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Remembering a Friend
"And in my experience, few men can really appreciate the experience a place like this offers. A moment to shelter from, to forget at least for a time, the horrors of the world."
He was looking at his wayward escort, Caporale Iyer, whom had found his way to a pillar-centered table near the stage, a drink in hand and, for the moment at least, relaxed.

"To men like these, it's the chance to flaunt their wealth. To be dotted on by beautiful women, and the self-indulgent belief that what attentions they are afforded are merited."
He flashed a smile at the thought, and offered her a shrug, "I, sadly, cannot quite let myself be quite so distracted. Yet, at least."
He then waggled a finger. The prosthetic that had replaced his right hand was crude by the standards of the CCD; function over form, no wasted effort or cost on disguising it from casual observance. The hand was raw plastics and metal, but fully articulated.

He raised his drink in a gesture for her to lead the way to wherever she had in mind; Mr Jahoda would send word when he arrived, so there was no real need for Jacques to waste his time watching the door. "Russians are a strange folk, when it comes to business. It's just as likely an important meeting be held in a board room as a bordello. Although I wonder which venue sees the most corruption and greed. No offense, of course."

The comment was meant entirely towards the business world, not the state of the morals of those who worked at Kallisti. But perhaps the more insulting comment, and one that could at times land one in a bit of trouble. But Jacques was a proponent on the importance of history and origins. If those were forgotten, so too would the lessons they could teach.
Her lips pursed as the last of his words filled the air between them. Apparently, the gentleman had been grossly misinformed about her place of employment. Should look for entertainment after his business affairs were done, he would find himself highly disappointed. “I wouldn’t know,” Karina began as she gave the tiniest of shrugs. “I have yet to set foot in a bordello.”

Despite the fact that he had unwittingly pushed an all too familiar button of hers, Karina turned her disapproving expression to a forgiving smile. It wouldn’t do to break the illusion of the locale simply because she was slightly annoyed.

Normally, she would take the gentleman by the hand, but part of her feared that she’d accidentally pull the obvious prosthetic right out of his sleeve. Instead, she gestured for him to follow her towards one of the booths set off to the side of the stage. “Maybe your business can be dealt with quickly, so that you may enjoy yourself. It would be a shame for you to spend a whole evening with us and not enjoy the full experience.”
As she turned away, with her calm berating of his choice of words, Jacques flashed a brief smirk. Part of the experience of burlesque was the tease and the parody. Classic burlesque had been a more 'adult' themed take on popular plays or musicals, including jokes and parody, to entertain their audience.

Modern burlesque tended to take a more sarcastic approach; back-handed complements, sardonic comments, and the like, coupled of course with the ever-classic tease. Of course, while his comment was meant to reflect his rather lacking appreciation of Russian business techniques, it had also allowed him a moment to gauge his would-be handler for the evening. The woman was patient, at least. Professional enough not to have let the implied insult ruffle her feathers too far.

"I am not fond of them, myself. Most in Africa are not staffed by the willing."
He had had a few run-ins with such dens in his time as an officer, what felt like many long years ago. Another lifetime entirely, perhaps. There weren't many international task-forces left in the world seeking to deal with the many troubles that plagued the continent, and human trafficking had only seen an increase with the steady collapse of the dozens of countries that had funded and supported such task forces.

It was a tradition he had carried over from the Legion Premiere's previous CEO, the training and support of various national police forces to deal with organized international crime syndicates, especially those that dealt in human trafficking. Their efforts had been, at best, token, but the new Legion would be far more proactive. They would no longer be shackled by international law or corrupt domestic politicians.

He followed her without comment as to her hesitation and obvious decision not to take his hand; he couldn't exactly blame her. His prosthetic was off-putting to most in the CCD, he had noticed. Perhaps for how out-dated it was, or perhaps for the unwanted reminder of just how mortal and fragile humans really were.

