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Messages - Riven

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Not too eager, it seemed. Maria had spent the last fourteen hours getting the pieces in place for this latest job -- with a brief cat-nap and a shower in the midst to keep herself sharp. She now had a digital peg-board projected as a hologram onto a freshly-cleared bedroom wall, each point on the glowing web-of-strings a person or subject of interest. The deceased Mr. Neland was, of course, at the very center; splayed out from him like the spokes of a wheel were all the obvious questions and connections -- the White Fang, the dead wife, the children, his business partners, extended family, less obvious associations, as well as the plausible money lenders, influence brokers, smugglers, con men, and other sorts that might or might not be involved. It was a big web... and only likely to get bigger as the afternoon wore on. Too many questions, too much unknown, and no certainty of who could and couldn't be trusted. She was really starting to hope her 'outside ace' would call back.

And, at that moment, she did. Breathing a sign of relief, Maria plucked up her Scroll, toggled on the voice modulator, and took the call.

"This is Bitter speaking. I'm told you have something to discuss with me."

"Indeed I do. Thank you for taking the call from my agent yesterday -- I apologize for not going through more established channels to reach you."

"I go by the name 'The Lady of a Thousand Faces'; I do information and operational brokering in the Mistrali underworld, connecting the apt and willing with the inquiring and paying. In your case, however, I'd like to hire you on directly to assist in a very recent, and potentially urgent, matter."
With a brief clattering of keys on her laptop she sent a digital version of yesterday's newspaper article on the historian's death to Shoko-La. "What you're receiving right now is what the public knows: an innocent old historian murdered, and all evidence points to the White Fang."

"What the public does not know... is that the good Mr. Neland was, himself, a Fang agent -- a middle-man, using his museum credentials and professional connections to conceal the movement of assets and resources. As I understand it you have some history with the White Fang yourself, so you likely appreciate the rather precarious nature of the situation. Whoever did this is likely trying to strain human-faunus relations and stir up trouble, but a splinter faction within the Fang isn't impossible either. At this stage in the game, the truth could be... almost anything."

"I've been contacted by the Fang themselves, using a trusted associate as an intermediary. They want the matter investigated, Neland's killer taken out of the picture, and any loose ends tied up. There is a significant sum of lien on the table for this, and half of it is yours if you're in. My agent, Maria, can set up discreet transportation and accommodations for you, as well as any other arrangements you might need. All I need to know is that I can trust you, as a professional operator."

"Will you accept the job?"

Well, I'm sorta going somewhere. I just won't be leaving here. I felt it only fair to bring you all into the loop -- over the next month or so my activity may be a bit... thin:-\

Some of you have likely noticed that I don't post quite as frequently as I used to. Many of the reasons for that are tied up with my current living arrangements, which are soon to change. In the coming weeks I'll begin moving into a new, much better place, and my RP output should improve in equal measure. That said, the actual process of moving will eat up a lot of my time; no way around it. With the tournament looming I will be focusing my efforts on that (and wrapping up Hunt for the Howling Storm -- you guys have been great!) until the move-in is completed.

Even so, if I've let a thread idle and owe you posts, you have complete 100% permission to harass me. Discord, PM, this thread, whichever suits your fancy. Sometimes I need a good kick-in-the-seat to get the ol' writing machine turning.

Until then... have a muffin. You all know how that goes by now.  ;)

Spoiler: show

Everywhere Else / Re: Hunt for the Howling Storm {CLOSED}
« on: July 18, 2018, 05:12:57 PM »
Having heard everyone out, Cordell folded her arms and appeared to be deep in thought. "So... two votes t' destroy, one t' hand it over, one t' keep." She mused on that for a long, long moment, mulling it about in her mind and trying to find some sort of compromise. She certainly agreed that the Crown was dangerous, and the original plan for it was definitely not without both flaws and risks. She herself was split -- the Crown's raw energy terrified her, which is something she couldn't say about many things, but out-and-out destroying it could prove a worse decision than letting it fall into the wrong hands.

What to do, what to do...

After a long, silent pause, Cordell opened her eyes. "I've trusted ye all this far, an' not a one o' ye's let me down. That's a hellova lot more'n I can say for most'a th' people I've worked with! I don't think I could've asked fer a better crew on this hunt, honestly."

