Log Title: Reassociation
Summary: Acorn holds court at Liquid Air Nightclub and re-associates with old associates.
IC Date: Tue Nov 13 18:49, 2380
OOC Date: Tue Nov 13 18:49, 2018
Related Logs: None
acornnydakaydengalen

 

 

* OOC Time: Tue Nov 13 16:49:45 2018 *

  • * *

The Neon District is the crossroads of Bay City. Most of the city is heavily stratified, and with the exception of a few levels up or down, no one tends to travel far. This place is the exception. It's a place not too fancy for the Grounders, and safe enough and well-patrolled enough for the higher echelons to feel relatively safe visiting. As a result, by day and by night, people of all incomes mix, engage in commerce, and enjoy the night life.

One of the places to enjoy said nightlife is Liquid Air. There are two entrances each patrolled by bouncers. One enters up the ramps into a sphereoid room with a stage at the centre and several levels. Even in this place where everyone is technically on the same level, stratification needs to occur.

The circular motif repeats in dozens of sunken tables, each large enough to fit about a dozen people. Bars circle the outside and the decor reflects the world outside. That is, all neon lights and sensory overload. This is the crossroads of the crossroads. Both legitimate and illegitimate business is done here.

This particular club is known to be in the territory of a crimelord named Argus, and is the particular domain of his lieutenant, a man named Acorn. A man, who was until recently and for seventeen years, a woman. But a recent…mishap and a new sleeve later means a new face. Which means reacquainting himself with those he has dealings with. He's holding court tonight in the most choice of those sunken booths, lounged with a half dozen others, nursing a drink.

  • * *

Nyda Remington has been keeping low since the SFPD sting on a goods exchange a few weeks ago. Everyone was arrested, but Nyda had been guarding one of the exits and was able to make a quick escape — but that doesn't meant someone may have flipped on her, given her name to the police, or suggested that she may be a person of interest. So, she went off the grid — or as 'off the grid' as you can get in this beyond post-modernity world. Tonight is her first night out, and so she's joining the call to Acorn's court. She's dressed in black with enough neon accents to make her blend nicely into the Neon District. She slides past the bouncers after paying her cover charge. Her green and blue hair is done up in a bouncy bob that she tucks casually behind one ear while she scopes the place and then starts for the familiar gathering of Argus followers.

  • * *

To the technologically-impaired and over-equipped, the place would be a distracting barrage of ONI information. To Kayden, there are faint washes of motion in his ONI, and the occasional ID tag from a well-trained comm as it spots someone its owner knows. His own entrance several minutes before Nyda is distracted by a software designer he knows and works with. His own attire is a little less ostentatious than Nyda's, a band t-shirt and relatively-tight black pants under his usual leather jacket. He finishes up his talk with the other techie and heads over to join the orbit of the crime lieutenant just a few steps behind Nyda. When he recognizes her hair in the neon lights, he chuckles, smirking his amusement and flicking a salute to Acorn, "You see the news about ChryTech?" He sounds pretty pleased with himself, "The air-quality alarms inside their main campus?"

  • * *

Acorn either has tech alerting him to who comes and goes in the club, or he has people who have tech who feed him information into his ONI. Either way, it's functionally the same. No one moves through Liquid Air without getting ID tagged by the man in the choice booth.

He's wearing a pearly blue suit jacket over a white t-shirt with more casual pants and a pair of graphic sneakers in the same blue as his jacket. One foot is propped up on the low table. He watches the two from that vantage point, acknowledging Kayden's salute with only the faintest lift of his head. He's not a man who comes to others - they come to him. At least, that's the way of things in this particular setting.

  • * *

When she catches Kayden's voice over her shoulder, she half-turns toward him with arched brows. Her gaze sweeps from shoes to the tousle of his hair; then she tilts her head a bit with a half-cascade of that lock of cyan-streaked green hair. "Menacing the poor corporations again, are you?" Her gray eyes linger on Kayden for a long heartbeat before she looks to Acorn. Nyda has chosen to be stoic tonight as her mouth stays relaxed, though her brow does quirk just slightly. "Argus sent me your way, Acorn. Nyda, and this hanger-on is Kayden." She gestures to Kayden just in case he's a new entity, too. Regardless of ONI reports, Nyda plays it old school with introductions.

