then she started going on about how she was being pulled between biochemistry and engineering. You know, normal talk.

                        • DarkwingPsycho
                          DarkwingPsycho

                          He smiled too, listening to her go on about her future but thinking to himself she was perfect as she was.  Worth more to him than he could say.

                          Finally they agreed upon a time to meet and discuss details, and Jacob would bring the aforementioned person he trusted with him.  That way Piper could also feel him out and see if he was someone she was willing to work with.  It was no good putting two people in the field if they couldn't work together.

                          Once they were done talking, he phoned his favorite private investigator and filled him in on the details.  Drake was eager to help, as Jacob thought he would be, and Piper's plan started to gain some traction.

                          ***

                          A few days later, Jacob was arriving with Drake next to him in Jacob's beloved yellow Jaguar.  They were in front of a bourbon distillery that had multiple tables and place settings for tasting, flights, and just simple drinks and light food.  Of course Jacob had chosen the locale, no surprise there.

                          "You ever been here, boy?" he asked Drake lightly as he locked the car and set the security system.

                          • Quiverwing Duck
                            Quiverwing Duck

                            "Well, obviously not, sir," Drake remarked wryly, once he got a good look at the place. "Otherwise I'd be living here." He was only slightly joking.


                            Drake had been easy to convince, primarily because it had been Jacob who did the asking. It was an inevitable outcome even before the older Mallard gave him an outline on the situation. Being given the opportunity to help someone help other people on top of that? It was a lock.


                            Upon setting foot into the place, Drake did the habitual sharp glance around to assess exits, corners, and tactical problem spots. Then, he relaxed and cheerfully told Jacob, "This is where I want to go when I die," as they headed for a booth in the back.

                            • Piper/ Jade
                              Piper/ Jade

                              Piper leaned forward and paid her cab driver. "Thank you." She said softly, "keep the rest for tip."

                              She slipped out of her ride and made her way to the entrance. Her heeled boot clicked softly as she hurried in-- it was cold and her gray sweater dress was only able to do so much. Her black leggings were also thin, so she wasn't as protected as she should have been.

                              Pushing the door open, her long pony tail swayed back and forth and she looked for the man who'd invited her. She headed for the back, hoping he was there. Maybe she was early?

                              Oh no, there he is. She didn't recognize who was with him, so she approached in a reserved manner. "Jacob?"

                              • DarkwingPsycho
                                DarkwingPsycho

                                Jacob gave a low chuckle.  "You and me both."

                                They slid easily into the booth and both ordered their bourbon before doing anything else.  Then Jacob began removing files from the briefcase he had brought when Piper joined them.  Jacob nodded to her in greeting.

                                "Miss Lee.  This is my associate Drake Mallard.  He's a private investigator and can be trusted completely in these matters.  I have worked with him in a couple of different capacities and he has proven himself a worthy ally.  Drake, this is Piper Lee.  She's the one whom I'd like you to work with in this operation.  It was her idea."

                                He motioned for Piper to sit down with them.  "What can I get for you?"

                                • Quiverwing Duck
                                  Quiverwing Duck

                                  Undoing the button keeping his suit jacket closed as he sat down, Drake brought out a small tablet with particularly rounded edges, setting it aside for the moment. "Maybe I should have taken the bar exam, if I were a lawyer I bet I'd be able to afford places like this regularly."


                                  At Piper's approach, Drake stood up again, quickly refastening his jacket. He lightly touched his hand to his chest, over his heart, and said, "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Lee. Thank you for allowing me to meet with you." He gave her a brief but bright smile, and remained standing until she was seated. Apparently he had somewhat old-fashioned manners.

                                  • Piper/ Jade
                                    Piper/ Jade

                                    She blinked at Drake standing... oh...

                                    She smiled brightly to him in return. "The pleasure is all mine." She said, ducking her head slightly. Was that a blush? Maybe a small one.

                                    Placing a hand on the table, she slipped into the booth as well. "Private investigator? Sounds like an interesting job, are you independent from the p.d?" She really had no real respect for the cops.

                                    "Um..." she shifted. "I suppose a cherry bourbon since it is a bourbon distillery... couldn't imagine who picked the location." She smiled at Jacob.

                                    • DarkwingPsycho
                                      DarkwingPsycho

                                      "If you enjoy it, let me know when you'd like to return and I can make that happen," Jacob remarked.

                                      Jacob watched the exchange between Piper and Drake with some amusement.  He let the two chat while he ordered Piper's drink.  It didn't take much time at all for them to be brought out, and Jacob took a moment to savor a mouthful of his before turning his attention to the task at hand.

                                      "I'm sure you're aware of the disappearances that have been occurring throughout the city," he said to Drake.  He slid the folder toward him.  "These are the victims and the circumstances around their disappearances.  Against my better judgment, I have agreed to help Miss Lee be taken herself to discover the nature of these as well as attempt to weed out the perpetrator or perpetrators.  I am not inclined, however, to send her in alone.  You will follow her, then join the ranks of these perpetrators to help her decipher their motives and intentions.  I will be the eyes and ears utilizing the tech at my disposal to ensure both your safety from afar...but not too far."

