Author Topic: Towards Diverting a Stream  (Read 4607 times)

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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Towards Diverting a Stream
« on: April 04, 2019, 09:09:40 AM »
Chtahzus'aak had been busy the past two days.  Knowledge of his presence had begun to emerge from the shadows, traveling in whispers amongst scattered demonkind of the West District.  Since Alena, a dozen more demons of various breeds approached the gate, and they were ushered inside with less urgency than their forerunner.  All recounted the same story.  Bloodthirsty vampires stormed through the streets.  Their leaders had acted in proud self-defense of their turf.  They were executed after antagonized into a fight, with no fair trial, for being too stubborn, for being too afraid for their families to merely roll over and trust they would be treated with decency.   Their crimes were petty and at worst were stupid--breaking the masquerade or whatever those vampires called it--hardly deserving death.  It wasn't as if they terrorized the blocks as harbingers of the apocalypse. 

A quiet rumble of rage had gathered and sat impatiently in his chest.  Many demons who came to him directed their anger his way--

Where were you?  Why didn't you save us?  Why did you disappear?

Of course, he couldn't explain the reasons to them.  They were reluctantly satisfied with his simple answer of "I am here now.  And we will do something about this."  They seemed desperate for leadership, for some kind of representation, despite the feelings of betrayal.  Those with nowhere to go began to trickle in for promise of safe shelter.  In the blink of an eye, the Block was almost buzzing again.

Tonight the driver of his Cadillac Escalade came to a stop outside the former Chambers of the Oligarchy, offloading Zeus and Brael before pulling off into a side street to wait.  The shadow demon ran a hand down the front of his black button-up shirt, smoothing out any wrinkles.  He had decided it was best to pay the Luminary and his schoolboy a visit first, where there was less pressure for formalities and political dance.  He hadn't bothered to prepare anything to say, deciding it was best to go with the flow of things--unsure with how he would be received considering he was just dropping by unannounced. 

Zeus turned to Brael and nodded before striding up to the front of the building and into the foyer to wait.  The Luminary would surely feel them approach.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2019, 04:45:41 PM »
Brael stepped out of the car and buttoned up his suit jacket. Navy blue with a crisp white shirt beneath, he looked more like a businessman than Zeus' backup, but there was no point looking like a thug. He certainly didn't get treated like one. This building brought back memories, for he'd visited on numerous times when the Oligarchy had been running strong. Kerr Galvin could possibly recognise him, though he hadn't much to do with either Luminary when they'd been in charge. He'd mostly answered to his own boss.

When they entered the lobby, it was a hub of activity. Ben held a floorplan in his hands and was discussing the build with the lead architect. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement at the front door and glanced over to see the two new people who'd entered, thinking they were the interior decorators, but they obviously weren't. They were fashionable enough to be so, but there was a grim expression on both of their faces that had him reaching along his mental bond to Kerr, who wasn't too far away.

Ben recognised one of them, even though he'd met him only once, it had left a lasting impression on him.

"You're... the Demon Oligarch," he said, handing the floorplan off to the architect who decided now would be a good time to skedaddle. He'd been given guidance by his employer and he could handle that until the next barrier.

He wished he'd remembered the man's name but it had been so long and they'd only met the once. Ben flicked his gaze to the taller man standing stoically nearby. The two of them dwarved Ben and after a moment he remembered his manners.

"Is there something I can do for you?" he asked, obviously confused but not game to kick them out of the lobby even though there were a handful of people busy at work with their power tools.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2019, 11:57:08 PM »
Zeus rapidly scanned the room, taking in the activity and individuals working as he made his way into the foyer.  When addressed, he nodded to confirm his former position and moved within handshake distance to the vampire.  Schoolboy was busy.

"Ben Samson, I don't believe we've ever formally been introduced.  I am Zeus."  He stuck out his hand for a firm shake, face unreadable.  After a quick beat, he motioned to his companion.  "This is my associate, Brael.

