Hedion 03

Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-19 23:55:05
With the business of Imperial surveillance hopefully out of the way for the time being, the team turns to the task at hand. Two of their marks are hosting gatherings at the same time. It's a welcome opportunity for everyone to clean up and relax away from prying spies. There's a hint of paranoia around, enough so that Haralin feels it's safer to take the skimmer back to Akis (thus getting it away from any petty or vengeful locals) but then renting two classy skimmers to take each group to their respective shindigs. Your usual vehicle would be in a secure lot, not hanging around a potential enemy's home.

The team is ready with a little time to spare, and loads up into the luxury skimmer. Luis drives this time; his implants, filtered as they are through the recovery mask, still show him an automatic shortest route to any number of skimmer rentals in the arcology. Luis picks one and saves it, then switches his onboard vox off. It's probably not safe to leave a Cortex connection open like that.


As the vehicle boosts into the air and off the mesa, the two Kansatai watching the Quis' hab exchange looks.

"Did you see him walk out with the bugs?" one asks.

"Of course I did. He must've rattled their Rav-Kansat something fierce, considering his orders not to bug them anymore," answers the second.

"But we are going to bug them," confirms the first.

"Yeah, but not right away," agrees the second. "This is the most activity we've had since we got this assignment and I don't want to spook them out of stubborn contrariness. Let's take a closer look at that Expansion agent; he seems shady to me. Maybe not 'terrorist' shady, but he's definitely cooking up something nefarious."

"Nice word," says the first. "Nefarious. I like it. Fits the guy."


There's a mixup at the skimmer rental. Typical. Haralin and Tanakta's driver arrives promptly in a sleek, small-capacity performance model. Both men put their minds to it and come up with "high-end Mercedes" as an analog. The glossy black vehicle leaves Swao, Haaj, Fett, Zaef, and Zakest just as the friendly but powerless attendant informs them that their ride is incoming. After a minute or two a longer skimmer, maybe not as sleek or as well-appointed, but easily still in the "luxury" class, slows to a gentle stop. The vehicle's driver hops out quickly and opens the doors for the team.

"I apologize for the trouble, sirs and ladies," the short, slightly hunched man says. "Where are you headed?"
Gatac 2010-10-20 06:38:45
"Business meeting," Swao replies. "As in, none of your business."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-20 16:23:20
"Very good, sir," the driver replies, unoffended. "My fee is included in the rental price and is not refundable - if you wish to drive yourself, that will be fine." Swao detects a brief hint of frustration. Perhaps the driver, used to chauffering wealthy clients, is used to wealthy tips as well. While Zaef would normally be the obvious choice to take the controls, it wouldn't do for an infamous prisoner to handle the skimmer himself, so Zakest ends up in the driver's seat. He forces the large sled into Akis traffic and heads towards the upper hive where Segal Iyuzo lives.

Zakest follows the lights in his head and slews the big skimmer up through the open space between latticed starscrapers and the sunlit tunnels that ferry traffic like arteries through Akis. He passes a nexus for retreiving and maintaining refuse drones and notices one of the large, blocky transport sleds has begun following his skimmer. He takes a few detours, the HUD in his brain updating with his turns, and sure enough, the big garbage scow is keeping pace.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-20 23:35:20
Luis sees the big sled and starts taking the scenic route through Akis' more winding neighborhoods. The garbage collector follows, trying its damndest to gain ground, but Luis takes a sudden swerving turn into the wrong traffic pattern. His skimmer fishtails on air, Luis pumps the impellers, and the luxury skimmer sails down a narrow throughfare. The garbage sled brazenly cuts through traffic, prompting a cacophony of angry wailing automated alerts, and manages to stay on Luis' tail. Without the benefit of traffic to hide its presence, the second trailing skimmer becomes obvious. This one's a smaller, dark green model, meant for maybe four people, and it follows just high and to the left of the garbage sled.

Luis hooks a sharp right into traffic again and the two tails follow suit. This time, though, the garbage sled abandons all pretense and, with a humming surge of power, charges for the luxury skimmer's rear end! Luis mutters a curse and drops down, then uses the skimmer's lower mass to gain enough altitude that the garbage sled misses.

