Moon = Diamantus
Fin = Amanita
Word Count: 2406
Diamantus despised the situations into which her moral compass plunged her. She desperately wanted to support Mathus in his people-oriented approach to running the neighbourhood, but she knew that Arrento had the connections and the clout to get things done. What she was hoping for was to be able to talk to Arrento and strike a deal that would include Mathus as well. Perhaps it wasn’t possible, but she’d brokered tougher deals before.
After they’d left the party, she’d asked Amanita to give her a couple of hours. In that time, she’d managed to convince Arrento to meet them at a neutral café. She knew the owner and he’d give them the privacy they needed to conduct their negotiations. As a bonus, the food there was excellent which she knew would please Lady Agaricales.
Now she was waiting for her companion to show up at the café. She knew that Arrento was going to be there in 30 minutes and she hoped that Amanita would arrive before he did.
"Hmm, this is a charming place," Amanita said. She looked around, appraising the venue. Not wanting to go home, she was dressed the same as from the party.
Amanita wasn't afraid to admit that she had fun at the little celebration thrown by the people of the Lantium District. It wasn't in her usual choice of entertainment, but she didn't regret going. They were doing well after Amanita and Diamantus had taken cared of a small-time crime boss.
She joined the table Diamantus was sitting at. "So what are we doing here, then?" Being still quite full from the party, perhaps she would have a light dinner. She glanced through the menu.
The velen grinned brightly at Amanita. “Isn’t it just? I recommend any of the fish selections here. They’ve got one of the best fish chefs in Terminus at this place.”
Diamantus was also dressed in the same outfit as the party. It made her feel a little out of place but it didn’t matter, it was relatively comfortable and she had decided it was too much of a waste of time to go home and change.
As Amanita questioned her, she tried to get down to business and quit thinking about food. “We’re meeting Arrento here in twenty minutes. I want to talk to him about the neighbourhood improvements and what he thinks should be done. I also want to see if he’ll deal with Mathus at all or if there’s no hope of salvaging that connection.”
"Well, well, look at you." Amanita smirked. "If Arrento is arriving soon, I'll wait to order." She did continue glancing at the menu, however. "I suppose I'll leave the dealmaking to you. I'm interested to see your style in something outside of combat."
She flagged down the waiter and said, "A glass of zinfandel and water."
Arriving at the scheduled time meant being late, that was why Arrento arrived before the scheduled meeting time. He was a stylish enlil with properly pruned and fluffed feathers. He wore a jacket that was accented with an ascot.
"It is so lovely to see you again, Miss Agaricales, Miss Silverscale. I am sure we will have a most beneficial partnership."
Diamantus decided to start out with a light and easy tone in her voice, rather than hammering into Arrento instantly. Most people weren’t aware that she was perfectly capable of subtlety if she wanted to be. It was just that as a revolutionary, subtlety didn’t usually get one very far. This wasn’t really a revolutionary situation, so it called for something else.
“It’s lovely to see you too, Arrento. Please take a seat and order if you’re hungry.”
Deciding not to be shy, the velen waited until the waiter came back with Amanita’s order and had the waiter bring her a squid ink pasta dish that was apparently laden with fresh seafood brought in by fast airship. While she waited, she addressed the tycoon who sat across from her. “So perhaps we can start with you laying out your plans for the neighbourhood? I’m intrigued to learn more.”
"I thought I was supposed to be wining and dining you two," Arrento said. "I do have some things prepared, but first, let's get started with some food." He was a man of expensive tastes, choosing fine seafood along with a salad and a soup. He had spent most of the party talking to the guests and making his point heard rather than enjoying the offerings.
As long as the waiter was there, Amanita ordered a salad topped with fresh fish. "Thank you," she said waving the waiter away.
Arrento straightened out his coat and tidied up his ascot. "Now, then, on to business. The largest problem I see with the Latium District, and the surrounding areas, is that it has poor industry. No one wants to move here. They all want to move away. But I see lots of opportunities here for companies to set up. There is lots of land that could be repurposed and lots of people in the district that need these jobs, not doing part-time work at some small business. That won't cover their bills."
After digging into her pasta with gusto, Diamantus set her fork down and listened to what Arrento was saying. She tried not to let her own bias against the sort of interests represented by the man influence the way in which she responded to him. It was important to establish his trust now. After he was finished, she nodded once and held his gaze. “I think that’s reasonable as a starting point. Can you tell me what sorts of companies you’d like to attract to the area?”
She would wait to hear him out before she started asking him the challenging questions that were boiling around in her own brain. There was no point in spoiling negotiations early before any kind of rapport or trust had been established between her and Arrento. She wanted to challenge him, but that instinct was going to have to take a back seat for now.
"That is easy," Arrento said. He paused his meal to explain. "I have one in mind specifically, Branton's. It's likely not a name you've heard of, because they don't sell to people. They don't even do wholesale.
"No, what they do is make parts for other companies, things like pulleys, axles, chains and more. The people of the Lantium District are hearty and well-suited for the labor. There is free space for several factories, both in woodworking and smithing. The best part is, Branton is a very stable company, not subject to the whims and desires of people. They don't do market research or anything like that. All they do is what other companies ask. If those companies should make bad decisions," Arrento shrugged, "there will still be others that needs parts made."
The worst part was that Diamantus couldn’t hear anything unreasonable in what Arrento was saying. It seemed perfectly natural to open factories and employ people and the business was indeed a stable one by the sounds of it. As was natural for her, she was expecting some kind of trick from Arrento, but none appeared there. She looked across at Amanita. “What do you think, Amanita? Does it sound like a reasonable plan?”
