A Chance Encounter

Tales from days past, from days of Paragon City go here. This is a reminder of where we've been.

A Chance Encounter

Postby Static Bolter » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:29 am

Originally posted by Yuki Frost: April 13th, 2009

((This is a story I've been sitting on for a while. Big thanks to Bolty for helping me fix my grammars))

Yuki Frost made her way as quietly as possible through the Gen-Tech labs. It was night and luckily most of the staff had left for home. This would make things much easier. She had heard a report come through the police band that the Council was operating in the area, so she'd moved quickly to intercept them. The dispatcher's best guess was that they were here for the Phased Linear Oscillation Transducer.

As she had flown to her objective, Jesska had tried to give her an idea of what the P.L.O.T device did, but the explanation went right over her head. Jesska was usually able to put things in fairly simple terms that even Yuki could understand, but, unfortunately Jesska also had a habit of expanding on them and completely losing her.

Down one of the halls she spotted her first target; One lone Council member was reporting an all clear to his leader. Yuki crept a bit closer, waiting until the man finished his conversation. She raised one hand, sub artic temperatures gathering on her fingertips. Before the man knew what hit him his arms were pinned to his sides and he was encased in thick ice from the neck down.

Yuki moved so she could get a look at him, a sweet smile crossing her face. He recognized her immediately from the glare he shot her, she could tell.

"Let me go, you bi-"

He didn't get finish his insult due to being smacked upside the head with large chunks of ice.

"No need to be rude", she countered.

The man didn't answer due to slipping from consciousness.

*****

It didn't take long for the Council to become wise to her presence in the building. They were actively looking for her now, which meant she needed to be more aggressive too. She no longer stopped long enough to trade quips with her opponents, wanting this to be over as quickly as possible. She was always much more careful when she had to work without backup.

Yuki made her way through the labs, leaving a trail of unconscious Council in her wake. So far things had really been going her way, making her feel quite untouchable as she defeated more and more men. She knew that arrogance like that often led to things going south quickly, but hey, she had a really good feeling about tonight.

As she burst into the next room that feeling of victory swelled even more. A man stood within wearing the markings of an Archon, though she didn't recognize him from any of her intellegence. He was obviously in charge here though as he was barking orders for his troops to pull out. He held some sort of electronic device in his hands that Yuki assumed was the P.L.O.T. device.

"Hi! I'm Yuki Frost, and I'll be your arresting Reciprocator today. Can I start you out with an appetizer? Perhaps a block of ice or a defiant fist?"

She smirked big at her cleverness. Too bad Bolty or Jess hadn't been here to hear it because she knew they at least would appreciate it. She could tell by the snarl the Archon was giving her, he didn't appreciate it one bit.

"I know who you are, Frost. Archon Davis, and I'm sure I need no introduction"

Yuki stared at the man blankly. This only seemed to enrage him even more.

"Archon, Samuel Davis...", he said to clarify.

She actually did remember him from her intelligence files, now that she had his name, but this seemed like too precious of an opportunity to waste.

"Um... sorry. No clue who you are," She replied as she gave a helpless shrug.

"Well I can promise you won't soon forget me. Attack!"

At his command, the handful of troops he had with him went into action. She realized almost immediately that her cockiness had probably bitten off more for her than she was prepared to handle. She raised her hands up and gathered energy, raining down ice on as many of the troops as she could.

The mass of men started slipping and sliding as they were pelted with ice from every direction. Some of them dropped their guns in an effort to try to shield their faces from the icy torrent. A few of the men, unable to take the deluge even ran away to get out of the area of effect.

Yuki leaned against a console beside her trying to catch her breath. Conjuring up such a fierce blizzard always winded her. As she quickly tried to regain her composure she scanned the area to reassess her situation. She seemed able to catch a majority of the soldiers unaware. Less than half were still upright as the ice storm ended.

She caught a glint of black metal out of the corner of her eye. Turning she saw one of the soldiers had her in his sights. She tried desperately to coat herself in ice, but it was no use. However, an unexpected form came out of the shadows and struck the man on the back of the legs with an extendable baton. The soldier fell flat on his back then went unconscious as he received a blow from a baton to the side of his head.

The figure was male, Yuki saw as she got a better look at him. He wore all black, some sort of leather, or perhaps kevlar. His face was almost completely obscured, except for his mouth which seemed to give her a big smirk when he looked over at her. Dark red bangs down to his cheeks came out of the top of the mask and framed his face. His eyes were obscured by a pair of goggles that seem to have a glow to them, perhaps some sort of target mechanism.

The man sprung into action again after taking a moment to look over at Yuki. Swinging a baton in each hand he cut through the group with fluid motions, looking almost as if he were dancing more than fighting. Every step and movement seemed to have a pure grace about it. Yuki found herself standing motionless for a moment, just watching him move.

She shook her head, clearing her thoughts and focusing on the task at hand. She then spotted the Archon at the other end of the room shouting orders and gesturing frantically. She headed that way, stopping to ice one of the Council members that was moving in behind her newfound ally, trying to get a drop on him. Her ally flashed her another grin after hearing the man yelp and caught him in the stomach with his weapon, doubling him over.

Desperate, Archon Davis took a few shots at Yuki as she advanced. Yuki zigzagged, making it near impossible for the man to get a bead on her. He finally discarded the weapon and took a kick at her head, yet she moved out of the way easily, using her quickness to stay one step ahead of the angry Archon. Pointing her hands down at the ground she focused her will and caused the floor below the two of them to ice over.

