"Humanity can survive, my friends. But it will take effort and it will take sacrifice. But first, we must rebuild the wheel to study these assailants from beyond. Any piece, any fragment of the Deus Pinnae that rears its head will be ours. Yamata 16 can no longer afford to linger in the shadows. If we must, we will take all of Bastion space in our grasps and ravage it until every metal sliver of the Pinnae is revealed... By any means necessary."
The thumping beats of the club were shut out as the doors were closed, filling the room with silence. In it's center was a long glass table that had ten chairs on either side, each one filled with a ranking personnel of the Avarik. At the head of the table sat Raster, an older man of perhaps 80 years old, though he did not look over 40. As far as the Avarik chain of command goes, this was the highest that Iradell had ever met.
Raster wore a dark blue suit, with lines of glowing energy coursing through out it. Iradell did not know the suit's purpose, but she guessed that it was some kind of defensive countermeasures. Though Raster had his own security, he still seemed like the type that would protect himself personally. His hair was silver and long, combed over to one side so that the length of it hung down on one side of his face. He had rodent like features, with small piercing eyes and a large nose. His stare made Iradell uncomfortable.
“Do you know why we requested that you come in?” Rastor asked, causing all eyes at the table to turn towards where Iradell sat at the other side of the room. Iradell looked around curiously and then shook her head once negatively. “Because you stirred up quite a shit storm on the Bastion. You are supposed to be better than that.”
Rastor leaned back in his chair, shaking his head.
“Why is it that we give you so much, but you try your best to ruin it?” Rastor said, getting up from his chair and walking slowly towards where Iradell was sitting. She shifted in her seat and diverted her eyes away from him, looking at the tabletop. “We have given you the capability to infiltrate and exit undetected, yet you managed to alert not one sector... but two. Did you really think that you just got away, jumping onto your damn shuttle and floating away in the night sky undetected?”
“It appeared that way,” Iradell responded, glancing up at him before looking back down at the table.
“It appeared that way,” Rastor repeated, shooting a sneer towards others in the room. They all returned the expression. He took a seat on the edge of the table in front of her, putting one leg up so that it forced Iradell to sit back in her seat and look up at him. The sneer was still on his face. “It appeared that way?” he laughed, though there was no humor behind it. “I had to pay off three separate radar commanders in order for you to leave Bastion airspace. Ten grand each. Which means that you owe me forty, because I'm not going to let you just slip by on this one. You may be the pet project of some people around here, but you haven't done anything special in my eyes yet.”
“Yes sir, I understand,” Iradell said quietly, attempting to look away from Rastor's gaze.
“I don't think you do. That drops your pay for this bullshit mission to twenty-grand. And I'm only paying that out of respect for James,” Rastor said, reaching out and grabbing Iradell's chin in order to make her look at him. “Screw up again like that and I will personally rip you out of that hardware and let you spend the rest of your life plugged into my automatic fish feeder.”
“I would not like that,” Iradell said, looking at him now. She made no expression as her face was squeezed by Rastor's long fingers.
“I'm sure. Now then,” Rastor said as he released her and moved back towards his seat on the other side of the room. “I'm giving you another chance and we are only going to pay you enough to keep your ship afloat, as well as the usual pay to James and his crew.”
“They are my crew,” Iradell countered, drawing a long glare from Rastor.
“Sure they are honey,” he shook his head. “They will receive their usual pay, but this one... Let's just say you owe it to us. This one is going to be a two part deal. There is an ITC agent that has been cracking down on Magnus II. He has been making it particularly difficult to move Soot through Hedstrom and quite frankly, I'm tired of our shipments being discovered because of this man. I think he is former military, one of those types that can't let things slide. And he can't be bought... so we have no use for someone who can't be bought. We have already negotiated with a fellow that is in line to take his place if he happens to have an accident. And that's what we want, it to be an accident.”
“It is not always as simple as that, Rastor,” Iradell answered him, drawing his glare again.
“Then what good are you to me? To any of us? We have learned that he is going on a holiday with his family to one of the beaches near Hedstrom... and that means that he won't make it home. Do you understand?” Rastor asked.
“I... I understand,” Iradell said hesitantly. Her gaze moved towards the table again.
“While you are doing that, James has arranged that a shipment of Soot and other goods will be delivered. It should be getting loaded onto your ship now,” Rastor said.
“But I was hoping to stay and enjoy the club for...” Iradell started, but she was interrupted.
“You have a few hours, honey. Now get your ass out here and when you get back to the Irad, read over what I have given to James on the target. You won't mess this one up, will you?”
“That a girl. Now leave.”
