06.23.3013: A Rook and a Hard Place
Summary: Ithaca's introductory scene. Nitrim is contacted by a shadowy hacker named "Rook" that agrees, in trade, to help him scour for evidence of Awakened dreams.
Date: 23 June 2012
Related: None
Ithaca Nitrim 

Somewhere on the Ring…
Description available in scene.
June 23, 3013

Back at Volkan, Nitrim received a strange message, luring him to a strange time and place away from his home. Normally, this sort of situation garnered more security to be had, but he's heard rumors of Rook. He was intrigued. And so, healing wounds and all, he followed the address to the exact coordinates with his ever-silent bodyguard in tow.

It is a dark and dusty portion of the Ring, down below in its depths, where mostly maintenance tunnels and camps of drunks, prostitutes, and the homeless sleep when they must. There is a utility room at the end of a long tunnel, and that is where Nitrim has been led. Inside, sitting on a pile of old books, is a figure, hard to discern as it's wearing dark clothes, but the glint from their computer screen, settled in their lap, reflects off facial piercings. "Close the door behind you," she, if the voice is an indicator, says.

Nitrim looks back to his bodyguard, who gives him a look of warning in protest. In response, Nitrim's eyes bleed over into all-white and he scans the room, looking for signs of other people hidden among them. He blinks his eyes back to normal and murmurs quietly to the man, shaking his head. The bodyguard slips off, taking place in the hallway, and Nitrim closes the door behind him. The dim, holographic address on his wristwatch dissipates, and he steps to stand before the girl. "Rook…I presume?"

Tap tap tappity tap tap. The woman continues typing away on her keyboard, her fingers moving with swift surety. She still hasn't even looked over at Nitrim. "Cigarette." It's less of a statement and more of a demand as one hand snaps out palm up expectantly." She's still typing with the other hand without missing a beat. A fall of black hair is shrouding her eyes from sight.

The lordling blinks. It's been a long time since he's been given such abrupt demands. His many-ringed fingers slip into the inside pocket of his coat and he pulls out an ornate cigarette case. With one of the claw-rings, he pries a cigarette loose, slips it between his lips, and lights it with the palm of his hand. Mulling it over, he looks down to her palm and places a cigarette into it, and then moves over to a nearby crate. His wounded body moves stiffly, though he stymies any noise of pain as he lowers himself. Now it's his turn to be abrupt. "Information. Or I walk."

The strange woman sets the cigarette between lips painted black, and cups her hand over the end to ignite it against her palm, much as he did. For a long moment, she says nothing, just continues typing and taking slow drags on the cigarette. Finally, she finishes the subroutine she was programming and she closes it out. Beneath it is a browser open to his Infosphere request. She turns the screen towards him. Her face turns towards him as well, pale, black liner, spiked collar. She gestures to the laptop rather than ask out loud what the hell it's all about. She uses the tip of her tongue to flick the end of the cigarette in her mouth, and drop the ashes off the end of it into an old can.

"Saw that, did you?" Nitrim's eyebrow twitches, looking down to the screen. He remembers his query well, having searched many of the open Awakened dreams forums for specific hits. His green eyes dance over the monitor-lit letters, until they scroll back to the mysterious woman's face. "The only way to tell the difference between random, superficial dreams and ones that connect us are in trying to find duplicate hits. Some of us are talking, most of us are not." He reaches to his neck to scratch lightly with the copper-jacketed end of his ring. "I sought to find the ones that were connected. What's your interest in my searches? Personal stake, business?"

Rook's face is blank, no emotion visible on it at all. "Both." That is a succinct answer at least. She's a chatty cathy, this one. She plucks the cigarette out of her mouth, glancing at the screen and back to Nitrim. "I can help."

His brows lower gravely, eyes narrowing on the girl's face. Cigarette in lip, the paper crinkles softly and the cherry at the end flares as he takes in a fresh drag. As he exhales, he can see the dust particles in the air kicked up by their presence. What the smoke doesn't highlight, the dim illumination provided by her laptop computer's screen makes rather apparent. He ashes his cigarette to the floor and takes the bait. "My theory is the more these dreams are connected, the more likely they are to be prophetic. Early warning system means advantage, but could also mean if the Hostile have any access to our Infosphere feeds we would have an idea as to what they might be looking at." He pauses, fingertips tapping softly on the black fabric that covers his knee. "What's your price?"

Rook looks back at the screen and calls up the subroutine she'd just finished. "My program will use probabilities and the registry of known awakened to put together a list of computer addresses, which it will then hack into to look for any stored writings about dreams that match with any others it finds. The Hostiles can monitor the 'sphere, but they can't monitor what isn't actually out there on it." A hacker. That might explain all the clandestineness of the meeting. She shrugs about the price. "You rich?" she asks.

"In some things, poor in others. I won't pay in account numbers, I don't want any traces, but I'm not the type to rat out my sources. So long as we have an understanding and mutual respect, private is the way to deal with things." His eyelid twitches, slowly at first, but eventually starts to spasm in the way a Red Eye addict only could. He dips his head, shadowing the eyelid from her view as he attempts to cover it up with a drag of his cigarette. He sighs out the next cloud of cigarette smoke, eyes to the wall. His adornment and rings, added to the suspicion of Red Eye addiction paints the picture of a nobleman who's learned to be discreet. "Make me a believer. If you get involved with this I want to make sure this arrangement remains nonexistent to the outside world, your sources, and your business partners. I'm not doing this to profit."

Rook nods sharply, once, then looks back to her screen. "Cigarettes, booze, Red Eye, Amp." Is that what she's asking for as payment? Well if he won't pay direct money for her to pay down her debt, at least she can get some goods for herself and save the money that would normally go to those things.

The twitching fit ends, and the lordling gives a shake of his head, warding off the cobwebs. He turns his head to stare at the hacker, nodding softly in response to her request. "I can get you those. Gods know they don't check my fucking pockets at the Ways like they do others." The cigarette is slipped back into his lip as he studies the girl. Her body language is impeccably hard to read, but he doesn't show his frustration with it. A large amount of trust is being put on the line for a stranger. "Deal." His voice trails, and then he ashes his cigarette once more. "What's your name? Your real name?" It's a test.

"Rook," is the response. Ithaca Black is a non-entity in her mind. She is more herself immersed in the Infosphere. All is clearly not right with this one, but it may be the right kind of wrong. The cigarette is down to the filter and she stubs it out into the can. She closes the laptop and rises, shoving it into a dirty, ragged looking backpack and slinging it over one shoulder. "Anything else?" she asks flatly, eyes half-lidded.

Sensing their conversation coming to an end, and all business conducted, Nitrim rises to his feet and stomps out his cigarette. He gives the door a quick glance. Brushing down the front of his shirt, he walks over to the door and wraps his fingers around the handle. "For whatever reason you're doing this, let's hope what we're about to do might save some lives." He thumbs the lock and opens it for her. "Keep your head down, you know how to reach me."

A curt nod is the response. There have been no Milords, or Lord Nitrim's or even Misters. Rook shoulders past him, avoiding physical contact, and opens the door to walk out. "Close it behind you." Then she's gone, disappearing down the hall into the unwashed masses of the downbelow.

As requested, Nitrim steps out into the hallway after Rook and closes the door behind him. Rexus is still there, ever watchful, and the two turn to watch Rook disappear into the deep, dank corridors of the Ring. The two say nothing, and a small creature in Nitrim's stomach turns over in his sleep as the lordling leaves it on hope that he didn't just show his hand.

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