[center Welcome to the future.
It's yours. Everything you ever dreamed of.
[center Caduceus Industries is [i the] premier biological industry. Want a designer baby, born with gorgeous looks, an Olympic body, and a genius brain? How about fresh organs or limbs, for the little accidents in life? Or a little genetic splicing, for when you want a cat [i and] a dog, but only one pet? With enough money, Caduceus can grant you all this, and more. They can make you all but immortal.]
[i You] were a patient of Caduceus, and all of your friends were, as well. Without Caduceus, you might not be here today; you owe them your life. You've heard about the deaths; all of them under mysterious circumstances, all of them unsolved or written off as suicides. And then one day you come face-to-face with the killers, and you learn the truth:
Caduceus is up to the neck in every dark business there is. Cloning whole humans just to murder them and harvest their organs; testing on nonconsenting human beings; kidnappings to harvest genes from 'extraordinary' specimens--killing them in the process. Only one thing is clear: Justice must be served. Will you step up to the call?
[center Main (RP) Thread • [http://rp.eliteskills.com/r.php?r=149492 Characters] • [http://rp.eliteskills.com/r.php?r=149491 Chat] • [http://rp.eliteskills.com/r.php?r=149808 Rules] ]
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[font "Times New Roman" DeVian's eyes drooped with the threat of sleep. This was the third meeting of the day--how did these people have all this damn energy, especially since they were so [i old]? She could hear the haughtiness in their voices; the illusion of power was omnipresent.
Her ears perked up at the mention of a--what was that? A new business venture? She cleared her throat loudly and held her hand out for the speaker to stop. She couldn't remember which one he was exactly; so many of them seemed like one another and all of them were equally grey.
[b "Excuse me,"] she started calmly, gathering her words as the moments passed. [b "You want to... start an outreach program in low-income neighborhoods?"]
[b "Allow me to tell you why we're not going to do that."] It was almost difficult to hold in the laugh that fought against her teeth.
"Ms. Law, I--"
[b "What are you doing? I said I'm about to tell you something, so please, please, wait until I'm finished."] Her temper flared in her chest but kept itself off of her features. [b "We will [i not] start an outreach program in low-income neighborhoods because they are low-income for a reason. The families there cannot pay to send their kids to a program such as that, which would prompt us to provide a donor program or a scholarship program. Which both cost money. On top of that, we will expose ourselves in said program for what? You think lower income children are secret geniuses and we don't know about it? The schools in those areas are sub-par and cannot afford to provide education that would make a program such as that worth our while. And it would only hurt them in the end. A building from Law Tech. would raise property taxes. Countless families would be displaced by not being able to keep up with their bills."]
The room fell into silence for several seconds. Dev could hear the heartbeat of the man who had challenged her racing. Her temper was well-known even though no one spoke about it. She wasn't necessarily revered for her forgiving nature.
He cleared his throat. "Very well. But Ms. Law, I really think you should think more about it."
[i Did I ask you what you think?] popped into her head but she said nothing. The silence weighed on her shoulders. How to act in this moment...
[b "Law Technologies, Incorporated will not participate in half-baked ideas because you want to indulge your guilty conscience. If you want to care for those that cannot care for themselves, take it out of your own paycheck. Did you not ask for a pay raise three months ago? But you want to sit in my face today and ask me for favors. You thought I would tell you to spearhead the operation so you could pocket some extra money. You thought I would say 'that's a great idea!' and blindly sign whatever papers you sit in front of me."]
"I--I would never--!"
[b "You would. Get out."]
[b "Should I repeat myself?"]
Murmurs erupted as the man slid his chair back and stuffed some papers in his suitcase. DeVian's posture did not change. There was no need to have her head follow him as if she could see where he was going.
Her eyes were offputting for a number of people. Most of the time she wore tinted glasses, but in the rare times she could be caught without them, people got scared. One was partially an icy blue color resulting from partial heterochromia and the other a light hazel. Both were unseeing and unresponsive. It didn't make sense to most people that someone of her stature would be blind, but it made sense to her. She had her own reasons. Sometimes she pulled her glasses off simply to shock people. It was funny to hear the gasps, listen to them clutching their hearts. A heart by nothing else but name.