Since she had not yet been called back to the ship, Iradell sat in the club and watched as many others danced. The blinking lights, the sweating bodies, the smell of alcoholic beverages and other substances, the loud music and other things filled her senses to the max. Her eyes sparkled with curiosity as she watched the citizens of the Tartarus have a good time. She did not know how long she sat there, ignored by most, but it must have been a long while because one of her friends had come looking for her.
“There you are!” Mary said loudly over the music, almost falling onto the table as she leaned over it to kiss Iradell on the cheek. Iradell smiled, her attention finally pulled away from the crowd of interesting people. “We were wondering why you hadn't made your way back yet.”
“I didn't realize that we had been called yet,” Iradell said, looking down to her waist where her communicator was located. It was not blinking, there had been no call. She looked back up to Mary, confused.
“No silly,” Mary laughed, plopping down on the chair across the table from her. Mary reached out and took Iradell's hands in her own as they spoke. “We were going over to this new restaurant. They have fish from Hedstrom and I hear the sushi is really great. We wanted you to sit with us and enjoy each other's company.”
“Oh!” Iradell said, the smile coming back to her face. “I am sorry... I was just distracted here. There are many interesting people here tonight. Like that one there, his skin is green.” Iradell pointed and Mary turned to look. “And that one, I bet she has over a hundred piercings. There is another who has beautiful red eyes... I am not sure where she went.”
“Why don't you ever just go talk to some of these people?” Mary asked, looking back to her friend.
“I am not sure what I would say! There isn't much for me to say to draw someone into conversation,” Iradell answered.
“Bullshit. Just tell them your name and that you want to dance,” Mary said with a big grin. “You can think of the rest later. Do you want to come with me? We ate already because we couldn't find you, but we were going to go back to the ship and play a little game of netball in the cargo bay while the shit is getting loaded. I could use your help again.”
Iradell looked around the club once again and then back to Mary. She shook her head. “No, I think I would like to stay here a while longer.”
“Going to talk to someone then?”
“I will... try.”
“Do it, you won't regret it. Everyone has a story,” Mary said, squeezing Iradell's hands before letting them go. She gave a little wave and then moved towards the exit, leaving Iradell to look back towards the crowd once again.
Such interesting creatures prevailed the insecure sectors of space. They endured ridiculous and savored their vices but in the end they were still of the same brand. It was difficult to discern one walk of life from another, placing value on denominations and histories; to Jonathan, they were all cells. In part, that was because of his scientific rearing. What he valued more than money and social ranking was individual ability, perseverance, and ambition. In a way, they were his gold standard. These things applied to everyone. It made them useful.
But, if others prescribed by notions of value with baser sentiments, let them. It just made them more predictable.
The deep thrumming of Triple Point's musical taste made him itch. Though he was not experiencing a crop of Maize, his skin crawled with the sounds. They were not the gentle songs of the twenty-second century that wove notes through swimming currents. The bass was heavy. His ears throbbed, assaulted. There were many places Jonathan could have been besides Triple Point, Tartarus, or even this space sector. Occupation held him from the world much of the time but a man in his position still had the authoritative benefit of free will.
And then there was Yamata 16 to consider. The clandestine organization had its own objectives and it was Jonathan's duty to aid in those. Thus, Tartarus. An earlier investment had transpired. Tartarus afforded him both anonymity and careless freedom: no one in Tartarus cared who you were or where you came from. Even more, no one questioned why.
It made spying on people far easier.
Jonathan had merely taken a seat in one of the sequestered booths. Reclining back into the fair cushions, he appeared to be at ease. Languid, almost, in his relaxation. His dark hair was brushed back, swept over his cranium. Sleek, but refined, clothes were no stranger to these parts. Men and women of all sorts came to Tartarus. A black jacket trimmed with cyan fixtures was unzipped down to his clavicle. One hand occasionally lifted a glass of a transparent blue fluid for him to sip from. His eyes peered upward, toward a woman whose body gyrated against a pole on top of the pedestal at the center of the crescent booth. The way she moved made it difficult to discern her nature -- human or synthetic -- but a deeper glance answered curiosity. Human after all.
He knew this to be true. His mind wandered, the xeno-affliction he possessed having granted him a shape of telepathy akin to that of an Abiogenic Pythian. He could hear things, touch upon the thoughts and inner workings of the human mind -- but only humans. Unless a Hephaesti possessed an organic core, he could not touch them. Thankfully, there was still plenty of other minds to breeze through.
Ten meters away, there was a man who tried to bury his face into the cleavage of a synth. His mind was screaming about the pain in his nose.
Further off, an Avarik consort had just dismissed a Hephaesti after she had accidentally alerted Bastion security to her deeds. Avarik had always interested him. Their networks were wide and fluid, but their scope was limited. Soot and Catalyst only served so much. Undoubtedly they had other interest as well... And their presence in Bastion intrigued him.
