Jungle Drums IC

  • Jungle Drums IC

    Posted by mercy on July 19, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Alyce receives very little guidance from the Old One before he leaves the room, which seems to serve as a signal for the others to leave as well. Before long, she is left alone in the room with only her Hell Hound and her thoughts to keep her company. Reaching down, she absently scratches at the head of her massive companion. “Looks like a trip to Bogota for us, Alfie. Cannot pretend I know all that is going on, and I believe the Old One is keeping something back, but I have been given a task.” She chuckles. “At least part of a task. I need to contact Bridgitte and see how far along she is in the planning. I might need to get some people added to her expedition crew. Now, who do I know that might be available…………………….”

    For the next few hours, her solitude is broken only by an occasional servant bringing the two of them something to eat or drink. The truth be known, only part of her mind was on the task at hand while the rest was focused on Al. She realizes that her attempt to remain aloof and apart has proven to be a complete failure so far. Still, she has made a start to try to distance herself from her emotions when he is around. She composes and deletes several texts to him, finally deciding to just let things be, reasoning that he is probably very busy planning his trip to Boston and would not appreciate yet another interruption from her at this point. Instead, Alyce reaches up to the Orthodox cross at her neck and opts to send a prayer to God to help Al stay safe, then her fingers clutch at the carved idol next to the cross and she implores with the voodoo Loas to do what they can to protect the man she loves.

    By mid afternoon, Alyce has worked out a sort of plan and makes a call. >>Xander, Alyce here. How are you and the wife doing? The last photos I have show me that my god-children are growing like weeds.<<

    The huge troll’s deep voice comes across to Alyce’s implanted ‘link. >>Doc. It is nice to hear your voice. They are indeed. Both of them already dwarf their mother, but she manages to keep them in line. Me, too. Did you want to talk to her?<<

    >>In a bit, yes, but right now I need to know if you have a few minutes to talk?<<

    >>For you, Doc, I always have a few minutes. What do you need?<<

    >>I have something to do down in the Aztlan and Amazonia area, starting in Bogota and heading south. Are you and your brother available to come with me?<<

    There is a bit of silence on the other end. Xander might be a troll, but he is far from a stupid one. >>I see. You would not be calling me if this was not dangerous. When?<<

    Alyce experiences a sense of relief at that one word. >>I am on a flight out of London to Bogota tonight. I am arranging for licenses and fees for me and can do the same for you if you let me know what you will be bringing. The expedition’s organizer has deep pockets, but I want you working for me on this so let me know your current rates.<<

    >>Doc, you know I would go anywhere with you for free, right? So why ask that question?<<

    It is Alyce’s turn to be silent for a bit. >>Thank you Xander. Send me your list and I can make arrangements for you to get to Bogota. Now, let me talk to your long-suffering wife.<<

    Xander laughs. >>I think you got the suffering down wrong, Doc. You created a monster out there in Cambodia. A monster I love with all my heart, but she is clearly the alpha in this household.<< He lowers his voice. >>I am afraid of her, Doc, she hits me all the time.<<

    Alyce hears a woman’s voice in the background. >>Xander? Is that Alyce? I am not deaf, you know, and you don’t know how to whisper. I can hear you saying all sorts of bad things about me. Give me that thing before you have my reputation completely besmirched.<<

    The troll laughs and tells Alyce that he will get a list together and call his brother, then hands the phone off and the two women spend a nice half hour catching up.

    The second call is to Brigitte to let her know what she was doing and to finalize arrangements to get her to Bogota.

    mercy replied 4 years, 10 months ago 7 Members · 793 Replies
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  • mercy

    July 21, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Alyce nods to herself as she passes the exit back into the Overworld. A raft of messages has been sent, received, and then more sent. Her mutated mind is working overtime and allowing her drones and the Hell Hound to watch over her body. She barely hits the sidewalk when a large auto pulls up and Stephanie opens the passenger door, stepping out to assist her mistress into the rear compartment with Alfie, sliding in herself after the others are settled. The glow from Stephanie’s tablet lights up the inner compartment as the two women cover the progress of the plans Alyce is making. Time might be short, but working the matrix is child’s play to Alyce and Stephanie has proven to be a wonder at managing the myriad tasks tossed her way.

    Alyce’s enhanced senses detect a bit of wiggle in her personal assistant and she pauses in her message traffic. “OK, out with it. What is so important?”

    Stephanie grins and enters some data on her pad and passes sends it off to Alyce, who gasps. “Really? Oh, Stephanie, that is bloody fantastic. I had thought that such licenses took months or years.”

