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 Action / Adventure A Day to Come (Epicurean & Bean)

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Epicurean, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    551
    Local Time:
    11:33 PM
    “I’m not sure,” Marain responded, “I’ll let someone know. Don’t know if it’ll get to the right people in time…”

    The order of the day from Brigade had encouraged volunteers to take part in the enormous march, but that at the insistence of the organizers from the Rights Movement, there was to be no militant security at all. To Marain’s knowledge, that order was being adhered to. He smiled at Cyrene. He had no qualms to be close to her; being on edge like he was on operations was necessary, but it also seemed unnatural, against the Emmelan somehow. Naneh were supposed to be physically affectionate, and he liked to be. Cyrene felt good in his arms. He let it last for a moment longer before he typed a telegram of the information she had produced into his phone and send it off via secure message to his contact ‘higher up’, whoever that was.

    To start the march, Bryn Uaghey played on an improvised stage at the beach. He kept the tough fighting songs out of his line-up, and Marain was glad for it. He felt something in the crowd that almost brought him to tears. Twice, jets from the Republic of Ikan Air Force buzzed the crowd, but it was laughed off, as was the symbolic shape of a warship out on the bay. Yes, such a warship had shelled the occupation of the government quarter two dozen years ago, yes, the gesture was provocative – but right now, it felt hollow, like a weak person’s bluster.

    “It’s beautiful,” Marain told Cyrene as thousands sang ‘Brave Soul’, one of the eternal hymns of the Naneh. “How it should be. Fuck, who wants to fight? From the heart? Only bad people, I guess. I sure don’t want to,” he professed, his Mila Hills accent growing stronger.

    The march, miraculously, was completely peaceful. Some bystanders even joined, and the crowd headed into Government Garden and the space before it, right between the security forces HQ and the administration complex. Marain and Cyrene were about fifty meters from the stage. People from the Rights Movement spoke, but it was clearly the last speaker everyone was waiting for.

    “Daeryn Maghlan,” Marain said in awe as a very old Naneh in traditional white flowing garb mounted the stage, aided by others. The ancient Soulfriend must be almost around ninety years old. He had been there when Naneh had still almost been chattel, when even speaking the language in public had been a crime, when a shout of ‘Our day will come’ could get you tortured or killed – officially, that is. Marain couldn’t relate to Daeryn’s pacifism, but he was still an impressive figure. Many times imprisoned, sometimes tortured, he had never stopped believing – not only in the Emmelan and a better future, but also in the power of reason. The old man’s voice rang out over the crowd, the speakers helping it to fill the wide space, the sound echoing off the PSP headquarters – Cyrene’s workplace, Marain realized.

    “Naneh! Friends! Wayfellows!

    Long the night has been that surrounded the community. Many a Naneh have let themselves be put down and depressed, forgetting that Freedom shines its light only to one who wants to see it, and that, at the same time, it can never shine for a single person. But in the last years, the freest, best souls have seen a glimmer of light on the horizon. The black of the night has quietly grown grey, a grey into which a fine red is now wound like golden threads in the festive garb of the ancients. We see this new horizon – we can sense the sun which awaits its rise behind it, the sun, wayfellows, of the only, true freedom, the sun which shines on each equally, the sun that is gregarious and noble and incorruptible. Now still our enemies can hold blinds to us, so that we cannot see the bright rays – but when the sun does rise, when the first part of its glowing disc appears at last over the waves of the ocean, then these blinds will appear as the vain folly they indeed are.”

    That was classic fare, but Marain delighted in the poetry of Maghlan’s images. He loved the way the old Soulfriends could weave poems from simple, beautiful words and express the essence of the Emmelan. The Soulfriend’s tone changed after pausing shortly for applause. Now, he was explaining, but also imploring.

    “I have spoken of our enemies; it is not birth which determines who our enemy is; it is not the language he may speak, nor the place where his kin reside. That which determines him as friend or enemy is only this – the colors that wave over the battlements of his soul in the breeze of his thoughts. Therefore we extend our hand to all of good will; we promise them: From us, no violence shall go forth! And we call out to them: But you take care that we shall not be driven by the violence of others to defend ourselves! For not forever can violence be borne. There is such a thing as a dishonorable peace, and the Naneh shall not accept such a peace any longer. Not when certain Ikani act with such a lack of respect, with such selfishness and such criminality. Do not let it come to that!”

    Marain had shivers running down his spine. No Soulfriend had ever come so close to advocating self-defense. Suddenly, the volunteer had tears in his eyes and, from some reflex, placed an arm around Cyrene’s shoulders. Maybe it was possible after all. Maybe the Ikani could see reason. The crowd applauded, but much more sternly, almost hesitantly, so surprising was the change of position the old priest had made clear.

    “The movement for the rights of the Naneh must demand what it demands. Give it – and we shall be friends! Today, all those from across the country who want freedom for all and unity for all, who want justice, whose hearts do not stray from the path of communal sense. It is not only Naneh who have come, but also Ikani and many others. This I call out to those who despise us: It is not self-interest which drives us, for the Ikani among us have no material interest in our freedom. Their interest is spiritual, like ours, it is of the soul. Freedom is no possession. Freedom is a way of being, and to this way of being we all aspire. Freedom only dwells where all are free!”