DeVian spent the majority of her remaining day in her office. She had online classwork to do. Her discrete structures professor had no mercy on due dates.
A knock sounded at her door. Her brows furrowed in slight annoyance, but her head angled upwards. [b "What?"]
The young woman there smiled a bit at the things Ms. Law did that could be considered cute if it weren't so offensive to say it out loud. "You forgot to turn the light on again."
[b "What do I need it for?"] Dev mumbled, turning back to her work. Her fingers tapped pensively on the keyboard as she tried to jump back onto her train of thought. Maybe she'd have to restart the voice memo of her assignment.
"You have an engagement tonight, scheduled to start in an hour. I've picked up your dress and steamed it myself. All of your accessories are at home on your vanity, arranged from left to right: earrings, necklace, left wrist bracelets, and ankle bracelet. Tomas is scheduled to arrive to do your makeup in forty-five minutes."
[b "What's this for again?"]
"The Oswalt Charity Gala, Ms. Law."
[b "I told you about calling me that."] The rising businesswoman rose from her desk, smoothing her slacks over her thighs. The way they wrinkled played unfavorably on her skin. [b "The Oswalt Charity Gala,"] she chuckled, [b "is a scam. But I'll play. The game always needs players."]
Her assistant's brows furrowed in confusion. Sometimes her boss said things like this and offered no elaboration. She was past the point of questioning.
[center [size24 - xxx -]]
The ball was incredibly... loud. DeVian grimaced time and time again as she tried to adjust her sensitivity to it, but struggled. Her assistant--Lin, this one's name was--lightly allowed Dev's hands to squeeze around her upper arm as she was guided around. This wasn't her first time here but she was still very unfamiliar. Despite her advisers saying she should request nothing be moved from year to year so she could grow comfortable walking on her own, she refused to allow anyone the satisfaction to say her disability "hindered" her.
Lin whispered names and associations as people approached. Dev's dress was a grey color, ash grey and flowing onto the ground. Her heels sparkled in the dazzling lights, the high-low cut showing off her anklet. Dev had the body of someone who planned to kill with it and some wondered if she ever had. She paid no mind. She'd been accused of many things before--even of not actually being blind. Surely that was worse than being accused of taking a man's life.
"Larry Gildan is approaching, from the meeting you had this morning. He's smiling." Lin prodded Dev slightly to the left so she was facing the correct direction. "Shall I leave?"
[b "Not in the slightest."] The woman spoke through her teeth which were grit in an amazing but fraudulent smile. She extended her hand when prompted and he gripped it firmly. The resentment was evident in his voice. Lin reminded DeVian that people were watching.
"I didn't expect to see you here tonight, Ms. Law," Larry--that [i was] his name, wasn't it?--offered excitedly.
[b "And why is that?"]
"Well you cancelled some of your meetings today; I was worried you might have fallen ill. Speaking of... do you have a moment?"
[b "Actually, I don't."] Her smile remained intact. Their intimate, jovial tone could fool anyone who wasn't listening. She brought him in closer. [b "If you think you can embarrass me here by trying to strongarm me into doing something I already told you no to, your feelings are about to get [i really] hurt."]
"Not at all--!"
[b "I'll let you know if you still have a job tomorrow."] She reached for and took his hand again in a seemingly sincere shake, flashing the pearly whites once more. [b "Enjoy the rest of the ball, Barry! Don't drink too much."]
Once they were safely out of earshot, Lin let a little giggle escape her. "Ma'am, his name is Larry. Larry Gildan."
[b "Isn't that what I said...?"]
"Ashanti Lennox and Leonardo Gestalt are approaching from your right."
DeVian's mouth quirked up. [b "See if the champagne is drinkable, will you?"] sent Lin off in a graceful sweep across the room. Dev turned in the direction she could hear Ashanti and Leonardo coming from, feeling Ash's hands to confirm they were hers. She could always identify them because they were smooth, the fingers were long but the thumb was slightly proportionately smaller, and--
[b "Ashanti,"] she sighed in relief with accompaniment from a smile. A real one. She instinctively pushed her dark glasses up onto her nose. [b "I haven't seen you in a while--I've something to show you! And to pick your mind a little. I know last time I kept you for hours, but I honestly mean a little this time around."] She dipped her head towards Leonardo in acknowledgment. [b "And Leo. I imagine you're having as much fun as I am here, aren't you?"] Her grin revealed everything she didn't say. She didn't have to see his face to know.]