  • * *

"Someone's gotta stick it to 'em." Kayden's smile turns boyish and mischievous, "And I'm so good at it." He reaches out with one elbow to give Nyda's arm a nudge, "Pretty sure he knows who everyone in here is, Nyda. He's got his phone on him, after all." By his tone, he's teasing the muscle, which might not be a great idea. "Acorn. You saw CryTech's atmo alarm problems? I was pretty proud of that one."

  • * *

Acorn looks…well, not bored so much as unengaged. But maybe he hasn't quite learned how to use the muscles in his new face the way he wants to. It's only been a few weeks in this sleeve, and acclimating to a new one long-term always has hiccups. A temporary sleeve is like wearing uncomfortable clothes for a short period of time. A new home for your stack requires adjusting to a new reality altogether.

He sits there, elbow propped against the back of the booth, thumb and forefinger against his face. "Yes, I'm well aware of who you both are." His foot slides off the table and he rolls his shoulders forward. "Argus thinks you could be of some use under me. Osha's…" he bobs his head back and forth, "…unfortunate circumstances I understand, were not something you had a hand in. Fortunate for you, yes?" He has one of those old-world accents that has only survived as a distinct entity in a few pockets. Unlike the colonies that are quite often built from a few different but distinct stocks, Earth has become a massive melting pot. Which means truly distinct accents are rarer. In any case, he has the distinct speech pattern for whom Amanglic is not his native tongue.

Then he turns to Kayden and smirks a little. "Is it for you the result of your actions, or the game of them? Both can be useful, but the game can also be distracting." He motions for them to sit if they so choose, which is the signal for some of the other entourage to get up and make room.

  • * *

"Osha always does what Osha wants without much consideration for the consequences," Nyda replies without hesitation — but that's been Nyda. Brutal honesty in the face of authority is better than the simpering politeness that others choose. "My only responsibility is that I did not press harder on the fact that her actions had consequences." Not that anyone usually listens to a bodyguard who looks a bit pixieish on first glance. She takes the offered seat, sliding into it and giving Kayden room to join her on the slick bench. She gives her new boss a bit of a calculating look. It lightens after a moment, and she turns her focus to Kayden for his response to Acorn's question.

  • * *

It's always strange talking to someone getting used to a new sleeve, especially for someone who is still in his birth-sleeve, and Kayden shifts his feet under him a little, looking between Acorn and Nyda as the mini-capo queries her. At the question directed to him, Kayden shrugs a little and waggles a horizontal hand in a very distinct 'ehhhh, little of both' gesture. "The game is fun, but the game is a hobby." His hand lifts from the gesture to scratch at the stubble on his jawline, "A job's a job, and I don't let my hobbies get in the way of work." His own honesty may not be quite as brutal, but then again, he's a hacker, not muscle. Nyda's careful slide to give him room draws a chuckle, and he settles in, leaning back in the seat and crossing his legs under the table (although carefully away from Acorn's little footrest). "You've got something that needs to be broken then?"

  • * *

Acorn does have a different presence in this new sleeve - and it's not just because of the physical differences. He seems calmer. A little more like a lazy cat than a twitchy one. Then again, towards the end, his old sleeve was suffering from a number of years of drug abuse. That and this sleeve just seems to suit him better. Mannerisms seem more expected for the shape he currently inhabits.

"It's not generally your place to lecture your employer," he says as he reaches for his drink and watches Nyda. "But she was foolish, yes. One must be very careful with the police. Many are reliably on the take, but you never know when they'll rediscover their annoying love of rules."

The bartender comes around and asks the two what they'd like. As with most bars in the Neon Sector, the menu is mind-boggling long. Acorn drains his own drink and lifts a pinkie to indicate another.

Then, his attention flicks to Kayden again. He sucks air between his teeth. "A job, yes. And fortunate you both came at the same time. Because it involves a source intrusion. Closed estate. No outside lines except once a day for backup. Tap directly in."