    Again, cheers went up, louder and longer this time; Marain let go of Cyrene to applaud. The speaker in the distance seemed to smile and waited for the crowd to calm down. Suddenly, there was a motion in the crowd. Three shots rang out, then screams. Marain froze in horror as the Soulfriend collapsed. Even from the distance, Marain could see the blood flying through the air.

    The crowd didn’t panic at first. “Shit! Someone shot him!” Marain cursed, not sure how much Cyrene had seen. “Got him in the head!”

    Marain looked around wild-eyed, but there was simply nothing to do. He could see a heap of people densely packed, they had probably grabbed the shooter, just in front of the stage. He swallowed bile. Somehow, he had to keep it together.
     
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  2. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
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    "Daeryn Maghlan..." She whispered his name. Cyrene had been enjoying the festivities with Marain but this moment meant so much for her. She had been waivering. Daeryn was someone she read expansively. Watched and listened to every word. Finding her own morals and beliefs settling closer to him than anyone else. While she would never follow anything blind, she was the unpopular opinion. But that didnt stop the graduate from trying.

    She somewhat wondered what he would think of her spying for the AFRN. His rhetoric seemed to sway a bit. Causing the youngest Zajec to feel a bit of dilemma. Should this be comforting? Her stomached churned a bit. This... was different... odd.

    She felt Marian's arm around her and she gave him a small smile but worry in her eyes. From her moral compass going a bit off script and her information potentially not getting to the AFRN on time, she still a bit nervous. The voluntary affection did curb it a bit. They applauded.

    Then bam! A comotion, shots and blood.

    "Daeryn!!!!" Cyrene couldn't hold back her cry once her brain process what had just transpired. A man she had looked up for the entirety of her life. A man who spoke to peace and freedom, had just been shot dead. She was already in shock and denial.

    "No, no!" She tried to push forward through the crowd in that direction. Cyrene didn't know what to do, where to go, but now she felt lost in so many ways.
     
  3. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    A lot from the concert was blissfully blocked out from Marain’s memory; not this time, though. He had to live through every moment consciously, making decisions not only for himself, but for Cyrene as well. The crowd was vast, and that helped them. He wasn’t the strongest man, but he knew he could not let Cyrene go near the stage. If someone, by a mad chance, recognized her, or if she somehow made the wrong move, she could get herself lynched. He could see a few AFRN berets over the crowd, having appeared from nowhere. Good. The bastard would get what he deserved.

    Marain grabbed Cyrene from behind. “No! Wrong direction! We gotta get out, shit’s about to go down!” It was a comically stupid expression to use, but he could think of nothing better. “Come on!” He yanked her after himself with difficulty. “If they can help the guy, they will, but it’s not your damn job and we have to get out!”

    Reaching the beach after harrowing minutes through a shocked, restless crowd, Marain was panting. Cyrene had finally stopped fighting him and receded to sobs, each of which was jarring to him, like being struck. They settled down behind a beach chair. He held her, peering around the chair to the promenade. He could see a watercannon assaulting part of the crowd, a line of Yeomanry forming up behind it in riot gear. Three separate police helicopters were hovering over the city center. He wished for a M-9 Crossbow, the old infrared missile used in the Great Rising against the first combat helicopters. He pressed his eyes closed. If only the Army Council had disregarded what the RM wanted. If only they had put their people into the crowd, maybe the assassin would have been stopped. Marain imagined doing it himself, drawing his pistol, getting there just in time, taking down the shooter with a clean headshot – a hero daydream. He knew it wasn’t like that in real life, but somehow felt it should be…

    He checked his phone, just because he saw nothing else he could sensibly do. A PowerParrot public message, clearly typed in haste, from a leadership account read:

    Marain put back his phone and stroked Cyrene’s hair. “We got him. The shooter,” he whispered. “And Daeryn is breathing. Maybe he’ll make it. Spirits, I hope he makes it.”
     
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  4. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
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    Local Time:
    2:33 PM
    Her heart was breaking, piece by piece. Marain pulled her away and soon they were tucked away on a besch chair. He had been more tactful. Without him, it was likely she too would have been in an ambulance. Or dead. Normally, it would be nice to lay out and smell the salty breeze. To hear the waves. There was little joy anymore.

    She tears fell and the news of the shooter being caught gave her no real relief. The perpetrator was just another face. Another person paid off to disrupt and cause chaos.

    Anger began to well in her chest. She was pulled away, not because of Ikani- but the AFRN... how was that any better?

    Tears still fell as glared in Marain direction. "Does it matter? I'm just a Dali to you. You put up with me long enough to give you information. It didn't even help. Yet... I have to escorted away so my people-your people -don't murder me... you all heard Daeryn. But you do not listen." She wiped the tears away. Her chest still pained and she couldn't control her breathing.

    Maybe it was her distress. Or just the very thought her own people could murder her. She took a few deep breaths. Her mother's voice ringing in her ears.

    She buried her head in his shoulder. Hiding her face and the guilt. Maybe if she had gotten their quicker. Or better information. Maybe... then there was stillthe jolt that her own people would turn... but that was no surprise, but in the moment it got to her.

    "I'm sorry... that... it was uncalled for... it won't happen again..."
     
