Three Quarters - Ares Colosseum

GM: Hiller
Players: Apple
Date: April, 2071

Synopsis: This is the opening to a sequence of plots with corporate ambient and background ('Three Quarters'). Ares is looking for someone who is able to settle a mediation between Novatech and Gaeatronics 'by all means necessary'. Apple is chosen for the job as an executive agent. Her task will be to oversee the upcoming mediation. Both corporations have to be maneuvered into a subcontract under Ares' authority. The following scene shows the recruitment on Ares' monumental corporate territory in Denver. Apple is recruited against her will, actually, though she accepts the fact very early.


Prelude

Three major corporations (Ares, Cross Applied, Mitsuhama) rival for the reconstruction of the Wells Fargo building in Denver. But they are not the only one who get involved into the struggle for reputation, money, prestige and power. Several minor conflicts follow the paved trail of animosities and greediness. This plot tells one of those side stories.

Ares itself is trying very hard to prevent other big corporations from joining Cross Applied or Mitsuhama. For that reason, they offered a subcontract to Novatech and Gaeatronics. The subcontract deals with power supply and core electronics for the new Wells Fargo building. Both aspects are not one of Ares' major competences.

The problem is, that the two relevant individuals from Novatech and Gaeatronics, who are responsible for the assessment and conclusion of the subcontract, have grave personal animosities against each other. But Ares wants them to work together.

Ares is well aware of this animosity and decided that it would be necessary to take some actions in order to ensure an agreement between Novatech and Gaeatronics in Denver. They called for an official mediation between Novatech and Gaeatronics and for shadow operations at the same time. The two relevant individuals, Azumo Marikari (Gaeatronics) and Lucas Don (Novatech), must be maneuvered into an agreement, no matter the cost.

The official mediation starts in April 2071 and the final conclusion shall happen in July or August. Three to four month, in order to push both men together into a subcontract that suits Ares' interests. - And of course, any other competitive offerings from Cross Applied or Mitsuhama have to get spoiled.

Apple's Recruition

Ares started the whole operation with the assignment to Lionell K. A seasoned Ares agent with a lot of experience when it comes to the dealing with shadowrunners. Lionell posts a simple message on the matrix and waits for applications. And among them, there is one from Apple. And the woman is chosen for several hidden reasons.

From: Lionell K
Subject: social engineer sought

Job offer for an experienced mediator and social engineer, familiar with strategic planning and unconventional operations. The candidate would be responsible for direct negotiation, team planning, operational decisions and supervision. We value leadership ability, subtlety, discretion and familiarity with corporate etiquette.
The contract may be concluded by an individual or a small team. Contract duration up to 4 month. Payment by results.

Applications to: GTR-RFD-332.122.32.228|kl#GTR-RFD-332.122.32.228|kl (Orange-10/12/x/10/12/x)

The recruition for the executive board of operation Three Querters was a lengthy process. Some applications came in but it was a verly delicate affair. Who should be placed in this position, acting between legality and illegelity in such a daring way? Several thoughts had to be considered. Trustworthyness. Whoever it would be, he would get a deep insight in corporate unofficial arrairs. Loyality. Not a really realistic demand. Those who are loyal are closely tied. Even if you would find someone loyal to Ares and able to do the job, it may as well be a disadvantage. Disposable. Someone between Ares and illegality is a pawn. A disposable pawn. If things turn awkward, you must sacrifice the pawn in order to keep troubles at bay. Ambitious. A daring job needs daring employees. Someone who's interested in reputation or power, would propably laugh at the risks and focus on possible benefits. Dependent. The executive needs a nice steel collar. Loose enough in order not to hinder or haunt her but quickly adjustable for coercion and commands. Just for the case.

All those requirements made the executive agent for operation Three Quarters a tough picking. But not impossible. Emely Gottschalk fit very well. Just recently maneuvered away from Cross Applied, straight into the mighty arms of Ares. Used to play the corporate dance and intelligent enough to see the chance at hand. And the consequences of foolish betrayal. She was badly in need to prove herself. And she was disposable. Ares gave her an identity. It was Ares' right to unmake her. And thus, her application was quiet appreciated:

From: Apple
Subject: Re: Social Engineer.

