Author Topic: Questions?  (Read 13297 times)

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Offline Saiketsu

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Questions?
« on: July 29, 2019, 08:36:14 AM »
Reserved

There were seven very bright students in the Fledging an Empire class and Damien was astounded to see that most of them were in their first few hundred years. One student, an ambitious young man with two sires, was only fifty-seven. Still another student was somewhere over four hundred years old with a sire who had passed nearly three years ago and left behind an enormous amount of wealth for her. Most of the students had no sustainable money and had come to the class to learn how to get more beyond thieving. Two of them held temporary jobs within the human population, others had dwindling funds they had saved over their human lives, or relied upon friends, donors, anyone who would help. A couple of them had faced homelessness. One had gone to ground in the 1960's and come back recently to a digitalized world. Every last one of them had at least one fledgling.

Damien had prepared the night's lecture well in advance and, as everyone expected, he had gone above and beyond with his information. He had printed up copies of his own bank statements - the smaller ones, with the account numbers whited out, of course - to give examples of routine deposits into foreign accounts that accumulated wealth. There were documents from his Wall Street broker - a page or two - for each student to peruse. Tonight, however, was the discussion of sustainable deposits and expenditures. They would be doing actual calculations of how expensive it was to have and keep one fledgling and themselves safe and well maintained - costs of purchased blood by week, fines for punishments of broken laws (as back-ups of course), light-blocking technologies, Academy costs, etc.

After the initial greetings that he made to the class - their intimate numbers allowing for a brief reconnection with all of their personal lives and with his during the first few minutes of class - he launched right into the discussion of fledge expenses, thankful that none of them had brought up the recent article in the paper announcing his newest pet project - running as Campaign Manager for Jake McCloud. He preferred to keep his students, his family, his business separate from his politics. There was no need to mix them, after all. He was well aware that the information would reach everyone's ears soon enough and that the announcement would create some issues with some of his staff, his colleagues, and his family, but he was ready for the eventuality of it all.

Damien lead the class with a quiet sort of command, neat handwriting on a whiteboard that he couldn't quite reach the top of. Students would simply speak if there was something they needed to say or needed clarification on, once again the intimacy of the group creating an opportunity for everyone to respect and bond with each other - including with Damien himself. If the side conversation had ever gotten so much that they couldn't focus, Damien would wait, allowing his age to subtly leak into the room with a sense of command, a small smile and a guiding statement as attention returned to the front. "Shall we continue?"

About a quarter of the way into the lecture, he heard the door in the back of the classroom switch open and watched as a familiar face entered the room. Damien didn't miss a beat with his lecture, estimating that a new fledgling would cost roughly $1,350 per day on only bagged blood, proving that consensual feeding was the easiest, most cost effective way to save money immediately. He made eye contact with the other above the wandering eyes of the students, who craned to get a good look at who had walked in unannounced to their classroom, but continued on with their lesson, raising the walls of his mental defenses as he did so as the stranger got settled. "Any questions so far?"

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2019, 11:07:50 PM »
The suited 'eventuality' that had entered the room and taken an unobtrusive seat at the back gave a minute shake of his head to the final question. He felt it was partly directed at him. He didn't belong in the room, after all, and his presence could have been due to needing answers about something. As far as the curious students in the room were concerned, he could've been just another administrator checking in on the lesson's progress or counting the class attendees. They did that from time to time and, because the Academy was so new, people visiting the class because they were auditing it to see if they liked it was nothing new.

Some of that was partially true, but the information shared within this class would do him no good. He knew all of the course content from experience and had figured out the rest on his own. Admittedly, through luck occasionally, but it had served him well enough. The real reason he was here was not administrative; it was curiosity. He wanted to know about this lecturer, Damien Evans. He wanted to see him in action, get a feel for his character, watch him teach and learn a little more about him. Was he dangerous? Just how rich and intelligent was he? Was the threat he posed ongoing or would it be limited to the confines of the upcoming election? What did he know about Jake McCloud that could have possibly made Damien agree to manage his campaign??

