|Prince of the Deal
||[Feb. 1st, 2006|09:04 pm]
Smoking was, ostensibly, quite bad for humans, but the fact that it was exclusively for humans was enough of a reason for the Sublimely Magnificent Selric Girardot XXVII to relish the puff of well-ground tobacco passing through his nostrils. Tonight was turning out to be a good night indeed.
"You know, Number Three," he breathed out through his cream-white teeth, "I can wait all night for you to give in."
Number Six, of the house of Atrox, had as always been marvelously cooperative. The Sixth Elder had jumped at the chance to gain information on the Zagy/Gayue conflict that had taken place on its territory, and Selric had managed to coax an additional bonus out of him in exchange for the tidbits about the OIS involvement. His client had left with a thousand devious schemes already blooming in his twisted mind, and the Earl of Excess himself had gained a cool sum of coin out of it.
Gayue's Fourth Elder had proven to be more of a hardass, saying something about not giving in to the demands of criminals, and all sorts of other moralistic drivel (as if the Gayue were any higher than he. Selric prided himself on actually doing the deeds he did himself, rather than letting lackies do it for him and thus pretending to innocence), but every man has his price. After a couple minutes of tantalizing half-hints that Selric would simply have Influx and Synapse escort him from the chateau, the fool had finally capitulated and forked over a generous payment, which the esteemed Mr. Girardot had eagerly snapped up, and absorbed the information. He'd been quite annoyed, to say the least, at hearing that a Zagy, and an OISer no less, had murdered one of his own, and didn't even seem to pay any thought to the fact that they'd encroached on Atrox territory.
That was a good thing. If this blithering incompetent didn't suspect anything when the Atrox swept down on him, Selric could perhaps sell the poor Gayue some military intelligence that could help even the odds...at least until he sold better intelligence to the Atrox.
The Third Elder of Zagy was a bitch and a half, though. He was only willing to pay half of the (admittedly less-than-modest) fee up front, then the other half if satisfied with what he heard, which was bullshit if you asked Selric. Human pleasure, though he adored it, was a bit too subjective to base the cold, hard demands of business off. And so it was they'd been verbally pinpointing and sniping at each other for the last ten minutes trying to work out a payment plan. Unsuccessfully, one might add.
"Don't think you can swindle me, Girardot," hissed the Elder. "I know the ways you criminals---"
"My dear Trey," Selric interrupted, "are you seriously implying that I'd double-cross you?"
"The thought had entered my mind."
"Oh, come now, La Trois. Have you heard of the Prisoner's Dilemma?"
Selric bit back a scoff of disgust. Uncultured, barbaric, slovenly...what kind of harebrained imbecile is unfamiliar with the Prisoner's Dilemma? It took him a second to suppress these thoughts, along with the urge to have Synapse murder the Elder with his greatsword, and affect a rather forced smile. "All right, let me put it in layman's terms. Forgive me for letting it slip my mind that you are, after all, a Zagy."
Ohohohoho, that one got the Elder's face turning purple. "It's quite simple, Triplex," Selric continued, "I have no choice but to trust my clients, and vice versa, because the only way we can both profit is if we both cooperate. As such, I suggest you grab onto the olive branch I'm extending, and clutch it like a drowning man, because it's getting late and I'd rather like a nightcap---"
"All right, all right!" spat the Elder. "I'll pay in full, just tell me what you know."
"Three hundred thousand."
A flustered pause, then a sigh. "Fine. Five. It's transferring to your accounts as we speak."
Selric set his pipe down on a desk next to his ornate armchair (which stood in stark contrast to the plain chair he'd had brought for the Elder), and a servant removed it to refill the bowl. He smiled, rubbing his fingertips together and leaning forward. "A few hours ago, I happened to come across a brawl in the street."
"I believe you're familiar with the Gayue Family, correct?" It was a rhetorical question, mostly delivered for the benefit of seeing the Elder puff up with fury like a wrathful balloon. "Ah, good. One of them was assaulted and murdered by an OIS officer."
"And what, pray tell, does--"
"Patience, noble Trinity; good things come to those who wait. This OIS officer, which might interest you greatly, happened to have the very distinct facial features of a Zagy."
Said features, though they belonged to a different Zagy, furrowed with consternation. "Are you sure of this?"
"Oh, believe me, the Zagy have a very...distinct look, wouldn't you agree?" He managed to work more derisive contempt into that one sentence than he'd mustered in the entire conversation, much to his satisfaction and the Elder's fury.
"Is that all?"
"Mmhmm. Unless you have any questions, you can go, Oh Mighty Repeating Hexadecimal. Synapse and Influx, escort this gentleman to the front door."
Ten minutes later, he was happy as a clam. The Families would inevitably send scrubbed money through the account transfers, though he wasn't taking any chances and would have Cosmos and Logos go over each and every dollar since---
The buzzer sounded. Somebody was at the French doors.
Selric stepped back, and waved to his bodyguards. "Open them."
Stepping forward, Synapse took ahold of the left door's handle while Influx grabbed the right, and both pulled, keeping their eye on the front terrace, as the doors opened to reveal...a woman.
He raised an eyebrow. "Who are you?"
She stepped forward, coming a bit more into the light of the chateau, and for the first time Selric could see the dark purple shade of her waist-length hair...which contrasted with a very familiar uniform...
Selric felt his heart speeding up just a little as she stepped closer. "....Yes?"
"You may address me as Anathema. I'm with the Organic Insider Service."
He knew that look anywhere.
This wasn't a woman. This was a damned gynoid.