I am a former psch ops/black ops specialist with several years experience in a leading megacorporation. I am a licensed psychiatrist and have dealt with operations across the country, in a variety of contexts. There is little that phases me.
I will be up front and admit that I have little direct leadership experience. This is part of the reason I have recent left my previous employers. In all other areas, however, I have the skill, experience, and expertise to excel. I am confident that my experience will enable me to take a leadership position depending largely on what the exact details of the job are.
If you would like to contact me further, please respond to this trixmail, or contact me on 01293 339221. Thank you.
-Apple.

Officially, Apple got hired for a mediation process. Black operations was not part of the official deal, of course. Should the shit hit the fan, it was all Apple's failure and guilt. She would be the wannabe corporate self-employed player out for success. And thereby sacrificing laws and etiquette for reckognizion. Any black operation would be her idea, her own responsibility, her decision. Mister Lionell K never existed. So from where exactly came up the fancy ideas about social engineering and manipulation of two of the top hundred corporate guys in North America?

Ares Colosseum

Invitation

Last night, the woman who answers to Apple went out drinking. That was the plan, anyway. She wound up not drinking as much as she would have liked, and this morning, we find the woman in disturbingly good spirits. McAffrey Towers is, at least, a comfortable place to live. With her somewhat altered physique, a hearty breakfast is vital if she is to maintain her good mood. So, the kitchen is utilized, rare treats such as meat at least 50 per cent Bacon and genuine, honest-to-god eggs are prepared. Sprinkled with a little extra energy seasoning, and served with a delicious high-calorie smoothie. Just what you need to get the day started.

Denver is dark and rainy this day. Grey and heavy clouds hang low and the streets cower beneath the rain. Apple's phone suddenly starts to ring. It is a well known person calling in. Her personal Mr. Jay. The nice and suave elf from Ares. Surprisingly, he knows about Apple's 'application' to someone called Lionell K. In brief and somewhat secretive words he tells her that she propably got her chance to score big this time. "If I may give you a personal advice: don't screw it, Emily. I'll send you the where and when for a meeting with this Lionell K via encrypted short message. The meeting is today. Two PM" - Apple can't help but wonder if Mr. Jay sounds a little bit disturbed about something. But he is abrupt and would end the call unless Apple wants something else.

The phone is allowed to ring twice before she picks it up. She does, however, answer it. Ordinarily, Apple would take some pleasure in hearing Mr. Jay disturbed. Given the circumstances, however…

"Of course, Jay, you know me. All smiles and sunshine." There's no more questions for him. The fact he is ringing her tells her enough; this is likely something to do with Ares, and, given how he had been handling her, if she messed up, it would reflect badly on him. Probably. Assumptions are a dangerous thing, but for now, she's happy to make them. Finish her breakfast, enjoy a nice, relaxing shower, and then, depending on where she'll be going, start picking out an outfit to suit.

Ares was a good guess. After her shower, Apple has the promised short message on her favored communication device. Whatever she usually prefers for this kind of information. The adress is East Colfax Avenue - Tower Road. Ares front gate north.

Apple scans her pocsec. Hmm. Walking straight into Ares' front door. The woman has to pause and consider, now. Her natural instinct is to /want/ to go armed. But something tells her that such a thing would be taken as a bad move, given her recent past. So, she selects a more professional outfit than her norm. A grey pant suit should be fine. Hair done up in a bun. Trying to look, well, like someone who /should/ walk through the front gate of Ares.

Having given up her car, Apple does need to call a cab. Though she doesn't ask to be taken directly to the gate; instead, she asks to be taken about a block down. From that point, she'll walk.

Approaching Ares

Colfax Ave. and N. Tower Road, Ares Macrotechnology

The towering mass of Ares Macrotechnology is within this portion of Denver. Back from the border of the CAS to the West and safe from the Sioux far to the East, and burried smack dab in the middle of the UCAS north and south, this part of the UCAS is abounty with billion nuyen engineered buildings that reach for the heavens.

