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Fenris
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Sun and Stars - Chapter 5

10 Oct 2009, 14:04

Midnight Rose was in a sour mood. The early morning found the Chosen of Battles smoking quietly at a comfortable corner of a trendy bistro located not far from the House of Learning complex. Errant Venture had insisted they pay a visit to the place for coffee and breakfast. She was still irked for having to sleep on the floor, despite the man’s assurances that they would switch off the following evening. It wasn’t because she needed to sleep on a bed, as she was used to sleeping in uncomfortable situations and was feeling no ill effects from the experience.

It’s a principle of the matter, she thought as she puffed irately.

She was seated cross-legged and alone at an ankle-height table, her partner had gone off to get their order, leaving her to mull in her thoughts for a few minutes.

They planned to meet with another one of Errant’s contacts, an information broker with his fingers in just about everything that happened in the city. The Journeys had not been very forthcoming with additional intelligence, but assured her that the man was trustworthy so long as the money flowed. She did not like being left out of the loop, and it certainly did not help her mood.

There were no chairs at the bistro; seating was provided for through large velvet cushions that surrounded the many tables. The tables themselves were arranged so as many diners as possible could face the center of the room, where an empty stage stood. Errant told her that live entertainment was commonplace in almost every establishment in Great Forks and that shows can range from comedians to thaumaturgy demonstrations.

In her corner, Rose had wedged her cushion against the wall, forming a makeshift chair to lounge on while she waited. The dining room around her steadily filled with hungry patrons, many of them young and beautiful, and clad in light silks and linens. It made her feel ever more out of place with her modest military styled uniform, but the thought of wearing something so…sheer in public stifled any lasting feelings of awkwardness. Occasionally someone would approach to her as though to claim an empty table, only to notice her presence at the last moment. She gave every one of them barely a second’s glance as they murmured their apologies and moved away, leaving her alone with her thoughts once more.

She took a long drag of her pipe and held it. The stench of perfume and incense was heavy wherever they went, and the enclosed space only made it worse, threatening to give her a headache. It made her wish for the briny winds of the Western Convention.

The Sidereal frowned and shook the thought from her mind. Snap out of it, idiot. This is how fate wants it. Deal.

The Chosen of Battles rubbed the bridge of her nose and sighed a long stream of smoke. At that moment a crystalline chime heralded the appearance of a small lantern made of pale white luminescence that slowly faded into existence over her table. She greeted its sudden appearance with a start then glanced around the room to see if anyone else had noticed, but if any did, they showed no sign.

She recognized it immediately as a missive sent directly through the Loom of Fate. Official interdepartmental correspondences were commonly sent along such channels, as were the occasional mission dispatches. Each of the lantern’s five sides had a small ivory handle on it, allowing the recipient to open the vessel and retrieve whatever was stored within. It patiently hung an inch over the surface of the table, rotating lazily.

Rose frowned at the celestial mailbox. Errant’s supposed to be the one getting this stuff.

With a mental shrug and a lazy hand, she pinched one of the handles with two fingers and opened the lantern with a short flick of her wrist. She then plucked the sealed envelope suspended inside and shut the vessel. As soon as she did so, it faded out of existence as though it had never been.

About time, she thought dryly as she crudely broke the seal and shook the contents onto her open palm.

The GGIT unit’s report on the samples they had sent back via elemental courier over a week ago was several days overdue, which either meant they were backlogged or they had found something interesting.

She tossed the empty envelope onto the table then unfolded the document. Mela’s tits, four pages?

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Source: Gaian-Genesis Interrogation Team, Convention of Wood branch, Division of Secrets, Bureau of Destiny
Date Dispatched: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763
Sender: Hseng Fai-Long, GGIT Lead Investigator
Recipient(s): Karal Midnight Rose, Chosen of Mars and Errant Venture, Chosen of Mercury.
Agent ID(s): M12004, J08004
Date Received: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763

Agent(s):

Preliminary tests of sample 1 reveal a highly acidic substance in addition to emulsified human remains. Acid is inconsistent with substances cataloged in the Division of Secrets’ listings on hazardous materials.

Preliminary tests of sample 2 are inconclusive. Sample show physical properties consistent with Raksha remains with trace amounts of starmetal. Essence filtering revealed residual god essence. At present, sample cannot be identified.

Sample 2 has been transferred to GGIT central at the Forbidding Manse of Ivy for further study.

