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Dom chuckled lightly at her question with a slight smirk on his face. [+orange "I'm actually a little upset for not predicting that question,"] he spoke thinking aloud. The smirk didn't last very long as he closed his eyes entering somewhat of a meditative state. He searched his thoughts and memories of flowers in his lifespan. He had never paid enough attention to a flower for its beauty or anything, but moreso for the properties of certain flowers to be used as medicine for psychiatric treatments and for the exploitations of the toxicity within them for other types of bombs. There was one flower he found in his mind that he had taken more interest above all others as he opened his eyes. [+orange "The fire lily,"] he spoke. [+orange "You could say I was looking into my own eyes through that flower. Speaking of which, don't get use to looking at 'em,"] he told her. [+orange "My shades are going back on the minute we leave. I should've brought my eyeglasses. I've gotten too comfortable with the shades,"] he spoke as he slid out of the booth. [+orange "Let's go,"] he ordered. There was far less force behind it compared to earlier, but his crass attitude had come back to him in totality.
Dom placed his shades back on his face the moment the both of them got out of the door. He pulled out his device out his pocket to check the time. They had spent about fifteen minutes inside of the bar. It seemed that being a quick eater was something they both had in common. He shoved the phone back into his pocket before motioning his head in a direction further away from the city. [+orange "Let's go,"] he spoke. It was time for another trek.
This time, the trek let them to a clearing in the woods. It took about half the time it took to get to the bar, so it wasn't as bad of a walk. The sky was clear with the sun shining on the grass. It was neatly cut to about the height of a mat you would find in a martial arts dojo. The trees around the clearing formed an almost perfect circle. [+orange "This is my own special training grounds,"] he spoke. [+orange "I made this clearing myself. I got tired of the feel of being inside a base."] The area was well used. A few of the trees look beaten in the trunk from repetitive strikes. There were also logs with limbs he used to train his throws. [+orange "I told you earlier that I'm not as well-versed in striking and that grappling is my expertise. Grappling without striking is...less than ideal. So I've become training in something you might be able accelerate my learning in; Thai kickboxing."] He turned toward Lorelei taking off his shades as well as his jacket. [+orange "This time, I am your opponent,"] he spoke as he folding his jacket and set it and his shades to the side. [+orange "Every other tree in the front of this clearing is hollow to a point. Some have weapons, and some have gear. The one behind you has pads, gloves, and the like. Gear up and I will test my far my striking has come against someone who is clearly more savvy."] He reached into the hole of the tree behind him pulling out gear of his own. It included headgear, gloves, and a brand new mouth guard; which reminded him. [+orange "Oh, and don't worry. The mouth guard is brand new over there,"] he called out. Once he had strapped up, he stretched out a bit before taking a traditional Muai Thai stance. [+orange "Come at me whenever you're ready. Don't even think of holding back unless it's a final strike. I'll treat you the same courtesy when we move on to grappling."]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/gLykkE7.jpg]]
[center [size11 Lorelei absolutely was not expecting Dom to start laughing. How he found any of this amusing was beyond her. It was enough to make her hesitate a moment before taking another bite. She sat the last bit of it back on the plate as he began to explain to her the importance of a pawn's special move. She'd never played chess before in her life, unsurprisingly, so she didn't really know what he was talking about in any great detail. She got the gist of it, though. It was an interesting way to look at the entire thing, even if she still didn't think it was a good idea. But whatever, she wasn't in charge.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c "Does that mean I passed?"] Lorelei smiled, almost smug. She could tell she had impressed him at least a little bit with her observational skills. When it came to being non-confrontational by nature, it was important to always be incredibly aware of one's surroundings. Otherwise you could end up walking straight into something you weren't expecting. Ever since losing her parents, Lorelei had become almost obsessed with the details of the world around her. Being basically bombed on the baseball field hadn't at all helped with that obsession. How was she going to keep from losing anything else if she didn't have an incredibly attention to detail. Less important, it also made her one hell of a flower arranger.]]
[center [size11 When Sally returned, Lorelei looked up at her, absolutely taken in by her infectious perkiness. [#e8862c "Everything was amazing."] She told the waitress, patting her stomach. She was sure she'd never had such a satisfying meal, but she doubted she'd ever be back. Unlike Dom, she didn't have a habit of showing up in places she wasn't wanted. [#e8862c "Oh, I will."] Lorelei promised as the other woman walked off. She turned back to Dom with a delighted sigh. [#e8862c "I love her."] She was greeted with that same placid look, which she already disliked. She very much preferred his smile.]]
