qdesjardin: (Default)

SCENE 3 Dilly-Dally

The icon of St Michel gazes with blank, unjudging shale eyes amidst the square, like a kind of rorschach mirror, and Utena sees the little details embroidered in the shale, life-size statue on the pedestal. All the wrinkles on St Michel's face correctly reproduced and the drooping folds of his robe's fabric, down to his knees. Andrei Valken says St Michel is one of the patron saints sent over to watch the community's wellbeing – see, the plaque there mentions it.

He seems like a nice and polite l'homme, that was Utena's first impression of him. He's soft-spoken, his voice rarely a pitch higher than his interlocutor's, and he has a shy gait that seems to all but suggest he'll do whatever it takes if it makes you happy, my good madame.

When Utena and Robin had left with him, he'd brought up the idea that to be able to smoothly go with the flow in Strasbourg, they needed to get in touch with the moods and feel of the streets. At least, that is how he would manage to orient himself when visiting a new place. Why not? The EU offices aren't open to the general public until it's past afternoon, and he can buy them yogurt-fraize ice cream in the meanwhile.

Utena makes a meek attempt to peer up St Michel's dress to see if he's wearing any fancy underwear. “Wouldn't you have it,” she says after relenting. “Apparently it's supposed to be so dark it's solid underneath.”

When the sky had cleared to a serene blue, you could just feel the briskness on your nose's tip and your cheeks – it's the enlivening briskness of standing by a flowing waterfall without the wetness. It resonates well with the tones from an accordion being played somewhere, and the noise seamlessly blends in with the rest of the colours seen.

A little later, Andrei decides to show the girls to the Rhein-Ruhr Zentrum shopping outlet – a place where there's mostly groceries in frozen aisles and some snackerals, such as baguettes, chocolate, ice cream and roasted beef. It'll just be a brief spout of shopping.

“You have to buy some stuff for yourselves!” Andrei goes, toting a shopping cart. “It might be souvenir, it might be in case you go hungry. Hey, I'll pay for it even!”

So they fetch groceries, baguettes, some of the chocolate (especially some of Timmy's brand), yogurt-fraize ice cream and freshly made, chopped roasted beef – all in the span of 25 minutes.

Now it is 11:58 AM. To the tongue, the ice cream has the tenderness of vanilla milk with strawberry fruitiness.

qdesjardin: (Default)

SCENE 2 – Plot

“As a young lad,” M. Valken tells his beloved guests, “your maester Tim was fond of sampling chocolate. He would engorge his tongue on all sorts of chocolate; everything from pure cocoa, to chocolate mixed with cherry and walnut.” In the PowerPoint, the picture of petite Timmy, wearing a tux - his cheeks plump like a penguin, and he's hanging off a Christmas tree from biting on a gingerbread man.

Utena thinks it's kinda cute that everyone has their sweet tooth yearnings. Robin gazes at the image; it is interesting to see another side to the eccentric man.

That gingerbread happened to get mutated with chocolate chips and sprinkles,” M. Valken says. “M. Timothy has been so good to lend me this photo in particular. All the rest would embarrass him so.” Next slide. “And M. Timothy, in his ingenuity.. has transformed his passion for sweetness into profit – if you ever looked where the chocolate is at the markets, you may have spotted his finest product, Sauvage Love.

It is a chocolate bar, its wrapping exquisitely drawn out with fine design. And once you've opened the flower's sepals, you feast upon the nectar so crafted, so manufactured; the ingredients and cocoa bringing your mouth, each slow and delicate chew, to an orgasm that leaves you so vain.. no, not in the sense of inducing vanity in the customer, but bringing out the portions in your being that have been long gone unattended – since suckling on those rich breasts that have coddled you, those first delights you could have savoured in this world. All this for the quaint price of eight pounds, or twelve euros for those abroad.

“I've heard of Tim telling us he's in the co-co business,” Utena goes, looking at the bar. “I guess this is what he means. Funny, I've seen people dowse themselves with candy like it, but I didn't know ol' Tim was behind this evil plan.”

“Evil?” M. Valken widens his eyes as if asking 'Who, Me?' “Non, non! You must see, M. Timothy respects his customers. He wants what is best for them, so that they can give their best for him. The feeling his chocolate gives is that of bliss. It's not meant to be addictive though, and it is reasonably healthy to eat too. The way he has the chocolate made, he also pumps in the essential nutrients so you aren't simply consuming those.. empty calories. Not like other chocolate. He is very honest in sharing what his ingredients are, but.. the trick lies in the way it's made.