The Archon started to slip and slide, his feet threatening to topple him over. The man in black made his way to the pair and launched an attack at Archon Davis. The force of the blow catching him in the side caused him to lose grip of the P.L.O.T. device he was holding and it flew into the air. Yuki gave a push with one foot and slid with the grace of a professional ice skater under the device, catching it easily.

Archon Davis' attention seemed to be solely on her yet to be indentified ally. It was all Davis could to to block the incoming blows from the flurry of batons. Yuki took the opportunity to launch a large chunk of ice at the man's head. Her aim was true; it caught the Archon square in the face and he went down hard.

"Nice shot", her ally said as he walked over to her.

"I try." This was said with a grin and a slight shrug, "Yuki Frost"

She added this and held out a hand toward him. He took it and gave it a firm shake as he looked down at her.

"Chance Pr-", he started to say, but didn't have a chance to finish.

The interuption came in the form of a gun cocking behind him. He pulled Yuki behind him and spun to face Archon Davis who had pulled out a pistol from some where and leveled it at the two of them. Yuki tried despretely to tug her savior out of the way, not wanting him to take a bullet for her. He was to strong for her to move though.

The sound that came next wasn't a gunshot, but more like an explosion. Archon Davis grabbed his face and howled in pain and surprise. Chance, on the other hand didn't seemed fazed in the least by what happened. He let go of Yuki's hand and slid across the ice, delivering a kick to Davis' face. This time it didn't seem like Archon Davis would be getting up for a while.

Yuki stood there wide-eyed, not quite understanding what just happened. She took a moment to try to take everything in as he walked back towards her. He just smiled and gave a nod toward the device in her hand.

"I'll take that."

Yuki shook her head at him, assuming he meant he'd finish things up.

"It's alright. Detective Croquette is waiting on me to bring this in. I can take care of everything from here. Thanks so much for the assist."

The smile disappeared from his face.

"No, I mean I'm taking that from you."

She spun away from him, keeping the object out of his reach and moved a few steps back, her eyes never leaving him.

"Wh...what?"

"C'mon, don't make this hard. I've already got my buyer lined up. Hand it over, because I really don't want to have to take it from you."

She raised up her free hand, deciding the best course of action was to put this guy on ice before she finished this conversation. As she was about to freeze him down, she felt her feet start sliding. She had backed up to where the ground was still iced over and for the first time since she'd perfected that trick, she started to lose her balance. No matter how much she tried to right herself, it seemed to do no good.

Next thing she knew she was flat on her back and Chance was standing over her. She tried to sit up, but quickly realized she couldn't. She glanced down to find somehow in the fall she managed to freeze herself to the ground. Evidently she had fired her power off as she was falling, and now she was done for. No matter how much she squirmed, she couldn't get free from the ice that held froze from her shoulders down to her belt.

"I'll take this now", he said as he kneeled beside her.

He grabbed the device from her and was about to stand, but paused as he looked down at her. He got a mischievous grin on his face and leaned over her, his face just a breath's length away from hers. Confusion set in, and she didn't give any resistance, completely disoriented by this point.

"I'll take this too, hope you don't mind"

He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was light, but the warmth of his lips when compared to the coldness of hers could've been fire. At first she let her eyes close, unable to tell what exactly it was she was feeling. She seemed to melt into the warmth of his lips. This feeling seemed to go on for an eternity.

In reality it was mere seconds before she regained her composure again. She made a sound against his lips and kicked up with her foot. He dodged the kick easily and stood to his feet. A mixture of shock and anger crossed Yuki's face, but before she even thought to try to shoot ice at him with her free hand, he was gone.
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Re: A Chance Encounter

Postby Static Bolter » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:30 am

