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Discussion in 'NEVER NORMAL' started by CloudyBlueDay, Mar 18, 2018.
GHOSTS ARE NO LONGER THE ONES THAT HAUNT.
People always described cities with a steady hum. The morning traffic, the chirping of birds, the rustling of wind. The world used to sing under its breath, even in the chaos of everyday. Back then, just a spare few people knew to pause and listen. To appreciate it. I wonder what that felt like.
The humming has been replaced by a buzz. Electric, unceasing, incessant. Unnatural and strong enough to make you cringe if you pause and listen. The morning chaos is not simple. Every machine groans in despair. There are no birds to chirp. The air is dark and filled with smog and there’s no sky to look up at. Only endless buildings that crowd the sky, and the vehicles that weave their way in between.
I used to live at the very top of the world.. Literally. My apartment was on the hundred and sixth floor. I saw a tiny piece of the sky above the crowded ground. I tried to breathe it in every morning. Slowly, I forgot to. I took it for granted. And then I fell.
Now I’m here on this crowded earth, and my wings won’t carry me high enough to feel peace again.
N E V E R _ N O R M A L
Chapter 1: An Opportunity to Die ForA message popped up in your holocomm’s inbox at 12:41am, with a blinking red title of “URGENT!” The sender was Lyris Matrikt.
The invitation came with a small quip, reminiscent of ancient times.
YOU'VE GOT MAIL!
Dear [your name here],
Congratulations! This letter is good for one person to enter Sanctuary, and is non transferrable. Fear for your future no longer. I will provide you with everything you need for a splendid rest of your life.
To confirm your invitation, visit Big Bux Co. HQ two days from now, November 15th, at 11am. Take the upperclass Skytrain AA02, and show the conductor this message. Your trip is all expenses paid for.
I await your arrival.
Skytrains were classified by a series of letters and numbers. AA was the highest class skytrain available, and 02 made it second to the very skytrain that Lyris Matrikt himself would take. You had two days to consider this offer, but it was apparent that unless you really did have an affinity for the streets, this was your best option. Besides, the meeting gave the opportunity to really get a glimpse of what the rest of your life could look like.
The AA02 skytrain was impeccably clean, and once the doors closed, entirely silent. Except, of course, for the ever present electrical buzz of the world outside, which could not be silenced. The ride was perfectly smooth, and the seats were a cushioned baby blue. And it was empty, except for those on their way to the meeting.
Getting off the train at the final stop was like stepping into a new world. Heels would click onto polished white marble, leading into a large arch as if it were an entrance to a pantheon. Glass doors would automatically slide open after a walk down a hall decorated in artwork and awards. And at a large desk sat a receptionist by the name of Amina Fright.
Her appearance was perfectly sculpted. Long black hair draped over her shoulders, and gold earrings dangled from her ears, perfectly matching her intricate gold necklace. Her clothing must have been worth a fortune, silk with embroidered patterns and long nails painted red. Holo screens covered her vision, and her fingers flew across a holo keyboard.
After reaching up to scan each person’s implant, she would say the same thing.
“Please proceed down the hall to my right to room 509. Big Bux Co. welcomes you.”
Room 509 was filled with chairs all facing towards a part of the room that was cleared almost akin to a stage. On the side of the room was a table filled with food; delicacies known only to the elite, a platter of freshly grown (and modified) fruits and veggies, dips, chips, and salsa, as well as cured meats and cheeses. It seemed there was no other option except to sit and wait for the show to begin.
Welcome to Sanctuary
Feel free to roleplay your characters on the skytrain and entering the meeting room! HAVE SOME SNACKS.
@Madman in The Attic
Fae Cie - Room 509, Big Bux Co.
When the invitation came, the Cie family was at first just incredibly confused and surprised. After all, why on earth would a lower-class citizen be suddenly accepted to Sanctuary? After about an hour of checking and re-checking that the email was in fact not a scam or a hoax, they were ecstatic.
Truthfully, there wasn't much packing to do, there wasn't much Fae had to her name. But that was fine. It simply meant more time for her family to celebrate before she left! Which was amazing actually; seeing her off and giving birthday presents (she promised she'd at least try come back for her birthday, but if she couldn't, at least this counted as a sort-of celebration), mostly consisting of some new clothes, which she adored.
Two days later, sitting on the Skytrain with a simple duffle bag beside her, Fae was still somewhere between genuine excitement and pure anxiousness. The upper class life! The things she would see, and in her own body this time. She'd already done everything to make herself as presentable as she could (cold shower, a little soap, and her newest clothes).
But…all that didn't mean much in the face of…well, all of this. Sure, she'd seen and felt parts of the upper-class life with her powers before, but it was…different when it was her own body. It was a bit lower, for first. Most people she ended up in were taller than her. And she'd never gotten onto the AA2. But also, she just felt horridly out of place now.
That feeling didn't go away as she came to the company building. "Big Bux". Sure, it made her snicker, but at the same time, having a silly name didn't mean they could be taken lightly. She marveled at the polished surface everywhere (she almost expected the dust and dirt to be shiny and polished too), and winced slightly at how…bright everything was. It was so white it actually hurt her eyes.
What really made the feeling of alienation stick was when she saw the receptionist. She really couldn't compare, and carefully shifted the duffle bag so she could squeeze it over her front. The less obvious how thin she was, the better she would probably feel…
Nodding slightly when the…Ms.Fright told her to go down the hall, she sighed as she quickly slipped into the room. Glancing about, she let out a quiet moan as she saw and smelled the food. Actual food! Not packets or something, real food! Quickly making her way over to the table, she glanced around, sighing as she stood there, unsure if she was actually to be privy to pleasures like…this…
Eventually, she turned away from the table, not taking anything as she quietly found a place in the seats, her eyes still stuck on the table of food as she licked her lips.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN...“Ladies and gentlemen… Her majesty. Reigning queen of the night. The illustrious, the lovely, the sultry vixen we know and love. Madam!” Isaaliah’s introduction rung through the Flower Street house, the man’s flamboyance collapsing into silence upon the scrutinizing gaze of the woman before him.
“Thank you, Izzie.” Madam murmured with little inflection, “Were you only so enthusiastic on the arm of Chantilli Kohlman last night. I might find myself in a better mood.”
The young escort’s expression soured and sulking back against the wall, his shoulders pinched in a shrug, “I can't help it if she wears too much perfume and makes me sneeze.”
“My darling…” Madam chimed in dangerous singsong, “It is your job to help it. Fail to remember that again and you will find yourself tooling for spare decas in the gutter where I found you.”
The smile never left her face, not once, but by the time she finished, the other faces in the room were consistently murky. All except Isaaliah, who had gone pale, a feat for the man who was nearly albino white.