The entire team sees the green skimmer's rear hatch open and a masked man lean out. He's got a beamer.
skullandscythe 2010-10-22 17:25:10
Zaef slips out of his seat and onto the skimmer floor. It's cramped and smells like toe fungus, but it beats being shot full of holes.
e of pi 2010-10-23 20:54:37
Zakest barely has the skimmer's course back under control when he spots the armed goon in the green skimmer. He curses, then says, "Swao! Get on the vox! I'd like you to report this to the locals and get permission to return fire before they offer this tub some aftermarket cooling holes." He starts trying some evasive maneuvers, the hope of losing their tails unobtrusively gone.
Gatac 2010-10-24 11:50:47
Swao grins behind his helmet. "On it, Sir."

He grabs the vox and dials in the emergency channel. "Mayday mayday mayday. Hedion Traffic Control, this is Samal Mani Swao, traffic ID" - he rattles off the serial number of their rented skimmer - "being pursued by unknown assailants. Attackers are armed with heavy weaponry. Request traffic lockdown on this route and Kansat reinforcements. Alert emergency services that we may be forced to bring down the attackers over the city."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-24 15:06:09
Swao rattles off his request into the vox but the little handheld peals static before he can finish more than his identification. Someone back there's using some kind of brute-force jamming. Swao curses and tries to crack out of the wall of interference. He gets a little crackle of something, but technical doodads were never his strong point. It's enough to let him know the Kansat at least ARE aware of their predicament, but he wasn't able to get undeniable authorization to return fire.

The green skimmer obviously isn't waiting for authorization; a half-dozen pale blue-white lances flash into brilliant stars as the gunman shoots up the rented skimmer. Ruined viewpanes spray melted plastic through the passenger compartment and the skimmer's body sheds sparks and burnt, charred flakes of chassis as Luis swerves the skimmer around another sharp turn. The corner hab-block soaks another few shots as the green skimmer and garbage scow follow.
skullandscythe 2010-10-26 19:11:59
"Oh, for-Gimme that!" Zaef's hand reaches out from under the seat and plucks the vox from Swao's hand. He starts cutting through the static, muttering "...couldn't tell the difference between a chamakana and a pantaki without the military's fancy pictures..."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-26 20:28:45
Zaef falls into the floor of the skimmer as Zakest sweeps the long sled through a vertical tunnel formed by a network of crisscrossing pedestrian skywalks, but the Bloodwraith keeps his grip on Swao's vox. The jamming is a hack-job in every sense of the word, and Zaef quickly sets up a relay off one of countless unaffected antennas in the vox's sphere of influence. The little handheld's got a good signal.

*-cking your position and dispatching units,* the Kansat response comes through with a hint of background static. *Once again, acknowledge my last?*

Meanwhile, Zakest manages to lose that garbage scow in the impromptu maze of skywalks but the green skimmer is hard on your heels. Another brief flurry of beams sprays into a skywalk and sends a hapless bystander falling into the arcology's labyrinthine void. A blink of an eye and Zakest and the green skimmer are neck and neck as the chase leaves that skywalk jungle and skirts the crenellated and greebled underside of a great arcology structural rib. Maintenance drones scatter like birds before a storm, then return to their duties just as quickly. The green skimmer's close enough to sideswipe, which it tries - the two vehicles trade paint with deafening slams but Zakest keeps control.
skullandscythe 2010-10-26 20:49:23
Zaef tosses the vox back to Swao.

"Make your call, watch for dead zones. Don't hit the button 'til you're done, it'll end the call." He snarks.
Gatac 2010-10-26 21:19:52
"Hedion Traffic Control, copy your last. We are taking fire and being rammed, I say again, we are taking fire and being rammed. Lock down all traffic on our route now, we're trying to lead them out of the city."
Community Lotion 2010-10-26 22:35:07
"You are all a bunch of fucking pussies."

Sitting on her hands and waiting for others to do all the work drives Robin crazy. With an exasperated sigh, she opens the skimmer door just as the pursuing vehicle comes in for another sideswipe. Aiming for the roof, she leaps into the Hedion air.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-27 17:42:27

Reno Kesh's estate in the upper middle arcology is a bulwarked obsidian pretend fortress, awash with gentle light. The landing area is a small but meticulously-kept garden and is watched by at least two human guards in simple black clothing that's too similar not to be a sort of house uniform. A set of ornate doors bars the entrance to the estate; tall and narrow, they give the impression that the entire building is yearning upward.