"I caught wind that you were renovating and was admittedly curious,"  there was a twitch of a smile.  "I'm glad to see the building being put to use again.  It was a shame to have let it go to squatters."  He didn't inquire on the nature of the renovations, assuming that would be revealed in time or otherwise dug up by one of his people.  Unless Ben was willing to offer up the information.  Whatever the intention for the building was now, he seriously doubted it was anything for him to be concerned with.

"I was hoping to catch up a bit with Mr. Galvin--unless I've come at a bad time."  His eyes darted to the direction where the architect went off to.  Whether or not Ben tagged along for the little chat was of no real consequence.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2019, 08:39:23 AM »
Ben grasped Zeus' hand and shook it firmly even though he felt like a kid pretending to be a grownup. They were so tall and wide. His gaze flicked to Brael when he was mentioned as an associate and back again to Zeus. Now that they were close, there was an oddly familiar smell to Zeus' associate. It reminded him strongly of... someone else... someone he couldn't place. Obviously, they were the same species, but hanging around the Oligarchy Chambers had brought so many people to him that he wouldn't be able to identify a single one. Maybe he was a fire demon like Kerr's ex-girlfriend Jenna, but thinking of her didn't sit right in his memory. Not a fire demon, then.

"Uh, yeah, we're setting up a business here," Ben said in response to the comment about renovations and squatters, turning to watch the builders setting up a space that would be used as a corner cafe for the entrance foyer, selling things like coffee or hot blood. "It'll be a lot of things though, like being a secondary campus for the Academy," he glanced back at Zeus, to see if he reacted in any way when hearing about Ben's Academy. It had been his first project after all and was getting close to completion. "The horseshoe meeting room downstairs is being turned into a lecture hall," he said, hoping Zeus would find that interesting since he'd likely sat in Oligarchy only meetings there, or met with his demonic constituents whenever they had a problem.

"Kerr's around, I've just called him over," Ben said, taking a moment to twang their connecting blood-bond again, though not with any urgency... it would be embarrassing if Kerr arrived on the scene in full-protective-sire-mode.

Ben had every intention on hanging around and finding out what Zeus wanted with him, though he could guess. It hadn't been long since Jake had claimed the West District, which had been assigned to Zeus not even two years ago. He sensed trouble would be coming Jake McCloud's way and he would've pitied him if Jake hadn't made his own bed... and if Ben didn't hate his guts.
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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2019, 11:48:22 AM »
Expression that of an intent listener, Zeus closely watched Ben as he spoke. 

"A lecture hall sounds like a perfect second life for that room."  And he meant it, though his tone was very neutral.  The Academy was a project he had been following lightly.  The idea of bringing the species together in such a way was eye-roll inducing.  It was vampire-founded and would be vampire-centered.  All other inclusions were likely to be mere tokenizations.  Zeus was interested in seeing what sorts of things were going to be taught, wondering whether he would be proved wrong.

So long as it didn't lead to students irresponsibly digging up ancient summoning spells to publish in a widely-circulated paper.

He nodded in response to Ben's last remark about Kerr and showed no signs of impatience.  Though, he was looking forward to leaving them to their own devices and moving on to arranging his final visit.

"I am interested to see how your business venture goes.  Considering your success with the Academy I'm sure it will flourish."  He smiled politely.  "I imagine you have quite the handful between the two projects." 

Quietly in the back of his mind was the trial.  Well, what was reported to him of the trial anyway.  How had its outcome affected the fledge?  Did he feel that justice had been served?  Did he, too, feel that the trial was a circus or had he wanted it to take place as well?  There were many questions the demon was interested in asking, particularly relating to his current opinion on McCloud.  It wouldn't be appropriate to bring all of that up now, obviously.  Especially not in front of the builders.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Trillian

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2019, 12:13:03 PM »
Ben smiled his agreement. "Yeah, I have a few things on the go," he agreed, thinking that setting up the Academy and the Chambers into their new business headquarters was the easiest part of his final goal. It was overwhelming to think of all the things he needed to do, so it was best just to concentrate on one thing at a time. Today was the lobby fitout. Tomorrow could be the world.

Smiling at his own silly thought, he realised it would be a good idea to take Zeus and associate upstairs. He followed the blood bond again, detecting that his sire was finally on his way towards the elevators that would bring him to the lobby.

