"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."
Olympus, supposedly the home of the Greek gods back on ancient Earth though by now most people probably know nothing of those old legends. However for the population of Bastion virtually everyone recognizes that Olympus Mons houses those who live at the top of the economic pyramid, the powerful wealthy, the movers and shakers of Bastion society.
On this evening, a veritable A-list of Bastion Who's Who were in attendance at the annual Charity Gala which functioned as both a fundraiser for various charitable causes and also an opportunity for the rich and powerful to mingle in a social context. Needless to say security was as tight as the catered appertifs and main courses were costly.
Essime Laurent was there, it was a work night for her as she was an arm ornament for the famous (some would argue notorious) Radu Gospodar, a media businessman and also influential on the Board of Communications. In his early sixties, plastic surgery hid that reality making him look younger than that. He was married but almost no one knew that particular detail as he kept his wife far from the spotlight where she raised the children, of which he had fathered quite a few in their twenty years of marriage. When Gospodar was out in public at these sorts of affairs, he preferred the company of beautiful young ladies, neither trait applicable anymore to his wife.
This wasn't the first time the pair had been together. Essime liked the man as he treated her kindly enough and obviously the pay plus perks were above even her usual rates. Radu liked her not just for her physical appearance but she knew how to handle herself in these sort of settings. It just worked and that made both of them happy.
For now they moved thru the crowd mingling while they awaited the formal dinner and of course, speeches. Essime could take or leave the speeches but she did love the food.
Tau hated parties like this. The formal white collared bullshit events that the upper class of the universe threw for themselves. That said he didn't mind working security for them one bit. He would never find himself at something like this. He was a soldier, one of the people that protected people like this even if he didn't want too. Though tonight he was working as a mover and shaker, acting as security for the trussed up socialites of Bastion. As well as running security he was also to keep a look out for a contact that had info for him. The company could always count on a upper class party to have lots of informants and moles. Almost everyone had something they wanted stolen, protected or kept a secret. Others always had a way for certain people to get their hands on it. Tau was here for the informant that was trying to sell information about a certain company. The Black Moons wanted that information to use as leverage and perhaps blackmail information.
So they had given him the task of finding him and playing security. That consisted of a tuxedo and his own addition of a bulletproof vest. So the large man was walking around the perimeter with his large arms crossed over his chest. It was a rather large tux and he was surprised that they could quickly get him one. His dreads where pulled back in a loose ponytail but with the little bone skull showing on the edge of his face. The nodes on each side of his jaw were covered with some make-up to make them less noticeable. Tau didn't want to give away that he was enhanced and besides his Tesla power he was carrying a small laser pistol in a harness under his arm and a butterfly knife on his belt.
Pacing the room his eyes swept through the crowd looking for the face that he had memorized. So far the man hadn't shown his face or was even here. Then again it was still early in the evening with the drinking and mingling still going on, the food hadn't even been served nor the speeches been given. Stopping he looked at the crowd again pausing over a face that he might have recognized but he couldn't be sure. There were so many people that he would never associate with it almost made him sick. Tau could usually be found in a regular pub with beers, a shot, and perhaps a lady or two on his arm. What could he say he was a man of simple tastes. Walking through the crowd he passed a young woman and an older yet surgery reduced man. It was always like that at these things and it was kinda creepy especially if they were rented out like he was. Glancing at the girl he swept his eyes over her before moving on, hoping that no one caused trouble and kinda hoping someone did cause some trouble.
Radu sidled on up to yet another bigwig and the two acted like they were longtime friends, maybe they even were, Essime had no idea. The other man had a woman at his side too and introduced her as his wife, she beamed as the formalities ensued. Radu glanced at Essime and introduced her as his 'companion'. Essime was fine with that. The wife departed saying she wanted to talk with an old acquaintance she spotted across the room or maybe she just didn't want to talk with someone the likes of her?
After a bit of small talk the two men decided they wanted to talk some business and Radu turned to her, "Essime, I would like to have some privacy with Arthur here. Why don't you roam around and keep yourself amused until I come back, my dear?"
"Of course, Radu, I understand completely. Go ahead, nice to meet you, sir," she made sure to flash a smile at the other man too as they separated from her.
She had finished her drink earlier and decided why not get another one, the party served excellent drinks as well as top quality apertifs. Most of these people were well above her in society so she was not about to try and engage in conversation but then she spotted one impressive looking man, dressed in the usual tuxedo but not really looking like he was used to such fancy garb. She saw how he watched other people, in fact she hadn't failed to notice how he had just a few minutes earlier eyed her up and down. Essime was willing to bet he was like her in that he was working on this night...he had the look of security. Maybe official security hired by those putting this affair on or maybe a bodyguard for some big shot but he was no party guest.