                                      • Quiverwing Duck
                                        Quiverwing Duck

                                        "Absolutely independent Miss Lee, although I have to play nice with the cops when I'm on official business, of course," Drake answered Piper, sitting down again. He grinned at Jacob as he said, "Allowing me to request another visit to this place might be granting me too much power, I cannot promise I'd use it prudently."


                                        He looked cheerful, especially when sampling his own bourbon, but the moment Jacob passed him the folder of information his expression became solemn. "I agree that this isn't a mission that should be undertaken solo. They undoubtedly incapacitate their victims." He sat back, gazing up at the rafters thoughtfully. Then, he said, "What if the perpetrators are a tight group? They might not be open to recruiting anyone new."

                                        • Piper/ Jade
                                          Piper/ Jade

                                          Piper was silent for a moment... “you join by giving them back something they lost.” She did not drink her bourbon, rather, she ran her finger along the edge of the glass in a slow circle. 

                                          “You’ll return me when I escape.” It sealed a trust deal, and would likely prove that he was just as depraved. She then rested her chin on her hands. “ That the easiest way I can think of. Of course, it might mean I have to get a bit rough with you.” Pout. 

                                          “‘But I am guessing it will be dependent on the situation. What are they taking people for? Is this simple labor kidnapping, or are we talking young girls in chains and bedlah?” Both would need drastically different approaches. 

                                          ‘But That was what this was all for. Figuring it all out.

                                          • DarkwingPsycho
                                            DarkwingPsycho

                                            At Piper's suggestion, it made Jacob initially nervous, but hearing her out he knew she was right.  It was the best way to gain the trust of lowlifes like these.  It just meant that while she was in there alone at first, he'd have to be more vigilant in case things went poorly.

                                            "How do you plan on getting yourself taken?" Jacob asked somberly.  He couldn't help the undercurrent of concern in his voice.

                                            • Quiverwing Duck
                                              Quiverwing Duck

                                              Drake was rubbing his chin, still turning his thoughts over in his head. He tilted his head and glanced sidelong to Piper, arching a brow at her. "Rough?" he echoed. "Well... just promise me you won't hit me below the belt or permanently disfigure my face. I'll find it in my heart to forgive you for anything else." He lifted his bourbon glass to her in a small salute and had a sip.

                                              "If she's going in alone, I can sneak along to keep an eye on Miss Lee," he said, to Jacob. "Some of these rings go in for organ harvesting, not something we'd want to find out about the hard way."

                                              • Piper/ Jade
                                                Piper/ Jade

                                                "I am ridiculously fond of my organs." Piper smiled. It was hard to brush off Jacob's concern, but she had to. "And I don't hit below the belt unless I have to." Since they were working together, he'd be safe.

                                                "That is the thing..." she sat back. "I don't quite know how to get myself taken. The only rumbles I have heard are some goth night club downtown being the last site where that uptown girl was grabbed. I thought I could start there. Whip out the black lipstick and bemoan society, and its plebeian hordes."

                                                Small smile. "These kinds of organizations usually operate small in the field. But they also will return to successful hunting grounds. The fact the police have made it known that they are stumped works well for us... they'll hopefully be cocky."

                                                She finally sipped her drink. "So" a glance to Drake, "hunting the hunters might be a good ploy. So long as they don't know you're there. I can make the escape early-- in the kidnapping process if you'd like. It might be harder later, especially if they use drugs to control." She knew her crew did... 

                                                • DarkwingPsycho
                                                  DarkwingPsycho

                                                  "I believe that would be a good option, yes," Jacob responded to Drake's suggestion.  "I can outfit you both with wires, too.  And tracking.  Not that I don't trust either of your abilities, but your safety is paramount here.  Even before the victims'.  SHUSH can't know about this, or they'll certainly interfere in the worst way."

                                                  He glanced toward Drake with a somewhat sly smile.  "Drake knows how to be sneaky.  And if they do happen to use drugs, I can slip him at least the anti-toxins to counteract whatever they may give you."

                                                  • Quiverwing Duck
                                                    Quiverwing Duck

                                                    Drake grinned back at Jacob. He looked faintly concerned, then, and said, "While I agree with outfitting us so we can communicate and be tracked, there's always the danger of them spotting them or finding them in a search."

                                                    He then looked to Piper and quietly said, "I'm good at not being seen. I have..." He lifted a hand and made a vague gesture, glancing upwards. "... a lot of skills that generally don't come standard for your average detective."

                                                    • Piper/ Jade
                                                      Piper/ Jade

                                                      Piper tilted her head. She believed Drake already. She perked a brow slightly, but lost her thought to the other points he made.

                                                      "Trackers can go under the skin. We used them in animals." Quick explanation. She tipped her head back and took down the rest of her bourbon.

                                                      "Ah..." she shook her head a bit as the alcohol made its way down. "Dunno about the wires. Maybe one of those ear inserts? Just for communication? That way you can record on your end? Or give me a tracker and have Drake sneak the rest in later." 

                                                      She looked at her empty glass. She smiled to herself... remembering this was the last hoorah for a while.