[center [size11 When presented with the opportunity to ask questions again before her training would continue, Lorelei considered all the things she could ask. She didn't much like the artificial feeling of just asking things and getting answered. She would much rather get to know Dom through spending time with him. [#e8862c "Just one."] She placed her chin on top of her hand, leaning onto the table a bit. [#e8862c "What's your favorite flower?"] It was something she asked every so often, which told her something important in her mind. Either he was someone who liked flowers, or he wasn't. That sort of preference said a lot about a person to her. If she was going to be spending a lot of time with him, allowing him to teach her how to handle herself in a way he saw fit, then she wanted to know just what she was going to be dealing with.]]
Dom hadn't seen anyone eat like Lorelei in a very long time. She had devoured two of her tacos before he had gotten through half of his sandwich. After relentlessly charging at the tacos and tea, she had began to talk. She spoke of being a florist; something he had already picked out before she said it. His sport deduction was spot on as well, but he expected softball over baseball. The difference in pitching technique meant that she had probably had a powerful pitching arm and, more importantly, good aim. This combined with her being a florist told him she had technique. That had told him most of what he needed to know for gearing up.
Then, a surprise. Dom mostly kept his eyes closed when eating for several reasons. The first reason was the principle of cutting off one of your senses to direct focus into the others, thus having the food taste better and letting him feel any aggressive intent around him. It wasn't a special power or anything. It just took some practice to feel the intent of others. In this scenario however, he had opened one eye as she had began speaking on the the situation he had put her in. It looked as though she took in a lot more than he had initially thought. Lorelei had specified the table, tattoos, the appendages of the men, their level of intoxication, and more. He took the last bite of his sandwich before he heard, [#e8862c "And then there's you."] His eyes were open then. Not one single word she said bothered him in the slightest. It was her unyielding calmness he took an interest in when she was talking.
Dom chuckled a bit before it grew into full laughter. [+orange "Interesting..."] he spoke, the smile not leaving his face as he look on her. He leaned back with his tea in hand taking a sip before lowering back to the plate. There were only two people in his life that would even bother trying to talk to him like that and not bat an eye; both of them had left this Earth unfortunately. [+orange "Annalise would've loved you,"] he spoke reminiscing on a friend in his past.
[+orange "Tell me; are you familiar with the En Passant?"] he asked as he held up his index finger. [+orange "Allow me to educate or remind you; whatever the case. It is a special move that only a pawn can use. In chess a pawn can move two spaces forward exclusively on its first move. The En Passant is a special pawn capture than can only occur after an enemy pawn has made that very move. Normally a pawn can only capture pieces that are diagnolly in front of it, so if the enemy pawn hasn't moved yet they could to evade capture by stepping two spaces forward putting them side by side. The En Passant is an exception. It allows you to capture the enemy pawn anyway simply because it would've been caught if it had chosen to move only one space. Only extremely avid chess players are aware of this special move."] He retracted his finger and leaned forward all with the smile still on his face. [+orange "This place is my way to find out the pawns capable of using such a special move, so to speak, and you just might be one of them after all."] Dom sat back from his forward position. [+orange "You can talk to the King if you wish, but know that you will be told to stick with me regardless of your grievances or leave. There is a reason I'm where I am as I am."]
Sally soon came back to the table with seeing the smile on Dom's face. [b "Well, well, WELL! I do believe this is the first time I've ever seen a smile on that face of yours, hun!"] He waved his hand back and forth. [+orange "They're nothing special, Sally,"] he spoke before reaching into his pocket handing her a fifty dollar bill. [+orange "Keep the change. Thank you, Sally."] Sally's face lit up with excitement at the large bill she had just been handed. [b "Ya really mean it?"] [+orange "I won't repeat myself, Sally."] [b "Oh happy day!!"] Sally jumped up with joy. She leaned over whispering to Lorelei. [b "I dunno what you're doing to this sweet old grump, but keep doing,"] she said winking at her. [b "Y'all have a good one!"] Sally spoke before skipping off.
