05.19.3013: Kicking it Down the Road
Summary: Even a night of fun (for some, at any rate) turns to talk of Hostiles.
Date: 19 May 2013
Related: none
Victor Letha Aidan Karlus Lyrienne 

The Central Arcade, The Westend, Imperius
The Westend of Landing is also known as the Entertainment District. It is most active at night, where the neon lights sends the world into a kaleidoscopic glow. The Central Arcade is a wide, circular plaza with various thoroughfares spreading out like spokes on a wheel into the various regions of the district. At the center of the arcade is a round stage that nightly hosts various musical artists and groups to keep the party going even between venues. Neon piping is inlaid into the cement, creating various geometric patterns and creating pathways to various nightclubs and restaurants. AMP and Red Eye dealers covertly move through the crowds, trading doses for currency.
Sunday, May 19, 3013

Nighttime in the Westend. Holograms blaze into the darkness, and music pumps from open doors. A band holds court on the round stage, blaring out loud rock music. Separating himself from the seething mass at the front of the crowd, Victor laughs, rubbing at a rising bruise on his cheek. His deep laugh ripples up from his chest as he moves up toward a walk-up bar.

Letha has an interesting job which means she's up all night and sleeps all day — usually. Tonight though, she is yawning quite early, slumped up against the side of the a kiosk bar with her cheek propped in her hand, looking dazedly at the bar across the Arcade toward where the band plays. "If I have to listen to another band that sounds just like The Kickers, I'm going to kick myself," she says to the bartender, who smirks easily to the L.L. reporter, handing her another luminous cocktail that looks very similar to a lava lamp. She slurps at it through the straw, glancing toward the Khourni who approaches with a reporter's curiosity.

A few days ago, Aidan reported to his father that the Hostiles appear - unconfirmed but speculated - to be targetting Awakened. Oh how he wishes he hadn't since the old man immediately ordered him not to leave the city alone. Which is why he's being shadowed by a trusted retainer, chosen specifically by Aidan since he's long been of the opinion that the veteran needs to lighten up and learn to relax. "So, what do you think of the music?" he asks Karlus. Shouts is more accurate.

Karlus's face, which is bent down to put his ear near Aidan's mouth, makes it clear what he thinks of the music. His expression is that of a man who has dropped a large rock on his bare foot after having just discovered he has stepped in dung. His mouth struggles for a moment, and then he shouts back into the Peake lord's ear, "It is - forceful, milord. How long does this go on?" His head still bent, he eyes the crowd around them, suspicion cutting through even as he cringes at a particularly loud swoop of sound. It is unlikely he could be having less of a good time from the looks of it.

Victor raises a finger at the bartender, pointing at a glass of virulent blue liquid being handed over to another drinker. By the time he's reached the bar, there's a drink in front of him. He pulls out a card, tapping it onto the reader on the bar to pay, then collects the drink, raising it to his lips and then lowering it as he looks over to the tiny blonde a short distance away, "What's the matter, Blondie?" Yeah, he probably remembers something about her name, based on the smirk that accompanies the nickname. "No backstage pass to this one?"

Letha casts Victor a dubious look before her memory clicks in and she brightens with a grin. "Well, hello there, my Lord…" And then she snorts at his question. "Like I even want them to this… if it was the real Kickers, I'd be all over it… but this is like eating protein gel and pretending its steak." She glances around a bit, and her eyes fall on the pair of Peake. They stand out just a wee bit, and she tilts her head to genuinely consider them before she glances back to the Khourni.

"Yeah, they stink!" Aidan agrees cheerfully. "Too derivative. High energy though!" There's a time for the serenity of the forest. There's a time for the stillness of a cavern deep under the mountain. And there's a time for rocking out to bad music. Guess which this is? Grinning at Karlus, he claps the man on the shoulder. "C'mon, let's get a drink. I'm buying." Turning, he heads for the nearest kiosk serving drinks.

