Author Topic: Surprise Visit  (Read 428 times)

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Offline Satyr

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Surprise Visit
« 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."

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #1 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.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #2 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.

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #3 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.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #4 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?"

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #5 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.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #6 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?"

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #7 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?"

Offline Existentially Odd

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #8 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.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #9 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."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #10 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?"

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #11 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."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #12 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.

Offline Saiketsu

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #13 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."

Offline Satyr

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Re: Surprise Visit
« Reply #14 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.