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Nothing Gold Can Stay (Dead)

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Three pm was Jacks favorite time of the day.

His assistant knew not to schedule any appointments for him past two; and if a meeting he was in looked like it was going to go past the two-thirty mark, he would wrap it up as fast as possible. Because three pm was the time that his youngest stepson Jarwen's kindergarten got out; and Jack was always there to greet him. As soon as the green-eyed boy laid eyes on him, he would break into a sprint before launching himself at his stepfather with gleeful abandon. Jack never failed to catch him; raising his son high into the air before planting a noisy kiss on his forehead. Jarwen would giggle and squirm out of his grip to walk alongside the older man; hand securely held in Jacks own.

"So what did you do today, big man?" he asked.

"I drew a dinosaur, and a spaceship, and Mrs. Peter's let me sing the whole alphabet by myself!"

"The whole thing? No way!" 

"It's true! Do you want me to sing it to you Jackie?"

The governor smiled at his son's pet name for him, "Absolutely. You can sing for me anytime."

Jarwen proceeded to do just that; serenading his stepfather with the lack of self-consciousness that all young children seemed to possess. For his part, Jack hummed along; guiding the boy around people and obstacles he was too busy singing to notice. Once he had finished the song, Jarwen took in his surroundings before looking up at his father in confusion.

"This isn't the way home. Are you lost Jackie?"

"Hmmm... nope! We're exactly where we're supposed to be," he assured.

Confusion turned to delight as the Wilder family's favorite ice cream place came into view. Morbidly named, yet practically radiating wholesomeness, The Creamatorium was decorated in the traditional diner style; right down to the jukebox and checkered floor. Jarwen bolted toward the restaurant; with Jack keeping a steady pace with the boy. Walking in, they immediately spotted the middle child of the family; a lanky, long haired teenager named Rowan. Jarwen wasted no time sliding into the booth next to his older brother and giving him an affectionate hug. Rowan tried to look annoyed, but couldn't hide his smile.

"Can I get a sundae?" asked Jarwen.

"You can both get whatever you like."

A moment later a waitress appeared to take their order; and it wasn't long until their food was placed before them. Jarwen had decided to get a sundae, with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and hot fudge. Rowan had chosen a mint chocolate chip milkshake that came in a cup that was practically a bucket. Finally, John had the most conservative order with just a simple, if massive, root beer float. The trio happily tucked into their food, and for a little while things were just about perfect.

Until Jack heard the screeching of tires, the pounding of multiple pairs of combat boots hitting the pavement, and the unmistakable mechanical noise of clips being inserted into guns. He knew what was coming; and he was moving before his rational mind had completely caught up. He flung the table aside, grabbed a child with each arm, and dove behind the counter just as the world was torn apart by automatic fire. A chorus of screams rose up from the other patrons as the iron scent of blood filled the air along with the dust and splinters of the restaurant. Jack threw himself over his children; their safety the only thing he cared about right now. Once the salvo was over, John ushered his frightened sons into the kitchen and took Rowan by the shoulders.

"Rowan," he whispered, voice steady but urgent, "I want you to take your brother and get in the walk-in freezer okay? Just stay there and take cover; and I'll come get you when it's safe okay?"

"Don't go Jackie!" Jarwen cried.

Jack embraced both of them as hard as he dared, "Everything's going to be alright. I just need you guys to be safe, okay?"

Rowan nodded shakily and took his brother into the freezer, shutting the door tight behind them. Now that they were safe, at least for the moment, Jack no longer needed to fight the molten fury that roiled in the pit of his stomach. Standing up, he walked to the kitchen door just as the first of the attackers was coming through. The man barely had time to register what was happening before John thrust his hand through his chest with contemptuous ease. Behind him, the dead mans comrades opened fire; shredding the dead man, but only mildly irritating the governor. But they had made a mistake crowding into the confines of the restaurant. 

