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  Grogginess slowed his thinking, several moments passed before his mind reconstructed where exactly he was. Discomfort slowly sank down from his brain through his spine, spreading everywhere. He shook Cavalier awake. ‘Lets get this shit over with. Minute to get dressed?’ a grunt, and a closing of the door was answer enough.

 

  ‘Its only been a few hours.’

 

  ‘And we’ve not got a lot to spare, from what you were telling me.’

 

  ‘No. But bed is warm.’ A sentiment he really couldn’t argue with. Sid cupped his skull in his hands. ‘I’ll see if-’

 

  ‘We’re in this together, and I, well, I don’t know you that well. If I were to bet though, this was the last place you wanted to be.’ cutting him off, she followed up by practically threw her legs over the side, and heaved a heavy sigh. She whipped into a standing position, and moved for her clothes.

 

  ‘Ding ding we have a winner.’ he growled in reply. ‘If I can get your blood off my hands I’d like to. If you’re not wrong, I just got away with a stay of execution any way. You have to teach me that trick any way.’

 

  ‘Oh, its much more useful than it looks. Its tricky though. Might break your brain.’ Getting off the bed himself, shambling like a zombie he made his way to where he’d discarded his clothes. He’d actually always liked the feel of suits, but never could accept them as practical for much. With the two of them dressed, he knocked on the door, opening before his hand even made contact a second time.

 

  ‘This way.’ came of from one of their escorts. They were led, back to the main hallway, and down to a large set of wooden doors, carved with a simple relief. Some viking shit that Sid didn’t quite know.

 

  They entered into a classy lounge, large cushioned couches and paired tables, several seating alcoves were arranged, with a bar to the right side. There were only a few guards at the exit on the other side, their own escorts posting up at the door they just entered, tending bar was a sharply dressed man, who was just putting the finishing touches on a junebug. Sitting on one of the couches toward the rooms center, was an elegantly dressed woman, dressed in shimmering azure, her ruffled dress fell around her hips like a waterfall, straight black hair fell to her shoulders, and she sipped at a mostly empty glass.

 

  ‘Feel free to order whatever you like.’ she offered to her guests, following with a gesture toward the couch across from her own. ‘Yes, we have copper cups.’

 

  Shrugging, Sid replied ‘Then I’ll take a mule, if you’d like.’

 

  ‘I’ll just have some soda water thanks.’ Cavalier stated. The two moved to sit as requested, and shortly a tray of drinks was brought over. Sid sipped at his, nodding his approval, and Cavalier sat quietly, mostly looking at her own drink. The woman and Sid had been staring silently, their eye contact steely, neither seeming to give.

 

  This went on for a couple of minutes, before their hostess spoke ‘Sid, what brings you to my humble abode.

 

  ‘Two hops, and a stop. I’m certain your people told you that. We’ll need to make a call, I assume the balcony will work.’

 

  ‘Yes, as you’re not sure where to yet. I seriously hope you don’t think me so foolish.’

 

  ‘I just trust the quality of your protection. You’re the best when it comes to logistics, or am I mistaken?’ A dig, but one that’s too obvious, and barely worth an note.

 

  So she sidestepped. ‘You have the coin of course.’

 

  ‘Of course.’ his eyes took a serious bent. ‘Molten though.’ The actual play.

 

  ‘I suppose that's the source of your little storm cloud. You came in all wet for sure.' She smiled, and he returned it. 'You’re also expecting me to launder it then?’ She was going to make him say it.

 

  ‘At your rates?’ he could sidestep too. Cavalier was showing the first hint of impatience. Sid reading her look pushed it. ‘It’s just too bad no one deserves all this corp hate.’

 

  ‘Would be risky though, you’d be bait. Depending on the scale, it might not be enough to destroy the target. You just got back and already planning to make enemies?’

 

  ‘And hopefully a friend.’

 

  ‘Saying we’re not friends, I’m hurt.’

  

  ‘I’d have said so too, but I heard a thing or two, from Trumpet’ a lie, but those two hated each other, and the detail would fuzz later any way.

 

  A frown and deflection. ‘So how much coin?’

 

  Normally he’d play it down, but Hyugin would find out any way, and having her favor would be useful. ‘A hundred solid abyss’

 

  Hyugin’s face screamed disbelief ‘Just how exactly did you come by that volume of scratch.’

 

  ‘It’s actually a little more.’

 

  ‘Still, I’ll need details’

 

  ‘Thought you had a reputation for discretion’

 

  ‘And also, for knowing things I shouldn’t.’ back to the staring match. The two sides resumed their stalemate. Cavalier unwilling to sit through more of this. ‘I have information the corp would rather have secret, but as its my only asset currently, I won’t give it up till I’m sure I’m safe.’

 

  ‘Then, if I can guarantee that?’ Hyugin looked genuinely intrigued, Sid looked panicked.

 

  ‘Which, until we pay you, you can’t really can you?’

 

  ‘What you have might be worth it.’

 

  ‘Which you can’t reasonably agree too til after you evaluate it.’ Sid did not like this kind of haphazard ground game. ‘I’ll need a few days to get some stuff together.’ at least she moved the goalpost out a bit, he thought, but still, it was a check they’d have to cash.

 

  ‘But you don’t know which corp?’

 

  ‘All I had was a contact.’ A lie, but hard to prove. Would she take it. Hyugin looked to be examining all this information, and tabulating. Eventually she shrugged, and finished the last of her drink. ‘Well, you have the coin, that’s a cudgel, and I think I have some one deserving. What’s your plan after, you know the who.’

 

  ‘A break-in.’ Sid replied as if it were the only logical answer.

 

  Their hostess clapped, and cackled with unbidden glee. ‘Now that is the kind of bold as brass answer I was hoping for. If you’re doing that, we can certainly come to an arrangement. I am so pleased to have you with us. Do you have a team already?

 

  ‘Cross that bridge. I have a few favors left, and once we get this coin a little cool.’

 

  ‘I’ll of course offer you the discount rate if you’d like to use one of mine.’ Sid shook his head but he was smiling, as with business mostly concluded, and Hyugin’s curiosity sated he’d have a moment or two to think about his next move.

 

  ‘So, not to interrupt, but side question. The uh, thing on the table.

 

  ‘The apple, you mean?’ just a dash of haughtiness creeping into her tone.

 

  'Yes, that. How’d you do it? Like organic printer? Chef production? It was really convincing.’

 

  ‘Oh we simply grew it.’ Hyugin’s sublime smugness radiating from her being.

 

  ‘That was an actual apple. You’re joking.’ Sid looked doubtful.

 

  ‘Only the best for my guests. Especially ones who always come with so much opportunity.’

 

  ‘It was delicious.’ Cavalier added.

 

  ‘I’m truly glad to know my gardeners efforts are as fruitful as they appear.’ her face aglow with satisfaction. ‘But sadly, my dear guests, I must attend to other business. I’ll bring you a couple of targets within the next couple of hours for your selection. I’ve a few people whom I would rather love to send some fresh hell their way. I suspect Sid, I can trust you with run of the place?

 

  ‘Of course’, He answered giving a slight bow. After she’d departed out the exit he deflated into his chair. And gulped down his drink. ‘I need another’

 

  ‘Might help actually.’ Cavalier added. ‘Some people can do it better, especially the first time.’

 

  ‘Do what?’

 

  ‘Well, I figured you might be able to learn the trick, or at least, give it a go.’ She gave him this expectant playful look, that had him more worried than looking forward to it.

 

  ‘Two then?’

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Highlord_of_Iron

Bio: Highpriest of the new word.

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