Bow Ties


chess3_icon.gif ff_leroux_icon.gif ff_marlowe_icon.gif

Scene Title Bow Ties
Synopsis Chess comes looking for supplies in all the right places.
Date June 20, 2021


Whatever else took up floor space in the skyscraper now known as Lowes, it’s safe to say weapons weren’t built on the premises prior to the waters flooding the earth. But now, this water-level wing of the building serves as an armory of sorts, and the weaponsmith most in demand is none other than Marlowe herself.

Chess Lang enters the area, coat and hair still damp from the rain outside. Her dark-eyed glance darts about at the materials, and her nose crinkles a little at the scent of metal in the air. There’s a lot to take in as she scans the area for the woman she seeks – either to sell her or make her what she needs. The only problem is, she doesn’t have much to sell. Her fingers curl around the rock tucked in the center of her palm; the stone serves now more like a fidget spinner or security blanket than the potential weapon such a thing is in Chess’ able hands.

The armory here is one of the largest that serves the Syndicate and by extension the community surrounding Lowe's. A large wallmounted metal sign that looks handwelded rather than manipulated by some other matter-bending means proclaims the area as The Armory, and the workshop is filled with scraps and cacophony from metal salvage and heavy duty equipment to wired speakers on the far end of the shop blasting club music more fitting of a nightclub.

Where Marlowe stands is closer to the middle of the floor beside a section of grinder stones and polishing belts meant for smoothing rough surfaces. She's got what looks like a butcher's cleaver against a flat whetstone, slowly rubbing the edge in a meditative, knife sharpening motion. Nearby is a short rack of other kitchen knives, straight razors, and other edged items possibly waiting their turn on the grindstone.

Chess' presence is quickly noted by the workers at their own stations. One of them calls over to Marlowe to point out the newcomer, and the woman pauses her task to look up and wave Chess over.

A moment after the wave, Nathalie storms out from a back room, slapping a clipboard down near Marlowe. "I did the stupid inventory again," she says, lifting her hands off the paperwork in favor of crossing her arms. Her copious and meticulous paperwork is her only revenge for her continued tedious tasks and as such, she doesn't verbally explain the state of the armory's stores. However, if she found something out of place, she would probably be less annoyed about the chore, so her report is obvious even so.

She glances up at Chess as well, giving her a suspicious look out of habit, but seems to find her acceptable as her stance relaxes.

The noise is enough to set one’s teeth on edge, and Chess’ eyes narrow a little like she’s trying to block out bright light instead of the sound of metal on stone, but she knows what she needs isn’t made out of thin air – just almost, if it’s Marlowe making it.

She steps in that direction, then a brow lifts at Nathalie’s emergence and announcement, but she doesn’t let the suspicious look keep her from approaching the boss lady.

“Hey,” she says, studying the array of knives waiting for their honing; she could probably use some of those, too, come to think of it, but smaller ones – throwing knives that work well with her power. The bow is the thing, though, and her first priority.

“I was wondering if you had a bow and arrows?” she asks tentatively, almost apologetically – it seems like a bit of a ridiculous request in a world where most people get their protein by fishing, and a very few by raising livestock. But then, Marlowe knows the “travelers” as they’ve come to be known, are not staying in the Pelago.

“I don’t have a lot to barter with, but I’ll work to pay it off,” Chess adds, turning to Nat to acknowledge her report, such as it is. “I can wait, if the inventory issue needs addressing.”

Setting her honed meat cleaver, Marlowe looks down to the clipboard with the satisfied grin of a butcher's dog, smiling in spite of Nathalie's obvious displeasure. "Great work, Nat," she says with a quick flip through of the handwritten charts. "I'm impressed you didn't get one drop of seawater on any of these pages. You really are the best for the job, you know?"

As Chess comes over to join them, Marlowe offers the other young woman a glance at the paperwork. "Look at this. So neat and tidy. Puts real confidence that the armory stores are counted right, you know? Down to every rusty nut and bolt." Chess doesn't get to see too much, but it's clear that Lowe's does have quite the stock available to perform a plethora of ship design, building repairs, and other metal works.

But the request for a bow and arrows is something more unusual than the everyday objects normally provided. Intrigued, Marlowe taps a finger on the papers in her hand and runs down the first page with a cursory glance of the figures. "What'd you see back there, bows and arrows wise?" she asks Nathalie. And there, the Syndicate leader looks up from the clipboard to Chess, a brow arching up along with a nod for her to continue bargaining.