Dom took a moment to clear his throat as his smiled faded into his normal stoic expression. [+orange "Now then,"] he began, [+orange "Let's try this again. Any questions at all?"] he asked her mirroring the sitting position of a mob boss. [+orange "If not, then we head out into this forest. I want to see what you can do with that arm of yours. I also intend on personally instructing you in some very special Judo techniques that should be in your arsenal if they aren't already. I'm not the best when it comes to throwing punches and kicks, but if throws, locks, or holds are involved, I know them."]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/gLykkE7.jpg]]
[center [size11 If she was honest, Lorelei wasn’t expecting any help from Dom. He seemed content to sit and watch her. She figured he’d let things get way out of hand before stepping in, but that wasn’t the case. She turned, intent on defending herself, at the sound of the thug behind her. Instead, Dom took him down with such skill that it happened almost in a flash. She would be lying if she said she wasn’t impressed. The other men, who seemed more or less aware of Dom and his capabilities, sat down when ordered. No one was too keen on starting anything with him involved, which she was thankful for. She was hungry and never looking for a fight. Fighting was always the last option in her mind, just like her father had taught her. There was usually a better way, and when there wasn’t, it was never shameful to defend herself. Dom’s opinion on the matter wasn’t at all similar to that of her father’s.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Thanks for the save..”] That was all she managed to get out of her mouth before he began to lay into her. She sat across the table from him, hands in her lap, fingers fidgeting, while he explained to her all she’d done wrong. She kept her back straight and her mouth shut, resisting the urge to back talk. He had valid points, of course. This entire thing was totally out of her comfort zone. She never imagined when she agreed to join Cascade that this was how she’d be trained to battle injustice. She didn’t expect to be thrown to the sharks by a man who had the eyes of one himself. Still yet, he was her authority figure here, and she was taught respect by her parents. She held everything they taught her in high regard. The only hint of her disapproval were her eyes. There was a certain disappointment behind them.]]
[center [size11 When the waitress turned up with their food, a bright, unwavering smile broke across Lorelei’s features as she looked up at the woman. Unlike the patrons, she was perfectly cheery and she made Lorelei feel all at once warm. [#e8862c “Oh, thank you so much. That’s so kind of you.”] As Sally walked off, she turned and dug immediately into her food. The way she ate couldn’t be called graceful, but damn was she hungry. They were probably the best tacos she’d ever tasted, well worth the price of a few assholes in her mind. Even the nachos were delicious, and that was difficult to do. She washed the first two tacos down with some tea and wiped her hands off, and then her mouth. Her eyes returned to Dom for the first time since his relentless critique of her performance. She sat back.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Well, since you asked... I’m a florist.”] That seemed the most important place to start, and gave some context to the full sleeve of flowers tattooed down her left arm. [#e8862c “I’ve played baseball my entire life, pitcher. I love food and watching documentaries and my Labrador. His name is Bear, if you were wondering.”] She paused, considering him for a moment before leaning forward. [#e8862c “I know how to fight, I’ve been training for years, but it’s never my first resort. That guy I ran into, judging by his breath he has enough whiskey in his system that one lit match would send this whole place up in smoke. When he turned and grabbed me he lurched hard enough to fall over if I wasn’t in the way. The four gorillas enjoying their lunch along with a healthy amount of tobacco clearly have no formal training past ‘punch as hard as possible’. Three of them were blocked in by the table itself, all of them are too big to be fast, and one of them has a fake leg. As for our little friend with the filthy mouth that came from behind, I wasn’t prepared for, but he wasn’t exactly stealthy what with the yelling at me in enough time for me to turn around. And every single one of them has the [i exact same] tattoo on their arms... And then there’s you.”] Her tone never faltered from easy going.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “A man who, despite only just meeting me and having no knowledge of my background or capabilities, decided to bring me to the middle of nowhere to a thug infested bar that is clearly frequented by some kind of gang that are all one wrong look away from holding hands and teaming up to slaughter a total stranger.”] With a smile she picked up her final taco, trying to keep the contents from falling out of the shell. [#e8862c “So, I’ll talk to the King and have him reassign me to someone else that’s less keen on trying to scare me off or get me killed or whatever this was really about, and you don’t have to worry about telling me anything about yourself, because I think I know all I need to know.”] She looked at him for a moment. [#e8862c “The only reason I’m still here is because these are fucking delicious and I want to make sure you give Sally the tip she deserves.”] With that she took a bite, filling her mouth with taco and dropping her eyes away from him. She may have been an optimist, but that didn’t mean she was a pushover.]]