Dropping the corpse of the first man, Jack fell upon the men like a wave; an whirlwind of rage that pulped flesh, shattered bone, and rendered the men unrecognizable as human beings. The fight lasted maybe a minute before the attackers were little more than blood and viscera coating the walls and ceiling. His heart pounding in his ears, he almost didn't notice the black van out front pulling away as the city guard began to arrive. One of the guard came to him, and asked him a question he didn't hear.


"I said, are you alright sir?"

John wiped the blood off his face, "I'm fine. Get my children out of here, they're hiding in the freezer. Tell them I'll be home soon. I won't have them see me like this."

The guard nodded and moved to obey. Already sensing the scale of the problem before him, he pulled out his comm link, and dialed in a number.

"I'd like to meet."


Edited by danzilla3

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It was late by the time Phoebe got the message; she'd been out, as she often was. In fairness, it's hard to maintain a handful of entirely independent lives - it takes time - and despite her best efforts she hadn't yet been able to warp her body into not requiring sleep. 

Even James hadn't helped with that.

A long stride carried her through Last Chance's tangled back ways and alleys- through the whore houses, past the pits, with a high-five for a ganger who couldn't see Phoebe past Ana and as she reached forward a flash of magenta drew her eyes. Swearing softly, she cast her light eyes toward the draped night sky, then stretched her arm out to eye the hammered metal cuff wrapped around her wrist and the comm unit embedded there.


A quick glance surveyed the street as Phoebe exited the alley, then crossed the sidewalk and stepped into a waiting transport- one of the newer models, made old again by the skeletal hands that worked infiltration and disguise.   This particular model fit Ana; mid-tier, several years old and unremarkable, and as she settled into its fabric seats, she exhaled as the worn cushion wrapped around her like a warm, comforting embrace.

Then again, she'd been on her feet since before the sunrise - a wooden stool in the corner would be a relief at this point.

"The Tea House," she told the Skeleton driving and, after waiting for him to merge back into Last Chance's flowing streets, raised the soundproof privacy glass and tapped the crystal. John's message played in her thoughts; his timbre rattled, his tone broken and jagged. Something had disturbed the man, but why call Michelle? 

Gods, did Uriel's mechs go haywire?

A quick scan of the feeds didn't mention any disastrous mech events, but when she narrowed the headlines down to New Everrun a concerning pattern emerged:

Drive-by attack targets Governor Wilder!

Well, shit.

With a steadying breath, Phoebe drew Michelle on like a suit and double-tapped the comm unit. Again, its link to her mind drove its reaction, and with a want and a command it dialed John Wilder. The call rung once before his gravely baritone echoed in her thoughts.

"Mrs. Beauregard. Always a pleasure."

<John.  Michelle, please. I was just settling in for a nightcap- I can't be Miss Beauregard with a glass of whiskey in hand. How are you?>

Edited by Noko

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"I've been better, I'm afraid. It's been a... trying afternoon."

Shortly after the Sentinels had finished clearing the area; John had made a call to the most recent addition to his inner circle. Muriel C. Grey was a clever young woman whom he'd recently taken under his wing after she had impressed him in an earlier dealing. Once he had arranged for her to take his children back to his estate (with a Sentinel escort, naturally) he had returned to his office. Aside from his home, city hall was one of the most heavily fortified locations in the city. He wouldn't be going home just yet. If there were people after him, he wouldn't place a target on his family by being around them. When all of this was over, he would find a way to make up the lost time.

Considering who he could trust, John found that the list was disturbingly small. Muriel was a recent and random addition to his life; the combination of which made him think that she could be trusted. His family was above reproach, but only his stepdaughter and his fiancee were capable of assisting, and he wanted his family to stay together at any rate. Most everyone else was suspect. In the future, he would have to find a way to ensure those helping to run his city were more trustworthy. There was, however, one person he thought he could call on for help.

Much like Muriel, Michele Beauregard was the image that would come to mind for many people when they envisioned a career-driven woman. Unlike his protege however, Michele had a ruthlessly pragmatic side that mirrored Johns own. She was also a woman of immense resources; and the two of them got along well. The two of them were also smart enough to know not to fuck with the other; so he could rule her out as mastermind behind the attack.

First he called Muriel to let her know he still needed her.