"I suspect this meeting will be far shorter then he hopes for. Just some rich fool expecting to dazzle some back-water warlord with a few stacks of cash in exchange for a few 'little concessions.'"
He was well aware of how many main-stream media outlets were labeling him. It didn't help that some of those agencies were owned or heavily influenced by organizations and individuals he was starting to seriously piss off in Africa, what with his desire to build schools or improve living conditions. The sorts of meddling foolishness that would require an increase in working wages.
Blueboy didn't seem to take notice of all the power Yuri was holding. Probably ignoring it on purpose because he knew Yuri was stronger. Fuck yeah, it was coursing through him like fine china. Like fucking Candy. That menacing feeling was still there, but with the power inside him Yuri could regard it like a growling dog in the corner instead of a tiger in his face.

Blueboy sure had a smart mouth on him attached to a not-so-smart brain. Yeah, go ahead and kick the fucking bear, bitch
. He clearly wasn't from these parts. But Brodyagi thought they were chill. So whatevs. He took his seat but didn't let go of the power. Prison hadn't bled out of his nerves yet. They started talking about tutus or some shit that Yuri couldn't follow. Then some beer came. Shit, if he switched to beer he would be pissing all night. On the other hand, a smart guy didn't turn down a free drink, and Yuri thought of himself as pretty smart. They raised their beers and Yuri did as well. Sebastian. Must have been one of Brodyagi's squad.

Must be odd, remembering people. He didn't have anyone who died to remember. Or anyone he cared to remember. Life for him was lived alone cut off from anyone who could fuck him over, or try to tell him what to do. No one understood anyway. You had to watch your back and take what you could get. Till he died, of course. He wondered where the dead went. He always figured that dying was like going to sleep and just not waking up. Would there be anyone to toast to Yuri? Nah, he ddin't think so. One day he'd be gone and that would be it. His body would go into a furnace an no one would ever know that Yuri had ever walked the planet. Nor would anyone else care. Why the fuck was that bothering him now?

"Who was Sebastian?"
he asked Brodyagi. "What happened to him?"
“I’ve met my fair share of rich fools, Monseiur, a warlord is a first. Should I be scared?”

The light teasing tone was not meant to belittle her guest in any way, but she simply could not help herself. Gesturing for him to take a seat, Karina waited a moment for him and turned her attention towards the stage as the band played the last notes of their current number. With a satisfied smile, she clapped in appreciation before sliding gracefully into the booth.

Making herself comfortable, she crossed one leg over the other. She was very much the feline in her element. She was a confident woman that was no stranger to flippant men bragging about their accomplishments nor the general workings of their minds. However, she could still be pleasantly surprised now and then. Nothing about her body language suggested she was in the least bit frightened of the man. Why should she? This was her domain. He was merely a guest.

“I very much doubt that a rich fool would care to spend any cash on something of little importance.”
[Image: enhanced-buzz-23117-1375125122-4.jpg?no-auto]
Roman Mordvinov

Roman gave a side glance at Proya. He seemed to deflate a little at the kid's refusal to give a fuck. Made sense. Yuri was used to making himself noticed- even if it was mostly being pissing people off. Being dismissed- despite any physical strength he might have- sucked. Still, Proya took it and not too sullenly. Roman knew then that they would be able to work together. As long as he didn't tick off too many of the wrong people. The Ambrosia or Blue pill or whatever people wanted to call it was far too valuable to lose because the guy had a mouth on him and wanted to make sure people didn't ignore him.

Especially if they learned how to make it themselves. Didn't do no good to have only one facility manufacturing the stuff. This shit was the best and would make a killing once it really got out there.

But anyway, that was all for later. He was still flyin' at the moment and Holly was next to him, mostly keeping quiet. He got that. This wasn't her type of place. Back where she worked, the girls did more than just dance. The Blue Moon handshake was pretty much expected. The girls here were not that type. The couple a guys who'd tried something ended up with busted arms or heads and a nice flight out onto the pavement. This place was for when you wanted to relax and enjoy the beauty for its own sake.

Anyway (again!), Holly. He was supposed to be wining and dining Proya. He smiled at Holly- feeling an absurd kind of pleasure that he'd taken her from that place. She didn't belong in a place like that anyway. Way too innocent, despite alla that. Who ever heard of a girl working at a club to help her mom buy a house in the country where they could shelter rescue animals. The sheer crazy sweet absurdity had been the thing that first pierced the horny drunk high fog of the night. The hook, he might say.

"Order what you want, sweetie. We'll have a little fun here and then maybe you 'n' I can go get some food at a nice place."
His smile widened at her, genuine. Hah! Who said gang-bangers didn't have hearts of gold? He was a regular hero and shit.

