Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Location: Under an emu.
|Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:10 pm Post subject: Chapter 8: Conversations
|Goinard IV – Moon 5 – Impro Factory, Veto Employee Offices
July 24, 110 YC
Whoever started the concept of the Investor Relations Audit and decided it was good for a corporation to review every year needs to die in a fire.
Sitting slouched over her desk, Kyoko kept her head in her arms. She was immeasurably tired and bored… so fucking bored. A month’s worth of reports and files sat defeated in front of her, lazily strewn about and perhaps about to tip off the edge of her desk.
Always feeling like she had to be in the know – preparedness being a good Caldari virtue ground into her at a young age – she was satisfied with what she had done. Rubbing her temples and looking out the window into the green nebula beyond, she sighed deeply in anticipation of a caffeine-induced headache.
A faint light flashed from the vidscreen in front of her, the device beeping to notify her of a call. Startled, she snorted, wiping her face with her hands as she sat up straight, raven hair a mess in places. Noting the ID, she bit her bottom lip.
A shaking index finger tapped a button on the pad in front of her. She was greeted by the video image of a familiar Achuran woman of short stature – shorter than Kyoko’s own – making contact from the other side of the cluster.
“Sais-- ahh, Aria,” Kyoko replied, running her fingers through her hair briefly. “You would still call me ‘friend’ now.”
The woman on the other end cocked her head to the side with a serene expression on her face, her black eyes feverish as they registered Kyoko’s surprise.
“You find that odd?”
“Considering your correspondence with Ethan and my abrupt defection?” Kyoko didn’t look particularly amused, but allowed a nearly imperceptible smile to creep on the edges of her lips. “Oh, yes.”
“Mr. Verone showed you my letters, then?”
“No, but I have a vague understanding of what’s up.”
“As does he. You haven’t told him what happened at Ansila, or at least not exactly, have you?”
Kyoko shifted in her chair a little, curling her lips oddly back into a slight frown in remembrance of events past. “I hardly speak of you. Our… interaction, yes… I didn’t pin the fault on you.”
“No, that was his slant on it, of course. Let him think of me as the villain though; it seems to suit his sense of the story.”
“His love for me is so blind – as is my own is for him...” Kyoko lowered her head a little, trailing off.
The Achuran nodded a little, interrupting the silence before it became awkward. “Well, I do wish you luck in that, suuolo. Quite sincerely, I do. You’ve risked a lot for it, much more than I ever did under similar circumstances. You’ve also given up a great deal.” She paused for a moment, studying her former CEO. “After all your work with Ghost Festival, and knowing what the Cartel’s reaction would have to be… that couldn’t have been easy.”
Kyoko brought her focus back to the vidscreen. “Yeah, I risked everything we made together… and our own relationship. I didn’t even have the guts to even confront you about it before you returned.”
The woman waved her hand aside, her face slipping into solemnity. “No, but I’m not much troubled by that. It’s what happens next that should prove interesting. We’re rebuilding, of course. That will take a while; we’ll be restoring the corporation in a somewhat different form, but it won’t change beyond recognition, I think.”
Kyoko sighed. “At least we’ll be out of arms reach. That’s probably the safest place for both of us.”
“Your malice was quite limited Kyoko, but the Cartel’s, as I’m sure you know, isn’t. Sooner or later, I’m afraid there’ll have to be an… accounting. I wouldn’t be able to call myself an agent of the Cartel if I allowed even your very moderate treason to pass unavenged.”
Kyoko pursed her lips.
“I’m not planning on doing anything permanent, of course. If the Cartel wants that, they’ll just send an assassin.”
This was somehow amusing to Kyoko and it showed, not that she didn’t take the threat seriously. Kyoko was one to enjoy meshing with the non-capsuleer crowd. She had only herself and her bodyguards for protection, as well as her new friends. She had escaped a kidnapping before however and this sounded more to her like a challenge than a threat.
“I’m fully ready for the consequences,” she smirked, “and I’ll defend what I hold dear. You’ll at least be pleased to know that while I return to the North I’ll not forget the dangers of the Nation.”
“I’d been rather concerned about that, actually. Be careful, Kyoko…”
“I’ve spent the last three years looking over my back Aria. You shouldn’t think I’ll drop my guard for a second.”
“Meb’s there, and Leon used to be, and while Mr. Verone rather obliquely denies a link to the Nation’s capsuleer affiliates, there’s only one member of that triumvirate of friendly powers that’s missing from his coterie.”
“Who’s he going to listen to, Aria? Izzy or myself?”
Aria seemed to ponder this. “You… for a while.”
“The Sansha provide a barrier between the cartels. The Guristas will use them so long as it is to their advantage, which is to say it won’t be forever.”
“We’ll have to see what happens,” Aria replied. “Unfortunately, I think it’s likely the Guristas will figure they can use the Blooders and Nation to break the Cartel.”
Kyoko leaned back in her chair, heaving a sigh. “And that’d be just about the only reason they’d ally with either of them. I don’t like it, but I’m closer to the Caldari, and closer to him. I need to make the right decisions.”
“That’s going to be one messy alliance to be a part of, Kyoko. I wish you numerous setbacks, but not one that involves a True Slave infestation.”
“You should wish me luck in dissolving whatever is left of the agreement between Fatal and the Nation.
“I do wish you luck in that, but I’m not sure there’s enough of it in the universe; Fatal is, well… I’d be as inclined to interfere in the Dominations’ plans as in his.”