Sculptured works of elegant beauty twist and arch among the clouds, offering cool shade in the well groomed parks and walkways of the courtyards below. The streets almost shine from the street sweepers, the windows glisten with streak-free brightness. There are no street riff-raff dallying in the area, not with the ever watchful eyes of Ares.

The Ares Macrotechnology entrance is a long four lane driveway/highway that ends to the north in toll booth type guard shacks. SIN check/verification, vehicle searches and questioning is the norm. Even those well known to the guards must pass these riggorous safety procedures.

Apple will wait patiently until it is her turn to go through the SIN check. Emily Gottschalk's SIN is produced, and she smiles easily. "I've got a 2pm meeting with Lionell." She will mention casually. Mostly to see if the guard on duty has any kind of recognition of this name; if he gets nervous as well as Mr. Jay, then perhaps she should start to feel more concerned herself.

Apple walks her way past the skyscrapers - hopefully she has her rain cape with her. After a brief walk, she comes closer to Ares checkpoint north. It is built to make men and women appear small and irrelevant. Apple is quiet an intelligent woman. Her analytic mind actually /feels/ the notion of psychology pressed into concrete and architecture. This is like the atrium to hell or heaven. Depends on who enters. - The SIN check is performed by a uniformed guard. More heavily armored comrades keep a close eye on everyone passing through. Apple's guard is not nervous. Quiet the contrary. He's charming. More likely some PR agent in uniform than a guard. Miss Emily Gottschalk is asked to pass through MR scanners and a SIN check. Nothing bad happens. All seems to be fine. She receives a name badge with her status and picture and is adviced to wear it openly all the time while on the compound. Then she's passed.

Apple is picked up by a corporate ground shuttle, a small white van with three rows of blue seats. She is the only passenger for this ride and now it is quiet obvious to Apple, that everyone knows about her arrival. The guardsman, the driver… Large windows allow a look at the passing buildings outside. Mirrored giant pillars, some colored in distinctive white and black and separated by small havens of green plants and blue water ponds. But the nice picture is overshadowed by huge and dark storm clouds today. The top levels of the largest buildings seem to bite the low-hanging masses. Rain pours down heavily, so that the corporate vehicles on ground and air are forced to turn on their flashy lights. Despite that it's midday. The whole complex appears deserted and reluctant. Enduring the bad weather with patience.

Not only is Apple quite smart, and quite well versed in psychology, she worked psych ops for Cross Applied Technologies for the majority of her career. As much as it would cause the 'corps execs heads to explode if it was brought up, there really isn't that much difference between them. Except, perhaps, that Ares do it *better*. And she does see that. It is almost like being home, really. The crushing insignificance of one person; any person, compared to the Whole that is the Corp. The rain is unpleasant, but at least that is a reminder that there are still some things that even Ares is helpless to do anything about. The rain might be poison, and it might be possible to ward off the effects, but the natural order of things will only be disturbed so much, and even Ares, or CAT, or Saedur-Krupp, can't force the sun to stop shining or the rain to stop falling.

At least, not without prohibitive expense, probably.

Apple has never actually been inside the Ares compound, for rather obvious reasons, and it is the differences which she enjoys as she is given her ride. It is quiet, but that isn't too odd considering the time and the weather. She's got plenty of time to get to her meeting; she can turn a professional eye over the architecture. Who knows, it might be useful one day.

Surprisingly, this part of the complex has nearly invisible security means. It's more like a ghost town. But well tended and neat. Cameras are hidden, drones have low-profile and occasional guards are more like ceremonial watchers instead of soldiers. But Apple should know, that she's imrpinting a massive trail of her presence into the security system. A trail that won't vanish as long as Ares lives. The checkpoint, the shuttle, her name badge. Apple is alone but propably has a very lot of attention.

The Colosseum

The driver stops in front of a colosseum-like building. Roughly fifteen stories high, it is one of the lower skyscrapers around and stretches more in breadth than height. Basically, it forms an open circular arc that surrounds a vast plaza paved with white stone tiles. Spotlights are hidden in the ground and illuminate ten white Ares flags in shifting colors. But the flags are limp now. The playful colors dull and weak through the heavy rain.