Today was going to be a busy day. This much was obvious based on the sheer number of meetings and appointments that Ashanti laid out for the Gestalt heir. As she scrolled through the names on her electronic tablet, each one triggered a memo in her mind as to who were allies, enemies, and the recent victims of scandal. Based on this, she was able to craft the schedule where all the pieces fit together as perfectly as a puzzle. At least, it [i did] before Leo walked out of his room precisely six minutes and forty-seven seconds later than she originally anticipated. Ashanti quickly moved her modestly manicured nails across the screen. The meeting with the McAvoy brothers would have to wait until next Tuesday now.
The two cycled through the rest of the planned day on autopilot. It was second nature. While Leo was off playing with the big boys, Ashanti absorbed all the interactions just a few feet away, storing them in her head for future use. She was his unwavering shadow.
Things could have been worse for her. At least in terms of who she needed to be eternally linked to. Ashanti could have been lumped with some spoiled party boy that only ever had an interest in lavishly waving money in the faces of the less fortunate. Leo, however, was the epitome of class. He knew how to carry himself, how to interact with other higher ups, and perhaps most importantly listen to everything she said. Though there was some reluctance in the face of more tedious tasks, he generally trusted her to not only do her job but do it well. And so she did.
Later on that evening, Ashanti took Leo's extended hand and stepped out onto the lush red carpet of the Oswalt Society Charity Gala. Her senses were immediately jam packed with overwhelming stimuli. Photographers shouted for the attention of the attendees. Reporters clamored to shove microphones in faces. Camera lights flashed incessantly to get the best shot. She suddenly became acutely aware of her choice of attire for the evening.
Ashanti always made a point to not only proudly represent the Gestalt family, but also compliment her counterpart. She wore a velvet sheath evening gown of the deepest blue. It hugged the natural curves of her body and almost shimmered with her every move. Along the hem and the sweetheart neckline shone brilliant gold jewels that twinkled and glittered in the lights. Similarly Ashanti decorated her thick, coarse black hair with several more golden trinkets. It was only on very special occasions that she ever wore it down, so apparently the gala was one of them.
All in all, it was a breathtaking ensemble. But also a familiar one. This outfit had been recycled a number of times for various events and parties. She really only ever switched between three looks much to the disappointment of prying fashionistas. It was ridiculous, in her opinion, to be expected to appear in new attire for every function. In any case, the Gestalts were always donning some form of their signature gold. So once she found a few suitable items to coordinate with such a simple color palate there was no need for more.
Heads turned as the two walked into the extravagant hall. Everyone strained to get a peek at the up and coming heir. Some onlookers inched ever closer, emboldened by the quaint small talk the host began making with Leo. As the men chatted, Ashanti planted herself firmly between the two and the crowd fixing the strangers with a hard glare, dark eyes flashing dangerously. If they weren't on her mental list of people to meet and greet, they had a snowball's chance in hell of talking to Leo. They melted back into the masses. Or at the very least lingered in their designated perimeter.
She whipped around at the all too familiar voice of the youngest Gestalt sibling, Freida. Her eyes narrowed a fraction. As civil as the family was to Leo in public, Ashanti was all too familiar with their burning hatred for their brother. Despite their best attempts, they hadn't achieved killing him yet, and she wanted to keep it that way. She'd die for the man instead before giving up her one way ticket to the top. Ashanti moved purposefully to Leo's side to draw Frieda's attention. She gave a short nod and something barely resembling a smile at the compliment. The woman did not take her eyes off the other until she fully disappeared from view.
[#FFD700 "Let’s get this over with, who do I have to talk to before I can get out of here?"] She turned to Leo and gave him a once over.