"Here's what I propose: we round up every last scrap o' value in this gods-forsaken hole an' load it all aboard th' Howling Storm, along with th' scoundrels. I'll signal th' Red Corsair t' come an' assist, now that we've got an entrance; a few bots what should make quick work of the heavy loading, I dare say. If'n ye'v got a Scroll, ye may wanna take some pictures o' this place... I've got a feelin' it won't be around long once we do what needs doin'."

"As fer th' Crown, I agree it's too dangerous t' let leave this cave. I'll have Delahaye rig up somethin' special on a nice long timer t' do th' deed once we're well away. Good news is, even if it turns out t' be th' single worst Dust bomb in th' history o' Remnant,"
She looked up at the cave walls around them. "Th' compression wave from th' blast'll bounce around in here until th' mountain collapses on it, an' don't forget we're on an isolated little island in th' middle o' th' worlds biggest lake. Worst case is a tidal wave which, while terrible and hopefully won't happen, I'll take over another Mad Prince any day. We can transmit a long-range burst from th' Red Corsair t' warn th' local fishing villages before we set anything off."

She looked to Solar and Infrared. "I know ye wanna preserve it -- hell, it's th' whole bloody reason we came here in th' first place -- so here's me compromise. Before we blast th' Crown, ye can all handle it. I'm trustin' ye here; look it over, take pictures, th' works. We'll be th' last people t' ever see it, so I ain't about t' deny ye th' chance if'n ye want it. But fer pity's sake, please please don't use it! Damn thing could bring th' cave down on our heads as easy as not, I'll wager."

"So, do we all agree?"

Everywhere Else / Re: Ways of the World [Ordelis] (CLOSED)
« on: July 18, 2018, 02:31:46 PM »
Solar's questions about the "unofficial" parts of the market, and her suddenly keen interest on that subject in particular, immediately caught Sean's curiosity. Casting a glance her way, he saw all that he needed to -- he recognized that look, that can't-wait-to-break-free fire that burned behind her eyes. He knew that feeling, deep down in the roots of his own soul. Solar was not the 'play by the rules' sort. She was a renegade... just like him.

It was that moment Sean knew, beyond any shadow of any doubt, that -- her ignorance and naivete aside -- he was going to be just fine with Solar as team leader. He couldn't help but crack a wry smile at that, turning into a smirk as her stomach overrode her eagerness.

"Food first, yeah. Right this way..."

Pepper's was, at its heart, the bastard lovechild of a steak house and a dive bar. A rotating selections of photos and artwork, mostly of local heroes either killing or standing victoriously over various sorts of Grimm, decorated dark-stained wood-panel walls, giving those seated at the booths and tables something to admire while their food was prepared. Ceiling fans spun overhead while a muted TV screen in the corner played the local news channel -- a pale and at times humorously second-rate imitation of Vale's slick broadcast service. Convincing, if miniature, fakes of Deathstalker tails adorned the wall behind the main bar, crossed over an equally convincing-but-small fake of a Nevermore with its wings spread, talons clutching the tails to tie the design together. It was a somewhat strange arrangement, a nicknack acquired by a previous owner that no one had bothered to change... part of the character of the place.

Stepping in, Sean gestured to an empty table near the front. "Grab a seat, boss. Doesn't look too busy--"

"And trouble comes'a walkin' through my door!" The bemused voice came from a middle-aged woman behind the bar, a one-armed riot of amber curls and sandalwood skin clad in a ripped gray t-shirt, jeans, and a 'take no shit' attitude so loud it practically hummed around her like an Aura. She leaned on the bar, clearly bemused. "You here for food, business, or other business, fireworks?"

"Heya Pep! Food this time." He gestured to Solar. "This is Solar, leader of the team Shade set me up with. Solar, this is Pepper Piri -- owner, bouncer, and namesake of Pepper's as well as a former Huntress."

"Among other things." Peper said with a shrug and a laugh. "Today's special is a surf & turf fajita platter with a side of curried cheese fries -- highly recommended. Make yourselves comfortable, look over the menu, lemme know when you're ready to order."

Everywhere Else / Re: Bone of the First [SSMR]
« on: July 18, 2018, 01:18:00 PM »

It was the little things that clued Sean in. This girl was either a fantastic actress... or the entire chase just now had all been a diversion. He'd spent his entire life in Vacuo and knew how the city worked; there were plenty of petty thieves who would steal just so they could have something to eat each day, so many that good thieving opportunities often got scarce. When pockets couldn't be picked and market stalls were too closely watched a lot of the most desperate turned to doing odd jobs... and not the sort that asked you to fill out a resume. Hungry thieves commonly became 'runners', doing in-city smuggling or -- in cases like this -- acting as decoys for other criminals. She had the moves, the practiced finesse up on the rooftops. He should've seen it sooner.