Anyway (again! Shit it was like REALLY hard to concentrate on one thing) where was he? Oh yeah. So pretty boy and his little amigo were toasting Bas. Yeah. "To Bas."
His boy. His brodyagi.

Yuri piped up, asking who Bas was. Roman jumped in. "Bas was my boy. Serious Brodyagi. Fucker saved my life more than once, the first time taking a hit or something that took him down for days."
He still couldn't believe what had happened. Course now with all the reveals about magic and shit, it made sense. His bro had used the power to save him. And more than once. He shook his head. The powder and booze were doing their thing. The emotions were all amplified and all over the place. He felt the loss of Bas now. And the guilt.

Shit, get it together! He did, though he couldn't help his voice getting quieter. He never knew where Bas got the paranoia streak or why it decided to take over there at the end. He'd spoken of people out to get him more than once and at the time, it had seemed insane. Then again, who knew. Maybe it was the Atha-whatever folks, his Lordship Nikko talked about. Maybe they had been onto him. Anger surged through him and for a moment, he wanted to take all of them out. Maybe they had killed Bas.

His eyes roamed the club, lost, as the feeling fled, draining. What had Bas seen? What had it felt like to be paranoid? All kinds of people here. The hot girl on the stage. The waitresses and bartenders. A few hired-guns who walked around to make sure the men (and women) felt appreciated and at home.

And the guests. Couple a' guys over yonder in some uniform. That gave him a smile. That should get some attention, what with how girls liked a guy in uniform. Not that he'd wear one. Tailored silk, gold, platinum or linen suits did just as well. One dude with them was more subdued with his dress. Didn't want to peacock. He respected that. And it had landed him one of the hired guns- a hot little chickadee anyway.

Couple of women too. One caught his attention. For a moment he wondered why. She was pretty, in a foxy viper way. Seemed the type to rip your throat out as easily as kiss you. That wasn't it though.

He tried to put his finger on it. Then it hit him, The girls. She wasn't looking at the girls. She was sizing up the fellas. Her clothes were richly cut. Then again, maybe she wanted a new sugar daddy to keep em coming. But Kallisti's wasn't too keen on pros using their establishment. No. Wasn't that.

But she was hunting something. She got up and made her way toward one of the decked out soldiers. The way she walked. Not a hired gun, for sure. But definitely using her allure. He jutted his chin in that direction. "Check that out,"
he said quietly to the table.
Nox was grateful that they decided he was at least not too dangerous sitting down and joining them. But he truly wanted to leave - thugs equal bad news and the last thing Nox wanted was some 5 o'clock news show displaying his mug all over the place for fighting in a bar and using the new power of the Ascendants. Nox tugged the sleeves of his shirt down lower, not that they'd risen any. His tattoo was almost always hidden beneath some sleeves. Today he'd forsake the hoodie and opted for a button down shirt and his leather jacket which he wasn't currently wearing.

Yuri didn't drop the power but since he was being pleasant enough Nox dropped his weaves and just held the thinnest trickle of power just in case. It made the sights and sounds crisper, not that he needed to smell the other people. He could do without that but the added sight was always a blessing. The world was more colorful, the lines cleaner and the details were intense.

After toasting Bas for the third time that night Nox set aside the beer. He'd had enough already and hiding he wasn't drinking from the thugs was only going to work on one of them, the other could see exactly what he was doing - so no point. He just wouldn't drink anymore.

The stage was filled with another show that was ending when Roman nodded towards a woman in black. It made her ivory skin seem almost translucent. Her lips were blood red and the hair on the back of Nox's neck rose. She walked like a hunter - a predator ready to strike. Nox sat up straighter and leaned against the table and followed her as she moved like a cat across the floor to her target.

Her target would not have been his choice. If she was what he thought she was. The soldier wasn't easy prey - someone like Pyotr would have been better. And Nox really hoped she wasn't what he thought. Fucking dranaika were bitches to kill. But she moved like the one he and Aurora had tracked for days. Damned foresight and she slipped their net. It was a shitty hunt, but they'd learned a lot. That was pre-godling powers. If their father had not been drinking, maybe they would have killed it. Doubtful, they were one of the hardest to take down. They never did find her again either. Damned foresight!