Detailed test results are listed on page two.

Signed,
Hseng Fai-Long, GGIT Lead Investigator

Page 1 of 2


=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Source: Gaian-Genesis Interrogation Team, Convention of Wood branch, Division of Secrets, Bureau of Destiny
Date Dispatched: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763
Sender: Hseng Fai-Long, GGIT Lead Investigator
Recipient(s): Karal Midnight Rose, Chosen of Mars and Errant Venture, Chosen of Mercury.
Agent ID(s): M12004, J08004
Date Received: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763

Case Number: GG17-1414-763-000517

Sample #1:
Composition – Human remains 89%, Unknown acid 9%, Environmental contaminants 2%.
Detailed Analysis:
Human remains – Partially liquefied, most likely caused by interaction with acidic substance.
Unknown acid – Properties do not match any individual cataloged substance. Most likely a complex cocktail of materials. This cannot be verified due to limited quantities of uncontaminated samples.
Environmental contaminants – Trace quantities of soil, cloth, and smoke.

Sample #2:
Composition – Unidentified calcified material 99.9%, Environmental contaminants 0.1%
Detailed Analysis:
Unidentified calcified material – Crystallized calcium of indeterminate age. Crystalline pattern matches known samples of raksha remains. Starmetal dust embedded within crystal pattern. Standard filtering techniques cannot identify source of starmetal contamination. Residual essence cannot be identified.
Environmental contaminants – Trace quantities of smoke.

Comments: Sample 1 suggests that acidic substance is most likely some sort of offensive attack. Such tactics were not uncommon among fae invaders during the Balorian Crusade. This investigator suspects raksha consumption of godly essence to be the cause of the anomaly in sample 2. This theory cannot be verified with available samples. GGIT central has expressed interest in Sample 2. Materials removed to GGIT central at the Forbidding Manse of Ivy.

The information contained herein is considered classified requiring level 2 clearance.

Signed,
Hseng Fai-Long, GGIT Lead Investigator

Page 2 of 2


=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Source: Division of Secrets, Bureau of Destiny
Date Dispatched: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763
Sender: Nara-O, Director of the Forbidding Manse of Ivy
Recipient: Karal Midnight Rose, Chosen of Mars.
Agent ID: M12004
Date Received: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763

Tread carefully, old friend.


=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Source: Division of Oversight
Date Dispatched: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763
Sender: Oversight
Recipient: Karal Midnight Rose, Chosen of Mars.
Agent ID: M12004
Date Received: 14th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763

Agent Karal:

Any and all evidence related to samples collected by said agent during the date of the 5th of Resplendent Fire, RY 763 must henceforth be sent directly to Room #3137 at the Bureau of Destiny Annex. Standard delivery methods are permitted. Failure to comply with these parameters will not be looked upon kindly by Oversight. No other individuals, including agent Errant Venture is to be informed of these changes in procedure for a period of two months, 1 week, and 4 days.

Signed,
Oversight


=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Rose grimaced. Now she had a headache.

Oversight. The very mention of the impenetrably secretive division within the Bureau of Destiny was enough to chill the spine of any Sidereal. No Sidereal, or god, for that matter would openly acknowledge its existence, and even the Maidens themselves only strongly suggest strict obedience its requests.

There were, of course, more rumors floating around about it than there are threads on the Loom itself, but the only thing anyone knew for certain about the organization was that nothing was unknown to the Division of Oversight. It has been rumored to mention closely guarded secrets within its missives, as well as including minor, almost trivial details about the agent’s life and history that would have been impossible to obtain. They also are known to threaten these same details, should an agent fail to perform in the manner Oversight demands.

This would be the third set of orders ever issued to her from Oversight. The first time had been a harrowing undersea sojourn into Lintha infested waters, where she discovered and rescued a pocket of previously undocumented bloodline Terrestrial Exalted and their mortal kin. Her second mission came only weeks later, sending her to the Blessed Isle to frame a Dynast child for petty theft.

Often times dangerous. Occasionally seemingly simple or trivial. And always completely without context. These were the hallmarks of Oversight.

Rose sighed and roughly stuffed the last two pages in her jacket pocket rather than her elsewhere cache. It has been almost a hundred years since she last heard from Oversight, and if experience has taught her anything, this ‘request’ would be a pain in the ass too.