Hooking a thumb in the direction of Solar's voice, Sean decided he'd shift to 'good cop' a bit. "Her? Naw. But the guy who hired you..." He leaned forward, hoping to project just a hint of menace. "Different story." It was an exaggeration, of course, but the injury that Solar was falsely accused of causing was bad enough that the intent probably was to kill. "Types like that don't like loose ends. That's why he set my angry friend up to take the blame. So... what do you think he'll do to you?" He let the question hang in the air, then glanced Suna's way. Hopefully he knew how the 'good cop bad cop' thing worked -- it was his turn now.

Seeing Merletta, exhausted to the point of collapsing, coming their way immediately filled Budonoki with concern... and the words that followed affirmed the worst of his fears. "Those mad fools..." He muttered to himself, thinking of the horrendous violations that their adversary could have undertaken in order to bring about such a thing. First looking about warily, he then crouched down next to Merletta, about to ask for more information just as her head drooped and she passed out. A quick check of her vitals confirmed she was merely unconscious. That spot of blood worried him, however. Shrapnel?

"We cannot stay here -- we are too exposed. Even if the enemy has left they may later seek to pick up our tracks; we must get her, and ourselves, somewhere safe." His gaze turned to Justice. "My apartment is too public, and my office at the academy would draw far too much attention right now. Any ideas?"

The Vale Region / Re: A Walk In The Shadows (Inex, CLOSED)
« on: July 18, 2018, 12:34:05 PM »
Maria couldn't help but be impressed by Amane's language skills -- at first she'd worried that the device was malfunctioning, but Amane really was fluent, it seemed. A talented young woman, to be sure. "You could say I do a little bit of everything; arrangements, book keeping, acquisitions, enforcement, whatever The Lady has need of. She's chiefly in the business of connections, you see, bringing together those seeking opportunity with those seeking talent. I'm sure you get the picture." She continued to savor the crimson-and-white treat as she spoke. "In this particular case she has a client whose interests lie right here in Vale... and she believes that local talent would suit the job best."

"As I understand it, you're a student at Beacon, yes? Tell me, what do you know about a recent addition to the staff... one Budonoki Sophos?"

Everywhere Else / Re: Ways of the World [Ordelis] (CLOSED)
« on: July 13, 2018, 12:37:57 PM »
'Wow. She is a hundred miles an hour of questions...' Sean couldn't help but think, clearly realizing that to Solar this bustling marketplace must seem like a world unto itself. Her attention -- and his with it -- leapt from one target to another like chain lightning. He barely had time to realize she was talking about pizza before she was fascinated by... had it been that jewelry stall, the blown glass souvenirs, or the miniature Grimm statues in bronze? And then her attention was on something else, another something else, and... oh great, street performer. It would be challenging enough to explain the city to Solar without going into people-pretending-to-be-things. 'Note to self: bad idea to overwhelm the boss-lady with multiple new things at once.'

"Whoa, hey, slow down and let me catch up!"
Sean playfully chided with a chuckle. Her curiosity truly knew no bounds. "All this is new for ya, I get that. I'll do my best to explain along the way, just... one thing at a time, eh?"

"So, to cover just a few things..."
He launched into a general tour guide style exposition of the market -- how people came from towns, villages, and even other kingdoms to trade things they had, or made, or could do, all in exchange for Lien. That included lots of different types of food, handcrafts, even weapons. He pointed out a few of the highlights along the way. "That place? They make some of the best roasts and sandwiches you'll ever have. That place promises rare and valuable stuff from the other kingdoms, but most of it is fake or really badly made. This stall is owned by the guy who provides my uncle with some of the parts he uses in his garage, so I can usually strike some pretty good deals with them. That store sells Dust-infused clothing -- not very sturdy but very sparkly, the sort of thing rich people wear when they want to impress each other. Long story short: if you have the money you can buy just about anything in Vacuo's market," He dropped his voice and half-whispered. "Even things you're not technically supposed to."

