Roleplay City

Infusco => INFUSCO: Enter The Shadows => The Luminary => Topic started by: Satyr on August 05, 2019, 11:36:59 AM

Title: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 05, 2019, 11:36:59 AM
BEN UNLEASHED ON KERR, explaining in rapid dialogue what had happened at the meeting. He'd been met with silence or betrayal, relegating how Zeus had voted against giving the West a chance to vote. He couldn't fathom why! And how Zoheret had brought up Ben's part in the fall of the Oligarchy, of which his part had been to fax an article to a friend. Hardly the big conspiracy she'd alluded to. And how Saraekiel had tried to use the election to push forward something from his own agenda that Ben didn't properly understand but knew that it had less to do with him and more to do with Jake. And how Sabrina, who thought would at least ask him how he intended on running the Central should he get it, had said 'no questions' along with anybody else.

Kerr had remained uncharacteristically silent, using soothing words instead of offering advice. Ben supposed he was just letting Ben get it out of his system, but that was frustrating as well. Once the poison was out and Ben had calmed as best he was able (though still upset at how poorly it had gone), the landline rang and because he'd been standing or pacing, he was close enough to the ringing phone to be the one to pick it up.

"Hello?" he asked, knowing it was someone calling him from the foyer. He listened, his gaze flicking to Kerr and revealing his confusion. "Um, yeah, could you have someone show her to the elevator and usher her up?"

Any clerk working behind the reception counter could show her the way. When he hung up the phone he dropped the bomb to Kerr.

"Um, front desk informed me that Zoheret has asked to see us. I've permitted them to bring her here."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 05, 2019, 08:44:36 PM
Kerr's expression skewed, reflecting Ben's confusion but with a little of his own trepidation flavouring it. "Okay," he drawled cautiously, standing reflexively and looking down at himself, suddenly self-conscious about his presentation. Zoheret had always had the ability to have him second guessing himself in one way or another and he hadn't dressed up, since he was staying squirrelled away in the penthouse while the meeting occurred. Yeah, he needed a shirt, at least.

Using celerity to get him into the bedroom faster, he shucked his shabby jeans, pulled on underwear, a pair of russet chinos and a pale blue business shirt. His hair was too short to worry about but he ran his fingers through it after he finished buttoning all but the top three buttons on his shirt, deciding against shoes. It was his house and she was an unexpected visitor; Zoheret had never approved of anything he'd done so if she took offence that he was barefoot in his own home, fuck her.

As he walked out towards the foyer to greet the ascending lift, he exchanged a weighted look with Ben, both of them wondering what the fuck she could possibly want. To have another dig at Ben? She mightn't even wish to see Kerr, which would be fine by him. He'd endured many years with her as an insubordinate, arrogant and generally disdainful Oligarch that rarely listened to any opinions other than her own. He'd admired her, in a way, but had been frequently frustrated with her insufferable antagonism of already-exacerbated emotions in the meetings she'd attended. She was the type to stir the proverbial pot and then sit back to watch it boil. She was a dark angel. He supposed it was her nature.

"You greet her," he told Ben grimly, stepping to the side and slightly behind his love. "I'll just stay as an initial courtesy and then make myself scarce. I'm sure she's here to speak with you." If he stayed, she'd accuse Ben of weakness; when he left, she'd probably tell Ben he was unloved and Kerr was scared of her. There was no winning with Zoheret.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 05, 2019, 10:31:16 PM
Her heels clacked furiously across the marble floors as she left the conference room and she silently hoped that one of these idiots loitering in the hall would reach for her as she passed, her skin brimming with a current known to cripple a man. Zoheret found her way to the elevator, pushed the down button and appeared moments later on the lobby floor.

"Let Mr. Samson know that I am here and I would like to speak with him immediately." She didn't give her name, hardly thinking it was necessary. Thankfully the fools at the desk didn't question her, but picked up one of the phones and dialed. Zoheret smoothed the creases in her white dress as she waited, her lips pressed into a firm line. It was a few moments before the clerk at the desk responded positively and took her to the private elevator, keeping a distance from her.

The lift was silent except for the whir of machinery and Zoheret was more than pleased to remain simmering throughout the duration of the ride. The clerk, whom she was fairly sure was a young vampire, seemed nervous, fidgeting with shirt sleeves and buttons and his nametag. He was small and thin with a frame that looked like it would blow away in a stiff breeze, dark brown hair too stiff with product, and a mousy face. If she were in any better of a mood, she would have found the boy's anxiety amusing. Instead, she adjusted her shoulders (and by proxy, her wings) and waited for the lift to slow.

The attendant stepped out of the way to let her pass and nearly brushed against her forearm. Zoheret made no effort to move and was mildly disappointed that there hadn't been the opportunity to release the current from beneath her skin. Her attention was now drawn to Ben, who stood like a lamb at the slaughter in front of his lover. She gave Kerr a quick once-over, taking stock of his grim expression, but otherwise paying him no mind.

"Do you have a problem with the way we do things in this city, Mr. Samson?" Her tone was icy and leading, her eyes narrowed as she looked down her nose at the young vampire. She offered no words of greeting nor pleasantry to the ex-Luminary and hoped that he would keep his mouth tightly shut throughout their exchange.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 06, 2019, 06:53:33 AM
For fuck's sake, she'd come all the way up here to pick a fight? This? This was one of the 'great many questions' that she couldn't have asked downstairs? He'd respected her as a leader, initially, as an Oligarch. She'd intimidated him but he'd never looked down his nose at her (but he'd lost respect for her elitist opinions a long time ago). Now she was becoming a joke with her imperious indignation.

