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  • The Socialite's New Clothes IC

     mercy updated 9 months, 2 weeks ago 2 Members · 96 Posts
  • mercy

    Member
    April 18, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Edgewater Home of Kagana-gumi Oyabun, Seattle[/B]

    Tanya and her companions finish up in the room and head down to the lobby via the pseudo-rickety lift, emerging into the spacious room. A man in the uniform of the Gates Hotel is standing in the lobby as if waiting for them and Tanya walks up to him, giving him kisses on his cheeks. “Good afternoon, Frederick. You are looking well. How is your wife and that strapping son of yours?”

    The man smiles as he takes the garment bag from Monique. “They are doing just fine, thank you, Miss Marisart. Wilma is always after me to invite you back for another dinner, and Klaus is doing quite well at school, but then I imagine you already know that since he told me that he was talking with you just a couple of days ago.”

    Monique laughs. “You are so busted, Mademoiselle. Merci, Frederick, thank you for coming out to pick us up.”

    The man almost blushes as he looks at Ichante and nods. “Good afternoon, Miss. The car is this way.”

    He leads the three women out of the hotel where they see a shiny Mistubishi Nightsky sitting at the curb. The driver opens the trunk and puts the garment bag in before opening the door to the spacious passenger compartment. He helps each women in before closing the door and walking around to the front driver’s compartment. Tanya gives him the destination and if he is familiar with the address, he does not let on as the large auto glides almost noiselessly from the curb.

    The ride is smooth and silent. Monique offers the others a drink from a selection of fruit juices, but is otherwise as quiet as the ride. The car pulls up to its destination and the driver lowers his window to identify himself and his passengers. Although there are three obvious guards near the gate, Tanya’s sensors pick out eight more within their range. She sits quietly and calmly as the guard checks their identities and smiles as the crash barriers are lowered and the car is allowed to enter the compound. Tanya looks at Ichante as the car wends its way through an artfully designed drive, heading for the large house in the near distance.

    The welcoming committee at the front steps is impressive. No fewer than six Yakuza hard men are arrayed behind three other men. The soldiers are all wearing tailored suits that cleverly disguise any weapons they might be carrying, but all of their suits combined would not cost what the central figure is wearing. One of the two men standing next to the central figure steps forward to open the passenger door, assisting the three women from the car, which pulls away to a large parking area.

    Tanya approaches the steps, stopping a specific distance from the man in the center. The two exchange bows to each other and some words in cultured Japanese. Tanya motions with a hand and Monique steps forward, holding a very nice attache case. She expertly balances the case and opens it facing the man. Tanya motions to the case and there is another exchange of words and some more bows. At Tanya’s nod, Monique closes the case and hands it over to the man on the right. Tanya then motions to Ichante to approach closer and introductions are made. “Inoue Tanaka, I have hired a new guard since last we met. Her name is Ichante and she has proven to be quite resourceful in my employ. Ichante, I would like to introduce you to Inoue Tanaka, the oldest son of oyabun Shitomo Tanaka.”

    The central man bows to Ichante. “I am sure that the pleasure is mine. You must be talented indeed to have come to the attention of Miss Marisart. You are welcome in our home.”

    The pleasantries out of the way, Inoue motions for Tanya to walk beside him as he turns to go up the steps to the front entrance of the house. The two men that had been by him take up positions just behind them, with Monique and Ichante coming up behind them.

    41

  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 19, 2019 at 3:48 am

    [color blue]Ahh, am I supposed to speak?![/color] Ichante finds herself wondering. [color blue]Do I express appreciation for the compliments and greeting? Or do I just keep my trap shut?[/color] She decides on the latter, bowing deeply but remaining silent, guessing that conservative traditionalists probably don’t want to hear from the bodyguards, especially if they’re women.

    Once the greeting ceremony is complete, Ichante quickly glances around in the astral. She spies two air spirits standing guard over the manor. Another two water spirits patrol the perimeter, although they spend a great deal of time staring at Ichante. She tries to suppress a shudder, as she does not get along with water spirits. She always figured that it was just an astral manifestation of her physical fear of water, but whatever the cause they tend to single her out.