Another person sharing his crescent booth was a woman, eyes locked on the dancer's swaying. She was an agent of the Interstellar Trade Commission indulging in some time away from the restraints of society.
Everyone had things they took pleasure in. Jonathan's just so happened to be people watching.
Iradell watched as Mary weaved through the crowd on her way back towards the exit, curly red hair bouncing with every step she took until she was gone. She did like her friends on the Irad, though Mary felt like the most genuine. Mary was very pretty, too. It was something that Iradell wished for herself, to eventually be able to afford the higher tiers of upgrades that would allow her to pass as a human female. Particularly, a female like the one she had in mind, a memory she had of a friend long ago. She was close, as it was, but her nature was still evident at just a glance.
Trying to hide it was a tough task, too. It was not that she was ashamed of being synthetic, but when so many other beautiful Hephaestis were present, she felt cheap. She was not sure how they afforded the synthetic skin grafts and other upgrades to make them look more alive, but she had not yet saved enough to get her torso skinned, and her face still showed the seams between each portion that was completed. The skin on her face was soft and allowed her to feel sensations, but it was still cheap in comparison to what some of the more wealthy Hephaesti could afford. While the Avarik provided her with this face, she had to use her own money to complete her arms, which were finished up to her shoulders and upper back. This left her neck unfinished as well. That was where she had left off and now she had no extra money to spend.
That which was not covered in synthetic skin was a black and silver metal. Her chest was still androgynous, though her frame was small enough to be feminine. Ira's waist, legs and feet were still in need of a synthetic coating as well, but all of that would come in time. At least it was easy enough to cover herself up with clothing in order to hide her bareness. Not all Hephaesti were self-conscious about such things, but as one who admired the human form, Ira was.
For the meeting with Rastor, Iradell had dressed in some of her nicer clothing. She wore black pants and a black, zip up flight jacket. The leather collar stood up enough to cover her metallic neck, but it didn't hide it too well. She wore a white shirt under that and on her feet were combat boots. Tucked under the jacket under her left arm was a side-arm pistol, small enough to conceal but it fired a large enough caliber laser to defend herself if need be. Under her pants, strapped to her right leg, was an 11-inch knife which she would also use if need be. Both weapons were well concealed, considering the way the clothing fit her small frame.
Despite her self-consciousness, no one seemed to give her a second glance. While there were many others that had spared no expense on their appearance, there were many others who were in the same boat as she was, enjoying the club. It made Iradell smile, to know that she would not stick out as she sat there and watched. But perhaps she should take Mary's advise and interact. The first thing she looked for was the woman with the red eyes that she had spotted earlier. The woman was no where to be found.
As the club went dark in order to flash strobes onto the dance floor, Iradell's was among the many eyes that glowed. While her eyes glowed violet, a soft blue glowed through the seams of her face, as her internal workings worked to process her thoughts and emotions. Through the dark and flashing lights, Iradell noticed a man sitting in the opposite corner as she was, and he seemed to be doing the same thing as she was. This caused her to smile and taking Mary's advise, she stood and walked across the room, weaving through the crowd as need be until she arrived in front of him.
“I am Iradell,” she said, the attempted-friendly smile on her face as she came before Jonathan Langdon. “I wish to dance. Would you want to join me?”
The music in places like this was always an interesting jumble of sensory overload and meticulous planning. Intermittent thrums of white noise mixed with high-hat treble saw a roiling sense of frenetic pacing that goaded the drug addled and baited the drunken masses into their disgusting writhing spheres of social courting.
Swaying hips and flutes of suspect liquor were deftly avoided by calculated movements that were at once stilted and fluid, like a robot attempting to seem human, but not too much so.
Her long coat, marred by years of use and toughworn by circumstance, flared around the black sleeve that protected the nature of her body from the eyes of the wary or unsuspecting. There was a strange non-hate surrounding Prometheans like her, a wariness and disgust that was different than the distrust and fear of the Haephaesti, a distaste that was without pity or mercy, and more that of unease, social realization of the uncanny valley, as it were. Clynes knew how to move like a flesher, she simply didn't - not when it suited her to be left alone.
The man at the bar went by the name Higan. She knew as well as he did that such wasn't his actual name, but she didn't question it. She leaned casually against the thing, not sparing him a glance, and a small jumpdrive emerged in the clutch of a fist from one of her coat's deep pockets. It clicked against the shiny surface of the bar, and was pushed wordlessly in Higan's direction.
After a few moments of seemingly going unnoticed, the drive had vanished, palmed by someone, probably Higan, and Clynes was accessing a dummy account where currency had been left in her name, or at least in the assumed identity she used for finances.