I'll give you layman's terms. By the same way he integrates the nutrients into the final bar, so can he also integrate a form of the opium inside. This opium drug, once it has gone through manufacturing process, remains dormant.. hidden in the bar. It will be like other bars. You don't get, well, high from eating it, because opium chemistry is changed. It is almost undetectable, except for the fact it is a little heavier than usual. No dog or cat can smell it, besides the chocolate. The recipients, when they want the opium, they will have one of our chemists distill the bar The Right Way. Or else.. no opium.

“M. Timothy has a joint distribution network set-up across the countries. I need not tell you the details, but – the Interpol, they may be getting suspicious. Tim has been hearing not-so-goodly news, one of the clients fucked up the secrecy and they are wondering if the chocolate has something related to do with it. Now they're riled, they wish to pull off a wide-scale investigation, but they need to get approval from the Commission because of potential damages to economy. So they have their advocates push an act that allow this sort to happen.

In two days time, Council of Europe will be presenting issues to each other in town. You know how the process goes, there will be up to three tries to get an act passed. If it don't work the first time, then they'll revise it for the second try. And so on, up until the third time, in which it gets tossed aside to the dogs-- damn, you must be pretty hungry after hearing this, oui? I am!”

Wait..” Robin says, her soft voice possessing a kind of solidity. “Who do you want us to kill?

M. Valken halts. “Ha.. hahaha. AHAHAHAHA!” His laughter, undignified in its sudden rupture, seems to possess no bounds. Robin begins to blush, feeling that she has said something wrong, and clutches onto the pillow all the more. “You kill no one!” he goes. “Right now, you're killing me-- hoho-- I almost forgot, you two are his killers. I gotcha. It's just, you two look so young, I don't see you strangling the hell outta me.”

Utena is smirking – that is very flattering of him to say so! “Ohh.. we're young, but that's all the better to take you down if we needed to. Besides, strangling? Very unprofessional.”

“Unprofessional.. hunh.” M. Valken puts his remote on his desk. “Killing here, you use only as a last resort – because our goal is to keep it low-key. We convince these people that making life difficult for us, is not worth anything but what a pony may care.”

He claps his hands excitedly, and gestures at the toolboxes. “What M. Timothy wants of you.. is to mesmerize the Interpol advocates.”

“Mesmerize?” Utena says.

M. Valken grabs the remote, advancing it to the next slide – apparently snack time can wait. On the screen are two people's portraits; one Jeanne Whitaker and a Luis Felipe. You see the dull pallor on their unsmiling faces, like the stale air of a hospital room, the whiteness overwhelming the contemporary art gallery, the rubbish bag tangled forever on the barbed wire; all the life seems to have been sucked out of their souls only to be replaced with the bureaucracy and regulation of their professional lives. It would be no wonder that they have been perfect candidates for commission work.

For Utena, she would be much delighted to give these folk a neat wake-up call of sorts, if it means mesmerizing them.. you are getting sleepy.

“Mesmerizing – we spellbind their minds,” M. Valken explains, making a twirl of his fingers. “Not with words or magick, but with specially-devised drugs. Mental relaxants. Once they take the drugs, it doesn't take effect until once you sleep, and then.. what happens is that – you know when your brain goes on autopilot mode, oui? You wake up, you do daily routines like brush teeth, eat breakfast, the humdums..”

“Those things we tend to do..” Robin goes, “that we don't pay conscious attention to.”

“You got it right! Thank God, you know where I was going. Conscious attention.. this drug, it will hamper their awareness. It doesn't take away, it hampers. It will be like.. a bad hangover, or sleeping on those jumbo jets, except for them – they won't know it. A sort of numbed drowsiness. It will last around five hours, give or take, once they wake up. When they go to meeting, they won't present themselves well. They'll be buffoons. The council should dismiss them, but on the unlikely event that Jeanne and Luis manage to get their shit through anyway, we have another dose to give them, and another.”

“Even if we succeed, Interpol will still have their suspicion,” Robin says. “Why attack the head of the Hydra when two more will grow in its place anyway?”

“Because..” M. Valken goes, “in the case we succeed, M. Timothy will have the opportunity to disguise the situation, so to discourage them from prodding their oversized noses where they don't belong. They don't know we know, yet. For your maester, secrecy must be one of the most precious things he holds dear.”

Then M. Valken treats his guests to slices of mulberry pie and refillings of their tea. And when he introduces them to some of Timothy's luxury chocolate, they hesitate for the feeling of an addiction that needs constant sating; he tells them there really is nothing dishonest about those bars. They eat them – a peck off the top at first, and more and more of those sweet portions down their mouths, and surely they feel inspirited as far as their taste carries them.