One of the guards approaches the skimmer as the driver lands it smoothly on a bed of packed earth coated with something to keep the dust from flying. He opens the door for Haralin and Tanakta and voxes into an earpiece, "Inform Lord Kesh his guests have arrived."

The tall doors open onto a warm, inviting foyer that manages to be imposing simply for its height. Wood, clearly a rarity on Hedion, decorates the walls and furniture. It's spotlessly clean but shows the wear of age. Haralin and Tanakta are left alone for a few heartbeats while the guard shuts the doors behind them, but four more men turn the corner of the foyer. They're dressed in a loose, indoor style of the same outfit. Their presumed leader, a man with smiling eyes but a rough, no-nonsense bearing, approaches the pair of Homeworlders and says, "I'm sure this is just an oversight on your part, but Lord Kesh does not appreciate his guests bearing arms inside his home. If you please?" the servant motions to one of the dark wooden side tables.

Haralin smiles and nods, then takes his stinger out of its customized holster and puts it on the table. A man as paranoid as Reno Kesh probably wouldn't appreciate a display of skill and subterfuge like smuggling in a holdout weapon, so then, from an otherwise invisible pocket, he pulls his holdout blade, a razor-thin sheet of alloy, and places it next to his stinger.

Tanakta pauses for a moment as Haralin disarms himself, giving the guard an appraising look. One that isn't "Do I need to slip a gun past you?" but more..."Do I even need to?" Smiling thinly, he nods as well. A stinger, a Terran-type pistol made up to look like an entirely custom rig and a intimidatingly large knife Angel "acquired" at one point from the gear of a certain cadre of genocidal maniacs are all deposited on the table. He pats himself down as if to say "Is there anything I'm forgetting?"

The guard waits for Angel to finish and then addresses the small arsenal. "A fine collection. You have my word they will be returned in the same condition. Please, if you'll follow me." Three of the black-uniformed servants accompany Kesh's guests from the foyer, into an impressively-styled hallway adorned with paintings, 2D prints, and hazy holograms of the Kesh family, up a few steps, and into a warmly-lit dining chamber. The room doesn't boast the ridiculous ceilings of the foyer or hall; Segal Iyuzo clearly would not approve of such reasonable proportions. It's a comfortable size for a small ballroom or dinner party. Indeed, a long table, also made of some dark exotic wood, stretches out from one side of the room. Other servants busy themselves preparing four place settings. The silverware and accoutrements look well-kept but the entire look is clearly an older style.

Reno Kesh and his sister Tora enter on cue from double doors opposite the entry hall. The Hedian noble is tall, and wears large boots and a aggressively spiked haircut to increase his perceived height. Reno's sister doesn't try quite so hard, but then she's easily the equal to her brother in height. Tora wears a simple gray dress but has festooned her fingers, ears, nose, and neck with all manner of jewelry. Reno opts for a single large ring on one hand (and Haralin and Tanakta both note it could easily be his vox); his mismatched irises are striking enough on their own. He's wearing a combination longcoat and doublet in a smooth black fabric. He makes a good show of affecting a genuine smile as he sees Haralin and Tanakta.

"Good evening, master Arakuna!" Reno nods to Tanakta as well. "I'm glad you could join us. We have much to discuss, yes?"

Haralin returns the same show smile, a bit of warmth with a glint of a quint's razor-edged teeth. "Indeed we do, Master Kesh. You are a hard man to get an audience with, delays like this allow the thoctas to gather. Particularly ones that live in the Imperial Palace."

Reno nods sagely in reply, then adds, "It is said that it is wisest to strike last, once you have seen your enemies' forces in light of day. I find squabbling over your... whatever it actually is, Arena expansion, super-rectenna, or whatever else it may turn out to be, well, I find it distasteful. We lose nothing by taking the time to enjoy ourselves. Shall we?" Reno motions to the table, now arrayed with a steaming, succulent roast beast and several large bowls of side dishes. "I can provide stims or bowls or whatever else you may prefer as well."