Originally posted by Yuki Frost: April 15th, 2009

Yuki flew back to the Citadel in a confused state. Despite the fact that a good thirty minutes had passed since the kiss, her lips still felt warm and tingled. She remembered quite vividly everything that happened when Chance had kissed her. The feel of lips. The warmth of his breath on her face. Everything. She felt an odd warmth playing across her face. This was something that almost never happened. She reached up to touch her cheek to see if perhaps she was imagining it. Indeed they were warm to the touch.
“No!” She said to nobody in particular and shook her head.
She can't get all warm and fuzzy over this. This guy, Chance, had stolen something very precious. She'd never kissed anyone, not seriously. Other than her father, but that was completely different.
“So very different”, she said again and her mind started reliving the moment again for her.
She hardened her face again, forcing her resolve to take over again. She was a victim here. Her first kiss, that was something she'd never get back.
“It wasn't so horrible though”, she thought to herself.
The fact that her mind would suggest such a thing made her even angrier. She spent the whole time it took her to arrive at the Citadel arguing with herself. The worst part of all of this, is she felt out of control. That was a feeling she hated. She had to get a reign on herself and soon.
*****
John Smith, sometimes also known as Mr. Mundane, of the Reciprocators sat at his desk going over the figures for the second time. He hadn't even meant to stay up so late, but he wanted to everything to be perfect. He had just started rechecking his variables when he saw Yuki stomp past his office.
“Hello Yu-”, was all he was able to get before she was out of sight.
He heard the door of her office, which was right next to his, slam. There was a brief moment of silence next door then a few more slamming sounds. This was accompanied by indistinguishable muttering. He finally slid from his chair and walked next door lifting his hand to knock. Another crash came from inside with something that sounded like “Stupid Jerk”
“Yuki?” he said accompanied with a light knock.
Sounds from inside ceased, and all was quiet for a brief moment. He wondered idly if she was going to even answer. The door was flung open and angry glowing eyes looked up at him. She had already half changed out of uniform by this point. She was now wearing the Reciprocators t-shirt she often wore around the base, but still had her the tights on. Her boots and gloves had already been discarded on the floor he could see behind her. Some books and some of the items that normally lay on her desk were on the ground, likely the crashing noises he heard earlier.
“What?” she asked him impatiently.
He was somewhat taken aback by her tone, having never heard her even raise her voice to anyone before.
“I was just wondering if everything was alright, mate.”
“Oh,” she replied her voice flat, “Just peachy!”
With that she shut the door again. John stood outside for a moment.
“OK, right then.”
He retreated back to his office shaking his head. The female of the species was still a bit of a mystery. He liked numbers and statistics, because they made a whole lot more sense. He slid back into the chair behind his desk and went back to the project he was working on. He figured if she wanted to talk eventually, she would.
******
“Resistance. Security Center, now.”
The voice was Yuki’s sent over the Reciprocators comm channel. She sat in front of one of the security consoles tapping away furiously at the keyboard. The more she banged keys the more confused by the system she became. She would normally have asked John’s help, but she felt a bit guilty for how she spoke to him a little while ago.
“Right away Ms. Frost,” The robot cheerfully answered.
After a few clicks of the mouse, and a lot of Yuki wanting to pull her hair out, Resistance finally appeared.
“How might I be of assistance Ms. Frost?”
“I need you to show me what I’m doing here,” she said gesturing at the screen.
The robot leaned over and peered at the screen for a moment before formulating a response.
“I’m afraid I am not sure what you are doing, there is insufficient data for me to make a guess. It appears as if you are searching for someone.”
Yuki stared at Resistance for a moment blinking once.
“Yes. I am searching for someone. I’m not sure I’m going about it right.”
The robot considered this for a moment before replying.
“Mr. Smith gave all of the officers a wonderful tutorial on how to use the systems. Do-” he started to say, but was cut off.
“I know he did, I just forgot, okay?”
“Very well Ms. Frost.”
She knew deep down that both of the Citadel's helpers didn't have the capacity for sarcasm, but sometimes she thought they managed it quite nicely. It didn't help that she didn't seem to know exactly how to talk to them, unlike some of the others in the Citadel. She began the long arduous process of entering in everything she knew about the guy she faced earlier.
The status bar slowly counted the progress on the screen. She watched it as she idly drug one finger across the bottom of the keyboard.
“Chance”, she said wistfully as she lost herself in thought.
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Re: A Chance Encounter

Postby Static Bolter » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:32 am

Originally posted by the Androgyne: May 11th, 2009

((Shayde, sorry I took so bloody long, thanks for your patience -- and the constant reminders after that patience ran out But srsly thanks for letting me get involved in this and for the opportunity to write a bit about Ani interacting with eir old element.))

"Ani, are you on comms?" The voice belonged to Yuki Frost, another Reciprocator.

The Androgyne twirled through the mass of Rikti and Vanguard operatives that swarmed across the bowl in the center of the mothership. Eir hands whipped through the air in an exhausting, violently graceful dance of serpentine movements, alternately plucking at the threads of fate e saw connecting em to every entity in the horde and releasing bolts and cascades of radiation. In the instants-brief interim between waves of Rikti defenders, e dropped a hand down to flick eir comm to hands-free mode, so it would transmit as it detected eir voice pattern.

"Not only am I, now I'm actually awake," e shouted in reference to the previous night, when e had become so exhausted in the field e'd left eir comm on when e finally crashed. "What's up, Yuki?" Waking up to news of a raid on the mothership being underway had cleared up any lingering tiredness quickly.

"Look out, more Magi!" shouted Static Bolter somewhere behind em in the chaos, and e whirled to see several ornately armored Rikti barreling down the side of the bowl.

Yuki's voice came across the comm again; she sounded about as tired as Ani had been the night before. "I'd like to have a chat with you, whenever you get some time."

The Androgyne readied both hands, drawing handfuls of threads out of the mass e saw swirling around em and preparing to ensnare and mire the Rikti reinforcements. Before e had a chance to act further though, the hull of the mothership shuddered beneath the assault party's feet. The shield generator was coming back online.

The Vanguard's emergency teleporters evacuated the hull en masse, and Ani released the threads with a soft, disappointed sigh as e felt the pull begin. In an instant, the dozens of Vanguard operatives were torn from the mothership and found themselves assembled on the battlements of the fort at Point du Hoc. E heard a familiar voice "Woah!" somewhere amid the congratulations, back-slapping, and early coordination for the next assault. "Urgh...it always turns my stomach when that happens..."

The Androgyne spoke into eir gauntlet, "Shield just went back up, Yuki, so I'm open. Heading back to the Citadel, hopefully my coffee hasn't gone cold already. Also: nice zapping, Miss Bolter." E raised a hand and waved towards Static Bolter over the heads of those still gathered.

Bolter returned the wave, looking like the overall sense of victory in the air was making up for the moment of displacement sickness. "Thanks Ani, and thanks for the assist. Things were getting a little hairy," she replied via the Reciprocators channel as Ani triggered eir Citadel transporter.

Yuki was in the Great Hall when Ani arrived, in her civilian attire with her hair worn straight and unfrosted. She slipped her PDA into her pocket as Ani strode down to meet her, the boots of eir Vanguard armor clanking against the floorplates. She looked as tired as she'd sounded over the comm; something had the girl stressed out. "How did things go in the field?"

Ani considered her for a moment, then nodded. "Quite good. Let me grab my espresso and get out of the armor," he said, and ducked off to the break room and barracks to do just those things. E returned a moment later in eir own civvies. Studying Yuki, e suggested between sips of coffee, "You look like you could use some yourself."