Apple is escorted to the main entrance of the colosseum. - The driver is eager to give Apple a personal assistance with a corporate design umbrella. - The way through the building is quit easy and quick. Apple is greeted by a young corporate secretary who seems to be waiting just for her. He leads her through desterted and chill hallways. Then the elevator to 11th floor. Another dark hallway, briefly illuminated by a single lightning, followed by a thunder. Apple may wonder if this empty and vast building is just staged for her alone. The journey comes to an end at a wooden double door in modern design.

The secretary gives her some kind of a reassuring, impish nod and gestures toward the door. He would stay outside, most likely. It's Apple's show now. Who knows what lies beyond that door.

Apple has accepted that Ares have her pretty much in their pocket. Surprisingly, although her career had taken many twists and turns, she had never actually intended to wind up a Shadowrunner. Although Mr. Jay had screwed her over, he was also the only individual she knew who might be able to help her continue to survive. Working with gangs and begging for scraps really isn't her style, after all. If she was going to have to be a criminal, she was going to be a good one.

Which is part of the reason she seems so relaxed. She smiles easily to the driver, and, when given the umbrella, twirls it idly as she walks on. Turning the insignia on the top into a spinning design. A little cheeky subversion of the monolithic paradigm being forced on the people who worked here.

She does her best to be gracious, though. She is, after all, a guest. One small person in a sprawling maze of buildings, corridors, offices and secrets. She keeps the umbrella, and lets it drip, using it as an impromptu walking stick to click against the ground in time with her steps. One after the other. Keeping score. As though to say; I have made it this far. A literal trail of raindrops left in her wake. The symbolism amused her, and if she didn't keep herself at least a little amused, the stress would cause her to crack.

When she gets to the secretary, though, she smiles widely at the nod. "Thank you." And sets the umbrella down on top of the desk (if there are no papers there to be ruined; if there are, she will prop it against the front of it). And only then, after taking a moment to breathe, and prepare, will she open the door.

Agent Lionell K

The umbrella is placed away and the secretary turns away as she steps through the double door. The room is a spacious office but most likely seldom used. Blue carpet, twelve white synth-leather chairs around a synthwood table, an office desk with three armchairs. The whole room is only dimly lit by translucent wall panels, allowing a perfect view out of the opposite window that covers the whole wall. Thick bulletproof glass with the skyline of distant downtown Denver beyond. Sunlight occasionally cuts through the fast moving rain clouds in the west.

There is only one man in the room. A fourty year old man in a blue conservative suit. He leaned against the office desk, his hands clasped in front. When Apple enters, he erects himself and walks across the room. The man is a little bit taller than Apple and not very tough built. Rather slender. His grey hair is a little bit untamed but this doesn't ruin his charismatic, warm-hearted smile. Wrinkles around eyes and mouth suggest that he's propably older than he appears and that he may indeed have some good humor and kindness. But, well, this is most likely the impression he /wants/ to bear. And Apple catches herself unaware for a second. "This is a professional player, I mind you," she propably tells herself.

"Miss Gottschalk," he starts and offers his hand. "I am pleased to meet you. My name is Lionell." His eyes run down Apple's appearance and it seems like he's impressed or pleasantly surprised.

Apple takes the hand, and shakes it. Careful not to apply a great deal of pressure; she doesn't want to upset the man, after all. In many ways, this is a pleasant surprise. She had half expected some sort of trap. It could still be one, of course, but if it is, it is at least likely to be one which doesn't immediately involve guns pointing at her face. This, is better than the alternative.

"A pleasure to meet you, too, Lionell. Please, call me Emily." She replies, pausing to admire the view. The entire journey, and the destination, has been set up to portray Ares as strong, powerful. The fact that the office overlooks the entirety of Downtown? It doesn't take a specialist in human behavior to see the message being implied there.

"This is a lovely office, if I may say so, Lionell. Very impressive. I've always admired Ares' ability to, project an image."