  5. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
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    11:33 PM
    Marain groaned under her words. As always, she was only seeing part of the picture. He grit his teeth for a moment, for fear of being too harsh.

    “Fuck,” he hissed. He was angry, but his tone was more pleading than anything else. Why couldn’t she see? “What do you think is happening up there? Why I got you away? Yeah, at first I was worried someone would recognize you, realize you’re working for them. But is that my fault? Or the others’ fault? Or maybe your own? Fuck, Cyrene, look! I took you away because I, not being blessed with a mother insisting upon kissing up to the Ikes, knew the fucking cops were gonna come in and beat everything in sight. I didn’t want us to get fucking trampled by people fleeing from plastic bullets, damn you.”

    He let go of her, creating some space between them.

    “I wonder if you heard Daeryn. He told the Ikani not to drive us to defend ourselves. Look up there. They’re doing just that. And why? Because one of them tried to kill yet another ninny. They don’t care. And don’t give me that ‘not all of them’ crap. Everyone knows that, I know that. But what’s your damn government doing – disowning the BVM? No! They fucking lifted the ban a few weeks ago, if you didn’t notice. Why did they do that? Because ultimately, they’re fine with what the BVM does, because half of them are SPV anyway. They wouldn’t admit it, because the BVM is too rowdy in style. But they do like what they’re doing. They’re keeping us in our place. And if you think I’m so corrupted by that man and woman idiocy the Ikes are so hot about, so corrupted that you’d be a Dali to me… if that’s the case, don’t even talk to me.”
     
  6. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    2:33 PM
    He yelled at her and seemed to have little empathy. Cyrene face grew stoic. The distance he put between them just another stab to the heart. She couldn't afford to be any more emotional. To be any more vunerable to him or any Naneh. They always had something to counter. And soon Marain went into a triade she had heard before, under different circumstances.

    Though she wanted a moment... she would get none. The brunette pulled away and said nothing. Emmulean was only for Naneh. The ones dubbed good enough to be Naneh. Ikani had their own societal system. Them too being discriminatory not just against the Naneh, but anyone undesirable.

    While some of what he said was true, it certianly had a bias bite to it.

    Without her ability to get as close to the Ikani as she had, there would be no intel. They would be at a complete loss for everythingcoming their way. Cyrene turned facing away from Marian.

    Her green eyes staring out at the ocean. The waves crashing against the shoreline. She needed to be more careful with Marain. Push it down. Whatever this was. It needed to end. She took a few breaths. Letting a few minutes tick by. She didn't want to dive any further into a political discussion. One wrong move and both sides wanted her dead. So, it was best to keep to herself as much as possible, since there was no way of proving 100% loyalty to the Naneh...

    She spoke softly, just above the sea breeze.
    "Do you have orders? Should we get home?"
     
  7. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    551
    Local Time:
    11:33 PM
    “Sorry,” Marain mumbled. He was coming to hate his quick mouth. It seemed he could never find the right words. It was always too harsh or too direct or something was wrong with it. That was in no way new to him, but with Cyrene, beautiful, sensitive, naïve Cyrene, it always seemed to come to the fore. Every single time they spoke. He wondered how she could be as she was; she was a number of years older than he, after all, and should’ve had enough time to learn…

    He checked his phone again. AFRN Safety Board was advising all Naneh to return to their quarters. Brigade leadership had nothing to say so far, neither had the Army Council. They were probably still in the city center, Marain guessed, trying to get out without being arrested.

    “I have no idea what we should be doing,” he confessed. “Tonight, the mob’s going to be out, no doubt. You… I don’t know. I’d rather not see you turning up at the HQ. I think it’s less of a risk if you come home with me… I mean, to the quarter.”

    He exhaled and got to his feet, dusting the sand off his pants. “I… I can never talk to you right. I don’t know why. Always comes out wrong. Just… I didn’t mean to hurt you. And you must know I’m too much of a Ninny to see an Ailys as a Dali. Anyone, for that matter.” Marain spoke quietly. He’d always quietly wondered why the female Ikani put up with the bullshit the males shoveled in their direction, but it wasn’t really his issue, was it?
     
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  8. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    93
    Local Time:
    2:33 PM
    Cyrene gave a weighty sigh as turned back to Marain. His words gave her a bit of solace but at the moment she wasn't feeling very forgiving. It seemed to be an endless struggle. She witnessed what very well could be her end one day. Shot dead for holding peaceful beliefs.

    She did not hate her fellow Naneh. Or the AFRN that matter. To do so was against emmulean. It would turning her back on all who had come before and fought for their people. They had strived and died to give her the capability to get where she was now... but it seemed the path went no further.

    Her own father was a legend in the AFRN. She often wondered if he was embarrassed by her. Though he never said so. It was a peculiar situation. Yet, Baras encouraged her to think for herself, regardless of his own beliefs.

    Cyrene slowly got to her feet next to Marain. Her hands brushing off the dust as she listened to his apologies. He seemed to be forming a plan of what to do next. It would be dangerous for either one of them to make the trek back home alone. But especially for her. Naneh and Ikani were out for blood this night.

    Cyrene nodded at him. "Thank you. I'm sorry as well." She thought about routes home and how bad the streets would be now. She turned to her handler. "I wish to go home..." Her cheeks reddened slightly. She didn't want to go back to her house. Likely it was empty. Baras off with the AFRN and her mother... who knew. "With you." There have been other implications that could be drawn from that statement, but the brunette just didn't want to be alone.