She boldly walked up to him almost invading his personal space as she gazed up into that stern face, "Hello, enjoying the party are we?"
After flashing one of her prize smiles, she added, "Or are you too busy at the moment to help a girl find a drink? I'm parched."
Tau was busy keeping an eye on the party guests and it was boring. That is at least until the blonde escort girl that he had eyed came right up to him and looked him straight in the face. The fact that she came so close to him was slightly unnerving, but it wasn't worrisome. He knew if he needed to that he could defend himself, but he highly doubted he would need to from her. When she asked him if he was enjoying the party he looked at her and raised an eyebrow. "I guess you could say I am enjoying it," he commented back to her.
She smiled at him briefly with a rather nice smile before asking him if he would help her get a drink. Tilting his head to the side he thought about it and coming to the conclusion that it wouldn't distract him he nodded "I'm actually not that busy currently so yes I can help you get a drink," he replied to her as he began walking towards one of the drink areas. The spread that was provided was rather impressive, at least 5 different areas to get drinks and the catering would be impressive. It always was at events like this and he at least could be thankful for that. As he drew close to the bar, he let the smaller women go ahead as she was the one getting the drink.
"Are you enjoying yourself? You seem to have done this quite a bit," he asked her as he checked his dreads before crossing his arms. It wasn't right for him to get an alcoholic drink on the job but he might get a water later. Who knows they might even give him leave to get some food. That thought made him smile briefly before again scanning the crowd. So far his contact hadn't made any kind of contact with him but it was still early in the evening so Tau could wait.
Looking at the woman he asked her a somewhat personal question that he hoped wouldn't get him in trouble. "What is it like being hired as an escort? Actually it's probably like me getting hired for a job," he said with a delayed laugh "Is it hard sometimes or can you pick and choose? I am just curious but you can easily tell me to fuck off if you'd like."
At first the man was a bit ....well stand-offish was too harsh but after all he was probably working and not there as a party guest. He at least did not simply blow her off but answered her initial question. Essime persisted and asked if he could perhaps help her replace her now empty drink glass. He then proved to be quite willing. She had experience before with security guards and some could be downright nasty and belligerent, he certainly was not. She struggled to keep up with him, he was big, tall, and took long strides.
He slowed then as they reached the bar, letting her get to it first. Now it was just a matter of waiting for a willing bartender. The man now initiated some discussion, excellent!
"It's a nice enough party, been to better, been to far worse. I always say it's not the party, it's the company you're with that decides how good or bad it is," she willingly answered, "You make me sound old by the way."
Her accompanying grin certainly showed him she was not serious about that last line. She was good at studying men, it was a helpful trait to have in her business. He seemed to be looking for someone? Perhaps his employer he was supposed to be guarding?
A bartender was heading her way as he asked her another much more blunt question. It took an awful lot to offend her and this seemed harmless curiosity so she barely blinked as she answered him.
"Actually I don't pick who I accompany. I work for a service and my employer advertises his girls...boys too and someone makes a request for such and such. My boss then informs me who and when and where. I show up or am picked up, act all delighted and do my very best to show the client a good time. Some of my clients are even regulars, some I look forward to being with as they are nice to me, a few are .....well, things don't always go smoothly. It's part of the business I suppose."
"So....do you get to pick who you guard or do whatever you do for them?"
Suddenly it hit her and she added, "My name is Essime by the way."
"I make you sound old? How am I doing that?" he asked her as he stood beside the girl. Tau didn't enjoy being so much of a bodyguard. It was boring but it had it's perks, like the food, drinks and beautiful women. A chuckle escaped him and he watched the bartender approach her as she answered his question. Nodding he could understand what she was talking about. It was like his job in a way just less personal. He was paid to defend someone or to kill someone. She was paid to join someone for whatever purpose. It was interesting how things like that still exist this far in the future but not everyone has the same options as other people. So he could definitely understand her position.
"I sometimes get to pick who I guard or what I do. Other times I get told what I have to do, but it's not to much of a pain," he said to her as the bartender asked him if he wanted a drank. Shaking his head he turned back to sweep the crowd before turning back to his companion.