Gygax was easy, his little club of protectors was even easier, and after a brief dustup with Sector Control, they'd yielded a few other warrants she'd happily collect on.
"I never been with a Prome' before." A voice slithered into her audio reception and she turned her head, one eye focusing on the scuzz fowling her coat's shoulder with his greasy palm.
"Wasting your time, sailor." She said tonelessly, noting his Naval jacket.
"Aw come on, I'm a federated soldier. Show a bit of appreciation." He said, brushing a cheek with his hand. "Smooth, bet the rest of ya's smoother. I hear them mech hands can give one hell of a handj-AGH."
His grunt was cut short by alarm as he hunched. Her grip was tight, tighter than a vice, diamond-forming tight.
"My time is expensive, and it's not the sort you're shopping for. Sexbots don't come up to the Third terrace, so flare off, laser-brain, before I pop everything you care about like overripe tomatoes."
She let go and he lurched, groaning, and stumbled away. She still hadn't broken her stare at the vid screen behind the bar, scanning the qr stream in the feed's bottom left for any juicy corporate new tickings that might yield high-currency bounties. Tartarus seemed bone dry these days, and she was out for work.
Jonathan remained idle in his pursuits. There wasn't much for him to do, truthfully. After his business had been handled his free time was spent indulging in the local sights such as the sensual gyrations as the woman in front of him had to offer. What he was really focusing on were those wandering thoughts. Minds were kept so open that a Pythian would be in the center of a bonafide psionic orgy. Jonathan's powers did not allow him to delve deeper without forming a parasitic bond with another person, but his telepathy did afford him enough to pluck choice thoughts and find minds.
As he continued to gather information, from workings of syndicates and any affairs involving politicians or otherwise; information was as valuable as the UD. Sometimes more-so. But, as Jonathan indulged his eyes in the common sights of Triple Point, a figure meandered through the crowd. Dancing bodies were avoided and, out of the corner of an eye, Jonathan could see her approach. He made no attempt to hide that he saw her, giving her a brief direct glance on her approach, before returning his eyes to the dancer for a moment. The phantom tendrils of his telepathic touch roamed over her, but found nothing to grab hold on.
Hephaesti. The very same he had caught being involved with the man from Avarik.
She sidled up nearby, and in doing so earned his attentions. She introduced herself, wearing what could only be described as an attempt at smiling. It was an awkward gesture.
"A pleasure, Iradell," he said, voice elevated enough to be heard through the bass of the music. What she said next caused a brow to hitch, partially out of confusion, but more-so at the delivery.
"Apologies, but I must decline. I'm not much of a dancer and I must depart from the premises sooner than later. What little I know how to do doesn't work with the music here, anyway." His rejection was about as plain and gentle as it could be, but it was also the truth. Jonathan had never fancied dancing in general. "You may linger if you like," he said, gesturing to the expanse of crescent couch between himself and the ITC agent who remained fixated on the dancer. "I always appreciate a conversation with a Hephaesti. The ones I work with are too entrenched in security systems."
His eyes went vacant for a moment, feeling a sudden scream in the thoughts. Jonathan looked toward the bar, watching as a man -- nearly on his knees, so it was difficult to actually see him -- clutched himself in pain as he staggered away from a woman.
That sort of an occurrence was not rare by any means. Even a torrid establishment such as Triple Point wasn't usually without common decency.
At first, Ira silently curse Mary for giving her the advise to go find someone to dance with. Of course she had to pick the one other person that seemed to have little interest in dancing. Iradell dropped both hands to her side, expecting a full rejection, but instead she was pleasantly surprised when the man agreed to chat with her. He even claimed to enjoy speaking with Hephaestis.
“That would be nice,” she said, looking towards the offered space and taking a seat close enough to him so that they could hear one another without having to yell. “I must admit, I lied. I was only offering to dance so that I could strike up conversation with someone. I am glad that you enjoy our company though. What line of work are you in?”
Iradell had little problem coming up with conversation once the initial act of meeting someone was completed. It was not that she was shy at all, but more awkward about approaching people and afraid of what they would initially think of her. She liked this man immediately though, since he said that he appreciated her kind.
As Jonathon was distracted away from her by a woman not too far away, but there were several dancing couples between her and where they sat. Iradell recognized her, but only because she had witnessed the woman come in earlier and had admired her eyes. Now, Clynes' eyes were turned away from them both and it appeared that the Promethean was looking up at a screen.
“Do you know her?” Iradell asked, still looking towards Clynes as she leaned over to speak to Jonathon. “I saw her earlier. She has a unique look about her. But most Prometheans are unique, I suppose.” She had a feeling that Clynes was not here to dance either, due to the massive rejection that man had just received. Iradell looked over to Jonathon, wondering what suddenly drew his attention towards her. She had her ideas and was often too vocal in her curiosity. “Why is it that we noticed the same woman, do you think? I often wonder what business has brought people like her, and others,” Ira tilted her head, attempting to look him in the eye. “To a place like Tartarus.”