"My dear apprentice. I'm sorry to call you back in under these circumstances; but I have need of your beautiful mind. Once my children are settled in, please have the driver bring you back to the office."

Next he called Michelle 

John.  Michelle, please. I was just settling in for a nightcap- I can't be Mrs. Beauregard with a glass of whiskey in hand. How are you?>

"I've been better, I'm afraid. I'm sure you've seen the news. The situation is... dire. I suppose I'm calling you to forstall what I fear I must do."

He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts before he sighed and continued.

"Michelle... do you see any legal recourse; any way that I might solve this the right way... and not my way?"



Edited by danzilla3

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"I've been better, I'm afraid. I'm sure you've seen the news. The situation is... dire. I suppose I'm calling you to forstall what I fear I must do.  Michelle... do you see any legal recourse; any way that I might solve this the right way... and not my way?"

A pause settled and grew.  In the shadow of the car, Phoebe squinted - her lashes narrowing until they were dark slits set against her pale face, occasionally lit by the soft light of arcanic lamps as the car passed across the invisible line between La Ultima Opportunidad and La Ultima Fortuna.

It was a leap, to infer what John was referring to.  The news articles only mentioned that there had been an attempt on his life and, if you asked Phoebe, a damn sloppy one at that.  There was no mention of the details- the bits and pieces that made tactics and strategies possible, so she could only guess - and then muffle that guess, paint it up in Michelle's nail polish, and drape it in a socialite's tailored, sheltered, couture.

<Legal recourse.. to a drive by?>  Another pause, then the distant melody of her fingertips on glass as Phoebe tapped the window or Michelle tapped her whiskey glass.  <I'm assuming that your problem extends to either a weak or corrupt police force - otherwise, that would be the obvious choice.  Without that... >

She sounded at a loss.

<I don't know, John - I'm sorry.  I'm sure there are.. private armies and military groups.  I read about them in the feeds from time to time, but I don't know any.  We're lucky to have a strong and capable police force in Last Chance. 

I'm sorry, I have no experience in this, but I can at least offer you and your family a place to stay until you can get things sorted out.  I have a secluded villa on the southern edge of the city where you can take as much time as you need.  No one will find you there- hell, I can barely find it half the time myself.>

Edited by Noko

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All the slideshow presentations she had done back at the academy hadn't prepared Muriel at all for a crying child. Sure, she had taken over a gaggle of kids for a social event or fundraiser or some-other—but a crying child, and two important ones at that? It's a bit out of her depth, to say the least.

Nevertheless, her duty is to her people, and when it comes to protecting those who cannot protect themselves, Muriel is a stalwart champion. It becomes all the more significant when her mentor, the governor of the city, asks for her aid himself. That, of all things, is a call she cannot—will not—deny.

Her sleeves are ravaged by the time she arrives at John Wilder's office, fabric wrangled by tiny hands and soaked with tears. The children had been nearly inconsolable; it had only been after she had assured them thrice of their father's safety that they'd finally calmed down. Uncomfortable though she had been with them, Muriel finds the organ in her chest ache in sympathy. She can't imagine the stress John and his family must be going through, the worry and the heartbreak that must have found a place within their home, tucked away between framed photographs and polished silverware.

(It almost makes her happy, the fact that she has no loved ones for people against her to take advantage of. But: that is not very becoming, so.)

Nearing the door to her boss' office, she shrugs on her coat to hide the sorry state of her clothing before she bursts through the door in a manner that speaks of familiarity, a ritual conducted over and over again despite the newness of her position. "Hello sir, you wanted to see me? Your children are well safe and fine, as promised, though I cannot say the same for my shirt," she giggles lightly. "I won't fault them for it, but I don't suppose that you would—"

He raises a hand up to stop the verbal barrage, and Muriel immediately clamps her mouth shut. It becomes overly apparent after a good long look that he's in a call of some sort, and she had unknowingly intruded on it. She turns away to hide the blush that must be spreading over her face right now, if the sudden warmth in her cheeks is of any indication.