    Stephanie nods. “They do, but you have powerful friends in the Home Office. Powerful enough to get an orphanage license set up in record time.”

    Alyce tries to stifle her tears but cannot. “Those poor kids we brought out of that horrible place will finally have a home. A real home instead of us having to dodge the law over it. Please have Richard get moving on getting the construction added onto the house.”

    “He is already on it. The supplies have been in place for two weeks now, just waiting.”

    Alyce frowns. “Two weeks? So you started moving stuff in as soon as I left for London. Well kept secret, Stephanie. I may have to give you two a raise. But I sense there is more.”

    Stephanie nods silently, knowing that her mistress can “see” that with her sensors. She sends another block of data over to Alyce, who reads the information and breaks into a real smile. “Rhea Kyn. I did not really expect that she would be available.”

    “Like I said, Alyce, powerful friends. Oh, and I am a bit knocked up.”

    Alyce almost missed the last comment………….almost. She looks up at her friend and associate and the two share hugs and tears of happiness. “When is it due?”

    “About eight months, give or take. Given who his father is, it is likely to be a stubborn runt and either want to stay inside a bit longer or slide out early.”

    “Congratulations to both of you. I guess I will have to work you harder for the next few months.”

    Stephanie laughs and nods and the two get back to work.

  • mercy

    July 22, 2017 at 12:37 am

    The big limousine pulls up to a private section of Heathrow and is stopped at a security gate. Two uniformed guards approach the car and the driver lowers his windshield. From the rear compartment, Alyce sends some of her drones flitting out through an opened window to scout ahead of her car. Some of her other sensors are already telling her part of what is going on. Bright lights from an open hangar and several tall poles reveal the large body of a Dassault Sea Sprite long range transport airplane. Several forklifts and a platoon of men are scurrying about to get the pallets of supplies and equipment on board and two large transport trucks are nearly emptied of their cargoes. The predominant language spoken by those working in the area seems to be Russian.

    The security guards approaching the auto appear alert as they ask for the identification of those inside the car. SINs and personal appearances are checked against a list on a tablet the lead security man refers to. When done, the man smiles and waves the car through the checkpoint, raising a ‘link to his mouth as it passes him. Four men and two women are walking from where they had been observing the loading procedures to where the car pulls up to park. The doors of the limousine pop open and one of the men reaches in to assist the ladies out. Alyce grins at him and they bus cheeks. “Vasily Gregorevich, I am so pleased to see you. How is your family/”

    The man shrugs. “They are doing well, my old friend. My wife sends her regards, as do my superiors.” He turns to the man near him and motions him forward. “I would like to introduce you to Viktor Mikaelivich. He is on loan from EVO and will be acting as your surveillance lead. Viktor, this is Alyce Krait”

    The new man bows low to Alyce. “I am honored to meet you, Doctor Krait.”

    The first man next motions to one of the two women who is already moving to embrace Alyce. “Rhea Kyn. I am so glad to see you. How did you get them to cut you loose for this?”

    The tall elven beauty laughs as she takes Alyce’s hands in hers. “Gratuitous blow jobs for the board and lots of sex for the CEO. But keep it quiet because they’ll never admit it. Seriously, when I heard you were recruiting, I pulled in every favor I could to be here. It was that or fire me and you know they won’t do that without good cause. Besides, someone has to keep you safe. Speaking of which, let me introduce you to your personal security detail.”

    Rhea motions for the others still hanging back to move forward. All move with the grace of trained warriors and the ease and confidence of experience. “Alyce, these lovelies are Elena, my second, Pyotr, and Boris. I have worked with all three in the past and they are skilled in urban and jungle environents. Pyotr served in Bogota, coming out only six months ago, and will be able to update us on what to expect there. From what I hear, it is not good, even though Aztlan and Amazonia have stopped the official war. We will get a briefing from him once on board.”

    Alyce warmly greets all three of them and Rhea sends them off before taking Alyce by an arm and guiding her towards the large plane. “We have some catching up to do. Are you still in contact with that delectable Al Guthrie?”

  • mercy

    July 22, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Alyce walks arm in arm with Rhea with Stephanie following close behind. “I am in contact with him, yes. We tried something to see if it would work, but………………well, it did not. I think that he was a bit relieved at the outcome.”

    Rhea stops for a moment and turns to look at her oldest friend. “So what you are saying is that he is some kind of fragging jerk?”

