Author Topic: West to Central  (Read 660 times)

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Offline The Cedar Witch

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West to Central
« on: April 24, 2019, 11:42:21 AM »
(For Satyr & Billiam)

Chtahzus’aak and Brael slipped effortlessly through the shadows of the city, the White Rabbit, and into the underground boardroom of the Central District Leader’s headquarters.  The security would’ve been an issue for a demon of a lesser kind, but Zeus was no stranger to navigating tight spaces.  Shadows lingered in corners under and past doors—it was a simple dance of familiar steps.  Perhaps if the Brat hadn’t made such a point in the way he delivered his message, another—more polite—course of action could have been taken.  But the shadow demon was feeling less than kind this evening.

He had been sick to death of these political meetings—one after the other with scarcely a breath in between.  McCloud was last on the long list of notable individuals he had an audience with over the course of a few weeks.  While he would’ve much rather ignored the gnat and proceeded with his plans, it needed to be done.  Better to make a show of being the bigger person—it made him look better in the long run anyhow.  Even if no such visit, contact, or otherwise was attempted prior to the seizure of the West.

The demon would definitely be wanting a drink after this.  Not here of course, but in one of the demon-run bars back in the West.  Somewhere he could actually relax.  News of his return had properly spread by now.  The displaced demon families, those who had been most affected and felt the most threatened, had either taken residence at the Academy or with him.  So long as McCloud still had a presence in the West, they were reluctant to make it on their own.  Groups were falling into order.  He had made contact with representatives of each faction.  Most demons within the district came to him with their issues to resolve, and he was leader in all but official name.

What could McCloud possibly intend to discuss?  This meeting could go a myriad of ways.  He was completely unafraid and confident regardless.  It would be interesting, and entertaining, to see how it would go.

Zeus materialized in full demon splendor, making the high ceilings of the room seem lower.  He flexed his enormous wings out to stretch, rolled his neck from side to side resulting in a series of cracks, and shifted back into a human appearance.  Black jeans with a deep burgundy shirt under a casual charcoal-black suit jacket.  Smug, he glanced to Brael before crossing the room and taking a place at the head of the glossy mahogany table.  He leaned back in the chair, arms behind his head, and propped his crossed feet up on the table.

If any rabble entered the room first, they would be simply told “Get your boss,” and if they were smart they would listen.  He didn’t come to fight, not unless provoked.  And that would be a grave mistake.
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Satyr

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2019, 11:53:29 AM »
Brael didn't materialise with the same kind of gusto that his superior did. Instead the shadows gathered together, became more dense, then appeared as a figure before the tall black man could be seen. He also didn't take a seat, watching with glistening eyes as Zeus positioned himself aggressively at the head of the table. Brael hung back, standing behind him slightly to the right, keeping an eye on the door. He was here to protect Zeus, if he needed to. He would fight to the death for him. Zeus just had to say the word.

Offline Billiam

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2019, 12:19:37 PM »
A poor junior security officer found Zues and Brael, and ran off in the direction of the Black Prince's chambers. Jake had expected their meeting would come soon, generally aware that everyone was buzzing about plotting. He'd done a bit of plotting too, and had his needed chess pieces in place to better his position. He went to his safe and removed his blade, a simple precaution. He called up to Lisa-Joe and asked her to get Maria, Luke and Manuel and wait outside. Benny met him outside the conference room, aware of their guests arrival well before anyone else. The Russian hacker wanted to meet the master of the shadows and tell him what shit security he had.

Both men walked into the room. The Nosferatu stared and assessed Brael, his yellow eyes shinning in the dimly lit room. Jake flicked on the light switch, illuminating the subterranean conference room in harsh florescent light. He made eye contact with Zeus, his face a bright smile.