"No, thank you, I prefer to keep my head clear when conducting real business and not ingratiating myself with those who operate otherwise," Haralin says. He waits for Kesh to take a seat and be served before motioning for his choices. He doesn't touch whatever Kesh doesn't eat, and watches the food being served. For his part, Reno is sensitive to the mutual paranoia; he takes helpings from each offering and has water and a sweet lucha liquor served from pitchers that he also drinks from. Tora's mouth curls upwards in a smile as the simple act of enjoying a meal is transformed into a subtle game.

"It's ironic that we were even able to meet," Tora muses over a plateful of seasoned oblong pellets. "I was looking forward to my tour of Whiirr. Have your duties ever taken either of you to that untamed wilderness?"

"Dropchief Arpana and I didn't quite see eye to eye," Haralin says, "he preferred to see his mission on Whiirr as about spreading their ridiculous religious fictions in the populace to cement control, while I don't see the point in maintaining the farce. They know the truth the instant they leave the surface of that planet, and there are other ways on ensuring that kind of blind devotion that could be spread further than Whiirr, and put that population to good use, I think." Haralin takes a drink of water. "Not that it matters anymore, he died when the Narsai'i invaded and the Wherren there are the terrorists' problem now."

"That's short-term thinking," Reno Kesh replies. "It is unlikely we will be able to reclaim Whiirr without irreparable damage to the planet, its natives, or our forces."

"Yes, but if-" Tora starts but her brother holds up a hand.

Reno continues a beat after his sister stops. "However, to let the rebels have Whiirr is to let a short-term loss of face turn into a long-term disaster. The Emperor's legions must reclaim or destroy Whiirr, it's as simple as that. But we are not here to discuss poor deluded wherren, are we? You have plans involving our poor, deluded countrymen, and I plan on not being one of those so deluded."

"What is it that you wish to know?" Haralin asks. "You already seem to know quite a lot."

"I'm just a good guesser," Reno dodges. "Besides our illustrious Steward, what parts do you expect your other partners to play?"

"Quorona and the Iyuzo both can contribute resources and funds to the project," Haralin says. "There's plenty of money coming in from all sides with the Arena expansion and the new rectenna design, once that goes live Hedion-wide, that we can all become rich enough to buy our own oceanside palace arcologies on Napai." Haralin smiles. "Unless there's reason for it to be otherwise."

Reno ponders Haralin's words while Tora picks up the slack. A servant enters with fresh pitchers while Tora speaks. "There's no denying the recent months have been hard. I returned from my assignment on Lor and found countless new trade restrictions in place. It's hard enough just to get to another world now, let alone with any amount of luggage. I suppose I am saying anyone would be interested in your offer the way you presented it." Tora takes another swig of her lucha wine. "I'm curious why. Why you - why an Expansion agent? How did you arrive at this scheme? Why Hedion? Why the Arena facade? Why bring Zaef Utari at all?"

Reno looks on with amusement as his sister rattles off her questions, then adds, "And why the Iyuzo? They are... volatile."


"Holy shit!" the shooter shouts from the skimmer's window. Robin's leap carries her onto the green skimmer's roof where she wraps one arm around the offending beam rifle. The shooter fires wildly, showering both vehicles in quickly-receding sparks and debris from the arcology walls. Robin leans her weight onto the gunman's protruding upper torso and tries to bend him out of the window. It's a risky move but it forces the shooter to drop the rifle in favor of not falling out of the vehicle. Robin gets a glance inside while she's riding the skimmer like a pony - there's just the two hostiles, the gunman and the driver. Speaking of which, the driver slews right and left, bobs up and down, pitches, yaws, and rolls, but Luis keeps the skimmer boxed in to the point where it can't shake Robin. The female spook's got the gunman halfway out of the skimmer now; his hands claw at Robin's carapace armor and slam into her abdomen and upper arms with little effect.

Inside the luxury vehicle, the Kansat dispatcher answers Swao. *Recommend you change course, Samal. Lead the hostiles towards Segal Iyuzo's estate, we've got your back. Units are on their way.*
Gatac 2010-10-27 23:21:50
"Affirmative, Hedion Traffic Control. Setting course for Segal Iyuzo's estate."

Swao turns to his boss. "Traffic control wants us headed for Segal's place, sounds like they've got something waiting for us there."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-28 03:38:01
Zakest blinks a new route into the space behind his eyes and overlays it on the skimmer's beamer-holed windscreen. Swao looks up from his vox call in time to see the surprised gunman's face flatten on his window before it's gone.