    None of the Yakuza hard men are Awakened, but Inoue Tanaka has so many anchored and quickened spells layered on that he glows like a spotlight on the astral. She sees a great many detection spells, likely to alert Inoue of danger. There’s one spell that recognizes hostile intentions that she’s always meant to learn herself, but she never found the time to learn it. She resolves to study it soon.

    <<Is this channel safe or do we need to presume that they’ll be monitoring our communications?>> Ichante comms Tanya.

    The procession escorts them inside, with the women encircled by the guards. Ichante doesn’t like the feeling of potential threats to her rear, but that was just how it was going to be for the next half hour.

    The foyer of the house is slick with shiny marble floors and columns. Some of the artwork that Tanya mentioned is prominently displayed for the appreciation of any guest that makes it past the front door.

    <<Why Ming pottery and Han jades?>> Ichante asks Tanya. <<Why Chinese artwork instead of Japanese? Or is this a bit of ‘frag you, we own your history’ to his rivals? Does he tangle with the Triads?>>

  • mercy

    Member
    April 19, 2019 at 7:49 am

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Edgewater Home of Kagana-gumi Oyabun, Seattle[/B]

    Tanya receives Ichante’s first message just as they are entering the house. >>This channel is safe for us to use, but I would be cautious.<<

    The foyer is tastefully decorated in the style of an ancient Japanese stronghold, with a full suit of armor prominently displayed in the center of the room. A dark wooden stand at the feet of the armor holds two samurai swords, one longer than the other. Other artifacts from one time period or another are visible from where Ichante and the others stand. Two tall and exquisitely carved curio cabinets hold several of the Chinese items that Tanya has mentioned. >>Several reasons, actually. One, these pieces are very beautiful. Two, they are also very expensive. Three, Yes, the Tanaka’s like to rub the noses of certain Chinese officials in the fact that they have a very nice collection of their history. And, four, yes, again. There is some bad blood between the Kanaga-gumi and the Triads here in Seattle and abroad.<<

    As they pass through the foyer, the group is met by two very pretty young women in traditional Japanese garb, who bow low to Inoue and Tanya then move to where Monique and Ichante are standing, bowing again. >>These women will take you to where you are to wait for the meeting to conclude. You are doing very well, so far. Thank you.<<

    As Ichante watches, Tanya, Inoue, and the man with the attache case walk on through a set of wood and paper doors. Just before the doors close, Ichante sees that the room contains a table that is short to the floor, with several cushions placed about it for people to sit on. The man with the case takes it to the table and places it before a man that is probably the oyabun and leaves. A touch on her sleeve from Monique gets Ichante’s attention and they follow the two women through the foyer into another room.

    The soft tinkling of a light breeze through a wind chime mingles with the gentle babbling from a small stream of water that courses through the room. Small bonsai trees sit on polished wooden stands at strategic locations but the entire effect is meant to be pleasing to the senses. The two women are shown to a small table with a tea service already laid out, the pot steaming. A small selection of Japanese delicacies is arrayed artfully on a platter. One of the Japanese women bows then pours tea before both of them withdraw, leaving Monique and Ichante alone in the room.

    42

  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 20, 2019 at 1:56 am

    Ichante finds herself alone with Monique in a house surrounded by security that’s not entirely hostile but not entirely cordial either. Her eyes dart around the room, trying to locate escape routes. It’s better than being trapped in, say, a jail cell, or on Zurich-Orbital, but it’s still a daunting situation.

    Ichante’s stomach rumbles despite herself. Having skipped the bowl of noodles, she is now hungry, and the tea service and Japanese delicacies are inviting.

    <<It would probably be rude to poison us, would it not?>> Ichante comms Monique rhetorically. Her hand darts out and she grabs a small piece of daifuku, a tiny cake made with a piece of soft mochi wrapped around shiro-an, a sweetened white bean paste. It’s small, white, a delicious and Ichante almost immediately snatches a second one, pink this time. That one turns out to be ichigo daifuku, made with red bean paste and a whole juicy strawberry.