Oh, bloody good job there, potentially embarrassing your boss to god knows who. She shifts her weight from one foot to the other, biting her lip, and then moves to take a seat by the window, gazing quietly out into the openness of New Everrun's skyline. She'll have to wait a while.



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Of course Michelle didn't know how to help. In his heart he had always known that this line of inquiry was merely a delaying action; a way for him to fool himself into thinking that this situation could be resolved without falling back into old habits. John had grown to like living in the light. Maybe his governing style was a bit more forceful than many in civilized society were used to; but compared to how he used to do things, it was downright diplomatic. Yet now, as he faced an existential threat to the life he had built for himself and his family, he knew that this could only be resolved in the shadows. All that was left was the deep breath before descending.

"Thank you for the offer," he said quietly, "I might just take you up on that. Let me make a few arrangements, and I'll call you back soon."

Ending the call, John sighed forlornly; wanting nothing more than to sink into the comfortable chair behind his desk and drink until his life made sense again. But there was work to be done, and his protege had been kind enough to come back. He walked up to Muriel and tapped her shoulder lightly. When she turned to face him, he could only offer a sad smile.

"Muriel... you've been a good employee; and an even better student. I must admit, I've grown quite fond of you. Which is why I must be completely honest with you when I say that you are in danger being around me. If you want to take some paid time off until things calm down a little, I would understand. But if you choose to stand by me, knowing the potential ramifications... I will be beyond grateful."

Once Muriel gave her answer, he would task her with arranging transport for his family to Michelle's residence on the edge of the city. While she saw to that, he sat behind his desk, and clicked on an almost imperceptible symbol on his computer screen. A small chat window opened up, and he put in a simple query.

>WildHeart1: Looking for information regarding the assassination attempt on John Wilder. Standard rewards apply; money and favors.

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<Whatever I can do, John.  Let me know.>

Phoebe closed the connection with the same idle wish that had opened it and settled back into her seat, billowing her cheeks as she exhaled loudly.  It was telling that word of John's attempted assassination hadn't reached her ahead of time- it spoke absolute volumes as to who and what could have been behind it, but as of the yet, the First had only a few theories and very little factual information.

That would change.

It was a change driven by the broadness- not 'who tried to kill John Wilder', but 'what's going on in New Everrun'.

Phoebe was a spider nestled amidst a web of informants- a network started and maintained from her early teen years and expanded, drastically so, as she rose in the Dead.  It was a network built on the backs of the neglected, stoked by resentment and frustration at the institutions and constructs that disabled vertical movement and kept the undervalued from realizing their dreams.  Her people were the unseen, the shadows in the alleys and behind bars, begging for food or fair treatment, and spending their days and nights serving a world they'd never get to join.  Oh, she had the occasional powerful or high-class leverage point- the politician, chief, or cardinal, who'd done something they'd rather not be public- and these points were important, but not irreplaceable.  

The man who cut the Governor's hair?

He was irreplaceable.

It took days, but each data point was another piece of a puzzle that the First slowly assembled.  Assassinations weren't random occurrences; they were finalities that followed logically for someone.  Somewhere, there was a reason- a benefit- and if you found the benefit, you found the reason, and you could backtrack the who from the why.

The first thing she found was seemingly insignificant- complaints from the addicted that their fix were late, or wrong, and that there was general unease in the drug community as the scratchers and dusters fell into withdrawal.

There were rumblings about a planned theft at the New Everrun bank.

An enclave of street people were running a bank examiner con to wash money in the Tourist district.

A handful of laggardly refugees from the Eridanus border had disappeared- rumors were they had been absorbed into a human trafficking ring, but no one knew much about it.

But back to the drugs.

It was always the drugs, wasn't it?

The street supplies for neon dreams and nightshine had been interrupted- apparently they had been shit for reliability since about a year back, or so the runners said, and it was wrecking shop among the community since it'd been easy as sin to get drugs beforehand.

No cops?  She'd wondered.

Nah, private guns.

Ah, private guns.

Whose dealing?

Don't know.

Private guns.