    There is a soft snort of agreement from behind them from Stephanie and Rhea looks at her with a smile, but Alyce frowns. “Listen, both of you. What happened between me and Al was my fault. He is a very independent man, a lone wolf you might say. My love for him, or rather, the way I was expressing my love for him, seems to be a threat to that independence. It is almost as if he sees me as trying to cage him in. I certainly do not want that but I do not know how to tell him or show him. He will not give me a chance now, and that is my fault. I guess I had my shot at him and blew it. I will love him as I can love no other man, but he does not think I am the woman for him and I will respect that. I keep hoping, though………………….”

    Rhea gives her friend a sad smile then moves off towards the plane, taking Alyce with her. “Enough of sad things. Wait until you see the presents I have for you.” She walks up to where Viktor is standing near a crate. He has an attache case at his feet that he puts on top of the crate as the women walk up to him. “Viktor, show Alyce what you have for her.”

    Viktor smiles and unlatches the case, opening it to show a foam interior with a number of small slots cut into it. Each slot contains a small metal object. “Four Noizquito, four Dragonfly, and four Fly Spy drones on the top layer. The second layer has two sets of the CU3 Professional drones plus two Spider, two Sewer Snake and two of these babies.” He takes out a small drone and wraps it around Alyce’s wrist. This is a Medusa. You did not request it, but I am sure that you will appreciate it.” He pats the crate next to him. “In here are the drones we can use to maintain security and communications. Your mule is already loaded on the aircraft, along with a Caduceus 7 and a Proletarion.”

    Alyce smiles as she touches each small drone in the case. “Some nice drones. I have spent some money, haven’t I? I have not worked with the spiders before. Do they work as advertised?”

    It is Viktor’s turn to smile. “Better, Alyce. They are pretty much set loose and forget. They are not meant to completely replace a skilled armorer, but they can do a good job on minor damage, freeing your armorer tech for the more important things. Your Caduceus and Proletarian will also help you perform medical and repair tasks. I think you have a real good selection here and I am thankful that I am given this opportunity.”

    Alyce laughs. “Don’t be too thankful, yet, Viktor. We are going into a very dangerous place.” She turns to Rhea and Stephanie. “Speaking of that, I need to make sure that our flight plan sends us to Marseilles then on to Aztlan. I need to pick up the other part of my security detail.” Stephanie nods and smiles to let Alyce know that has been taken care of. Rhea gives Alyce a questioning look. “Rhea, have you ever worked with the Gaxin brothers?”

    Rhea smiles. “Milo and Xander? Sure, twice. Good choice girlfriend. They will certainly be welcome. How did you manage to pull them out of semi-retirement? I thought Xander was spending all his time with his wife and kids.”

    Alyce nods. “Long story there, but the short version is that I introduced him to Jiahui and am godmother to both their kids.”

    Rhea laughs. “Really? Only you who would have thought that a troll could marry a human and have kids. That must have been one tough pregnancy.” She stops laughing and points to the plane. “Your medical assistant in already on board. She is triple checking her med supplies. A bit tightly wound, if you ask me, but then, all you doctor types are would tight.”

    Alyce gives her a punch in the arm as they move off to the ramp leading up into the plane.

  • mercy

    July 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    The interior of the large plane is already pretty packed, with pallets of crates strapped down along the center of the cargo bay. Men are busy tying down one of the last pallets as Alyce and Rhea squeeze past them. One of the men jumps a bit as Rhea gooses his butt and she smiles at him when he turns to look. Alyce shakes her head. “You are such a flirt, Rhea.”

    “Hey, tell me that you wouldn’t jump him in a skinny second if we had the time. Or maybe even take him with us for the first leg and send him home from France.”

    Alyce nods. “OK, point taken. He does look rather hot. Bring him along if you want him.”

    “You calling my bluff? OK, you’re on. Your med assist is just up there by the sound of her voice. Disappointed in something else, it seems. Her name is Svetlana. You asked for a pediatrics assist and she is what you got on short notice. I will join you in a few minutes.” Rhea grins as she moves back towards the man.

    Alyce laughs and continues walking forward. The woman’s name is familiar and she runs it through her memory, hitting on two possibilities. The voice she has been hearing gets louder just before she walks around one of the pallets stacked with supplies. “Alright, listen you two. I was told that you know your stuff and will take that for granted until I see you in the field, but please just humor me and go over the inventory again as it will not be as easy as running to the corner store or nearest hospital to get more supplies if we are short something from the list.”

    A woman somewhere north of thirty years old is standing in front of two younger men in their early twenties. The woman has her back to Alyce but the men notice her as she arrives and one gives an “ahem” to alert the other Svetlana. Turning to see who is behind her, the woman has an exasperated expression on her face. “Yes? How may I help you?”