He thought he'd take Zeus and his friend upstairs to the penthouse, to give him a bit of royal treatement. "Follow me. I'll take you somewhere more comfortable for... our conversation," he said, faltering just before he invited himself into the meeting between Zeus and Kerr. His sire, partner, lover and everything would only pass on the details to him anyway, so might as well have it all said in front of him.

He headed for the lift and pressed the button to call it. The doors instantly opened it, waiting in the lobby because Ben had used it last. He waved in the two demons (he was pretty sure Brael was another demon, though he smelt very different to Zeus) and then joined them in the metal box. Ben pressed his thumb to the panel that would allow him access to the penthouse and they were swept upwards. Ben expected the elevator to stop on one of the lower floors as Kerr got on (with Ichabod, who he was showing around), but they zoomed all the way to the top without interruption. It was when Ben arrived on the penthouse floor that he realised Kerr must've gone up here with Ichabod.

Next time Ben would try and communicate in proper sentences rather than just feeling along the blood line. Kerr and he shared a connection, sure, but he wasn't psychic. He wouldn't have known Ben wanted him to come down. Oh well, Ben could make his introductions on the fly, then.

"My brother Ichabod is up here with him," Ben said as the lift dinged its arrival and the doors opened to reveal a penthouse that had been freshly cleaned for he and Kerr to live in it again. He stole another glance at Zeus and Brael, and though the associate was taller, Ben thought Zeus had more presence. "Um, Kerr, you remember Zeus, the Demon Oligarch," he said, making introductions even as he approached his sire. "Brael here is his associate. This is Ichabod," Ben threw in.
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Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2019, 04:23:17 PM »
Kerr was surprised when the lift in the penthouse revealed visitors with Ben. He and Ichabod had toured the building earlier in the evening and then retired to the penthouse for a bit of time together before Kerr returned to helping Ben supervise. It was tedious to stand over the workmen but it was helpful - they asked a lot of questions (more often than he or Ben gave directions), so it was easier to be there. A few things might not have gone to plan already, if Ben hadn't been watching like a hawk.

The summons along their bloodline had been casual enough that Kerr had interpreted them as a query as to whether he was coming back to work, rather than anything important. He and Ichabod were slowly making their way to the elevator, hands entwined, so happened to be there when the doors opened. Kerr cleared his throat, grinned and broke away from Cub, feeling underdressed in jeans and a blue T-shirt. He wasn't even wearing shoes.

"Chtahzus'aak!" he exclaimed in surprise, using his old associate's full name out of respect as he stepped forward eagerly and embraced the demon's hand in both of his. Kerr would likely have embraced Zeus if he wasn't lightly covered with sawdust and building debris - he didn't want to ruin his clothes. Nostalgia swelled in his chest, recalling the security of working with a trustworthy team in the Oligarchy. They'd all been mutually exclusive but Kerr had, in retrospect, greatly enjoyed his time as Luminary (even if he'd had to be blackmailed into the role). "It's good to see you again!"

He released Chtahzus'aak's hand in order to shake Brael's, finding him vaguely familiar. "You too, Brael," he grinned, stepping towards Ben and out of Ichabod's way so that he could greet their guests. Once that was done, Kerr would defer to Ben with a subtle, "To the lounge?" before ushering everyone farther into the apartment, where the lounges were arranged opposite one another and the enormous plate glass wall allowed a spectacular view of the city to backdrop their reunion.

Offline pinkroses

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2019, 04:35:00 PM »
Ichabod was enjoying the evening – it was brilliant to see the building coming back to life and filled again. Then when Kerr had suggested they leave Ben to it, as much as Ichabod was interested in what was happening, he had leapt at the chance. It felt like every time he’d seen his sire since he’d come back, Ben had been there, so catching up without his brother was a pleasant change. He and Ben were getting along better, but that was when there was work involved mainly. They were never going to be brilliant friends, even if they were family.

So he was feeling more relaxed than he had done for a while when the lift door opened, disappointed when Kerr dropped his hand and stepped away, but understanding why.