Yuki didn't respond to that at first, but she was eyeing the mug. "You can take a few minutes if you need it. I don't mean to snag you as soon as you get out of the War Zone."

Ani shrugged. "I'm used to shifting gears on a dime after working with Vanguard this long. Have to be with the unpredictability of the Rikti."

"Okay. And that...doesn't seem like a bad idea. Let me grab one of those and we'll meet in my office."

Ani nodded and they split, Yuki to the kitchen and Ani to the Tertiary Annex to wait at her office door. E followed her in when she returned and stood with eir hands clasped behind eir back until she gestured for em to have a seat on the couch.

Before addressing Ani, Yuki reached up to her Bluetooth, broadcasting to the group, "I'm going to be off comms for just a moment," then switched it off, though she left it in her ear. Ani issued similar advisement and pulled eir own out to tuck it in eir pocket.

Yuki looked at Ani for a long moment, gathering her thoughts while she sipped at her espresso. After a moment, she seemed to have decided on how to approach whatever subject she had to discuss with em. "I wanted to know a bit about any ties you might've kept with the underworld."

Ani furrowed eir brow, opening eir mouth in a silent "ah." E glanced down into eir own cup, swirling the coffee about with a gentle motion of eir wrist.

"Don't worry, this isn't any sort of inquisition or me wanting to poke into your personal stuff."

Ani shook eir head to indicate that hadn't been eir concern. While e wasn't particularly proud of eir past, serving the goals of Arachnos as a "Destined One", or the deadly loss of control that had first brought em to their attention, e didn't feel any particular shame over eir past either. "Well, you'd have every right as an officer to do so, I would've understood."

Yuki nodded, perhaps a little impatiently, and pressed on. "I was more wondering if you'd have the contact resources to help me with something."

"Hmm." Ani exhaled softly with lips pursed, considered. "I've made my standing with Arachnos pretty clear, both when I left and perhaps even more forcefully recently...if it involves them, I can't be of much use. There are those in the Isles I...well, I wouldn't say 'trust', but people I'd risk relying on if I had no other options, though."

Yuki shifted in her seat. "I'll just come out and say what I need. Last night I was doing a fairly routine break-in at Gen-Tech Labs...a Council operation. They were attempting to steal something called the Phased Linear Oscillation Transducer. Jess kinda explained to me what it was for but, to be honest, I didn't much understand it."

Ani smiled faintly and took a sip of eir own espresso before setting it on the couch armrest and clasping eir hands in eir lap, listening attentively.

"Well, I had the device recovered, along with some..." Yuki's face took on a conflicted expression. Ani let eir smile fade into a concerned, questioning look to encourage her to continue, though her pause seemed more out of doubt as she sought the right word than hesitation. "...help. Only, he wasn't there to help me. After we recovered the device, he incapacitated me...and...um..." There was that look again.

Ani cocked an eyebrow, but turned eir face from Yuki so it would not seem confrontational or inquisitive, curious to let her explain. E picked eir coffee back up and studied its contents.

"Well. He snatched the P.L.O.T. device and took off." Yuki's expression seemed to clear of whatever conflict had briefly distracted her, took on a harder, almost annoyed look. "Said he had a buyer lined up. I want to go about finding the device, but more importantly the one who took it from me.

"Most of my contacts are Council-based, so, I'm running out of options. I've checked every database I could think of looking for this guy and came up empty-handed. So I'm thinking if I can find out who the device got sold to, maybe that would be my way of learning more about...him."

Ani looked back up. "That's going to be tough to narrow down. I've heard of the device, never known what it does either, but it changes hands a lot, everyone's got a use for it. I'd say to work backwards, figure out who's looking for it, try to figure out the fence that might have handled the transaction. May need to wait until the device surfaces again and trace its history from there, but...hm." Ani considered briefly. "It's not so much the device you're looking for now, is it."

Yuki looked down into her own coffee for a moment, then nodded. "I'd be lying if I said this wasn't personal."

Ani sat back on the couch and folded eir arms, observing Yuki while e mused. E'd only spoken to her a handful of times since joining the Reciprocators, but e was developing a siblingly fondness towards the girl. When they spoke, it was usually about school; high school was still very fresh in Ani's mind, and e'd gone to public school as well. She seemed to recognize eir understanding of what it meant to be "the meta kid" at school, leading her to open up about parts of her own experience in a way she wasn't comfortable discussing with those closer to her. Ani had been the same way with eir own parents, and later eir guardian, not wanting them to worry about situations e knew e was strong enough to tolerate on eir own.

Yuki's experience was more severe than Ani's, though. While Ani's appearance was decidedly unique, the only people who had known about eir actual mutant powers in high school had been those who had survived the Rikti invasion alongside em. Yuki's metahuman status was clearly visible due to the constant glow given off by her eyes. She could never totally "stealth"; even in a room full of her peers she would always be somewhat alone. Strong as she might be in living with that at school, it could become a vulnerability elsewhere.

Yuki frowned into her cup. "Cold already," she sighed, as her powers had sapped most of the heat from the coffee already. She took another sip anyway.

"Yuki..." Ani began, but derailed emself immediately, "Okay, first, yes. I can ask around. I'm not exactly welcome in the Isles but I'm also...established. I should be able to turn something up. But." Ani took a moment to order eir words carefully, returning to the side-thought e'd started with. "I realize you've been doing...this," Ani made a broad, sweeping gesture indicating the Citadel of Defiance around them, "Longer than I have; may I offer a different perspective, based on my other experiences?"

Yuki looked at Ani, a bit warily but also seemingly buoyed by eir already stated willingness to help. "That's what I was hoping for."