    Alyce does not immediately react to the short tone of the other woman but is running what her sensors are telling her of Svetlana’s features through her memory banks. A hit. “Doctor Svetlana Constanza, I think? I am Doctor Alyce Krait.”

    The other woman straightens and nods, her eyes narrowing just a little. “Good evening, Doctor Krait. Yes, Svetlana Constanza. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Your reputation precedes you.”

    Alyce nods as she holds out a hand. “As does yours. It is a bit odd that our paths have not crossed before. I think that for the sake of brevity and because we will be living in each other’s pockets for a bit, that we can dispense with some formalities so please call me Alyce and may I call you Svetlana?”

    The other doctor blushes a bit but nods. Alyce continues. “Thank you, and our assistants are?”

    The two men smile and one speaks up. “Good evening, Doctor Krait. I am Antoine Fucher and this is Mario Parapolous. We are your PAs for this trip. I want to personally thank you for this opportunity.”

    Alyce shakes the hands of both men and smiles. “I know that Svetlana has some experience in the jungles in and around Bogota, but do either of you?”

    Both men nod, although Antoine nods more. “Oui, yes, I have been to the Bogota area once, but I have also worked in Amazonia. That is where I met Mario. He was part of a clinic there.”

    Alyce smiles at them and then Svetlana. “Come with me while they work on your inventory and talk to me about what you see as what we can do once we get to Bogota.”

    The other doctor looks at the men then nods and goes off with Alyce.

  • mercy

    July 24, 2017 at 2:28 am

    Potifical Xavierian University – School of Anthropology – Bogota

    Doctor (Professor) Victoria Dominguez taps her fingers on her desk. She has received a note from an old friend, Doctor Alyce Krait. They were never as close as she had thought Alyce wanted to be, but they still send the occasional message and card back and forth. Now it seems that Alyce is coming to Bogota and is asking for recommendations for local guides and support for a clinic she wants to set up in in the city. Victoria grimaces; Alyce Krait is a good doctor and an excellent surgeon, especially when if comes to nervous systems, but this is fucking Bogota. Why is she coming here of all places? Sighing, Professor Dominguez shakes her head and begins to look through her files.

    Heathrow Airport – London, England

    Alyce sits in the spacious passenger cabin, Alfie at her feet. She considers the events of the day and toys for about the hundredth time whether or not to send a note to Al but shakes her head. She has flubbed every attempt to communicate with him and more of the same would just push him farther away. Instead, she sends notes to Gem, Lydia, and Grace, letting them all know that she is safe and off on a dig. The one to Grace is always the hardest because she is still walking tender ground with her lover. The young law student is passionate about her love for Alyce, and Alyce eagerly returns it, but she is completely aware of how she seems to always mess up her personal relationships and is wary of doing the same with this one.

    Finished with her messages, Alyce leans back in her seat and receives the status notes from the various people she will be working with, all funneled through Rhea. Now there is another conundrum. When Alyce had approached her EVO friends about them prividing someone to help her, she had no idea that the platinum grade corporate assassin would be available, much less assigned to her. Rhea never moves without the express knowledge and wishes of the CEO himself, which makes Alyce just a bit nervous about why she was sent here. Still, her old friend has proven remarkably able in getting control of what might have been a disaster. Shaking her head, Alyce moves Rhea’s dossier to another folder and begins to go through those of the rest of her crew. She commits the files to her memory and smiles. This is shaping up to be a success.

    Her ruminations are interrupted by the arrival of Dream. He nods to Alyce and says something to Alfie before he takes a seat. Soon enough, more of the clinic crew arrive, with the last to be Rhea, who tells Alyce that all is in readiness for departure. One of the flight attendants approaches Alyce. “Compliments of the pilot, Captain Anderson, Doctor Krait, but he wonders if you would like to come sit on the flight deck for a bit.”

    Alyce smiles like a school girl and wonders who of her crew might have said something, realizing that the most likely person would have been Stephanie. She unbuckles and gives a soft click of her tongue to let Alfie know that he is remain where he is. The attendant walks with her up to the front of the plane and knocks on the door, ushering her in after the co-pilot opens it. “Flight Officer Williams, Ma’am. welcome to the flight deck. The captain would like to know if you might care to log some hours in on the flight?”

    Alyce nods. “I would indeed. Thank you very much.”

    She is shown to the seat and buckles the harness, then focuses her sensors on the layout of the controls, listening carefully to the instructions from the Flight Officer. Captain Anderson waits until Alyce says she is good then let sher know that he will take the plane into the air then he will give her control of the aircraft for a bit. Some few minutes later, the plane taxis down the runway and lifts into the air on its way to Marseilles, France.