"Much better," he said referencing the lighting. He walked in and sat in the chair at the opposite end of the table from Zues, and tossed his feet up on the wood. The sword was in hand, sheathed for the moment. "So you got my note," he joked, suggesting Zeus's dropping by was in retaliation.
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Cancer(Nox)~ Dragon(Jake)~ Comrade(Benny)~ Harpy(Lisa-Joe)~ Two-Face(James)~ Satanist(Thesdea)~ Legend (Tyler)~ PrivateEye(Drew)~ Wolf(Flick)~ Thief(Apep)~ Huntsman(Ari)~ Slayer(Lacy)~

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2019, 10:57:14 PM »
The demon winced for a second at the light, only due to its suddenness.  It was cute that he thought it would make a difference, but he would allow the vampire some comfort.  It was his house, after all.  The sword did not go unnoticed but its presence was expected.  He had been forewarned about its existence anyway and was interested in seeing it in person, wondering if it was similar to any that he possessed in his own collection. 

Zeus gave Benny a quick look as he entered the room but otherwise ignored the Nosferatu. 

"Yes, I got your little love note."  He internally laughed at the mirroring of his body language and smiled widely.  He swung his feet off the table, planting them firmly on the ground and propping his folded hands on the table.  "What would you like to chat about?"
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Billiam

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2019, 07:21:28 AM »
Jake folded his hands as well. Was this a negotiating tactic? Was he simply being a little twat? Was he unaware of all the mirroring? He knew, and he wasn't going to explain any of it to old Zu Zu. He also found it funny he wanted Jake to talk first. He'd been doing so much talking elsewhere. Well, perhaps it was better if he started. Zeus might be surprised what it was he had to say.

"First off, nice to meet you. When we were Oligarchs you were, and forgive the low hanging fruit, a shadow."

Benny frowned. What a stupid joke. Jake really needed to let him write his one liners. Brael went ignored by Jake, but the rat kept clear eyes on Zeus's companion. He was ready to intervene if need be. In the meantime, he waited his turn to speak, letting his royal highness over there state their position.

"But business first I suppose. Now that you've returned and are behaving like a District Leader, I would like to discuss transferring the west to your control."

There was no attempt at deception, at least about this part. He wanted to hear Zu Zu respond to his offer, and to his accusation that the demon had never been around during the days of the Oligarchy.
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Cancer(Nox)~ Dragon(Jake)~ Comrade(Benny)~ Harpy(Lisa-Joe)~ Two-Face(James)~ Satanist(Thesdea)~ Legend (Tyler)~ PrivateEye(Drew)~ Wolf(Flick)~ Thief(Apep)~ Huntsman(Ari)~ Slayer(Lacy)~

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2019, 07:32:48 AM »
Fascinating.  What a delightfully unexpected twist!  The first comment went unremarked upon.  Zeus wasn't here to reminisce or justify himself to anyone.  Shadows worked in the shadows--that was an obvious fact.  He was scarcely an Oligarch before it fell apart, but enough of that.

"Oh?"  He feigned interested surprise, leaned back in the chair and put his hands in his pockets.  How generous of you, he wanted to say, but his curled lips remained shut and his head well guarded.  There was a catch here.  The demon wasn't stupid.  There was no way McCloud would release his hold on a District so willingly unless the one taking his place was loyal to him.  He twirled a coin in his pocket, feeling the inscription between his fingers.  In spite of his cool exterior, the demon was tense like a coiled spring, ready for what came next.
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Billiam

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2019, 07:41:32 AM »
"Oh," he repeated, his face dropping into a frown. That was it? No questions why? No insults about it not being his to transfer? Zeus was playing a tight handed game. Jake was unsure how to proceed when his counterpart was giving him so little. Oh well, being bright wasn't a requisite for leadership. Just look at Zoheret.

"That is... if you're after the job. Otherwise I'm going to have to seek out a demon powerful enough and influential enough to keep the various gangs from warring and killing each other, and whoever got in their way; fae, mortals, demons who weren't part of a pack. But I assume you know all that and are prepared to finally lead your people?"