Actually, there were questions. Lots of them. But none of them important enough to interrupt the lecture. He watched and listened, hands linked upon his crossed knee and a polite smile gracing his lips if Damien looked at him. He was otherwise still and attentive, keeping his thoughts to himself for the time being.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 05:17:39 AM »
Damien appreciated the vague shake of his head and decided against announcing the presence in the back of the room. He turned his attention back to the students and went on as if nothing had happened, though he definitely felt more watched than usual.

As they determined their sums and took their notes, Damien moved into goal setting with money in mind - everything had a price and it was the sire's job in the early years to determine what to pay based on their desired effects. Some sires liked to travel often - as Lucretia did - moving from town to town or country to country in search of culture, community, sustainability. Others - like himself - preferred to set up in a city and establish a home presence. Each of these options had a price to pay. Travelling may have been more expensive up front monetarily - plane tickets, hotels, supplies to stay safe - but the money also covered the anonymity of a vampire life, essentially trading currency for safety in movement. The other option opened the door to risk of exposure and destruction. Worse, Damien said, it allowed your enemies - should his students have any - the opportunity to track one's whereabouts. The silence in the room prompted no further explanation from the professor, who remained poised with an unreadable expression.

Two hours passed easily as Damien spoke, his students asking questions about their own lived experiences (as was encouraged), and how each unique problem created a unique dynamic between themselves, their money, and their fledglings. By the end of the class, they had just begun to discuss investments into the stock market. He gave them the a simple assignment of looking into what options certain companies offered for stock purchasing, and what banks owned the largest amount of money in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and Panama. At five of the hour, Damien dismissed the class, knowing that Marcus, the youngest vampire in class, would be interested in asking him something 'quickly' - which of course took several minutes. He quelled the youngling's curious mind as best he could before reminding him that all of the answers would come over time, either in class or through experience. There was a weekend to enjoy, after all.

When the classroom was almost empty, Damien turned his attention back to the 'administrator' with a polite smile. "I didn't foresee you of all people needing an immortal economics class." He approached the younger vampire with an extended hand for shaking. "What can I do for you, Mr. Galvin?"

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2019, 12:01:15 AM »
Kerr stood as Damien approached and shook his hand firmly, smiling at the older vampire. He would never be compelled to his knees before an ancient again, thanks to Charon's intervention but Kerr could still feel Damien's age pressing against him; it was like walking into a gust of wind strong enough to push him a few steps back, intangible if he aimed his body like a knife to cut through it but powerful enough to sway him if he opened his arms and leant in. He had no intention of doing that.

"Please, Monsieur Evans, call me Kerr," he invited, releasing Damien's hand and sliding both of his into the pockets of his black trousers. He'd dressed simply, pairing the pants with shiny black shoes and a black belt, with a long-sleeved teal business shirt tailored to fit his muscular torso. The top few buttons were undone at his throat, hopefully presenting him as stylishly casual. Non-threatening.

"And no, I don't need an economics class but I was curious about you and it felt like a good place to start. You have an admirable rapport with your students. You and I have gravitated in similar circles for so long yet we've never crossed trajectories. I thought it was time to rectify that - if you have a little time to spare, that is? If not, well," Kerr shrugged, acting as if he hadn't deliberately come to make Damien's acquaintance and couldn't care less if he got to converse with him or not.

Entirely the opposite was true, of course.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 08:01:00 AM »
"Yes, of course," Damien nodded with an amused expression. "I'd be honored, but please, call me Damien. Evans is simply the name I keep on record for the comfort of humans. It helps to cement my stories together and provides me with fewer lies to keep track of." He unbuttoned his jacket, a shade of maroon so deep it could almost pass for black if not for the onyx-colored cotton button up with a short button-down collar, and sat at the edge of the desk at the front of the room. He allowed one leg to dangle off the desk while bracing himself on the ground with the other, his hands clasped neatly on his thigh.

"Yours tends to be a very difficult trajectory to cross, especially these past few years." He said it with a polite smile, meaning no offense to the other. "Here one day, gone the next, assumed dead, before suddenly reappearing again. You must have given your family quite the fright." He thought of young Ben in that moment, and remembered the feeling of losing his own sire and the self-destructive tendencies which accompanied it - a fleeting memory. "They must be ecstatic that you've returned."

