|Breach of Contract|
|Summary:||Months ago, private investigator Ren Arnassis was hired by Volnohmehrsea to find three people, not knowing they were the saboteurs who stole something very important from the Tomin Sirocco. Smart enough to find out the real story but not smart enough to get himself out of trouble, Arnassis' attempt to get Mika Tachyon and the Jackals in his side and double-cross the Vollistan failed in Run with the Jackals. After learning the extent of Arnassis' involvement, Tachyon sends another saboteur - Kittiana Trevelyan, alias Tannia - to con him into giving up the chase entirely.|
|Cast:||Ren Arnassis Tannia|
The Exit Wound, U-999: Ungstir
Deep and narrow is the Exit Wound's commons room, no more than ten feet wide and perhaps five times as long. Along the left hand wall a line of makeshift table are set, bult from scrap metal and packing crates. Some hav a wom gingham table cloth, but most are bare metal. Opposite, along the entire right hand wall is the bar itself, crafted from what appears to be a starship structural rib. The narrow back bar is lined with dusty bottles of liquor, labels faded and worn. The long mirror behind is cracked in several places. The barkeep is a rough looking man, a barrel shaped Ungstiri in an armoured coat and a grease stained patched jump suit. It used to be tan. The patrons fit the small bar perfectly, ensconced in their own private conversations, quieting as they are passed.
Mon Mar 28 05:23:14 3005 The lights are set at their dimmest level, being deep into Third Shift.
Ren Arnassis sits in a booth in the rear of the dumpy tavern, alone, looking at a message on his datapad. "Well," he grumbles to himself, "There's the one. There's the lousy lead that started this whole damn mess."
The message reads:
Mister Ren Arnassis Private Investigator:
I have a missing persons investigation of high personal importance. I shall be willing to pay up to 25,000 credits plus expenses for each lost soul. If you are interested in undertaking such a case, please respond via the Sivatian Times personal advertisemnts, indicating a time and location of your choosing. Please come alone. Address the personal add to "Worried Parent."
Tannia has arrived.
The woman is slender, of mid-height, dressed in a nondescript black jumpsuit with gray stripes, a small patch on a shoulder declaring her to be in a merchanter's employ. The data tablet and other tools hooked at the thick belt might imply that she is of an engineer's leanings, only emphasized by the thick goggles that occlude half her face - a standard portable display with a port that can interface with compatible boards to help aid diagnostics. Her brown hair is drawn up in a short ponytail threaded through a cap, its brim drawn low over her forehead.
Ren Arnassis sits alone in a booth near the rear of the tavern, a mug of beer in one hand and a basket of fries sitting in front of him.
Tannia's rubber-soled boots make little noise as she steps into the establishment, glancing idly about the main room as she first heads toward the bar to claim a bottle for a handful of rubles before she begins to meander through the available tables...headed vaguely toward Arnassis'.
Ren Arnassis doesn't look up as Tannia walks in Arnassis' general direction, his hand reaching casually into his jacket and then coming back out again as if scratching an itch. The private detective leans back, reaching forward to snatch a fry from the basket and eat it. Judging by his expression, he isn't too impressed.
Tannia soon pauses before the private detective, taking one last look around the bar as if assessing whether there are better seats available, before she finally gestures toward an empty seat opposite the man and asks with a thin smile, "May I join you?"
Ren Arnassis favors Tannia with a cantilevered-eyebrow, narrow-eyed examination, his mouth a neutral line. Somehow the play of shadows across his face conspire to make him appear vaguely disapproving. The evaluation continues for a moment before he replies, "You gon' give me a reason to regret sayin' yes?"
Tannia's smile widens. "Only if you would rather tender your resignation. The 'Mother of Mercy' might be hard to reach at times, but she likes to know how industrious the faithful are from time to time. May I?" she repeats patiently.
Ren Arnassis quirks one eyebrow, then nods. "Siddown," he says. "But unnerstan' I ain' faithful an' I ain' patient." There's a movement under the table as a chair is kicked out across from the private eye, ostensibly for Tannia to sit in. "What I am is a stubborn, resourceful pain in the ass. Does my client have the money to pay me?" One eyebrow quirks up.'
"I see," Tannia drawls, making no attempt to hide her amusement at some private joke, her smile fading into business-like sobriety as she seats herself, breaking the cap off the purchased beer and taking a sip as she does so. "Much too flat," she opines, before continuing calmly, "Your client would be insulted to hear such a question. You are lucky that I am sitting across from you instead. If what you have is worth it, you will get what you deserve."
Ren Arnassis shrugs. "I ain' seen my client in months. Hell, I don' know if she's still alive." His voice continues quietly and evenly, and he nods in agreement as Tannia assesses the beer. "It's shit, but it's better'n bein' sober on this piece a shit rock. So you got taste an' you dropped my client's name, but you'll 'scuse me if I need a li'l more proof yer a qualified representative before I say any more." Eyes level with Tannia's. "'M sure my client'll unnerstan' the necessary inconvenience."
"She is alive," Tannia confirms mildly, her lips curving at his insistence, but not offended. "Now *that* is a question you are entitled to...in fact, I might have had my doubts as to whether you had anything of worth at all, if you did not have enough wits to be that cautious." She hesitates for a moment, shifting in her seat, before she murmurs softly, "I am going to pull back my sleeve. Nothing untoward." And then she moves to do so...baring the edges of a tell-tale barcode on her forearm before she lets the cloth smooth back into place. "*Her* employer makes certain that she is never understaffed. Does that suffice?"
