3; Madame Gemma
The entire walk over, Micali felt like she had sets of eyes that followed her.
Gemma’s office was on the second floor. There were a few people outside of it, and Micali held down repulsion as she passed them in their...activity. Instead, she opted to head straight in, effectively a cut in line. She was greeted by the sight of a man sat in a chair opposite of Madame Gemma herself.
“Well, my eyes must deceive me. Micali Alsara, as I live and breathe.” Gemma had hardly changed a day in the last four years, spare some grey hairs that accompanied her curly chestnut waves. She sat at her desk, feet up on the dark wood, her cream coloured heels matched the light-yellow suit she wore. Gemma kicked her feet down, and sauntered over to Micali.
“Hey, ain’t you listenin’ to me?!”
Gemma completely disregarded the man. She stopped half a foot short of the sniper.
“Hello, Gemma.” Micali stared her down.
Gemma was a large woman in every way, and the smile that crept across her lips became just as so. “Shit. It’s been too long, girl.” A hand placed itself firmly on her hip.
A scuffle behind Gemma was just out of Micali’s sight around the woman. Gemma huffed through her nostrils then turned on her heel, a pistol appeared in the hand that had previously remained at her side, and she aimed it dead between the eyes of the man who had sat across from her desk, the chair now overturned and him a foot from Gemma’s back.
“Touch my hair and I’ll blow your fucking brains out.” She nodded to her two bodyguards. “Get him out of here, rough him up if you want.”
As the two guards removed the man from the premises, Micali could hear apologies and pleads come from where they’d dragged him off. She cleared her throat in order to get the attention of the distracted woman before her. “I can see business is booming.”
Gemma turned back, tucked the gun behind her, and let a sly grin decorate the dark skin of her face. “Can’t say the same. I heard you quit the game.”
Micali stayed quiet.
“C’mon now, there ain't nobody listening. You’re in Madame Gemma’s Pleasure Emporium,” she accentuated the title with an elegant wave of her hand, “or don’t you recall?”
Micali’s climb to the second floor wasn’t one of propriety. The building had a very...open layout. Even now, in the office of the owner she heard distant laughter, among other things.
“And if you’re gonna cut line into my office, you can chat with me, for old times’ sake.”
The three Micali had entered ahead of were quite...occupied, when she moved past them. “Fine. But don’t sit there like you don’t already know why I left.”
“I’ve heard whispers, but those don’t do me any good. So,” she mused as she moved back around to her desk, and took a seat. “You tell me. Is it true, what they say happened?”
Micali merely nodded slowly.
“That’s a rough go.” With two snaps of her fingers, a woman in the far corner of the room approached with a purple liquid and two chalices. She poured, and Micali fidgeted in her seat.
“I’m not here for a social call, Gemma. I need information.” Micali’s hands balled into fists in her lap.
“That right? After all these years, what makes you think you can just walk in here and demand that of me?” Gemma’s legs go back up on the desk, and she grins. “I know you’ve been out of it a while, but that ain’t how this works, girl.”
“It is. Or,” Micali paused as the serving woman left, “I can tell the Insidiis that you built clientele off of their records.”
Gemma chuckled at that, low in her throat. “Playing rough, huh? I knew you still had some fight in ya.” She picked her chalice up in her left hand, supported it only with her three middle fingers. The light of late morning reflected in off of the windows, the faded gold colour of the glass twinkled as the older laicar took a sip. “The Insidiis ain’t shit anymore. Since you lot disbanded and all left, they don’t run the game. Not in Lucrus. ‘S a new group on the rise.”
Micali absorbed the information. She sheltered herself away for three years, but she never expected so much to change. “It’s about them, Gemma. What they did.” She reached into her hip bag, and unzipped the largest pocket. Out came the jade handled knife. She set it down on the desk and slid it forward. “This is my payment. You know who it belongs to. Where is he?”