[#000080 "Don't whine and don't rush,"] she said flatly. [#000080 "If I recall correctly - which I do - one month and four days ago you opted to leave the Abernathy Dinner Soiree early. You'll need to make up for the lost time there."] She glanced at her watch which was really just her tablet in miniature. After punching in a couple of keys she continued in one breath, [#000080 "Start off with the Abernathys first. Thank them for having that dinner, offer your apologies for leaving early, inquire how the rest of the night went, compliment their hosting abilities, and be sure to check whether or not their youngest daughter Eliza is excited for her upcoming year in the first grade."] Ashanti snaked her arm into the crook of his and led the way.
The next hour and forty-five minutes continued in much of the same fashion as the first portion of the day did. There was just more specificity. Ashanti knew how to play most of these people like a fiddle. She instructed Leo on exactly what to say in each conversation, highlighting topics of interest and areas of focus.
[#000080 "You're making good time,"] she said in a very matter-of-fact tone when they had a moment to themselves again. It was her own version of high praise. She eyes flicked to her watch once more then back to Leo. [#000080 "Next you're to meet with the Laws of Law Technology, Incorporated. They've expressed an interest in strengthening ties with your family."] She paused for a moment. A rarity.
It was in that moment that she remembered DeVian Law. Although she had a large array of information on loads of people Ashanti usually kept her distance from them as a general rule. More often than not she thought they were incredibly annoying. Dev was too from time to time. But in a better way. The young twenty-something was incredibly capable and intelligent in spite of her disability; she was a real cause for admiration. Yet she wanted to direct her own respects to Ashanti. After some volunteer speakings and demonstrations at Dev's college, the young woman sought her out to learn more. Ashanti held that thirst for knowledge in high regard and agreed to mentor her.
While Ashanti considered their relationship far from friendship, there had been multiple occasions wherein her student wanted to confide in her. And she wanted to talk specifically about Leo. That sort of information certainly didn't cloud Ashanti's judgement, but as she paused to consider Dev, she could feel that it did have some sway.
[#000080 "Such a bond is useless as of right now since neither you nor the daughter DeVian has taken over your respective companies, but it is something to consider in the future after the fact. You've met her on several occasions already. She is the one who is blind and currently in attendance at The City of Eden School of Higher Education."] Another pause. [#000080 "She's nice."] This was perhaps the first time Ashanti offered an opinion as opposed to an unbiased fact, but she felt she might as well put in a good word.
[#000080 "After that, you'll have been here long enough to make a statement about how much you're enjoying yourself. I just need you to find the nearest news crew for a quick comment and then you can slink off to hide in the garden out back for a break. It can be no longer than fifty-three minutes."]
She spotted Dev in the crowd shortly afterward and strode over quickly, taking a hold of her hands so that she could be identified. Then for added measure, [#000080 "It's Ashanti Lennox. I've brought Leonardo Gestalt with me."] She squeezed her hands in an encouraging gesture and motioned Leo over. [#000080 "You're welcome. But make it quick."]
Leo awoke in his rooms at the Gestalt estate. Cocooned in silk and soft eiderdown, he stretched, yawned and drowsily brushed his locks out of his eyes. The frail dawn light from his window illuminated the tiny specks of dust in the air above him. Leo’s lips curved upward in a soft smile before he realized what his face was doing. When he did, it faltered and vanished. He got out of bed. He showered, shaved, put on the clothes laid out for him during the night.
Right outside Leo's rooms, Ashanti waited for him, tapping away at an electronic tablet. She was slightly taller than Gestalt, something that had initially bothered him. He got over it though. She was always there when he stepped outside, no matter how early or late he was in getting ready for the day. She wordlessly handed him his itinerary and kept tapping away at her electronic device as he read through it.
Leo noted with an internal sigh the number of meetings for the day. They had been getting more numerous as his father's health declined. He also noticed the last item on the docket, the Oswalt Society Charity Gala. He had been reluctant to agree, but Ashanti had insisted. When Leo finished reading he looked up at his aide, awaiting any other information he needed for the day. This was a ritual they had performed so many times, few words were necessary.