"Which is why Ares values good views, yes," he smirks and turns his head to the window wall. "But furthermore Ares values the perspective of the viewer. That's what enables someone to paint a vision understandable and adjusted to the people's horizon…and thus to step beyond." With a gesture and a smile he excuses himself. "But though you are without question someone who knows about this subtle and artistic business of ideas and visions and how to promote them, I think we should shift the attention to something we both want. Knowing more about each other." He gestures her to follow him to the office desk a little bit apart from the large conference table. "Please take a seat if you like. May I offer you something to drink?"

The woman smiles at that, and nods her head. Moving to settle down into one of those leather chairs, one which is facing the window directly, so that she can continue to enjoy that view. "I'd like a drink, sure. An apple juice, please." She pauses for a moment, and then continues, with a little amusement. "Well. I expect you have me at something of a disadvantage, Lionell. I would like to know more about the man I would be working for. Whether or not the position is, official or not, may be a good first step, no?"

Lionell smiles again and nods while he instructs some small bar tool at the office desk. Flavored apple juice is available. On the table, there is another object that may appear like a piece of a nightmare to some people. It is a small ivory colored document folder. It shows the small, helmed profile of the ancient god of war at the bottom and bears a label at the header. It simply says: "Emily Gottschalk, file #ISA-233-9377". Another simple, but maybe very efficient way to unsettle. Lionell continues, a little bit like he just read Apple's thoughts:

"Yes. You are right. Since I am in advantage in knowing a bit about you, I'll go ahead and start with myself and the business I would like to talk about."

Apple eyes her folder. It isn't too surprising that there is a folder, though it is interesting that it is on display. She has to resist the urge to read it, which would almost certainly be a breach of etiquette, even if it would sate her curiosity. The smile on her lips is a touch more frozen now, her expression only breaking when the juice is offered.

Taking that, and sipping, brings some motion back to her features. She doesn't speak, though. She simply looks, questioningly, at the older man. Letting him elaborate in his own time.

Finally he settles down next to Apple and looks at her seriously. His hand pulls out a small remote control and he activates a 3D projector attached to the ceiling. Suddenly the dim lighting is replaced by a bright picture of two men, projected against the window wall. One shows an elderly japanese guy. The other shows a middle-aged Italian type. Lionell:

Apple immediately reckognizes both men. One is Azumo Marikari, Gaeatronic's Head of Office, Denver. An elderly, traditional japanese, known to be eccentric but highly respected. Former Novatech consultant. - The other one is no one else but Lucas Don. Vice President Novatech, North America. Known to be a hardliner and hedonist. Brilliant corporate tactician and feared for his decisive problem solving.

Lionell eyes the woman in grey. Not without the hint of curiosity about how she would pass this little test.

Apple nods, and leans back in her chair a little so she can get a better look at the faces. Though she doesn't take long at all to respond. "Azumo Marikari and Lucas Don. Yes, I'm familiar with them." She says, though she doesn't elaborate much more. It never pays to let on more than you need to, after all.

The matter of business

His smile returns for a second. "True. Both man are responsible for the assessment and - hopefully - conclusion of a subcontract Ares offered to both corporations lately." He puts the remote control on the desk. "The problem is, that both individuals have grave personal animosities. Animosities we don't understand so far. The contract is in danger, and that's all that counts. But we managed to urge both men to accept an official mediation process. To reconcile and to save the contract. But we don't just want a round table discussion or lamentation group, wasting time and money on it. We want it /done/. We want both men accept and conclude the subcontract we offer. No matter what means necessary."

He pauses and gives Apple the chance for a respond so far. It is quiet obvious, that Apple herself is propably the chosen one to be responsible for this /mediation at all cost/. Or whatever exactly is hidden beneath Lionell's words.

Apple purses her lips at that. It certainly is an interesting job. The interpersonal rivalries of individual executives could be… legendary. However. It isn't as though she is being asked to reunite Villiers and Knight, here. Although it would undoubtedly be a difficult proposition, it also sounded … fun. Certainly a higher /class/ of job than the kind of thing she had been expecting to be forced to do.