A handful of targeted questions and inquiries laid mortar to the brick theory, confirming for Phoebe that private guns continued to be all the guns with none of the loyalty.  It was with a solid hypothesis, built on that brick and mortar, that Phoebe made her way to Eridanus to meddle where her name was barely a whisper, but where the Dead lay their head as comfortably as they did in Last Chance.  How she made her way to New Everrun was likely mundane, but how she made her way into John Wilder's personal office just a few days after an attempted assassination?

Probably less so.

Phoebe didn't have the temerity to sit at his desk- why inflame such a tender situation?  Instead, she had dragged one of his round backed visitor chairs over to the window and sat there, bent over her knees, her thin frame backlit by the evening light as she plugged away at a palm sized data pad and waited for the Governor's arrival.  Her gaze didn't shift as she heard him enter, instead she greeted him with a pleasant voice and a nothing accent that drifted up as she tapped the shadowed screen and tied off her work.

"I'm unarmed."

First things first, let's not get shot.

"So, John, how's it going?  I hear you're having a shit week," she said simply as she rose and leaned back, laying a calculating gaze on John as she flipped the datapad out onto his desk.  It skittered there, gliding across the flat surface before the matte black square came to a slowly spinning stop on the edge of the desk.  Across its muted metallic back, an off-shade skull shimmered before shifting to a more mundane hollow circle.

"Let's talk about it."

Edited by Noko

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She doesn't startle when John taps her shoulder to get her attention, because startling is for the faint-of-heart, and not at all for a dignified woman such as herself. (She startles a little bit. She stands up quick to make up for it.) 

It's straight to the point, what the man has to say to her, the discussion of what is becoming very apparent: you are in danger by being around me. There's not much room to beat around the bush, not after the catastrophe today. The tear stains on her shirt have yet to fade, for crying out loud. 

In another life, perhaps, Muriel would've taken the offer of a paid leave, would've clung to what was sensible, what was safe. She has been taught practicality all her years; it would be of great use here. In this life, however, she is standing before someone who has shown her kindness, respect, a kind of trust that goes beyond occupational positions. Here is someone who wants to watch her grow and be the best she can become. There is no way she is letting someone like that slip away from her fingers and from the world just because it isn't sensible and safe. That is just not how she is.

"With all due respect, sir," she tells him, spine straightening, shoulders pulled back, "I am not going to abandon my post when the going gets tough. I'm with you in this, whatever you need from me."

So. That is that.

She facilitates the transfer of John's family to a sprawling residence hidden amidst the of southern New Everrun, a place she's never even heard of despite years of learning the city and its outskirts from top to bottom. She doesn't know much about the mysterious benefactor providing shelter nor their relationship to her boss, but there are things, she figures, that she isn't meant to know. Not yet, anyway.

The days go by slow-drip down the hourglass. Muriel puts her ear to the ground and tries to dig up information on her own but comes up with very little to show for her efforts. The fact is worrying, especially when she considers that she isn't sure whether it's because she hasn't done enough, or whether it's because somewhere within the system, there is someone withholding information from her. The thought is sickening. She tries not to dwell on the latter too often.

It comes to a head when Muriel trails after John on the way to the office days later. He comes to a sudden stop just outside the door, turns to her with an unreadable gaze. Something is amiss, he says. Stay put.

"I'll be here, then," she murmurs, leaning back against the wall with her arms crossed. She watches him enter the room by his lonesome and settles to wait, one ear to the door.



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It had been a hectic few days relocating and settling his family at Michelle's home. His sons hadn't wanted him to leave, and it had broken his heart to do so, but there was work to be done. Muriel had been waiting for him outside the office, and they had ridden the elevator up together. But as they approached, he could hear someone already inside. Asking his protege to wait outside, he walked in to find a rather striking woman sitting by the window, backlit by the lights of the city. 

He didn't grab the datapad right away, opting instead to move to the liquor cabinet behind his desk.

"Indeed, it has been something of a tiresome day. But now a beautiful woman has broken into my office to surprise me; so perhaps things are looking up."

He glanced over at his guest, "Care for a drink?"

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"Care for a drink?"