    Ichante suppresses a happy groan, then reaches for genmaicha tea, which is just as good as the pastries. Unable to restrain herself, Ichante then reaches for dorayaki, two small pancakes filled with sweet azuki red bean paste. As expected, it is excellent.

    Chewing, Ichante is left to thoughtfully consider her surroundings and her own ambitions. The view is lovely, certainly. The food is excellent, but as a chef herself what she really appreciates is the variety and the novelty of new dishes. The art and furnishings… those don’t have as much value to her. Ichante is an artist herself and feels that she would surround herself with her own creations, not someone else’s, no matter how old or prestigious. The security would be a chore, and quickly a bore. She wonders where that leaves her in terms of goals. Where can she live with a good view and good food, but not have it be a gilded cage? She doesn’t want the things she owns to end up owning her.

    <<Of all the trappings of wealth, which do you find the most valuable?>> she comms Monique as she sips some more tea.

  • mercy

    Member
    April 20, 2019 at 9:29 am

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Edgewater Home of Kagana-gumi Oyabun, Seattle[/B]

    Ichante is not alone in her eating of the small snacks set before her, although Monique seems unsure of what to take as she passes her hand over the entire selection before settling on a few. Monique happily takes a few of the delicacies onto her plate and sits back, munching and sipping tea. >>It would indeed be incredibly bad form to poison us. Besides, it would need to be some truly exotic poison to get past the sniffer I am using. We keep our updated with the latest information we can get. I know, it’s sort of cheating, but it does help keep us safe.<<

    The two women sit in silence for a bit, each lost in her own thoughts. Monique seems to be quite comfortable and relaxed in the situation. She does nod thoughtfully at Ichante’s question and her response comes quickly. >>Without any doubt at all, the greatest wealth lies in friendship. The sort of friendship where you just know without talking about it that each of you would lay down your life for the other. Anything else is just like wrapping paper on a present, nice on the outside but easily torn and ultimately disposable. That is the relationship I share with Tanya. We were both lost when we met. She was trying to recover from a horrific accident and months of surgery and I had just fled Paris for London after murdering my mother’s thug of a boyfriend, or pimp I suppose you could call him, after he raped me to “break me into the trade” as he put it. I was fifteen and a good pickpocket already, but London was strange and I knew little English. I was doing alright, enough to live in a flop, most nights, anyway, and buy a bit of food, but I was sure that the fences were taking advantage of me. I used to hang out around social venues, like concerts and such, nothing really too fancy as my clothes would not fit in. I saw Tanya stumbling away from a smallish concert and tried to pick her pocket. She caught me. She was stumbling from pain, not from too much to drink. Anyway. she was between caregivers at the time and offered me the job. It seems that her cousin tried to keep her on a short leash by choosing her caregivers and keeping her drugged on pain meds. She had been through seven people in less than two years due to nightmares and flashbacks that would leave her screaming and thrashing about. I took the job and have never wished that I had not. Tanya is a special person, tough and confident on the outside but still a bit frightened on the inside. I am here to take care of her and I will do so until my last breath. What you have seen, and perhaps read or heard, of her charity work and social exploits is just the tip of who she is. We have been rich and we have been poor and every strata of wealth in between. We are not lovers, we are closer than that. The only trapping of wealth that I really value is her and everything else is just wrapping paper. I hope that answers your question?<<

    43

  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 21, 2019 at 2:04 am

    Ichante reflects on Monique’s answer. It’s a heavy story, in many ways much heavier than Ichante’s own. It makes her pensive.

    <<I confess that I meant the question more literally, but I thank you for your openness and transparency. I was thinking more along the lines of ‘once your basic needs are met, what’s the best thing to spend money on?’>>

    <<Your chem sniffer is a good example. The answer I’ve settled on up to this point has been ‘medical care’, but surely a gram of prevention is worth a kilo of cure. Perhaps I rely too much on my dwarven constitution in that regard. A chem sniffer ring and chem detect nail polish would be prudent for me.>>

    She takes a sip of tea and wonders if she’ll be hunting through Pike Place Market for it later, to great expense.