Looking over at Chess, Nathalie lets out a heavy sigh at the string of compliments from her boss. "I have to advise you not to promise this one payment in work," she says with a nod to Marlowe, "unless you want to die of boredom." She drops her arms to her side and comes over to lean her hip against Marlowe's seat. She may resent her jobs being something like busywork, but it's also clear that she does like Marlowe all the same.

"I don't know much about bows, as far as what makes a good one or a bad one, but there's a few back there. Not much in arrows, though. Enough for an emergency, but not enough for a long term archer." She tilts her head a little, curious. "I guess it's good for hunting. And if you need to be quiet, yeah?" It's an obvious observation, but meant more as an opening conversational volley for Chess to pick up and run with, if she wants, or to ignore with more ease than any more direct questions.

Chess looks dutifully at the ledger when Marlowe shows it to her, and nods in bemused agreement, a little unsure what she’s supposed to be seeing or what makes such work stellar. “Very neat,” she agrees. “You don’t even want to see my handwriting. Like a drunk doctor’s I’ve been told.”

It’s an exaggeration. But at least one with evocative imagery.

The questions from Nathalie draw a smirk. “More the latter, as far as my history goes, but as we’re going mainland, it’ll work for the former, too, if I need it to. But,” she says, glancing from one woman to the other, “my ability makes a bow more useful to me than a gun, anyday.”

Her gaze returns to Marlowe, and she lifts a shoulder in a shrug. “I can do boring. I honestly could use more boredom in my life,” Chess says with a smirk. “Or if you don’t need my work, name something you could use, and I’ll see if I can get it from somewhere else for you. You’re sure you don’t take American Express?”

"Hey now, the most important part of a ship is the bilge pump," Marlowe pushes back, her teasing smirk reflecting one of open ease with grumbly colleague. That said, she stands and turns to hang the cleaver back on the rack, idly scanning the other objects upon it while considering Chess' request and offer. "Quiet's good," she says despite their current surroundings, metal clanking and music blaring. A significant glance over to Nathalie emphasizes it, given all the tasks the other woman has been assigned of late.

But back to Chess, Marlowe nods thoughtfully. "Amex might actually be welcome if you had bulk plastic. They don't make 'em like they used to, you know? Or if you're not afraid to get wet, we've got plenty of underwater salvage ops to lend a hand to. Worst case, you've got the arm strength to help out Nat with filling scuba cylinders." The task might fill the named young woman with dread of the physically exhausting, tedious, yet essential job. Sorry, Nathalie.

"What is it that you do?" asks Marlowe with a curious head tilt.

"Save yourself," Nathalie says to Chess with exaggerated drama at the mention of the scuba cylinders. But, something occurs to her after a moment and she seems to brighten up some. "I could go diving with her. You know, buddy system and all that. Show her the ropes. You know?"

She looks over at Chess, eyebrows lifted in question. And hope for a small break from the very important, very boring work.

"Yeah, what is your ability? Marlowe here has a pretty useful one. The pelago has a decent assortment." And here, any leg up is not just cool, not even just helpful, but a matter of survival.

Chess smiles at the younger woman willing to take her under her wing. “I’ve never dove before, but I’m a good swimmer. I’m willing to try. And if I can’t cut it, I can do the cylinders, sure,” she says, glancing back at Marlowe. “Wish I could help with the bulk plastic, but our bags never made it to baggage claim, so I don’t have much to offer, unfortunately.”

To answer the question of what she can do, she brings up blow hands in loose fists, before splaying her fingers out suddenly to emulate an explosion, accompanied by a quiet sound effect. “Basically I can make bombs out of things,” she explains, with a shrug of one shoulder. “Kinetic manipulation is what they named it, with a side fish of kinetic absorption. With arrows, or anything, really, I can charge it so it’ll go faster and farther than it would on its own, and so it’ll explode on impact, or within a short time period.”

She looks a little sheepish. “That part’s still a little rough. Not to be used lightly.”

Tapping a finger on her chin, Marlowe considers Nathalie's proposed mentoring and scuba buddy partnership. The Syndicate leader looks somewhat skeptical at first, like she might take their hopes and dash them upon the rocks of reality.