Robin watches the gunman Wilhelm his way into the abyss, permitting herself a satisfied smile before the green skimmer's renewed bucking threatens to send her tumbling after. Robin manages to maintain her position on the skimmer but can't get an opening to leap back to her own vehicle or advance to the driver's side.


The Kesh estate

As the Keshes ask their questions, both of you find the answers rising unbidden to the forefront of your thoughts. There's a feeling of pressure inside your head, a feeling of anxiety clouding your thoughts. It's as if you feel this sudden sharp guilt for keeping the countless secrets locked away. It would be such a relief if you could just tell someone. If you could just get it all off your chest things would be so much simpler. Despite the sudden Raskolnikov-level compulsion to be as forthright as possible, you both force down the unbidden thoughts for now. You can feel the pressure increasing every moment, however.

Haralin laughs uproariously, a loud, raucous laugh that fills the large hall and startles Tora a bit. He leans forward and smiles again, this time all illusion of friendliness gone from his expression. "Because I'm secretly a member of a trans-Imperium cabal of economists obsessed with price fixing, I consulted with my Wherren best friend and confidant while we layed together after he ravished me, because your planet's power prices determine production costs for this whole sector and that determines good prices across the Imperium, because who doesn't love a good murder every now and again, so I co-opted the project, and because he's my cloned half-son with a tarantek," Haralin says, ticking off his responses to Kesh's questions on his fingers, then levels the smile at Kesh again. "Turn it off."

Both nobles are taken aback - anyone would be, really - but Reno's truly quizzical expression breaks up his usual cool demeanor. "Turn... what off, exactly?"

Tora scoots her chair back from Haralin a wee bit. She glances at Tanakta, asking, "Is your chief all right?"

Tanakta gives the two of them an even, dangerous look. "He's quite alright. Whether all parties involved continue to be...alright...depends very much on the next minute or two, and the quality of your decision making."

Haralin jumps to his feet and runs over to the wall, pressing up against it. "You don't feel this? Why did you really invite us here tonight?"

There's a shadowed movement of guards outside the dining chamber that Reno ceases with a curt shake of his head. "I invited you here to learn enough of your secrets to protect myself against you and whatever other schemes you may have in mind for your other partners. Please, why don't you take your seat again and we'll trade secrets. Partnerships founded on mutual blackmail are strong ones, in my experience. Please," Reno gestures at the kicked-out chair at Haralin's vacant table setting.

Tanakta idly hooks his foot under one of the chair legs and flips it back upright, muttering softly to himself as he does. "No artistry these days."

Tanakta's words come as easily to him as they would have without any mysterious effector fields or truthiness serums, and the candidness of his intentions shows. Reno lets his sister eye up the bodyguard and keeps focused on Haralin. "Let's make a game out of it," Tora suggests with malicious cheer in her voice. Her eyes fix Tanakta with a look that says whenever you want to do this, we can do this. "How about each of us takes a turn asking a single question?"

Haralin slowly takes his seat back at the table. "Fine." He digs into a pocket and slaps a lat on the table. "Tops or bottoms?"

"Tops," Reno says. The lat doesn't agree with the noble, however, deciding to come up showing the astrolabesque Imperial seal rather than the radiant crowned Avatar head.

"What do you have on Abe Saloma?" Haralin asks.

Haralin watches Reno carefully as Kesh considers his answer. There's the barest hint that he's considering a smooth lie, but when Reno speaks Haralin is pretty sure his response is genuine or at least heavily laced with the truth. Haralin also notes that Kesh's face betrays the slightest guilt, as if he's being affected by whatever Haralin and Tanakta are feeling but to a far lesser degree.

Tora fidgets nervously with her jewelry as her brother responds. "Our illustrious Steward prefers his drug bowls come from Kesh Pharmaceuticals above all others. It's something of a habit he cannot seem to shake," Reno says, then leans forward. "My turn. Who are you working for?"

Haralin's face twitches. He fiddles with his rings while he thinks of an answer. He spins the coin on its edge on the table, then sighs. "The Throne."