    <<My long-suffering financial adviser tells me that I spend too much on food and clothes. I always figured that if I [i]had[/i] to eat and if I [i]had[/i] to wear clothes, then they might as well be good. But now I’m starting to call that into question.>>

    She eats another pastry and thinks some more.

    <<How often do these meetings take? Is this highly ritualized? Are we going to be here this afternoon? Or are they quick and efficient, like one would expect of a Japancorp?>>

  • mercy

    Member
    April 21, 2019 at 5:57 am

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Edgewater Home of Kagana-gumi Oyabun, Seattle[/B]

    Monique looks over at Ichante as she sips more tea. >>I am sorry if I have not answered your question properly. I am afraid that I have never really thought much about the sort of thing I would spend money on first, after basic needs have been met. I am paid exceptionally well by Tanya and truly want for nothing. I suppose I could say a modern, well stocked kitchen, as I love to cook. But I really place little value on material things anymore. Now, back when I was fifteen and starving in London’s side streets? Yeah, I probably had lots of things on that list. But now, after being with Tanya for the last twenty years? Not so much.<<

    Monique chuckles a bit at Ichante’s last question and reaches for another of the small snacks. >>The length of the meeting depends on what the oyabun wants and how long they negotiate to get to the final price. Tanya is pretty sure that he has a specific goal in mind, so I would not expect them to take too long getting to the meat of the issue…………………..aha, we are receiving a message from Tanya now.<<

    Tanya’s message is short and to the point. >>Mission accomplished. We will wrap up in here in abut five minutes. Try to save a couple of the ichigo daifuku for me in your purse.<<

    44

  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 21, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Ichante thought that Monique, having come from privation, might have more interesting insights as to the value of money, but Monique’s introspection seems to begin and end with Tanya. That’s a testament to Tanya’s force of personality, perhaps, how she keeps people in her orbit. Ichante wonders if that process is underway with herself.

    Then Ichante is left to wonder what the oyabun of a powerful Yakuza gumi would want from Tanya, a socialite who seems to dedicate her ample free time and resources to those less fortunate than herself. Perhaps the oyabun has decided that he is one of those unfortunates who would benefit from Tanya’s largess. The greedy bastard. What else could he want for? A new concubine? One of Tanya’s socialite friends? Lady Marisart herself, another trophy to show off to his opponents?

    Upon receiving Tanya’s message, Ichante quickly palms several ichigo daifuku with a deft twist of her hand. She is perhaps not so skilled as Monique in her prime, and the swift move is perhaps unnecessary given that nobody else is competing with them for the sweets, but they quickly disappear up her sleeve all the same.

    “I’m popular at children’s parties,” she explains. “A bit of hocus pocus, a bit of misdirection, a bit of sleight-of-hand.”

    She stands from the floor and puts herself in a position to ostensibly protect the principal, once the principal reappears.

  • mercy

    Member
    April 21, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Edgewater Home of Kagana-gumi Oyabun, Seattle[/B]

    Monique chuckles at the comment as she stands with all the grace of a cat. “I am sure you could be the hit of the party.”

    The paper doors glide open and two women appear, one moving to clear the table while the other motions to the doorway. As the two women leave the room, they are met by Tanya, who smiles at them and nods. “I trust that you were well taken care of.”

    Inoue bows to all three women and motions to the front door. “I am sure that there will be no complaints. If so, I will kill one man for each one. It has been a pleasure.”