    Once things were decided and they began their journey, Cyrene grabbed his forearm and walked at his pace. "You aren't the only one. I seemed to get rather tongue tied around you as well. I do enjoy your directness and honesty, even if it may hurt at times. I'd rather have that then believe a falsehood." Hiw many times had someone lied to her face? Been fake to pretend emmulean? She preferred this. Though it hurt.

    As they walked Cyrene witnessed her people lash out in anger and hurt in the streets. She held onto Marain's arm with a bit more strength. "Marain-" She whispered near his ear. "Apart from being my handler... what do you do for them? I just...I worry for your safety."
     
  9. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    551
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    Marain did his best to guide them as fast as possible to the next open bus stop, but everything was still down. Shots could be heard in the distance, and the hollow pop sound of teargas grenades, sirens and screams. He peered carefully around each street corner, every person he saw he screened as much as he could. Now, they had made it into a quieter side-street off the main beachside avenue.

    “I’m a Volunteer,” he replied simply. That much she already knew, so he could admit it without breaking his oath. “Not everything I do is dangerous, but some of it is.” It would be stupid to go into more detail. “I can’t talk about it too much; swore I wouldn’t, you know? Not talk about my position, about the structure, or operations. Not even supposed to name the organization or admit I’m a Volunteer, to anyone.” He cast her a sideways glance with a crooked smile. “Anyone, see. Nothing to do with you,” he added, trying to clarify.

    “But we’re not trying to be martyrs, I can tell you that. Someone is trying too hard, being reckless – they get removed from the team. We’re as careful as we can be, and we think about what we do.”

    Cyrene’s question had given him a strange ache. He touched her hair with a half-hearted gesture. He wished she was in the Army as well, not a skeptical, if allied outsider.

    “It’s no secret either that… well, it’s mostly about defense. Keeping ourselves intact, protecting our people. Some of it is just… housekeeping. Running errands. There’s patrolling, too, and right now, mounting the guard on the barricades. I’m looking to do some other stuff, too, but…”

    He hissed at himself. “I’m not supposed to talk about that at all.”
     
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  10. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    93
    Local Time:
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    Cyrene held to his forearm as they made their way through the chaos. He took them from street to street. He was careful and she was grateful he hadn't just left her behind.

    Then he paused. His hand touching her hair. A gesture that confused her. What did that mean? Was he being comforting? Her eyes searched his as he spoke.

    Cyrene nodded in understanding. She probably shouldn't have asked, but last time spent several days worried she'd see his name at the list at work of dead AFRN.

    Her brow furrowed as he explained in a bit more detail. She couldn't help but wonder if he was close to going underground. Her heart fluttered a bit. That meant... she'd likely never see him again.

    The graduate tugged on his arm, pulling him near her. She pressed her lips to his cheek and gave him a small kiss. "I know. Though, seems I will just have to worry when you leave." Cyrene gave him a small smile.
     
  11. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    “We’re… not really supposed to leave,” Marain replied, not really clear on why he was reassuring Cyrene – and about what. “We’re supposed to stay in touch with the community. Not healthy, being away. We want to be serving the community. If we started… I don’t know… living in camps in the jungle, we’d necessarily lose connection. Underground is the same, pretending you’re someone else… can’t be Naneh without Naneh.”

    He was simply repeating what the educators said in Company meetings, but he did believe it. Marain had no wish to live underground. Something drove him to talk further to Cyrene as they neared the bus stop.

    “I want to fight, but I also want to live. To me, that means being in the community, using my real name. I’d go if I had to, but I’d rather not. There’s this thing from a strategy paper… where they address what it does to people to fight, and how it can cost you your humanity. To prevent that, it says, we have to count on the social health of our community and the mental health of our Volunteers. I believe in that. Nobody in the… damn, screw it… in the AFR is casual about these things. We’re not the Crazies. If we buy into that ethnic stuff… we’re fucked. Then we’re them, the worst of the Ikani, just that we say ‘Nanehri’ instead of ‘Beamey’…”

    Marain shrugged. “I don’t know; I’m no leader. But we’re supposed to think about these things. I want to, and I think I do.”
     
  12. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    Cyrene felt somewhat content with his answer. It didn't seem that Marain was ready to run off and join the underground. She kind of hoped it stayed that way. She found herself enjoying their time together- at least most of the time. There always seemed to be some underlying tension. The assistant to Chief Burke wondered if it was her education... or her job... her beliefs... or maybe even just her.

    The brunette's brow furrowed in contemplation. Their beliefs were cut from the same cloth... but somehow woven very differently. Yet, it was there. The basics of emmlean. Rather interesting how different and similar politics could be. She nodded at him in understanding. Yet had no real reply. It was nice that he was speaking freely. It felt more genuine. More Naneh.

    They still weren't out of danger, but Marain had led to them to quieter area of the beach town. They followed the hilly roads in search of a way home without engaging in the violence. Cyrene chewed on her bottom lip as she attempted to think of something to say. Did she just agree? Was she supposed to disagree? It wasn't really about who was right or wrong in the moment. Yet she worried that somehow whatever she said would come out wrong. They climbed a rather large hill and once at the top, the youngest Zajec caught her breath for a moment before following the volunteer with curly hair back down.