“A representative of Arasaka Corp. has tried to set up a meeting with our data mining branch for the past week. They have been refused, as per your instructions on July 5th. However, your brother Maximilliam was seen having dinner with said representative yesterday. It is possible he is trying to undermine your decision and possibly create an unsanctioned trade deal between us and Arasaka Corp,” Ashanti rattled off in quick succession.
Leo bowed his head as he thought it over. “Arasaka Corp. is a sinking ship, but so is our data mining branch. Most assets have already been repurposed elsewhere. Max should know this. He is either trying to get Arasaka to buy our branch for an inflated price, or he is trying to buy assets from Arasaka in order to revitalize our own department. Find out what his angle is. If it’s the former, let him do it but make sure he works with a lawyer whose loyalties aren’t in question. If it’s the latter, shut him down. There is nothing Arasaka has that’s worth buying. If there was I’d have accepted their request for a meeting,” Leo said. Ashanti nodded as she tapped away at her tablet, no doubt already setting Leo’s orders in motion.
“Very well,” Ashanti said in reply when she was done. She moved to the side to give Leo room and as he walked down the hallway of the personal wing of the estate they locked step, as so many times before.
Leo dutifully followed the itinerary decided for him, with Ashanti shadowing him during all of it. To point out that she was working for his father, reporting back to him, would be redundant. [i Everyone] was working for his father. Despite this, Leo felt a level of trust towards her. Their interests aligned. If he reached the top of the food chain he would bring her with him, they both knew that. He had her loyalty, as long as he could make it worth her while.
Most of the day passed in a blur. Exchanging information, strengthening alliances, checking in with department heads. Bribing, threatening, congratulating, manipulating. On and on the wheels turned. Tedious, all of it. And yet Leo never faltered, performed every task set out before him no matter how difficult, tedious or menial. He had never failed. The day he did was the day he was thrown to the sharks.
[b [i ~~~
Leo arrived late to the gala, intentionally so. It wouldn't do for the Gestalt heir to have enough time on his hands to arrive in a timely manner, after all. He stepped out of the backseat of his personal car and looked up at the grand hall as he adjusted his golden cuff links. They featured the family crest, the head of a male lion, mane surrounding its face and its mouth open in a vicious snarl. He turned and held out his hand for Ashanti to help her out of the car. They walked inside together.
Leo's shirt was rich silk, a golden color that perfectly matched Leo's eyes. Above it, a slim three-piece suit made of the finest cream-colored linen due to the warm weather. The jacket had slim notch lapels, three-button closure and straight jetted flap pockets. It was a good suit and an even better fit, despite Leo never having been measured for it. Leo could see people noticing his presence as he entered the gilded lobby of the hall. They also took note of his father's absence.
[i That's right, better start being politer to me, you vultures.]
As if on cue, the portly host of the event flitted into view and presented Leo with an impressively sweet smile. "Mr. Gestalt! So glad you could come, so glad,” he declared as his eyes flitted away from Leo to see how many noticed him being so friendly with the golden goose. Leo’s face remained impassive and polite, despite the revulsion this man’s very presence filled him with. “We must all do our part for the less fortunate, after all," the man purred at him, as if they were sharing a secret.
Which they were, in a way. The money from the charity gala wasn’t for dying children, almost everyone at the event knew that. Even though Caduceus wasn’t officially affiliated with the Gala, that was where the money ended up in the end. Many people who used Caduceus services didn’t want it on their official paperwork. So instead of a bill, they were strongly advised to give a suitable donation at the Oswalt Charity Gala. That way, Caduceus got their money and the client could pretend they were unaffiliated with the company. Plus, the donation was tax-deductible. Win-win.
Leo graciously thanked the man for his invitation, made polite small-talk for a short time and then, with a sharp smile and a pointed silence, made it very clear that the man's presence was no longer wanted. The host quickly vanished into the crowds again.
"Brother!" came an enthused call to his right as he made his way further into the hall. His youngest sister, Frieda.