When she introduced herself as Essime, he nodded back to her before responding, "My name is Tau, pleased to meet you Essime." Grabbing a drink of water he stood beside her unsure of what to do now. The speeches hadn't started yet and the food was still a ways off. "Ugh this is boring, how can anyone stand these types of things? No offense but these things are so boring. They pump you full of booze even before the food shows up than you have to listen to speeches," he commented to her as he sipped some water "I mean give me a grungy place with beer, wings, and some ladies and maybe a brawl and I would be in heaven. This" he said gesturing around "This is something else entirely."
Reaching up he lightly scratched at the tattoo on the back of his neck remembering his old Raven days. Looking down at her again he smiled before asking her "Do you need to get back to your date pretty quick before the speeches or the food?" He said date calmly which was easy for him, since it was extremely unsettling to see how far the old would go to look young again. Then again Tau had at least another 80 years to live, himself only being 28. Though with his implants that time might even be longer, he didn't know. Sipping his water he looked at the blonde by his side with a gentle smile.
"You said I seem to have been doing this a long time," Essime grinned, "Like I'm some old veteran. I'll have you know I am barely .....well, ladies do not reveal their age."
It seemed he too could at times pick his jobs and apparently he was rather satisfied with his career. Well, everyone had to find something to make a living. It came to her that they hadn't done introductions yet so she started off with her first name. He returned the favor.
"Tau....easy one to remember, very short...unlike you," she made a point of having to look upward at his face.
He waved off a drink but she informed the bartender of her choice and he replied he would be right back with it. She was in no hurry, to be honest, it let her talk with this man a bit longer. He was not only easy on the eyes but probably friendlier than she had expected.
"I will agree with you, the speeches certainly are boring. But the drinks are free and most of the time the food is first class, two great perks to the job," she pointed out with a smile. He had his own idea of a fun night.
"Your kind of place doesn't sound so bad either...well except for the 'brawl' part. I am not exactly a brawler as you probably have figured out already."
He then inquired if she had to get back soon, a fair enough question. Essime shook her head though.
"No, the man I am with dismissed me for awhile to talk business with some other big shot. They could be at it for awhile. He told me I could mingle. My problem was who exactly was I going to mingle with? So I decided it would be you. Thank you for being so pleasant."
"Speaking of pumping one full of booze, my drink has arrived," she noticed the bartender had returned, her drink in hand, which he passed off to her, "Thank you."
"So...tell me, Tau, do you win all your fights?" she teased, eyes sparkling, as she then sipped her drink.
Tau chuckled when she mentioned that a lady never reveals her age. Looking her over he would guess her age would be around 20 maybe a year or two older. Simply smiling he chuckled and then took a sip of his water, glancing around at the party. Her comment about his name also made him chuckle as she looked up at him. "Well I did grow up on Osiris which had lots of different food, but the people there are generally taller than most," he said looking down at her "Though I was about average size, there were others who were taller than me." Leaning against the bar he held his water in his hand and cased the party. People were still milling about talking and seemingly looking interested in one another.
Tau could tell that some of it was a facade. Some cared about each other but others were more interested in how they could use other people for their own plans. "I will agree with you on that, the drinks seem not bad and the food smells good at least, so despite the speeches it's not a terrible job," he replied and when she commented about his night he laughed "Well you certainly don't look like a brawler but I have no doubt that you know how to defend yourself." Catching movement beside him he quickly looked but seeing nothing but a pair of people embracing in a hug he settled down. There was still no sign of his contact and that irritated him slightly. He would have to have a talk with the man about timing and the wasting of time.
"He dismissed you? You don't look like a servant to me, what type of man just dismisses someone?" he asked somewhat angrily annoyed at the upper class people of Bastion. They had all the money, all the power and could do whatever they wanted to do while people like him and lower had to work to get anything in their lives. Taking a sip of water he just kept quiet as Essime received her drink and then asked him if he won all his fights.
Looking down at her again he smiled at her before answering "I win almost all of the fights that I am in. Most people don't want to fight me because of my size but the ones that do don't end up getting up after or are heavily injured. Now ring fighting I have never lost a match and I am proud to say that." Smiling at her he continued on "Though here I'm just a security guard with just the goal to keep the peace. Anything happens it should be interesting but I'm hoping not mainly because I'd prefer not to scare you."
"So you're average? That must be an impressive bunch, the men of your homeworld if you are average," Essime declared with a smile.
The two of them agreed on some things, always a good thing. The party had plenty to drink and good food, certainly there were far far worse places to spend an evening in even if he considered this a rather boring party. Now the young woman, she would rather have boring than - for example - a night where one of her clients might rough her up. Fortunately she had been rather lucky in her career on that score but she was young and one never could feel completely safe in her life style.