He answered her civilly, though he'd thought the answer was obvious. "Yes, I do have a problem with how Jake is running things. That's why I challenged him." All emotion was out of his voice, his words came out plainly. He didn't pretend to be amused or sarcastic or try any other stupid games.

He didn't know a lot about how she ran things but when he'd lived in her district in the house on the cliff, he'd watched dark-winged creatures flying over the ocean every now and then. So he knew she violated the masquerade and he remembered her contempt for his kind. She was supposed to be available for every constituent in her borders and she was not. He'd never felt like he could go to her, so her leadership was tainted as well.

Jake, however, actively sought to fuck people up, so he had to go first.

"Would you like to come inside to sit and talk?" he offered, thinking she would refuse but making the offer anyway. He braced himself for abuse.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 06, 2019, 12:39:33 PM
She scoffed at him. "That was the least amount of emotion you've shown all night." She sauntered by both him and Kerr, avoiding them both purposely should they refuse to move out of her way. She wouldn't go far, just into enough of the room where she could stretch out her wings without a fuss. Zoheret maintained the glamour around herself as she flexed and flicked her wings shut. There was no way she was going to 'sit and talk' with either of them, not after such a childish display as Ben made downstairs when he didn't get his way. No, Zoheret would remain standing. This conversation wouldn't take long.

"For a moment tonight, I could have sworn it was McCloud up there, making ultimatums, telling us sob stories, and overreacting to basic political foreplay. I wouldn't have expected it from the lover of the former Luminary." She smiled and faced them, though kept her attention on Ben unless Galvin had something to say. With sharp, articulated words, she continued  her poisonous attack. "Tell me, Mr. Samson, if you have such a problem with the way McCloud runs things, why were you acting like him?"
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 06, 2019, 12:54:06 PM
Ben followed Zoheret into the space but kept his distance from her. He'd been warned by Charon and Kerr both that her words were designed to offend, that her hostility was carefully sculpted. He'd seen evidence of that when she'd made that stupid comment about 'not the time or place' to ask questions (when it was perfectly the time and place) and now she was swanning about up here making as antagonistic a statement as possible - comparing him to Jake, when everyone knew how much he hated him.

He stood up a little straighter, preparing his answer in his head before speaking it out loud. He had to concede to some of what she'd said because he had been angry and passionate. Someone who was apathetic to the plight of their citizens shouldn't be in charge. He kept his voice as even as possible, but towards the end there was a tremble in it that had him clearing his throat and mentally berating himself.

"I was unaware I gave you a sob story. I listed facts and I never raised my voice. I gave everyone a chance to ask me questions after I delivered all of the information in my possession. I was being transparent. The idea of 'political foreplay' sounds like masturbation to me. I'm not interested in self-service or playing games. I don't know what it is you're doing, asking me these questions in private when you had a District Leader forum not ten minutes ago. I'm sure you have your reasons, but to me it doesn't make sense."

Inside, he was nervous and feeling overwhelmed by her presence. He felt like a fraud, speaking to her as though he was already a leader. While building and running the Academy had given him the confidence of project management, it was far from dealing with hostile personalities. That was a skill he was still feeling his way through. He couldn't even look at Kerr for support, because he was standing behind Ben, out of visual range. Ben's skin prickled.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 06, 2019, 01:22:03 PM
She smirked at him, wider this time though the sharpness in her gaze never dulled. "You're young and you're foolish and you're playing a game you don't know how to win.

"You see, you've misunderstood everything about the situation that you yourself set up." Zoheret paused and spoke slowly, believing that Ben needed as much help as possible understanding her point. "What would Jake McCloud do if he were smart enough to realize that you, a private citizen, have been using the City Ward to do your personal, election biddings, taking away from forces that patrol the city and offer assistance to the rest of the districts?"
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 06, 2019, 01:42:06 PM
Ben breathed laughter over her jab at Jake. He would've worked with Zoheret to unseat someone she obviously had no love for, but she'd chosen to deny his play for a reason he couldn't yet see. Perhaps she didn't believe Jake to be a viable threat and that's why she wanted him to remain. Perhaps she thought Ben would just create a whirlwind of chaos. Perhaps she thought he would be more organised and become the threat Jake wasn't. He would never know.

"Well, Jake's not smart, is he? Because he never asked me about the Ward, why they're here and how they're managed. I don't manage them. I only offered them use of a floor rent-free. What I get in return is Ward presence. When they delivered the invitation for a District Leadership meeting, it's because I asked the Captain where the District Leaders met up to discuss business with one another and she said 'nowhere'. So I offered a place for you all to meet and... this is my deception, I crashed your meeting here. I figured nobody would come to hear me talk, but you'd no doubt needed to talk to one another. So I used that knowledge to my advantage. As any Leader would." He shrugged. "If you go to the first floor I'm sure the Ward will give you their patrol sheets."

He pressed his lips together and awaited her reaction. It felt like there was more she wanted to tell him or to ask him or to insult him about.

Please, Zoheret, tell me everything I don't understand
And you'll see you don't understand me

"But before you do that, could you tell me why didn't you want to ask me all this downstairs, in front of everyone else?"
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 06, 2019, 09:00:55 PM
Kerr had followed after Zoheret and Ben silently, his arms folded over his chest and the frown not leaving his face. They passed into the high-ceilinged apartment proper, getting close to the large aquarium but basically standing in open space, Ben facing Zoheret and Kerr holding his place at Ben's side.