And what the Hell is Nara-O thinking? She wondered with a worried frown. How did he know about these orders, let alone slip something like that in with the rest of the correspondence? Her encounters with the cryptic god of secrets have likewise been few and far between, but each have been uncomfortable, unnerving, and above all annoying.

Not to mention expensive.

Tread carefully indeed.

A few moments later, Errant Venture came into view with a painted-up serving girl in tow. The girl, as she could be no older than sixteen to Rose’s eye, held a large ornate bowl in each hand. The Sidereal carried a pair of steaming mugs, undoubtedly filled with the coffee that he had insisted she try. Rose barely gave the girl a second’s glance and instead slipped the sample reports back into the envelope as breakfast was served.

The Journeys set down the mugs, whispered some words to the waitress and pressed a few coins into her slender palm. She blushed quite brightly then stutteringly excused herself.

“For a man that can’t be remembered you certainly like to chat it up with a lot of people,” Rose noted dryly and set her pipe down on the table as her partner settled into a cushion across from her.

Errant shrugged and grabbed some spoons and chopsticks from a colorful dispenser at the corner of their table, “You’d be surprised how much people reveal during idle conversation,” he replied easily and passed a set of utensils to her.

“Learn anything of interest?”

The Journeys pointed to his bowl with his chopsticks, “Food first.”

Rose nodded in agreement and lightly swirled the soupy meal set in front of her with her spoon. It was heady mixture of rice noodles, slices of meat, and sprigs of various herbs swimming in a rich brown broth. She felt her mouth water from the sight and smell alone, her stomach rumbling in anticipation. A quick glance showed that her partner hadn’t noticed it, or made no sign that he had.

Wise.

“This is breakfast?” she asked but wasted no time to pinch a piece of meat and some noodles with her chopsticks and deposited the morsel in her mouth. Delicious.

“Local specialty.”

“Wow, they really are spoiled here,” the Battles murmured between bites.

Errant chuckled and neatly piled some noodles, meat, and herbs on his spoon with some broth before eating, “I hear the Western nations have some rather appealing cuisine as well. What is that secret dish Coral fishermen enjoy, the one with the raw fish with lemon juice and chilies.”

Rose made a face, “Ceviche,” she explained, “It's not much of a secret there. The locals love the stuff, but I never developed a taste for it. I prefer my food cooked.”

“You know, technically the lemon juice cooks the…well nevermind,” Errant said and then shrugged with his chopsticks, “I’ll have to try it sometime. I got some vacation time that’s collecting dust for decades.”

“You travel?” Rose asked, “Most agents I know usually spend their sabbaticals on family matters.”

The Journeys shrugged again, “I like seeing the world and trying local fare. You gain a lot of insight on a people from what they eat. I don’t have any descendants to dote on in any case.”

“…I’m sorry.”

Errant waved his spoon nonchalantly, “Don’t be. I’m not. It’d be a real pain anyway,” his face turned serious for a moment, “In our line of work, the fewer bonds we have with the mortal world the better, eh?”

Rose hummed; her thoughts flitted back to her childhood in Lookshy. Through her mind’s eye she saw buildings without color and half-remembered faces. It had been long a while since she last thought of her family, let alone seen them. Bureau policy kept agents well away from their birthplaces, to maintain objectivity until they reached suitable levels of experience. The Chosen of Battles set her utensils down and reached for her mug, and wondered if she would even recognize her parents if they walked through the door at that moment before taking a sip.

Her eyes widened. Barring coffee made in Yu-Shan, it was the best she ever had. “What is this?”

“Good, eh?” Errant asked, though his grin told her that he knew the answer. “It’s a specialty brew Great Forks imports from Halta.”

Rose paused mid-sip. She was sure that she had heard of this brew before in one of the periodicals she subscribed to, but could not place it. “Halta? They don’t even own the ground their tree-towns are perched on. Where would they be able to grow coffee?”

“Oh I doubt you’d want to know,” the Chosen of Journeys cautioned offhandedly.

She raised a brow and took another sip, “Try me.”

“This particular brand of coffee is brewed from beans that have…passed through the digestive tract of a certain species of tree cat found along the southern forests of Halta,” Errant explained with that annoying grin of his grew with each passing word.

It took considerable force of will to maintain her mildly interested face when impulse demanded that she spit that vile brew out immediately. Instead, she tipped the mug back, heedless of the piping hot liquid and downed a good half of the thing before bringing it down on the table with a loud bang. Mela’s tits and Pasiap’s stones this was still great coffee.