But if these two boxes are for Robin and Sena to use, then who is the last box for?

“I'll call my son Andrei downstairs,” M. Valken goes. “He will help you acquaint with the mission specifics more.”

qdesjardin: (Default)

Somewhere, someone beweeps their fate, troubling deaf Heaven with bootless cries, having fallen into disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes.

SCENE 1 – Old Town

There is the classical architecture of Petite-France, medieval half-timbered houses and baroque sandstone offices. The morning sky is overcast, sunlight diffused through the dense clouds – a couple waltzes by upon the lavish pavement, weaving by other travellers, lost to their own tune.

Utena Tenjou, aged 16, in her tan trenchcoat, calmly surveys her surroundings for any sign of Das Menchen's approaching. Her partner, Robin, is still inside the comforts of the Chevalier Hotel, likely searching up facets about the region on her finicky jeejah. As far as they're concerned, savouring the delights isn't their biggest priority, but the swift execution of whatever the fuck Timothy IV (their boss) needs them to do, which they don't know yet. Das Menchen will be telling them that shortly – the good German guy, as Timothy described him: rough and grizzly and cold-blooded vigour under his skin. He should be arriving around 8 minutes.

Utena ought to be learning Humanities in school, but her job's much more hands-on and it pays better than bagging groceries. In spite of her sultry demeanour, she doesn't think herself the cheerleader type. “Yawwwnn--!” She must confess though, this sort of life can get quite demanding. But as long as she gets her footsies and backsies afterward.. when they rub that tender spot it is bliss.

Robin Sena emerges from the hotel, aged 15, stoic as usual and walks over to where Utena's standing. She leans on the balustrade, where behind the blue roses bloom, and pulls out her pocket book of Daemonology. It's not just about Daemons, it also has Gothic romances, and Robin has been falling in love secretly with those tragic gentlemen who've tried to endure the allure of Succubi. It is something of a guilty pleasure for her. Shhh.

“Sheesh, you're bookwormy,” Utena goes, tapping feet. “You should get out more.”

“Hm.” Robin nudges her chin, holding book one-handed by the spine.

You wanna know what I think, this is just so Timmy could get kicks out of us blowing off his enemies' asses. What, we've.. bumped two off this week, so far?”

“Mhm.”

And this will make three.. or is he making us fetch his Sauerkraut takeout now?”

“Hm..” Robin licks her finger and turns a page.

“That is, if we don't nab some of the sausages in-between, hehe. I dunno. I think I'll like the food here, if our breakfast was anything to go by.”

“I liked the bread.”

Yeah. Crunchy. Irresistibly so with the garlic flavouring, and once you've added the meat inside. Oh-- he's here. Robin!” Utena snaps her fingers.

Robin snaps to reality as she pockets away her book. A white van has arrived, with the label Plumbing Inc. on the sides, the driver's door open and Das Menchen slumbering towards them. It's almost surprising how the guy seems mundane as any other in his utilitywear, until you really catch the intensity in his eyes.

When they can just smell the Turkish Delight on his breath, he says to them, “You are Utena? You are Robin?” He has his hand out – Utena shakes it. “You may call me Monsieur Valken. Come in my van, I drive you to a good place.”

M. Valken slides the side door open, where inside you can see the seats by the sides, tangled nets enmeshed over the windows, surrounding the empty space in the middle – save for three worn toolboxes awaiting their duty. Once Utena and Robin seat themselves the best they could (it seems holding onto the nets must suffice as seatbelts), M. Valken ignites the van.

The ride is rough. Those pangs of acceleration M. Valken gives makes it feel like entering warp drive at every stop, and the rattling below – *titttuttititttutt*-- Robin realises she's clutching onto Utena.

“So how do you know Tim?” Utena asks, half-shouting over the noise.

“We've good friends,” M. Valken goes. “I met him during a fishing trip, I was throwing my speciality hook in the waters when it caught on one of the albatross birds – right in the eyes, and I said to one of my friends, 'Damn! That cocksucking scoundrel try to swindle me from my 200-pound tuna!' I nickname her Fishy.”

He veers the van into a cul-de-sac of tall, half-timbered residences, where he manoeuvres in-between into an alleyway, bump, and out into a street of more such residences; this village of peculiar arrangement, the shrubbery outgrown like vines from the windows, the overall idyllic charm especially impressionistic if under a clear blue sky – a paradise by any other name almost.