He wasn't tucking himself politely behind Ben any more, not with the way Zoheret had entered their home bristling. He thought Ben was doing an amazing job keeping his cool in the face of her flung barbs - even he was finding it difficult to stay focussed. He wasn't about to undermine Ben's strong stance by adding anything verbally but his thoughts were racing as he listened.

Becoming aware of his body language, Kerr unfolded his arms and deliberately slid his hands into his pants pockets. It coincided nicely with Ben's prompt for an answer, making him look like his shift in position showed he was also invested in her reply.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 07, 2019, 06:31:43 AM
When Kerr shifted to place his hands in his pockets, Zoheret was sure that he was going to say something out of line. She glanced at him and was impressed to see his lips remain sealed as she tore into Ben.

"Because, believe it or not, Mr. Samson I want you to win this election." Had he still not figured that out as of yet? Perhaps he wasn't smarter than McCloud after all. "You think that this city is run on transparency and unity. It is not and it never has been. The Oligarchy was the closest thing to fair representation that this city has probably ever seen, and both of you were responsible for its dissolution." She glared at both of them now. There was no sweetness left for either of them and she turned her wrath back on Ben.

"This is a city built by things that thrive in the shadows; secrecy, betrayal, and hidden alliances. Had I brought up these issues while McCloud were there, don't you think he would have started an investigation into your behaviors, regardless of your intent? He is the Central District Leader, not you. He would have the right to launch such an investigation against you because you are still a private citizen who has his hands in places they don't belong. Just because you have the City Ward in your building and your coins in their banks, it does not mean that you can use them for personal use.

She seethed now, her nostrils flaring."You are not the Luminary and you are not a District Leader. You are the founder of an academy. What do you think an investigation would do for your campaign then, hm? Would the Central population really want consider you their leader then? Jake may be corrupt, but he does does silently. That is the difference here. You left yourself open to sabotage."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 07, 2019, 07:31:23 AM
Finally, she said something that made sense. He nodded when she said she wanted him to win because he knew she hated Jake (and it hadn't made sense for her not to be on his side), but her desire to keep his votes constrained to City Central had been a massive setback. The demons of the west could've voted for him, and Zeus had yanked those away. The dark angels of the north could've voted for him, and Zoheret had kept those votes out of his reach. Why?

Again with the Oligarchy downfall. He was getting sick of being blamed for that. But then she said something else; something that resonated deeply within him. Yes, the Oligarchy had been the best thing this city ever had. She was bitter about its loss. He found himself forgiving her resentment of him for having a part, however small, in ripping that away.

Humbled, he listened to the rest. Her point was valid, but he'd thought about Jake coming after him that way.

"It would look like sour grapes," he said quietly once she'd finished speaking. "Any investigation he throws my way after an election announcement would make him look like he's thumbing the scales, like he's on a smear campaign." Ben sighed and shook his head. "While I agree that he could do this in an attempt to sabotage me, you helped him by closing the door to my other votes. The Academy is in the East. The demons are in the West. You and Zeus and Saraekiel could've opened the votes to the whole city and made Central's population a tiny voice in a big crowd. It's going to be harder for me to win, now, unless you know something about Central I don't?"
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 07, 2019, 08:31:48 AM
"No, I helped myself and the other District Leaders outside of Central. You are the one who told the city about a public election. Now, when the other immortals in the city get the idea to vote on a District Leader, I don't have to worry about Jake McCloud's smear campaign against me." She shifted her tone into something more annoyed than angry, moving her weight to one leg.

At least there was some kind of progress being made here. These men, she sighed through her nose, thinking of the idiocy from the others, starting with Ben. She was beginning to get a headache doing everyone else's jobs. The thought of stopping by a bar flitted through her mind passingly.

"If you were just some other vampire, we would have laughed you out of the room. Considering you have the ex-Luminary as a sire," Zoheret nodded in Kerr's direction, though didn't move her gaze from Ben, "your summons were accepted and your points heard. Don't disregard the merit of that."

At Ben's faux-question, she scoffed. "Of course I do. Any one of the other District Leaders, however, may have witnessed me come up here. And so if you suddenly show up on Charon's doorstep with information you shouldn't have, who would point the finger at me first, I wonder." She blinked at him and smirked.

"What I can tell you is that most of us would prefer you in the seat of Central over Jake McCloud anyday. Just because we agreed with McCloud's stance doesn't mean we don't want his head on the proverbial pike. Likewise, the opposite is true. That's how the politics work in this city. If you don't like it, I suggest you drop out now and save us all the aggravation. Otherwise you need to grow a stronger backbone. After all, my opinion is not the one that matters, but the people of Central."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 07, 2019, 08:59:54 AM
As Zoheret outlined every one of her thoughts, her motivation became clearer. He was frustrated that he had to learn this way. At any point she could have come to him after his announcement of an election and helped him to win over Jake McCloud, detailing a potential plan. Mind, it worked both ways, he could have gone to her and asked for help. Her prior treatment of him at the Oligarchy and her reputation of hating on vampires (and anyone who wasn't a dark angel) had sullied his opinion of her and led to a great many assumptions.

