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  • Silent Lucidity


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    Somewhere in South America

     

     

     

    Mist hovered between valleys, the green tops of rolling hills like islands in the sea of white. It blocked the sunlight of the late afternoon, humidity licking the tendrils of dark locks that had escaped the up-do to the back of her neck. In the further shadow of a veranda, she was reclined next to crystal clear pool, book in hand, a wine glass in the other, and dark sunglasses making her almost unrecognizable.

     

    It was eerily silent.

     

    Tendrils of fog kept curling in the humid brilliant green paradise. The shadow of a dark, small helicopter became barely visible every so often, revealing the method to which she had traveled, her actual plane miles away with the rest of her crew. She was on her own out in her personal paradise, a small yet sprawling property that had once belonged to a major player in her crosshairs before the end of the world. Every luxury existed there, on a miniature scale. New York had been grating her raw; leaving capable people in place she’d decided to take a breather before everyone within blast radius of her scathing glares would get burned. She’d come “home”, the place where once an entire team had its headquarters after they’d cleared out the place, the echo of laughter and scent of good tequila lingering in its silent halls. Ghosts. Hazy memories were everywhere in a place nobody knew about except her closest circle and the caretakers that had no clue who she really was. They took care of it in perpetuity, and left when she was in residence. She’d never seen them, they would never see her, and it would always remain that way.

     

    Motionless, she looked like a statue. Only her eyes under the sunglasses moved as they glided through the words, every so often the wine glass was placed on the mosaic table beside her. Pages were turned and the silence tangled with the every undulating mist.

     

    Her hackles always were triggered when trouble was at the edges of her awareness. Her fury usually followed, and this was the silence before the world erupted. She had to find her even keel or professional relationships could be destroyed. Everything could be destroyed. The energy around her of late had been like lightning in a bottle, and it itched at the volatile blood that made her the predator she was.

     

    Lips pressed together, the book coming down to rest on her lap as the dark eyes travelled over her surroundings. It was odd, and rare she felt like company. It was this place. It was different now, her life was different now. The ghosts here were memories and current thoughts were brushing them to the side… and that pissed her off more than ever.

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    • 6 months later...

    Darkness settled, an elegant raised fire pit near the glowing pool licking flames into the night. Water sluiced over her skin as she swam languid laps in the brilliant blue jewel surrounded by darkness; her island in the night. Mist was still swirling, sliding down the hills into the thick green trees beyond. There was a reason it was called the most beautiful place on earth. Weather was constantly changing, and the mist that curled and moved through her secret oasis made her feel like she was in the clouds.

     

    She paused before lifting herself up the ladder to the mosaic tile pool patio, turning to twist the water once from her hair and pull on her robe. Silent padding brought her back through the dark open halls, billowed gauze curtains in doorways keeping pests at bay. She dried herself off and changed into ballet flats and black capris, a large and loose knit cream colored sweater pulled over her lavender cami. She twisted up her thick, damp hair and walked silently to the kitchen. She picked up a large glass jar, unscrewed the silver top inhaled deeply.

     

    God she missed coffee… there were things her Sheut sensibilities could tolerate. Alcohol was one of them. Coffee had never settled right once her body come into its new being. She still made a cup, the heat of the mug a welcome one as she returned to her pool patio and melted into a plush chair next to the copper colored firepit. Both hands wrapped around the mug, but she didn’t drink it, enjoying the smell and heat as eyes stared into the fire. Lashes lazily blinked every so often, finally staying closed as she soaked in the warmth and sounds of the world around her as only her senses could. Movement in the trees beyond, the lazy swish of curtains and water lapping in the pool.

    Voices of ghosts. Empty chairs next to her. The phantom smell of whisky in coffee. The echo of laughter in darkness. The press of heat and distinct scent of leather worn by the sun and roughened by use.

     

    Nights she wasn’t supposed to have with a colleague.

     

    Movement.

     

    Eyes opened to tiny slits, the black beyond the orb of firelight a distinct change to the mist that was there before. Flash of eyes were watching her, unsure of what they were sensing. A predator watching a predator. The eyes lowered closer to the ground, content to rest and watch her from just beyond the light.

     

    Eyes closed again, the odd choice of company welcome for the moment.

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    • 2 months later...

    It was an "errand" run. A pretty big sprawl of territory, but necessary for the function of Eris' operations. Touch down in New York was textbook. After taxi, the hangar sprang to life to unload and refit.

     

    "Get it done stat, everybody and their cousins will know I've touched down if they don't already. I don't want visitors asking stupid questions before I take off," Ahanu quipped to Toby as he entered the cockpit while she was shutting down.

     

    He nodded, "nothing to report."

     

    "Fantastic," she said as she set her headset down to stand up and stretch before exiting the plane. "That's because you're amazing."

     

    "Time frame?"