Leo smiled down at his sister and gave her hand a friendly squeeze as she came up to him. Meeting his family at social gatherings was always a bittersweet experience. In public, they treated him like the brother he technically was. His two sisters doted on him, teased him about the pretty girls who were eyeing him and insisted he try the various treats that were available at whatever banquet they were currently attending. His three older brothers would speak seriously with him on various subjects, from politics to recent sport results. They always seemed to value his opinion on whatever subject they were discussing.
In the privacy of home, things were different. They hated him, plain and simple. He had usurped the heritage they felt rightly belonged to them, a shameless cuckoo in their nest. Leo also represented in a very real way their father's disappointment in them all. None of his [i real] children had been worthy of his heritage, so he had handcrafted a boy to surpass them all.
Leo never blamed them, or so he told himself. He understood their hatred, their anger at being overlooked by their own father. That they directed that anger at Leo, and not at the one who was truly to blame, was also understandable though less forgivable.
"Frieda, you are radiant," Leo said, turning his eyes to his sister's gown. It was made entirely of a sheer golden fabric interspersed with dazzling crystals and gold leaf. It matched her skin color perfectly, as intended. She flashed him a fanged smile at the compliment. She didn't have Leo's curls, her slightly darker hair was in a tight bun held up with yet more gold leaf and crystals. She was truly beautiful, even beneath all the adornments. Clever, too. In another life, maybe, they would have gotten along. As it was, she had tried to kill him three times, one of which he had only survived due to Ashanti’s timely intervention.
There was a certain logic to the plan that if one of his siblings simply managed to murder Leo, they would be deemed worthy of taking his place. No one had succeeded thus far, however. After the sixth attempt and the death of Gloria, their eldest sister, most of them had stopped trying.
Frieda turned to Ashanti, greeted her warmly and complimented her attire. Then she gave a little wink and was gone in the crowds again. Leo let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. He turned to Ashanti. “Let’s get this over with, who do I have to talk to before I can get out of here?” he asked in a low tone.
Adam watched out the window of the van as the city rolled by. Tall, gleaming buildings shone by, beautiful cars that cost more than all the money he'd ever paid in rent roaring quietly past. A large, white and gold building came up to their right, doors wide open, red carpet rolled out; The Oswalt Society Charity Ball. Adam grimaced. Oh, how wonderful. All these beautiful people, gathering together to sip champagne and stand around and be famous, all in the name of some fake-ass charity. Oh, sure it was supposed to be given to kids with cancer to help pay for their chemotherapy, but they were giving it to Caduceus, and once it vanished into Caduceus' vaults, only a tiny fraction was going to be given to actually help poor kids with cancer. Most of it was going to pay for whatever horrible experiments the company was up to this time. That alone was enough to make him want to crash the party.
But there was an even better reason to crash this party. The young Gestalt heir, child of one Caduceus' biggest proponents and allies. If they could take him down, then finally, finally, they'd make a real impact. People would start taking notice, and maybe, maybe they'd even listen.
Adam glanced back inside the car, nodding at Theo, who was driving, and Calliope, in the back seat. His eyes drifted over the tied-up newscasters, all lying in a clump in the back, then settled back on his teammates. A small smile touched his face. "You ready?" he asked, adjusting the suit he'd stolen from one of the newscasters. "Remember, as we rehearsed. Theo's the cameraman, and Calliope--you know what to do."
The car pulled around to the service entrance. Adam hopped out and adjusted his suit, then shit the door behind him. Now off to crash a party!
The inside was just as gorgeous as the outside, if not moreso. Adam looked around, taking in the party with a big grin. Now this was living the life. Famous people, good food, and a nice ambiance. He could almost forget how hypocritical it all was for a moment.
With a quick glance, he checked his watch. Just about time for the party to really get started. By this time, the station was probably wondering where their traffic-report cameramen had wandered off to, but that wasn't his problem. By the time they found the van, it would already be too late.
"Taipan, Boa, anyone see the target yet?" he asked into his lapel, scanning the grand ballroom from the balcony above. Plenty of elites, but not their man yet. Maybe he was running fashionably late. Maybe he'd decided to stay home tonight, and he'd jacked a newcaster's van for no reason. He bit his lip. Hopefully not. This was their big chance.
All posts are either in parody or to be taken as literature. This is a roleplay site. Sexual content is forbidden.