“Now then.” Madam continued, “Where is Hex?”
“Her room.” Isaaliah muttered darkly, pointing up the multitiered structure to the topmost balcony.
“Thank you, Izzie. Now go see Dr. Mamet about those allergies, hmm?” The woman cooed, heading for the spiral staircase. Up she went, and at the very top, Alytheca ‘Hex’ Deljaris found that stony, coal-dark stare fixed on her.
“Did you get one…” She asked, before Hex had a chance to greet her, “An invitation?” Her wrist rose as she tapped a red lacquered nail on the holocom and from the frown that creased the high arch of her brow and pinched together her severe features, Hex knew what the woman was referring to.
“To Sanctuary? Yes, Madam.” Hex answered, with a measure of caution, her tone even and reflective.
“Good.” Madam noted, with a nod.
The words came as a surprise, which was unusual for someone generally prone to understanding the minds of those around her. Unable to hide her astonishment, she was afforded one of Madam’s rare, genuine smiles.
“I… I don’t understand…” Hex started, with an apprehensive stammer, “I thought you’d be upset?”
“Hex. You are my best student. I tell you this often, but I mean it, and I know you can tell as much. Losing you would be less than ideal. But I admit, this… Sanctuary has me quite curious. I would be remiss if I did not find out as much information as I could about it. I can’t go myself, of course. Not with my darling pupils to tend to, but I was sure you would be picked… and there’s no reason you shouldn’t go and check it out.” A slightly less honest smile crept across her face, “Provided, of course, you don’t intend to stay?”
Lowering her eyes, Hex looked down at her hands, pristine white, each nail manicured down to a half moon just barely past the edge of her fingertips, “What reason would I have to stay, Madam? This is my home. It has been for more than half my life.”
“It’s a tempting offer, Hex.” Madam confessed, “I can’t pretend that I can give you the same benefits.”
“Tempting? Maybe. But you know where my loyalties lie.” Looking up again, Hex’s lips curved faintly, “I’ve no intentions of leaving you.”
“...Then it seems I have nothing to worry about.” But as she bowed her head in a nod, Hex got the distinct impression that there was an implied thread of warning behind those simple words. That, however, was how life under Madam’s employment went. One never quite knew when the welcome would wear itself out. She had seen too many students turned away, too many people relegated to life on the streets for the simplest of offenses… and whatever Madam said about the invitation, Hex didn’t imagine it was unwise to be wary of going.
| | |
Still… she went. The day arrived and balancing on a wire of trepidation and excitement, Hex found herself in familiar waters, in the most unfamiliar way. This was not close to the first time she was made privy to the way high society lived. Her job, in essence, was to blend in, to walk alongside the Elite and offer an impression of respectability, of poise and grace. But this was the first time she was facing those things on her own.
Madam’s only stipulations were that Hex should treat the journey as she might any other job and follow House rules. Upon Madam's gentle insistence, Hex wore her traditional Ochaya garb. It was strange, donning the ornate robes and mask outside of the Hanamachi, but in a way, a welcomed design. To the other guests, Hex would be a complete stranger, and it was, perhaps better that way… It did occur that this was Madam's purpose entirely, that social interaction might engender in Hex some notion of escaping the life she had been sold into… but the older woman should have known better. Hex had no desire to leave her home. Not when there was still work to do. Not even paradise could tempt her away from her goals.
On the train, Hex watched the world breeze by in incandescent streaks of color through the eyeholes in the porcelain-like Volto mask, her concentration fixed, despite whatever conversations might be happening around her. The pristine nature of the train was unnerving, sterile and cold, lacking warmth, like so much of the upper class world she walked through nearly daily. Idly, she wondered if Sanctuary possessed that same frigid, unnatural quality.
Not long after she boarded it, the train arrived at their destination and with certain, tempered ease, Hex navigated to the exit. Across marble tile, she moved with purpose and passing through the archway, she approached the receptionist, offering her holocom with a pleasant, albeit perfunctory greeting. From the desk she found her way to the instructed room and stepping inside, she wove through the first few rows of chairs, sparing a casual glance to the girl eyeing the buffet table like a forbidden paramour, before settling into a seat. Gone were the days of wonder and awe for Madam's best student… but she could still appreciate it in others, at least.
“You should eat.” She said, the gentle inflection of her voice slightly muffled beneath the unmoving lips of her mask, “It's all quite good.”TAGS || @Sairento, @CloudyBlueDay
It felt like he was hugging them for the last time. Kol Oberyn held his mother in an embrace almost too hesitant to pull away. This was good-bye, in a way. It was a parting unexpected and almost just as unbearable as the passing in age. They were quite older now, their face holding more lines that weathered their skin and ailments that hunched them over from decades of work at the factory. The invitation should have been for them.
But he could not give it away.
The message from Lyris Matrikt was marked urgent in his inbox and sat for some time before Kol had opened it. An invitation to Sanctuary without reason or explanation. He had gone to his father to check and see if it was junk mail or a scam, but it checked out by what they could figure. It checked out, and he felt a pit form in his stomach.
“I suppose congratulations are in order,” his father had said that day, but they both shared in the solemn quiet. They almost didn’t want to tell his mother, but she took it in stride and helped set things in order for Kol’s departure.
Two days was all he had to truly make up his mind. Despite all his prayers he felt guilty. Why should he be given such an opportunity over everyone else? What made him so special as to win such a prize? There were more far more deserving, and it ate at him even as he pulled away from his mother’s embrace.
Both his parents’ eyes were brimming with tears, though Kol could not hold his own back as strongly. If anything were to happen to them, there was no guarantee he would ever find out. He was not even sure there would be visitations outside of Sanctuary as it was quite an elusive thing. Worst case scenario the message would indeed turn out to be a scam and he could come back home.
“I won’t know about communications until I get there,” he reminded, “so if you don’t hear from me, just assume I got there safe.”
“Take this as a blessing,” his father said. “You’ve been called there for a reason.”
It was the parting words he needed to move him out the door. Each step felt numb as he passed over the threshold and hugged the last few of his friends and family he had yet to say goodbye to. The guilt he carried was chipped away by well wishes and blessings until finally he walked the road feeling featherlight.
The day, while masked by the close quarters industrialization of Takym, still felt bright and sunny in his heart by the time he walked out of town. A new opportunity and a new beginning awaited him, and the concept was one he had discussed in passing with Mr. Laumarau along with change and the economic state of the country. It was, perhaps, his only contact with the Upper Class and the only reason why he was able to make himself look halfway presentable when entering their realm.