There was a silence between them as old friends stared into each other’s eyes light-years apart. A silent, brooding understanding emerged from the broken comradeship now past. Kyoko wondered if her friend felt the same uneasiness she did in this moment, but Aria always seemed at ease with the universe and its cruel workings, no matter how events unfolded.
“I hope he treats you well. I wondered for a while how much he factored into your decision to move us in the first place. But I suppose it really doesn’t matter, now.”
Kyoko smirked a little in response.
“Do stay in touch, suuolo. I’ll miss you,” Aria said thickly. “I miss you already, actually. Whatever it is that you are missing, may you find it him.”
Kyoko put her hand up to the vidscreen, fingers touching the plasma panel and remembering fondly the only time they’d ever gotten drunk together, something that was real hard to convince her friend to do. She felt remorse in that moment, like Aria’s poor soul had been dragged across the stars with her subject to more of her will than should have been possible. But Aria was fully determined to the point that Kyoko couldn’t reason with her on issues of an argumentative nature, and this is where they parted.
In that moment, she tried thinking of a certain Gallentean’s face instead, to dampen her grief.
Airkio III, Unknown Coordinates
July 25, 110 YC
Well Kale, I presume you’ll be fashionably late, as always.
This time she had come prepared. The last time Kyoko visited this icy rock, she wasn’t fully dressed for the weather, which typically included snowstorms that reduced visibility and made travel by foot a chore. But this was a calm, if chilly day, and the blue-white sun of Airkio glistened over a clear sky above.
Bringing a gloved hand up to the collar of her jacket, she rolled the fur lining against her neck and folded her arms together, swaying gently in the snow. There was a certain beauty in the plainness of this landscape, harsh whites and blues covering a plateau that extended as far as the eye can see. An obelisk-like atmosphere scrubber loomed overhead, rendering the vicinity’s air breathable on this unforgiving world.
The secluded location made it the perfect place to meet old friends in secret.
“Well if it isn’t the fluffiest bunny of them all,” a deep voice, unmistakably Caldari, boomed behind her.
She spun on her heel, snow crunching softly beneath her boots. He was lighting a cigarette with a wry smile on his face as he approached, the stubble on his face standing out prominently. She wouldn’t bother to ask how he’d snuck up on her, for his methods had defied comprehension for years.
Same damn son-of-a-bitch, she mused.
“Shit Kale, all these years and you’re still sweet talking me?”
The tall, well-built Deteis man stopped a couple meters from her, his smile widening briefly as he took a drag.
“With your ever increasing number of boyfriends it just amuses me all the more.”
Kyoko grinned, shifting her weight to one side. “And with your increasing number of flirtations you just fall further into the category of ‘sexual deviant.’ Don’t think I ever forgot about the squid left on my work desk at the Omerta offices and the note that came with it.”
A quiet chuckle escaped his lips as he slipped the cigarette in between his fingers, his eyes looking over her features nostalgically.
“So what’s so important that you felt the need to drag me all the way out to Zaitsev’s version of a confession booth?”
A serious, inquisitive tone arose from her voice, brown eyes staring up into his. “I want to know about the purge. Why did Ishukone cut Omerta loose so forcibly? Who ordered the strike?”
The Deteis threw the cigarette down into the snow roughly. “Yeah, with the way things are going in the State I thought it was going to be something alone those lines.”
“If you know something, I’m not a threat to Zaitsev or yourself, so let me hear it.”
“You’re all ass-tight about Gariushi, aren’t you?”
Kyoko couldn’t stop her fists from clenching, a scowl appearing on her face.
“Truth is, Kyoko, I don’t know. And if I did know, I wouldn’t be able to pass you along that information. That’s how the Syndicate works and you know it. Even if Gariushi had nothing to do with our situation, we’d still be screaming his name with a vindictive roar, because that’s politics. Guys at the top have to be held responsible for littler guy’s actions.”
“Either you’re letting Zaitsev pull wool over your eyes, Kale, or you’re giving me shit. He’s your best friend, and you know him better than anyone, so I’m going to have to go with the latter.”
Narrowing his eyes, Kale took a few steps forward, glaring down at his ex as he closed the distance.
“Alright. You really want a piece of my mind? Here it is: We didn’t fucking deal in soft drinks or children’s toys, Kyoko. We worked with heavy shit; the kinds of biotechnology research that the Amarrians or Khanid would have loved to get their hands on. Zainou Biotech reportedly had a product that the Minmatar and Gallenteans would have equally paid billions for. Who owns a majority share in Zainou?”
She blinked a few times, realizing where this was going.
“Two competing products, unfinished, both potentially upsetting balance among the nations of New Eden. And Zaitsev wouldn’t back down from the very research we did causing disaster in the first place,” she gasped.
Kale stood more upright. “That’s one of the possibilities among many. I don’t know myself. But I can speculate.”
“Zaitsev was never one for political games. If all that’s true, that’s why we got burned.”
“If it’s somehow true,” he emphasized. “But despite what you might think, I’m just giving you an idea. One that I think was bubbling in the back of that pretty head of yours anyway. You can mull over it, if it soothes your conscience. Don’t ask me to get inside his head though, because I’m less than a tenth as batshit as he is.”
Kyoko nodded a little, feeling foolish for not realizing the possibility sooner.
He placed a rough hand on her cheek, a far cry from the soft skin of a new clone. “Don’t call me up to talk to me about this shit again. That’s for my sake, and yours.” He paused, a rare concerned look on his face. “Do you think this new job of yours is for real?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“Then we’ll be in touch.”
The two Caldari gave each other knowing smiles before parting.