    The mention of Beamey made her cringe a bit.

    She had let go of his arm earlier in their journey. He hadn't responded to her wish to go home with him. It made her a bit nervous. Though more important topic had been broach. One that made her empathize for Marain, the volunteers and even the underground. A tough life to live.

    "You are still young. My father obvious likes you- at least well enough you make you my handler- or maybe not- maybe that's why he did it. In case you messed up he wouldn't feel so bad about beating you up." Cyrene chuckled at joke. "I'm joking of course. Baras does not making decisions lightly. And I trust his judgment in most things. Unless it's noodles... then... well- you're on your own." There loud explosion that happened in the distance but the noise and feel of it hit the graduate and she jumped. She felt the pressure in her chest and turned to Marain in worry. "It could be concussion grenades- meant to take people out in masses- incapacitate them- but likely they threw those in way too close." Her eyes wide as she contemplated running toward the sound. Maybe Chief Burke was there or Chaz- maybe she could get them to stop... maybe...

    Cyrene felt her eyes well in tears again. It seemed this night wouldn't just end. "I failed... I should've gotten better- should've been faster- I..I..." She felt that it was her fault that her favored Soulfriend had been shot and now this. All of this was on her hands because she couldn't be a better spy.
     
  13. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

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    11:33 PM
    “I don’t see how.”

    The words came out before Marain had a chance to review them, but even after the fact, he thought he had no reason to tame the bluntness in this case. The facts of the matter were as clear as this day was. He wiped some sweat off his brow as they reached the bus stop.

    “If you didn’t see anything about the attack on Daeryn, then there probably wasn’t anything. They don’t always plot these things at the SPHQ, or anywhere else. They don’t have to. The BVM is half SPV, but only half. Not all they do ends up in your hands, especially not beforehand. For all I know, this guy was doing shit on his own. We’ll know, anyway,” he added darkly. His comrades who had apprehended the man would probably get the attacker to talk.

    Marain had to bite back some impatience about how unclear Cyrene seemed to be about the basic frontlines of the fight. He breathed and tried to empathize; when he remembered to do that, it seemed to be easy enough with Cyrene. Once more, he put a hand on her shoulder.

    “Come on. You can’t know about everyone who hates us individually. And after the shooting… well, not like it was unexpected. When in doubt, charge. They’re only waiting for the excuse, even at these Rights Movement events…”

    He swallowed. His phone was buzzing with new messages. The police units were ruthless, driving the crowd apart, singling out individuals and small groups for merciless beatings. Cyrene and himself were by now out of harm’s way, but around the Government Quarter, the violence (one-sided for the most part, since the AFR had kept to what the RM idiots wanted) seemed to escalate further.

    The bus came; they got on, and it drove off towards the Bay Road to the peninsula on which Old City Grounds lay with most of the other Naneh areas. Instinctively, Marain put an arm around Cyrene. She had so little idea of real Naneh life – its dark side, anyway. He couldn’t ask her, but he wondered to what degree she might have bought into the official stories on events like this (although this was by far the biggest) – there was always provocation, always some unlawful act or some such nonsense to “justify” police action…
     
  14. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    She looked at her boots when his hand gripped her shoulder. Cyrene felt so many emotions at once, it was hard to keep up with the stoic facade her mother had perfected and willed her daughter to the same.

    She wiped the tears away and took a few breathes before the got onto the bus and finally headed toward their quarter. His arm around her, Cyrene found herself settled against his side. Her head lay on his shoulder as the graduated wonder what she had gotten herseld into.

    The trip seemed as though it took forever and yet not time at all. They got off at their stop and soon made way for their homes. Cyrene stayed near him as she her mind raced with ideas od how she could get closer to the information. A brief thought of Chaz gave her a shiver.

    "Marain..." His named slowly rolled off ger tongue at a slowed rate. "Thank you for getting me home." She blushed slightly before clearing her throat. "I think... maybe I could try to get a bit more involved... you know... closer to the good stuff?" Her eyebriw raised as she looked toward him to see if he understood.

    She could be quite the perfect reformed Naneh for the Ikani. Maybe even get her mother to polish her up further. Cyrene ceinfed at the thought of dyed hair and heavy makeup. High heels? How were those functional?

    They reached her street and already Cyrene could tell that no on was home. Or would be home. She wondered if he mother somehow found a way to get to Baras. The man's biggest weakness truly was his wife.

    She sighed heavily. "Thank you Marian. Apart from the end... I really did enjoy myself. I guess... I should get inside."
     
  15. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

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    Local Time:
    2:33 PM
    She looked at her boots when his hand gripped her shoulder. Cyrene felt so many emotions at once, it was hard to keep up with the stoic facade her mother had perfected and willed her daughter to the same.

    She wiped the tears away and took a few breathes before they got onto the bus and finally headed toward their quarter. His arm around her, Cyrene found herself settled against his side. Her head lay on his shoulder as the graduate wondered what she had gotten herseld into.

    The trip seemed as though it took forever and yet no time at all. They got off at their stop and soon made way for their homes. Cyrene stayed near him as her mind raced with ideas of how she could get closer to the information. A brief thought of Chaz gave her a shiver.