"Drink" brings no visible joy to his face, but when Aidan moves, Karlus immediately follows along a pace directly behind him. It looks like he takes shadowing seriously and also like he has elbows at the ready to discourage anyone in the crowd who might be too aggressive at jostling them.

Victor tilts his head to one side, "They're playing music? I thought it was just a fuckin' mobile mosh pit." Turning his head, he points to the bruise rising on one cheek, the gesture a little proud. Tossing back a swallow of his drink, he adds, "Isn't that the point of music?" One again, there's a little smirk behind the words, and he swirls the remains of his drink around as he looks over to the pair approaching the bar, studying them briefly and nodding a silent greeting.

Letha squints at the bruised cheek critically. "I've seen worse," the reporter comments though she offers the Khourni a bit of a grin. "Though, congratulations on the shiner." Then she looks over to the pair of Peakes once more before she offers the younger of the two a small salute with her glowing cocktail. "Don't worry. Their set is almost over… and then we all are given a break to recover!"

Aidan nods a greeting back to Victor steps over to the bar. "Karlus will be glad to hear that." he tells Letha, grinning at the comment and glancing back over his shoulder at the sergeant. "Excuse me." It's not clear exactly who that's directed to until he turns sideways and uses a hip to open the space between Letha and the man who had been next to her on the side Victor is not. Leaning up against the bar, he waves over the bartender and orders once he's gotten his attention. "Who's playing next?"

If the man next to Letha was going to protest Aidan's intrusion, having Karlus elbow his way sharply in behind the Peake lord likely discouraged that. "Father be praised," Karlus mutters under his breath in response to Letha's remark (though possibly not as quietly as he might think given the ringing in his ears). Seeing Aidan's nod to Victor, he gives the other man a glance that takes in the weapon and dress. His hand comes up and across his chest in momentary salute before he turns his attention back to his charge.

Victor snorts at Letha's words, "Better. You've seen better. No one in Landing can hit for shit." His gravelly voice is filled with amusement, and he throws down the other half of his drink. He responds to Aidan's query with a chuckling, "Hopefully something with some hair on its chest." Arching one eyebrow at Karlus, he straightens up from his lean against the bar, bringing his right arm up and across his broad chest. "

"Everyone old enough to be here has seen better." Aidan puts in. "I understand doing an homage but at least do it /well/." He takes a bottle of beer from the bartender and hands it to Karlus. His own drink is a couple ounces of whatever the best whiskey here is. "Go talk shop if you want, Karlus." He and Victor clearly have things in common.

Letha casts a dubious glance toward the Khourni before she shakes her head. "Khourni," she scoffs before she looks up just in time to hear the last song of the wannabe Kickers. She glances toward the older of the Peake men, and she arches up her brows curiously before she takes another slurp from her straw, draining more of the luminous cocktail. "What sorta shop are they gonna talk?" She asks curiously.

Karlus takes the bottle reflexively as he squints at Aidan. "No, milord, I—" He pauses, looks at Letha, then back at Aidan. "Do you want me over there, then?" he asks a little flat-footedly, gesturing to the part of the bar where Victor stands on the other side of Letha.

Victor chortles at Letha, "Got a problem with it?" The interplay between Karlus and Aidan causes him to chuckle low in his throat again, "I'm not here to talk shop. I'm here to bruise bones and knock people down." He shrugs broadly, "You know… have fun." He frowns slightly between the two other men, "Wait, are you really here as a bodyguard?" His smirk grows broader, and he focuses his dark eyes on Aidan, "You've got to have a bodyguard to listen to music?"

"No, Karlus." Aidan says patiently, turning to smile at the man. "I want you to enjoy yourself. I promise not to go anywhere without you." He rolls his eyes at Victor's words. "Not my idea. But with the Hostiles taking prisoners…" He shrugs. "Really, I think limiting it to the woods would be enough but I wasn't asked. Anyway, Aidan Peake. And this is Karlus."