“It’s good to meet you,” Ichabod said, stepping forward to shake their hands as Ben introduced him and make his own greeting before stepping back. He was relieved Ben had mentioned who Zeus was, as they hadn’t met before.

He would let the rest of the group walk into the lounge and follow them, interested to find out why the demons were here after being gone for so long.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2019, 05:09:55 AM »
The warm reception was both surprising and amusing--shoeless and covered in dust was not how he had expected to find the former Luminary.  This showed on his face for only a second before dissolving into a more neutral expression.  Kerr's reaction was favorable, which was a good sign.  The demon silently appreciated the use of his full name and the total effect of the greeting set him in a considerably better mood.  Not that he would admit this, of course.

"The man who cheated death twice," he replied in good humor with a smirk as they shook hands.  "It's been too long." 

"Ichabod." He made eye contact with the fledge, then moved aside to allow for Brael to shake as well.  So this one would be joining them for the chat.  That was fine, he knew the little family wouldn't be keeping things from one another so there was no point in requesting a private chat.  Besides, it may work better this way--he had nothing to hide from them.

With greetings properly passed around, the group traveled deeper into the apartment and into the lounge. 

Chtahzus'aak moved directly to the glass wall to admire the impressive view with his back to the group.  The lights of the city made for a brilliant scene against the inky blackness of the moonless sky.  It made him itch to soar over the city without hiding in the shadows.  If it wasn't for his reluctance to draw too much of McCloud's attention he might've considered it.  The less the twit knew of where he was coming and going, the better. 

When the others had begun to file in and sit down he joined them to take a seat as well.

"Lovely place," he addressed Kerr, mind still on flying.  "I'm sure you're glad to be back."
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2019, 09:51:36 AM »
“Felt like I never left,” Kerr answered wryly, sitting and crossing his left leg over his right - in the middle of one of the three seaters because he assumed his fledgelings would flank him. It was ingrained in him to arrange himself so that they wouldn’t be forced together. “You, more than anyone, might imagine my shock at stepping out of another plane and finding my own world had moved on eighteen months without me, all because I’d had a conversation.”

He tried to make light of the situation but it still boggled him, so his attempt at a laugh felll short. Momentarily, Kerr gnawed on his tongue stud, musing on that sickening moment of comprehension when he’d stepped out of the portal, followed by the realisation that everyone thought he was dead. It left a sour taint in his gut and he shook it off, wanting to move on. He smiled at Chtahzus’aak, though the pain of his thoughts reflected in his eyes.

“But this is what leaders do and the price of trust has always been higher than most know,” he continued softly. “I couldn’t let the Mimics fall, they deserved so much more than what might have come. If I knew then what I know now, I’d’ve done things differently - let my family know I’d be gone, for a start - but I’d still do it. For the demons,” he shrugged, linking his hands around his knee and looking his guests - his demon guests - directly in the eye.

Kerr wasn’t looking for any sort of acknowledgement out of it, but it didn’t hurt to let them know about the personal sacrifices he’d made for their kind. If anything, this was an apology. He was proud to have done something to make up for the disaster he’d potentially allowed to happen on his watch. It balanced out, he hoped.  Referencing his past actions alluded to the clean slate he wanted to begin with Chtazus’aak, for the demon may have come here seeking retribution. The best defence was a strong offence, as the saying went, so he felt it best to begin with clarity.

Offline Trillian

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2019, 10:09:16 AM »
Brael stared mutely at the Luminary, glad he didn't have to speak. He didn't know if he could. He'd never been this close to the Luminary before, and while the vampire no longer held the title, he still exuded the charm and qualities of leadership. Real leadership. So did Chtahzus'aak at his side, who he was most loyal to, but he was immensely glad that the meeting between these two great men was going so well. It would break his heart to fight an icon and once-ruler of their brilliant city. But if Chtahzus'aak demanded it, he would do it.

Ben sat beside Kerr, figuring that the conversation would be directed at his partner and he would prefer to have some degree of eye-contact or presence during it. He listened to Kerr's statement and breathed a single puff of laughter, though it wasn't so much of amusement as cynical. From his perspective, Kerr had been out of the Chambers for little over a month. Hardly any time at all. No wonder it felt like coming home.