  • mercy

    July 25, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Once the aircraft is at its cruising altitude, Captain Anderson turns to Alyce. “If you are ready, Alyce? Normally, I would set up the autopilot at this time, but you can take control of the aircraft if you like. I hope that you do not mind if I stick around just in case you need some help.”

    Alyce grins at the man. “Jack, I can do this. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I would be a bit concerned if you just walked off, especially if it is to put your parachute on.”

    The two laugh and Alyce cautiously takes control of the plane. She has many hours in her helicopter, but flying the large plane is not nearly the same and she asks lots of questions, bit only once, as her memory allows her to remember everything he tells her. That and a large number of hours on simulators helps her through the early steps. Before long, Jack Anderson feels confident enough to be able to take his eyes off the instruments and walk about the flight deck after surrendering his command seat to his co-pilot.

    Alyce takes the plane to the point where they need to begin descending for the arrival at Marseilles then lets Stafford Williams take his seat back as she returns to the main cabin and her seat there. The experience has been so much fun that she cannot resist sending a note off to the one man who might appreciate it. >>Al [Alyce]: Hey you. Miss you a lot. I hope I am not interrupting anything, but I just had an experience I cannot keep inside. I flew, yes, actually FLEW a Dassault Sea Sprite from just after we left London to just before landing at Marseilles. It was SOOOOOOOOOO much fun. I can see why you like it so much. Anyway, I am thinking a lot about you and hoping that you are alright. Love you and miss you a ton. Alyce.<<

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 2:11 am

    Cheveux Rouge – Marseilles – France

    Margot had called in the early morning, waking you from a good sleep, no a great sleep if the dream could be believed. A dream that even now is fading from the consciousness back into the mists it had come from. Margot is still an undergrad student at Aix-Marseille Universite, where she is nearly finished studying for law. The two of you shared a couple of classes on parazoology, you because you wanted to learn and she because it was a way to meet boys. Given that you were the only girls in a class of fourteen, the odds were pretty much in her favor and she ran through the various candidates in short order. Her personality was infectious, if that is a word, and she always seemed to be having a good time. She has parents that pay most of her bills but she likes to party and that takes money the mama and papa were not willing to give her. The alternative to not partying was to find a job, but it had to be a job that was fun and not too stimulating, for that would take the fun out of it. A contact put her in touch with Jaques Mernier, businessman and entrepreneur. Jaques owns several nightclubs in Marseilles and one is quite near both the rooms that Margot’s parents paid for and the university.

    The Cheveux Rouge: a club of dubious reputation and even more dubious patrons, it is nevertheless a common meeting place for university students interested in………………..need I say it……………dubious things. Ostensibly a night club where local musicians, some of them quite good, are able to get a start in their careers and students can go to relax after a long day of classes and books, a student who knows the right people and has the right sort of credstick can find the right kind of dubious activity. Hidden doors can lead to paradise or the alley if one gets careless or drunk or drugged. But the careful student can enter a world of vices that will titillate the senses and the soul. One of the hidden doors leads to a smallish sex club, where girls with red hair can make a decent living if they are willing to take their clothes off for strange men and then allow the men to perform various morally dubious acts with them. It is behind this particular hidden door that Margot works in the evenings. Despite the moral issues that would have her parents pulling their financial support back in a skinny second, Margot is taking full advantage of her youth, excessive good looks, and willing body to provide her with the extra bit of spending money she feels she needs.

    Anyway, Margot had called, saying that she has a tip for you. Why she would volunteer a tip to you is not immediately obvious, but during the short conversation she does happen to mention that she is willing to trade the tip for an introduction to Marcel Roget. Marcel, of course, being a most eligible and interesting man that you know and she would like to know. She promises it is a good tip, but you need to convince Marcel to come with you and meet Margot at the Cheveux Rouge at one. A look at the clock lets you know that you would have about forty minutes to get Marcel out of whatever girl’s bed he is probably in and off to the club. Tempted to say no, you nevertheless listen further as Margot says the magic words, “It involves paracritters and an expedition.”

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 9:21 am

    One of those dreams…again. Not really nightmares, but whenever she had one of those, she always felt out of it for a couple of hours, despite never knowing what they were about. It wasn’t dread she was feeling, nor anxiousness, nothing she could really put her finger on. It was…unsettling. As such, while she mumbled a few words here and there, it took her a minute to really focus on Margot, and, rewinding the conversation, to understand what it was about.