The Vale Region / Re: Within Nature ~ Training [Rush] (CLOSED)
« on: July 12, 2018, 05:55:24 PM »
And here it was... the force and intensity the old faunus had been driving at since the outset. Quicker, perhaps, than expected -- Juno had no trouble bringing the force of his emotions to bear, and in that flurry of counterattacks Budonoki glimpsed not just the fierce spirit that had carried the brawler's rising star during the last Vytal Festival. He could see it writ large in the boy's aggressive moves, in his body language: rage and frustration, driven by fear... possibly even regret. The desire to push back and force out. To create distance and enforce boundaries. Hell, jamming the staff into the log carried much the same connotations as a profanity-laden middle finger. As expected, these were the attacks of someone who really, really didn't want to talk about it.

As expected, however, did not necessarily mean "prepared for".

The leg sweep came in fast -- Juno was operating in his element now, fighting his way, so of course he'd be swifter and more effective. Budonoki was a Huntsman, true, but most of his life hadn't been spent as a warrior and Juno had the advantages of youth behind him. A half-recovery as his body went sideways was interrupted as the first year's foot came flying his way, sending the faunus into a rolling landing. The wood groaned beneath them with the impact; the teacher was quick to twist and spring into a crouch, but the student had momentum and was already on the offensive. Weathering the blows as best he could with staff and arm blocks, Budonoki reminded himself that he had asked for this, literally, and that it served a higher purpose. Even blocking, though, the kicks Juno was doling out packed a wallop... so Budo decided to stop blocking. Between when he'd let go of his staff and when it hit the water he'd ducked beneath one of Juno's kicks, stepped in close for a leg sweep of his own, and followed it up with a rising windmill kick to the chest.

It was time to see how far this could go.

AMA Section / Re: Why do you want to win the Vytal Festival?
« on: July 12, 2018, 04:38:27 PM »
Sean mostly signed up as a chance to see a bit of the world beyond Vacuo. He's not especially set on winning, as he knows that the fame from just simply participating is likely to open up some new opportunities for him. That said, he is a showoff and doesn't much like the idea of being upstaged, so... expect fireworks!

As for Budonoki, he's not really participating in the Huntsmen Bracket with winning in mind. He sees it more as an opportunity to stress-test the Vine, and by extension himself. Competition isn't really in his nature, but as a Huntsman he certainly understand the usefulness of it as a tool for self-improvement.

The Vale Region / Re: A Walk In The Shadows (Inex, CLOSED)
« on: July 08, 2018, 07:35:50 PM »
It was her, then. Maria felt a small moment of satisfaction at meeting such an elusive character. The truth was, she'd been interested in Amane for some time -- in a world where her information brokering provided a clear picture of many who's-who's, stumbling across the trail of someone who left no record of their appearance was both startling and thrilling. Putting the pieces together had started as a mere business curiosity, wanting to make sure she wasn't missing anything or anyone in her considerations, but it had gradually become more of a... a hobby, honestly. It was like trying to solve a detective story. How "the invisible girl" she keep such a low profile while operating in a world where info was often more valuable than money, while studying at Beacon no less? Was Amane an ace hacker, or connected to one? In some sort of strange witness protection scheme turned freelance operation? Did her Semblance turn her literally invisible? There were easily a dozen or more questions Maria wanted to ask in that moment as she took and warmly shook Amane's offered hand... but none were appropriate to the moment, and most revealed far too much of her own interest to be suitable for business.

"A pleasure to meet you, Amane. My employer is a big fan of your work. According to her, you're quite the artist." Taking the seat opposite Amane, she put her ice cream down on the table and then placed a small, high-tech looking disc-shaped device down next to it. The tap of a button and a green light in the center lit up. "Ah, much better. This," She gestured to the contraption. "Is a privacy field generator. It acts a bit like noise cancelling, except that instead of nullifying sound it scrambles it according to pre-programmed algorithms. Anyone more than a few feet away will think I'm interviewing you in a vaguely Vacuan-sounding language, thus allowing us to discuss the matter at hand without risk of eavesdropping. Just act like it's an academic interview, please." She scooped up a spoonful of gelato, finding she quite enjoyed the taste. "I must say, you certainly know your frozen treats, Ms. Petrichor."

Reaching into her pocket, she produced several high-value Lien cards and placed them discreetly in reach of Amane. "This is thanks for meeting with me, especially on such short notice. The Lady of a Thousand Faces is a firm believer in establishing good rapport with everyone she does business with, so that's yours to keep regardless of whether or not you accept the job."

"Now, I'm sure you have questions."
Maria brought another delicious spoonful to her lips, savoring it a moment before adding. "Feel free."

