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Da Capo (Manifesto)
#11
A cold shiver ran over his spine. He had felt the same thing at the gala right before that thing came and Nox was overpowered by another. Cruz's eyes went wide and his heart races as he looked around. His fingers instinctively waiting for the coin to fall but when he looked at it, it was floating towards the group of people he only knew mostly by name. CEO of a security firm, he wasn't sure which one, only that they could provide him, bodyguards, if he ever needed one. His father spoke highly of them.

Cruz could still hear the commotion at the door but he chose to ignore it for better or worse. If he lost mooching friends he wouldn't care too much. But they were all but forgotten in the memories of monsters and the power floating his coin towards her. He didn't exactly bardge in following the coin, but he caught up to it and snatched it out in the middle of their small bubble of people. "Sorry, Ma'am, but that's mine."
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#12
Zhenya pulled the man she had claimed into their midst, and he didn’t resist the current. Natalie’s inspection was not circumspect, and certainly not shy in its lazy roam. He assessed her in turn. But it was Zhenya’s glib attempt to coax for information she answered with a slim, half-amused smile. “I think you would not find the story to your liking,” she said with a dismissive tip of her shoulder in the woman’s direction. Natalie didn’t know what she might know or suspect, and she didn’t much care either. Confirmation or denial rarely left her lips, whatever the rumour or lack thereof. 

She reached instead to accept the offered handshake, swapping her name for one she did not recognise in turn. The crispness of Adrian’s accent had all the hallmarks of public schooling; familiar in a not altogether welcome way. Natalie hadn’t called London home for years, and before that she’d been hard off the rails. She wondered if her father might have recognised the name, a consideration that did not exactly endear for its possibility, even if unlikely. Five years ago Kane was probably still climbing the ladder of his success. And a past associate of Alistair Grey was unlikely to take kindly to the reminder of his daughter’s pale-eyed stare. Besides, nothing in Adrian Kane’s manner suggested such sharp barbs twisted underneath.

Beside them Zhenya still gleamed faintly, but though Natalie did glance at the threads she did not turn to discover what new mischief earned her attention. The power seemed in constant, gentle flux around her, the threads small, precise, and surprisingly multitudinous. “A shame,” she laughed. “But you are probably right. I imagine it to be dreary beyond the Custody’s territories, no?”

Natalie said nothing to that. Folded her reaction away quietly into a disaffected smirk, though she was pained not to roll her eyes. She didn’t want to discuss the road that led her here, and certainly didn’t wish to delve into Custody loyalties or the politics of an imminent new dominance. Likely Zhenya was referencing Africa anyway. The Legion still battled the unrest there, and the CEO of a security company might have some passing interest given Brandon’s new connections with Jacques Danjou.

“You asked what I was doing here,” she said instead, foregoing the meandering niceties. Da Capo. From the beginning. Building foundations was unlikely to be so quick or easy, nor did she expect it to be. She'd play the games she needed to. When she chose to. “The answer is investment. Of sorts, anyway.”
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#13
Despite admirable composure, Natalie was probably not much more than a handful of years older than the Vega boy. Clearly the young woman wanted something; Zhenya understood that, and she was likely to listen eventually, for she was rarely ever dismissive of those who sought her out -- both boon and curse for the ring on her finger. But she preferred to know something of the people around her before she committed her attention. As she had told Seven, there was more than one way to learn the truth of a soul. She had watched the girl accept Adrian’s hand, curious, but found nothing particularly fruitful in the exchange. He could be devastatingly charming when he chose to be, but tonight he seemed recalcitrant to the game.

“Well, you know what they say about business in Moscow.” She leaned to clink her glass against Natalie’s as yet untouched drink, then winked a good-natured tease in Adrian’s direction. Another game he cheated at.

A moment later Cruz gamboled amongst them like a pup, and Zhenya was charmed by his eagerness to retrieve the trinket. She laughed at the intrusion, hand fluttering against her chest, but there was a playfulness to her gaze that belied any true offense, or even surprise. It had been a tease and an invitation to escape, not an attempt at theft. “It seems to have quite the life of its own,” she said. She spared a warm, amused glance in Natalie’s direction. Then, to Cruz, “Whatever is it?”
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#14
Whatever bait Natalie dangled, Adrian was prepared to take. Lobbing the word 'investments' surely was a purposeful move, although he was not so arrogant to assume it was for him. She made little indication that she recognized him at all, but anonymity did not sting. She was the closest to celebrity among their circle, infamy or otherwise. 

Yet rather than chase the bait, his attention was duly turned elsewhere. Like the others, his expression was one of mixed surprise and curiosity. Something flipped through the air. It gleamed, but even Adrian's smart eye could not discern any details. Before anyone may intervene, a young man snatched it away. With Cruz's appearance, the title of group celebrity was passed from Natalie to his young shoulders. Adrian certainly recognized him, as he would any of the mighty business dynasties of Moscow. A great height separated him from De Vega, but by the smirk on Adrian's face, it was unclear who was the superior between them.

He crossed his arms, hefty as they were, across a broad chest. "Alright. Who among you is the channeler?" He declared, throwing accusatory looks between each as though teasing apart the killer in their pseudo-murder-mystery. The night's entertainment was growing more interesting by the moment.
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#15
Cruz looked at the CEO with a smirk. He wouldn't answer Kane's question telling of another's secrets. "A life of its own. Just a trinket I found. It brings good luck." Cruz lied, but in reality, it had brought him good fortune, into a wide circle of people his grandfather would very much like him to associate with. Names he'd never have thought to speak with on this day -- considering he hadn't intended on being here at all. Good fortune after all.