    Cheveux Rouges? She could go there. It wouldn’t be a first, even if she had never accompanied Margot to her work. While she didn’t care if Margot did, she had always refused to go. First, because she didn’t have red hair, second because while she didn’t mind one night stand from time to time, she wanted to chose who it was with, and finally, simply because she didn’t need to: while she had to pay by herself for everything she bought, her skills made her valuable to some corporations for some jobs. It wasn’t too frequent but it paid well enough to allow her to avoid solutions she didn’t like.

    Marcel? That… Well… It was probably possible but… She grimaced. That man always wanted to get in her pants. Or under her skirt or…well…whatever she happened to be wearing at the time. It would – almost – have been flattering, if he didn’t behave like that with every woman he saw. Still, considering it was exactly what Margot wanted, maybe she wouldn’t have to owe him anything. Hell, if she hadn’t had to ask him first, he probably would have been the one to owe her after all.

    Paracritters and expedition? Now that was interesting. And a bit infuriating of course. After her expedition in Panama last year, she had tried to get a new one on the way for a while now. One would think the older the war was, the easier it would be, right? Not so much though, far from it. Hints that paracritters were nothing new, and that they had existed before should have made things easy but far too often she had heard that it was too dangerous for now and that she should wait. Wait. Easy to say when you don’t have a deadline. PhDs aren’t supposed to last a decade, especially if she wanted to find a job in academia at its end.

    “Where? No, the expedition I mean.” As she asked, she turned up the sound on her ‘link and got out of bed to jump into the shower. Given the number of times she had complained to pretty much anyone who was listening, Margot knew she was interested in going back to South America which was why she got out of bed. But… Well… It was Margot. As soon as she had confirmation, she hung up, assuring Margot she’d be there, and called Marcel. “Hey Marcel. Yes, yes, I know it’s early. Look, can you come to the Cheveux Rouges? Yes now, and yes I know it’s early.” She took a seductive voice. She hated to do that, but if she wanted to get him moving, she didn’t have a lot of options “Look, I promise you, you won’t regret it. Oh yeah it’ll be worth your time. Thirty minutes. Yes I know, think I’m any different? Alright, see you.”

    Now… She just had to hope Margot wasn’t full of air and that it would be worth it. Only way to know was to be there on time. She grabbed the first things to wear she found, a blouse and a long skirt, then grabbed a cab to bring her to the Cheveux Rouges. On the way, she did her hair in a braid, which took her mind away of what was waiting for her now.

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

    The cab drops you off at the Cheveux Rouge with several minutes to spare. The man driving you turns to hold out a small pad for you to slot the fare and tip. “So, a beautiful woman like you, do you perform here in the red room? What time so I can come watch? I will be thinking of you all day, Cherie.” He chuckles a bit and flips you a card. “Call me when you need a ride back. We can work out a discount.”

    As the cab pulls away, another appears in its place at the curb and Marcel climbs out. He smiles at you and eyes you up and down, obviously admiring your figure, no matter that it is well concealed in the long skirt and blouse. His leer gives you the impression that he is stripping you naked right here on the street. A noise from a passing car distracts him and he turns to look at you and then at the club entrance. “Well, I am here. You are here. What is so important and you did promise that I would not be disappointed, remember? Your words sent shivers up and down my back, so I hope this was not a tease.”

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Caroline shook her head, indicating her hair “As you can see, I don’t have red hair, so no, I’m not performing there.” She didn’t say more, despite finding the man creepy. She had learned, a long time ago, that it was a lost cause. Hell, if she made a scene, everyone would think she was hysteric, it just wasn’t worth it.

    Still, it didn’t exactly put her in a good mood to meet Marcel. She suffered through his examination frowning, her arms crossed on her chest “You’ll see. If you’re nice enough, you may get a private show.” She turned away and walked into the club her ‘link in hand, trying to ignore his gaze on her back, eager to find Margot and be rid of Marcel. On the way, she sent a quick message >>Margot [Caroline]: We’re coming in. He’s expecting a private show, so you better not disappoint him if you want to have his attention.<<

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    As you walk into the club you see the famous murals painted on the walls. The paintings depict different activities that you can find in the club, to include the revue, a gambling hall, and a hallway that stretches out in perspective that has a half naked women posing in front of the door the disappear into the distance. The right sort of credsticks will get you access to the real rooms located past the painted on doors. Margot is walking towards you, waving her ‘link in her hand and smiling. She comes up and buses your cheeks and steps over to Marcel to do the same. She takes his hand in hers and nods towards one of the doors in the murals, which happens to look like an office. “You are expected, Cherie. Just go up to the door and knock.” She turns her attention to Marcel. “And you, my sweet, delicious man, are coming with me.” It is a testament of your evaluation of his character that Marcel barely waves to you as you leave him. He appears quite happy to be in the presence of your curvy friend.