Dom sat quietly as he watched Lorelei open the door. Sally had come back and put in her order for tacos as well so she wouldn't have to worry about it. Needless to say, he was sorely disappointed. Her expressions and choice of words seemed like that of a pushover. That wasn't to say that he thought she was an easy pick. The thing was, she seemed like her guard stayed down even in an uncomfortable situation. She was a perpetual optimist. No matter what situation she got placed in, Lorelei would be that person keeping a high level of naivety; or at least that was how it seemed. There was a slight possibility of this attitude being due to an overwhelming amount of confidence. There was also a possibility that she did not take him seriously. She was far too carefree for his tastes; at least in the thick of something he had prefaced as a test.
The first mark against her was commenting on the guy that spat at her...twice. The second was running head first into the guy who had blocked her path. The third was responding to his comments. The fourth was letting him touch her at all. If this guy had any kind of significant training, he would had her in some kind of lock right then and there. Not to mention the guy who had gotten up behind her. The only thing Lorelei had succeeded in doing was rousing the men more than they had for just walking in the building. The only silver lining in this test was that she put the big guy in a joint lock and even then, she took time to think about it rather than responding immediately. Dom facepalmed himself dragging his right hand over his face. She had failed the exercise almost entirely.
Dom slid out of the booth after seeing a friend of the guy who had just been floored stand up with intent to slap the hell out Lorelei from behind. [b "You little BITCH!!!"] the guy yelled pulling back his hand. Before he had the chance to swing however, Dom grabbed the guy's arm with both of his own before kicking the guy in the joint of his knee causing the guy to buckle under his own weight. He then put pressure on the guy's arm to bring drive his face into the ground and lock him there through the grip on his arm.
[+orange "That's enough of that."] Dom stated tightening the grip on the guy as he writhed in pain. [+orange "If you don't wanna lose your arm, you and the rest of the guys in this bar will be good boys. Do I make myself clear?"] Dom's demeanor had changed ever so slightly. He was normally a calm man that slung insults like a quickdraw, but in this scenario, he was purely apathetic. It was frightening combined with his scarlet eyes. It was like facing a demon to some. Some of the guys were still standing as if they dared to do something. [+orange "I wouldn't..."] he spoke glossing over them with his eyes and tightening his grip slightly. [b "AHHHH! SIT YOUR ASSES DOWN! FUCK!"] the guy yelled in pain. They obeyed and sat down immediately. [+orange "That's better. Remember this pain and learn from it,"] he spoke before letting go of the guy. He turned to Lorelei motioning her over with his finger before point at the booth. [+orange "Sit,"] he commanded as he went ahead of her.
[+orange "I don't think I need to tell, but you failed this exercise in its entirety,"] he told her as he folded his arms. [+orange "You did exactly what I expected you to do: You pissed them all off, you didn't pay close enough to your surroundings, your guard was down the entire time, you let that idiot lay a hand on you, you didn't take control of the situation, and worst of all, you sought a reactive position instead of a proactive one. That sort of logic gets people hurt or killed in this world. Do you understand that?"] His voice was at a constant volume, but he was extremely aggressive. He pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. [+orange "I don't know if you had noticed the guy behind you or not, but the prior performance led me to believe you didn't."] He grabbed his cup of tea inhaling the warm scent of the leaves and a hint of honey; just how he liked it. He took a sip before placing the cup back on its plate, folding his arms back, and looking her directly in her eyes. [+orange "I don't know much about you directly so I'll hold off on a boring lecture until after we eat. During the time of us eating however, let's have a conversation. That way I can know for myself why you acted how you did, or you'll just end up telling me.
