RP:The Good News
This RP is part of the Great Reformation arc.
Synopsis: After delivering the letter Croix wrote for Mara, Ahab tracks down Croix to let her know the survivor city's response to her proposal. The district leaders agree to meet with Croix at the proposed location on the specified date, and Croix charges Ahab with finding body guards of sorts to guard them during the meeting in the event they might be walking into a dangerous situation.
Characters: Ahab and Croix
Location: Speakeasy, West Ankou Ennis
The dim lit basement room buzzes with the hushed conversations of a likely shady nature. The bronze stained lamp that hangs in the center of the room provides minimal lighting, casting eerie shadows over the patrons' features. Eyes fall upon newcomers warily no matter the time of day, but for those used to a shadier lifestyle, they may likely feel at home. A wooden-panel bar with brass finishing stretches across the back wall. Bolted-down antiquated wooden stools line its length, and behind the bar, every kind of liquor known to the four corners of the world, legal and not, sit in broad display on dark wood steppe shelving. Old wires and aged pipes creep along the ceiling, and spots of plaster stain the old brick walls throughout. A couple of billiard tables have been set up by the steep and tightly narrow wooden stairway. The stairway leads into the closed-off ground floor of the building. Most people aren’t allowed up except for those that run the joint. A tall grandfather clock occupies a space at one of the walls, its pendulum ticking the seconds away in what can only be described as a deep, throaty sound. At every hour, the deep chimes that count the hour of the day ring out into the room, sharp and ominous. Opposite the stairway that leads above is another guarded door. Give the guard the password if you want to travel onward.
Croix was seated in one of the small tables against a wall, her back protected by the adjoining one. She had a perfect view of who all was in the speakeasy. It was a quiet hour, though. Most folks were busy leading their lives, however they chose to do that. In front of her, she had several sheets of parchment, some of them blank and others already filled with some kind of draft. Certain lines were scratched out and others had replacement ideas above them. It was a crude first draft that needed perfecting, but Croix was confident she would get there. She shuffled through some of the pages to check her work and then turned to her most recent sheet, examining it a moment before setting it down and scribbling more onto it. Pere had taught her how to write an air-tight contract, and time-consuming as writing one was, that wasn’t the hardest part about such a document. The hard part was getting people to agree to it. What was sure was that Croix needed to offer people something they wanted in exchange for agreeing to whatever demands she made in writing. That required knowing what they wanted – or needed – in the first place. She sighed.
Ahab lumbered into the speakasy, still sort of scratching at his chin. It felt weird, not having the long teeth to do that with anymore. But he'd manage. It was a shitty habit anyways. He hadn't even had to stop for food, which was fantastic. He was still full from the last...six...seven...nineish tennish whateverish people he'd eaten. Something his conscience was trying not to think of. Shove it down, Ahab. Down in the deep dark parts of your mind you don't go to. A beat as he spotted Croix, and it all washed away. Moving over to her, he seated himself by her table. "Good news'er bad news first." The bad news, thankfully, was relatively trivial. But he may as well say it like it is.
She looked up from her papers and set them down as she leaned back in her seat. It hadn’t been that long since she and Ahab had their teeth filed down after their awful trip in the East, but she’d gotten plenty done on her part after Ahab left for the East again. Part of her hadn’t expected him back so soon, but she was pleased to see him. “Just say it,” she drawled apathetically, tossing her pen forward on the table. She didn’t sound annoyed, but she also wasn’t one made for such games.
He nodded. "Bad news, infected're bastards. Still runnin' around, still tryin't'eat. I think word's spreadin' that shit is clearin' up, though. People have been bit 'n haven't turned. 'n word travels fast in the East. Good news...they're in." He offered a smile. "They're skeptical...bit wary, course, but were prone to listenin' once I mentioned my havin' been an Easterner born 'n raised. I wasn't able to give'er t'Mara, woman was absent...second in chief, though. They'll need t'see my face at the drop, though, or else they might bolt. Wanna make sure they're meetin' at least some form'a familiar face. Don't want no set up." Ahab spread his arms after a moment, before letting them drop. "...point is yer on. Terms'll be negotiated fer'sure at the drop." He felt like he had at the very least done well, but he wasn't about to go searching for praise. "...good first step." He hadn't seen or heard the Doctor on his visit, having not gone out of his way to find him. But a small part of him missed the mysterious figure.
Croix smirked at the good news, and that was all the acknowledgement she’d give toward it because she didn’t like to hear about the infected and she had a thing or two to say about it. Her own had died within hours of the cure being released, and Ahab had been almost instantly cured, so why was it taking others so damn long to drop dead? “We needa come up with some plan t’deal with them in the short- and long-term. Right now, they’re a pest, but some of them might return t’normal health lahke you.” She paused just then, as if she was about to argue against that claim herself but decided against it. “So we needa fahnd someone t’watch the infected and figure out which’ll survahve and which’ll dah and how long it’ll take them t’drop dead or be fahne again. Once we got that down, we can tryta come up with somethin’ t’help the process along. Might needa make a band of folks t’go out and round those fuckahs up, throw ‘em in a quarantine of sorts, and separate out the ones that’re gettin’ bettah. Once we got most of them rounded up, the city can expand and we can start initiatives t’rebuild their own city again. Makin’ our route and their home safah’ll shake off any dissatisfaction they may have with their situation still. It’ll give ‘em hope, and hope’s a powahful thing.” There was an almost solemn look in her eyes as she said that, but her mind was dwelling on a distant memory.