The man behind the bar, a surly sort with tattoos and a positively byzantine prosthesis of crude pink plastic intended to match flesh but falling just short jutting from the stump of his left elbow, seemed to give her a nod, and she shook her head, dragging a flat, segmented hand across her throat to indicate that she had either no need for, or possibly ability to, drink.
Hovering just a scattered handful of inches over that throat was the only fully human piece of Clynes, that gray-pink lump of lipids and graymatter that guided the machine she'd become. To look at her face you might think her a woman in a suit, but no, even that was artifice, a pretty piece of facsimile articulated and crafted to evoke empathy from those she dealt with. She often wondered if she truly was promethean, or if her existence was some joke cobbled together by some long distant creator - an artificial mind given the notion of a past that never existed. It was simultaneously her greatest suspicion and her greatest dread.
She moved away from the bar, her feet carrying her through the crowd. She cut across the dance floor sharply, as if having seen something, but she was intercepted, and something grabbed at her shoulder. She spun, joints wrenching at inhuman angles and craned her vision to see the interloper. The man from moments prior, backed up by two friends, one a vicious looking Chimera who'd had one too many waltzes in the genetic soup with some sort of tortoise like concoction and the other a wiry man with tell-tale stipplings on his face. A motley selection of humanity's fucked-up triumphs.
Her gun had already come how, a hand caved downward to reveal a reflecting lens whose sight-bead had already painted a vibrant green dot on the center-man's forehead.
"You make the first move, I'll make the last." asserted Clynes in her dull monotone.
"I had thought as much," Jonathan said. "I'm told I don't really come off as someone who is much of a dancer." Jonathan had a certain rigidity about him. Tall, stiff, and lanky, he would have been awkward if anything. "I enjoy most company, Hephaesti and human. I am admittedly lacking in Hephaesti contact."
Shifting just to the side to accommodate for her presence more in the crescent booth, Jonathan watched the Hephaesti woman settle down next to him out of courtesy. She sat relatively close. His skin crawled with a phantom itch. Ignoring it, Jonathan lifted one leg to cross it over the other, reclining back into his seat. "Business," he said bluntly. "At least now. Initially xenobiological genetics. Analyzing their genome, cataloguing organ function, Abiogenic sequencing; it's all quite droll."
When Iradell inquired as to the woman through the crowd, Jonathan pursed his lips and shook his head. "Not that one, no. She seems inspiring, however, and trying to mind her own business." He looked back up to the more tantalizing sight before him. The dancer bent low toward the woman across the booth, trading a few whispers. He caught the telepathic musings between them; one focused on the dancer in her entirety and aspiring for an after-show, the other on the UDs that the agent had on her.
In either case, both Jonathan and Iradell had a pleasant view of the dancer facing away as they spoke. "I've worked with a number of them. I suppose that -- to me -- it's just another human with an inordinate amount of cybernetics implanted in their body. Simple science. To a Hephaesti..." He shrugged. "There is more technology in them to divine. Techno-organic synthesis."
"Perhaps that is why we both noticed. Or maybe it was just one of the few things that is more entertaining than the dancers or contraband trading. There's several ways to look at it, truly. Psychological, natural, drunken... But the man cried out rather loudly. I think most people were distracted by it. Loud noises that aren't music here usually mean gunfire."
He caught her looking at him, head canted in his direction, and he spared her a glance before continuing to watch the dancer. He caught the hint. "Tartarus is a fine place to get away from the norm and realize that the rest of the universe isn't as clean as Bastion. There's plenty of opportunity to break the law, indulge in vices, and arrange personal affairs that you would rather not have unwanted ears learn of," he said, a smile crossing his face as he gave her a fleeting glance, "wouldn't you agree?"
His thoughts tingled; a venomous image phasing through his mind. He looked back toward the dance floor, where the man who had previously been painfully held was now flanked by two friends. The Promethean woman had been moving and, intercepted by her newfound friends.
The woman had already revealed a weaponized arm.
Jonathan's face became one of a more vindicated, bemused expression. He was picking up on the thoughts between them -- the fury of the pained man, the apprehension of his companions, and the near indifference of the woman. "Now... wasn't I just saying something about gunfire?"
Iradell sat very properly as she settled in next to Jonathon on the crescent shaped booth seat. Her hands rested palm down on each thigh, with arms bent at perfect angles to match her straight posture. Her head was turned towards Jonathon though, so that she maintained her attempted eye contact for longer than most people would be comfortable with. Though she grew more curious as he spoke, the expression did not relay to her face and she remained expressionless as she listened to him. Even when he looked towards the beautiful dancer that they both had a great view of, she did not look away from him as if she was hanging on his every word.