Sally soon came back with the orders on a platter. [b "That was a great show, hun! I got you a side of fries on the house with your sandwich!"] she spoke placing the plate in front of him. [+orange "Thank you, Sally."] [b "And for you, baby, a trio of freshly made tacos. Oh, and the owner threw in a sample of our loaded nachos too for your performance,"] she told Lorelei with a wink. [b "I wasn't too sure what you wanted to drink, baby, so I brought you the same as Hun over here. It's warm green tea with a splash of honey! Y'all enjoy now!"] she spoke walking off. Dom stuffed a couple of fries in his mouth before talking. [+orange "Earlier, you asked why I come here despite the altercations, correct? Taste the food and you'll have your answer,"] he spoke before stuffing a few more fries in his mouth and wiping his hands with a napkin. [+orange "Now then, tell me what you think I should know about you and you can ask whatever you want to know from me. No limits and no half-assed answers. Following that and food, you will get a lecture if I decide you still need one. Afterwards we'll head elsewhere to gear up for later."]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/gLykkE7.jpg]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Dangerous... tacos?”] Lorelei repeated, entirely confused. This entire day was turning out to be confusing. She wasn’t at all sure if Dom liked her or not, or was even willing to try to like her. If anything, he seemed annoyed that he’d been saddled with the responsibility of her training. Even if it appeared that training new pawns was part of his job here. Regardless of all of that, Lorelei followed along with him, asking no questions. As they made their way to... wherever they were going, she attempted to get to know a little more by talking to him, but every line she pitched was a non-starter. He was entirely focused on testing her, and maybe she should have been 100% focused on whatever this test was going to be. She finally stopped trying to break the ice and simply followed him to the bar. By that time her stomach was growling in protest.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Whoo, finally. I’m starving.”] But then Dom turned to her and reminded her firmly that this was, in fact, training. She could have pouted at him, but she contained herself. Time to be a grown up. At least they had good tacos. However, the revelation of the rest of the information was confusing in and of itself. Lorelei was trying to wrap her head around it all, but it was just a little too much. [#e8862c “Then why do you come here? Just looking for fights?”] Lorelei didn’t expect her questions to be answered, and they were not. Instead, Dom continued on with his little lecture. Lorelei furrowed her brow and told herself to concentrate. It all seemed pretty important.]]
[center [size11 Reaching up, Lorelei began to fix her hair while she listened. There was quite a lot of the platinum locks so it took her a minute to get it all up in a way that showed the back of her neck. Once it was finished she took her hoodie off and tied the sleeves of it around her waist tightly. She was only wearing a tank top under it, which showed off more of her mark where it ran down between her shoulder blades. [#e8862c “Okay so, I’m gonna go in here, and these assholes will see my mark and probably say some petty off color things. You just want to see how I deal with that, and how I can handle myself if they decide to attack me.”] Lorelei had never been put in a position where she was knowingly going to be fighting. She had trained since she was a teenager in mixed martial arts to deal with her emotions after losing her parents, so she knew how to hit people, she’d just never done it outside of training before.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Yeah, alright. See you in there!”] She waved like a chump and then promptly smacked her palm against her forehead. [#e8862c “Great. He’s definitely going to take you seriously. Okay, three minutes.”] Lorelei loitered outside the door, actually counting to herself to make sure she didn’t jump the gun out of nerves. She cracked her neck and her knuckles and moved her arms around in a circle. When it was time to go in she took a deep breath, had a fleeting thought of turning around and running for the hills, and then pushed the door open.]]
[center [size11 The moment she walked inside, all eyes were on her. Not only was she new to this lovely place, she also had a blaring neon signal that she was different racing down her spine for all to see. When she passed the first table, she was greeted by a grunt from a rather large gentleman. Not so bad. She kept her head up and continued to walk. No reason to be shy or scared. Why would someone go out of their way to attack her? That would just be silly... Someone from a table of four spit a wad of what she hoped was tobacco in her path, but she couldn’t tell who based on the fact they were all glaring at her. She looked up from it and smirked. [#e8862c “Nice range.”] She commented, stepping clear over the saliva on the floor, and directly into the chest of another person.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “My bad.”] She had to crane her neck back to look at his face, which was far from pleasant.]]
[center [size11 [b “You should watch the company you keep, sweetheart.”] The big burly man advised none too kindly. [b “You’ll find yourself in all sorts of trouble.”] The way he loomed above her was less than comforting, but Lorelei smiled at him, brushing a few loose strands of silvery hair from her face.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Oh come on, he’s a little grumpy, but he’s miles better than ol’ chew and spit over there.”] Lorelei jabbed a thumb backwards toward the table she’d just passed, trying to ignore he scrape of a chair across the floor as someone suddenly stood up. [#e8862c “Besides, he’s treating me to tacos. So, if you’ll excuse me. I’m famished.”] With that, she began to sidestep him. Without getting entirely past him, one meaty hand grabbed her upper arm to halt her, squeezing uncomfortably.]]
[center [size11 [b “The likes of you ain’t welcome here.”] The man grumbled inarticulately at her, like some kind of bear that found a way to make vaguely word sounding noises. Her eyes found Dom in the corner, just sitting there, watching her. The last thing she wanted to do was fail so early on. She didn’t have much to go back to if she got kicked out for being incompetent. Huffing out a hard breath she went for the least violent thing she could think to do. Using her free hand she grabbed the man’s thumb and wrenched it back with enough force to near enough touch his wrist. As expected, he hit a knee with the shock of unexpected pain. When his grotesque friends rose to their feet, Lorelei lifted both hands and took a step back.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Alright fellas, it’s all good. Listen, I just want to eat. No harm, no foul.”] She dropped her hands, watching them all very closely, especially the one who she’d just dropped. He looked very angry about it as he stood again. [#e8862c “Can’t we all just coexist for like an hour?”] Her answer was another wad of tobacco spit on her boot, drawing a sigh from her lips. [#e8862c “Yeah,I didn’t think so.”]]]