Nox pulled his power closer to him. There were too many innocents here. She had to be taken outside. Nox didn't care if he was caught staring. This was a club all about looking and not touching. He watched as she closed in on the man standing watch over the club. He was on duty - sort of. It was hard not to watch the stage when there were clothes coming off and sexy bodies underneath. Nox didn't care anymore about his company, he didn't care what they thought as he watched the so-called woman Roman had pointed out interact with the officer. It was a uniform he slightly recognized, but he couldn't recall from where. It was hardly important to his job right now.

If she left he'd follow. The hunt was on, he only wished Aria were here to watch his back.
Jacques wasn't one for ignoring the little details; in fact, he thrived on them. His position and responsibilities required him to focus on the big picture; projections of supply requirements, application of manpower, maneuvering of forces in the field. But none of that worked without an appreciation of the little details. The stamina of the men and equipment. How far could supplies move a day, what were the road conditions like along the way? Boots, beans, bullet. Morale, the cultural influence and likely loyalties of the locals. Food and water sources for non-combatants. The list was endless.

It was that attention to the little details that also made him so good at things like negotiations, and of course poker. Reading the crowd, reading the people around him. Some of Kallisti's guests recognized him, at least from the news. Some likely from some very heated boardroom debates; he hadn't exactly left the CCD corporate community enthused with their prospective future investments in Sierra Leone. And once word of what had just happened in Liberia and Guinea got out...well, that news, coupled with how he would handle the evening's business meeting would likely keep the rest of those coin-counting leaches off his back for the rest of his visit to Moscow.

"Of course, dear woman. 'There are some things that can beat smartness and foresight? Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.'"
Mark Twain. He grinned, that particular attention to detail allowing him to spare a moment to appreciate her fluid transition from standing applause to the lounging grace of a predatory cat.

"I promise, I haven't the foggiest clue what I am doing. Entirely unqualified for the job. Which, as Mr Twain so eloquently put, makes me quite dangerous."

The band, and the entertainers to whom they had complemented the performance, won a brief applause from Jacques as they took their bows and departed the stage. The display could almost be considered comical, in an odd sort of way. The clap of flesh and blood hand against metal and plastic prosthetic didn't quite sound right, but the sincerity was there. "Rich fools. All their money is spent on things of little importance. Expensive cars. Fine clothes. Expensive liquors."
He held his own drink up for a moment to include himself in the definition, else be seen as a hypocrite.

"How much was this drink? $100 CCD or so, yes? For this one glass."
He took a sip, savouring it; he could no longer import Chateau de Beaulon to Africa, due to import laws on liquor in many regions. Mostly due to religious influence on local governments. It had been a few years since the last bottle of the previous CEO's stock had been depleted, and while there were ways around such import laws, he had learned to settle for lesser brands, or to mooch more heavily off of hosting dignitaries and politicians with whom he had met with back in the days of Legion Premiere.

As heavenly as the cognac was, and as much as he allowed himself to truly enjoy the flavour, there was a sense of foolish guilt that went with it. He was not the Dalai Lama, or some other living saint. He was just a man, albeit one trying very hard to do the right thing. "On average, that could feed one refugee child for six months. Give a man a cow, goats, and chickens with which to earn a living for his family. A year's education for a girl. Fund a small business for a woman. Here, it gets me a very nice drink, which most of these rich men will never give a second thought to."

He glanced towards Caporale Iyer, whom had apparently drawn the attention of a particularly dangerous looking young woman. Dangerous in the way women tended to be for men; alluring, mysterious, confident. He shook his head with a rye smile and turned to Karina and offered an apologetic shrug, "I am told I am a bit of a romantic. Prone to a flare of the dramatic. Je suis désolé, ma chérie. I have not introduced myself. Jacques Danjou, of the Legion. Currently ruler of Sierra Leone, and more recently Guinea, and Liberia, as of an hour or so ago."