Everywhere Else / Re: The Things We Do For Love [VCVS]
« on: July 08, 2018, 10:42:16 AM »
Not-Caja chuckled, dipping into and out of mimicry with an almost uncanny -- and truly unsettling -- ease. "Who, where, why, what, how -- all the classics are running through your head right now, along with a hefty dose of adrenaline." The sirens in the background were definitely starting to get closer, though it was hard to say when exactly they would arrive. The impostor turned around but kept step and pace, walking backwards through the scattered detritus while stretching their arms casually. This time their voice dipped down from Caja's tones to match Juno's own, though the casual indifference behind the words couldn't be any further from the emotional intensity going through Juno's mind right now. "I know, I know, this is a very trying time for you... but try to keep in mind, to me this is just business. I'm a mercenary -- the Fang hired me to play a role and then back-stab you, but I opted to back-stab them instead. Why?" They lifted their open palms in a shrug. "Because, obviously, I can't trust them anymore than you can trust me. My back would be the next to get stabbed. This business doesn't run on courtesy, kids -- it runs on convenience. And on that note..."

Reaching the (mostly) undamaged building, the impersonator reached down and pulled up a large garage door. On the other side was a small junky-looking cargo airship the size of a Bullhead, the sort that was likely used for short-trip hauling ore or raw Dust. "Your limousine awaits, lads, and here's the key." The mercenary tossed a key ring with a small control chip to Juno. "Just plug that chip into the nav system you'll have the coordinates for where the Fang are keeping your lil' lapdog -- once I transmit the decryption key, that is. You'll just have to fly manual until then, and I'd recommend getting airborne soon. Once you're in the skies," He pulled out a handheld two-way radio. "We'll talk business. You'll be on your way, and I'll be out of reach for back-stabbing by all parties involved. A fair arrangement, I'd say. Or I suppose you could try to beat it out of me, then explain things to the police." Cupping a hand to one ear, the fake Caja stopped to listen. "I'd say you've got... about four minutes to decide. Tick tock!"

Everywhere Else / Re: Ways of the World [Ordelis] (CLOSED)
« on: July 05, 2018, 01:29:17 PM »
He'd been both relieved and concerned to see Solar literally chaining down the live vulture: relieved because he could grab some clothes while she was busy, and concerned what that crazy bird might do if it managed to slip loose. Then again, this was Solar Raise: bird-hunter and wild mountain girl. In her hands, those chains would likely be enough to keep an Ursa immobile. Which, as the young smuggler hastily wriggled into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, brought to mind the fact that the apartment would likely stink of vulture by the time they got back from today's outing.

...Meh. He'd had worse roommates, after all.

"Hunting spots". How to explain this...? "Well, I do know a few places out in the wastes," Memories of trapping and cooking a longpaw rabbit one time when Gust Raider broke down came to mind, along with a few well-known watering holes and brush-land areas. "Buuuut, I can do ya one better. Vacuo's one of the biggest market cities in the world, and it has some really good restara-" He realized halfway through the word that she likely had no idea what a 'restaurant' was. "That is to say, people who'll trade really good food for money." Gods, he hoped she knew what money was. How remote and isolated could that village really be? "Fortunately, I know some of the best. You're in for a real treat today."

Now what to do with that vulture...?

After getting himself decent, Sean led his team leader further into the city. Their destination was a local bar & grill called Pepper's, both for the name of the proprietor and for the fact that peppers, spicy or otherwise, were in virtually every dish. They also made some of the best steak fajitas around -- something he was willing to bet would wow Solar's taste buds. He'd made sure to choose a colorful route too; the restaurant was just on the edge of the market district and there were plenty of various shops along the way. Having not known each other much outside of chase and fight scenarios, the blonde bomber figured he'd probably learn more about his most-definitely-fearless leader by seeing what sorts of things caught her eye than by asking a million questions.

He did, however, have at least one. "Sooo... how's the horn healing? You were still in a rough way last time we met up." He knew Aura was a powerful healing agent, but with something like ram's horn he wasn't really sure how that would play out.

Everywhere Else / Re: Hunt for the Howling Storm {CLOSED}
« on: July 01, 2018, 09:34:13 AM »
The BOOM of the explosive-filled backpack going off echoed through the entire cavern, accompanied by the sounds of pieces of metal raining down onto bare stone. When the bloom of smoke and flame cleared half the aircraft was just simply gone, the other half rolling like a tumbleweed for a few moments before it ground to a halt in a screeching shower of sparks. Most of the grunts and crew had leapt out (or been blasted out) at the last moment, laying still but most likely alive where they landed. In any case, they wouldn't be putting up a fight any time soon. Solar and Infrared had pushed themselves to their limits... but in the end, it paid off. The fight was all but over.