[+orange "Tacos?"] Dom questioned. Whether Lorelei knew it or not, that was a psychological test. It was psychoanalysis through something as simple as a food choice. It was not an extremely reliable reference because of many inconsistencies, but there was only one key food that stayed consistent and that food happened to be tacos. From that alone he had assessed that she would be next to useless in the upcoming mission if she could not learn to control her emotions;unyielding optimism was the quickest way to die dealing with the order with as many tasks he had undergone already.
[+orange "Tacos it is, but we're gonna get some dangerous tacos,"] he spoke. [+orange "Don't fall behind. You'll get lost and that's not something I need happening,"] he spoke sternly as they took many odd routes through and out of the city.
It had taken about thirty minutes, but the trek had finally took them to a bar outside of the city in the woods. Ironically, the place was called [i Insiders]. Sure they were there for tacos, but there was a much more important reason why Dom had taken the newbie here.
[+orange "Alright,"] he began as he turned to face her. [+orange "I need you to understand a few things before we go in here."] Dom pointed at the bar with his thumb. [+orange "This place has good tacos. I'm not certain if they have nachos or not."] He placed his hand back in his pocket. [+orange "The more important details are that this is a heavily infested establishment. The owner is impartial to customers, but the guys are extremely prejudice toward the marked. For the most part it's only verbal harassment, but there were a couple of times where they had obtained the nerve attack me. They didn't last very long."]
Dom took off his shades;this time he put them in his pocket. [+orange "Tie your hair in a style that reveals more of the mark on your neck,"] he instructed. [+orange "If I wear my shades in there I would most likely be called out for being a member of Cascade. The reason we are doing this is to test you a bit. They will say many things and your optimism might guard you..."] He paused as he eyes lowered with a smirk. [+orange "...or it will piss them off and goad them into swinging. This way I both assess you and train you in three things: your close-range combat ability, your assessment speed, and your concealment. You'll need to check around to see how many people might come at you in this place. Sometimes checking an aura you naturally give off can be enough to keep you from getting hit and your optimism is overwhelming."] Dom turned to walk in the bar and stopped at the door. [+orange "I'll grab a table and order for myself. I'm getting a chicken sandwich. Give it exactly three minutes, then come in. I won't interfere with anything unless I feel it to be absolutely necessary. Got it? And don't worry about getting kicked out for fighting. The owner only does that to the losers."] he finished as he pushed the door open with the bell jingling on the door.
Eyes were instantly drawn to him and hues of his eyes. He was very recognizable after the last fiasco. He picked the booth in the corner being the furthest from the door so there would be no escape when Lorelei came in. [b "Hey, hun!"] the waitress named Sally had come up to him. [b "Back to give us another show?"] she asked him with a smirk. He shook his head opening one eye toward her. [+orange "I'm just here for that chicken sandwich, Sally. Oh, and I do have company coming in as well so be sure to come back for her order if you don't mind,"] She giggled. [b "You got it, hun! This is going to be exciting! I'll be back with your usual green tea!"] she spoked happily walking to the back. It was time for Lorelei's first active test from him.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/gLykkE7.jpg]]
[center [size11 It was difficult for Lorelei to really glean anything from the other man, given his sunglasses and the stoic expression on his face. He was probably skilled at this point to display such non-emotion to keep himself and those around him safe. Even given what she’d been through, the explosion and sickness, Lorelei had yet to learn to be paranoid. She was an eternal optimist, which kept her going but perhaps also put her at risk. She had no reason to attempt to learn as much as possible from Dom as possible. What did she have to fear from him?]]
[center [size11 She turned her eyes away from him as the King addressed her. He introduced herself, to which she nodded, and then went to introduce her new trainer. Before he could, however, the other man snapped at him more than once. She wasn’t sure if his annoyance was par for the course or because she was being put in his charge, but either way there was nothing to be done about it. Lorelei needed training in their ways and this was apparently the man for the job. She would trust they knew what was best.]]