He was being an asshole, but he blamed Zeus for all of this. The west had been tearing itself apart because Zeus abandoned it, and it's people. Now the demons were pissed at him for stabilizing it, and yet nobody pointed the finger at the man who let it happen. Pathetic xenophobes. Let them blame the vampires again for their inability to step up to the plate.
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Cancer(Nox)~ Dragon(Jake)~ Comrade(Benny)~ Harpy(Lisa-Joe)~ Two-Face(James)~ Satanist(Thesdea)~ Legend (Tyler)~ PrivateEye(Drew)~ Wolf(Flick)~ Thief(Apep)~ Huntsman(Ari)~ Slayer(Lacy)~

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2019, 07:50:30 AM »
"What are your terms."  He stated, face still holding that same tight smile.  No, he wasn't giving McCloud any ammo.  He wasn't so easily riled.  Unless McCloud had the world's shittiest sources, he would've already known that the demons were now in order--their issues dealt with, their gang leaders unified for lack of a better term.  They had been all reporting to him.  He had everything under control.

The demon disliked the presumption that the West was McCloud's to give in the first place.  But that was semantics, and Chtahzus'aak had a cool head.  The coin twirled steadily between his fingers.
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Billiam

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2019, 08:02:53 AM »
"You know, you're not much for a good conversation," the Black Prince teased. He took his feet off the table finally, and stared at Brael for a moment. Unnerved by the creature, he returned his gaze to Zeus. His grey eyes glowed blue, and his mouth formed a wicked grin. So, it was really this easy? It couldn't be. He had some trick up his sleeve. He had to have a plan to crush Jake. Why else sneak in the way he did if not to show his strength?

"I have only a few. One, that you keep your house clean and uphold the Masquerade, which protects all of us. I'm sharing this with you with the hopes you'll understand why I police it so strictly. The humans are using technology to catch up, and are now hunting us. Like the first inquisition of long ago, the second inquisition is here. I've already met one of their super soldiers. He was made with demon, vampire and shifter DNA. He is but one of many. This local branch is called Project Twilight, but they are backed by global forces I assure you."

He waited a moment to let Zeus digest this info before going into his next condition. "Two, I expect not to face any consequences from your people or your district. I'm not getting assassinated for killing a few leaders who'd killed plenty of your own kind themselves. That extends to the Anarchs in general. I want peace, and killing me or my people will assure more conflict, not less."
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Cancer(Nox)~ Dragon(Jake)~ Comrade(Benny)~ Harpy(Lisa-Joe)~ Two-Face(James)~ Satanist(Thesdea)~ Legend (Tyler)~ PrivateEye(Drew)~ Wolf(Flick)~ Thief(Apep)~ Huntsman(Ari)~ Slayer(Lacy)~

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2019, 08:31:45 AM »
Not to you, cocky little shit.  Thoughts on lockdown, polite and politically correct smile, the demon's eyes met McCloud's intensely. 

He ran a tight ship.  The insinuation followed by the lecture made his blood boil.  The only interesting bit that he bothered to pay attention to was this Project Twilight.  He had serious doubts that anything humans could produce, regardless of the technology, would be able to match anything that he had access to within the protection of his compound.  But he made a note to look into it nonetheless.  Better to be prepared.

As McCloud went into his second condition, Chtahzus'aak gripped the coin tight in his pocket and his eyes narrowed into a steely glare.  In his mind were the firsthand accounts of the murder of "a few leaders"--several of which were responsible for no such acts but were swept up in McCloud's conquest nonetheless.  The inter-demon conflicts that did result in casualties were another matter--but their leaders deserved to be reprimanded, not executed.  Lest the cycle continue endlessly.

They could at least agree that more killing would not lead anywhere productive.  Perhaps McCloud wasn't a complete imbecile after all.

"Is that all?"  The smile remained on his face, though he was still glaring.  He released the coin in his pocket, pressing his finger into the inscription enough to leave an impression in his skin.
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Billiam

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2019, 08:46:01 AM »
Jake handed Zeus a conflict free resolution, and had done it in under five minutes. Granted Zeus was being accommodating, perhaps too accommodating. He was so well behaved it made Jake wonder why. He had to have rage for what happened. He had to notice the disrespect Jake was showing him. Yet, he kept it cool. It was the opposite of Zoheret, who despite her grace couldn't resist a petty dig. Saraekiel was still in the wind, but Jake had been told they had more in common than in difference, and Jake had assured they'd be meeting soon anyways. He would never speak this way to Charon or Sabrina. In fact, he'd be a little ashamed for the later to see him currently. Her style was not his, and he feared the first time all the DL's were in a room together. Sabrina would either see the Black Prince, or Jake would hide him and be himself. Both could have consequences.