All expenses paid for felt strange for a man who spent a lot of mental time carefully budgeting his life. Money determined survival and well-being and how one could travel from one place to the next. He showed the message to employees and conductors at the station hesitantly, unsure if they would actually believe a man of his status would have an invitation to Sanctuary.
But as the message promised, Kol gained access to Skytrain AA02, boarding with a higher echelon of society feeling like a dishrag among fine silk. The doors closed behind him, sealing off the bustle of the station outside to encapsulate him in an off putting quiet.
His whole life was noise. Noise of the city, of machinery and conversation. There was no such thing as quiet in his thirty-seven years even in his sleep. And once within the opulent seal of the skytrain it was then he noticed he had a ringing in his ears that filled the void.
Skytrain AA02 didn’t lurch or clatter as it began its trek. It was a smooth, gradual acceleration as the train glided out from the station to embark on its line. Kol exhaled in a shutter and turned to look out the window, staring, transfixed on the world passing by.
And he let the time pass. He let each second tick on despite his ability to relive key moments of his choosing. It lessened the emotions with moments like this. Turning back time would sully the thoughts that coalesced into the memory of this very moment alone on the AA02. It was a mixture of homesickness, excitement, hesitancy, and a sense of adventure he held onto and allowed to pass.
The Skytrain came to a smooth halt, doors hissing open to reveal the most lavish entryway Kol had ever set sights on. White marble gleamed in a cool tone, veinless and perfect as if to mirror the intention of the place. The soles of his shoes, worn from years of use nearly down to nothing, clapped against the floor, reverberating in the grand space that funneled down a hallway.
A woman at the end looked like a piece of art, sculpted from living marble by the hand of God to display a vision of unsettling beauty becoming the embodiment of the opulence in which she presided like an avatar. He gave her a warm smile, and she smiled politely back in return. But before he could open his mouth and utter a fraction of a syllable, she spoke with a stark and professional air.
“Hold, please,” she said as her fingers danced across the holo keyboard. A low trill indicated a scan of his implant, and within an instant she spoke again.
“Please proceed down the hall to my right to room 509. Big Bux Co. welcomes you.”
“Thank you,” he replied less formally, turning slowly on his heels to the hallway in which she pointed. The professionalism was not something Kol was used to. It felt rigid and cold. It all felt rigid and cold.
He scanned over room 509 as he entered, noting that there weren’t but two others present among quite a number of chairs. It was the table of food, real food, that caught his attention, the honeyed voice of a masked woman encouraging the other to indulge.
“I think I’ve only seen pictures of most of these,” Kol said thoughtfully as he approached the table of food. “Seems they liken to butter us up a bit, but no harm in a bite or two. You’re both here for Sanctuary, yes?”
He smiled over at them and held up a plate. “Want me to bring anything over to you while I’m at it?”
The two-day grace period was an eternity - and far too short all the same.
Moll Rokard’s arms had felt incredibly heavy that fateful moment, even casting aside the matter of the ingeniously folded steel that lined their fibers. The holocomm had been a sisyphean stone, weighing her down with all its impetus and implication. Tantalizing opportunity, inscrutable mystery. Each letter, L-y-r-i-s-M-a-t-r-i-k-t, that she could have sworn pulsed and shifted like some Old-World magicks scrawled upon a tablet. But what weighed heaviest upon her was the simple fact:
This could not possibly be meant for her.
She was a simple woman from the upper-class, with little in the way of speciality or ambition. The special one was the ‘other’, and - yes - she had always been keenly aware of her ‘other’. Like an aura, a silhouette, a shadow, or some ephemeral matter of a past life that leaked from her eardrums and left trails and clues all about. All those faces that she didn’t know calling out to her - ‘her’ her. Archived histories of her ‘other’ on the network. Blurred faces tracking her through implant, claiming parentage, which sounded distressingly similar to claiming ownership. And, finally, the interloping will of Lyris Matrikt, foremost of the pantheon.
Even as the lone reader in an empty room, it had felt claustrophobic.
And yet, there she ended up nonetheless, counting all the blemishes and smudges that she could find on ‘Skytrain AA02’. The final count was None, save for the ones that she had taken upon herself to create, anxious in the face of such titanic perfection. She felt a certain relief in the lack of company, that her awkward ticks would go unnoticed; the restlessness she derived from the spotless wall, the guilt she felt in having then rubbed her fingers against it, both emotions coalescing into some cycle that begged for a merciful end.
Granted, by the doors that opened into the white marble expanse of ’oh, why did I come?’. Unclear. A new playground for her ‘other’, perhaps, some serene grove undisturbed?
She allowed the grove’s immaculate keeper to scan her with all her rout professionalism, measuring her in turn. Uncomfortably perfect, and ostensibly a ‘real person’ - unsuitable for smudging fingers against, despite her ever-growing anxiety. Walking into room 509, Moll nonetheless felt as if she had missed a chance at catharsis, imagining Fright’s porcelain skin giving way to an (unexplainable) underlayer of night-black ink as she ran her finger across it.
She scanned the eyes of the rest, hoping that no one would make out her ‘other’, walking as if attempting to scrunch her body within itself. As for her anxious smudging-fingers, she allowed them to find solace upon the cheese-plate.
The lights greeted him when he awoke. They always did. Some steady, some flashing in rhythmic and hypnotic patterns, he’d long since come to accept their presence. Holo-displays littered the so called skyline, advertising in gaudy and often hedonistic fashion whatever wares or service their financiers happened to be pushing that week. Streetlights cast a pulsing illumination on the streets infinite stories below the holo-ads, making a concerted effort to cut through the haze of the eternal smog before touching down on the concrete below with barely half its original strength. Far above, farther even than the holo-ads, higher even than the tops of skyscrapers, there might have been a patch of sickly gray cloud that looked perhaps a shade or two less gray than those that neighbored it. The smog covered everything, infiltrated everything, casting an impenetrable shade on the lives of all beneath and within it. It blotted out the natural light above; stories of the sun, moon, and stars were still mentioned to the children, on the rare occasion time could be spared for it. All that was left was the artificial, each carrying specific meaning: the holo-ads, for providing the elite that much more financial distance from the upper and lower classes; the streetlights, for reminding those anchored immovably to the street far below, who bore not even a thought of exception or provision from their station and lot in life; and the blinking indication on his holocomm to show that maybe, just maybe, he might find some variety after all.
Mykill Tawmuz had gone to bed earlier than was usual; the 12th had been a particularly busy day. Nothing irked those of richer disposition than to have competition, particularly when that competition was unregulated, and a rather important storage unit of his had needed to be cleared and evacuated before the elite-funded policemen had swarmed in to confiscate the items within. As it was, the Augmenters had lost a fair number of power cells to their greedy hands. It wasn’t an extremely major set back, yet there would be delays. Myk hated delays.