Well, now he could start fresh. Not that he thought she would give him the same opportunity, though he was encouraged by her words about not overlooking the merit of his answered summons, (though he hadn't put his name on it).

"I'm not dropping out," he said with conviction, "and I do have a backbone. I walked out of that meeting because there was no point arguing. Votes were cast, questions ignored, I was shut out. I'm very aware I'm a nobody right now." He glanced at Kerr, knowing that his status with 'the ex-Luminary' was his biggest asset and the only reason he had any clout at all. Even Zoheret had said as much. He looked back at the dark angel, wanting her to understand that her words hadn't fallen on deaf ears. "But no, I haven't given up. I don't know about dropping the transparency during my campaign, though. I have to separate myself from Jake in an obvious way. I was going to push the philanthropy thing."

Without actually asking, he sought her advice on that. And because he'd shared with her his political tactic, he revealed that he trusted her.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 07, 2019, 09:46:31 AM
Zoheret rolled her eyes. "You already have something that separates you from McCloud. Get the city talking about the Academy and make a damn name for yourself already! McCloud's has the The White Rabbit and Central, so people know his name. I am a minority District Leader, so people know my name. Chtahzus'aak took back the West from an imperialist, so people know his name. Instead of relying on Kerr Galvin's memory, start making something of that Academy yours. It's called self-advertising, Mr. Samson. Philanthropists are only generous because it allows them to hear their own names, and look how the world praises them! So let the city hear your name." For the first time that night - perhaps ever - Zoheret smirked at him without malice. True to form, it lasted only a few brief seconds before being replaced with an arched brown and an amused scowl.

"Now, perhaps your lover will teach you how to be a real politician before you succumb to your own virtues. Your first task could be becoming self-sufficient in your expertise so you won't be relying upon 'advisors'. You're not becoming an emperor; you're taking Central." She adjusted her bag on her arm, shifting her weight to the other leg uncomfortably. "What you're suggesting is the equivalent of rebuilding the Oligarchy. Play the game first and see if you can keep up. You've got three months."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 07, 2019, 10:14:12 AM
Ben wondered if Zoheret was even listening to him at her first command. 'Get the city talking about the Academy and make a damn name for yourself already.' He had literally just said that he would be focussing on the philanthropy. He was astonished by her inability to hear what he was saying. And then the crunch came as to what she actually meant. Ugh. The Academy was named after Kerr because the building was a memorial. He couldn't start sticking his own name on different parts of it because it would look like pure ego. A Jake McCloud move. What he needed was a new thing, something else for Central, something that voting for him would mean that it would be built or organised, and something Jake couldn't promise himself.

So she wasn't against him but while she was here spouting insults at him and rolling her eyes about, he wanted to know if she was only giving him lip service or if she would make an active contribution.

"If during the campaign I come across something that you can help me with, will you?"

He was curious about how invested she was in Ben getting rid of Jake. Or would she tut to herself and declare he was a fool for making himself open to repaying favours to others once in power. Favours, though, were how politics worked. She shouldn't shit on him for that.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 07, 2019, 10:41:36 AM
She cocked an eyebrow at him and huffed a sigh through her nose. Saraekiel had been the last person to ask for her help in securing the North. They had agreed on certain terms, including her support becoming a District Leader in exchange for his pursuit of McCloud. After tonight, she was reconsidering their alliance, seeing that the other dark angel had no political tact at a District Meeting. Zoheret glanced at Kerr, considering his presence in the background of this political plot. She didn't particularly care for Kerr Galvin, especially now that he was no longer her superior, but there certainly wasn't the same animosity for him as there once was - nearly two years of time passing after his supposed death helped with that - but she couldn't completely trust him either. A weak man with no conviction to stand up when things were hard. Zoheret did not forget how he had essentially abandoned the Oligarchy once the Mimic demons disappeared. Neither did she forget that he was one of the few men who had allowed her the floor to speak without disregarding what she had to say. Ambivalence was not her strong suit, and yet here she was.

She saw the potential for success with Ben; she saw peace of mind. But she also saw his youth, his emotional attachment to his own feelings. His floundering mistakes. "That depends on what it is. I have my own position to consider too, you know." Zoheret rolled her lips together, refreshing and moving the mauve pigment around on them. "But I'm not opposed to helping you."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 07, 2019, 10:49:35 AM
He looked at her, assessing the harsh expression on her beautiful face, the intensity of her gaze. He remembered the casual insults she'd thrown his way and the hostility in her tone. But he believed her, because actions spoke louder than words. She didn't have to come up here and talk to him, didn't have to offer her private support, didn't have to give him advice even though it came with a verbal smack upside the head.

She was the last person he'd thought would invest herself in the outcome of the campaign, especially after the meeting downstairs, but because of their meeting up here... he'd mentally positioned her above Zeus. (But not as high as Charon).

"Thank you. I'll do my best to keep you out of it," he said, not wanting to taint her opinion of him further. He would only ask her for help if he absolutely had to, and he would keep his requests (if he made them) as miniscule as possible. But it was good to hear she was open to it.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Saiketsu on August 07, 2019, 11:41:17 AM
Zoheret nodded stiffly and dug inside her purse for a business card. She pulled out a metallic gold and white business card, her name in a royal purple script in the center. She closed the bag and handed it off to Ben, expecting him to take it. When she spoke her voice had dropped its poison and sounded to her ears tired. "Just send anything you need to my receptionist, Michelle. I will see what can be done. Now let's hope some of the lessons you've learned tonight actually stick." She turned and covered the distance to the lift in a few strides, her heels making her tracks known to all.