[center [size11 There was hardly a space for Lorelei to speak as Dom introduced himself, removing his sunglasses to finally reveal his eyes. The scarlet color of his irises reminded her vaguely of the red stripes that ran the length of her spine. She took them in perhaps a moment too long, the eye contact broken as he returned the shades to his face. The king spoke up again, but Lorelei’s gaze remained on Dom. The most peculiar feeling was left with her after seeing his eyes, something she couldn’t put words too.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Yes sir.”] Lorelei looked at him in time to watch him leaving. [#e8862c “Thanks again!”] She called after him, waving in return. When she turned back to Dom he was already heading for the door and she skipped to catch up. She’d completely missed his comment about annoyance, but caught his remark about lunch. Easily glossing over the second part, Lorelei beamed.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Oh, you know, I’ve been dying for some tacos.”] Lorelei wasn’t sure this was going to work out, but she had faith that it would. She was determined to do her best for this group, and kind of hoping they would turn into her new family. She didn’t want to disappoint the king, or even Dom at this point. She wanted them to see just how ready she was to do whatever it took to pitch in. [#e8862c “Maybe some nachos as well.”] Just the thought had her licking her lips. Now all she could think about was tacos.]]
Nuu returned soon after being given a directive from the King. With her seemed to be a woman that looked younger than she actually was. Most would have pegged her to be about twenty or so at first glance, but Dom could see many things in the eyes of other people. It was not some kind of supernatural ability either. It was something he had practiced to further his psychoanalysis. The eyes are one of the first features that get noticed by other people after all. It's also one of the first areas of the face to show the effects of aging. The combination of tight or loose skin, weak or strong muscle and tendons, and occasional bags around the eyes are all things that can give away your age. Not only age, but things like lies, attitudes, and feelings were also detectable through the eyes; though some may require the addition body language and the other senses to read further. Anybody is capable of using these methods. There is just not an abundance of people who would bother and it takes a few years of doing to execute these methods as quickly and as accurately as Dom could.
Dominic gave her a once-over and closed his eyes as he pieced together what his senses had taken in. She was twenty-four and smelled of flowers, the hand she waved looked soft with very slight indications of healed pricks or cuts so it must be strong, her eyes were easy overall pointing to a rather unpredictable personality, and her choice of greeting. She had to be some sort of gardener; a sport was probably somewhere in her past complementing her hands for such work. That was all he really got from her, but something else was in her eyes. When he opened his own to meet hers, there was a sort of clash in the air. It was definitely an illogical feeling, but the King did not give him enough time to dwell on it.
[b "How are you? Well I hope!"] The King brought his hand to his chest before speaking again.
[b "I'm the King of this group; the head honcho ya'know."] He moved to place a hand on Dom's shoulder but,
[+orange "Touch me and I'll show you how my grenades feel,"] he spoke quickly with eyes lowered; gaze afixed to the King.
[b "Alright, Alright. Sheesh! Is that anyway to talk to your King?"] He pulled his hand back shifting it to a thumb pointing at Dom.
[b "This guy is [i the] pawn. His name-"]
[+orange "I can introduce myself just fine, thank you,"] Dom interrupted. The King extended his hand with his palm up with a sigh as if telling Dom to go ahead. Dom took off his shades with his eyes still closed before speaking.
[+orange "My name is Dominic, but Dom will do."] He opened his eyes to reveal the scarlet irises the accident left him with.
[+orange "Lemme go ahead and erase a possible question for you,"] he started as he lifted his shades.
[+orange "These, are for these,"] he spoke pointing at his eyes.
[+orange "They are unsightly to most, so I hide them."] He put the shades back on his face.
[b "Wonderful!"] the King blurted out.
[b "Lorelei, you will be paired with this guy for a while, so you two get comfy with each other. I'll have a task for you two in early in the morning; and by that I mean 0200 hours. Got it, ?"] he teased before walking off and waving.
[+orange "What. A. Nuisance,"] Dom spoke before walking off toward the door.
[+orange "Come on. It's lunchtime anyway and I haven't eaten yet. I'll let you pick while I decide whether or not you will get in the way."] It was classic Dom. There was no filter with him.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/gLykkE7.jpg]]
[center [size11 It had been a bit of a whirlwind of a few months. Lorelei had only just gotten into the groove with her shop recently, finally figuring out how to run it in a way that actually worked. She didn’t exactly have a mind for business, more so a passion for what she did, and a stubborn drive that worked in her favor. Giving up just wasn’t in her bones. Maybe that’s what they saw in her. Maybe that’s why she was here now, in Cascade, as a part of this revolution. Whatever the reason, she was just happy to be accepted somewhere. To possibly belong somewhere again.]]