Even the electronic message had been anticipated earlier. Mykill had spent thousands of his personal decas in instilling the right rumors in the right places. Expansion was on his mind; it had been for several months. There was only so much he could do with the local lower class. With the lower class in general. The upper class, maybe even the elite, were ripe for the picking. He’d succeeded with trash; think what he might do with quality parts for his cybernetics? But that entire dream demanded funding, a financier, and as successful as the Augmenters had been, he didn’t have nearly the cash to finance such a brazen endeavor himself. Hence the rumors. Hence the late night conversations with the right people, whispering in the right ears.
Of all the returns to that investment, he’d honestly expected something a bit more concrete.
He sat on the edge of his bed, a cigarette pressed loosely between his lips as he stared out the window through the film. Two days to get the Augers in order. Two days to establish connections between himself and his managers. There was so much to plan for, so many contingencies and variables to anticipate. Things would get done; of that, Myk had no doubt. They’d happen without him. Stretching, he stood from his bed, twitching at the small bit of static that leapt off the steel frame and bit his hand. It bothered him, if he were frank; the Augers ran like a well oiled machine, fine tuned and self sufficient. Had he made himself irrelevant?
As he predicted, arranging management for his absence was a breeze, and Myk was left to whittle away the remaining time. Instead, he did what all too many of the lower class did to escape the stressful drudgery of their ultimately meaningless lives; Mykill got high. And when he boarded the AA02 on the 15th of November, the figures still danced in lines of infinite complexity on the edge of his vision. Managing at least to keep his booted feet under him, the cybernetics dealer stepped across the threshold and into the train car. A chime notified him of the closing doors; he’d only arrived just in time. Placing his own seat in the nearest blue own, Myk set down the old duffle bag between his legs and leaned his head back against the window. There were other aboard, as odd and varied an assortment as he could ever remember having seen, particularly of financial class, but he couldn’t care at the moment. The high was fading, and a throbbing if dull headache was taking its place. He closed his eye, doing his best to filter out that damned buzzing.
He followed the small crowd off the train car, absentmindedly casting an oddly sentimental look of farewell toward his old stomping ground innumerable miles back the way they’d come. Yet it was forgotten in the wake of his new surroundings. Opulence surrounded them, aesthetic apparently without function, and Myk clicked his tongue at the waste. It was one thing to design beautifully, but beauty for its own sake? What was the point?
Ah, but here was beauty with purpose; the receptionist was almost mechanical in her precision and her consistency. As others before him in line did, he held out his arm, proffering the implant. Having been scanned, he carried on, not bothering to offer gratitude. She was paid, presumably; what better gratitude could one get? He continued on, following the receptionist’s directions, and stepped into room 509. It was almost a simple extension of the hallway and the rest of the building, but he couldn’t help wondering at the emptiness set apart from the chairs. His stomach gurgled at the scent of the real food within arm’s reach, but a small bit of paranoia held him back. There were packets enough in his bag to sustain him for a few days yet, certainly long enough to get a feeling as to what this whole ordeal was, and he had no intention of allowing himself to become enamored with the delights of their host. Nor to be poisoned by them.
There was quite the collection of individuals gathering, and this time Myk took a bit more time in assessing them. Three- no, four thus far: a small girl, probably lower class like himself, hesitant, afraid, and apparently useless; a taller woman, perhaps upper class, engaging the child in conversation and masked in a way that tickled a memory he just couldn’t itch; a willowy man, strangely out of place to his eye, and seemingly at perfect ease in spite of his apparent lower class heritage; and a woman of hard physique who in all honesty would probably have little issue dusting most of his Auger toughs. Save for the augments on the latter’s arms, none seemed worth conversing with at the moment. Instead, Myk found a chair three rows back from the ‘front’ and on the outside, on the side nearest the food table. He wasn’t about to broach conversation himself, but far from him to deny it to someone else who wanted it. Electrons leapt from the metal chair as he sat, and he cursed, focusing more of his static into the dispersion unit on his face.
WOULD THIS FACE LIE TO YOU...?Playful fingertips danced across an old 9x9 Rubik's cube, the surface painstakingly marked by dots to correspond with the six colors. The hands seemed to fly around it, probing, touching, prodding its faces as the body they were attached to seemingly ignored them. No, while his hands were quite busy, Obvaerd was enthralled by his surroundings and the world that seemed to whiz by in a green, black, neon blur on the other side of the glass not two inches from his head, a lightning neon strike that never stopped. His eyes were dinner platters, if dinner platters had still stuck around.
AA02. Second only to Lyris Matrikt - reclusive genius, world class enigma - and his own technological chariot.
Obi was used to playing the fool, but no pretense need be put up here. Even to the most jaded, it was a disgustingly lavish ride for a boy well-versed in empty stomachs and sore feet.
As the scenery passed out the window next to him, he thought hard about the reason behind the invitation. Money? No - fat bastards only then. Fat I'm not. Bank account's still too small, even after the Makensky job. Fame? Pft. He chose wrong. Love? Maybe. He's old and going to die one day. Love might be it. Entertainment...?
His hands stalled momentarily as the idea yanked his overactive nerves to a halt. Not for long though. Fly away, fingers.
He remembered his reaction after he'd received that invitation, right in the middle of watching a late-age movie. Carefully, strategically, bursting out of his room to his 'roommates' to shout that he'd won the lottery - that old wives' tale, the poor sucker's dream, that some kind Elite out there just picks someone for fun and gives them money, if only they'd go ahead and give up that coveted barcode so they could dump money into an anemic deca account. The pity in their eyes churned his stomach and riled the beast of pride, but it would explain why he'd suddenly packed up and moved out without further ado, as well as why he dropped the rest of his cash on the landlord to cover breaking lease. His other contacts would need far less reason to wonder what happened to him - that was the nature of the game.
Eat. Be eaten.
He had no reason to think it wasn't like that the further up the chain you go. There were just more steps involved.
The train finally slowed and the lightning streak slowed to show individual signage, though their final destination proved to lack the need for such garish light features.
White marble face, as cold as the adipose god these people worshiped. A temple to distinguished, genteel, idolized fat. His stomach threw complaints upstairs, and he ignored it as he walked forward with his ancient rucksack, torn and frayed in half a dozen places. He walked in with a skip and a bounce, carelessly skidding across the floor in his worn shoes that had long lost their grip. He skidded to a stop in front of the receptionist and pushed his hair back excitedly to say, "Hi! Uh, I'm here for - yeah, that - uh, oh. You want - this?"