Damien eyed the other curiously and said nothing more. There had never been a clear explanation of how Kerr Galvin returned from the dead - whether he had gone missing, vacationing after his role as the Luminary, or simply disappearing from the face of the earth. Rumors abound, of course - the ex-Luminary doesn't just go missing and no one says anything. He was most certainly interested in the explanation behind the disappearance, but etiquette reminded him not to let such things pass from his lips. It was, after all, none of Damien's business.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 11:46:39 PM »
Kerr had always found the truth to be the most effective foil to lies that could get confused but he didn't say so as he followed Damien to his desk. He felt large and boorish compared to the smaller man, his austere bone structure lending Damien an air of regality and unwarranted fragility when compared to Kerr's own bulkier frame.

After a glance around, he grabbed one of the students' chairs and placed it in front of Damien. When he sat, he was below the other's eyeline but that felt appropriate, given Damien's vampiric superiority and Kerr's intrusion on his space. He pulled his hands out of his pockets and rubbed them thoughtfully along his thighs as he listened to Damien's fishing commentary, a smile growing as hints continued to drop. His disappearance into another dimension had been broadcast openly; Damien seemed to want to know more.

"A fair point," he chuckled as he conceded the difficulty of crossing paths with him. "My two fledgelings are happy, yes. None of us expected me to go away on Oligarchy business and return to find out I'd been mourned because blood bonds don't penetrate inter-dimensionally! It's... taken a while for reality to reassert itself, I must admit. The world moved on without me. This place happened," he murmured, gesturing to the walls of the Academy around them, "again, to my horror."

Kerr's grin was broad as he shared the embarrassment he'd felt at attending the opening of his own 'memorial' facility. No-one had understood it; the concept defied logical explanation and imaginative reasoning. "And, of course, Ben developed a taste for politics. Where was that ambition when I was Luminary?" he chuckled, dropping his own hints about one of the topics he was here to discuss; the election.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2019, 10:17:42 PM »
He listened to Kerr's tale, remembering only vaguely that Ben Samson had made a comment about it at the opening of the Academy. Back then, his thoughts were too distracted with Rachel and with Samson's announcement of his campaign against Jake. Now, as he received the story from Kerr himself, Damien found himself enrapt in the details too strange to be fiction and without much to say.

Such things as inter-dimensional travel and dealings were too far beyond his scope of comprehension. Of course there were other dimensions, spaces where the demons and the angels and other creatures thrived - he was aware of that, if nothing else - but the more he thought about entering such a world, the more unsettled he felt. Upon thinking about the differences in time's structure between dimensions, a chill ran through him, gripping the back of his neck. He tried not to let it show, a simple readjustment of his shoulders instead.

Confirmed by Kerr, Damien accepted this story as truth, honored to have it related to him in so casual a setting. He had never been given pretense that Kerr or Ben were anything but honest men (though he had no personal dealings with them as of yet), and while the knowledge of the occurrences may be a hard pill to swallow, Kerr's recant of the reality of it was not. As Kerr reminded them about the memorialization of the Academy in which they both sat, Damien smiled.

But as the conversation shifted to Ben Samson, however, Damien felt Kerr's angle arrive, surprised it had come up so quickly. He had been expecting quite a bit more dance between them. Damien's smile didn't dissipate but neither did it touch his eyes. "Yes, it seems as if you've inspired such a strong sense of responsibility in both of your fledges. You should be proud." His comment was even and without hint that he knew where Kerr was trying to head. "It seems they've certainly taken a page from your book."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2019, 09:44:19 PM »
Kerr scoffed, settling back into his chair and deciding to share a little more about himself with Damien. Perhaps there'd be some quid pro quo.

"Responsibility... possibly. But I never had any political ambitions whatsoever, that hasn't come from me," he chuckled. "They may have seen me forced into political roles but they never saw me desire them."

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2019, 05:08:46 AM »
Damien shrugged casually. "Perhaps his ambition didn't come from you, but perhaps your duties to this city have inspired something in him to follow that same path you trotted. Perhaps it is a way to allow him to feel closer to your legacy. We are all guilty living in our sire's memory from time to time."

