Nightingale's New Emperor


alister_icon.gif des_icon.gif margaux_icon.gif sibyl4_icon.gif

Scene Title Nightingale's New Emperor
Synopsis Desdemona seeks a new arrangement.
Date May 23, 2018

Staten Island Trade Commission

“He likes to hear himself talk,” Sibyl is saying of her self-proclaimed guardian, wannabe Water Baron, and head of the Staten Island Trade Commission. The old six-story brick warehouse in which Des has found herself was one of the first structures built on the island, and dates back before the First World War, before the name Kazimir Volken meant anything to anyone, but even though it isn’t equipped with very many modern amenities, it has a cozy sort of feel that the temporal manipulator might appreciate.

Out here, at least, she doesn’t have to worry about her communication being monitored, or the authorities tightening a noose around her neck. The island is lawless, with no one individual holding enough power — as much as Alister might wish otherwise — to control more than small parcels of property and land.

In other words: It’s the safest place Des can possibly be, without leaving New York City.

“Just agree with whatever he says,” Sibyl continues from inside the rickety hand-operated elevator that leads up to Alister’s penthouse as it climbs up, up, up, “even if you don’t. He’ll let you stay as long as you make it sound like his idea.”

Des knows the type. She smiles faintly at Sibyl, adjusting the strap on the heavy duffel bag that’s slung across her body. All her worldly possessions in one bag, and one safe box that she’s buried somewhere. Possibly literally.

“I think I can handle all of that. And thank you for this.” It’s extremely humbling to be asking for help from a teenage girl, but she’s smart and she’s a survivor. Nobody her age thrives in this place without a very certain skill set. And Sibyl appears to know her way around.

Ding goes the elevator.

Because the doors aren’t automated, Sibyl has to open them like an accordion. She unlatches the gate, and the two women step out into the Trade Commission’s inner sanctum, which still smells vaguely of ocelot and ammonia in spite of Alister’s best efforts.

“Mr. Black,” Sibyl calls into the room, her voice gentling, “you have a visitor.”

Alister is sitting in his electric wheelchair, which suddenly goes spinning around to face the elevator doors.

The entire room is filled with the sounds of a funk remix of Gucci Gang. "Is this what the kids are listening to, Sibyl? It's absolutely fascinating." He bobs his head from side to side in that way that a rich person who is amused by some poor person thing tends to.

"Ah, Des! Excuse the smell, I'm still trying to find someone with the suitable skill or Evolved ability to get rid of it. But at least the place looks nice! Please, go have some cake, or ice cream. I'm starting to think that Sibyl doesn't like either." He shakes his head at Sibyl. "Strange child. But I've bought her some exotic teas, you can go have a look." he offers to Sibyl, apparently no longer upset with her.

That is definitely… Well, no, at this point, Des has decided she knows what to expect from Alister. In that there’s no way to know what to expect from Alister.

“I was hoping you could help me, sir.” Des approaches Alister slowly. “I need a place to stay. I’ve run into some trouble at home and I have nowhere else to go.” Except the street or some unappealing shithole. Which wouldn’t be a new experience, just an unwelcome one. And this time she’s not on enough morphine to make herself stop caring. “I was hoping you would let me stay here. I can do work in exchange.” What kind of work? Well, she imagines he’s got ideas, and she’s got a broad range of skills.

"I have no problem with helping Sibyl's friends out, and you did save my life, after all. But, a place to stay, and doing work in exchange…" Alister looks her over, considering things, what he's observed about her so far, what he's heard of her. "That sounds excellent. You have three jobs."

"Keep me company, make friends with my sister, and find me an Evolved healer to hire." he decides, nodding twice and waiting for her response. "You seem well-suited to these tasks, you have a woman's touch. I trust Etienne, but there are certain tasks I'd rather not have him approach yet. Such as making friends with my sister. Though he is quite good at keeping me company, he's a busy man, you know."

"Also, yes, I am a handsome man, but… no, no, I won't take sex off the table. Disregard that. Do as you please. But it won't be in exchange for anything, I don't support the inelegance of sex trafficking. Voluntary prostitution, sure, but I don't engage in that personally, there's just something so…" he thinks, trying to find the right words. "Well, I suppose for me, the idea of engaging in prostitution simply removes the emotional element from things, and I prefer an emotional element."

"Sibyl, do not engage in sexual activity, you are far too young." he says, in case she's listening. He doesn't want her head to get filled with ideas. "Or I suppose ask my sister for advice, she's better at these things. But don't take the advice that involves delinquency."