The only thing that makes you human? he thought as he held out his wrist, the black ink defining the edges of his existence. He knew she had one too, and that gave him a bit of bitter solace - it defined her just as much. She was no better. His other hand continued to fiddle with the Rubik's cube, the antique paint and plastic crumbling from overuse, despite constant upkeep.
The effect was instantaneous. Stupid, probably went the demigod's brain. Underestimate me, Obi thought fiercely as she gestured to his implant - not the barcode. He leaned forward, obeying.
Scanned, filed in, documented - a fact that made his gut quiver unpleasantly - he was waved ahead, and he entered a room full of others who were... surprisingly a mix. Definitely entertainment, he thought as he stared around the room. A girl who looked more like everyone and no one than anything else. A beanpole masquerading as a man. Mykill Tawmuz - he knew him, as anyone on that circuit (no pun intended) knew the Augers, given the fact he'd fenced to his people, though he'd never actually seen his face. An uptown gal with metal arms. And one of Madam's women.
"What... what is that?" he asked hesitantly with boggled mind and ogled eyes at the plate in front of them, peering around them at the table. Real food. They mean it.
TAGS || @Sairento @Red Thunder @Elle Joyner @Effervescent @Shizuochan \\ code courtesy of Elle Joyner
It was a beautiful day. For the first time in months, the sky was clear, as clear as the persistent smog above the city would allow. The afternoon sun shone bright and silent, bathing the field of artificial grass in a golden haze with its exhausted intensity. The Upper Class air tasted of lilacs, the metallic scent of disinfectant, and sweaty bodies masked under expensive cologne.
And Vice's father was being lowered into the ground.
The grave plot had cost a small fortune. Any land these days were, especially for the dead. He should have let the old bastard burn like the rest of the world. Instead he had spent several years' savings just so his father could be better than everyone else in death, as he was in life. Full circle.
The crowd was dispersing now, the ceremony already ended. Vultures had had their fill, and they were leaving for their nest to digest their prize. There were more of them than he had expected, multiple high ranking officers under his father's direct command, businessmen who were his associates, and even the Commissioner dropped by to say a few words over the body, before hurrying away to more pressing businesses. No family. He was lucky enough for that.
Most of them stopped and spoke to him on their way back, offering fake condolences, fake sadness, fake empathy. No fake tears, though. That was too much even for them. And most of them he answered with nods and thanks and sent them on their way. Eventually their faces blurred into a featureless indistinguishable progression of ghosts.
He felt a firm hand on his shoulder and his Captain's voice in his ear: "Take as much time as you need. We will talk when you get back." The Captain's tone was even, respectful but distanced. Take as much time as you need. Your ticket on the luxury train had expired, and you're down here on the dirty common class car with the rest of us now. Get used to it. He understood that well enough.
The cemetery was empty. He found himself staring at the gravestone, an ugly metallic thing with his father's name lazered across it without much care. A wind picked up, parting his hair to reveal the ragged scar across his forehead and tugging at his suit, pressing it into his skin. He had always hated the thing, just as much as he hated the occasions that forced him to wear it. It was no different now. At least it would be the last time. The air still smelled faintly of lilacs, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out where it was coming from. His cheeks felt wet, and he looked up in surprise, expecting dark clouds and rain. There were none. Vice tasted salt on his lips.
It took most of his strength to peel his eyes off his father's grave and walk away.
_ _ _ _
The AA02 smelled of absolutely nothing. The harsh white light overhead left no room for shadow, just as the muted color palette of the floor, wall and ceiling was unnaturally spotless, a place seemingly outside of time, untouched by all the taint of the world. Miles zipped by in a blur, and the perfect stability of the Skytrain gave the illusion of it being stationary while the world flew by outside. He could see how the Elites could grow to view themselves as gods, this and so much more.
Vice lit a cigarette, took a long drag and started coughing uncontrollably. The smoke was cheap stuff, completely new to him just like the clothes he was wearing, a rumpled shirt with no tie, khaki and a dark coat. Nothing remotely appropriate or fancy, but that was what he was going for. Clothes he had never allowed himself to wear, habits he had never allowed himself to develop, invitations he never would have accepted. In many ways, he was trying to be himself, by being the furthest from who he had been. As soon as the coughing had subsided, he took another pull and held it, testing how it felt on his tongue. Freedom. A new life. Or at least, an attempt at one.
He exited the Train into the marbled courtyard. Its extravagance was distasteful, but expected. He had been here before, once. Another purpose, another life. It was another life, he told himself.
The glass doors slid silently aside into the entrance hall. There were more awards and decoration than the last time he had visited. But of course, the place was made to impress and couldn't fall behind the time. Would they build another hall, he absentmindedly wondered, when this one is filled?
The receptionist wore a mask of perfect courtesy and professionalism, and offered him a polite smile as he approached. Vice felt strangely vulnerable without his own mask. It would take some getting used to. The woman scanned his implant, confirmed his identity and said in an all too cheerful manner: "Welcome back to Big Bux Co., Officer Krmski. Please proceed down the hall to my right to room 509. And please, no smoking in the building.” No smoking of this foul cheap stuff, she meant. He returned her unwavering smile with one of his own, just as empty, and put it out on a nearby ashtray.
There were already others in 509, a couple he didn't recognize, someone he thought he had seen pictures of around the precinct, and one of Madame's girl. That alone burned half of his theories on why Matrikt had invited him. That was bad news, because the other half were farfetched at best, and ridiculous at worst.
Feeling parched, Vice headed for the drinks and nodded in greetings to anyone who looked his way.
In the lower class district on his way to the skytrain station was a man that looked too dapper to be trifling in the streets. And his posture absolutely showed it, his broad shoulders kept back, chin up. He was earning stares from all directions and he didn’t seem to mind.
All this attention had to eventually have consequences. And maybe Linreyus Sephelos liked the attention so much, that he didn’t care about them. So when he turned down a dark street corner, adjusting his watch, it should’ve at least surprised him when three young adults cornered him. Teens, perhaps. They were covered in dirt and their eyes were filled with hunger.
They were quite quick about it, and that was probably the only way they’d managed to catch him. One boy jumped on him from behind, pushing him to the ground and keeping an elbow in his back. This prevented him from manifesting his wings as he writhed on the ground. He could feel the boy on his back grab his wrist, and unclasp the watch.
“It’s my father’s.” Lin muttered, and his face was shoved in the dirt.
“Yeah yeah, shut up.”
“What’s a guy like this doin’ here?”
“Take his bag, X!”
“How dumb do you think I am?” This voice was feminine. Someone he hadn’t seen. The ringleader. The voice continued, speaking to him directly even though his face was still being shoved into the ground. “Alright, how about you count to ten for us, and we’ll be out of your way. Won’t go till ya start counting.”
The tip of a boot pressed into the back of his head, crushing his nose.
