Region: The Bleak Lands
Location: Huola – Planet 7 - Cerra Manor
There was a distinct conflict between the peacefulness of the terrace and the apprehension Sahriah felt being there. It was a delicate balance she was trying to maintain, being around enough that she could gather information, but not too much as to sow suspicion with her presence. In truth being planet-side again after so long living on a station was a nice change and if only she didn’t have an agenda, she may have willingly spent more time there to relax. No matter how convincing the gardens were at the CONCORD bureau, they were artificial compared to the real thing.
Unsuccessfully trying to ‘run in’ to Shalee for several days, Sahriah was disappointed when the only person she had caught sight of on the terrace was Vlad Cetes. Sitting in his usual position at the bar, the ‘Robot’, as he seemed to be aptly called, had proven to be more than difficult to converse with than she anticipated, to the point where Sahriah felt it was an exercise in futility. She wondered how Tiger expected her to engage with him at all, let alone figure out his inner motives.
Sitting down and ordering a drink, she attempted to carry a conversation with him anyway, asking him about his new alliance absentmindedly as her thoughts drifted back to the Elysion and her enlightening talk with Shalee.
“I'm surprised he hasn't told you. I'm Sani.” She had almost believed her at the time, more so out of pure desire for it to be true than anything else, but she was beginning to doubt the validity of her claims. Again she found herself thrust into a situation where everyone seemed to be using her as a puppet for their own means. To what end was yet to be seen, but this time she wasn’t going to sit back and let it happen around her.
"You're playing a dangerous game getting even remotely involved with him.” Jacob's warning sat uncomfortably in the back of her mind, though its truth had little effect on either of their actions.
The conversation slowly veered itself to the CFC and to Tiger, a topic she was hoping to avoid considering her inability to formulate a plan on how to approach the subject, but one she unintentionally started by voicing her animosity towards the notorious coalition.
"Maybe someone will destroy the CFC one day too" she said finishing the rest of her drink.
“CFC will fall one day.”
"One can only hope. I still can't believe he took UPAY out there."
“The CFC is a good place to make money, but that is their sole redeeming value.” Vlad replied, taking a sip of his drink. “I believe he has lost his mind and become weak.”
His words caught her attention and she looked at him. “Explain.”
“He let his love for Lianne consume him.”
She frowned slightly, asking him a question that she had not yet found an acceptable answer to. "How did he get involved with a loyalist in the first place?"
Vlad shrugged “Unknown.”
"You don't know anything about her?"
“I do not see what he sees in her, or she in him.” he replied coldly “There is the ultimate way to get this information. Capture and brain scan him into a captive unit. I have used it before to extract information from recalcitrant humans.”
She somehow found humour in his comment, smirking as she imagined Tiger preforming a live dissection on the bar. “Well if you even attempted it on him you better have access to every single one of his clones because if he comes back remembering anything, it wouldn't be pretty.” She doubted he cared but curiosity got the better of her. “Regardless, I doubt there is a need for it. I figured you wanted nothing more to do with him anyway.”
The annoyance on his face was clear. “I want him to lose what he got without paying for.”
“What do you mean?”
She tilted her head slightly in confusion as he took a sip and continued in a raised voice.
“He paid me to assist him in getting married. He got his marriage, I want my MONEY!”
Unfazed by his anger she sat back a little in her seat, contemplating his words. “Really?” she queried casually “What exactly required him to need your assistance?”
“Because he could not convince her to marry him, maybe his constant need to cheat had something to do with it.”
"I would have thought cheating would be the least of his problems” she verbalized unintentionally. “Err…How did you convince her?"
Leaning on her arm, she waved the bartender over and ordered another glass of grape juice as she silently cursed his one-word answers. She knew the terrace wasn’t the best place for this conversation, but not having seen him display much emotion in the past she wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass her by.
"So when did Tiger give up his 'faith'?"
Vlad understood that she was speaking about the Sani Sabik “When he started trying to court her.”
"He did it for her?" she probed, frowning.
“Correct. Although I think he may have abandoned them when Neferis disowned him as her Prathet.”
Sahriah sat up straight, blinking "What? She did that? Why?"
“That was many years ago, I do not know why.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes as she contemplated the validity of his story.
"I would have never thought he would be the one to give up on...that"
“Neither would I.”
She flicked eyes to his, daring. "Unless he hasn't."
He shook his head in response. “He is not Sabik, no longer. If he is, then he is only fit to serve....us”
Sahriah recoiled in her seat, fully understanding the implication. "Don't say that Vlad." Her voice was deathly serious before softening as she thought it through. "It's Tiger. There has to be more to it than that."
“Then you find out what is it is. I have no interest in saving a weakling.”
Narrowing her eyes slightly, she returned her gaze to the bar. No you don't, but you do have an interest in their marriage.
"I spoke to Lord Reginald the other day. He said you murdered him here" she responded bluntly.
“Incorrect. It was self-defence.”
A smile curled on her lips. "Self-defence? Is that why Shalee let you stay?"
"He seemed quite mad at you. Think he'll try again?"
“I doubt it. Actually he is angrier about my subverting the MIO and district governor as compared to his actual death.”
She turned her head towards him again. "Well you seem to be full of tricks."
“A smart businessman makes connections everywhere. Sometimes they need a little persuasion” he rubbed his fingers together, the universal symbol for bribery.
Smiling, she nodded. “Though one needs to have certain...assurances, besides that.” she found herself not speaking about Lord Reginald anymore. "Aligned interests for example.”
“Of course. And if they are not amenable to see reason” he took a cartridge from his pistol. “They are removed.”
Sahriah studied him, attempting to discern if he would be useful, but her thoughts were interrupted as he stood.
“I must take my leave. Good night.”
She acknowledged his statement with a slight bow of her head and seconds later he was gone, leaving her alone on the terrace to contemplate the new set of variables that had been presented.
Slowly, a small grin spread across her face. Yes…I think you will be useful indeed.