Reno and Tora share what might be construed as a worried glance, if powerful Hedian nobles were given to that kind of reaction. Seeing their reaction, Angel ponders for a moment, his eyes on Tora, or rather at a distant point on the wall slightly behind and through her, the subtle threat from earlier enough to put her slightly off balance, headed toward more...emotional responses. Quick, fast, possibly not as well veiled. "Anything you'd like us to find out from your own mouths, with a chance to explain, rather than when we inevitably dig it up? Discoveries like that always lack context. Misunderstandings occur, regrettable conclusions arrived at."

Tora's facade cracks and her posture slinks back to one more in line with her defensive tone. "If this is about our brother and the Cyllans, we are not involved." She makes a distancing gesture with her hands before she realizes Reno has cocked an eyebrow at her. Tora thinks for a moment, both as defense mechanism and, well, probably to think of a good question.

"I have an idea about him," Tora hardly flicks her eyes to Haralin, "and I thought I had you pegged, but you continue to surprise us, Tanakta. Where did you train?"

Tanakta can feel the compulsion tugging at him, and slightly shifts his posture in the seat, mentally ticking off places he has trained. "That's an indelicate question for someone in my line of work. Like asking a woman her age, or what color the unmentionables she's wearing are." He chooses an Imperial translation he picked up...somewhere. A slightly vulgar noun, implying he's not interested in them because of his desire to be in sync with the latest fashion in form-shaping support garments.

"But since you did ask, I trained in a place called Fayetteville." He pronounces it like a Carolinian, "FAY-et-VEAL", hoping that by the time its translated to Imperial and back, it won't mean a goddamned thing to anyone. "Doubt you've heard of it, backwater of little real value. Saw some action on Whirr, the usual brush fight with natives who didn't know better. Of course more recently, most of my time has been spent in a place that officially has no name."

"Most interesting," Reno comments at Angel's response. "And you've been on Lor too long, poking through old bones," he says to Tora. "Mind your questions, sister. Shall we play another round?"

Haralin takes Tanakta's hand and looks him in the eyes, cocking an eyebrow and squeezing his hand in a more...intimate version of a standard "Well, do you?" look.

Tanakta's eyebrows rise ever so slightly, and he gives his companion a speculative glance. "If you must."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-28 03:54:05
Approaching the Iyuzo compound

The green skimmer's got his hands full. The driver's more than competent, but he's trying to chase Zakest, who's no slouch, as well as shake Robin, who's proving to be about as agile as Spiderman as she clings to the green skimmer. The driver figures he can kill two birds with one high-speed stone and banks right for another sideswipe. Zakest's happy to meet the green skimmer halfway - after all, it's just a rental car. The luxury skimmer's got more ass to it, and the green skimmer gets the short end of the sideswipe stick. One of its impellers snaps off with a scream of protesting steel and Robin flips over bodily sideways, barely hanging on by one gloved hand. The good news: Now she's hanging off the driver's hatch. The bad news: The driver's reaching for a handlancer.

Kansat lights flicker orange in the arcology bowels ahead of you. You're getting closer to Segal Iyuzo's turf and it seems he's called in some of the Kansat in his pocket. Most Kansat skimmers come armed and if they're already dirty cops, they're probably going to shoot first and arrest never. Robin figures she has about ten seconds to either take out the driver herself or get back to her team before the car chase hits the roadblock. Er, the skimmer chase hits the... skyblock?
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-28 03:54:52
Kesh Estate, Round 2

Haralin looks back to Reno and Tora, putting the predatory smile back on. "What are your real plans regarding us and our rectenna array plan? What do you want from us?"

Reno doesn't hesitate in answering. "I'm interested in supplementing or replacing the dwindling profits from our shipping enterprises, which are too easily cut into by Iyuzo parasites or Imperial mandates. If your rectenna arrangement is stable over the long term, I'm inclined to participate." For all Haralin or Tanakta can tell, Reno's not playing you with this response and there's nothing in Tora's face to contradict him either.

Reno formulates his own question and visibly corrects himself right before he opens his mouth. He cocks his head to the side, weighing his options, then asks, "What are your real names?"

Tanakta goes for the absurd, not even pretending he isn't hiding something. "Sun Shenmai."

Haralin keeps his smile going. "Azizam Holoni."

"Right," Reno grins, especially at Angel/Tanakta/Sun, filing that one away for later.