"Well there is one other tiny, small, insignificant little morsel," he threw away, making it seem like the meeting was already done, but by god he just had one final thing to get across. "I would like this transition to be a peaceful one. Since nothing has been taken from my control by either threat or force, I would hate for the history of this night to suggest otherwise. I propose a joint statement. You came to me asking for the west and explaining that you could do a better job running it than me..."

Which you can't

... and I'll agree with that, highlighting vampires already control two districts with the east and the metropolis. So on the one hand, I don't give you the west in the way Charon did with Sabrina, but nor do you take it from me. We decided the west's fate together. Now if you want to trash me in a few weeks to save skin with your own, I won't feel slighted. I just need the transition to be written as mutual, and that our two districts are not in conflict. All in all it has to be a much better resolution than you were expecting. After all, I know my reputation."

He pulled out his cigarettes and lit one, taking in a deep inhale. He passed them across the table. "Just in case you smoke."
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Cancer(Nox)~ Dragon(Jake)~ Comrade(Benny)~ Harpy(Lisa-Joe)~ Two-Face(James)~ Satanist(Thesdea)~ Legend (Tyler)~ PrivateEye(Drew)~ Wolf(Flick)~ Thief(Apep)~ Huntsman(Ari)~ Slayer(Lacy)~

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2019, 09:05:06 AM »
Chtahzus'aak ignored the passed cigarettes.  He didn't trust them.  The demon was silent for a moment, considering the "tiny thing" carefully.  In negotiations, there was compromise.  Neither side got everything they wanted.  You come to the table asking for more than you expect to receive but come away with some of what you need.

The coin pressed firmly into his palm.

"Here are my terms: One; you withdraw your people from the West completely.  No spies.  No eyes or ears.  Two; you stay out of the West indefinitely unless I specifically call for you--it's the least you could do after your invasion.  Three; you pay reparations to those innocent whose families were destroyed in your conquest.  Four; a statement is published by a neutral party that control of the West has been willingly relinquished and transferred to me with neither of us available to comment further on the matter.  No fluff, no embellishment, no details.  I will ensure that my people know that we are at peace and you will do the same."  He spoke rapidly without stopping and fell silent when done.  His face now expressionless he waited.
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente

Offline Billiam

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2019, 09:27:18 AM »
Finally, he speaks.

Jake listened attentively as Zeus counter offered, and considered each request. He could agree to withdraw troops. That was so obvious he wondered why he even said it. The spies part was easy enough to agree to. He'd keep the Nosferatu occupied elsewhere, and he had free agents who could check things out. If they were caught, Jake could claim innocence, so long as they didn't actually work for him. Why, he'd even keep them out for a full six months or so. It would let old Zu Zu get nice and comfy. He only wanted spies because he didn't know the man he sat across from. Was he a good leader? His absence said no. His track record said no. However, he had spunk, and was a man of business. Perhaps he wasn't so bad to have in the west, with a loose cannon like Saraekiel in the north.

The second was harder to agree to. He had business in the west, but he could remedy that with making the same demand of Zeus. After all, it was the least he could do for playing hookie for eighteen months. The third one made him snort. He wanted him to pay the murders, thieves, and bandits he'd removed? It was laughable. But money was money, and Jake had plenty. There was no need to sink the ship over that. He laughed at all the flowery words like invasion and conquest. Wasn't Zeus a demon? Hadn't he seen real wars, real bloody, burning, stinking death with no mercy, no stopping, no justice? People had died, but the west was unoccupied when he moved in so it was hardly an invasion.  No, it was a tactical raid at best, and an occupation at worst, but Jake wasn't going to argue word choices, however much they irked him.

