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[Like a Bad Penny] Prologue: Remus Damaskos [Closed]

Gabe OOC

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Work, work, work. Tinkering away at cars and trucks for clueless customers who couldn't be bothered to take care of their transportation right and were impatient jerks was an aggravating piece of shit... but it was a living to Remus.

On the bright side, there was a message from brother Romulus. He wanted to meet, catch up again with his sibling. Reservations at an Italian restaurant awaited.

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"In you go.... in you go..."

Remus' callused knuckles seemed like they would be incapable of the kind of precision work necessary to reach in past the engine block to tighten a precariously-perched 5mm washer, but his hand moved deftly and gently. Once, twice, he twisted the tiny wrench between his fingers until the bolt in question was snugly in place.

Exhaling heavily, he wiped the sheen of sweat off his brow before proceeding to climb under and get the oil change started. Special synthetic oil. Whatever. The customer wanted this bullshit waste of money, the customer got it. Twice as expensive for no real benefit.

As the pan beneath the car started to fill with viscous black liquid, he moved over to the heavy bag in the corner of the garage. Without any preamble, he began to pummel it, evoking a harsh crunching noise from within. After a few seconds a part of the canvas tore and several gravel stones fell out. Bemused, he stuffed the rocks back into it and sealed the bag with several winding layers of duct tape. It occurred to him that the bag was more tape than canvas at this point and that he really needed a new one.

Maybe when I hit the jackpot.

The oil was drained by the time he finished the mending. He poured the special-brand crap into the oil tank and screwed the cap shut. Checking the dipstick one last time, he closed the hood, logged the time, and left the garage. Time for a shower.


Paggliacci's looked like the perfect place to Remus. Not too upscale that someone wearing jeans would look ridiculously out of place, but nice enough decor that you could ask to see the wine list without looking like a moron.

"Romy," Remus said embracing his brother in the lobby.

"Remmy," his brother responded, pounding his back once.

They took a seat, chuckling and tossing insults back and forth ("still fencing? limp wrist doesn't slow you down"). The wine was the first thing they ordered between verbal barbs ("yeah lemmie pick the wine, I packed some A-B-C books for you to read instead") and they seemed content to just shoot the breeze back and forth ("it helps if you wash your pants when you aren't wearing them"). The waiter sighed and resigned himself to another one of those nights. It was half-an-hour before they wound down and actually ordered some food.

"So how's Nadine doing," Remus asked, "She still suffering from a bout of persistent insanity and dating you?"

"Thaaaat's... actually one of the reasons that I invited you out, man."

Remus was suddenly wary, his wine glass paused halfway to his mouth. "Meaning?"

"Dude... she's pregnant."

He blinked.


"Pregnant man. Knocked up. With child. You're gonna be an uncle."

Remus blinked again.


Romulus shook his head. "You're not very bright are you?"

It was a second before his brain caught up to the information. Immediately, he refilled the glasses and raised his own. "Holy shit. To my brother, proud father!"

"To my brother," Romulus responded, clinking the glass with a smile, "Dumb uncle!"

They laughed and drained their drinks, Remus slamming his to the table a second before his brother, who hit the edge and send his glass to the floor with a tinkle of breaking glass. Already toasty, the two of them simply stared at it for a second and then burst out laughing. The long-suffering waiter appeared to clean the mess, wincing inwardly when they ordered another bottle.


Steak was made to be medium. Still mooing was supposedly flavorful but always seemed to be overpowered by the taste of blood. Well done may as well have been a slab of carbonized tofu for all it did for his tastebuds. The wine and the steak and the company made this Remus' notion of an ideal night.

"So what was the other thing?"

Romulus looked up from the salmon, blinking through the haze of red wine. "Oh... right. yeah, remember those schematics I asked you to consult about?"

"Sure do. Contracting fee paid for my widescreen. What about it?"

"Well, how much do you remember of it?"

Remus frowned, stretching his memory back. "Not a whole lot. Heck I can barely remember what I advised about the engine design. I mean sure it was all cold fusion or whathaveyou instead of spark plugs, but it's a power generator with moving parts. I just... I dunno, told you what it looked like you could improve. Honestly, I'm surprised you took me so seriously. Why what about it?"

His brother sighed and took another swig of wine. "Yeah, well, my boss is breathing down my neck. The schematics, the backups, all of it. Gone."

A frown crossed Remus' features. "Gone?"

"Gone. We had a power outage a week ago. Servers went down completely. When we got everything rebooted, the data was cleaned out. Nothing in the servers, nothing on any of the workstations I'm on, archive server, hell, I had some documents in my iCloud to go between work and home. All gone man. It's like... it's like...."

The elder Damaskos sighed and took another sip of wine. "Remmy," he continued, "My boss thinks I'm crazy and that it was just a really bad data failure or database virus or something. But I'm starting to think that there was some sort of corporate espionage or something out to screw our company out of the reactor plans."

"But why? I thought you said it was years away from even a prototype. Just theory, right?"

Romulus' eyes flicked away. The reaction may as well have served Remus a signed affidavit that his brother was holding something back. "Right."

They finished their meal in silence.


Outside, in the park across the street, a slight person in dark clothes packed up a shotgun microphone and sent a brief text message up the chain of command before disappearing into the night.

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