She pressed the button to open the doors and the doors slid open and she was thankful that the cabin was empty now. "Now, I'm off to find a very stiff drink. Gentlemen, goodnight." She nodded at both of them and stepped into the elevator, pressing the button to close the doors. "Oh, and Ben," she called after him with a cruel smile as the doors closed between them. "Greece was wonderful."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 07, 2019, 12:06:52 PM
Obediently he accepted her card with a softly spoken thanks and nodded, making a mental note about 'Michelle'. He would make a written note later so he wouldn't forget her name. He trailed after her when she went to the lift, which would take her downstairs without fuss - it always prioritised its destination after picking up someone from the penthouse.

At her parting statement about Greece, he looked appropriately contrite, shame of his waspish comment failing to colour his cheeks for he hadn't slaked his thirst since before the meeting. His expression spoke volumes of his embarrassment and knew that she had him on that one. He forced a smile and nodded - she would know that her words had hit home.

With his own words lobbed back at him, that was at least one lesson that would stick.

He waited until he could see the tendril of light of the elevator descend, then turned to Kerr, flipping Zoheret's card between his fingers. His muscles relaxed - he could feel his shoulders dropping and his posture deflating. He'd held himself straight upright when speaking to her and the difference was startling.

"Her exits are as grand as her entrances," he said to Kerr, glancing back quickly to make sure the elevator really had gone down before looking back at his sire with a sheepish smile. "That went better than expected."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 07, 2019, 05:46:13 PM
Kerr lifted his eyebrows and nodded in acknowledgement of Ben's words but his expression quickly returned to a frown, his teeth tapping around the bar of his tongue stud while he tried to decide what he was feeling about Zoheret's visit. His hands remained in his pockets as he stared sightlessly at Ben's hands flicking her card, his thoughts turned inward and to the past.

True to form, the dark angel had led with fire and attacked... with an offer of support and assistance? It was most unexpected. What could she be playing at? No doubt she was serving her own interests, yet her stabs at Ben had followed a general theme of concern for the city, which left Kerr gobsmacked. Kudos to her; she never ceased to impress. He'd always suspected there was something more buried beneath her hackled exterior beyond an incising intellect. Who knew it might be something approximating a heart?

He'd wanted to argue that he hadn't let the Oligarchy fail; he'd had every intention of returning from Austria after two nights and pooling everyone's resources in an effort to keep it going, in its own fashion. With a little redoing and rebranding, he'd have worked it out. He recalled mentally co-ordinating everyone and compiling a list of expectations as he'd flown through the night, away from what really mattered to complete a task only he could perform. He'd done it for the Mimics, not expecting to return some six hundred nights later to find his tentative mental co-ordinations of defences, artillery and supernatural resources had all been for nought.

Naturally, she'd never considered that he might have been as gutted by the Oligarchy's inability to prevail as she. 'Take precautions and batten down the hatches,' he'd said, anticipating they might face unknown challenges when the supernatural community realised their position was undefended. Instead, they'd hacked their legacy into convenient chunks and squatted over their greedy territories like stone demons on a building. It had gouged him almost as deeply as discovering the effects of Ben's and Ichabod's mourning. He would not have allowed the city to become divided if he'd been here, he'd have insisted on co-operation.

Despite her disparagement of him, he knew he'd have got it, too, because back then they'd been aligned with the interests of all. Now they were beholden only to themselves and their squalling districts, so loathe to risk anything that they hadn't even spoken in a fucking meeting. When had silence and furtive looks become a way to resolve anything?!

"Hard to know what to expect with her. She's certainly of the 'treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen' school of thought," Kerr chuckled, coming out of his reverie and focussing his gaze on Ben with a soft smile. "You held your own admirably," he complimented, kissing Ben's cheek and touching his waist almost dazedly. He couldn't quite believe he'd put on underwear for that. His mind was still racing. "She's never been a fan of Jake's but he's definitely top of her shit list, now," Kerr chortled in wonder.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 08, 2019, 01:56:59 PM
Ben smiled crookedly at the 'treat 'em mean' comment but it straightened into something more natural when Kerr praised him for keeping up with Zoheret. His wheels had been spinning a little initially, he thought, but she was much easier to deal with one on one than she'd been in the meeting. He lamented his decision not to see her before the meeting. He hadn't wanted to approach her and then be accused of wasting her time.

"Yeah, I wish I'd known what they'd talked about after I left," Ben said, shrugging off his suit jacket finally and folding it over his arm. He moved towards the wrap-around lounge but dawdled beside the circular aquarium, a 500 gallon tank that held a range of aquatic life - reef fish, a couple of bimac octopi, jellyfish and a few seahorses. It was his favourite thing in the apartment.

"Did you ever have trouble with her as an Oligarch?" Ben asked. Funny how they'd talked about Zoheret a number of times but had never discussed Kerr's working relationship with her. He was still racking his brain about what he could do for the city that Jake wouldn't be able to jump on and promise as well.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 08, 2019, 08:43:03 PM
Kerr strolled up behind Ben, wrapping his arms about his waist and linking his fingers in front of Ben's stomach, looking into the tank over his shoulder. "I'm sure Charon will tell us. I didn't get the impression he was happy, so I doubt it went well," Kerr breathed a laugh.