Ren Arnassis watches the code bare itself with disinterest, then frowns, meeting Tannia's face again. "Enough fer me to tell you this much," he says. "I got half of what I was asked to git. The other half I think has been lost - dependin' on my client's outlook, meb' taken care of is a better word - since it took my client so damn long to sen' you out to meet me. An' also that the half I did git includes somethin' she put a bonus on. A bonus I want doubled, not only fer my extra time, but fer the hazards I've gone through to git it."
"There is a reason it has taken so long. Maybe your client feels she no longer needs what you think you have," Tannia responds coolly, leaning back in her seat, what can be seen of her features expressionless. "Half of what she wanted, while you *think* the other half is lost, are not compelling reasons for her to attempt a face-to-face meeting at this point, particularly as she may already have *all* of what she wants by now."
"Bullshit," Ren says. "I was paid a nominal fee up front an' subsequently promised compensation for the time I spent sittin' on this information. I can't take other blind offers while I'm still workin' on one, it creates a potential fer conflic' of interes'. Whether or not what I got is still of use doesn't matter a god-damn bit." His voice grows a bit of a growl. "If my clien' doesn' want what I dug up, then I'll take 100,000 credits fer three months' retainer an' be on my way."
"No one is hired and then asked to 'sit' there," Tannia notes in a flat tone, straightening as she flattens her hands on the table's surface, leaning forward with new intensity. "We will compensate you 50,000 credits right now, but *only* if you give me something solid to bring back. If it is of sufficient worth, she will meet with you, and when you tell her the rest, she will pay the remainder of your fee."
Ren Arnassis remains still, as if unflapped by Tannia's contention. "Yer righ'," Ren says. "Nobody's put on the job and then, when he starts lookin' to deliver results, tol' that he shouldn' have bothered. It jus' ain' done. It's like me walkin' into this excuse fer a bar, orderin' these fries, then when they show up sayin' all of a sudden I don' wan' 'em. It's bullshit, that's why I wan' my pay." He reaches into his jacket pocket, opposite the one he touched earlier. "You wan' proof that I have what I say I have, here." He drops a pair of 2d photos onto the table, face down.
Tannia's apparent gaze does not waver from his face as she reaches out a hand to pick them up.
Ren Arnassis places two fingers firmly over the pictures, his eyes not leaving Tannia's either. "Nu-uh. Mine's on the table." His face is unflinching. "Now yours."
Tannia smiles humorlessly. "Perhaps you had interpreted me too literally. When I said 'solid', I meant something substantial - something that would indicate that it is worth your client's time, patience, and energy to shuffle you into her schedule right now. Her employer has not been too happy with her of late. She is busy trying to make up for that, and has very little patience for such distractions unless their worth is proven. Now, will you let me judge the worth of these as one of her 'faithful' and a direct extension of her will? She is very fair to those who please her, and I have authorization to distribute all the sums that you have named."
Ren Arnassis frowns. "Listen. I don' particularly like the way I'm bein' dealt wit' here an' I have no interes' in waitin' aroun' on this contrac' longer'n I hafta." He flips up the photos, revealing a picture of Mika Tachyon on what analysis would later reveal as the Martian landing pad, and another picture of Torr Peredus on Ungstir. "So you git in touch wit' my clien' within 48 hours, or my professional patience is gon' wear thin."
"*Your* patience?" Tannia murmurs, her voice turned leaden as her head tilts to regard the two pictures. "As I had suspected. Too little, too late." Standing, she leans over, delicately pushing the photographs back toward him. "Mr. Arnassis," she murmurs quietly across the small space that now divides them, "I am going to give you something much more valuable than a measly 100,000 credits...I am going to give you your life. 10,000 credits to help you get a head start...and the warning that, through those things which I was made and trained to monitor, I have learned that someone has ordered a hit on you. Your *former* client," she emphasizes, "is done with you, and considers all accounts settled if you do not continue your bluff and bluster. She has more than enough on her hands without having to consider pursuing you as well. But there are other parties, apparently, who are not so busy, and who seem to hold their grudges longer." As she straightens, she unclips her datapadd from her belt, presumably to make the promised transfer.
"Somethin' of which I'm already aware," Ren growls. "An' my former clien' is not deliverin' on what she already promised - paymen' for the patience an' time I've already put in." His eyes narrow. "I'll look forward to bein' free of association wit' you an' yours. Sounds to me like you've got a lot more to worry about than I do." He chuckles once, darkly. It is not a fatalistic sound, but rather a cynical one. The photographs are torn neatly in half and tucked into his pocket and, stone-eyed, he gives the woman a wary eye, his hand lingering near his jacket pocket.
Tannia's fingers pause, poised over the keys as she turns toward him. "Is that so? Shall I refrain from transferring the ten-grand, then, seeing as how you are already one step ahead?" she asks with disingenuous ease.
"I'll consider ten thousand enough to prevent mysel' from becomin'a problem rather than jus a dissatisfied business partner," Ren growls, unimpressed. "You already said yer mistress don' need another problem on her lis'. So don' give her one."
Tannia shrugs, pressing the last key to finish the transaction, before she clips the device back onto her belt and takes her beer with her as she departs. "Good night, Mr. Arnassis," she says succinctly.
"Don' let the door hit you in the ass on the way out," Ren growls.