“It does not sound droll to me, sir,” Iradell replied. “To take something that is not a living organism and create life from it, well, it is why we all exist. Abiogenesis is the reason we are all here – I think anyone who is able to recreate the conditions of our beginnings is anything but droll. And xenobiology... to think that we are capable of directing evolution.”
She trailed off a bit as she followed Jonathon's eyes towards the dancer and began to feel as if he wasn't listening to her. But he spoke again, answering whether or not he knew the red eyed woman. He didn't, he just found her as interesting as she did. Iradell's eyes moved away from the dancer and back towards where they had last spotted Clynes, watching as the Promethean woman attempted to walk through the crowd unchecked.
“I think that you and I are alike in many ways,” Iradell said to Jonathon. “We both enjoy watching and learning from others, no matter how little it may be. Hopefully you would be willing to share some of your knowledge on abiogenesis, or perhaps xenobiology with me? It would be more than I learned from most, and I'm a fast learner. Oh, and I agree, places such as this are an excellent place to do all of those things. Bastion is much more...”
As she spoke, the scene went down between Clynes and the three others and Iradell's attention was pulled away from the conversation and towards that. The two new faces appeared to be a Chimera and possibly a Pythian. Iradell's emotion finally registered on her face as her eyebrows narrowed. The red eyed woman appeared to just want to be left alone, but that man and now his friends seemed to insist on bothering her. Now they appeared to want to do physical harm.
"Now... wasn't I just saying something about gunfire?"
“You were,” Iradell answered, the tone in her voice changing as she watched Clynes' arm transform and the situation grow tense. Others had taken notice, too, moving away from the potential gunfire enough to create an open space on the dance floor around them. No one moved to intercept or stop the conflict though. Iradell's eyes moved over the other patrons of the club and they all seemed to have an excited look in their eyes, as if they wanted to see someone die today. Her eyes shot back to the four people in the tense confrontation and her thoughts went back to what Jonathon had said. ”She seems inspiring, however, and trying to mind her own business.” Iradell knew immediately that she could not let the red eyed woman go out like this. Perhaps Clynes could handle herself in this situation, but Chimeras and Pythian's could be a nasty sort.
“Excuse me,” Iradell said quietly while her right hand moved to her jacket and unzipped it. From Jonathon's perspective, he would be able to see the grip of the pistol under her left arm even before she reached for it. Drawing the pistol in a rapid and robotic fashion, Iradell's thumb flipped a switch on it and changed it's settings. She turned and stood, her right arm extending out as she took aim at the Pythian who she summarized could do the most damage quickly to Clynes.
Somehow, across the room and behind Clynes, Iradell locked eyes with the Pythian and the wiry man's eyes widened. The pistol fired silently, even more so than usual do to the music playing, and the Pythian's head rocked back as he was struck in the forehead with some sort of dart. His head lowered back to normal position and he made a curious face, eyes moving from Iradell to Clynes, and then a high pitched “charging noise” was heard. It only took a moment for the pitch to reach it's highest point and then the projectile lodged in his forehead exploded with enough force to push all of them away from each other. What was left was a wiry man standing there with nothing from the chest up and the rest of the body slowly fell backwards onto the dance floor.
“That probably improved her odds,” Iradell said, holstering the pistol and looking back to Jonathon.
She recognized the dart, and recognized the high pitched whinny it spat out as the man's hand sought to yank it out, but, well, such was life, or its ending, and the shockwave resulting from the subsequent explosion engaged the shock absorbing panels and locking gears and servos lining her being enough to send her skidding a few feet back before she caught her balance, preventing a fall.
She had spattered viscera across the side of her coat and arm, and eyed the two men reeling on the ground as the mutilated stump of their friend folded neatly into a putrescent, carnageous pile on the floor.
There was then that silent moment of dawning terror as those among the clientele who were here for illicity party-time and not quasi legal business began to register what had just taken place. To a Prome, to a Haph, it was all a matter of choosing whether this few seconds' silence lasted for nanoseconds or hours unto itself. It was all processing, and the gun in Clynes' arm was folding back into itself and reassuming the duties of being a hand as she stepped with a squelch through the filth left behind by Iradell's attack and grabbed the Chim' by the scruff of his rubbery, scaled neck, yanking it out of the shell he'd drawn himself into to avoid harm.
The man protested, as if to beg for his life, but Clynes didn't acknowledge or listen, instead bending his neck to the side to check for any insignia that would denote gang status somewhere on Tartarus. Failing to find it, she brought his face about to hers. "Who do you work for?"