"And Zoheret was always... well, night to night was generally fine. She led the angels professionally and dealt with any conflicts efficiently. In person, she always talked down to me but she did listen when I asked her to do anything. It was mostly in group meetings that she was trouble. She couldn't hide her disdain and frequently spent the entire time insulting all the different species and their methods and generally caused unrest until it was time to finish. She usually walked away laughing," he muttered darkly, remembered frustration seeping through him.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 10, 2019, 07:45:11 PM
"Yeah, I'm not getting a great vibe. I feel like she was... gaslighting me," Ben said, holding Kerr's hands in place. "And I had this scolded child kind of emotion when talking to her. Even when I'm being reprimanded by Charon I don't feel like that. Her treatment of me was very much like..." he paused, not meaning to give the name dramatic effect, but because he knew the power of the name he was about to mention he couldn't help but pause. "Themba," he breathed. "Like... who I am now isn't good enough, will never be good enough, only he - and she - are the best judges for how I should behave. That I have this potential, they want to develop it for whatever it is they want me for, and my purposes are not as important as theirs."

He huffed a sigh but cuddled Kerr's arms a little tighter, glad for his sire's comfort and presence, even though he could feel the thrum of his negative emotions as well as the positive ones.

"I get it's not a perfect world, that I have to play a different game for this leadership position, but they're not making it better by being secretive and underhanded, by never showing their cards." He straightened his spine. "When I win Central, I'll make a little mini-Oligarchy. She can scoff at having advisors all she likes. It's just a different name for what you used to have."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 10, 2019, 10:15:29 PM
A sick feeling of trepidation clenched Kerr's gut when Themba's name was mentioned and he responded to Ben pulling him tighter by squeezing back and rubbing his cheek against the side of Ben's head. The explanation of not being good enough to fulfil his own purposes made complete sense and had Kerr nodding his agreement. Zoheret really did treat everyone like her divinity gave her a direct line to the future and the right to dictate all present actions according to her own decree. The accuracy of Ben's assessment left him tingling.

Ben straightening forced Kerr to do the same. He pulled his head away from Ben's and looked at his profile in surprise.

"A mini-Oligarchy? You'll run the district with representatives for each of the species? Would you delegate power to them or just use them to advise? And you'd have the Ward enforcing things or are you planning on hiring an independent force? You know... I anticipated an unfillable void when the Mimics left," Kerr mused, sighing as he unwound his arms from around Ben and paced a step away, running a hand across his hair in frustration.

"Yet everyone carved up the city into districts while I was gone and... everything's fine. I was a fool when I anticipated the Oligarchy would come under attack. I - somehow - gave them the idea that chopping it all up and squabbling over it like vultures was best for the city. I can't forgive myself for that," he sighed, shaking his head ad scratching at it again, his other hand perched on his hip. "Hopefully you can go some of the way to rectifying my mistakes," he said, his mouth tight and turned downward at the corners.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 11, 2019, 10:56:23 PM
The questions came hard and fast and Ben was pleased to hear them. He caressed Kerr's arms around him and smiled at the fish in the tank, adjusting his focus to see his partner in the mirror. Before he replied he was surprised when Kerr removed his hold and stepped away. Ben turned to look at him, shaking his head when Kerr blamed himself for something others had decided.

"It wasn't your mistake. The only thing you're guilty of is being ignorant of the vault you inherited, and you never got an instruction manual for it or anything," Ben said, reaching for Kerr's hands and gripping them in his own. "You can't blame yourself for them doing something when you weren't even here. All it proves is that you were the glue binding them together. You were successful in keeping them aligned and in order. Without you, they crumbled and fought each other and are fighting still. They're not so interested in what they can do for the city so much as the status they get."

He didn't want to address the other questions until Kerr acknowledged his agreement that he'd been the best leader the city had seen - even better than Halen, who'd had the idea in the first place, because Halen had been unfair in tearing Ben and Kerr apart.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 11, 2019, 11:30:11 PM
Kerr allowed Ben to take his hands, listening to his defence and loving him for it, even if it couldn't wipe away his guilt. "I suppose so," he conceded broodily, staring at where their hands were connected. He gave them a squeeze with strength that would break bones if Ben were mortal, allowing an outburst of emotion to accompany the pressure.

"They infuriate me! Maybe they do the right thing by their constituents but put them in a room together and they act like children, trying to outdo one another! How is that productive? They know their roles are more than just that of figureheads, that they're there to serve, yet they're petty and small-minded and selfish."

His gaze lifted and he glowered into Ben's eyes, loosing his grip in order to hold Ben's face in his hands instead, his thumbs caressing Ben's lower lip. "And what happens if you lose this election?" he asked softly, his expression troubled. "Jake remains in charge and we live in his district. He's not going to rectify my mistakes, be open to reviving past successes. It'll just be more of the same," he frowned, admitting, for the first time, that there was a possibility their endeavour could fail.

He didn't want to think negatively and there was a sense of shame in voicing the notion, because it was almost like he was encouraging defeat. But Ben's treatment in the meeting tonight didn't bode well and the fact that voting would be restricted to the district where Jake had a very strong base didn't help. Ben could lose and the realisation sat like a stone upon Kerr's heart. Everything they'd done had been aimed at success, every move they'd made designed to bring them the win. It was painful to contemplate but necessary to prepare for, just in case; what if the election didn't work out in their favour?
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 12, 2019, 05:58:50 PM
The strong grip on his hands hurt him but he blocked the pain from echoing back at Kerr, not wanting him to feel bad about anything else. They moved soon enough to take Ben's face and when Kerr's thumbs were at his lips he pooched out his lips to kiss them.