[center [size11 Sitting where she was left, waiting to be told what to do next, Lorelei reminded herself again and again of what she’d been told so far. The most important thing was her code name, essentially her new name. It was going to be hard for her to remember not to introduce herself as Lorelei, she just knew it. Topaz was the name she’d been given, her designated gemstone. It was kind of cool, actually. Like those spy movies her and her dad used to watch when she was a kid. She definitely got a secret agent vibe from this whole thing. How she could go from playing baseball with a few friends to this was beyond her, but hey, she wasn’t about to turn her nose up at it. Maybe this could be really good for her.]]
[center [size11 [b “Topaz. They’re ready for you now.”] Nuummite’s voice startled her from her thoughts. Lorelei wasn’t sure what it was she was waiting for or what she was walking into, but she tried to keep a light attitude about it. As she did about everything.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Awesome. Lead the way.”] She offered a bright smile as she stood, trying to ignore that it wasn’t returned. Was everyone around here so serious all the time? With her hands in her jacket pockets, Lorelei followed along until she was left in the presence of two men.]]
[center [size11 [b “Topaz, sir.”] Nuummite introduced her, short and concise. It seemed rather impersonal, but efficient. Lorelei was sure that everyone here was busy, you know, rebelling, so she couldn’t judge. She simply looked at the other two, still smiling. Both of them looked a little put out, and she wasn’t sure if that was at one another or somehow because of her. Regardless, she pulled a hand free and waved, her smile becoming an easy smirk.]]
[center [size11 [#e8862c “Hey.”] Was her greeting of choice, for some reason. She chose not to question her thought process. It was always better just to go with it. She didn’t see any reason not to just be herself, especially if she was going to be here for a while. She wouldn’t want these people to think that she was any different than her true self. Even if her true self was so free spirited.]]
It had only been a month since Dominic had joined the ranks of Cascade. Thanks to his acquaintance, who turned out to be the Bishop of the faction, he had gotten a quick ticket. Even with as little time he had been there, he had more than proven himself capable. He had become [i the] pawn within the faction. There were four other roles with distinct names that held higher influence and pawns were a dime a dozen, but everyone knew the difference between being [i a] pawn, the proverbial grunts or newbies, and [i the] pawn, a sort of captain among them.
Dom's role had been pivotal to some of the exploits Cascade was able to accomplish. His grenadier knowledge, riot shield usage, and close combat prowess allowed him to simultaneously become a front and backline to raids and invaders. The faction's versatility had multiplied exponentially with him on the team. Even so, he continuously butt heads with the King and other senior members when it came to strategy and tactics. He could count on one hand how many times he flawlessly agreed with the decisions of his superiors, which was why he most likely see the upper echleon of command he aspired to reach in the first place.
[b "Dominic?"] a voice called to him. He was in his workshop with the base replenishing the special grenades and bombs his faction made use of while experimenting with some new ones. He had rubber gloves on as he was in the middle of trying to connect a some wires with his trademark shades on his face, which now grimaced hearing his terrible codename. He set his tools down whipped around on his stool in the direction of the voice. [+orange "Nuu,"] he spoke seeing the frail looking female pawn before him. [+orange "Whatever it is the King wants, can it wait? I'm kinda in the middle of somethin'."] He spoke with clear irritation in his voice. He did not like to be bothered while he was working.
[b "I'm afraid not, sir,"] she replied. [b "The King told me to come get you to so that you might fufill one of your responsibilities."] Dom raised an eyebrow. [+orange "What the hell does that mean?"] he questioned now in the presence of the King. Against his personal judgement he had gone to see him, and his question persisted. [b "You're the head pawn, aren't you, Dom?"] he asked him. Dom nodded slowly. [b "Then you have a responsibility to train the new pawns as well. I'm assigning you a sort of buddy. Until this new pawn is trained, you won't even be consider for a rise in position that I know you're lookin' for."] Dom looked off and sucked his teeth in one motion. The last thing he needed is to be stuck with a new pawn. [b "Perhaps this new recruit could humble that arrogant attitude of yours,"] the King spoke. [b "Bring the new pawn in here would you, Nuu?"] [b "Yes sir."] She bowed and went to fetch the new pawn.
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