    He escorts the three out of the house and out to where the limousine is waiting. After a few more bows and pleasantries, all are in the car and it moves away from the house to the street. Tanya looks at the other two once they are past the guardhouse. “The missing supplies will be delivered tomorrow and future deliveries will be guaranteed for nine months at a very minimal toll. The oyabun was very apologetic that any of his people were involved and wanted to present me with some severed fingers as a show of good faith. I accepted. Now, to business. They want something special for this favor and I can get it for them, but it requires a trip to Japan.” She looks directly at Ichante before continuing. “I am sure that your magics were quite helpful. How do you feel about a trip overseas?”

    45

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  mercy. Reason: Added some addition sentences at the end
  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 22, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    [color blue]There it is,[/color] Ichante thinks to herself. [color blue]Do I fall into orbit around Tanya, like Monique? This rich, gilded orbit? Or do I chart my own course?[/color]

    Over the last month there has been something welling up inside of Ichante, something pulling her out of her old self. Prior to Texas, she wanted Tanya’s life of food and fashion. Now she wants Tanya’s life of… caregiving? It’s such a foreign sensation that she almost dismisses outright.

    “Hold,” Ichante says, her hands up and palms out.

    “I’ve seen the trids, where metas are just as common on the streets of Neo-Tokyo as they are in Seattle. But up until I was a teenager they were still ‘quarantining’ metahumans on Yomi Island. And I know the Japanacorps traditionalists are still stewing at Emperor Yasuhito’s populist agenda. It never seemed like a safe place for someone like me.”

    [color blue]And yet, I can look like whomever I want…[/color] But still the objections come.

    “I’ve had chummers go and say that every time they looked up, they saw aerial patrol drones scanning faces. On the astral, omnipresent spirits watching you all the time, sniffing for any hint of magic. They’re always watching in a way that makes Seattle’s surveillance look like a drunk parent who fell asleep watching the trid. Gave my chummers the creeps; they felt like they could be stopped for ‘driving while gaijin’ at any time.

    “I have a dress to make and an orphanage to visit to this week. I can’t say that visiting Japan and putting myself under the microscope was high on the To Do list.”

  • mercy

    Member
    April 22, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Edgewater Home of Kagana-gumi Oyabun, Seattle[/B]

    Tanya considers Ichante’s responses carefully before nodding. “We have plenty of time before you need to make a decision on this. I have some serious planning to do, to include new IDs and papers, plus other arrangements. I still have an obligation for the Saturday after this, plus taking you to the farm tomorrow, getting fitted for a dress, going with you to the orphanage we were at today this Saturday. All in all, I cannot just pick up and leave. If you do decide to come, please consider the time I will need to get you new papers. The oyabun is willing to let us use the Yakuza as a cover and I am thinking of taking him up on that.”

    She purses her lips and nods again. “Yes, I have seen firsthand the treatment of metas in the larger cities of Japan and have had to move under their extreme surveillance. I think that the disguises will be good enough to get us past the routine stuff, but there is, of course, no real guarantee. In the end, it is your choice as to going or not.”

    46

  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 25, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Ichante finds herself oddly persuaded. Then she shakes her head a bit to drop the sustained spell, so that she’s not being bamboozled by her own magic.

    [color blue]New IDs?[/color] Ichante thinks to herself with a quizzical look. [color blue]Using the Yakuza as cover? Why in the world would that be necessary? How in the world would that work? She’s awfully, you know, Anglo…[/color]

    It all smells off. Ichante’s mind races, wondering if this is some giant put-on. [color blue]Who have I pissed off recently? Everything is suspicious, but it seems far too elaborate to be a trap. A dragon might get this intricate, but I haven’t run against Saeder-Krupp recently. Aztechnology might be unhappy about Texas, but I hardly see this as the way they’d respond.[/color]

    No, she’s left to conclude that this (probably) isn’t a trap, but that doesn’t meant that she understands what’s really happening.

    “Let me think about this,” she says. “Let’s head back downtown for now. We’ll do the farm tomorrow.”

  • mercy

    Member
    April 26, 2019 at 1:24 am

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Seattle[/B]

    Tanya remains quiet fir the first couple of miles then turns to Ichante. “I am sensing some sort of doubt in you. Do you want to talk about it? I think that the truth lies inn how much you want to know about what I do.”