  • * *

"That depends entirely on what my job description is." There's a bit more sharp there than is typical for Nyda — something razor-edged and dangerous instead of innocuous and unsuspecting. She almost recognizes it for what it is, and looks away to get the attention of some server so she can order herself a drink — something potent and yet day-glo, because there's nothing available in a place like this that doesn't give off its own glow. It's a distraction that she uses to take a breath, settle herself, and then she nods a bit. "Sorry… still a bit raw from the sting at the waterside." She then glances toward Kayden when Acorn starts in on his job offer, then she's back to the lieutenant with thoughtful gray eyes. "You need him for the tap and me to play guard dog?"

  • * *

"Or be bought by someone with more money," Kayden adds in to Acorn's warning about the police. Evidently, he doesn't have the highest regard for law enforcement. Then again, it's hard to come up with a better representation of The Man then the police — besides meths. His own drink order is milder than Nyda's, a cheap-ass macrobrew (with a glowing agent, because, well, Neon), but at least it's in a bottle. Nyda's apology causes him to look over at her, frowning a little thoughtfully. The frown is pushed aside again as he shrugs expressively, "Well, guard dog and to get me in and out, I presume. Nobody trusts a hacker to do their own insertions." There… might be a double entendre or three there by the weighting of his words.

  • * *

The feed to Acorn's ONI displays a familiar name: Galen Sparks. It takes the tall blonde man a moment to weave into Liquid Air proper along with his two escorts. He's got a fight groupie draped on each arm, a petite asian woman on one side and a foppish looking man on the other. Their laughter seems a little too bright to be entirely sober, no doubt pre-gaming the evening out with a few drinks or drugs or both. Quickly waylaying a waitress toting a tray of glowing test tube drinks, they all do shots before Galen disentangles himself from his hangers-on and sends them off to dance to the thrumming music.

  • * *

"Normally we don't care if you skim a little extra data to sell to a third party. As long as we get what we want from your work," says Acorn. He reaches up as if to push away long hair that isn't actually there. He makes a soft grunting sound and drops his hand. "But with this job, we can't risk it. But your lack of side work and the direct tap are reflected in our compensation."

He makes a flicking direction in the air which tosses data from his ONI to Kayden's. It is a fair price, all things considered, though not deeply generous. But then, he offers steady work, not occasional windfalls. He makes a similar flicking motion in Nyda's direction that gives her schematics. "In this case, you're taking back something that was stolen. Or rather, kidnapped. The DHF of a scientist working in our pharmecutical division." IE, designer drugs. Then he levels his gaze at Kayden. "Have you ever hacked a DHF of a server and dumped it into a waiting stack before? On-site, direct from a mainframe with security breathing down your neck?" Then he flicks a gaze to Nyda. "And you. Can you get him in and out without them knowing you were there?"

He opens his mouth to say more, but his blinking ONI distracts him. His jaw tightens and he flicks a gaze towards Galen, long enough for the others to follow his gaze.

  • * *

"Or to get rid of you at the end of the operation," Nyda says, not missing a beat to add that dry counterattack to Kayden's confidence. "Better hope that, that is my call." There's a flick of a smile at her lips before she sobers back up for Acorn, giving a slight nod. "Shouldn't be a problem. I'll need a layout to build the complete insertion and extraction." Her grey eyes flicker slightly toward Kayden as if reading the threat of double entendre. When she spots Galen after following Acorn's gaze, her expression changes — just for a heartbeat. Then it resettles into her stoic expression. "A problem?" She asks Acorn while Galen is still making his way to them.

  • * *

Kayden's personal security program paws over the data packet Acorn sends to him, and then Kayden glances over it himself briefly before giving his comm the okay to open the file. As he listens to the fixer's pitch, he studies the provided detail — only to stop and blink, shaking his head and looking a little off his game for a moment, "No, I didn't mean…" he starts again, "Yeah, no, I don't skim on the side unless I get the okay." He's far enough off his game, in fact, to admit perfectly honestly, "No, I haven't done that. But I've got the skills and the gear to do it. I'll sim it out with the data you've got here." Nyda's probably-unintentional double entendre gets him back under control, and he chuckles, "See, I always liked the spur-of-the-moment insertions better. Plan too much and you lose… spontaneity." The concern from the others at the table draws him to a quiet, and he looks between the two, straightening up a little in his seat.