Gemma picked it up and played with it as she weighed her options. “Pleasant as ever, Micali. Pal and I, we haven’t spoken in a long while.” She placed the knife down, opted instead to grab paper and a pen from a drawer in her desk. Micali couldn’t make out what she wrote in the moment, but Gemma spoke. “But I do know where he is. This,” her hand sped up, “is a courtesy. If you fuck up, fail whatsoever, my ass is on the line.”
Micali did not to react, though her heartbeat shot up into her throat.
Gemma finished her scribbles, and turned the paper over to Micali. “I would say to make it quick, but if I were you I’d chop his balls off and force them down his throat.”
Micali eyed over the paper.
“414 Mort Street, Estro Boris.”
Estro Boris was the formal name for the common quarter of the residential district. He was still in the city, all this time later. That address was the old arena. It was shut down years ago, but Estro Boris was low on the priority list of the wealthy in Lucrus, so it had never been restored or changed.
“Thank you, Gemma.” Micali almost reached for her drink, but the nag in the back of her head held her at bay.
“Yeah, yeah.” Gemma smiled at the sniper as she rose. “Tell Pallorus I say hi before you kill him.”
With an awkward smile at that, Micali wandered out of the office. Somehow, the musk of the building had congealed since she was in that room, or she simply acclimated to the floral perfume that Gemma always faintly smelled of. The three people that had been spread on the bench before she went in must have finished their activities, because they were all properly dressed and ready to enter the room.
The first step out of that building was a damned relief.
The walk back to Dom’s was one of thought and distance. As clouds rolled in, she let her mind wander.
The night air was warm. The mid-summer typically was in Lucrus, but despite the hunt, Micali kept cool, the wind cooled as it hit her face as she ran. The last one of them ran on the street as Micali ran through the brush to match them. They tripped - an enlil man, average in every way aside from his tuxedo, which was torn around the edges from their chase.
Micali had nearly emerged from the brush, but paused as he laid on the ground. He seemed resigned to his fate. She had the rifle in her hand, but didn’t raise it. Maybe this was the way to get answers.
It wasn’t more than a minute before a man approached him. A large bulk of a man. Micali watched, no longer concerned with the assignment from the Insidiis, instead enamored with the mystery that surrounded her night. His height made it difficult to see him, and so her temptation got the better of her. She shuffled her feet slightly to get a better view, but the snap of a twig beneath her boot sealed her fate. The man turned her way, and approached the bush. He had a pair of dahlitium knuckles on, and he raised one fist as the other moved the leaves to get a better view. Once he saw her rifle, he lowered his fist. Now that she had a better view, she recognized him as a velen she’d briefly seen around the headquarters here and there. A pale blue velen, the colour of morning fog. As the blue wrapped around to his chest, it was etched out by white.
“You too, huh?” He extended a hand to her.
“It would appear so.” Micali shot him a wry smile, an acknowledgement of this game they would play. She took his hand, and they both stood in the street as the man they mutually hunted started up and ran. She raised her rifle, but the large man halted her.
“Let’s wait to see if any more come. I assume the others weren’t all your handiwork.”
She shook her head, hair shuffled around on her forehead. “You have a point." She extended a hand to greet the man, as there was obviously a purpose for this assignment. "I’m Micali.”
He extends his hand out to her and shakes, a smile formed on his lips as the man in the suit continued to sprint away. “Pallorus.”
Dom nodded to her as she walked through the open door, held open by patrons who entered ahead of her. The city had heated up since earlier that morning, enough that the clouds would be of rain, not snow. She shed her layers of clothing as she looked to him, no expression on either of their faces, then climbed the stairs without a word.
Micali’s eyes traced the patterns in the ceiling. The swirls and spins in the wood, the yellow and blue fingerprints littered along the end of one of the planks. Her back hurt at just the thought of it. Her hands were clasped over her stomach and her legs were crossed as she just laid there in her bed. Three years. She practiced the exercises that Dom taught her to calm down. She steadied her breath. In for 7, hold for 7, out for 7. She got up to check the door, then, and sure enough she had locked it. Back to bed, then back to the door. In for 7, hold for 7, out for 7.