     

    She shook her head, "hard to tell, you know how seriously she takes her anniversaries of life events. That plus the social world with city bigwigs has rubbed her raw."

     

    "Is she okay?" Toby's concern was genuine.

     

    Ahanu stopped far enough away from the refit crew to turn to him. Hands went to her hips and she sighed in a tired long breath.

     

    "Hard to tell. She stopped coming in. She checks in every morning, but that's it. I'm going to bring her next set of supplies anyway, just in case. We have to go back the east coast route and skip an errand in Vegas, some yahoos near Oklahoma got their hands on some old military shit. Rumor is they've been building a network to take down planes running coast to coast. Don't have time to deal with it. Eris will have to talk to Salvatierra when she comes out of her funk. Talk to our Bakkhos and Vanguard contacts to see if they have any insight."

     

    Toby nodded, "I'll set the flight path and make contact with ours. Crooked, Santa Marta?"

     

    "Yep. I want to get off the ground within the hour."

     

    "Okay, reports are ready. We'll get everything set." He hesitated. "There is...something. Maybe nothing...but rumbles of some trouble in paradise with the capos. Haven't gotten much info, only that shit has gone down at the stadium. Not sure what yet."

     

    She nodded once, running her lower lip tersely through her teeth and was off to ready Eris' things for another round of her sulking. "We'll keep that to ourselves for now."

     

    South America

    Darkness had weight. Sometimes smooth and heavy to caress your limbs, lulling and keeping you in a deep relaxed sleep. Other moments it was oppressive, claustrophobic, a barrier between the sweet light of dawn and dusk that forced you to try and sleep. This night she'd experienced both. After her coffee time ended, the Egyptian cotton sheets were welcomed. Heavy limbs, a slight breeze warning of impending rain kept her lulled. A stomach sleeper, it wasn't long before she was tangled in sheets, legs and arms seeking cool portions of the sheets unconsciously as her mind drifted. It resulted in a rather graceful sprawl, claiming the entire space as hers.

     

    The sound of engines drew her from it. Even, distant...late...she would radio Ahanu in the morning.

     

    There was something else.

     

    She was not alone.

     

    Wafts of whisky drifted across the sprawling verandas. It took a moment for the exhausted psyche to untangle what was real from ghost riddled memories. It was definitely real.

     

    "Did you come in on my plane?" she spoke quietly, not bothering to move. Voice sounded disinterested, and slightly annoyed.

     

    "No, but you knew that already."

     

    She hadn't expected Calloway to speak. Skulk and irritate her with his presence, definitely. He was trying to intimidate, make her paranoid enough to look over her shoulder habitually. Another type of predator watching her sleep. She knew exactly what his talents were and had a honed skill in knowing what was an intrusive thought, and what was authentically hers.

     

    Idiot.

     

    It was a "romantic" setting, secluded, as he'd already tried to take advantage of before. She thought he knew better now, but still was poking her brain with that shit. It would never happen. Never. He knew this was also a perfect place for him to corner her and 'set her straight' about her duties in New York. As soon as he knew she wasn't in New York, he was going to come sniffing sooner or later to get one on one time.

     

    "You know the way out then."

     

    She could physically feel him smile, he expected no less than an icy welcome.

     

    "Stop with the surfer dude smchoozing, you're fucking up my chi."

     

    He was silent a moment, taking another drink and swallowing. She rolled quietly to cast him an annoyed glance before she put her elbows at her sides and leaned up slightly. She hated him at that moment more than usual. Sliding into her sanctuary like it was his right, she needed this time or she would have started burning the whole city of New York to the ground. She might have burned him to the ground at that moment too.

     

    Yet there he sat...holding one of her glasses, making himself comfortable in one of her chairs, in her room, in her time.

     

    "You're damaging my calm."

     

    He nodded slightly in agreement. Truly enjoying the sliver of a moment when the impenetrable Eris London was not her impeccable vision of perfection and perfect poise. Hair lazily spilling from its smooth braid, a mark across her cheekbone from a seam on the pillow that would disappear in time, legs wound in sheets with one petit bare foot flexing it's toes to betray her annoyance; she could actually be mistaken for a regular person for a moment.

     

    This was a moment of power, seeing her in solace when she thought she was alone. If it was possible to hate him more, she did. He was so damn predictable, and a douche- the only word in the English language that correctly described him in her eyes.

     

    "Yes, I remember what my job is. Yes, I know you don't like the way I'm doing it. Is that what you need to hear? If Ausar doesn't like it he can tell me himself." She made herself comfortable again and closed her eyes. "Stop drinking my shit and get the fuck out."

     

    He was already gone, leaving the almost finished glass of whisky on the mosaic side table. Such a passive aggressive asshole. It was pressure, his continuing not so subtle pressure to take Bakkhos after his Venom screw up. After a moment she huffed, getting up with a thrash of sheets to pad over to the glass and take it to the kitchen to dump and rinse.