    "Marain..." His named rolled off her tongue at a slowed rate. "Thank you for getting me home." She blushed slightly before clearing her throat. "I think... maybe I could try to get a bit more involved... you know... closer to the good stuff?" Her eyebrow raised as she looked toward him to see if he understood.

    She could be quite the perfect reformed Naneh for the Ikani. Maybe even get her mother to polish her up further. Cyrene cringed at the thought of dyed hair and heavy makeup. High heels? How were those functional?

    They reached her street and already Cyrene could tell that no on was home. Or would be home. She wondered if he mother somehow found a way to get to Baras. The man's biggest weakness truly was his wife.

    She sighed heavily. "Thank you, Marian. Apart from the end... I really did enjoy myself. I guess... I should go inside now."
     
  16. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    551
    Local Time:
    11:33 PM
    Marain deferred the answer to her question until they stood in front of the Zajec home. He looked at her in the rays of the afternoon sun now descending to the horizon. It was odd that of all Naneh, Bary should live in a home with only his wife and daughter, like an Ikani would. Not a proper family house. He wondered what that meant.

    “You be careful; you’re in a good spot. Keep that spot. Don’t push it,” he advised her quietly. “You don’t want them thinking about you at all, good or bad.”

    Witnessing the murder and then, on the fringe of it, the unleashed brutality of the security forces, then finding empathy for Cyrene, then finding back to his role as her handler – all that had exhausted Marain. And now – she was so strange. She had enjoyed what? A political rally? Was this just some formality she had picked up with the Ikani? He had only partly taken her to be able to spend time with her. He had wanted her to experience the truth about the world – even if he would have given a lot that the experience, today, would not have gone this far.

    His phone buzzed; he checked it. “XA”, the message said. He was to report to the barricades, but there was no immediate emergency.

    “Get some rest, Cyrene,” he said with a small smile. “I need to go. Talk to you soon.”

    The thought was weird to have her be alone after this day. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. But with this woman, little of anything made the sort of sense he was used to.


    *


    In the late afternoon, a video made the rounds on the net; shot from a helicopter, it showed a car driving into a parking lot. Masked individuals got out, dragging another person after them. As soon as that man touched the concrete, one of the masked raised a pistol and shot twice – once into the man’s head, once into his chest. The car drove off. The AFRN Army Council account commented with a statement:

    Many criticized the form of the action, if not the content of it. A picture came out of a private account connected to the Naneh; it showed a Naneh lying on his face in the street, a young man, and an armored regular PSP man over him, the riot gun still aimed at the bloody mass that had once been the Naneh’s skull.

    Media outlets evaluated the picture as genuine, but none inside the Ikani Republic reported it, while it was all over the media in the wider world soon. Countless reactions followed to it, with Naneh users pledging to join the fight the very next day. Marain wrote a discrete message to his NALIA contact, making it clear he was prepared to join any form of operation, including the most aggressive.

    That night, a few BVM men infiltrated the City Grounds quarter that night, sneaking in through gardens; a row of houses was ablaze before two separate AFR patrols confronted them. A Volunteer was wounded, one of the BVM men killed. Marain’s team was not involved; he almost regretted it.


    *


    They met at a corner in the Lower Marshes; Marain had been maneuvered there by an anonymous message and a few visual cues. NALIA was serious with their security. Better that way, too. The AFRN had gotten sloppy in places, to his mind anyway – and they had never done much offensive operations in the first place.

    “You from City Grounds?” the woman asked from the shadows. There was a man with her too, but he kept completely back.

    “Yeah,” Marain replied quietly. “Cliffside?”

    “That’s it. Listen, we don’t have much time. We need a clean guy for an op. You’re it. But I’m gonna be straight with you though - it’s a hit.”

    “Who?” Marain asked, his voice suddenly strained.

    “Wil Mesnar. Brigade Commander in the BVM. We traced the Daeryn killing back to him through the shooter – it only looked like they did him in right away, and we got a line on the guy. Word’s been passed. Mesnar goes,” the woman said, her finality chilling.

    “Alright.” Marain swallowed. “I’m in.”

    “Good,” she said flatly. “This is how it’ll go: Guy lives in Windy Heights. We have someone placing a bomb on his car. Manual trigger. He uses the car alone in the morning – but we make sure he really is alone before we hit it. You cover the triggerman from a short distance. Once Willieboy goes, you leave on foot. Get on an E line bus downtown and go to work. Ever handled an Operator T?”

    She spoke a little too quickly for Marain’s taste; he wondered from where she knew her. He had definitely met her before. “Yeah. Shot it before.”

    “Perfect. You’ll have one of those in a bag. But don’t use it unless the triggerman is discovered. BVM sometimes does patrols just like we do. Maybe a cop gets curious. Leave the gun bag on the bus, we have people covering it. Any questions?”

    “Yeah,” Marain admitted. “Why did you want me for this?”

    She shrugged – and that gesture he recognized. It was the ‘Ghira’ woman from the conference Cyrene had barged into.

    “We need a solid character. Someone with no prior association with NALIA or any of us, but not one of the new people coming in. Mila Brigade loved you. Good enough?”

    Marain could tell Ghira was tense; she wanted this meeting to be over with, that much was clear. “Makes sense,” he replied, equally tersely. Ghira gave him an address and a time to be there, and they departed.