"No, nobody!" he stammered "Blas is in here all the time, said he'd give us chit to help him rough you up for bustin' his balls!"
She stuffed the barrel of a gun into his maw. "What about your unconcious pal over there. He got gang connections? Tell the truth or I'll burn your life and everything in it."
She didn't want to cross gangs on this station, not when she had to work here. She didn't know who'd fired that shot, but she'd made a log of its origin and trajectory.
The turtle stuttered further into the negative and Clynes, sated and appeased, tossed him away, leaving him to scramble uselessly on the massive shell on his back, the stumped, flat things that passed for his feet unable to give him the leverage he needed to right himself. She shot a look in Iradell's direction, and then to the man next to her, who she recognized vaguely from somewhere. A snapshot saved itself into her brain and she stepped back over the exfundibulated corpse and made for the direction of the door.
Jonathan was never the violent kind of man. Subtle manipulations were his forte. Outright combat, guns ablazing and plasma discharges? No, it was better to leave that for simpler folk. Jonathan remained seated, retaining a dignified air as the Promethean woman was encroached upon. Iradell, however, had a different approach. She was so giving and humanitarian compared to Jonathan. The Hephaesti woman excused herself, letting a hand slide into her jacket. Jonathan could not touch the mind of a Hephaesti but he still had eyes.
A pistol revealed itself, her fingers dexterously holding the weapon and taking aim. The quick actions of the woman sent a spike of psionic energy up from the Pythian target's brain -- their thoughts screamed in alarm. The ephemeral sound only reached his ears thanks to his own mental capacities, but it was enough to cause an annoying thread to wriggle about. He felt his skin crawl as the dart released its load, rupturing the man's forehead.
The club entered into a venerable state of chaos. A man's body essentially exploded into screams and panic. Others began to draw their weapons, but only for the defense. Any other firearms going off and Jonathan himself probably would have had to use the dancer as a body shield. Thankfully, it all turned for the better. He watched Clynes accost one of the assailants and, though he could not hear the conversation above the din, his mind slithered quietly into their thoughts, picking up the exchange.
"I always did love a trip to Tartarus," Jonathan mused, settling back into his seat. "There's always free entertainment." Crossing one leg over the opposite's knee, he watched the club's motley crew of bouncers and guardsmen surround the scene -- but the woman was already making her escape from the club. He wasn't sure if she'd be allowed back in; she wasn't the one who took the shot, now was she?
"Certainly interesting." He looked back to Iradell. "I trust that weapon won't be pointed at me, will it? I'd like to think I was here to share pleasant company, not to have my head covering the leather here. Taking a life isn't something one should do so lightly." The man paused and offered her a more stern visage. "Especially here. So many important men and women all in positions of power. You would do well to offer the owner compensation for the mess you've made. He could have been an important person."
Jonathan let his eyes wander to a group of armed men assimilating into a cluster, the club's personal guard, as they began to part the crowd heading in both his and Iradell's direction. Another group made their way toward the exit, but their progress was stifled by those attempting to retreat from a potential firefight.
"This place may be lawless but the laws of Tartarus are unforgiving."
Iradell remained focused on the scene across the club until Clynes made it safely out, her eyes briefly meeting the red-eyed woman's, but there was no show of appreciation. Possibly, Iradell had offended the woman for intruding on her encounter. But then again, maybe Clynes just wasn't the type to say thank you or to show such things. Either way, Iradell was glad that the red-eyed woman was the one walking out – though for what reason she was not sure.
Jonathon had began talking again and after a moment, Iradell turned her head back towards him, but she did not take her seat. She knew that it was close to time to leave this place. Either the club's security would make it that way, or Rastor would find out quickly and want to find out why she just reacted the way she did. Either way, concern was not on her face as she looked back to meet Jonathon's stern expression.
“If that Pythian valued his own life he would not have put himself in a situation such as that,” Iradell answered him. “It is not my place to judge a person's intentions, I only reacted to their actions. The person who I wished to be safe, is safe. As for you, I have no reason to want to harm you.” Iradell showed a smile, though it wasn't a very natural one and it showed that she was a Hephaesti quite clearly. “I doubt he was very important anyways, the way he followed around a thug and a Chimera.”
Iradell turned to retake her seat next to Jonathon, but was stopped by a strong hand on her arm. It was one of the security guards that had been approaching. The large man stopped her from taking a seat and gained Iradell's attention. She snapped her head in his direction and her eyes widened momentarily, before her brow furrowed.
“You need to come with us. Got a few questions to ask,” the guard said, his firm grip around her bicep. Anyone on Tartarus with any sense knew what that meant though. Most likely those questions would leave a person disfigured or dead.