"Prisoners?" Letha says with wide eyes. "Are they really?" She worries at her lower lip a bit before she looks over toward the Peake. The introductions are distracting enough, but that wrinkle in her brow does not let up. "Letha Vallas of Cindravale," she offers, inclining her head a bit. "Pleasure to meet you, Lord Aidan. L… Lord Karlus?" She half-asks, trying not to make assumptions. Or at least not too many.

"Aye, milord" Karlus replies to Aidan. He gives Letha a half bow that's something more than a dip of his head - a good compromise given uncertain ground - and replies, "Just Karlus—milady?" As he does, he sets the bottle down on the bar as unconsciously as he took it.

Victor arches both of his eyebrows at Aidan's news, straightening his stance sharply, dropping one hand to the head of his axe, his amusement fading away to a flat expression, "They've hit again? I hadn't heard. Where was it this time?" His attention now strictly focused on Aidan, he does manage to respond, "Sir Victor Khournas." Shifting back to what he evidently thinks is more important, he asks, "Were there any more casualties?"

"Vallas? Any relation to the composer?" Which proves Aidan isn't just into bad rock. "A pleasure to meet you, Letha. Victor. And yes, they seem to be targetting Awakened particularly. Just the one attack so far." he explains. "But there is still someone missing and the third Hostile was not found."

"Miss Letha Vallas," the journalist offers to the fellow Citizen, giving him a slight smile before she glances over toward Victor at his questions, and then toward Aidan at his own answers. Her smile brightens a bit more as Aidan seems to recognize her name. "Yes. Christian Vallas is my father."

Karlus gives Letha a quick nod of acknowledgment and straightens, settling into what is undisguisedly an "at ease" stance as he scans the crowd around them.

Victor lets out a breath that's equal parts relief and disappointment. "I hadn't heard that detail. The prisoners, that is." Grunting softly, he adds, "Huh. That's a new trick." This time his smirk is broad and toothy, "It's a weakness we can exploit."

"I'm a big fan of his work." Aidan tells Letha. "There's this one cave I know deep in Mount Mordune where I go and play his symphonies. It's like the entire mountain is vibrating." To Victor, he asks "A weakness?"

Letha blinks several times at the words of the young Peake, and she starts to grin a slightly silly grin. "Really?" Then she glances toward Karlus and Victor, and she clears her throat a bit. "I'll have to pass that to my father… maybe if you are in the Vale in a few weeks… he's been asked to host a small concert of his work in the theatre…" Then she finishes slurping at her cocktail, trying to look innocuous.

At "a weakness," Karlus quickly turns his gaze to focus his attention on Victor. The pseudo-Kickers crash through yet another pregenerated climax, but this time the noise doesn't jar a reaction loose from the Peake sergeant's sharp face. Head tilted forward a little, he listens for the Khourni knight's response.

Victor nods his head, "A weakness. If the Hostiles want to take prisoners, they'll be concerned with something besides trying to kill us." His voice stays at a low growl, "It's something that we can take advantage of." He points idly over to Letha, "You all know that she's a reporter, right? And anything we talk about here is going to show up in the paper."

"What do you know. I /will/ be in the Vale in a few weeks!" Aidan answers feigning surprise. The Ways makes that a very simple thing to do. "And I would love to attend if you were to invite me." He'd even dress up for it as opposed to the ranger casual he's wearing now. At Victor's words, he looks back to Letha. "A reporter? No, I didn't know that. But none of that was a secret." At least, the one who told him didn't say it was.

"I'm an entertainment journalist," Letha says with a smirk toward Victor. "And I work for Landing Life… which is about as far from a serious content magazine as you can get." Which would be the truth. While HNN was reporting on the missing Arborenin, L.L. was talking about Princess Janelle's newest fashion statements. She huffs a breath upwards, tossing up her bangs a bit. "Though, Sir Victor has a point… I do have a job to do." She pulls out her small tablet that is for notetaking, sliding off the barstool that is pulled up to the small kiosk-style bar in the outside arcade.