Lin spat out some dirt. “One..” He growled. Feet scraped the dirt; the rest of them were running, and the pressure on his back was lifted. Only the boot remained. He kept counting. By the time he had reached five, she had removed her shoe from his face and he could hear her footsteps. “Keep counting.” She called.
When he reached ten the place was silent. Lin picked himself up and dusted himself off, gently touching his nose and assessing the damage. No, not broken. A little scraped, quite dirty. Not broken. He lifted his wrist and sighed.
No watch. No bag. No possessions.
He continued his walk to the station. The ticket man gave him a quizzical look, but allowed him on just fine. The trip on the skytrain was familiarly quiet. He sat with his hands in his lap, trying to ignore the throbbing in his head.
The last piece of his father, gone. He had tried hard to keep up appearances since exile. But this was just a slap in the face. Or rather, a kick. Lin knew this was all a cruel joke, but to have it start even before seeing the son of a bitch was a little over the top.
He stepped off the train and tracked mud shamelessly across the walkway into the building. Big Bux Co. Home sweet home. Amina glowered at him as she scanned his implant.
“It’s rude to stare.” He announced, after heading to the room. “They should really reprogram that.”
With that, he strode into room 509. Lin gave the table filled with food a single, longing glance, but he would not indulge quite yet. Instead, he sat in a chair on the side near the entrance, hopefully away from the rest of the newcomers.
All in due time.
Alive || En Route to Big Bux Co. || Interactions: Ritly Veldasian (@Starlighter), Hex (@Elle Joyner)
"I'll see you over there, Ritly. I have to stop by the warehouse on my way, so I'm going to be leaving now." Touching up her coffee-coloured lipstick, Milkkenbohn smacked her lips in the large mirror at the entrance of her house. The black metallic frame, which she had spent hours making herself, reflected the soft indoors light. While everything outside was neon and holographic, the businesswoman preferred softer lights and colours in her home. They couldn't quite escape it that aggressive aesthetic though, but she hoped the place where they were going had a more elegant design. It was Lyris Matrikt's property, after all.
"Don't forget to lock everything up," she singsonged through the lavishly decorated hall before slipping out the door.
The invitation had come as a surprise, but even more so when her roommate and collaborator of Milky Rye had received one as well. It was probably for the best, at least she'd know one person at the mysterious meeting. For hours she debated about bringing some merchandise to showcase, it was an amazing opportunity to garner more clientele and make her mark in this vile city. After talking about it with Ritly, she had ultimately decided against it - but that didn't mean she wasn't clad in her best clothes and best accessories, all original creations. She had even worked with Ritly in creating something the younger woman could wear. Elegance was her trademark, and she wasn't about to have her business partner dress up like some pop punk girl from last century.
Her heels clicked loudly in the silence of the early morning, and on her way to the warehouse she fantasized about what kind of people would be there. Would Mr. Matrikt only invite upper class citizens? Or would she be put together with lower class rats, lower even than those she employed? The idea was intriguing and she mused about what would make them all so special as be handpicked by the most elite man of Takym, or what made them all so similar that he thought they'd get along in a group.
Milk had laboured for the last two days. The employees were also worked to the bone and despite the accumulation of items she'd transmuted in the past years, she had made a massive increase in production. There was no telling if she'd be gone just a day, a week, a month, or even a whole year. She wanted to be prepared for anything. Thankfully, none of her employees got a similar message from Lyris Matrikt, but one of them confessed knowing someone from the guttermost streets of the city who'd also received an invitation. Milk definitely did not look forward to meeting them.
Once she had triple-checked the instructions left to the warehouse managers, made sure they had her contact information and that of her parents (who had been made back-up assistance in case of emergencies), the immaculately dressed woman headed for the skytrain station. The confidence in her stride was remarkable for someone boarding AA02 for the first time, but it was a product of her upbringing and then of years of practice as she sought financiers for her business. Milkkenbohn was used to putting forth more confidence and assertiveness than she actually felt.
Leaving the baby-blue seats of the AA02 behind and clicking her heels all the way down the pristine hall towards the reception desk, she felt the sweat in the back of her neck as it caught in her hair. Breathe, breathe, she chanted to herself as she neared the porcelain-looking woman behind the desk. The mud tracks barely registered in her mind, but the faint but foul smell of cigarettes made her slightly nauseous.
"I'm here for--"
"Yes." She scanned Milk's implant without even a blink and without more than a half-second look at her face. "Please proceed down the hall to my right to room 509. Big Bux Co. welcomes you." And she returned to her work, seemingly shutting down any further possible conversation.
"Thank you, Ms Fright. Good day to you." Milk nodded politely and flipped her hair delicately over her shoulder. On her way to the door through the exuberantly decorated corridor, Milk took a last look at her outfit. The dark brown linen pants were tight at the legs and reached up above her waist, with wide but shallow pockets lined with rose-coloured satin, and her light pink blouse was loose and tucked in her pants. The neckline was generous without being scandalous, and golden rose necklaces and bracelets stood out as a very chic finish. Her brown curls were tousled in a very specific way and her makeup was light, save for the lipstick.
"Here we go..." She whispered to herself just as she pushed open the door.
There were quite a few people here already, and she immediately categorized them according to class. The masked woman she recognized as a student from some prestigious hooker school, and the larger and muscular woman was amazingly familiar but she couldn't quite put her finger on her identity. There was a handful of lower class citizens, whom despite their best attempts to be properly dressed, stood out like a sore thumb. One man's shoes looked like they deserved to be thrown in a fire years ago. For a short moment it made her sad, the image of her own closet filled with hundreds of different shoes floating in the back of her mind, and she decided that if she were forced to work with him, she'd transmute him a new pair of shoes. Unless Lyris Matrikt had already prepared the poor man some already.
"Hello." Taking in the room full of a strange assortment of people, and the long table filled with real food, Milkkenbohn made her way to the said table and picked a few fruits. She didn't want to overload her plate, but the chance to have real fruits was perhaps a lifetime opportunity and she would not miss it for anything in the world. A low moan of appreciation rumbled out of her throat as she ate strawberries, the sides of her mouth tickling from the sweetness, and before making a glutton of herself she found a seat not too far from the lady with the mask. Intrigued, she swallowed the red fruit and cleared her throat.
"Are you from the Hanamachi? I've never seen any of uhm, Madam's people outside of that district." Milk wanted to ask how she'd been allowed to leave, as from what the rumours from the Flower District said, one simply did not leave Madam's side unless they were on a job or something. It sounded more like an old school cult to her, but it was hard to tell fiction from fact with those kind of people.
tentate.sernom____The morning before the meeting found tentate nervously pacing their apartment, side stepping the copious amounts of pillows and cushions that constantly found their way onto the floor, despite her best efforts. The invitation sat pinned to the front door, taunting and tempting in turn. The chance to work for the richest of the rich was an inconceivable idea to tentate.