  • * *

Long legs can eat up a distance easily, especially when their owner hones in on someone in particular and Galen makes his way over to the sunken booth with the conversing three. Vaulting himself over the side, he interposes himself bodily into the grouping an arm thrown across the back cushion behind Nyda without particularly acknowledging her existence. His sharp blue eyes are on Acorn for the moment instead of his court. "Well, look at you with the street meat instead of a bao. So what are we talking about? My latest victory? Left him in a good smear all over the floor…" His eyes then shift over to the others, that smug expression on his face expecting others to instantly marvel at his appearance. Kayden gets a good once over but his assessment of Nyda stops dead on her face. "Huh."

  • * *

"If it makes you feel any better…" Acorn makes a motion towards Kayden and rolls his wrist, "…we don't need the DHF entirely intact. Just enough to spin up in VR and answer a few critical questions. If you need to choose between short and long-term memory, short-term takes priority." Acorn reaches for his new drink once it arrives. He swallows a mouthful of something that undulates between pink and green.

As Galen swaggers over, Acorn's features tense. He asides to Nyda, "Yes, but not one that can be solved with violence." A beat, "Unfortunately." And then he's imposing himself, and the gangster heckles. "I see you come with your usual lack of tact, Galen. I'm conducting business."

  • * *

Her brows arch at the stalled look from Galen, and then she quickly looks back to Kayden. The change in his demeanor has her frowning slightly, but it goes unspoken until they can have a private moment. They are working on a job now, and so she keeps her expression serious. When he remarks that Galen isn't a problem that can be solved with violence, then she shrugs a shoulder. "All yours." She glances back to Galen, but it's a passing look before she returns her focus to Kayden. "We will go over the insertion plans tonight." She looks back to Acorn. "How quick do you need the job done?"

  • * *

Kayden bristles at Galen's entrance, his own cavalier approach completely one-upped. His fingers settle down on left wrist and the ONI-control bracelet there, but he leaves off with a sour grimace, "I don't know… who are you?" His ONI, of course, is providing that information, but it's much more annoying to ask. Looking back to Acorn and Nyda without even waiting for a response, he nods to the criminal lieutenant, "That's definitely easier. Allows a faster copy-over and jack-out." Clapping a hand on Nyda's shoulder and squeezing lightly, he nods, "Yup. Assuming it needs to happen fast. Otherwise, I'll trawl for more data on the target first."

  • * *

"Aw, c'mon. Don't be sour just because you have to pee standing up now. Well. I guess you don't /have/ too." Galen throws back at Acorn without really looking back at him, eyes still locked on Nyda until Kayden asks him who he is. He readily leans over Nyda's lap to extend his hand to Kayden, his other hand on her thigh to brace himself. "Galen Sparks. If you don't know me, you do now. Scan the name. Be impressed."

  • * *

"The job is not of deep urgency. Soon, but we'd rather the job done right than quickly. The DHF is just sitting in storage and we have no reason to think it will be moved or spun up." Acorn tries to keep his authoritative gangster thing going even in the face of Galen's disruptive presence. "You both have reputations that suggest you won't drag your heels on this. But of course if you do, you delay your own payday and make us impatient. Neither a positive."

He doesn't say anything to Galen, just watches him, trying to communicate his displeasure without using words. Unfortunately, he still hasn't learned how to communicate in subtle ways using this sleeve.

  • * *

The weight of Galen's look causes her insides to squirm slightly, but it doesn't betray across her features beyond the slightest twitch of her thigh against Kayden's when he leans over to exchange handshakes with the hacker. Once done, Nyda has that unsettling need to get up. "Come on, Kayd… I need to figure out where my drink is, and maybe we can check the dance floor." Both get up, with some looks of confusion from Kayden while Nyda leads the way. She nods her head to Acorn. "I'll be in touch on the job." Then she is leading Kayden away from the booth, glancing over her shoulder to Galen with an opaque expression.