    The mural door you approach looks to be a painted version of an entrance to an office area. Once you give it a quick knock, you hear a slight click and the door opens invitingly. A short hallway beyond the door is plushly carpeted and leads to an open door at the end of the corridor. You hear a man’s voice from within the room beyond calling out. “Do not worry, Caroline. Neither the carpet nor the door will bite you. Come on down, please.”

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Caroline shook her head, a bit bemused as she looked at Margot dragging Marcel along. While she didn’t want to generalise too much, it was difficult in the presence of such specimens as Marcel or even the cab driver. Men… At least they were pretty easy to understand. She sighed, then knocked on the door Margot had indicated.

    She spent a few seconds looking around when the door opened. Not because she was worried no, simply by pure curiosity. When invited to come in, she grumbled “As long as I don’t have to work here…” She didn’t wait more though, and entered the room. If nothing else, curiosity would have brought her in.

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    The carpet feels as plush under your feet as it looks. The walls are bare of any decoration at all and the lighting comes from recessed fixtures in the ceiling. You make no noise until you arrive at the second door and push it open. The room beyond is…………is fragging awesome. Or it is if you are the type of person to like real books. REAL books. Bookshelves line the walls, except for a small space for a door in the wall opposite you and the space taken up by the door you are standing in. The room is easily two stories high and there is a ladder on some sort of rail system that runs around the room to give access to the second level of books. You can smell the leather of the tomes lining the shelves and it is heady stuff, indeed. There is a large desk in the center of the room and your eye is caught by a large globe just to the left side of the desk. There are several books in a small pile at the right corner. Further to the right of the desk, a long leather couch sits behind a wood and glass coffee table and opposite two large very comfortable looking chairs. A wooden bar sits just off to the left of the desk. The man behind the desk is not the Jacques Mernier that has his face plastered all over the play bills and media advertising for the club, but his eyes grab yours and hold them.

    The man nods at you and motions for you to take a seat in the large leather chair in front of the coffee table. You hear the softest of whirs as the man comes around the desk, still sitting in his leather chair, but it is carefully walking him over to a spot near the couch. With a bit of effort, he levers himself from the chair to sit on the right end of the couch. He holds up a small device in his left hand and looks at you as a voice comes from it. “My name is Jacques Mernier. Please sit. It is a bit early for alcohol for me, but may I offer you something to drink? Coffee, maybe?”

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Caroline didn’t pay attention to anything else but the books for a moment, passing her fingers on the back of a few of them as she read their titles. Ass such, it took her a moment to notice that the man in the room wasn’t the one she was half expecting to see and that, in fact, she didn’t know who he was.

    She didn’t comment on the chair or the device thing, even if she cocked an eyebrow in surprise, curious to know what the problem was…but too polite to ask the question. When asked if she wanted to coffee, she nodded “At least yes. I was sleeping when Margot called, and the time to take a shower and grab a cab, I didn’t have time to eat yet. So if you have a croissant or two…or even three…I wouldn’t mind…”

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    The man puts the small device on the table in front of him and nods to you, still speaking through the box. “I will have some sent in for us. To answer your unspoken question, the public might not accept that Jacques Mernier is a cripple, so I have hired a man to be the face of my company. It is a small vanity of mine, but be assured that I am the real Jacques Mernier. I know that you will have questions and I might be able to answer some of them, but first, I would like to ask one of you. It is an important one, so please consider it carefully. I will not accept an answer from you before you have had at least one croissant and a cup of coffee to think about it. Please humor me.”

    While you are sitting there, the other door will open and a man walks through it, carrying a large tea tray which he puts on the coffee table between you and Jacques, who nods. “Thank you, Michel, that will be all.” The other man nods and looks at you briefly as he turns and leaves the room. The tray has a coffee urn and two cups, plus some smaller containers for milk and sugar. A small plate of four croissants sits in the center of the tray, with small pots of butter and three different jams.

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Caroline shrugged “I don’t care if you’re a cripple or not. You’re a businessman, so as long as your brain is intact…” She paused, then frowned. In fact, she didn’t care about his name. Hell, he could be called Theodore Roosevelt for all she cared. The only thing that mattered to her was the reason behind her presence here. She really hoped it wasn’t a plan to try and convince her to work in the club. That would be rather unpleasant. She found it odd though. Why all that, simply to talk about an expedition in South America? Sure it was pretty important to her, but it was obvious not many thought the same. She wouldn’t have had that many problems to get one going otherwise. Another thing she found odd, was why he didn’t do anything for his problems. It wasn’t like he lacked money, so most problems should have been easily fixed. Maybe not with cyber – some people really didn’t like that – but maybe with bioware? Unless he had a good reason to want to avoid even that. Reasons like him being Awakened.