She had to chuckle a little when he stated his belief she was certainly capable of defending herself. Maybe he was just trying to be nice and compliment her? No matter, he overrated her.
"I wish but no, I'm not a violent person. I don't have fancy weapons or have taken self defense lessons. Perhaps I should...I don't know. My agent says I don't need to, he will take care of me," she shrugged.
Tau seemed affronted her client of this night had temporarily dismissed her, she didn't think it was any big deal though.
"Oh, he's not so bad. He came here mostly for business and that's why he is off in a meeting as we speak. He hired me as arm candy, that's how it often works in my line of work, I never have any illusions."
She steered the conversation over to fighting, he looked the role alright. He informed her he had never lost a ring fight.
"Oh wow, that's impressive," she nodded then sipped her drink, "But no, don't worry, Tau, you don't scare me. I think you are an honorable man. In fact, when I'm done here and you are done here....I wouldn't mind it one bit if you were to take me to one of those places you like to hang out at. That is if you'd like that?"
Yes, she was trying to set up a date instead of letting the man do it but just for once, she decided to do the asking. Normally this sort of thing was arranged by her boss. Why not try something different?
A chuckle escaped Tau when Essime commented on him being average. "Well I am average in that most of us are my size and width, though there are a few that are bigger," he replied with a soft laugh "my comrades generally join the military or militias on the planet." It was nice to find someone that he could talk to that didn't involve interrogation or execution. Then again that wasn't too bad either, this was just more engaging. Her response to getting self defense classes was a good and valid thing which he shared. "I think you should take some lessons," he stated matter-of-factly "Your agent may be able to protect you on paper, but when you are with a client and something happens being able to take care of yourself is key. Trust me it is definitely worth it. I could teach you a few things as well."
Catching sight of a man approaching him, Tau recognized him as his informant and narrowing his eyes at the man turned to smile at Essime saying "Excuse me for a second Essime, I shall be right back." Walking up to the man, Tau nodded at him and stopped him about 10ft from Essime. "What took you so long?" he asked the man as he blocked their hands from view. "It took me a little bit to get in," his informant said. "You were supposed to be already inside," Tau said annoyed before grabbing the disk the man held out before shaking his hand. "Your late again and you'll be feeling alot worse than this."
"What do you mean worse than this?" the man asked just as Tau passed a shock from the hand to his. Immediately the man started to shake a little bit from the shock and the smell of o-zone filled the air. Just as quickly the current stopped and Tau sneered at the man before turning back to Essime, a smile crossing his features.
"Sorry about that, that man had a question for me," he replied with a chuckle "Well I like to think with my training I am a pretty good fighter. Thank you for the thinking I have honor. I like to think I do, I act with a certain code, but it can be tough." Taking a sip of his water he listened to her basically ask him out on a date. Looking at her again, he smiled both to himself and to her. "Well I think I could accommodate that request," he said to her date proposition "It's very rare for someone to ask me out, but yeah I would be interested in going to a more personable place." Sipping his water he scanned the crowd before checking his nodes on his chin in the glass.
Dang, he'd have to apply more of the cover-up. Ah well.
The man explained his people tended to be on the large side, Essime would have used the word 'impressively large' if she had been saying it but she nodded, "I believe you."
The man encouraged her to take the defense classes pointing out her manager wouldn't be a lot of help in times of trouble. He of course had a point. But then he offered to teach her a few things himself.
"Oh you would? Well, I really should take you up on that," she smiled up at him.
He had to go then, excusing himself so he could have a quick conversation with some other man. It was understandable, he was here on a job too. They both had their duties. It didn't look all that pleasant a conversation and something changed hands. None of her business, she had learned that as an escort quite early in her still young career. Tau apologized when he returned.
"No, I understand perfectly. None of my affair, you do what you have to do," she wanted him to know.
He was quite modest when she complimented him on having a sense of honor, she liked that in a man - honor...and modesty. Taking a chance, she less than subtly asked if he might possibly want to spend some time with her. Essime didn't mean the escort sort of date, she didn't want any money. Just for fun and relaxation. And he proved agreeable.
Her client now appeared again and was walking in her general direction. She felt a regret but she'd have to go back to him. Again it was her business duty, Tau was sure to understand.
"Well, good, let's do that then. It doesn't have to be tonight of course, we both seem stuck with other people. But you name a time and place and unless I have a prior appointment, I would be happy to go....we could even meet something?" she told him.