    *


    The operation itself went by in a rush of adrenaline a few days after the rally. When the bomb went off, there was a feeling Marain couldn’t quite place; it lay between animalistic triumph, fierce pride, the physical exhilaration of feeling the pressure wave and a distant, vague sort of shame. Wil Mesnar was dead, no doubt about it. He had been an enemy and a legitimate target, no doubt about it. But it didn’t feel good. As Marain got off the bus to work as Ghira had told him, he found himself hoping that it would never feel good – but not that he would never do it again.

    On his lunch break, he read the Army Council’s public message:

    Marain came home subdued; most of his family were at one of these comfortable bars every Naneh quarter had, where people would sit all the way from the bar to the sidewalk and beyond, chat and sing and drink. He decided to go there, but sat quietly among his cousins. Once more, he felt tired.
     
  17. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    93
    Local Time:
    2:33 PM
    Cyrene's heart dropped a little when Marain sent her home... alone. The house was vacant of any happiness. Without her father or mother she was sole occupant. Idira had been by though.

    Left her some more noodles and a note. Something about needing to go shopping and a meeting of sorts. Vague really. Her brow furrowed at the note. At the moment... she just wanted some comfort... yet here she was... alone...

    Cyrene bathed and prepared for bed, though not much sleeping would be done. In the morning her mother was there with a breakfast.

    "Dari, why so sad? I bought your favorite omelette." The dyed blonde smiled but even Cyrene could see the undertones of sadness.

    "Mami... Im not very hungry. I was there yesterday. And I came home... and no one was here... and-"

    Idira nodded. "Im very sorry my love. I had pressing matters to attend to."

    Cyrene rolled her eyes. "Shopping?"

    Her mother gave her a slight smile. "Yes... shopping... amongst other things."

    The graduate's thoughts turned to presenting as more Ikani to her boss and cowokers.

    "Mami... I need higher heels... and lipstick. And-"

    Her mom gave a clap of approval and whisked her daughter off. You would have thought she was preparing Cyrene for a date. After a bit more applied makeup and a pair of much higher heels, the asistant to the Police Chief cringed as she looked in the mirror. While it was pretty... it just felt unnatural.

    Idira kissed her daughter's forehead. "Your father is safe. Dari don't worry so much. Though, don't break an ankle. Maybe you should swing by that boy's place before work-"

    Cyrene cursed under her breath. "Then he will really hate me".

    *****

    Work was a bit more unbearable in some regards. Her feet and legs ached from the heels. Her boss seemed to be a bit more pleasant than normal. Even calling for her to run more paperwork then normal. Some days went by. A few compliments from lkani coworkers, and certianly some unhapoy stares from her Naneh neighbors. It was tough being in the middle, but she held to her beliefs. She had endured this since being a child. An offspring of waht many thought to blasphemy. Yet, somehow, lately at least, it just seemed to cut deeper.


    Finally the duty she hated the most was handed to her. Intel for Chaz. She made her way to his office and knocked on the door. The brunette sucked in a breath when she heard a harsh "Come in" from the otherside.

    Slowly she turned the doorknob and stepped inside. Chaz was busy it seemed. Unoragnized. Sheets of paper everywhere. And frustration written on his face. Though soon his expression became a bit more predatory once he realized who entered his office.

    "Cyrene..."

    She quietly handed him the paperwork with a slight bow. Just as she was about to turn to leave, he called out to her, causing her to freeze.

    His blue eyes piercing as Chaz looked her over. As if he was trying to see into her soul.

    "Yes... Lieutenant?"

    He patted the edge of his desk next to him. "Sit."

    Cyrene's skin was crawling- but she slowly made her way around his desk and sat on the edge. Chaz stretched out and smirked.

    "I see ypu've been trying to prove yourself to be one of the good Ninnies lately. Have say Im impressed... a little." He smirked. Cyrene nodded softly, but her stomach churned at his statement. He was so easily swayed by heels and lipstick? His hand grabbed at her knee and she instinctively tried to move away but his grip became harsh like at the concert. "Then why are you moving away? Hm? Not very Dali of you, little girl."

    The brunette's hand covered his lightly. "Please, Lieutenant... I just... you hurt me last time."

    Chaz's hand didn't move but his grip loosened. "Well, you caused that. You made me do it. How do you think I felt when I saw a good Dali at that concert? Could ruin you. Leave a bad taste in an Ikani man's mouth."

    She shook her head in understanding. "I know, but I have to do things every now and then so the Ninny don't come after me or my family. They are savages. Plus, I have to model for them. Maybe they will assimilate-"

    He gave a laugh. "Maybe you aren't as bright as I thought you were. You are rare. The perfect Dali. A good pedigree." His hand rubbed up and down her thigh, his fingertips brush just under her skirt. The graduate held back the desire to want to throw up or deck him in the face.

    "Fuck, you'd be lucky. Right? For Ikani like me to take you. Show you-" Suddenly the phone rang and Cyrene had never been so thankful in her life. She slipped off the desk but Chaz grabbed her wrist roughly. He gave some affirmatives before returing it to the receiver.

    He tugged on her arm roughly, heated bruise already starting to form around it. "I will show you, Cyrene. You'll be my Dali. My pet. And you'll thank me for it." The brunette pulled her arm back even though she was already in tremendous pain.