It hardly seemed necessary to explain who Damien was referring to. They both knew they were sidestepping the issue at hand, weighing their perceived opinion of the other against what was right in front of them. Damien bore no ill will towards either Kerr or his fledge, despite them being in political opposition for the next three months. Of course, he didn't think either of them should rule the city - he had said as much back when the Oligarchy thrived, Kerr's age being one of his biggest disadvantages - but that wasn't the topic here. Here, it was Jake against Ben, both of whom were too young to govern a major district full of immortals, let alone an entire city. Damien of course kept that thought to himself, envisioning the bigger picture.

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2019, 10:11:15 PM »
Kerr tilted his head and gazed admiringly at Damien, struck by his poignant words. We're all guilty of living in our sire's memory - shadow? - from time to time. Fuck, he hoped not but there was a certain level of poetic miasma within him that told Kerr he was. Both of his sires. A predator/monster cycle he feared succumbing to and did his very best to avoid. In doing so, he was giving that thing the acknowledgement it didn't deserve, the power over him he needed to deny for the sake of his dignity, humanity and sanity.

"It's the last thing I want for Ichabod and Ben but here we are anyway," he admitted, shrugging resignedly. He folded an arm across his body so that his other elbow could rest upon it and he could support his chin in his hand, squinting assessingly at Damien. "I know Ben's young but he has a generous heart, an intuitive ability to improve a situation and an intellectual understanding of what's required to make equitable decisions. But I'm in love with him, I've known him intimately for over a decade and I'm biased. What's your excuse for believing in Jake?"

The question wasn't asked with malice but with genuine curiosity, his posture reflecting the same emotion. He had personal experience with Jake in a position of power and it wasn't bad. He was certainly more of a fan of Jake's than Ben would ever be. He wanted to know what Damien saw in him, though.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2019, 01:52:57 AM »
So they had arrived at the question at last. Damien drew a needless breath in and looked away from Kerr, his grey eyes circling the room in thought. He had expected the question to chase him ever since Jake had offered him the role two weeks ago, but hearing it for the first time from a stranger's tongue was something he could never fully prepare for. He had practiced telling Pierre, telling Rachel, telling Phineas, Andre, Michael, and Greg. Each time the reciting of the reason and the keeping of his private thoughts had gotten easier. But Kerr was not of his bloodline and wasn't on his payroll; he was the partner of his employer's adversary. This was much different than just some random reporter. His gaze fell back onto Kerr.

"Well it's most certainly not because I am in love with him." A hint of a crooked smile lingered on his face. He chose his words calmly, carefully. "When you were the Luminary of this city, you kept Jake McCloud on as the Oligarch for vampires. You believed in his abilities, no? I might ask you the same question." He was hoping to just skim the surface of the topic, to provide Kerr with an answer that was just satisfactory enough to satiate that curiosity and relent in his quest for answers. The real reasons Damien had for choosing to help the incumbent District Leader, of course, were ones that he had not even shared with Jake.

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2019, 11:02:16 PM »
Kerr chuckled appreciatively at Damien's first comment, finding the smile that accompanied it rather endearing. He wasn't handsome in a way that appealed to Kerr but his demeanour, humour and charisma enhanced his attractiveness.

"You might," Kerr agreed, nodding as he conceded that Damien could, indeed turn the question back on him. "But that would be an ineffective method of dodging the question because I'd just ask you again, and only answer once you have."

He smiled as another breath of amusement flowed out of him, his shoulders lifting once - minutely - with the mirth twinkling clearly in his brown eyes. He was quite willing to speak to his opinions on Jake but he'd asked Damien first. Deflecting wouldn't do at all.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2019, 07:18:07 AM »
The corner of Damien's mouth lifted, but his eyes mirrored none of the mirth that Kerr displayed, his expression otherwise steady. In any other context, he would have found the comment funny, playful even, something he could expect from his son. As it was, a great debate raged inside of him. He looked at Kerr for a long, uncomfortable moment, his thoughts still masked, but his age now written deeply in his young features. Wordlessly Damien slipped off the desk and crossed at a human's pace to the door of the classroom, clicking it shut and locking it only after he had stood casually out in the hallway for a few brief seconds.