The fourth was not acceptable. If it didn't have both their names signed to it then he had no assurances Zeus would keep his word, and his fellow demons seeing him compromise was as important as the compromise itself.

"One through three is done and done, as long as you promise me that you'll remain out of the metropolis unless - oh how did you phrase it - I specifically call for you. Tit for tat and all that jazz."

"As to your last condition. I can't agree to it. I can agree to no fluff or embellishment. You'd get to review anything before putting your mark to it, but it has to be from us, together. Otherwise skeptics will poke holes, our various sides will see what they want to see, and more importantly the city will see what it want's to see. Controlling the story exactly is better for both of us. If you'd like to ask for something else in order to agree to my requested statement, I'm open to alternatives."
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Cancer(Nox)~ Dragon(Jake)~ Comrade(Benny)~ Harpy(Lisa-Joe)~ Two-Face(James)~ Satanist(Thesdea)~ Legend (Tyler)~ PrivateEye(Drew)~ Wolf(Flick)~ Thief(Apep)~ Huntsman(Ari)~ Slayer(Lacy)~

Offline Satyr

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2019, 09:45:16 AM »
When Chtahzus'aak made his four demands, Brael stood taller, prouder. They were reasonable demands and would be effective ones. A way to build trust between the two and to force the disrespectful vampire across the table from them to properly retreat, tail between his legs. Brael had disliked Jake McCloud the second he'd strutted in, because of the weapon in his hands. He'd seen him a few times before, from a distance, speaking with Kerr or laughing with the Fae Oligarch before he'd left the city. He'd never suspected that McCloud would be like this in close-up. Brael had been one of the few demons who hadn't made his mind up about McCloud's reasons for taking the west. He'd thought the vampire an honourable creature, performing a hard task that would win him no love in order to do what was right and for the benefit of all.

But now he knew better. Jake McCloud could have cleaned up the West, in Zeus' name. He could have put down the criminals, in Zeus' name. He hadn't needed to plant his flag in the territory. That made him an opportunist at best, a warmonger at worst.

And he was also a coward. He would rather sacrifice a new territory claimed, not fight to hold it, backing down as soon as someone with REAL power came to the table. Jake McCloud had been happy to steamroll over those weaker than him and 'clean up the west' (which really, had just been him moving through the bad neighbourhoods, of which every district had some - Brael was well aware that the Brazilian Quarter still had no eyes on it and murders, rapes and violence happened there every day and night).

Coward. Hypocrite. Denial of the conditions and 'open to alternatives'? Brael's hatred for Jake McCloud was suddenly very real and running very hot, and he shouldn't say anything because Chtahzus'aak was under control and speaking reasonably, negotiating terms... but Brael couldn't keep it to himself.

"The only alternative is war. Agree to the fourth condition because you have done us a deep wrong, and now you must do a right that forces your trust even at your discomfort."

Offline The Cedar Witch

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Re: West to Central
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2019, 11:39:33 AM »
Chtahzus'aak's face remained unreadable as McCloud responded.  He doubted that his first three would be honored in full, but liked that he acquiesced for the time being.

"As rare as the occasion will be, I will move through Central as I please.  My request that you stay out of the West is for the respect to the demon families and to protect that pretty little head of yours."  He smirked, then resumed an expressionless face.  There would be no killing, yes.  But he couldn't guarantee that the Brat wouldn't be harassed in the streets.  And he didn't want to have him thinking it was within his rights to retaliate.

Before Zeus could speak to the final condition, Brael interjected.  He placed a polite hand over the smile spreading across his face and pressed the coin again into the palm of his other hand.

War.  Yes, he had more than prepared for that outcome.  But it was in McCloud's best interest to play nice, for the demon had his fingers in many things.
Astrid || Chtahzus'aak/Zeus || Extasis || Fler || Jeremiah || Laurent/Va'tamal || Malakai || Rachel || Sonya/Anna/Odessa || Vai
Old things have strange hungers. - Catherynne M. Valente