As always, there was no title to which he claimed ownership. Titles in Africa rarely had any true meaning. Presidents-for-Life, President Elects, President-Generals. Kings, Emperors, and a myriad other ridiculous titles were held by warlords, tyrants, and corrupt rulers the continent over. He, and his PR department of course, had decided that he would carry no such titles. Of course, that too could and in time surely would be seen with the same sort of mistrust that any ruler there garnered, but he could at least try to make a difference first.
Pyotr saw things going downhill fast. Well - it usually did with the types like these two that had joined them. Pyotr wasn't terribly fond of them being there anyways. Thankfully he had a shift tonight and had already stayed later than he would have liked.

He had wanted to drink to Bas, but not get involved with these types. He turned to Nox. "I got to get going."
and then to the others. "Have a good night."

After appropriate good byes, he left to prepare for his shift.

((sorry - I don't terribly get into writing Pyotr - the last thing I want to do is hold up the thread))
Pyotr left him hanging alone with the two thugs. Thanks for the back up bro! Nox sighed but his eyes were still on the dranaika. She was making eyes at the uniform and he was watching her warily. He wasn't buying whatever she was selling. With Pyotr gone he had no reason to stay and chat with Bas' thug friends.

Nox dropped some cash on the table and smiled. "Enjoy your night. I'm gonna see about a girl."
It was meant as a tip for the waitress but if they wanted to grab it would barely buy another drink in that joint. Nox had already spent way too much money and he really had no means of making more money now that he wasn't going to get a check from the Atharim much longer.

Nox dismissed the men he'd just left they had little bearing on anything anymore. His mind was on the hunt. The woman was lithe and she had blood red lips - mostly from lipstick but he knew that those lips were fond of blood. The teeth the other side of them would be sharp and pointed and she would feed on the uniform if he wasn't cautious.

Nox dropped the power. He wouldn't need it straight away, he had to get her out of the club, and to do that he had to act like he really wanted to take her home. She was pretty in a dangerous sort of way. Her dark eyes shimmered as he approached from the side. He looked the uniform up and down with a grin then turned to the she-devil in disguise. "I don't think your uniform wants to play. I'm game."
He leaned close to whisper into her ear, careful not to touch her in any place. "I can be anything you want Duckling."

She slowly turned her gaze to him, those dark predatory eyes both frightening and hypnotic. For a moment, it seemed he could get lost in them. A single hand teased out slowly, the sharp blood red nails tipping the long elegant fingers playing with the pearls at her throat. Voice throaty.Duckling..." she said, as if savoring the words. A hint of a smile touched her blood red lips. A low chuckle from her throat, felt as much as heard. "And wish to be my....lamb?"

Nox watched her finger play with the pearls at her neck and wondered if she'd taken it from a mark - playing with her food's things. He bit his bottom lip in anticipation of what those fingers could do. He chuckled at her words as much as his own thoughts. She'd rip him open like that lamb, but it was all part of the game. Nox loved the game. "I don't know if I will bleat well, but I'll be your lamb."
It sounded cheezy in his head, but he said it anyway. "I'll be your anything. I'll do anything. Tell me your fantasy and I'll grant it."
The line rarely worked in this fashion, but it had worked in the past.

She looked at him and there was a hint of pity. Her eyes flicked from him to the uniform, seeming to weigh the prospects. Hunters sought prey. But they also enjoyed the game itself. As if in confirmation, she turned to the uniform. "And you? Do have anything to say?"

Nox shrugged. "If you want to waste your time chasing a man who is clearly on duty."
Nox turned and walked a few steps before he turned back around with a smile. "I said I'd be anything you wanted. I'm won't compete with someone I got nothing on."
Fuck this was going to back fire. She'd stay in the club prey on some poor sap and he let it happen. But he couldn't turn back now. She was a hunter. And he truly wasn't desperate. This had to work.

Her dark eyes weighed him. The uniform mentioned something non-committal, though the look on his face said that he was wishing he wasn't on duty. Lucky him. He had no idea. She stared at him, measuring the distance between them now. He'd shown a willingness to walk away. "One drink. There," she said, pointing to a secluded spot. "I like to sample my lamb before I order it." And then, without looking to see if he'd follow, she turned, her hips swaying off toward one of the more secluded corners. This wasn't that kinda place you got busy in the booths, no matter the exposed flesh on the stage or from the servers. People of power needed quiet places to talk. The tight black thigh length cocktail dress drew long elegant lines and he couldn't help but stare. Damn, it was too bad really. In that moment Nox hoped he was wrong in his assessment of the danger.