Tanakta sits back, giving his companion a fond, almost whistful glance before eyeing Tora with undisguised speculation, taking a slow, lingering tour. Haralin looks from Tanakta's eyes to Tora's, giving her a smirk and nodding in Tanakta's direction, saying "You gotta hit this, it's awesome" with his eyes. "Do you have any association with the Narsai'i, or their sympathizers within the Empire?" Tanakta asks.

Tora idly plays with a loose strand of hair over one ear. Her excess finger ornamentations click on the equally ostentatious earrings. Actually, 'earrings' don't convey the full power of the jewelry. They're more like 'ear-Death-Stars'. Tora's eyes shoot back with oh, this battlestation is fully armed and operational, or however you might care to wrangle that into innuendo. Both men suspect the sister Kesh is about as serious about the undertones as they are.

"Yes," Tora says.

"No," Reno says at the same time. There is the slightest awkward pause, and then poker faces all around.

"Uh..." Tora stammers, trying to grab control of the conversation. "Will your rectenna plan succeed without Saloma's participation?"

Haralin lets his smile stay wide. "Not at first. After we have clearance to build it and things start moving forwards...then it all depends."

Tanakta leans forward, putting a hand on the table, his expression suddenly much, much more serious. "And now, I believe, we are done playing this particular game, regardless of how charmingly quaint it is."

"Very well," Reno acquiesces. "A pity, I do enjoy skillful competition. But to business, you are too right, Mr. Shenmai. While I'm compelled to keep up with the neighbors, so to speak, I'm not sure there is a place for me at your table, especially amongst the likes of the Quoronas and Iyuzo. What do you intend my role to be?"

The game is over but the drugs are still coursing through your system, which means that maybe the game isn't over.

"We need a...moderating influence," Haralin says. "Quorona's ambition makes him less than desireable as a long-term leader, the Iyuzo's instability even more so, and Saloma, whenever he climbs out of his bowl-induced fog, is only out for himself. Their money and influence makes them useful for now, but would you want them to be part of the decision making process?" Haralin leans forward in his chair. "As for our...other reason for being here, let me just say that it is very much in our interest to locate Narsai'i and Bashakran sympathizers. Not to put them on the education grids, we learned from our mistakes with the Rav-Whetu that doesn't work very well, but for other purposes." He keeps his smile going, but lets the edge drop a bit as he shifts from discussing the rectenna. "We're willing to overlook quite a lot. What kind of involvement do you have with the Narsai'i?"

Davis has asked this question countless times. Sometimes it ended with 'Taliban', 'Triads', or 'Hamas', but the question - and the range of responses - are a known quantity to Davis. Reno opts for the "obfuscating vagaries" strategy. "The Narsai'i could be anywhere," Reno replies carefully. "Isn't that what the Throne tells us? As much as I pride myself in taking a vested interest in my business and my people, it's certainly possible that I could even be involved without my direct knowledge." Reno's beating around the bush but the gist is pretty clear. What are you going to do if I say yes, and what are you going to do if I say no?

Tora lets her brother speak for the both of them, but it's clear shit just got real at the Kesh house. Her fingers nervously click over her jewelry. Davis sees worry for her brother and a pang of regret in her eyes. Tanakta doesn't glean that much from Tora's face. The clicking draws his attention to the Expansion agent's finger ornamentation, where maybe - just maybe - some of those rings are starting to look like they might be some sort of weapon.

Haralin takes more of the edge off of his look. He's gone from "we will cut you" to "we're looking for friends" in the space of a minute. "If you were working with them, and harbored sympathies for their cause, then we could talk here and now, with a provision of privacy, of course, about taking you further into our confidence regarding our mission here." He tries to make the subtext as clear as possible without being incriminating: There's a lot more here than what we're letting on, but we can't make the first move about the rebels until you drop some kind of hint.

Reno puts a gentle hand on Tora's shoulder and his sister relaxes just a little. Tanakta is sure her jewelry contains gadgets at this point. Reno chooses his words carefully. "I assure you we are about as private as one can get here," he says. He's a hard read - Davis isn't sure he's gotten a baseline of true sincerity from the man yet, but if Reno Kesh is one thing besides 'cautious to the point of paranoia', it's 'proud'. Davis gets the faintest glimmer of satisfied gamesmanship when Reno cautions, "What if I was sympathetic but was not currently working with them? Would you be the man to talk to?"