A light gaze, flecked with equal parts amusement and consideration, passed between John and the door. There was another soul out there- backup, maybe, or a hanger-on that John scraped off before entering. Phoebe could feel her-- solid, as if dependability had been given form, her aura clashing with John's like fire and water.

"I'd love one- I'll take whatever you're pouring." 

The woman smiled, flashing clean palms as she stood, smoothed the crease in her sharp black pants, then lowered herself back to the visitor's chair.  Her look was cosmopolitan utilitarian- an odd mix, somewhere between 'business meeting' and 'expecting a brawl' that consisted of a sharp black blazer over a dark blue halter, black suit pants, and a dress boots.  A matching array of platinum provided the spark for her shadow ensemble, wrapped around her thumb, her neck, and dangling from the upper edge of one ear.  Each caught the moonlight as she tilted her chin toward the door, wondering aloud, "Are you going to invite your company in?"

Edited by Noko

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Vodka was John's drink of choice; if only to avoid falling into the stereotype of the business man with a decanter of whiskey on his desk. Besides, he liked the simplicity of the alcohols flavor. It let it blend nicely with so many things too. Today however, he and the mysterious woman would have a simple tumbler, straight. 

"I try to keep her away from the more dangerous aspects of my work," he explained, handing his guest a glass, "Though that is becoming more and more difficult these days."

Clinking his glass against hers, he took in his guests appearance as he drank. She was beautiful, but also clearly dangerous; her attire appropriate for the boardroom or the bar. 

"Given how easily you got past my security, I would say that you are most certainly in the dangerous category," he grinned. 

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"Given how easily you got past my security, I would say that you are most certainly in the dangerous category."

"Mmm, I love a flatterer." A throaty chuckle followed the words, echoing amusement that spread across Phoebe's face like the stars across the sky. John was, well, John - and it would figure that even with a could-be assassin having broken into his office that he would first find time to flatter and offer drinks, maybe even have a quick roll on the desk before getting down to the business of who was here to kill who.

She shook her head, as if to cast off the man's incorrigible nature, and lifted her eyes to hold his.  "Well, dangerous is a comparison," she began, "Let's just say I hope I live up to my reputation- I'll have an exceedingly short career otherwise." Her banter was easy, as was the grace with which she lifted the tumbler and clinked it against John's, sipping its contents with deliberate consideration of its quality; vodkas were common, but that didn't make them plain. This was a top-shelf variety local to New Everrun- she knew, because she imported it to her clubs in Last Chance, and its clear burn tumbled down her throat with a welcome and familiar fire. She smiled faintly, just a curl to very edges of her full lips, and threw her arm across the window sill behind her.

"I love this label," she remarked, lifting the glass. "We really don't get enough infused spirits in the Empire. It makes me wish I were here on vacation instead of business- but sadly, that's not the case," she said. A beat settled as she sipped the drink and cast a light gaze off to the garish neon world outside of John's office.

"You're a unique man, John Wilder, and I love the suit and tie charade that you're doing now that you're Governor," she mused aloud, "but I admit to finding the Cowboy more appealing. The contrast though, it makes me wonder. When you sent out that little inquiry and set the net on fire, did you care whose attention you got?  Who should we assume asked the question-- the Governor of New Everrun, John Wilder, or maybe both?"

Edited by Noko

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Confidence, it was often said, was the most attractive quality that an individual could possess; and as he regarded his guest, he couldn't help but agree. Even those who had heard only the faintest rumors of what the Governor of New Everrun was truly capable of made sure to tread carefully should they ever find themselves in his presence. Yet here this woman stood; drinking his liquor after breaking into his office like she was just another appointment on his schedule. Privately he would admit that her attitude was somewhat arousing. If he wasn't already spoken for, he would seriously consider asking her to put whatever differences they might have aside long enough to take care of an entirely different kind of business. Alas, he was taken, and happily so; therefore he would limit himself to mild flirtation at most.

"The suit and tie are easier to get out of when indulging in... extracurricular activities," he chuckled.