Nox dutifully followed, he was to be a lamb to the slaughter, he could act the part. He let his desire show. It wasn't feigned, Nox knew it was partially the danger but she was attractive. A vision of Elyse floated through his mind which he stomped down promptly. Nox watched as the dranaika slide into the booth and the smile from her blood red lips was not what he expected. It was a perfect smile even if it was laced with seduction. Nox wondered where the teeth were. Dranaika were part of the myths of vampires. Hidden fangs. Nox had not actually tried to get up close and personal with one before.

Nox slide in next to her. His leg a hairs breath from hers. Touch was dangerous. Touch could give him away. He smiled at her and licked his lips waiting for her next instruction. There was no feigning his desire. It had been a long time since he'd played this game.

She smiled in return and for a moment, the hunter vanished. They played all kinds of games. Were all things to all prey. One man might not like the feel of being stalked. And it kept people off balance. Her sharp nails gently touched the nape of his neck even as a server came and took their order sending a shiver down his spine. Fuck! "Absinthe rimmed with sugar"

Her eyes- they had seemed dark but were now tinged with jet blue. It might have been the light, though.- took him in. "Forgive me, lamb, but you do not seem the type of man to frequent this establishment." Her smile tried to take the sting out of it. And wanted him to justify the attention he sought from her.

Nox shrugged and her nails dug deeper into his skin from the gesture. He bit back the hiss of enjoyment from the pressure. He wasn't here to get laid. He did have to keep his mind on things. He focused on his words. "I go where there is fun to be had. It's difficult to find the right girl in this situation. No touching, makes the game harder. And the prices just aren't worth the effort - most of the time."
He grinned at her. "Tonight is so worth it."

Her smile seemed genuine now, as if she were impressed with his honesty. Her touch became a bit softer. Somehow, she softened. The sharpness of her eyes had melted a little, seemed a bit more rounder. The predatory gaze had all but vanished. Not that her dress didn't still promise evil. But there was an innocence about her now, as if she could drop the charade now that he was being more honest. "Aww...You think I'm worth the effort? With all the beautiful women here?" There was something girlish in the way she said it.

The change in her behavior took Nox by surprise. The allure from before had changed, she was starting to remind him more of Elyse than of the predator from before. It was hard to put a finger on it, but had he been wrong? Was this just a girl playing a game? Her drink arrived and Nox took it from their server with gentle fingers and set it down on the napkin and slid it to her. He was slightly disappointed but he smiled at her. If he'd been wrong this was the wrong game to play. He'd wanted something from the interaction and now that was falling flat on it's ass. The hardness from his catch was gone - she changed the game on him.

Nox looked down pretending to be the shy little lamb she wanted at first. The catch, the chase, she was playing him. He looked up at her through the hair that had fallen in front of his eyes. "How can I please you?"

She smiled at him again and squeezed his neck gently. She took a sip and seemed to luxuriate in the taste, licking her lips and taking a deep breath. "Please me...hmm....Well. There are crude and obvious ways." She looked at him as if appraising. "But you didn't come
here for that. Or at least that's what you said."
She winked at him, as if she didn't quite believe him. Well, it was uncharacteristic of most men. Especially with a woman as beautiful as her.

"Perhaps all I want is your company?" Strangely, her look became mysterious, girlish but now with a touch of darkness. She whispered conspiratorially. "Maybe we can find some trouble." She studied him, then, as if gauging him. "That is, if you like trouble. The city IS on high alert. I can think of a few places we can go that might be worth the difficulty." She raised an eyebrow to him as she took another sip. And gently rubbed his neck.

Nox raised his eye brow at the crude and obvious things with a smile. But trouble that was more like it. He was a hunter and he knew danger. He missed Aria.

"I like trouble."
He smiled. Her touch was intoxicating, it was no wonder dranaika were successful in theirs hunts. But Nox still doubted his earlier observation. "I'm ready for whatever you can dish out."

She waved her hand and Nox slide across the seat out of the booth with a grin. This was going to be a good night - fun and a kill...

[[ continuing here ]]

Edited by Nox, Nov 30 2016, 12:44 PM.

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