At the suggestion of loss, something that Ben had considered on multiple occassions, he gave a sour smile. "If that happens, let's hope Jake likes you more than he hates me."

No need for you to upset him, he thought. He didn't really send it all the way but it floated out, pressing gently against Kerr's consciousness like a wish rather than an instruction.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 12, 2019, 07:01:38 PM
Kerr frowned lightly at Ben, hearing his words but... distracted by a thought that he had to seek and nab. No need for you to upset him?

What does that mean? he asked, carrying the tendril with his thought so as to connect their mental bond with it and through it. The only emotion surrounding it was curiosity from Kerr.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 12, 2019, 08:14:49 PM
"If I lose and if he hates us both we'll be at his mercy. I don't think he'd show us any. He won't think twice about steamrolling us and fucking us over. I know you think better of him than I do, so..." he shrugged. Use that, he thought again, but this time the connection was firm.

Kerr's history with Jake was a means to an end, in Ben's opinion. Their safety net in case things went wrong and he lost the district. It was looking more likely now that he was forced to find his votes in Central alone. If Jake remained leader he could see a few different ways the asshole could punch holes into their operations. Quietly vindictive, he'd probably wait three to six months after resettling his throne before making a move on them.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 12, 2019, 10:09:58 PM
Kerr frowned, knowing Ben was right but not comforted by it. Would his relationship with Jake trump Ben's if it came down to it? Did they even want to risk it? This was becoming an even more miserable conversation than the one about the meeting.

"That's a terrible plan," he said wryly, emitting a bitter exhalation that may have passed as a laugh if it weren't for the concerned expression on his face. "Even I wouldn't feel safe gambling our businesses, our home, our livelihood on my past with Jake. I mean, I'll try but... it's not like we were lovers, we just worked together. If it happens - if you lose... I think we'll need to relocate. Out of the district at the least... out of the city at the most," he proposed, trying to sound certain but failing.

It wasn't much of a plan and it wouldn't even be that if Ben didn't agree. He hoped like hell it wouldn't come to that, he didn't want to leave the district, let alone the city, but he was afraid Ben was right. Jake could make their lives very, very uncomfortable.

"Either that or we accede everything to Jake in an effort to appease his enormous ego and continue as we are, with his boot on our necks."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 13, 2019, 09:34:10 AM
When Kerr mentioned they might have to leave the city if Ben lost, the weight of what he'd risked to try and become District Leader finally settled on his shoulders. He felt sick that he'd gambled everything they had on a role that he was a serious underdog for. What the fuck had he been thinking? Why had Charon and Kerr supported this?

"I hear Greece is nice this time of year," he said with a voice that didn't sound like him, and laughed. It echoed hollowly in his ears and didn't sound right, so he stopped.

with his boot on our necks

He could almost feel it now. His hand reached up to massage the side of his neck.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 13, 2019, 09:33:38 PM
Kerr smiled, weariness replacing the fear simply because he couldn't keep up that level of emotion for the next three months. Acknowledging the possibility of a loss was enough for now. He believed in Ben, he believed in their strategy... and he also believed Jake would have these same fears about them, should he lose the election. Kerr had to hope that that shared fear would keep him a little humble, should he triumph.

"According to Owen, it's the most magical place on Earth," Kerr chuckled, stepping close to Ben and fitting himself around him, leaning down to kiss where his hand was fretting at his neck. His head stayed on Ben's shoulder, the giving and taking of comfort through proximity a natural instinct with their blood connection. Owen hadn't put it quite like that but Kerr didn't want to think about Zoheret being there and Owen was the next best association he had. As soon as he thought her name, however, she was in his head, demanding attention anyway. Insufferable bitch.

"What do you want to do about the Ward? My suggestion - as your politically-baptised lover," he said sarcastically, "is to motivate the Captain into courting all the districts for equal funding. It will leave them open to a potential negotiation of terms yet again, but if everyone's paying them, they can't be accused of being yours." Of course, they had positioned the City Ward beneath them altruistically but being their sole benefactors had also given Ben advantages Kerr couldn't deny. If Zoheret wanted to bleat about the impropriety of it, the others wouldn't be far behind.

They should've used regular couriers to deliver the invitations but hindsight and all that.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 13, 2019, 09:41:32 PM
Ben nodded, tucking himself into Kerr's hold and relishing it. He enjoyed Kerr's smell and touch and wanted to be enveloped by it.

"The Captain was muttering something about wanting to crash the meeting herself for funding. I think that fifteen million I gave them last year isn't going to last another year with all the new recruits they had. I don't think she'll need me to suggest she chase down a payment schedule from all of them." Ben sighed. "I worry about the ones who don't want to pay. Like Jake or Zeus or Saraekiel who openly state they have their own people. It means that there won't be a neutral force patrolling their districts. I don't like that idea. Technically speaking, I'm neutral right now, funding them. Maybe they should hit up private investors instead."
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 14, 2019, 06:15:20 AM
Kerr pondered both sides of the argument, trying to predict the better option. He closed his eyes, his face pressed tightly against Ben's neck since he'd cuddled in closer. Love swathed them, pure and potent in their emotionally raw states, emanating from the ethereal place where their souls were eternally bound, by blood.