He tucked the coin into his pocket and smiled at Adrian Kain. "I think there might be a few in the mix." He neither claimed nor denied the fact that he was a so-called channeler. It was a much better term than the one he'd heard from his father or Nox. Reborn gods. Though some of the people here might actually enjoy the reference. "I've been told that a man who can claim such feats can feel a woman channel but it's not the other way around." Cruz looked at Zhenya with a smile, the words were targeted at her, but he wouldn't reveal her secret. "I imagine that gives the man a slight advantage. I've also been told either sex can't see what the other does." Though short of Emily channeling this was only the third time he'd witnessed a woman bend the power. "But that's only what I've heard."
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#16
Adrian chuckled despite himself. The young man who reclaimed his lucky charm was intimately familiar with all things channeling. Perhaps he was one himself. Though why would he snatch the object with his hand when he could snag it with invisible powers? Weakness, perhaps? Fear? Lack of skill? Nerves? This was the sort of angle Adrian hadn’t considered before: digging up a person’s self-induced barriers to their own power for other ends.

“So many nuances to this power. What else do you know about it?” he raised his glass to the group’s new informant, which suddenly cast him in a fresh light. Even the others turned to the newcomer. A name was dropped, Cruz de la Vega, which Adrian didn’t recognize despite the identity seemingly familiar. Undoubtedly, he’d encountered the (obvious) billionaire at some point.

As a result, he cast a friendly smirk toward Zhenya, “be nice to the poor guy,” he said, knowing something of her antics for entertainment.
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#17
Zhenya laughed, curious, but apparently not enough to pursue the topic. For now, anyway. The amused tilt of her smile suggested she was unlikely to forget the trinket; she had more reason than most to wonder if the luck might in fact be literal, but her attention turned its glittering splendor upon Adrian’s accusation instead. Despite Sören’s warnings, she had never been particularly recalcitrant with admitting what she was. She understood the dangers, but she could not bear the thought of it being something to hide. With Ascendancy’s revelation, the world would change. The power was something beautiful. It was something to be proud of.

Adrian’s jab was met with warm laughter and a teasing look that suggested she of course had no idea what he meant.

“An advantage if he recognises the feeling, and in my experience that is not usually the case,” she said to Cruz. A flick of power teased a brush against his nose, much as she had attempted on Natalie earlier. Afterwards Zhenya’s gaze grazed the girl, who was listening quietly, and then she laughed. Adrian’s interest in the topic was clear, and Zhenya was nothing if not accommodating, thus she gently encouraged an answer. “You have had a teacher? If this was something you heard?”
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#18
Cruz felt like a fish out of water. Or more aptly like a small fish. He wasn't used to the big dogs paying him much mind. He had always been the grandson of Emilio Vega -- heir apparent since his father flaked on the familial duties. And why? The world didn't know but Cruz did, and so did his grandfather, though he never told anyone he knew. But they all knew why. Though he beamed with pride now. He knew things they didn't.

"Most don't know because they've never been around another of the opposite sex when channeling. My most recent teacher found out he could channel, and then his sister found out she could. Which is rare I think, I mean finding another who can do that is a rare find -- until recently." Now it seemed everywhere he tossed a coin he would hit one.

Cruz fondled the found coin in his pocket. It never really strayed far from his thoughts. Maybe Sage would know something more of it. "My teacher... god that sounds like he's so old." Cruz shook his head, Nox was barely older than he was. "He could teach anyone a thing or two about it and know first hand the dangers that come with it." Not that he was going to give Nox up as Atharim, but he had been hunted twice now and survived both times. Cruz was grateful he was still not on their radar. He didn't think he's fare nearly as well as Nox... He'd be dead in the first few moments, he was sure of that.
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#19
Adrian was seemingly impressed. This boy knew more about the power than even he himself. Who was this teacher of his? He was certainly loose lipped. Asking would probably be enough of a prod to reveal the identity. If so, Adiran did not want to share the knowledge with so large a group. Coveting such morsels of information was his and his alone.

But since the general topic was still at play, Adrian continued to inquire. “And of the same sex? What if you are with another of the same sex? Is the awareness of another also as obscure?”
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#20
Cruz smirked, "I don't know how it is for women. I've never had two in the same room at the same time." Nox had, but Cruz never asked, and he wondered if Nox had thought to understand for the opposite sex. Probably not he didn't always think with the right head. But that did seem to be deviating... Cruz shook his head clearing his thought and returning to the conversation. "But for a man, there is this presence like something bad is going to happen. Like there is a another predator in the area and you should take heed."

Cruz thought about seizing the power here and now, but that would only serve to point a billboard at himself when he didn't need to. He wasn't the best fighter in either physical combat or the channeling bit. Nox had taught him how to defend himself, but not the offensive things his father had warned him about. But after enough begging Nox did show him offense. Cruz smiled at Adrian Kane. "You seem awful curious about the power of channeler? Are you trying to pull them into your company as well?" Jivana certainly was looking to experience the healing of one Jensen James and the potential it provided if it interfaced with the phyical world -- specifically their diagnostic equipment.
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