“You need to take your hand off of me and then go see Rastor,” Iradell responded, her voice low and more serious than before. “He will answer any questions on my behalf.”
“Nah, Rastor has already left,” the guard said. Another bulky fellow approached as well. They looked as if they had been fed some type of super steroid, but they weren't Adams.
“I wish to stay here and continue my conversation,” Iradell answered him, then looked to Jonathon. “I will stay here and finish.” It may have been a childish perspective on things. It may have been an irresponsible action to begin with really, but she had figured that if anyone could have given that Promethean woman problems, it was the Pythian. “I am not done speaking with my new friend.”
“I don't give a fuck,” the guard said, taking a step or two back and then pulling Iradell by the arm, yanking her away from the table. Though she weighed more than she looked, the guard didn't seem to struggle with the mechanical bulk that she was. “Here, get her gun.”
The other guard came closer and reached inside Iradell's jacket, but seemed to struggle with removing the pistol from it's holster. He opened her jacket further, revealing the fact that her synthetic skin did not cover her entire body. Her torso was jet black and she wore nothing under the jacket except for the brown leather straps that held the holster onto her side.
“I never did get your name,” Iradell said, still looking at Jonathon.
Jonathon watched the approach of the guards with a wary eye. He doubted they would go for him, considering he had done nothing to truly be involved in the affairs of the Promethean woman. No raised arms and not even a raised voice, they were coming for Iradell and her quick deliverance of violence. The club was already working to rekindle the fires that were burning prior to the event.
Dancers were given the signal to resume their movements. The drinks were flowing. Cleaners discretely removed the body and were dealing with the mess left behind by it. Such things were an inevitability when the likes of these... lawless cultures. Life and death had less value here, he imagined.
Reclining back, Jonathon shifted on leg to rest over the other as the guards approached, demanding that the Hephaesti woman go with them. Approached with a rough hand, it was unsurprising to Jonathon when Iradell rebuked him, though her reasoning wasn't what he would call entirely sound. A curious brow hitched over an eye, his hands lacing together to find perch over a knee.
"I'm not sure how often you come to these sort of places, miss, but it is usually wise to conform to the demands of men such as these. They represent the heads of this establishment." Jonathon canted his head a few degrees to the right as the two parties combated one another in a quick struggle.
When the guard reached for her weapon and revealed the mechanical form within, Jonathon was only momentarily surprised. He knew she was Hephaesti, after all, and many Hephaesti indulged in human-like appearances, even if it was only skin deep. The dark chrome of her synthetic form barely gave the guards pause, either -- they had a job to do, after all.
"I never did get your name," Iradell said to him.
A small smile crept across his face. "Perhaps when you're done with these fine gentlemen I'll tell you. For now, it would be better to listen to them and I would hate to be one to interfere with their objectives. All they want is to as you questions," he said, confirming it with a quick scan of their peripheral thoughts, though none of them could tell.
"Remember what I said. 'This place may be lawless but the laws of Tartarus are unforgiving.' There are... Aspects of Tartarus that must be complied to and resisted. Especially when numbers are against you."
"Better listen to the fancy man, lady," one of the guards growled. His hand was on his own weapon and his posture betrayed no sense of an unwillingness to use it.
A faint buzzing in the communicator on his left arm made him raise his limb at the elbow. With a quick swipe in the air with another, a holographic interface bloomed to life and solidified as a hard-light construct. "I'd rather meet you again in something other than a recycling plan. Wouldn't you?"
“Questions?” Iradell said, shifting a questioning look to the two men. They both nodded in unison. “Remove your hands from me and I will do as you ask.”
The two men looked at each other and then took their hands off of Iradell, then they took a couple of steps back. One of them crossed their arms and the other looked as if he was ready to reach out and grab the smaller Hephaesti if need be. Iradell stood up and zipped her jacket back up, turning towards Jonathon one last time.
“I enjoyed our brief conversation. But let me tell you, I have a particular set of skills. Since you were so kind in diffusing this situation, if you would ever like to continue our conversation or make use of my skills, simply contact Rastor here on Tartarus. He is usually,” Iradell shot a quick glare towards the two men. “Never hard to find.”
“We told you, he has left for the evening,” one guard mumbled.
“You should put more effort into finding him before you take me to the back of this place. I know what happens there,” Iradell said, then looked back to Jonathon. “I think you know what type of skills I mean. Farewell for now, sir.”
Iradell turned towards the men and walked between them, yanking her arm away as one of them tried to grab her again. They made their way towards the back of the club, mouthing off to one another as they went, with Iradell exchanging shoves or yanks with them along the way. Iradell and the two large men disappeared into a set of double doors at the back of the club and just like that she was gone.