Ani nodded, pursing eir lips through another brief moment's thought. "However this guy got under your skin, he probably meant to. Making it personal could be just what he wants, something to use against you. Heroes are kind of predictable like that." A trace of a smile flickered across eir lips.

Yuki seemed to consider Ani's words, yet almost dismiss them at the same time. "I'm sure you are probably right, but I'd still like to find him. ...I don't even know if he falls under the definition of a 'villain'."

"How would you define him, then?"

"I don't really know. Maybe that's part of what I want to know. He went out of his way to protect me, when we fought the Council." She fidgeted, looked almost flustered. "All I've really got to go on is part of a name: Chance."

Ani's eyes rolled up slightly as e scanned eir recollections. "Doesn't ring a bell. It's somewhere to start, at least."

"Just...so we're clear. This is a personal request, Ani. I'd appreciate the help, but it's in no way an official 'order' or anything like that. In fact, the less 'official' and more low key we could keep this, the better I'd feel."

Ani rolled eir eyes again, this time in amusement, and laughed to emself softly. "Oh, I can be discreet. Trust me." E caught emself as eir eyes drifted towards the door to look across the Annex, and eir expression quickly sobered as e fixed eir eyes on Yuki again. "Just assure me that if you find this guy, you're gonna be careful."

A hint of a smile snuck onto Yuki's face as she looked back into her coffee. "I'm always careful. Yeah, he caught me off guard once, but...I plan on being ready for him next time."

Ani assessed Yuki a moment longer, then gave a firm, final nod. It was clear she was set on this pursuit, but e could at least keep an eye on how it developed, in case she needed someone to keep an eye out for her. "Fill me in on what went down, I'll start from there and let you know what I turn up."
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Re: A Chance Encounter

Postby Static Bolter » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:35 am

Originally posted by the Androgyne: June 16th, 2009

Dour gray sunlight did not so much shine as seep through the filthy clouds blanketing the skies over Sharkhead Isle, snaking into the dingy bar around a slight figure in the doorway. The light was persistently battered back by the perpetual haze of smoke, always cloying and thick in establishments like the Chum Bucket, that swirled angrily towards the open door.

The figure stepped in, pulling a loose-fitting tan windbreaker tighter around its lean torso, brushing a few loose strands of pale wheaten hair which had escaped its ponytail back behind one ear. Captain Petrovich sat up in his seat at a table near the back of the bar, recognizing the movements at once, the oddly relaxed yet ever-aware stance with which the new patron carried itself.

Their eyes met and Petrovich gave a dissatisfied, forced smile, but nevertheless he gestured to the empty seat at his table. As the visitor neared, it looked to the bartender, motioned to Petrovich and held up two fingers. It then sat, moving with a delicate but purposeful grace to ease fluidly into the battered wooden chair opposite the Russian, offering a smirk in greeting. "Good afternoon, Captain."

Petrovich scratched at his thick, graying beard, grunted softly, questioningly, as if the day's quality had actually been called into doubt. He shook off that musing and offered a brief, yellowed grin. "Ani!" The forced enthusiasm with which he issued the greeting dissipated quickly to reveal the concern beneath. "Yers'd be a ship I didn't expect to see sailin' into this port again."

Ani Hess, the Androgyne, gave a little shrug. The barman delivered them two glasses with ice and a bottle of Petrovich's preferred vodka, poured for each of them. Hess extended a crumpled bill from within its coat pocket to him, and picked up its glass on the return motion. "I won't be long, Captain. I'm not here for you."

Petrovich drummed his fingers on the table once, cupped his glass but did not raise it. "You think y're the only dangerous person in this room, Ani? It's not yer presence what concerns me, it's the potential..." he paused, searching for the word, then sounded it out in hard, even syllables, "...repercussions of being seen with a defector."

The Androgyne took a small sip of vodka and looked around the barroom with obvious distaste on its face, sizing up the sundry lowlifes and thugs who filled the establishment. After its assessment was complete, it smiled thinly at Petrovich. "Perhaps, Captain. But we both know I'm the most dangerous one here. If Arachnos takes an interest, you can tell them what I came for. I'm not here for them either. I'm here about the Council."

Petrovich's good eye narrowed. "Land-lubbers. I've nothing to do with 'em, they get their weapons through other channels. And they know better than to risk their throats interfering with me business!" He took a drink and thumped his glass down pointedly.

The corner of Ani's mouth quirked up, turning the thin smile into a taunting grin. "Absolutely, Captain. You're a dangerous man yourself, aren't you? Let no one accuse of you of going soft in your old age."

The Captain paused in the middle of a drink, his eye twitching wider as he stared over the glass at the Androgyne, the words sinking in.

Ani leaned forward, rested an arm on the table and lowered its voice, "Let's not revisit old deceptions. You have a favor to repay. I'm asking for your help ensuring a friend's safety, and all I need is information."

Petrovich growled under his breath like a wary animal, refilled his glass, and spat, "Ask, then."

"An Archon escaped holding a couple days go in Paragon, name of Davis. Records from a base I raided in Peregrine indicated he's been transferred to the Isles. I'm wagering to the base here, on Sharkhead. He may have an injury to the face."

Petrovich stroked his beard in thought for a long moment, calming as he searched his memory. "Don't know of him by name, but I've caught wind of a new arrival or two lately. Heard of a young hotshot o' theirs with a bandaged face," he gestured disinterestedly towards his own cheek here, "Doesn't come around here, though. Spends his time and money at the Giza trying to look like a bigshot to the ladies." Petrovich barked a laugh and poured himself another drink. "I hear he likes blondes."

