Region: The Bleak Lands
Location: Huola – Planet VII – Cerra Manor
Time: 17:30 Local time
The sound of heels clicking on pavement preceded a tall Achur woman as she made her way in from the shuttle pad, dressed in business attire and sporting platinum blonde hair shortly cropped to frame her face. She possessed an air of confidence about her, mirroring the demeanor that could be found amongst the highest corporate executives, complete with the same polite fake smile.
She paused as she stepped onto the terrace, her vibrant green eyes scanning purposefully as she noticed two men standing at the bar. She looked them up and down, noting that one appeared to be a Templar, but her attention was quickly diverted as she located a Caldari women sitting on one of the sofas on the far side by the balcony.
"An interesting place for a meeting, although I can see why you've taken up residence here.” She smiled, approaching Sahriah and winking towards one of the male servants.
The Caldari looked up from the neocom she was reading before standing and straightening her uniform. Her lips melted into a soft smile, one of pure politeness, as she studied the Achura.
“Indeed, this is a beautiful residence.” Sahriah tucked her neocom back into her jacket before placing her hands behind her back neatly. “I apologize for not contacting you sooner Ms. Rel. My duties here have been occupying most of my time." She gestured towards one of the sofas. “Please sit. Would you care for something to drink?”
"Commodore Rei ask me to relay the following. "The Achur straightened slightly and developed a mock military air and a Khanid accent. "I was there approximately 215 km off your bow, I find it interesting that you were able to able to monitor the situation while engaged in combat with contracts. Though I suppose it’s why I hired you." The women smiled, taking a seat, her eyes flashing with purpose. "Accurate enough?"
Sahriah’s smile widened at the impression and she waved a servant over before taking her own seat again, neatly crossing her legs. Despite the casual remark, Sahriah had come to understand that everything coming from Dionee’s lips was laced with hidden meaning. In fact, she couldn’t seem to recall a friendly conversation that hadn’t been some sort of test or message, something that greatly added to the distrust she felt for the women.
The two looked at each other for a few moments, each with a polite smile, before Dionee turned to the waiting servant. "Well then Achuran Saki. Chilled. We might as well start this off right" she crossed her legs as well, mirroring Sahriah’s demeanor and leaned into the corner of the sofa while the servant scurried away.
"Fantastic" Sahriah’s response was almost sarcastic. "Any other comments from Ms. Rei I should be aware of before we start?"
"None that are suitable for the public."
Sahriah shifted her gaze to Thal Vadam and Predator Elite who were still seated at the bar as the servant delivered their drinks "Would you prefer to discuss the situation in private?"
"No, there is an advantage to public discourse." Dionee poured half a cup of Saki and lifted it to her lips, closing her eyes for a moment and drinking it in a single gulp. "I am curious however...why you are guarding the child of a Holder who as far as I can tell no longer has a holding?"
As she had suspected, a clear message that they had been watching her. Sahriah wondered if the order to spy on her personal affairs had come from Azaziel Rei herself, or if this was just a result of the mirrored distrust that Dionee and her felt for each other. Regardless, it was unsurprising but irritating nonetheless.
"Niece actually.” Sahriah corrected “Rebecca is Lord Reginald’s niece."
She lifted her glass, taking a sip before placing it back down squarely on the table and returning her hands to her lap. "Because I was contracted to Ms. Rel. You do remember my profession don’t you?” She kept her tone causal but inflected enough to relay her discontent at the woman’s prying.
"I see, apologies. My access is a bit more limited than it used to be, but thank you for pointing out the error in my assessment." She winked and took another shot of Saki. "I still find it an interesting contract for a woman that specializes in ship to ship combat."
Sahriah held her gaze, receiving the message that she wouldn’t be dissuaded easily. In truth, the contract to protect Lord Reginald’s niece had presented her with the perfect excuse to remain on the planet and conduct her own personal agenda. Once the residents at the manner had learned of her Sani Sabik affiliations, it had made prying for information much more difficult, and what better way to repair that distrust than by working for a Holder, or at least he would have still been a Holder if not for his incompetence. Thankfully the process to repair the damage was well underway, but the last thing she needed was for Dionee or Azaziel to come along and interfere with her personal affairs as she knew they could.