Silent in thought for a moment, he found himself being unexpectedly honest when he finally continued.

"I've found it's less of a contrast, and more of a power struggle. There's The Governor, and The Gangster; and though both are dear to me, they simply cannot coexist. So I set one aside, leave the other to gather dust; and eventually I grow so used to one that I hope to never need the other. But then something like this happens... and I find myself falling back into old habits."

He took another sip of his drink, "But to answer your question, I suppose I would have taken whoever answered. I think I know which you are... but perhaps you would do me the courtesy of confirming my hunch?"


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"The suit and tie are easier to get out of when indulging in...  extracurricular activities," John chuckled, and Phoebe joined him with a sly, spreading smile that hinted of things unsaid.  A delicate touch of her will slipped between the folds of the four-in-hand knot that leashed him now, teasing, as she idly loosened the fine silk while he mused on his own contradictory nature.

"I've found it's less of a contrast, and more of a power struggle.  There's The Governor, and The Gangster; and though both are dear to me, they simply cannot coexist.  So I set one aside, leave the other to gather dust; and eventually I grow so used to one that I hope to never need the other.  But then something like this happens...  and I find myself falling back into old habits.

But to answer your question, I suppose I would have taken whoever answered.  I think I know which you are...  but perhaps you would do me the courtesy of confirming my hunch?"

"I'm not sure I need to; your instincts have always been good, John." By now, his tie hung free, dangling rakishly and drawing his visitor's appreciative eye as she continued, "You knew who to bet on when you were picking victims in Hell's Gate, and I think you know who to bet on now, so let me lay my cards on the table, and you can start thinking about what your family is worth.

I want free reign for myself and my organization in New Everrun; no cops, no military groups, no investigations -- no interference.  I know, I know.."  She slipped one leg forward, gracefully crossing it over her knee as her hand waved dismissively.  "Lots of concerns there- what if we wreck the place, what if we create lawlessness and chaos, and lastly what about those poor children?" Her laugh was light; she mocked the wilting nursemaids and impotent politicians, not John.

"Don't worry about the children- we're business professionals, burning our partners isn't profitable, so it isn't a concern.  We can work the details into the contract, which will be intimately binding, but that's the price.

In return, I'll lay out the plot against you - and it is a plot, John, not a one off.  We'll even clean it up, if you want, and honestly, I'd recommend you let us.  A little hand wave, some PR, and you can claim credit for your special operations team's prompt response to this terrible crime, regain some of the clout you lost, and for the love of Odin Haze avoid dirtying up your suit any further.

After all, what if one day you want to raise a Dynasty?"

Edited by Noko

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John had heard of being undressed with ones eyes; but it seemed his guest was capable of doing so quite literally. Showing him her powers in such a way said a lot about his unexpected guest; like that she was certain that giving him a glimpse of her abilities wouldn't put her at a disadvantage in a fight. Or perhaps she was certain that the governor would agree with whatever it was she was about to offer. Either possibility told him that the woman was confidant in herself; and with good reason. His personal security were the best in the city; possibly some of the best in Eridanus. Getting past them, therefore, was no mean feat; and made her exactly as formidable as she acted.

This hunch was only confirmed when she mentioned Hells Gate in a manor that most would mistake for nonchalance; but he knew better. His days as The Gangland Ripper; the mysterious killer responsible for the deaths of countless gangs throughout that city. Seeing as how to his knowledge he had left no survivors, his guest would have been clever indeed to identify him as the Ripper. Yet she tossed out the fact like she was telling him about the weather. 

It seemed a truly fascinating woman had found her way into this little drama.

After listening to his guests conditions, he drained his glass and placed it on his desk before responding.

"I can agree to your conditions, so long as you can abide by two of my own. One is that my protege be let in on our arrangement. As she has agreed to stay with me despite the danger it places her in, I will hide nothing from her."

John's expression remained pleasant, but he clenched his fists hard enough to pop his knuckles as he continued.

"The other is that when you find the mastermind of this little plot... you bring him to me. I don't care if you clean up the rest like the trash they are, but ordering a hit on my family makes things... personal."


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