____While she had been steadily progressing through better and better security gigs, when not busy with police work,
only once or twice had she been hired by an upper class client. And even then, it had been as protection while traveling through lower class areas of the city. The jump from that to potentially working at Sanctuary was immeasurable. And intimidating.
____For the fifth time in two days, she debated making a quick trip to have her arms recoloured. A refined black, or a clinical white. And for the fifth time, decided against it. The hazard yellow was glaring and menial, but it also had a tendency to evoke thoughts of industrial equipment. Strong, reliable tools. And more often than not, tentate found that that was what employers wanted. Tools, not people. A desire tentate was well suited to meet with first impressions.
____With one final whirring breath, tentate took the invitation from the door and set out to catch her train.
____The receptionist at the desk organically looked as mechanical as tentate did artificially. Out of habit, tentate snapped a picture and filed it away as she walked up. The difference between their clothes was shocking, what looked like real silk compared to what was effectively various forms of recycled plastic.
tentate obediently leaned forward to make her implant easier to reach. Her right eye briefly flashed silver as it caught the light of the scanner, before tentate received the go ahead to proceed to the meeting.
____Her mouth would've watered at the sight of the fresh food, if it had still been capable of such. Instead, tentate forced herself to ignore it and moved towards the chairs. Reminded herself that her best bet for getting this job would be to present herself as a machine. Not to mention, others sometimes found it unsettling when she ate food; the way her face plate folded outwards so she could drop the food inside, and the grinding instead of chewing that followed. Finding a seat near the edge, she stayed standing for now, keeping an eye on the room and filing away more photos of the others present.
12:42 AM, TWO DAYS AGO
“I can’t believe thiiiiiiiis!” Ritly’s high pitched screech ripped through the quiet stillness of the residence. “Yeeeeees!” she whooped, springing up off her bed and twirling around in a lopsided spin, fists pumping the air. Gasping for breath she collapsed onto the floor and began furiously spreading the news to her friends - middle of the night or not, this was news that warranted immediate and prolific sharing.
Life was about to get a heck of a lot more fun.
“Will do boss lady!” Ritly briefly paused by the entry hall to give Milk a quick wave on her way out the door. “Roger roger; this place’ll be locked up tighter than a safe at the bottom of the ocean. See you there in a bit!” The moment the door closed, she turned and skipped up the stairs two at a time. The past thirty-six hours had been a flurry of non stop activity - all the business arrangements that had to be made, explaining the situation to her family, a last minute party she’d thrown together to celebrate a new adventure about to begin... and as a way to take aside her friends to say goodbye.
Therein lay the one thing that slowed her erratic excitement - the uncertainty of whether or not she would get to see any of them again after this.
But Milk will be there. And who knows how many other people besides - for all I know, today is the day I’ll meet some darn amazing folks.
Allowing that thought to lift her briefly dampened spirit, Ritly hummed her way through getting ready. She and Milk had worked together on her outfit for the day - a bit more formal than she usually liked, but this was one occasion where she wouldn’t mind looking the part of a respectable business partner. Her punky nature would have to take a hike this time.
In a few minutes, she was all decked out - long, sleek white pants hanging over low-heeled faux leather boots, a pearly white blouse, and a shimmery silver jacket held with a single, elaborately molded metal clasp. Her fingers and wrist bore the familiar weight of style pieces she was never caught without - heavy yet elegant Alkay Mii rings and bracelet, paired with a more delicate necklace prominently marked by the same brand.
All in all, not too shabby. I think I might actually look respectable. Fabulous.
Whistling a jaunty tune, she snatched up her purse and worked her way through the house to check all the locks before heading out the door. She kept it up all the way down to the station, blocking out the underlying buzz of the city by sheer force of her own exuberance. She flashed a brilliant smile along with the message providing her passage on the AA02, and climbed aboard to make herself at home. Nervousness had no part of taking in the novelty of truly Elite treatment.
When the train came to a flawless gliding stop, she leaned back in her seat with a content smile, enjoying the peace for a few long moments before rising and exiting. Her jaunty tune picked up again as she meandered into the building, head up, shoulders loose and swaying, and a dazzling grin twisting her lips upward. She approached the receptionist with a spring in her step, standing still with barely contained energy while her implant was scanned and the woman repeated her mechanical greeting and instructions.
Briefly, Ritly’s smile flashed wider. “Thanks a bunch, sister,” she said cheerily, spinning on her heel to waltz down the indicated hall to room 509. Milk should be here by now… wonder how many others are hangin’ out…
She stepped past the threshold to see a small gathering beginning to form, and a cheerful greeting sprang to her lips…
… Where it promptly dissolved into a quiet, “Hm.” The life oozed from her expression, and she entered the room more sedately, offering only a slight wave and nod to Milk. The table where the others seemed to be primarily focused briefly drew her attention, but she made a point of avoiding it. She cleared her throat and straightened her jacket, making a b-line for a seat at the end of the front row, as far removed from the rest of the occupants as she could bother to be. She sagged down into her chair, one hand drifting up to press lightly against her temples.
A steady throb ached through her head, dampening her focus and awareness. Of course, of course, this would be a room chock full of metas.
Interactions: Milkkenbohn Eilleosh (@Pahn)
LET THE GAMES BEGIN...“Want me to bring anything over to you while I’m at it?”
Rarely in her life was Hex ever caught off guard. Even without her abilities, she had always been a perceptive person, and very little slipped her attention, so it was a pretty odd occasion that something could surprise her. So when the unnervingly familiar voice filled the gap of silence left by her suggestion to the sheepish young woman who had been eyeballing the food, Hex very nearly forgot herself, turning to face the man at the table. His face wasn't one easily placed, but the voice... there was no denying it was one she knew. And not from her time with Madam. Heart racing for a moment, she considered the possibilities, but in her swirling thoughts they seemed endless...
Suddenly, though, there was a field of faces, as more people entered the room, and her concentration was stolen away... They were faces familiar and unfamiliar - some jarring, while others were perhaps less so. It was interesting to see who their benevolent benefactor had selected for his project, and no doubt, Madam would agree. But what Hex couldn't quite put her finger on... what she didn't fully comprehend, was why them. She was a popular choice among the Hanamachi clientel, but otherwise, she was no one... of little consequences to man of Lyris Matrikt's wealth and stature. And there were some in the crowd who were even less likely to be of benefit to him than herself.