    Chaz finally let her go and snickered. "Fragile little thing, aren't you." Cyrene glared at him and in an instant the Lieutenant stood up and postured at her. How many times had her father done this drill with her? She was fighting every instinct to stand there and cower. Her more delicate demeanor seemed to work. Chaz soften a bit. "Oh there there. You just need to be disciplined. In fact. I can suggest it to Chief Burke. You'll owe me." He handed her back some ofher paperwork to give to the Chief. As Cyrene turned to leave, Chaz gave a firm slap to her ass. The assistant jumped, but hurried out as the lieutenant had quite the laugh.

    Her eyes gazed at the information in her had. Wil Mesnar dead. Suspected AFRN attack. But not done by any known members. Decently professional job. Little to go and still under investigation.

    She moved the first page down a little to see the next. Subpoenas to allow the Ikani police fo search a list of residences. They were going after suspected AFRN... She didn't have time to read any names when her boss called for her.

    Cyrene rushed in the room and handed him the paperwork. He smirked. "I don't mind you taking longer because of the heels. I didn't even realize you had your mother's legs until now."

    Soooo fucking creepy.

    Her boss was soon satisfied with her work and she was able to head home. For once, in want seemed like an eternity, her mother was home. Idira wanted to socialize, head to the bar. Cyrene declined at first but after much pestering she gave in. Of course it meant her mom would head to a corner of the lounge to engage with the circle of Naneh fanch housewives. Cyrene always opted out of that.

    Once they reached the bar, as suspected, Idira went with her friends. While Cyrene was invited, she declined, instead she brought a book. With an alcoholic beverage she took a seat in the oppposite corner from her mother. The brunette had changed her clothes but make up and hair were still intact. She took a sip and began reading the woven work of a fantasy author reknowned for their superb story telling.
     
  18. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    551
    Local Time:
    11:33 PM
    As the evening went on, the same two thoughts kept turning over in Marain’s mind. He couldn’t stop it – the solution that was so clear didn’t seem to push through for good. So this was how it felt.

    I helped kill a man. But he was legitimate target. But I helped kill a man. But he was a legitimate target.

    At some point, he decided it was useless. He got a beer, did a few shots, and that stopped the circle. When he was getting the third round, he noticed Cyrene in her corner; it wasn’t unusual for people to retreat a little bit, to be there but not. There was even a word for it, an affectionate term, ijanien – to share the community without participating.

    He walked over to her and her book; he remembered enjoying Malin Dorthers books – until he had realized that most of her villains were thinly veiled ersatz Naneh, some even drawing twisted inspiration from historical leaders. These days, he had no time to read. If he had, it was army manuals and things like that…

    Marain stepped up to her table, because the drinks had made him realized that there was somehow unfinished business between them. A cautious smile appeared on his face.

    “Evening, ailys,” he greeted her, his rustic accent growing more pronounced with some alcohol. “How’s it going?”
     
  19. Bean

    Bean Active Member Member

    Messages:
    93
    Local Time:
    2:33 PM
    She sipped on her drink, a concoction of the ancient recipe of moonshine and a tart berry juice. While not tipsy, Cyrene felt herself relax. She was less concentrated on her surroudings and more submerged in the pages of storytelling in her hand.

    A familar voice emerged from the rumble of the bar. Yet, it was friendlier than normal. The timber giving off more of his accent. It was pleasant to the ears. The assiatant gave a small smile and looked up from her book. "Hello." She suddenly felt a bit light headed. Maybe from the alcohol? Or maybe... she tried to not go there. He was her handler. A volunteer. Plus... didn't he hate her?

    She laid the book on the table and gave a slight sigh. "Could be worse..." The brunette looked to the empty seat next to her in the booth. "Come, sit with me. I have some news."

    She waited for him to settle in before leaning against him softly. Her lips near his ear. "A target was killed. They are investigating. They suspect AFRN involvement, but somehow they think it's someone connected, not necessarily a member." She paused for a moment and took a breath. "And they have a list of residences... they have subpoenas- warrants- they will be searching homes of suspected volunteers, allies and AFRN."

    Cyrene straightened her postured and grabbed her drink. She took a biggest gulp she had yet. "I almost saw the list, but I had some compliactions. Though they are giving me more to handle. Letting me see more. Since I'm being such a good Dali." She let out a sharp exhale at that comment.
     
  20. Epicurean

    Epicurean Well-Known Member Member

    Messages:
    551
    Local Time:
    11:33 PM
    Marain slowly nodded; he hadn‘t come to talk business, but he could hardly leave her hanging. Through the slight tipsy, he tried to say the right things.

    “Alright. I’ll pass it along.” He didn’t add that the higher-profile Afrys who knew they were burned were on the lookout, not at home lots of times. “Be careful though. Good you’re getting more access, but let it come to you, know what I’m saying?”

    Marain sat down and touched Cyrene’s arm for a moment. “Giving them what they want to see,” he mused, reacting to her Dali comment, as much as the word grated on him still after she had accused him of thinking that way. It was a word he wanted to kill, a word that had to lose all possible application. He patted her shoulder and leaned in a little. “Never forget it’s a show. And that it’s not really there, what they see.”