If Captain Hadar petitioned the other district leaders, it could draw attention to the Ward's status as being funded solely by Ben and cause those districts to reconsider the ward's presence in their territories altogether. It didn't seem a good idea to attract scrutiny at such a delicate time (or ever). It could also prompt them to make greater demands of the Ward, if they felt their financial contribution warranted it.

Going to private investors seemed safe, though the Ward could be just as much at the mercy of questionable decision-making because they owed their ongoing existence to those that invested. It could make them lackeys, with less integrity, beholden to their rich masters and not to the city's supernatural population.

Neither option particularly appealed, though the first was more honest. Besides, Zoheret had brought it up. It was only a matter of time before others  asked questions also. "Privatisation really would appear to be the end of their neutrality and I don't think they'd have a hope of patrolling all the districts anyway. Best to go for the one that has a chance of keeping them independent and in all parts of the city," Kerr advised.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 14, 2019, 08:51:51 AM
Ben listened to Kerr's advice and thought about all the organisations that lobbied for their self-interest in the mortal world. The thing was, they didn't lobby the police, they lobbied the politicians.

"You're speaking about corruption now. I don't think the Captain would let herself be swayed by any group no matter the money she was offered, but I know how it looks from the outside. So..." Ben considered the best option. "Maybe the District Leaders should be beholden to a certain amount? And private investors can donate anonymously? Or the Ward can have fundraising events or something?"
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 14, 2019, 11:38:13 PM
"I'm definitely not anticipating the Ward would become corrupt," Kerr clarified. "And I agree the district leaders should contribute but I'm also fearful that you were exactly right with your original point. Why would they pay to support a neutral force when they already pay their own people to do what they want in their district? It'd be easier to just eject the Ward and lock them out for good. Maybe private investors and fundraising is a better idea after all," he mused, gnawing on his tongue stud while his hands rubbed Ben's back thoughtfully. His brow was furrowed, because he couldn't see a way to solve this problem without he and Ben's motives being questioned.

"The problem is, there's no independent authority to which they're all beholden; that was the beauty of the Oligarchy. If you lose this election, perhaps that's the role you need to campaign for - city liaison, purveyor of all districts and commander of the City Ward, moderator - mediator, when needed - and neutral governance for and representative of all the supernaturals and the naturals. All the districts have right now are lists of laws and punishments worked out if anyone breaks them but where's the support for the variety of beings in their districts? Where's the advocacy and reward for those doing the right thing or just needing help? It's not like all the species are segregated according to their leaders - and they shouldn't be! But to whom are the leaders accountable? They don't act like they're aware it's to their constituents. They just do what they want and no-one's watching."

Kerr was aware he was venting and not offering solutions but declaring what he wished for seemed necessary for his thoughts to clear them away and get to a solution. He hoped. At the very least, sharing his feelings with Ben made him feel better.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Satyr on August 15, 2019, 09:30:06 AM
Ben pulled out of Kerr's hold to stare at him with a concerned expression. He was getting the impression that Kerr wasn't serious about Ben campaigning for the Luminary position. Nobody would take him seriously, he couldn't control anyone, and very suddenly he was awash with a new wave of respect for Kerr for being Luminary and keeping everyone together. It really hadn't been the Mimics keeping the Oligarchy going, it had been Kerr. And even he'd had doubts about himself at the time.

Everyone was banging on about how old someone was to be an appropriate leader for the Oligarchy, but nobody was talking about how honest, or how moral, or ethical, or fucking fair someone should have to be. That wasn't age-related, that had to do with character.

"Zoeheret admitted that she doesn't want someone honest as a District Leader, and I know she's not alone in that.  There's a big difference between someone who keeps the truth to themselves and someone who's underhanded. I feel like Zeus, Zoheret, Saraekiel and Jake are underhanded. That's four out of six. This city is fucked... but at the same time I don't want to abandon it. I was born here. I grew up here. It's home." He was preaching to the converted in Kerr, he knew. Appealing to someone who agreed with him. But still, it felt good to say it out loud.
Title: Re: Surprise Visit
Post by: Existentially Odd on August 15, 2019, 11:16:47 AM
Kerr nodded at Ben, smiling sadly in his agreement with his fledgeling's assessment. Underhanded, yes, possibly. In a brash, ostentatious manner most of the time, which was where their true skills in deception played out. He also understood Ben's attachment to the city but he didn't share it. He'd lived too long and called too many different places 'home' to feel particularly connected to anywhere. Perhaps still to Ireland but even that was a stretch after so long away from it.

Ben and Ichabod were his connection to this place. Even though he had some acquaintances he might even call friends - and certainly allies - he wasn't attached to anyone but his fledgelings. If ever he lost connection with them, he'd leave the city, he was fairly certain. The supernatural population here was unique and that was a comfort but it wasn't enough to tether him here. Only his loves could do that and they could all travel to somewhere far less problematic if it came to it. They'd find it hard, at first, but they'd get beyond it, Kerr was sure. He had.

As their sire, it was his role to guide them through life changes such as those. For the sake of everyone's mental health, he'd insist they leave when the time came... but there was no need to burden Ben with thoughts such as those now, when there was still hope.

"Once the election is over, there'll be one less underhanded asshole, I'm confident," he grinned, leaning forward to press a perfunctory kiss to Ben's lips. "And you'll show them that honesty, compassion and respect aren't the qualities that they should dismiss when considering their constituents." His smile was far more confident than their conversation had been.