  • * *

"Who?" Kayden asks again of Galen, as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. The other man's fight record, of course, scrolls along one side of his ONI. He also… scoots back along the bench a little when the other man leans over, for all that he still reaches out and clasps Galen's hand, "I'm nobody." He smiles brightly, then looks back to Acorn, "Not a problem, Acorn. I'll take a day or two to do a little scouting and to spin up a sim to run through the program a time or twenty, make sure things go right." Still, he scoots out of the bench easily enough at Nyda's urging, "And find our drinks, of course. I'll be in touch as soon as the job's done, although I figure you'll have a way to know anyhow."

  • * *

Galen glances back to Acorn after he feels he's successfully scared off the others, which only helps to feed that cocksure expression on his face. He snags someone's half-empty drink, dragging it with him as he leans back. "Miss me?" He tilts the glass back until ice crashes against his lips, sucking the sparkling blue liquid from the glass with a long pull and ending it with an audible 'ahh'. "Gotta admit, I miss your patronage at the ring. The purse has been a little light."

  • * *

Acorn watches hacker and muscle go with a nod to both. He waits until they're out of earshot and sight before returning his attention to the fighter. "I've been refocusing my priorities. Don't worry. We have no intention of getting out of the fight business. It's just taken a bit of a back seat in recent weeks." Because no matter how commonplace it is in their world, sleeve death is a trauma. He sets his own glowing drink aside and makes a motion towards Galen. "Let me make a deal with you. When we aren't in the presence of the others, you can make as many stupid jokes about my sleeve as you wish. But not when I'm trying to get shit back to normal and set up a job. All right?"

  • * *

"That's now how deals work, Little Nut. See, in order for it to be a true transaction, I'd need something on my end." That grin turns from smug to shit-eating as he jiggles a cube of ice out of the glass into his mouth to crunch on loudly before returning the glass to the table. "Unless you mean just out of the goodness of my own heart, in which case, we both know that cavern is vacant." He thumps his chest with a rap of knuckles as if expecting a hollow sound.

  • * *

"The deal is that you get to make the jokes at all. I let you get away with this familiarity only because of the length of our interactions." Acorn picks up his drink and points with the drink hand. "And, as you point out, I do hold purse strings when it comes to your bouts. I could very easily suggest to Argus that we move out of the fighting business. Or at least, away from your fightdrome." This quasi-threat is delivered with a casual look and a shrug. "Your choice. How much are these juvenile jokes worth to you, mmm?"

  • * *

Galen's expression sours, the sudden way it turns leaves no shadow of the smarmy visage he was wearing just a moment before. The illusion is broken. "I like my jokes." The prize fighter says the words with a little too much flash of teeth, like they are tempted to rend flesh from bone and are only restrained by the thin veil of lips. "But you know what I like better?" He shifts his seat a little closer on the bench. It's not that he isn't intimidated by the criminal kingpin, it's just he has so little to lose. A hand curls over Acorn's thigh much the same way he braced himself on Nyda earlier

His gaze flicks around before he leans over like he's looking over Acorn's shoulder but it's so he can mutter deeply into the other man's ear to impart his secret.

"Money."

  • * *

There is a shift in the room as Galen gets close to Acorn. Bodyguards, unseen moments before, take notice and make themselves known by subtly shifting closer, looking for some indication that their boss might need them to intervene. He lets Galen get closer, but after the word is whispered, he reaches up and places a hand on his shoulder to push back. "That's what I thought. So, no more, yes? At least not in front of the peanut gallery? And that way your purse is not endangered." He reaches up to pat the fighter on the cheek.

He exhales and withdraws back against his seat. "Besides, I think everyone should spend a part of their life in a sleeve that is not of their birth gender. You quickly learn how irrelevant it actually is. It's all presentation. Theatre. A casing. And once you've walked on both sides, you learn to see who relies on their packaging to get them through life."

  • * *

That smile springs back immediately to his features, as if switched on by the pat to his cheek from Acorn. "Shut up and be pretty, got it." Galen slaps his knees just before he stands. "Speaking of arm candy, I should go find my own before they start blowing someone other than me in the loo." He pauses in his exit of the booth, just long enough to impart - because there is no peanut gallery around to hear it - "Kudos to you. I don't know which packaging is real. For what it's worth." Which is precisely nothing more than the price of a smile.