"I understand. These men are vital to the process, but they are also, unfortunately, a liability to it. Well, I'm happy to smooth that process along."

"You have a good reputation trailing your back. Some people think you are able to manage this two-faced dance on the edge. Official mediation - which will most likely be just a farce. And the organisation and supervision of alternative efforts in order to save the deal. Do you think as well, you are able?" he asks very directly.

The two 3D heads turn slowly in front of the rain washed window wall. The storm increased in power and raindrops hammer down hard. But inside the room, everything is calm and silent. Just a little bit too cold maybe.

Apple seriously considers the question, and for the first time, she's not really smiling at all. It is true, she doesn't have a great deal of experience with organization and leadership. But, she has a lot of experience manipulating people. If she couldn't get them to work together, she could probably at least ensure that the end goals are met. She nods, once, curtly. "I think I'm more than capable of ensuring that the project delivers, on time, to your satisfaction." And then her smile comes back, her lips quirking up, "Sir."

"Alright," he nods and warms up again to her smile. "Then I consider you part of the project. The actual mediation is scheduled for July or August. That means roughly three months in order to learn more about Marikari and Don. Three months to recruit necessary teams, define objectives and the direction of operation. You are responsible for the overview and coordination. And you will be the public front end, so to say. Your name will be given to both men and propably you'll have the chance to meet them before the mediation takes place. - What is your most urgent question so far?"

[Plot Room 6] Hiller says, "OOCly spoken, you should be aware that this plot may have some lasting impact on your character. Messing with this kind of NPC could leave your character hunted, shunned or even dead."
[Plot Room 6] Apple says, "Yeah, I got that impression. :)"

Apple nods along with the description of duties; pretty much what she had expected. She, again, takes a moment to consider what, exactly, is more important. Well. There's a lot of questions that leap to mind; budgets, others who may be involved already, but, there is one really vital question to be answered. "What, exactly, is the deliverable, here?" She asks, "The mediation is obviously important. But I'd like to keep my eye on the prize, here. What does Ares need to see in order to consider this a success, in concrete terms?"

He gives a nod with a faint smirk as if to say: 'well chosen'. " The subcontract deals with power supply and core electronics for the new Wells Fargo building. Both aspects are not one of Ares' major competences and we want Gaeatronics and Novatech work together under Ares' leadership. In even more concrete terms: we don't want one of both corporations ally themselves with the other two big competitors around the Wells Fargo Building." He makes a longer pause, then adds: "Nippon Skyscrapers and Denver Constructions". And it is not hard to know for Apple that this can be read as: Mitsuhama and…Cross Applied.

Lionell continues: "But this is not your responsibility. Your objective is the subcontract which offers an attractive, a very attractive, deal to Gaeatronics and Novatech as well."

Apple nods her head slowly, "I see." She says, turning this over in her head. Well. She hadn't seen that coming, but it could definitely be worse. "So it is my job to ensure that Gaeatronics and Novatech don't get, distracted, due to personal issues or anything else, and that they deliver what they've agreed to deliver. Bearing in mind that Nippon Skyscrapers and Denver Constructions are both going to be courting them for other contracts?" Now that she has it laid out a bit clearer, Apple does seem more happy with the details; it doesn't seem like /too/ insurmountable a problem.

"Basically yes. But the subcontract is not at your leisure. You are not cleared for contract negotiation. In no way. Your task is to make them sign the contract and, yes, to prevent or spoil competitive offerings." Suddenly he stands up and walks a bit. Apple's questions lead him into a changed mood. He appears to be more serious now, even concerned. "The odd thing is, that both men decline the contract but for reasons we don't know. Reasons that seem to be unreasonable at all. From the economic point of view, the contract is generous and profitable for all three parties. Gaeatronics and Novatech passed Ares' offering down to Lucas Don and Azumo Marikari. That's fine and alright. They're in charge. But both men seem to undergo some serious efforts within their own management. They throw in some remarkable personal resources and authority just to make clear that this contract is their decision and that they will decline. Strange…"

Lost in thoughts for a second, he leaves Apple to herself.