    47

  • Tecumseh

    Member
    April 26, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    [color blue]What you do?[/color] Ichante wonders, still perplexed. [color blue]Buy clothes? Go to parties? Donate money?[/color]

    Her mind races to alternate possibilities. She wonders about the low Essence of Tanya’s aura. [color blue]Oh, spirit, she’s not a bunraku puppet, is she? Or some high-priced courtesan?[/color] She starts doing the math for how long Tanya was actually with the oyabun. and how it compares to the average duration of an intimate male-female encounter.

    “I don’t want to talk about it yet,” Ichante answers. “We haven’t known each other 24 hours at this point. I’m a slow burn so let’s pace ourselves. I can tell that life with you is interesting – she thinks back to her transdimensional experiences in Texas – “but it might be more interesting than I have an appetite for at the moment. I’m already processing some recent developments with my Talent. I need some time to figure out my place on the planet. Maybe Japan’s the perfect place for that, maybe it’s the worst place for it. As I said, let me think about it.”

    Ichante settles into her seat and stares out the window at the city rushing by on a Monday afternoon. All of this came from a call out-of-the-blue yesterday around this time. She can tell her life is threatening to jump off the rails again. Or was that just her resisting change and growth? [color blue]I need some Psyche,[/color] she thinks to herself. [color blue]Get smart, get detached, figuring things out from an objective position.[/color] She checks the hour; she still has enough time to drop a tab of Psyche and have it wear off in time for bed tonight. Then she’ll get up in the morning with greater clarity, or so she hopes.

    She stays quiet the rest of the way back to Seattle.

  • mercy

    Member
    April 26, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Seattle[/B]

    Tanya nods at Ichante before sitting back in the plush seat. She folds her hands on her lap and closes her eyes, projecting a sense of peace and tranquility. Inside, her mind is already going over the information provided by the Tanakas and she send a message off to her matrix consultant. >>Rose, love, Tanya here. I need some reference work on a Japanese statuette. The official name of the piece is “Whispering Wind” and the more common one is “The Tanaka Steed”. I will be looking at the common sources of information but need you to dig as deep as you can. The statue is a family heirloom of the Tanaka family, apparently dating to before the time of the Shoguns. It was lost in the closing months of 1945, during the firebombing of Tokyo. Standard rates apply. I would like what you can get for me within two weeks and we can go from there if I need more. Ciao, love.<<

    She smiles a bit when Rose responds almost immediately and Tanya sends over what information she was provided by the Tanakas. Her next message is to her antiquities smuggler and fence. >>NiNi, dear, Tanya here. I am looking at getting a present for the oyabun of the Kanaga-gumi. It is the family artifact, The Tanaka Steed. I will need a good reproduction in my hands within the next two weeks. There are plenty of old pictures in the public domain of what it looks like. Can do?<<

    The limo drops Ichante off where she indicates and Tanya leans out of the open door. “Where do you want to be picked up at tomorrow? Remember, we are going to a working farm, so wear clothing you do not mind getting muddy.”

    48

  • mercy

    Member
    May 8, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    [B]Monday Afternoon, March 7, 2078, Suite U3A, Gates Undersound Hotel, Downtown, Seattle[/B]

    Once again home, Tanya showers and slips into comfortable lounging clothes before going to the living room. Sitting on the large couch in front of the fireplace, She brings up an AR console and pushes some buttons. A panel of the wall above the fireplace silently glides to one side, revealing a large trideo screen. Tanya quickly calls up the information provided to her by Tanaka and reviews it while setting her search programs to look at any public information available about the statuette and its relationship with the Tanakas.

    Curling her legs under her in that motion that only women seem able to do, Tanya settles in a few hours of research. She has already set in motion the plans to create a good forgery of the item, in case she needs one to replace the real one when she locates it and knows that Ni Ni will do her best to get what Tanya needs.

    Monique sits next to her on the sofa, taking in the information as well. She gets up several times to bring drinks and snacks for the two of them.

    49

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