    Her thoughts were interrupted when the other man arrived. She looked at him for a second, wondering why the pause – it’s not like there was a lack of pretty girls around here after all, right? – and thanked him, but was far more interested in the content of the tray than she was of him. By the looks of things, she was more likely to eat two or three croissants rather than a single one. After a bite in the first one, she looked at Jacques, obviously waiting for the question…and wondering if she should check if he were Awakened. Or at least Assensse him. Maybe she would get an idea of what the problem was?

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Jacques watches you pour out and motions that he would like a cup as well. The device comes back to life. “Thank you, Caroline. My question is what would you do for your dream? How far would you go, what would you risk to see your dream fulfilled?”

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Caroline frowned “That’s a rather loaded question. And pretty open too.” She seemed to think about it for a minute, as she was eating her croissant, then shrugged “Achieving one’s dream is worth a lot, so taking risks is par for the course, so to speak. If you want to know if I’d be ready to risk injury? I suppose.” she grimaced “Going to South America, I’d say it’s pretty obvious it’s a risk I’d be willing to take. If your question is more along the lines of would I be ready to do some illegal stuff…” She shrugged “No idea. I can say I don’t like the idea. Not that I really care about most laws, but breaking them comes with a lot of issues.”

    She bit into her second croissant, eating in silence for a bit, then added “What I wouldn’t be willing would be to compromise my core values. A dream is worthy of pursuing only if it doesn’t compromise you. Otherwise it’s not a dream anymore, but a nightmare, one you recognise as such when it’s too late.”

  • mercy

    July 26, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    The man opposite you smiles and the box speaks. “Would you tell me of your dream if I told you that I might be able to help you get a bit closer to achieving it? Would you tell me of it and what you think you need to do to get there? I might be willing to invest a lot in you, both in treasure and in contacts, but you need to be honest with me. Don’t fob me around with what you think I want to hear. Tell me what you want to do.”

  • Imladir

    July 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Caroline frowned. She didn’t doubt the man had the means to finance an expedition all by himself. While it was certainly expensive, it was only so by her standards. While it would be an investment for anyone, possibly a notable one, to any half decent business it would be… Alright, maybe not pocket change, but nothing to worry about. Of course, since no businessman, no successful businessman, liked to take undue risks, he had to know what he was buying.

    No, what she worried about was not his ability to finance her, but the very simple fact that those things were never freely offered. There had to be strings attached. And if she couldn’t find any… As was often said, if it’s free, then you are the product.

    For now however, the best way to deal with that was to answer his question. Time would come later, if he was still interested, to ask her questions…and decide if she was ready to pay whatever was asked of her.

    She drank a mouthful of her coffee, then started “I spent a couple of months in Panama last year, on a dig with one of my professors. According to him, while the Maya were located north, approximately from Mexico to Managua, members of their civilisation came as far south as Panama, maybe even around Bogota. Though he wasn’t sure of that last one. Anyway, I was there mainly to take advantage of the expedition to study the local paracritters, mostly the Awakened ones, when a week or two before we left we stumbled upon something odd. I’m not a biologist, but…well…I know my paracritters, and in one of the ruins, I’m pretty sure we found the remains of one of them. We performed a Carbon 14 datation on one of the bones, and let me tell you, it was much older than a century. Which is something that should be impossible, considering that Magic appeared seventy years ago. Unless It’s not the first time that Magic appeared in the world but it disappeared then for some reason. If that is true, then we’d have to look at a lot of what we thought we knew of our past and the old civilisations.”

    She paused to sip her coffee, thinking. She had almost forgotten the man in front of her, when she shook her head and focused back on him “So what I’ve been trying to do in the last months, in addition to reading whatever I could put my hands on about those civilisations, is to get an expedition down there.” she grimaced “It hasn’t gone terribly well though. First, there’s the obvious local situation, less than ideal, which is the main issue. I’m told there’ll be time later when everything is calm, but…” she shook her head “I don’t have all the time in the world, I have deadlines to meet. And I’m curious of course.” she paused, and this time when she talked, she looked at Jacques “Another obstacle is that there is no practical application. Sure, it’s interesting, sure, it would force us to reconsider plenty of things, but…there’s nothing to sell. Nothing to earn, outside of a bit of knowledge. And to most, that’s reason enough to put that at the end of the priority list.”

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