Des brows hike up as she listens to Alister speak. Her face is a mask of polite interest even as she’s beginning to wonder if she should perhaps have turned herself in instead. “I’m not an emotional person,” she lies through her damn teeth, “so I don’t think we’d be a good match there.”

But she’s quick with a smile. “I appreciate your help so much. I hope I won’t have to stay for very long, but I’m sure your sister and I will be fast friends. And if I can find a healer, I’ll let you know.” Healers seem to be hard to come by anymore. It isn’t as though she can phone up Abigail Beauchamp and ask if she wants to moonlight a little these days.

"Well, don't concern yourself too much. We live in 2018, women should be out there in the workforce, shooting men in the kneecap, getting equal pay, being respected. I respect women, Des. And Sibyl should be surrounded by respectful influences." Alister motions to the kitchen. "Go, have cake. This is a penthouse of feminism, you are free to eat whatever you desire. There will be no patriarchal dieting."

Des sweeps her dark hair back from her face and frowns thoughtfully. “All right then. I’ll eat the cake.”

“Leo, honey,” says Margaux from where she’s buffing her nails on a chaise in the corner, “I love you because I’m your sister, but sometimes the words that come out of your mouth make me real glad you’re adopted.”

"Don't call me Leo in front of the guests. How do you know this woman isn't a corporate assassin, or an Institute assassin for that matter? With you living here, do you know how easy it is for people to put those puzzle pieces together and figure out who I am?" Alister asks, then he looks over at Des and Sibyl, throwing his hands up. "I'll trust you both to pretend that this conversation never happened."

Margaux looks up, both her brows raised. She blows fine debris off her cuticles. “Everyone here already knows he’s Leonardo Maxwell, right?” she asks the room. “And that Alister Black is just an alias?”

Sibyl scuffs her shoe against the cement floor. “Yes.”

Des jumps a little when she hears another voice. She should have maybe… looked around a bit more. But Alister is very distracting, in her defense. When his sister poses her question, she shrugs her shoulders slowly. “I’ll call you Alister if you keep calling me Desdemona?”

"I don't know why I even bother to have a mustache!" Alister shouts in irritation, then just sighs and relaxes in his chair. "I have to be Alister Black at least until this water plant endeavour goes through. I need the resources to protect myself from my enemies."

"I have no idea who you are, but Desdemona is fine." he agrees, as he probably doesn't pay a lot of attention to the finer details of people.

“Can we just agree that everyone in this room isn't who they say they are?” Margaux asks, flipping her nail file deftly between her fingers before pointing it in Alister’s general direction. “Stop.” Jab. “Being.” Jab. “Weird.”

Sibyl moves deeper into the room on silent feet, keeping close proximity to the penthouse’s windows, which look out over the water. She can keep track of the others, whether or not they’re who they claim to be, by watching their reflections in the glass.

“You wanna know why nobody wants to have sex with you? This. This is why.” Margaux draws her legs in from where they'd been stretched out in front of her, one tattooed calf peeking out from the hem of her pink silk kimono. “Take a page from Etienne’s book, maybe. Ladies like the strong, silent type.” She flashes Des a toothy white smile. “Go on. Tell him I’m right.”

“Um.” This, from Sibyl. Not to interrupt, but. “Where is Etienne?”

Des is blushing faintly by the time Margaux is done making her point, but she does nod her head quickly. “She’s right. And I like her already.” So that’s at least one job that isn’t going to be difficult!

Sibyl’s movements are tracked. Attention flickers from the siblings to the girl, settling on her when she speaks up again. “Is it unlike him to not be around?” Des breaks away from Alister and makes her way closer to the windows, and Sibyl. She stares out like she might be able to spot him on the horizon, as ridiculous that is.

"I'll have you know that I'm incredibly sexually active, not that it's anyone's business. I just don't introduce you to her because you take sadistic pleasure in humiliating me." Alister hears Sibyl's question, though, and then suddenly it occurs to him. "Huh, I haven't seen Etienne in days, actually. He is my hired bodyguard. I thought that he was perhaps pirating, but he's not usually gone this long."

"Des, your new mission is to find Etienne." he decides, on a whim.

Hnnnnn,” is the low noise that Sibyl makes at the back of her throat.

That brings Des’ full attention back to Sibyl again. “Sure, Mister Black. I’ll do it.” That Alister’s bodyguard has gone missing is mildly disconcerting, if it is unusual as has been implied. That she doesn’t know the island well and she’s been tasked with finding him? Well… She supposes that’s incentive to learn her way around the new Staten Island fast.

“Come on, Sibyl. You can show me to my room. Then I can get to work.”

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