A scream of terror filled the cavern just seconds after the explosives, the other half of the fight reaching its conclusion in similarly destructive fashion. When Fallon and Rust reached striking distance their blades had clashed -- Rust was a half-second quicker and, although Fallon had clearly been intent on slash-and-stab, the Fang lieutenant had been forced onto the defensive to avoid being cleaved in two. For all the good it had done him; the whirling spikes of Onyx Ripper buffeted Fallon's saber, and just like the Fang Bullhead there was a banshee shriek of metal and torrent of sparks from the clash. Leverage, however, can often be a deciding factor in melee combat -- Fallon gripped his blade by one hand, whereas Alizarin's weapon was mounted to his forearm. It was inevitable that the lieutenant's grip would slip. Caught by the chainsaw fangs on Rust's weapon Fallon's sword was flung away, his arm pulled downwards by the exerted force... and what had been intended as a shoulder-level strike instead went a few inches higher. Lt. Fallon had just enough time to recognize his predicament and scream in horror before his Aura crumbled... and he was silenced, head dropping to the deck with a crimson spray, expression frozen in a wide-eyed gasp.

It was over... it was finally over.

Wolves of the Sea
by Antti Martikainen

With all enemies bested, the adventurers could not only catch some much-needed breaths but take their time in securing prisoners from the surviving Fang troopers -- none seemed interested in putting up a fight with their Bullheads destroyed and their leadership gone, captured, or decapitated, perhaps out of an awareness that ending up in a Mistali jail was a much better fate than either dying here or getting left behind. Even Quisling managed to behave himself; admittedly, waking up locked in a musty old pirate chest may have had something to do with it.

"Can hardly believe we actually pulled it off." Cordell couldn't help but mention as they all regrouped on the deck of the Howling Storm. A terrible Grimm, a backstabbing traitor, the White Fang... they'd overcome some serious odds to reach this point. Running her hand across the old wooden railings of the legendary pirate ship, she knew this was a story they'd all be telling for a long time to come. "Right, so... only three things left t' do: load up every treasure in this forsaken old cave, fly this ol' beauty out," She grinned from ear to ear at the last item. "An' decide what t' do with all th' loot."

"Way I see it is this: ye'v all more'n earned yer share -- an' Rust half o' mine, as agreed. Since Quis was a fake there's clearly no deal with th' historical society, never was. That means we can do as we please with whatever we recover!"
Her grin shifted, dimming somewhat. "... But there's one thing we've gotta all decide on first. Th' crown. Who's got it, by th' by?"

Everywhere Else / Re: The Tangled Web We Weave [SerAnad] (CLOSED)
« on: June 28, 2018, 05:18:36 PM »
"Wonderful! That's actually the best news I've gotten all day." There was no double-meaning to that phrase, and although Maria did slightly worry that it might throw off her new hire to hear such a thing there was... value... in being candid about one's needs and situation. "I have every reason to think that affairs can be settled within that time frame." Now it was her turn for background noise -- although, admittedly, the tappa-tap tappa-tap of fingertips across a hard-light keyboard was authentic, not merely theatrical. "I'll have the full briefing file sent over shortly, along with a consideration fee -- even if your employer opts not to take the job they can retain the fee. All we ask in return is that the details we provide are kept confidential until such time as the dispute is successfully resolved." Or, to put it another, blunter way... hush money, pure and simple. With a single click a pair of files were sent along to Shoko-La's phone. "There we go, files and Lien are on their way. We thank you for your time and hope to do business with you. Have a good evening!"

Scarce minutes later Shoko-La would receive two files on her Scroll from Maria's number. The first was an anonymous pay-code she could use at any bank or ATM to cash out a not-insignificant sum of 5 million Lien -- a clear indication of just how valuable this job, and the secrecy it entailed, was. The second was an encrypted calling program tagged with the file name 'The_Lady_Requests_An_Audience'. It would ensure any further discussion was safe from digital eavesdropping...

(OOC: Since there's no canon explanation for Lien values, I tend to rely on this as my guide. By these calculations, 5 million Lien = $75,000 USD)

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