Apple sips her juice, and considers. It certainly seemed like an interesting situation. She'd need to brief herself on the negotiations up until this point, as well as try and obtain intelligence on what the other parties may be offering. She doubted it'd be anything so simple as a better offer… but you never know, right? Still, she remains seated, and waits for a few moments after he has finished talking before she moves on to the next major issue. "Alright. So, in a worst case scenario, I need to be prepared to handle final mediation in two months time, I may have up to three. The next question is, what sort of resources do I have at my disposal? If I am going to put a team together, I'm going to need an expense account, and I need to know what my immediate budget is."

Lionell returns to the situation at hand and settles down again. "True. Since we'll have many very different courses of action and we don't want a great number of people familiar with the /whole/ story behind the curtain, we prefer the recruitment of different teams for sub-objectives. You should always have the overview over all the puzzle pieces, but other subsidiaries should only know what is essential for the task. - Money. Well. You'll receive appropriate payment with your progress. Propably we will change this into one large payout for yourself, after the contract is successful. Personally, I like the idea, but this is not cleared yet. The budget for the whole operations is not limited at this moment, but this may change soon. We count on your reason for now. As you see, money is not detailed by now, but it should be no problem. In addition, we assign you an assistance. A /freelancer/ with reliable background. She is a pilot and driver and should ensure you proper mobility. Her code name is Orange and she has been instructed to await your orders, should you need her."

Apple nods in understanding. She's not going to push the issue of budgets; she's worked under these kind of conditions before, and it meant that things are moving swiftly. If she pulls it off, the reputation she'd build with Ares would be payment enough. … Actually payment would be very nice too, naturally, but in her current situation, ensuring a steady stream of work in the future is more important than money immediately in the present.

"Very well. I will, naturally, need access to the records of prior negotiations, the details of the contracts, and the background files of the key players. I'll review that, and begin to put together key objectives in order to uncover our unknowns. I will make sure I keep you fully informed of my progress and overall strategy." A ghost of a smile touches her lips again. A knowing, perhaps just a touch overconfident, little thing. A hint of ambition there. "After all. You need to know where all your pieces are, so to speak."

"Alright. This sounds like we can count on you. Be aware, that there are already first things planned and will be executed shortly. This includes attempts to gather intel from Marikari's and Lucas Don's closer environment." Lionell stands up again and shuts off the projector. His stern but warm face turns toward rainy Denver outside. "Is there anything else for now?"

Departure

Apple finishes her drink, not that there is much of it left, and then stands. "Well, that may answer some initial questions, then. I will wait to hear about the success or failure of those operations before I make any similar moves." She says, before smiling more openly. "Oh, I think we've covered the essentials. Thank you, Lionell. Now… I assume you have my details, but may I take a number or contact trixmail address for you?" And her pocket secretary (a lovely shade of green) is produced from inside her blazer.

"You have a very secure trix address already. This will lead straight to my desk. And…wait." He searches his vest and comes up with a orange colored, translucent business card. "This is Orange's contact. - And don't wait for reports of success. Just start when you're ready. Multiple sources are welcome."

Apple pockets the card, sliding it back into the same pocket the pocket secretary had come out of. "Very well, I'll continue to use that, and I shall plan to make my first move before the end of next week, dependent on what the exact situation seems to warrant. A pleasure to be working with you, Sir." That said, she will offer her hand for a second (careful) shake, and, hopefully, business concluded, be on her way.

"Emily," he calls her this way the first time so far and shakes the hand again. "The pleasure is mine. I'm looking forward. - Secretary Arin will escort you to the north gate. Take care." With a gesture he accompanies her to the door. A professionel, direct but not brusque farewell. Finally, he shows the marks of assumed years of corporate work. Time is money. Business settled.

Unless Apple has something else in mind, she will find the shuttle still waiting outside. The secretary will join her this time on her way back. Talk - if any - is shallow and he avoids any serious topics. He acts more like a travel guide.

Follow-Up

Apple 'claims office' and commences operations. She and Lionell K start to use official and shadowy ways to manipulate the outcome of the ongoing mediation to Ares' favor. First step is reconnaissance and espionage.

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