Her eyes flashed a warning as she responded this time. "Well branching out just increases payment opportunities doesn't it?" She turns and gestures to one of the men at the bar. "I am working alongside Templar Vadam. You'll find he's quite an exceptional ground to ground combat specialist. He’s even been kind enough to give me some training.”
The Achur narrowed her gaze at Sahriah slightly, understanding the veiled threat for what it is. "Fascinating. Well, it certainly is good to have additional sources of income. Diversity in portfolio and all that." She laughed but the laughter didn’t completely touch her eyes. "It's like they used to say back in Achuran business school." She lowered her voice to a gravely lectury tone. "Propel dynamics learned in YC98 during the market crash of that year that a lack of diverse securities blah blah blah."
She mimicked Dionee's un-genuine laugh, leaning back into the sofa, her hands still firmly in the middle of her lap. "Shall we discuss business now or would you like to hear more fascinating tales of my life?"
Dionee closed her eyes and tilted her head back. "Funny how fleeting these moments are, how tenuous this life is. A small breeze. The smell of an ocean.” She opened her eyes and looked sidelong at Sahriah. “The touch of a long lost lover. The cry of a child. So easy to forget how they become ghosts to our kind." She paused for a moment before straightening, content in the reminder. "Well I suppose I am here on business."
The conversation progressed in the same guarded tones as it had started with the topic changing to Empress Jamyl and the recent appearances of the Drifters. They had kept her under contract for some five years now, using her as their eyes in known space as they worked secretly in the depths of Anoikis. Periodically Azaziel would send her little minion to collect information or provide her with a task, always preferring to meet in person rather than utilize FTL communications. Capsuleers were some of the most distrustful and paranoid creatures in the universe, and with good reason.
"You should visit Ascension sometime Sahriah. It's the colony we've created on J143959 III. We've been researching some, interesting, things there.”
The thought of going into wormhole space was distasteful but she nodded anyway. "I should like to, perhaps when I am able to spare a day or two.” She finished the rest of her drink, placing the empty glass on the table.
"It's an amazing place really. The coral forests are incredible ..." Dionee stood up and smoothed her skirt winking coyly at a passing servant. "I have to admit this place is quite impressive."
Sahriah stood politely with her, preventing an eye roll. "Yes, it’s been very…refreshing…to be planet side again. You know how much time I normally spend cooped up in a station.” She began to move with her towards the exit. “If you will forward me the details, I will ensure I make the time to visit."
Dionee smiled at her knowingly before providing an unexpected hug, whispering something in her ear before pulling back. "Well I must be going. You know how the Commodore just has to have her reports on time." She smiles. “Maybe I'll see you again…here” She turned and began walking back down the path towards the shuttle without waiting for a reply.
Sahriah lingered on the spot for a few minutes, an uneasy feeling permeating her thoughts, before turning and moving back over towards the balcony, leaning against it as she watched Thal and Predator depart as well. The sun was beginning to sink beneath the horizon, the last threads of light painting the sky in brilliant streaks of orange and purple. Several sea birds floated towards the shore on the cool ocean breeze, their cries muffled by the waves crashing on the shoreline below.
She stood overlooking the beach from the balcony that rested on the cliff above, raising a single finger to brush away the rogue strands of hair that whipped across her face. The servants made no sound as they went about their duties in the background and she took a moment to enjoy the serenity that the planet could offer, but eventually that too was interrupted as her neocom pinged with incoming audio communication.
She took it out of her jacket, smiling as she recognized the source.
“Is your position secure?” She inquired, skipping all formalities.
The voice of a young Minmatar girl replied in a nervous tone “Yes”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, he doesn’t suspect anything.”
“Good. I expect you to keep me updated. Do anything he wishes and don’t question him. Do you understand?”
“Contact me again when you have something useful.”
The feed was terminated and Sahriah closed her eyes as a fresh gust of wind rolled onto the terrace, letting it gently caress her face. I suppose I can’t blame you she mused as her thoughts refocused on Dionee. I guess we all have our spies.