Two, in particular, she recognized from the Hanamachi. The spritely little boy that Madam insisted was a girl (and who could blame her for the length of those lashes), and Myk - who handled a acquiring certain necessary merchandise for Madam's upgrades. They weren't bad, persay, but they were hardly upstanding citizens. She had been suspicious of Madam's motives for allowng her to go, and more suspicious when she'd insisted upon the costume... but Hex understood now what the woman had been doing. No matter the situation, she always seemed one step ahead.
A voice from the crowd caught Hex's attention and she canted her head to see another young woman settling into a seat nearby. Beneath the mask, she smiled faintly, the reflection of it filtering through gaslight blue eyes that watched the woman with bemusement, "Indeed, I am..." She answered, with the same slightly muffled voice, porcelain lips unmoving, "But I assure you, we are free to come and go as we please. Most of us just choose to do so in a less... theatrical manner than this. Special occasions call for special measures."TAGS || Direct: @Pahn | Mentioned: @Sairento, @Effervescent, @Doctor Jax, @Red Thunder, @Umeveryone, @CloudyBlueDay
Sometimes Zuri was just too spoiled for her own good.
At first she had simply ignored the message. It didn’t come at a time convenient enough for her, so she had dismissed it, sending it crashing to the back of her “Read Later” inbox. That night had found her co-hosting a masquerade with her mother at the Mamlaka. When the message popped up on her screen, it was with the barest of glances that she gave it before exiting the screen, just long enough to catch the sender’s first name. Lyris.
“Isn’t that the Packet guy?” Her friend Pxy had said, sloping drunkenly against her shoulder. Zuri had simply shrugged. “Probably not,” She’d replied breezily. Because really, what were the odds? Plenty of people named their children after the elite. They were icons, after all; it was only natural that people would aspire to be them. The likelihood that Lyris Matrikt himself had messaged her was so ludicrous that she spared no further thought for it. No thoughts at all.
Not until she read the message the night before the meeting.
Attention passengers. We are now reaching the final stop. Please watch your step as you exit the train. Thank you for riding with Skytrain!
Zuri turned away from looking out the train window. In the few hours she’d been allotted, she’d managed to get ready fairly well. Her attire for the meeting consisted of a long, white cashmere kaftan that outlined, rather than clung, to her curves. She’d spent a good amount of time deciding between flats and heels, but in the end chose to wear some richly embroidered slippers to comfort her feet. Her only jewelry was two full golden moons dangling from her earlobes, catching the lights of the skyscrapers as she stepped out onto the train platform. A rather simple visage for her, but rich-looking nonetheless. It was just a meeting, after all. No strings attached. Just the way she liked it.
Humming quietly to herself, she pushed through the glass doors of the Big Bux building, stepping daintily onto white marbled floor.
Everything in the venue screamed of opulence. The receptionist herself looked to be carved out of decas. Zuri appraised her with an appreciative eye as the woman scanned her implant. Her eyes missed nothing, not even the silk material of her immaculate attire. Silk, of all things. She didn’t even want to know how many decas that had cost her.
“Thank you,” Zuri replied politely as Ms. Fright directed her down the hall. Her footsteps were quiet against the ground. She wondered how many others had been invited. Dozens? Tens of dozens? Were they chosen at random in yet another silly game the elites liked to play? No, that seemed unlikely; she doubted someone like her would’ve been given an invite. Maybe it was based on their powers? For the hundredth time, she tried to remember what Sanctuary was all about. Some sort of nifty paradise, tucked away in a corner of the world. Eden on Earth again, or so her ex-fiance Mzalta had told her. Curiosity was the only thing that made her come. But like all things, she was sure she would quickly lose interest. Especially in something as gimmicky-sounding as Sanctuary.
Her thoughts stilled as she approached Room 509. Entering the room quietly, she paused, her eyes sweeping over the area.
Zuri did not know what she had been expecting, but this was certainly not it. A mixed party of upper class and lower class citizens was strewn about the grand room, the low hum of conversation filling the room as they mingled. How she knew which were lower and which were upper was an asinine question. The gaunt cheeks and drab clothing was a dead giveaway for the few poor souls who’d been invited. Most of them seemed to watch the buffet table like starved wolves. But no one dared touch it.
Pitiful. A snort escaped her.
Zuri was not shy by any means. Shrugging past the bags of bones eyeing the food lustfully, she plucked up a saucer from the end of the table. If she was going to be there awhile, she would at least eat her fill while there. God only knew how long the meeting would drag on. You never knew with the elite. Most of them liked the sound of their own running mouths. Scooping up the assorted food with gusto, her plate quickly filled to the point of nearly spilling over. Case in point: she snatched a mango slice just as it tumbled off the side, throwing it promptly back on top.
The drinks were situated on another shorter table abutting the opposite wall. Another attendee was already fetching himself a drink by the time she came by. A tall man of thin frame dressed formally in a dark and gloomy suit. Maneuvering around the taller man with ease, Zuri set her plate down and reached for a cup, casting her associate a sidelong glance. It was only then that she recognized the him. Her face slowly smoothed into one of disbelief as her eyes took in the sight of none other than Officer Vktr Krmski.
“My my my.” She did not bother to hide the surprise in her voice. “An officer of law here as well? I feel safer already.”
Officer Krmski, indeed. Soon to be Sergeant Krmski if she’d read her sources right. She heard that some people called him Vice, for whatever reason. She herself had never bothered with it. Nicknames didn’t get you into much coveted crime scenes. Overt flattery and bribes did. And every once in a while, a swish of the hips, for the cops who thought they could handle a woman like her. Being a P.I. meant sometimes traipsing around in restricted parts of towns, areas that she could only get in with police access. The last job she’d done had revolved around the murder of some non-meta upper class citizen in the streets of Takym’s underbelly. An upper class citizen, mind you. Needless to say, security had been so tight around the crime scene that Zuri had a hell of a time trying to sneak in. It was Krmski who had finally agreed to let her in, on one condition.
He'd had a proposition for her.
Zuri assessed the police officer quietly as she reached for a pitcher of water. His expression was always hard to read in the few moments she’d been around him. She could not tell if he was uncomfortable at being there, or if that was just a modification of his general, everyday expression. A slight, discomforted scowl.
Not that she cared. After filling her cup with water, she hoisted her large plate of food in one hand and the cup in the other. Her eyes flew back up to meet the cop’s inscrutable gaze.
“It’s a nice mixed crowd here, don’t you agree? I wasn’t expecting lower class citizens to be here.” She sipped her water idly, eyeing him all the while. It was the blandest thing she could have said to him, but it was all she could think of. She hadn’t been expecting to see him so soon. Picking at the food at her plate, she watched him carefully as she waited for his reply.
Waiting to see if he would bring up the issue lying between them.