Kerr Galvin had been the city's Luminary for years, an Oligarch beforehand. While Damien had lived in the city, he had never seen eye-to-eye with city policy nor with those who enforced it. For much of his time in the city, he relied solely upon himself and his own for protection, employment, and connection. More so than any other, this was the reason that his path had never crossed with Galvin's: lack of trying. He had always enjoyed living under the political radar, but as Aquillia Industries had grown into an international conglomerate, his anonymity was compromised. Still, Damien tried to remain out of the political field as much as he could, choosing instead to launch headfirst into biomedical research, even when the opportunity to seize a District arose at the fall of the Oligarchy.

As it was, Damien had no reason to distrust Kerr beyond his own general suspicion of anyone outside of his lineage. After Nikolai's betrayal and consequential fall out, he had determined that trusting outsiders was risky - and he was already taking a risk with Jake and Lisa-Joe.

"I am a very private man, Mr. Galvin," he reminded Kerr formally, not fully convinced that he was ready to share his personal business with yet another person. He folded his arms over his chest as he crossed back towards the desk where the younger vampire sat. Damien dragged the roller chair from behind the desk and placed it in front of Kerr, putting himself at eye level with the ex-Luminary. The elder sat and lifted his right heel over his left knee, his right leg square to the ceiling and his position rather large. Damien lay his arm on the desk almost casually, resting his other arm over his ankle.

He licked his lips and spoke before he thought too much about the words. "I need to know that what I am about to tell you will remain between you and I." Damien's gaze was piercing, as serious as he could manage with the choke of fear building in the back of his throat. And then, realizing his error, he corrected himself. "And Ben, of course. But never anyone else, and never aloud. Not even with Ichabod."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2019, 09:20:38 AM »
Kerr's amusement faded as he watched Damien's sober perimeter check. A sense of unease festered in his gut, possibly due to the dignified anxiety being broadcast by his elder. Precautions were sensible if the information he was about to receive was sensitive, though he hardly expected someone he barely knew to unburden his soul within this short a time knowing one another. His interest was certainly piqued, as his gaze followed Damien's return and subsequent positioning before him.

"I'm used to the transparency and scrutiny that public office enforces. I've been accused of being too open," Kerr answered wryly. 'Oversharing' was the term Ben exasperatedly used but Kerr was philosophical about it all. Having more information was helpful, in his opinion. People could judge him as they saw fit, he only ever revealed what he was comfortable with.

"But I can promise you my absolute discretion," he agreed with a firm nod, appreciating Damien's concession that whatever he was about to learn he could share with Ben. It was most likely a matter of convenience. Though he may never voice the incoming information, it could be in his thoughts, which Ben had the proximity and ability to read at any time. He'd be the only one to find out incidentally, however, and Kerr was resolved to that.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Questions?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2019, 01:50:58 AM »
Damien sighed through his nose and closed his eyes, throwing a blanket of quiet over the unease of his thoughts. It was only once the frantic restlessness had settled down in the back of his psyche that the elder vampire opened his eyes and regarded his companion with a renewed composure. He shuffled his thoughts like a deck of cards, laying out the ones he needed most and translating them into English, or sensations that the other may understand, organized, one after the other until the made some semblance of logic. Kerr would see none of this, of course, fed only what Damien wanted him to see when he chose.

Damien brushed against Kerr's mind as politely as he could manage, suppressing much of his own barriers in order to attempt to establish a connection. He could have effortlessly thrown a line into the younger's mind and begun the tale, but decided against it. In his experience having the option to refuse the invitation created for better, truer relationships, ones based on an equal footing. Rather than a mental intrusion, it would feel like a hand extended for a shake, a softly ringing telephone. If he so chose, Kerr could ignore it, defend himself against feeling anything at all, leaving Damien to do nothing but recoil the tether, though it would only prove that Kerr Galvin was not the man to put his trust into. And at least then Damien would have his answer.

If Kerr accepted his mental invitation for connection, his voice would appear in the younger's mind as surprisingly unaccented American English, with a lower pitch and greater maturity than his actual, audible voice. If Kerr refused, Damien would still pose his statement outloud.

"I ask you this next question because you were once the pinnacle of justice in this city. I ask you this because such notions of justice are still important to some of us.

"What would you do if you faced an unknown creature who threatened death and worse upon you and your fledges?" Damien meant the question as only semi-rhetorical, though he sought no advice. He would let slip the memory of Pierre's scorched and melted flesh, Rachel's expression of palpable terror, and Laurent's evil grin slip through their established connection.