Ahab's smile slowly started to droop at mention of rounding the infected up, and trying to...quarantine them. He fidgeted slightly. They were still infected. They had still torn his life from him. But they were still people...deep down, maybe. But rounding them up...observing them...his mind flashed to the doctor's notes, and he smiled again. "I'll do it." He already knew a place; the old theatre. It would take a while to round each one up...or would it? He'd just need something really, really loud. Draw them to the old theatre. "Can round 'em up, whoopin' 'n hollerin'...give 'em a real good set'a exercise, run 'em towards the ol' theatre 'n have a friend of mine drop shit in place, lock 'em up. Then...we can just watch then, can't we? Fuckers just drop if they're too old, 'n iffin' they're recent, they'll come to, yeah?"
Croix sat back thoughtfully all of a sudden. That was not only a good idea about how to deal with them but also a pretty good guess about what might be causing some to die off and others to live. “Great ahdea, Ahab,” she said excitedly. “You oughta get on that soon as possible, but Ah’ll need ya at the drop, of course. Ah’ma trah ta be there, too, so they can get t’know who they’re workin’ with, firsthand. If all goes well, then we’re gonna make history.” Her eyes were glowing with excitement, the smile on her face genuinely looking forward to the future. But there was another pressing issue they had to deal with. “It’s important they don’t know how we’re gettin’ goods to the East, though. They can’t know how we’re gettin’ across. Before, they relied on irregular smugglers, but we’re offerin’ ‘em a predictable meetin’ tahme and place, which allows ‘em a chance t’set up spahs that’ll follow us when we’re gonna leave, so we’ll need our own patrols t’guard the perimeter ‘round the quarry. Bettah if they’re lahke you n’ me and can sniff people out. Ah mahght ask you t’fahnd people lahke us between now and the drop date so Ah can meet ‘em mahself and decide if they’re good enough. Ah don’t want you tellin’ them anythin’ about what Ah mahght want them for, though. Think that’s a task you’re up for?”
Ahab liked the idea himself, danger aside, and was nodding enthusiastically with her. He knew he could do it, he knew he could get the doc to do it, but he suddenly stopped at mention of...others. He knew one other, Kordellia, but they weren't on speaking or breathing or anything-ing terms at the moment. But...MAKING more..."Thaaaat's...dangerous, Croix. The more'ah us there are, the more competition...I'm not so sure it's smart. But...mm. There's a process...been doin' some readin', or...y'know, did some readin' on our little condition, mind. I can sorta half-turn a person. 'n it bends 'em a bit t'me, y'know? Like, makes 'em agreeable, makes 'em gotta listen t'what I tell 'em to do. Would that be better?" He wasn't about to go and make a new batch of upirs. Firstly he wasn't ready. Secondly, he wasn't so sure it was smart to do so. Thirdly...he wanted there to be only two of the bastards. Him, and Croix. Three was a crowd.
Croix shook her head, “No, Ah don’t want ya t’make more. Ah want ya t’fahnd more. Ah’m sure we can’t be the only ones on the ahsland. All we need is a couple of ‘em and then we’re good, but Ah wanna meet them first, test their mettle before we tell ‘em all our secrets. We gotta know we can trust ‘em. Find their weak points in life: money problems, drug or alcohol addictions, any kahnda problem we can… solve for ‘em. If we can bend them t’work for us, then we’re golden. We just gotta make sure we dig ‘em in deep with us so they won’t think twice about betrayin’ us. Sound good?” she asked skeptically. “Don’t give me anyone you can’t control,” she added, eying him hard. Damn right she meant Kordellia. Croix wouldn’t tolerate a loose cannon.
He breathed a sigh of relief, leaning back in the chair. "Okay. I can do that. Much friggin' easier." At that last comment, he could only nod the once. "I getcha. I ain't havin' any of her shit." He practically spat that out. Venomous, toxic poison flying from his mouth, really. She'd even FEEL it, with their small link. There was true hatred there. "...hooo boy, we're advancin' at a damn fine pace. Wonder how many of those infected I can outrun." He hoped the answer was 'all of them'. "Well..." He pushed himself to his feet, rolling his shoulders. "...guess I got another train t'catch, huh?"
Croix raised an eyebrow at the way he spoke of his past lover, but she chose to say nothing about it. Those two had problems, and she was glad she was never involved with any of it herself. When Ahab rose, she straightened in her seat to start back on her papers. She smiled and nodded at him. “Keep in touch,” she drawled with a pleased smile, already focusing on the papers at hand. Things were off to a good start.