Karlus looks like he was about to ask a question of Victor, but the revelation about Leah brings him up short. He looks down at her and says, "Maybe more private than not—" As she gets down from her stool, he moves back a little so that she can get by if she needs to.

Victor shrugs a shoulder at Letha, looking back over to Karlus, "Not that the Hostiles paid any attention to the news in the last war. Probably for the best. A whole lot of boring bullshit covering over the interesting facts." He nods to Karlus, "I'm at the Khourni Embassy for another couple of days, except when I'm patrolling back home. Look me up if you want to talk shop." He nods around the group, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to show these Landing pansies how to knock someone down…"

"Have fun." One farewell, two targets. Aidan plants his butt on the stool once Letha vacates it and takes a sip of his drink. "Though I don't know what you're likely to write about them." The hand not holding the drink gestures vaguely toward the souce of the noise.

Lyrienne lives a life of leisure. It's very nice, really. And since there are people to see to the children when they wake up early in the morning, that means she can come out in the evenings to listen to new music. There are a pair of guards who discreetly tail her, though she doesn't pay much attention to them as she makes her way toward the bar.

Letha casts a glance toward Aidan as she goes, offering him a bit of a wave before she also heads off toward the stage so she can chat with the wannabe Kickers.

Karlus acknowledges Victor's nod with his own salute and gives Letha a nod as well as he moves into the space at the bar Victor was occupying (leaving his own untouched bottle on the bar at Aidan's elbow). The last reverberations of the band dies down, and he visibly and vocally sighs and gives his head a sharp shake.

Aidan turns enough so he can slide Karlus' beer down the bar to him. "Don't waste the worst beer they had." he teases, knowing the sergeant's utter lack of taste. "Maybe the next band won't suck." It's as much a prayer as a comment.

"Oh, they'll suck," Lyrienne announces cheerfully as she reaches the bar and claims a stool for herself. "Unless someone stops to tune the guitars between sets. They're an eight of a step off. One of the fizzy glowing things, please," she requests from the barkeep with a flash of a smile.

"I must be poor company, Lord Aidan," Karlus says, sounding uncharacteristically apologetic as he leans down to pick up the warm and skunky beer. He dutifully drinks nearly a third of it in one gulp, then belches. (That, at least, was characteristic.) At Lyrienne's approach, he straightens up and sets the bottle back on the bar.

"On the contrary, Karlus." Aidan counters. "Listening to the bands wouldn't be half as fun without you. Especially since the next one will suck too, according to this fine lady. Do you have inside knowledge of who's playing? Or just confident they don't bother to tune their instruments?"

"They have a tendency to forget," Lyrienne answers Aidan with a crooked smile, glancing toward the stage. "Their lead guitar prefers a synth version, but their producers are pushing them to try a more acoustic sound, and they haven't quite made the adjustment in terms of realizing what else needs to be done. Honestly, they're much better when they're doing their own, usual thing." She pauses to take her drink, then grins at the pair. "Lyrienne," she introduces herself with a salute of her glowing, fizzy glass.

Hearing Aidan say "lady," Karlus bows to Lyrienne, then settles back into upright immobility at the Peake lord's right hand. He spares one glance at the stage, his face a study in resignation as he reaches to retrieve his beer from the bar a half-beat ahead of the keeper's reaching hand, an action that earns him a momentary "you're driving away customers, sourpuss" glare.

"Aidan." he offers in return and smiles. "I thought I recognized you. Aidan Peake. I remember when you were fostered in Arboren. I think we met once or twice but that was quite a while ago." And would have been unmemorable except for whatever it is that sent her away.

"Quite a while indeed," Lyrienne agrees, a sad cast to her smile for just a moment. "Though I'm pleased to have made it back recently. Not under the best circumstances and far too late, but better late than never." She looks around the Peake lord toward Karlus, offering a friendly smile as well. "And you are?"