A dread silence hangs in the air. Reno clearly knows about microexpressions, he might even have had subtle surgery done to effect control over them, but Davis spots it. Reno is lying. He's not sympathetic to the rebels. He's not working with them. Tora... well, Davis would say she is sympathetic. Sympathetic and clearly too scared to do anything about it.

Finally, on top of it all, the goddamn drugs are still there, pushing the easy answer to the forefront of Haralin and Tanakta's thoughts.

"Possibly," Haralin says, keeping his friendly smile. "Come, let's you and I talk privately, while Tora and Tanakta here follow through on their undertones from earlier. I just need to discuss something with my...colleague before we part." He nods and throws a smile to Tanakta.

Tanakta moves slightly again, repositioning himself as Tora becomes more agitated. It's a gamble, playing the odds - if the woman's agitated, she might aim for where he is, not where his position will leave him if he gets even the slightest bit of warning. Of course, if its a melee weapon the woman favors - well, he hopes she'll ill-trained, where a short blade can be as dangerous for its weilder as otherwise.

"An excellent plan." Tanakta smiles at Tora, and this one is...reassuring. It's not the voice of someone calculating just how many bones are in the human hand. Angel grew up in places with enough cops that he's heard Cop Voice. This is it - the reassuring figure of authority who just wants to hear the girlfriend with the black-eye's side of things. "Give us a moment, and then you and I should go for a walk. Your estate looks...lovely." He rises, motioning Haralin over for their private chat.

Tora and Reno are all smiles as Haralin and Tanakta face away from the Kesh siblings. Haralin leans up to Tanakta's ear, lips a millimeter away. "I'll work on getting Reno to go along with us, and you work your magic on Tora.

Tanakta nods slightly. "Sure thing..dear."

Haralin grabs Tanakta's ass and adds a peck on the cheek, then turns around to Reno and Tora. He gives her a He's all yours smirk, then turns to Reno. "So, do you have somewhere with a better view?" he says with a smile.

Reno returns the expression and waves open the double doors farther into his estate. "Of course."

Haralin and Reno leave the dining chamber and pass through several rooms of a much more reasonable scale compared to the initial few chambers. Clearly this is where the Keshes do most of their living, or at least would have it appear thus to outsiders. Judging from the decor alone, it's clear Reno is proud of his noble heritage, especially when compared to bootstrapped self-made men like Quon Quorona. A narrow staircase leads up to a small observatory built at just the right altitude to parallel the arcology's structure and let in Hedion's natural light. In the distance there's an impressive backlog of confused air traffic and meandering emergency vehicles. The noise surprises Reno; the congestion must be abnormal.

"I'm glad I'm not in that," Kesh quips.
Community Lotion 2010-10-28 18:40:11
Luis' vox again crackles to life; this time, it is Robin, speaking with a matter-of-fact voice that belies her current predicament. "Zakest, this is Haaj. Threat to be neutralized in moments - requesting immediate pickup."

With her free hand she draws her pistol and fires several shots into the exposed under-carriage lift system.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2010-10-29 18:18:13
Robin drops down and grabs the port impeller housing while puffs of slagged skimmer hatch spray out above her from the driver's hasty shots. Luis tries to dive down and get underneath the green skimmer, but the driver sees his move and matches it. He realizes he's on the defensive now, but Robin and Luis have kept him distracted. The driver doesn't see the firing line of corrupt Kansat gravsleds hovering up ahead in a transit tunnel. If he had, he might have well tried to escape while he had a chance.

The driver sees the skyblock too late and tries to pull up. Luis uses the opening to finally pull in underneath Robin just as she pulls her stinger and empties the screaming, shaking gauss weapon into the green skimmer's undercarriage. Black smoke and electric fire plumes from the vehicle. Her grim work done, Robin daredevils from her perch, landing roughly but centered on Luis' front canopy with an awful clatter of armor and equipment.

Above and in front of the luxury rental, the team watches the green skimmer shudder and break apart under a fusillade of Kansat beamers. The wreck confettis on impact and spreads into the transit tunnel like gasoline-soaked Black Friday shoppers at a Best Buy.

*You're clear to the Iyuzo estate, over,* one of the Kansatai voxes. *That was a balls out stunt you people pulled,* the officer adds with some admiration.