“What happens next,” M. Valken continues, “it may be sounding ridiculous, but listen well anyway. I saw dear Timothy come with his boat and he saw the poor birdie acting a seizure over water.. he crawled down and, he made tsk-tsk sounds like tendering to a son's boo-boo, and pulled out my hook. The birdie wasn't going to make it though, so he grabbed out his rifle and shot the animal down its backside. Boom. Like that. Such a pity, and then.. we saw Fishy coming to the surface, it must've been the blood, and I struggled, and.. Gods be damned, I got my Fishy! Father Fucking Fantastic!”

From what view the van offers her, Robin glimpses the passing sights, a maelstrom of images flickering by into her focus before regressing into indistinguishable blurs. The sturdy tower, and the bridge over the meditative river, and another tower to signify an end. Utena's chatter with M. Valken just brushes over her awareness, irrelevant and soothing as background music could be. What's inside these toolboxes? Does Das Menchen really take plumbing jobs? Or plumbing jobs? Why are there three of them?

“Wow,” Utena exclaims, “you must be really proud of yourselves, I bet.”

“Ohh.. you know. I split money half an' half with Tim, we took photos..” M. Valken scratches his nose. “Fishy now rests peace and sound in my office. Ever since, we go fishing every now and then when M. Timmy comes visiting.”

“But Tim isn't here, is he?”

“Non.”

“So what are we really here for then? Another clean-up?”

“I tell you when we arrive.”

“Why not here?” Utena asks.

“Because the job is fairly difficult to explain adequately without proper visual assistance. I have PowerPoint all prepared, you just stay nice and calm until we get there.”

“Well, you can at least sum it up in a sentence, right?”

It involves multiple stages, quite complicated, I need to also tell you the background information – lengthy in its own right.” (Jeez.) “Let's say, Timmy needs you to bump that guy.. and that guy, and that guy, all in the correct order and on the right time. It is a matter of polityczny. Erm, what's word.. political.”

This piques Robin out of her daze. “Assassinations?” she asks.

“Kinda like that.” Truly, it must be a complicated matter. M. Valken looks at them in the mirror. They're dumbfounded! “Hey, you girls are cleaners, no big deal! It's just one step up from your usual.”

Utena actually is growing very excited at the prospect, as you might see from her cheeks flushing. She's passed her driver's preliminaries and now she's about to handle the rouge Chevrolet-- harnessing all its 270 horsepowers (compared with the dinky 1.7 L flat-four of her family's hand-me-down coupe). Except – that slightest ache holding her back: it could go so fast she'd lose control, before she knows it. “Politics, what do you mean, like in those elections?”

“Strasbourg is one of the European Union's strongholds,” Robin goes. “They hold general assembly every two months to discuss issues, current and upcoming.”

“Is that it?” Utena asks.

M. Valken visibly nods in the mirror, and he brings the van to a crawl up along the driveway, and presses a button on the dashboard. Ahead the garage door pulls open. “This is it, we've arrived.” Once he hauls the van inside, he tells them to grab the toolboxes (they're heavy!) and follow him close.

It is a house close to the Inner City, to the north overlooking the Prater, a house that, large, dark and imposing, is a fantastic museum in encountering. The long rococo halls, giddy with plush and whorled designs in gold, are peopled with Roman fragments, white and disassociated; a runner's leg, the chilly half-turned head of a matron struck at the bosom, the blind bold sockets of the eyes given a pupil by every shifting shadow so that what they look upon is an act of the light.

They rest in the great dark Salon room – it is of roasted hazelnut. Over the burning fireplace rests impressive copies of the Medici shield and, beside them, Fishy the Giant Tuna is well-preserved under glass, her mouth gaping open and expecting to sing Falsetto tunes any moment. Three massive pianos sprawl over the thick dragon's-blood pile of rugs from Madrid.

Utena and Robin place the heavy toolboxes by one of the couches, then seat themselves, Robin clutching onto one of the pillows. Phew.

“How do you take your Tea?” M. Valken asks them. “Sugar? With some creme?”

Utena: “Sugar, no creme.”

Robin: “I'll have both.”

M. Valken must have given some invisible signal, because suddenly a door has opened and his personal butler comes out and immediately has both teas on tray, preferences considered. Robin wonders what would have happened if she'd said, “I'll have coffee instead.” Maybe another door would have opened and another butler would have come out.

Now M. Valken gets to his desk and clicks a button on a remote. The fire dims, and a large projection screen scrolls down from the heavens. The screen lights up with the presentation – tentatively titled 'Das Plan.'

Syndicate

RSS Atom

January 2017

S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Style Credit

Page generated 27 March 2017 02:33 pm