Recognition has dawned in Karlus's face as Aidan and Lyrienne speak, and he bows once again to her as he quickly sets his beer back on the bar. "Karlus Albist, my lady," he replies. The bartender glares at the back of the tall Peake sergeant's head, then snatches the bottle and scuttles away to toss it decisively into the recycling chute.

"No, not under the best circumstances." Aidan agrees somberly, making the assumption it was the Hostiles incident that took her back. "And not likely to improve much in the future. But we'll deal with it."

"A pleasure, Karlus," Lyrienne nods amiable to Karlus before looking to Aidan once more. "Of that, I have no doubt, Lord Aidan. After seeing the job Tristan and Brienne made of their Hostile when taken by surprise, I don't think Arboren has anything to truly fear." She takes a sip of her drink, humming approval for the mix. "I'll admit, I'm less certain about Oculus. I miss having solid ground under my feet."

"Father's will that you are right, milady," Karlus says with a dip of his head. "And, yes, we will take care of them" he replies to Aidan, though that assertion seems a bit more pro forma. The tight line folded between his brows has been there since Victor voiced his assessment of the Hostile scouts' activities a few minutes before.

"Well, we'll have to see what their plan of attack is before we can respond to it." Aidan muses. "But if they decide to concentrate on just one area, I'm sure we'll all send as many forces as we can spare while still being prepared in case it's a diversion. But if their main focus will is the Awakened this time, that is troubling." He glances at Karlus since that's the reason for the sergeant's presence.

"Troubling indeed," Lyrienne agrees. "Though I don't think they can focus too much on us. Any more than they would on any class of weapon. Granted, we certainly light up a sign that says exactly where we are when we're fighting," she adds with a tilt of her head. "But the real danger, I think, is in capture and what they might do to those they capture. And the implications of the fact that they might /want/ to capture us. Like trying to develop Awakened abilities of their own."

"Awaken them in themselves? Or use them from others?" Karlus's head tilts toward them, and he speaks quietly. "I have always heard that evil does not create - it merely takes and binds." Maybe he speaks a bit out of turn, but he is a Peake, after all, even in a place as alien to him as the Arcade.

Aidan nods to Lyrienne. "Yes, that was exactly my thought. Even though it would do them little good now, I wouldn't want my descendants to be facing Hostiles with their own Awakened five hundred years from now." Glancing at his glass of whiskey, he finishes the last of it and sets it down on the bar. "So we'll just have to see to it that doesn't happen." He nods to Karlus, not seeming to mind at all the Sergeant's opinion. "If you get the chance, be sure they do not take me alive, Karlus."

"Especially when that evil is the Hostiles," Lyrienne agrees with Karlus. "Look at what they've done with normal humanity. They've taken human beings and turned them into nightmares, into creatures designed to kill. If our abilities now aren't any more suited to combat than anything else is, I expect they would be once the Hostiles were finished with them." She takes a bracing drink, shaking her head. "Did you have the dream? With the noise, and the face?"

"I will be sure they do not, Milord." Karlus's eyes lock on Aidan's for a moment: clear, level, void of doubt. "I already decided that." He looks away as Lyrienne questions Aidan and reaches his left hand toward the bar. Only when that hand comes up empty does he frown.

Aidan nods once to Karlus then looks back to Lyrienne. "Dreaming is not my specialty. I saw some of it, aye but it made little sense till I spoke to another. Her words clarified much of what I was unsure about." Considering his own empty glass and Karlus' now disappeared bottle, he stands. "We should get back to Peake." he decides. "A pleasure seeing you again, Lyrienne. Do come by Khar-Mordune sometime when there is still time for hospitality."

"I will," Lyrienne promises with a small smile. "A pleasure seeing you again. And meeting you, Karlus," she adds with a nod to the other man. "Travel safely."

Karlus bows to Lyrienne and falls into place behind Aidan. Not subtlety from his bodyguard, at least.

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