Really all she was trying to do was buy time until she could think of a reasonable way to challenge Arrento and try to find the flaw which she was sure would be lurking somewhere in what he was proposing. She really didn’t trust him.
Amanita put a napkin to her mouth with a gentle sweep inwards from the edges. She folded it underneath her palm. "I think it's a fine idea. If it works out, the people will have something to do, and it will bring a lot of business into the district without bringing in a lot of other people. They'll mainly work in exporting, I assume."
Arrento nodded. "Yes, exactly. I'm glad you see what I see."
"What about waste and pollution from manufacturing?" In truth, Amanita had no idea about it, but it was always a concern people had.
"Ah, for that, I'll have to speak with Branton's executives. They would be the ones to make a plan for that. But you can look up their records on production waste. I, for one, trust them to do a good job."
Finally there was a statement with which she took issue, Carefully, but firmly Diamantus raised her voice. “I am not so willing to take them at face value. I would like to be there and to observe some of their operations. I also feel that those with the most stake in the business should be allowed to speak to the Branton’s executives. To that end, I’d like you to consider having Mathus come along with us to inspect their facilities. Will you consider this?”
At least she had kept her language civil and wasn’t resorting to cruder expressions yet. She felt that there was something smug about Arrento and smug people tended to make her react. However, she would maintain control as long as possible.
Arrento waved his hand. "I have full faith that Branton will do right by this district. We may not have the capability to handle the refuse, yet, but that will be a simple matter. And believe me, Mathus is the last one you want to bring along. He's too insulated. The man is set in his ways and won't want to see any changes to the district.
"But, if you want to see something more than just my word, why don't we return to my home in the Lantium District after this? I can offer you a finer glass of wine and show you some preliminary plans I had my contacts at Branton draw up. You can see what they're proposing for yourself tonight, and I'm sure once you do, you'll agree with their methods."
Diamantus smiled jaggedly. “Well you can leave your faith in them where it is. I haven’t got any reason to trust them, so I’ll need to check on them myself before I make any decisions. As for Mathus, I don’t know him well enough to say if he’s reasonable or not, but I still want to see how he reacts to what Branton’s is offering. Is there anything wrong in having him along to gauge his reaction?”
She added, “You can certainly show us what you’ve drawn up with Branton. I’ll be verifying it anyways, but I’m curious to see what the plans look like. I won’t object to a nice glass of wine either.”
The velen had decided not to bristle at Arrento. She had concluded that being firm was acceptable, but why antagonize the man for now?
"Let's wait to bring in Mathus," Arrento said. "I want to show you two the plans first. If you agree with them, I'm sure the group of us can manage to talk some sense into that old man. And you can go over any concerns you have, if you have any, though I doubt you will." The enlil smiled and wagged his fork.
"Is that agreeable to you ladies?"
Amanita nodded. "It seems fine with me. How about you, Ta'lanna? I do enjoy seeing construction plans. It shows such potential for what might happen. And I'm sure I can give a fair assessment of them." She had already finished with her meal and was politely sitting there, taking the occasional sip of water.
There was no use in arguing the point with Arrento, since he was actually talking about Mathus as though he might be included in some way in the negotiations. It was enough for Diamantus to go on. She nodded her agreement with Amanita as she also finished up her pasta. “Yes, it’s fine with me too, Amanita. I think I can be persuaded to go look at your plans, Arrento. I do want to see what you’re planning!”
At the back of her mind, the velen rebel wondered what exactly this Branton’s company was all about. She hoped that she wouldn’t discover some kind of connection to TorBru. In Terminus, it seemed that everywhere one looked, one found that corporation with its tentacles in something.
"Fantastic. Let's go, then." Arrento waved for the waiter. "The check, my good man. I will go get a carriage for us." He left without waiting for the bill or paying anything. Several of his plates were only partially eaten. The waiter began clearing away the table.
Amanita said, "Shall we go, then? If it was up to me, I would more likely pick Arrento over Mathus, so I'm pleased with your decision. You don't need to be so wary. A lot of times, something that's good will also hurt." She shrugged and headed out.
A carriage was already waiting with Arrento standing by the open door. He held his arms out for his guests to enter first.
Diamantus felt like punching Arrento for the dismissive way in which he treated the waiter, but she resisted the temptation to do so. It would hardly aid in the negotiation process and she really wanted the process to work.
In reply to Amanita, Diamantus sighed. “Well you’ve never had to live under the thumb of some corrupt corporation before, have you? It’s easy to be carefree when you aren’t being exploited by someone, milady. I’m a revolutionary, so you don’t need to tell me that sometimes change is painful, but pain is only useful if it ends up with a positive outcome.”
She took a deep breath and set her jaw. “Anyways here we go! I guess we’ll see what happens next, won’t we?”
Climbing into the carriage, the velen wondered what precisely it was that she was getting herself into.
"Corporations aren't out to get you or anyone," Amanita said. "They have one goal, and that is to thrive, just like everyone else." She shook her head. "I'm sure whatever regulation is set out by the government of Terminus is fine. They do work for the people who are unable to help themselves, after all."
Amanita took a moment to re-apply her makeup. It looked almost as good as it did in the morning. "At least you're playing nice. This could be beneficial to the district, and that's what's important."
She got into the waiting carriage.
Word Count: 2406
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