Ani sat back in its chair with a satisfied smile, raising its glass to its lips. Its eyes twinkled with mischief over the rim at Captain Petrovich. "Is that so?" e mused.

---

The atmosphere in Jezebel's was infinitely more welcoming than that of the Chum Bucket, though here in the windowless confines of the Golden Giza no sunlight encroached at all. It was compensated for by the flashing of victorious slot pulls, garish neon and, on the bar stage, dancing lasers.

Tonight's bouncer, a massive wall of beef -- literally, an eight-foot-tall bovine anthropomorph covered in blue hair -- packed into a black business suit, had stepped away from the door to answer a question for the bartender. He didn't seem to see the new girl enter, but Jezebel herself did. Jezebel Jones made a point of sitting at a roped-off corner of the stage, where she could revel closest in the night's entertainment but also keep a watchful eye over her entire establishment. Though she continued the negotiation she was engaged in with the grim-faced but lustful gentleman seated beside her, her eyes drew a bead on the new arrival and did not waver.

Jezebel was the pre-eminent madam on St. Martial -- likely in all the Rogue Isles -- and a large part of her success came from both her intimate knowledge of the physical qualities of her stock and her ability to deduce the individual tastes of potential clients. Her ability to make satisfying matches on the first visit had ensured her several lifetime clients. Though this new arrival dressed to blend in with her girls, Jezebel recognized immediately that she wasn't one of hers. It took only a quick cataloguing of traits from there to realize exactly who she was looking at.

The new girl's hair was a pale, watery blonde, to Jezebel clearly the result of too hurried a yellow rinse over naturally platinum hair. It was at least worn well, a shoulder-length bob razor-layered down the sides to frame and exhibit a long, swanlike neck. Make-up was used sparingly to soften features more handsome than beautiful. The shoulders were broad, verged on mannish, but the halter neck of her loose-fitting violet silk dress helped to counter that impression. One arm seemed just a little smaller than the other; the difference in the light's play off the texture of her skin on either arm suggested to Jezebel the heavy use of cosmetics to conceal discoloration of the skin on the slighter arm. Her waist was slender, her hips narrow, but her dress flared slightly below the silver-studded white belt cinched high on her waist to suggest curvature that while present, wasn't quite as substantial as it was being made to look.

The new girl wasn't a girl at all, though they certainly would pass less experienced scrutiny. No, this was the genderless Arachnos defector, the Androgyne, no doubt pursuing their agenda undercover because they no longer had the freedom to move about Arachnos territory unfettered. Jezebel's pulse quickened and she lifted her radio to contact security, but just before she depressed the talk button she realized the Androgyne was staring directly at her, and had raised one hand in a gesture beseeching patience. Jezebel went still, considering.

She'd employed the Androgyne for a time before the second Rikti invasion began, as their work for Arachnos had brought them through St. Martial. The Androgyne was energetic, but not brash; bold, but not reckless. They would not have come back here without a purpose, and they seemed to recognize that they were in now-unfriendly territory. Whatever their plan, it appeared they intended to be discreet in its execution. Jezebel gave a single nod, but did not move her finger from its position poised over the button.

The Androgyne's hand glid in a smooth arc to the right, directing her vision towards a patron at the bar. Jezebel's gaze followed the direction, and shefound herself studying a sturdily built man in an abominably cheap suit, a large skin-tone bandage plastered to his left cheek. He was laughing overly loudly at an off-color joke he himself had just made to the bartender, who only smiled politely in return. Jezebel had a girl sitting on either side of him, and both still scanned the crowd for better prospects -- they knew better than to waste their time on the likes of him.

Jezebel looked back to the Androgyne, unable to repress throaty laughter as she realized they were here to do her a favor, whether they intended to or not. A man like their target undermined the reputation of her elite clientele, poisoned the bar's atmosphere with desperation and insecurity. Jezebel preferred to deal with people who knew what they sought and were ready to pay for it. She looked to one of the girls sitting near the fool and waved her away with a small hand signal directing her to go mingle. Without another look to the Androgyne, she returned to her negotiations, satisfied that a nuisance was about to be taken off of her hands.

---

Ani eased onto the recently emptied barstool beside--

"Samuel Davis. Archon Samuel Davis." He introduced himself with a hungry leer before Ani'd even had a chance to finish sitting. Petrovich had been right about his taste in women.

Ani pursed eir painted lips into a gently teasing smile, "Surely not the Archon Davis? The one skyrocketing up the ranks of this Council organization I've been hearing so much about?" Ani took a gamble that playing into his self-aggrandizement immediately wouldn't simply tip him off to eir ruse. Between Yuki's description and what Petrovich had been able to provide, Ani felt he could rely on Davis' ego to do most of the work for em.

Davis seemed to wobble in place at first, dumbstruck that for once his renown really had preceded him. Yet as Ani predicted, he seemed to accept it quickly as the inevitable result of his self-promotion. His grin went thin and wide, lending him an air of the serpentine; Ani could almost feel his libido coiling to strike like a viper. "The one and only. What's your name?"

"I'm Ani," e smiled, turning on the barstool to let eir knee brush the Archon's, seemingly accidentally, and tipped her head towards a redhead chatting up a customer in a booth across the bar from them. "I better come clean," e giggled, "Scarlet told me who you were, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to come meet someone so...determined to succeed." Ani reached out and placed eir hand against Davis' arm, stroking his arm through the coarse, cheap fabric of his jacket and adopting a look of fascination.