“Not bad,” she reported with a contented sigh and just enough nonchalance to be convincing, and then none-too-quickly returned to her bowl of noodles. It was almost worth the look of not-quite-disappointment that flashed across the Journeys’ face.

Almost.

After finishing his breakfast, Errant Venture nodded towards the report sitting off to the side of the table. “Those the sample analyses?”

Rose nodded as the other Sidereal picked up the file and leafed through them. She then took up her mug and cradled it between her palms as Errant idly sipped on his drink.

She saw his eyes scan the header before his brow rose and he spoke, “Only your fourth incarnation as a redeyes? Your predecessors must’ve been tough, Princess. I’m surprised.”

“Shut up, Errant,” Rose grumbled and looked away.

“Odd that they sent it to you though,” he mused, his eyes not leaving the pages. “As senior field agent, they should’ve come straight to me.”

The Battles shrugged and took another gulp without a grimace. If only she didn’t know where those beans have been.

“Ah well. I’ll deal with the compliance inquiries later,” he flipped to page two. “Huh, central eh? Hope it’s only for cataloging reasons.”

“Not looking forward to something big?”

He gave her a brief stare over the reports before his eyes angled back down towards the papers, “Something big, as you say, is usually the stuff that gets you killed, but I guess you Battles like that sort of thing.”

Rose glared over the rim of her mug, but saved her coarseness for another time.

A little while later she cocked her head towards the waitress he had been talking to earlier and asked, “So what did you find out?”

“Funny you should ask,” Errant replied and leaned over with an elbow resting on the table conspiratorially. “The reports say,” he explained as he pushed the report between them and tapped his finger on the page, “that the remains contained trace elements of starmetal, the physical remains of gods, as well as godly essence residue.”

“Nothing new there.”

Errant nodded, “Well, it seems that there has been a rash of disappearances lately. All essence users of some kind or another; enlightened mortals, God-Blooded, even some lower ranking deities. The Enforcers have kept the situation pretty low key for the time being, as to not hurt the tourism trade, but it has the locals, especially those with godly heritage, pretty on edge. There’s also rumors going around about blood and gore being discovered in random alleys and other places these missing individuals frequent.”

“You think there’s a connection.”

A shrug, “Maybe. I think you might have a few guesses yourself, considering what you found at the site last week.”

The Battles hummed an affirmative, “So what now?”

“We have a chat with that friend of mine as planned. The caravan that was hit might have been his so he should be more than willing to share some information with me as long as he thinks I’ll be able to catch whoever had attacked it. And with any luck, I’ll be able to get him to part with some customs logs too. Part of the whole people search shtick, as it were.”

Rose smirked, “Convenient.”

Errant straightened and finished his drink, “Just how I like it.”

“When do we move out?”

“Whenever you’re done with that,” he said and nodded at her mug before pocketing the sample report and the envelope it arrived in.

Rose sighed and finished her coffee with one final gulp, the knowledge of the drink’s origins still floating around in her head. The thought almost made her gag, but she refused give the grinning Journeys the satisfaction of seeing her ruffled by some exotic beverage.

It was still damn good coffee.
Zhao Yi, "Venus! Will you look at the size of this closet?"
Midnight Rose, "Sifu, we're looking for booze here."

Current story is Sun and Stars which can be found in my notebook.
 
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Dinosaur
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Re: Sun and Stars - Chapter 5

10 Oct 2009, 14:43

And after he went through the trouble to set up the Squick, too. ^VVVVV^
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Fenris
DOOM HAS-Ohlookit Shinies!
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Posts: 433
Joined: 04 Nov 2007, 10:47
Title: Sleepy Zenith
Exalt: Solar
Fighting Style: Sorcery and Pillow Charms
Artifact: Glorious Solar Comforter
Location: Los Angeles
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Re: Sun and Stars - Chapter 5

12 Oct 2009, 21:59

There will be other opportunities, I'm sure. :3
Zhao Yi, "Venus! Will you look at the size of this closet?"
Midnight Rose, "Sifu, we're looking for booze here."

Current story is Sun and Stars which can be found in my notebook.
 
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Kailan
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Re: Sun and Stars - Chapter 5

13 Oct 2009, 17:06

I love it when a practical joke goes bad. >:D Take that, Errant!
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