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Remembering a Friend
Karina listened as the man eloquently quoted Twain in order to illustrate his point. In the few minutes she’d exchanged words with him, the man had proven himself a delightful trove of surprises. She suspected that though he admitted to a lack of qualifications, so to speak, the man was far more competent than he wished to let on.

“Enchanté,” the smile elicited from Karina as the man was brought out of his rambling monologue was genuine. “In Kallisti, I’m known as Inna Valentin, Monseiur Danjou. However, I’m afraid that unlike you, I’ve not come to the recent acquisition of any titles…or peoples”

She wasn’t sure what to make of his grand introduction. Warlords, after all, came to power through the use of bloodshed. The image her mind had once concocted of such creatures did quite match with the attractive man sitting next to her. Of course, as she had mentioned before, she’d never laid eyes on a warlord before.

“In any case, there is nothing wrong with a bit of romanticism in our lives, so long as we do not wholeheartedly abandon practicality,” she continued. “Just don’t let anyone know you heard that from me. I’m sure practicality is the last thing most gentlemen in this place wish to be reminded of.”

She shifted ever so slightly in her seat, so as to create a little more intimacy between them without bringing herself much nearer. “It is true, that in many places, the money spent on that drink could create great opportunities if used wisely. Such things hold value to many. Yet, isn’t it up to us to decide what else we give value to? What I believe to be important, after all, may mean nothing to you… and vise versa. With the wealthy, no matter how foolish they may be, I’ve learned that it’s always best to know why they want something from you. Though something tells me you already know that.”
Jacques laughed quietly, although his gaze was held on the single glass of expensive liquor in his hand. She was right, of course; those who lived in a place like Moscow, the heart of the CCD itself, held very things to be important then someone who lived in a tiny village in rural Guinea might. In such a place as Moscow, such things as a basic education and comfort were all but a certainty.

Perhaps it was that dichotomy that had so set him on edge. He sat in a beautifully adorned and decidedly exclusive establishment, one spoken of in circles he had once floated, even so far away as Africa. He held a drink he had first enjoyed with his long-dead CEO, a fond memory of his promotion to Lieutenant, and was wondering what child he might have stolen a future from. And of course, he was in the company of a very lovely, and intelligent, young woman. One whom wanted nothing more of him then to see that he comfortably spent a small fortune on the bar.

And he sat there, in that company, waiting for a man to arrive and offer him a very tidy sum of money. A man who, expected, to buy Jacques Danjou and his Legion. Expected to quietly purchase the protection of he and his men, that he could be awarded with a promotion and secure his fool company mining rights in Sierra Leone, at the expense of the people who called that place home.

"Your secret is safe with me, Mademoiselle Valentin. A clever choice. But the question is, so named for St Valentine, or the original Latin translation of the name? Which is...what...strong and healthy, I believe?"
He squinted and peered off towards one distant corner of the ceiling as he thought back to his school days. While by no means fluent in Latin, he could still recall a few key phrases. More importantly, Valentine stood out in his mind because of Valentine's Day, which had always seemed a bit of an odd tradition to him.

He briefly stopped what might closest resemble a waitress, a lovely young woman with a tray of empty glasses being carted away from a table of particularly boisterous rich young men, and had her set a few empty glasses on the table in front of him. While confused with the request, she departed in short order with a much lightened tray, and Jacques carefully loosened his tie and popped the top most button of his almond green dress shirt. A quick run of a hand through his hair left it in a pleasantly disheveled state. Within moments, he went from neat-and-tidy to, at a shallow glance at least, having been lounging with a few drinks down range. A carefully calculated disguise, of course.

"There is, I think, no fear of my abandoning practicality entirely. I might hope for a day when my Legionnaires may lay down their arms and take up the plow, but I am so very tired of simply accepting the truth of, 'not in my lifetime.' Well, modern medicine can keep me alive a very long time. But, to reach that day, there is much work to be done."
He took another sip of his drink and glanced to the entrance, and studied the man who had entered. Mr Jahoda had arrived, and quickly spotted first Caporale Mezenes seated at the bar, having switched off with Cpl Iyer shortly after the strangely predatory woman had departed with another man, then Jacques a moment later.

"And now for a touch of that practicality. If you would excuse me a moment, Mademoiselle? I think this meeting shall be quite shorter then Mr Jahoda there expects it to be. And far less fruitful."
He stood with just a hint of drunken uncertainty, flashed her a sly grin and wink as he took her hand gently in his own and leaned in to kiss it.

It was, of course, entirely unlikely that Mr Jahoda, a mere middle-management sort of business man, even noticed the empty glasses Jacques left behind, or took note of his state of undress (a merely loosened tie and undone button), but Jacques had not managed as much as he had by underestimating his opponents.

The two men were quickly seen to a private room to conduct their business. Mr Jahoda bore no briefcase full of out-dated paper contracts, of course; all of that would be handled digitally, when the time came. Which, of course, it did not. Jahoda had indeed expected Jacques to leap at his offer; a few million CCD dollars as a 'donation' to the cause, in exchange for mining rights and territorial concessions to AZO Mining.

The chewing out Mr Jahoda received saw him depart quickly, both pale and sweating, and Jacques emerged a moment later to speak with Cpl Mezenes. The two men laughed heartily and Jacques slapped the Caporale on the shoulder, before parting ways and Jacques made his way back to his seat, still carrying the same, mostly empty, drink.

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