Davis seemed to swell with pride, and slid off his barstool to stand closer to Ani, putting a hand on eir hip in a clumsy manner nowhere near as effortlessly smooth as he seemed to think he was being. He grinned seedily in agreement with eir assesment, "Well, I am a man who gets what he wants."

Ani put on eir most welcoming smile as e lifted eir hand from Davis' shoulder to rest eir fingertips against his jaw just under the bandage over his cheekbone. "And a man of danger at that. How thrilling."

Davis' eyes narrowed as he was reminded that his face had been marred, but the sleaze in his smile went nowhere. "I'm an important man, sometimes my responsibilities do put me in a bit of risk. Maybe you'd like to come up to my room and I can...tell you more about it."

Ani caught eir lower lip between eir teeth, looked at him askance and batted eir eyelashes, carefully replicating on eir face a perilous struggle between nervousness and eagerness. Davis wasn't exceptionally shrewd by any stretch of the imagination, but Ani didn't wish to risk the deception collapsing before e had him alone by appearing overeager, not in a region this thick with Arachnos presence. "I think that could be...very interesting," e purred shyly.

Luckily, Davis was even more eager than Ani had expected him to be; for all the time he seemed to have spent in the Giza's clubs looking for action, everyone here must have seen through his swagger. Ani could've thrown emself in Davis' lap without any of the pretense and the Archon would have bought it out of sheer desperation. This way was still more entertaining, at least. Davis nearly pulled Ani off eir stool in urging em to eir feet, his hotel room keycard already out of his pocket.

---

"Not just anyone has the skill, the drive it takes to become an Archon, you know. You must prove yourself to the Council several times over." Davis swiped the card through the reader on the door as he went on about his favorite subject: himself.

"Mm? That's so interesting!" Ani had to put a little extra emphasis on it to make it sound convincing, as e was trying to maintain the appearance of listening to Davis while at the same time scanning the corridor to make sure it was empty.

Ani swayed past Davis into the room, letting him close the door, glancing playfully over eir shoulder at him as e made a bee-line for the mini-bar. E pulled open the refrigerator and feigned deep deliberation over just what beverage would satisfy eir thirst while Davis made himself comfortable. "My ascent was inevitable, really. Even at my young age," Davis was already sporting the beginnings of a bald spot, "I knew I was meant for a position of authority, and seized every opportunity to ensure my talent would not be overlooked."

Ani pulled a small bottle of champagne out of the fridge and procured glasses from the cabinet over the kitchenette. "This room must cost afortune," e said in seeming awe, gazing around a hotel room e already knew to be the very least of the Giza's otherwise opulent offerings. "The Council must really value your...talent." E popped the cork from the champagne and punctuated eir sentence with a delighted giggle that could as easily be meant to mock Davis as it could be eir reaction to the suddenness of the cork's escape.

Davis had just the reaction Ani wanted. Distraction, deflation as eir seemingly innocent words tickled eir insecurities. For once, he didn't quite have anything to say. E poured champagne into plastic flutes and carried them back to Davis, offering him one before seating emself casually, seemingly unthinkingly, on the bed. Davis interpreted eir choice of seat as invitation, of course, and moved so quickly to ease onto the bed at her side that he left a light trail of sloshed champagne on the carpet.

Ani pretended to sip at eir champagne -- e actually didn't care for it in the slightest, and only chose it in the hopes that the carbonation would leave Davis' stomach a little roiled to add to the coming discomfort. Eir tongue flicked out so quick as to be almost imperceptible (but not quite) as e cleansed eir lips of the little champagne which had clung to them. "How did you get hurt?" e asked in a soft but insistent tone, before Davis could read any further invitations into Ani's carefully orchestrated body language, while he was still distracted by that pink flicker of tongue.

Davis opened his mouth, left it that way for a few seconds. Ani could see the wheels turning...slowly...in his mind, trying to embellish the story even as he reflexively launched into it at eir urging. "A scuffle, just a minor scuffle, with a...with two interfering capes I took the, er, initiative to reckon with most severely."

"Oh, that must have been terribly challenging! You must have excellent training to have beaten two heroes!" Ani feigned a second appraisal, looking Davis over as if seeing his self-proclaimed talent for emself. "What did they do to you?"

Davis ate up the offered chance to further boast, a grin sneaking through the poorly concealed moroseness that had taken him over as Ani forced him to think of his defeat. It was a tell, that he thought had found the means of piquing Ani's interest, and Ani answered it with an eager little smile of eir own. "The boy scored a...glancing, lucky kick, after the girl iced the floor, trying to trip me up. Nothing an accomplished Archon such as myself could not overcome, of course."

Ani pursed eir lips and looked him in the eyes, letting just a glimmer of the disdain e felt slip into eir expression. "You almost make it sound as if you were fighting...children."

Davis' grin faltered.

Ani tilted eir head to the side questioningly, eir face taking on a look of mocking puzzlement. "What kind of pathetic excuse for an Archon can't fend off a couple of nosy teenagers?" By the end of the question, all pretense had left eir voice.

The plastic flute splintered in Davis' hand as his hand flexed shut in anger, and he flung it aside to lunge towards Ani, grabbing for eir throat as he barked, "How dare y--" only to be thrown off balance by Ani vanishing before eir very eyes in a shadowy, sparkling swirl of dissipating transdimensional detritus.

The truth of the set-up sank in; Davis exploded to his feet and bolted for the door, but it was too late. Ani had rematerialized within the room, lashing eir hands out towards him, whipping forward invisible threads of fate with which to snare him before he could leave. As e snapped the threads around Davis' limbs and into his field of vision, the Archon's vision was assaulted with glimpses of what exactly the Androgyne could do to him: he saw a man stripped of his own identity with his body covered in necrotic flesh, the face a crude mimickry of Ani's but the horrified eyes his own.