She reserves judgment until Chess reveals her superpower, and then Marlowe's expression changes to one of fascination. "No shit? So that's why you wanted a bow and arrows." Then, excitement. Then, brief caution. "Does it always explode? The things you 'charge'?" She stands, turns to the rack of metal objects and selects a thin paring knife without a handle. "So if you charge this and throw it, it'll…" She mimics the explosion burst. Boom.

"Will it work underwater?" So many questions, but that's Marlowe's tendency to overthink. She shares a look with Nathalie, like this one's alright. "Can't wait to see what you two bring back with a couple of harpoons." Sounds like the scuba expeditions are approved.

Nat lifts her eyebrows when Chess explains her power, eyes wide. That one is, on top of being good for survival, very cool. But when Marlowe grabs a knife and starts musing, Nathalie steps over to take it out of her boss' hand and place it back in the rack. "Demonstrations outside, because I'm not doing inventory again if the two of you decide to start blowing up the stock."

When the expedition is approved, Nat actually smiles. Not only that, but her hands clap together in a rapid show of excitement. "You know, with her along, we could probably blow that bank vault door finally." Money, of course, is useless, but the metals, jewels, and paper have their uses up here even so.

It’s been a long time since anyone’s gotten this excited about her ability, and Chess laughs at the excitement on both the women’s faces. The sound almost surprises her – she hasn’t laughed too often while in this particular timeline, and not all that often in her own, really, not in the last few months.

“If I charge it, it works, yeah. I mean, if I get negated or whatever, then I can’t charge it, but I’ll know when I try to charge it, so it wouldn’t take me by surprise,” she tells Marlowe, nodding at the pantomimed explosion of the blade.

Yes, just like that.

“I think so,” she says regarding it working under water. “I haven’t actually tried, but I don’t see why not. I can test it, though.”

She doesn’t reach for the knife, but Nat takes it safely out of the way anyway, and she turns to the younger woman at the word bank vault.

“Oh, my God, can we?” Chess’ dark eyes widen with the ridiculousness of the venture. “Just to say we did.”

For the brief flash of a moment, Marlowe looks like she might be annoyed by Nathalie's pretense of being able to take things from her hand without consequence. The moment passes in a blink, and the young woman's comment does well to diffuse any remnants of offense. "If it's not us two, it'll be someone else who's messed up the counts," intones the Syndicate leader with a nonchalant shrug as she picks up the clipboard holding the day's numbers. "But hey, for a few hours anyway, you won't need to worry about it, Nat."

Marlowe drums her fingers along the clip with the mention of the bank vault, a smile jumping up to her face as Nat makes mention of the bank vault. "Hell yeah, the vault. I near forgot about that bulky bastard." Looking from Nat to Chess, she too grows excited with the potential prospects of treasure in the form of rare resources, precious metals and the like. "That'll work. You go with Nat, grab a couple hands to help with the cargo, bring back something shiny, and you'll have your pick of what we have in the back along with whatever work you need done to fix it up for you. Deal?"

Her hand starts to hold out for a shake to seal the agreement, only to briefly draw back. "Wait. The charge thing, doesn't include people, does it?" A wariness tints Marlowe's gesture, her glance to Nathalie fully confident that any shenanigans can be handled with her helpful subordinate within reach.

"We'll bring back the shiniest shit the old world had to offer," Nat says, giving Chess a crooked smile. She doesn't seem too worried about offending her boss, but it's possible that's just because she missed the momentary look from Marlowe. Or there's an attitude problem that would explain her crap assignments.

She tilts her head when Marlowe pauses the handshake, but can't help a small chuckle when she explains. "I think if she wanted to blow you up, we'd be in bloody chunks all over the stock already." Her smile is gentler, meant to reassure her boss that all is well. And that all will continue to be well.

“Deal,” Chess agrees, reaching for Marlowe’s proffered hand before it’s withdrawn. She simply shoves both of her hands back in her pockets, and chuckles at the question. She doesn’t look too offended by the rescinded handshake, at least.

“I cant charge people,” she confirms, “and I don’t charge things accidentally.” After a moment, she adds, “Much, anyway.” The last might be a little bit of a joke, or something to keep Marlowe on her good side.

She turns to Nat, brows lifting. “Shall we? Lead the way.”

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