     

    The quiet had closed around again, eyes on the edge of trees as she returned to her room. Curtains separating areas of the verandas were floating quietly with the breeze. Her friend was still there beyond the trees, now having seen two predators in its territory. Arms crossed as she stared at it.

     

    She was not feeling friendly. In a gesture she'd never considered anything but gauche flexing, teeth bared and she snapped them together with a sharp click, the brief growl behind it getting her point across.

     

    It retreated deeper into it's domain.

     

    "You can get the fuck out too," she muttered under her breath and returned to bed.

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    • 2 weeks later...

    Tom fumed in his office at Thyrsus. He hadn't been seen around Satyr stadium since the incident. Nobody had even requested to challenge the champion. It hadn't happened yet, but he was sure that he would be having a conversation with Matteo at some point to discuss the amount of business the stadium has lost due to Tom's lack of control. He growled slightly at this thought...equal parts annoyance of being questioned and frustration with himself.

     

    "Boss?" Roderick had leaned his head into the doorway, interupting Tom's brooding. "I need to go over the supply notes with you. Seems we have an opportunity for new, cheaper, suppliers that warrant looking into."

     

    Tom looked up at him and he felt his frustration fade. Raising an eyebrow in question to Roderick...silently asking if he had violated Tom's orders to leave his moods alone...Roderick smirked back...silently admitting as much. Tom did not deserve Roderick. 

     

    "Come in, Roddy." Tom pulled out a couple glasses and poured some from a new bottle of a rum he hadn't tried before. This was one of the suppliers Roderick was talking about. Someone had taken control of a large portion of the sugar production in the Caribbean. The person, whose name escaped Tom at the moment, had taken to making rum and sent Tom a sample in hopes of establishing business. 

     

    "Cheers." Tom and Roderick touched glasses and sipped. They locked eyes and both smiled slightly. This was amazing! Far and away, the best rum he had ever tasted, Tom didn't need words from Roderick to see that he agreed. "I think we may have a new rum supplier."

     

    Roderick nodded, "There is a catch, however. Before any business is to be conducted, they wish to meet you in person."

     

    "Hmmm," Tom mused. They knew what they had. They would sell out of product consistently, whether or not he purchased from them. They were trying to network. Smart.

     

    "I can arrange for them to travel next month..." Roddy knew the moon schedule. Getting them here would take a couple weeks at least...and Tom wouldn't be able to receive visitors during that time. 

     

    "No. I'll go to them. Find out where I need to go, and call Ahanu and see if she's up for chartering someone."

     

    Roddy nodded and left wordlessly, phone in hand already dialing.

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    • 3 months later...

     “I told him she was not here, same as I’ve told him before. He won’t take no for an answer.”

     

    Toby’s words were clipped and dry, handing the phone off to Ahanu whom was in the final checks for take-off. Her look as she took it from him was scathing.

     

    “Yes?” she sounded almost helpful. “I’m afraid you’ve caught me on my way out. I’m about to taxi for take-off, perhaps next time…”

     

    Voice trailed off, her face floating through a variety of expressions as she listened.

     

    “Business charter,” she looked at the flight plan. “I can take you to those locations but you will have to layover near old Panama for a week. I have other business to attend to that cannot allow passengers. I know you can appreciate that.”

     

    Phone snapped closed and she tossed it to Toby.

     

    “Executive decision,” she quipped. “It will keep him off our backs for a while, maybe he’ll help.”

     

    She was clearly angry. Angry at Eris the most for putting them into this position. She had her reasons, she always did. If Eris had sequestered herself away from society, it was necessary. She was dangerous, and arrogant, but she did know when she was an eminent danger to others either from brute force or merciless business tactics.

     

    Toby slid it into his pocket and left the cockpit, “Good luck with that.”

     

     The doors to the hanger opened, a sleek black vehicle entering to park in the standard location for boarding.

     

    “Shit,” Ahanu clenched her jaw, continuing her checks and expecting the passenger to enter soon. This was a bad idea, Eris would smell him on her… IF she would even allow the air mage to bring in supplies to her estate instead of employing the local residents. Eyes flicked up to the mirror as he entered. She’d heard the rumors about the Capo as of late and didn’t care. There was no fear in transporting him, not when she could open the plane up like a tin can and drop him in the blink of an eye. His safety was up to him and his control.

     

    It wasn’t long trip, but it may as well have been a hundred years and she wasn’t up for conversation especially where Eris was concerned. Takeoff smooth, the skies were a bit bumpy. Clearing up after the first stop, the Gulf was absolutely gorgeous and glass smooth. Not necessarily a good sign in the sense of what might be coming although it made for a nice flight. The last stop she gave a single solid wave to him before closing up to taxi and return to South America. Hopefully to return in a week with some good news, or another passenger.

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