Davis was rooted in place, trembling against his will, an icy sweat dripping from his brow as he tried in vain to reach for the doorknob. He could not see the threads that bound him in place but their chill bit into his flesh with each attempt to writhe free of them, forcing him to be still. Ani slipped around him to position emself between Davis and the door, a serene smile on eir lips. E kept one hand clenched in a fist at eir side, keeping the threads of fate in place around Davis, subtle flicks of eir wrist repositioning them as they tried to writhe free of eir control.

"Tell me about the boy, Samuel." Ani reached up and peeled the bandage off his face in one sharp motion. There was a rough tear in his cheek, the faintest imprint of a boot's heel still discernible. The flesh around the wound was flecked with gunpowder and tiny bumps of embedded shrapnel, no doubt from the mishap with his gun Yuki had described. Ani traced the still not entirely sealed cut with eir fingernail, and as e drew eir finger along it hooked the nail into the last stitch and plucked at it. "I know it wasn't the first time he's struck the Council. And I know the Council makes a point of researching its enemies. And someone as...highly placed, as valuable as yourself..." Ani giggled mirthlessly. "I'm certain you've been briefed with the extent of what they've learned. Now, you'll share that with me."

Davis growled unintelligibly through teeth locked against the pain of his restraint. Ani let the threads take on only a little bit of slack, easing the pain but staring at him warningly, lifting eir other hand to let him see the shimmering pale green energy beginning to dance around eir fingertips, the visual manifestation of the deadly radiation Davis had seen himself bathed in in the vision granted him by Ani's manipulation of the threads. Davis' face was a mask of conflicting embarassments but also of rage. He spat as he found the strength to speak, "I'll tell you nothing!"
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Re: A Chance Encounter

Postby Static Bolter » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:36 am

Originally posted by the Androgyne: June 16th, 2009

"He's an acquirer. His services go to whoever's got the cash. Sounds to me like he's in it for the danger as much as the payoff, doesn't back down from hard targets. That wasn't the first time he's hit the Council, for example." Ani noticed that spiked Yuki's interest, but e moved quickly on. E'd obtained the information the best way e knew how, but e wasn't eager to explain eir methods. "Goes by the handle 'Chance Profit'."

Yuki repeated the name, her eyes taking on a victorious glint. It wasn't a lot to go on, but putting a complete name to this...adversary...was a step in the right direction. Progress.

"No-one who's hired him has actually encountered him, not face-to-face. Transactions are all handled online. I've got a good hunch about who his client was the night of your run-in, though."

"Oh?" Excitement and frustration mingled on Yuki's face. She was clearly eager to pick Ani over for everything e'd uncovered, yet trying to restrain herself from doing just that at the same time. All of her own leads had been dead ends; Ani's progress served to reinvigorate her own commitment to the pursuit.

"A couple days after the incident at Gen-Tech, McGuffin Enterprises issued a press release stating they're ready to demonstrate their new 'Oscillating Linear Transduction Phaser' for investors. Looked into their background, they were a major competitor of the company that originally held the P.L.O.T.'s patent until it folded after the original theft years ago.

Yuki smirked, "Cute." She pulled her PDA out of her pocket and punched in the company's name. "That's a bit...bold, isn't it? Unless they wanted to rub it in someone's face."

"Could be, but with the inventors out of business and with how much it's changed hands since the original theft, it'd probably be hard to pin anything concrete to McGuffin without more to go on."

"Do we know anything else about the company? Are they mostly legit?"

Ani kept a smile from creeping onto eir face. A day earlier e'd spoken at some length with Cyberette about Yuki's situation. They'd filled in each other's blanks about what had originally happened to fixate their young teammate so intently on the thief. Learning of the kiss he'd stolen had confirmed Ani's suspicions about her fascination. E'd told Jess all e'd uncovered -- though as e did now with Yuki, e'd excluded the details of eir methods.

Ani had agreed to investigate Chance out of eir own budding protectiveness of Frost, but Jess had known her far longer and was even more concerned about the girl's feelings. Ani wouldn't keep anything e'd found from Yuki, but e and Jess were already puzzling through a plan to keep a step ahead of her using their own information and skills, to keep a watchful eye on the situation and, should the opportunity arise, size up this Chance Profit themselves.

Now e saw e was getting Yuki's attention focused back on the original investigation. E just hoped e could keep it there to buy emself and Jess a little more time. "As far as I can tell, yeah. Until this they've been remarkably clean for a business that size operating in Paragon."

"That makes things complicated, then. Unless I have something to suspect them on, it'll be harder to...investigate them."

Ani nodded. "I've still got some feelers out, trying to figure out how they contacted Profit. If someone from McGuffin can be connected to his communication channels, that could serve to pin them down."

Yuki mulled this over quetly for a moment, then gave Ani a warm smile of gratitude, though she still seemed distinctly distracted. "I appreciate all you've done, Ani. At least now I have a full name...full alias, at least."

Ani pursed eir lips. So much for refocusing. "...and a lead on the device itself?" e nudged, trying not to make it sound pointed.

Yuki got the nudge at once, and looked away in an attempt to hide the sheepishness creeping onto her face. "Right. And a lead on the device."

The corner of Ani's mouth quirked up into half a smile, but e didn't chide. "Glad I could help. I'll let you know if I come across anything more specific. ...know I already said it, know you will be, but still. Careful."

Yuki's embarassment dissipated, replaced by gratitude despite the bristling Ani's protectiveness provoked. "I will be."
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