The declaration surprised him but the sentiment didn't, about Kerr sacrificing himself to ensure the Mimics were saved. They'd made him Luminary and cast out Lazarus after all. (Lazarus - who was free to rape and murder as much as he liked, as long as it wasn't in this city. Jake was a dumbass for not locking him up again after cutting the ring off).

He pushed the errant thought away and paid attention to how Zeus was taking that particular bit of information. He hoped the ex-Oligarch believed it. It was a very Kerr thing to do, after all.

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Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2019, 09:30:11 PM »
Zeus was intensely watchful as Kerr spoke, nodding in understanding at the difference in the passing of time between planes.  He hadn't been able to travel between worlds since he was summoned here, and he was actively working on a way to change that, but he remembered the sensation. 

Pieces clicked together quickly in his mind.  How had Kerr crossed through into another plane?  Where did he go?  Could he do it again?  And what of this 'conversation'?  The demon wasn't about to rattle off all these questions, and he remained silent as Kerr continued to speak.

The mention of the situation with the Mimic demons was puzzling--what was the connection?  The confusion sat, subtle but still there, on his face.  Somehow this conversation in another plane had saved the Mimic demons?  If Kerr spoke the truth, which was the most likely thing, then Zeus was forced to view the entire situation in a completely different light.  Less likely, this was some trick to gain his trust to somehow betray him later.  Reason and suspicion fought within the demon, but reason always had the upper hand.
 Reluctantly he relaxed.

He wanted to know more detail but sensed the pain behind the words.  Answers and details could come later, so long as the door remained open.

"If only you had come to preside over Central and not McCloud."  He smiled as if to indicate that all was forgiven, though there was an angry glint in his eye as thoughts turned toward the Pestilence.  Kerr was a much better leader.  He would've never swept through the West so viciously.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2019, 11:20:17 PM »
Kerr raised his eyebrows slowly, tilting his head mildly in Ben's direction as Jake was mentioned. Was this why Zeus had come to visit them tonight? To open up a conversation about who should be in power in the City Central District? He smiled brittly at Chtahzus'aak, wondering whether he should discourage such traitorous dialogue or (naughtily) encourage it.

"We both know my leading days are behind me," he said demurely but his grin matched the devious twinkle in his eye. "Admittedly, things change. Are you interested in having a hand in... bringing it about?" he enquired leadingly. Traitorous dialogue it was, then. He'd tread carefully.

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2019, 12:22:06 AM »
Zeus shook his head to indicate that no, that wasn't the direction that he intended to bring the conversation.  Though his lips held a smile that would suggest otherwise.

"Merely musing aloud,"  his tone was subtly, though purposefully suggestive.  But that kind of conversation wasn't entirely safe here.

"Had you been in his place, things would have been very different."  the demon exhaled slow and quiet, running his tongue along the back of his teeth.   

"Over the past few days, I have been handling demons coming to me with first-hand accounts."  He paused, watching Kerr's face.  "They say McCloud's forces swept through the West on a warpath and executed their demon leaders with little just cause."  He glanced at Ben, and then fixed his stare back to Kerr "Without fair trial." 

Chtahzus'aak sighed in a very human way, leaning back into the couch and crossing his arms over his chest.  He watched the group for any reaction.
Anna/Odessa/Sonya || Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Towards Diverting a Stream
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2019, 01:31:58 AM »
Kerr was horrified and his expression clearly reflected his feelings. “That’s appalling!” he erupted, momentarily rendered speechless beyond that exclamation. He turned first to Ichabod then Ben before looking back at the former Demon Oligarch as they also voiced their opinions.

He was sickened by the story, finding it difficult to reconcile it with what he knew of Jake in the past - once a man so upstanding, he’d battled corruption, going against armies simply because it was for the greater good. That man didn't belong in this scenario. Ben had been right when they'd argued a couple of nights before. Jake was possibly beyond redemption, if this was true. Kerr felt obligated to substantiate this claim but, for now, he believed it wholeheartedly.

His thoughts were interrupted by his fledgelings’ comments.