A Hound in Wolf's Clothing, Part I


ace_icon.gif gideon_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hound in Wolf's Clothing, Part I
Synopsis After an interesting encounter with a visitor at Rossignol, Ace brings their request to d'Sarthe directly.
Date February 17, 2021

The Office of Gideon d'Sarthe, d'Sarthe Group Complex

It's been a while since Ace has asked for Gideon's time face to face, but as always, there's cause for it. When he settles into a seat outside the d'Sarthe leadership's office, next to Ms. Mun's desk, he has a black manila folder pinched closed in the fingers of one hand. His jaw rolls with gum he's been chewing to pass the time during the travel to get to this point, the toe of one of his wingtips tapping the ground idly.

No coffee this morning. No, his business here is more serious than that.

When he's told he can head back, he takes a moment to pitch his gum before pushing the door in for the office. Ace lacks any of his more public-facing smiles when he enters, a more serious demeanor to him. "Mr. d'Sarthe," he greets as he closes the door behind him. "There's an inquiry ongoing I'd like to bring to your attention, and get your opinion on."

The lack of coffee seemed to tip off the assistant, as astute as ever; Mun's left him alone sans for the signal that it's his turn, a few minutes after the last seems to have ended and its guests have gone out of sight into the elevator.

Ace's entrance is treated with a friendlier manner than most, though once Gideon takes in the state of him— the passive smile does turn down somewhat, head tilting and brow lifting as he leans back at his desk. The flight cage at the far wall is currently occupied, and Ace also finds himself under the dark-eyed scrutiny of Pierre the cockatoo bellied up to the door.

"You seem troubled. Or, at the least, more dour than usual." An easygoing tone for Gideon's own assessment, followed by the working of a bearded jaw, then a steadied breath. "Well, I'm all ears. Go on."

Ace lets out a huff of a breath. "Call it disappointment. I was hoping this would prove to be more interesting not in the Eastern sense of the word."

As ever, he doesn't bother with greeting the bird, merely steering clear of offending it as he makes his way in. "Last Friday, a man claiming to be formerly of the Linderman Group— directed by 'a contact' who's previously owed you a favor— attempted to solicit your time to find 'a man not seen in polite society for a time'. When pressed for details, this man identifying himself as 'Rosen' stated he was looking to see Pete Varlane."

Slipping out a single sheet from the folder in his hand, he offers out several images— security footage of their caller from Rossignol, paired with state identification. The name does not match. "He was insistent his contact thought you might know where to find Varlane, and while I disabused him of that notion, he persisted in his opinion. Needless to say, when running facial identification through our friend at the NYPD, Rosen wasn't who he claimed to be."

"Elliot Hitchens is a recently instated Wolfhound member," Ace informs with a touch of distaste. "A Safe Zone resident even before that, to boot. He was unwilling to divulge the name of his 'contact' to me, claiming he would only speak with you. I was able to obtain a contact number from him and informed him I would be in touch should I find anything out."

With a smirch of his tongue off the inside of his cheek, he produces the card next, showing off the side of it bearing the embossed black imagery of a peculiar two-headed snake twined around itself in a knotted figure eight. "His card has on it a creature known as an amphisbaena. Cursory research indicates it's both considered to be linked to omniscience, and Greek mythology has a fascinating image of the creature being born from the blood of a slain gorgon for the purpose of feeding on battlefield corpses." He sounds wistful; wishing this could all be appreciated rather than seen as a nuisance. "Given he lied about his identity, I'm wondering if his contact will likewise prove to be a wash."

"No matter his final intentions with Varlane, I think we're being cased. The question is what you'd prefer to do with it." Ace turns over the rest of the file, card atop it. "I could of course set something up suitably far away from any of our operations to enable this little chat to take place and make us seem like helpful partners to the powers that be, but we run the risk of losing Varlane that way. And I don't think that's an option we want to entertain."

"However, should this prove not to be a personal call after all, and he calls his friends in Wolfhound after we turn him down… I don't like those optics, to be blunt." With a cant of his head, he observes, "Without Dearing in our pocket anymore, we don't have insight into Wolfhound's extracurriculars— into when an attack might happen."

He opines, "But Mr. Rosen indicated to me he was aware this business would come with a pricetag, which lends to the possibility this might actually be an off-the-books investigation. A little more digging into him to find suitable blackmail material, and perhaps we have our eyes back in Wolfhound after all."

Ace demures with a touch of affection in his voice, eyes on the business card, "It's an exciting situation all around, Mr. d'Sarthe, but one with many potential consequences. And as such, I didn't think it wise to not bring to your attention."

As Ace begins spinning his yarn, Gideon sits back to listen, elbow propped and chin cradled to hand. The tale is told uninterrupted, save for a rustle or two from the cage; d'Sarthe himself makes no moves to interject, looking away only to take whatever is offered across the desk. The card, of course, is given more consideration simply by virtue of its design.

"Quite right to." Gideon gently flicks the card back onto the desk, briefly working tongue against cheek when he reconsiders the man across the desk; the crinkle of his eyes doesn't give much away, though it isn't a common look that Ace finds himself under. An internal debate of murky origin, often saved for business over intel.

"I had been considering moving Varlane for a time, so I suppose now is as good a moment as any." Both brows lift up, and Gideon adjusts his posture. "I appreciate your effort, Callahan. On this and more." The last comes with a dip of tone, a matching dip of brows over his nose.

"Set something up with Hitchens. In an official capacity. Here." One finger taps against the surface of his desk, the other drawing nearer the ID Ace has provided. "All things considered, entertaining this here will keep it visible. Meanwhile we'll vacate Varlane from where we have him. For as much as I hate him and his shit, he's more useful with us than incarcerated."

Ace couldn't agree more, and lets out a hum of a tone to indicate as much. His head cants for a moment before he wonders, "To be clear, which level of official are you preferring?" His hands come to clasp loosely behind his back. "Calling the number he provided… or reaching out through Wolfhound?" He arches an eyebrow with the question.

While he doubts it's the latter, and it carries in his tone, there's always the chance Gideon could be playing this at another, unconsidered angle.

"His side of official, the number he gave first. If he doesn't want to do business as himself, we'll handle that from there…" Gideon threads a hand through silvered hair, mouth twisted in a momentary and deep frown. "We'll roll the blinds up on Wolfhound if he doesn't want to do things at face value, hm? For now, though, there's no reason to involve them directly. He came of his own accord."

At least one assumes so. "It's clearly personal…." A sigh, and the older man pushes out from his desk to rise and release some tension collecting in his frame. "So we can use that, of course. We can figure out the Why first."

The man on the other side of the desk begins to look more pleased, something nearer to the cat-who-caught-the-canary expression he wears so often. Ace tuts his tongue off the roof of his mouth thoughtfully. "I'm interested in seeing where all this leads… and I think we have enough in our hand to make things land favorably no matter what cards hit the table first."

"What do you think, though?" he can't help but wonder. "Do you see an end to this where we grant his request for an audience with Varlane?"

"Do I see one? Not presently." Gideon's answer is soft and short, his expression downturned in a frown. "But we'll see, won't we? Let's hope he's as much a gambling man as he seems to be." A sliver of teeth show, a slim and sharp little smile. "You know I love a good wager."

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