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Aberrant: 200X - Bollywood Nights


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Old town Mumbai.

Colaba, to be exact. It’s got some of the most fantastically valuable real estate on the planet. Pick a building: chances are good the lot it sits on is worth more than Manhattan.


Prive Bar and Lounge, the most exclusive club in Mumbai, sits on one of these lots. Wednesday is the only day of the week that this club is open to the general public, which means that if you’re there on any other night of the week, you’re Somebody. But tonight’s not just any other night of the week; tonight is Friday night, and there’s no better night or place to be seen in Mumbai.

If you’re into that kind of thing.

Kazuo ‘Kurusu’ Kanai isn’t. Which means it’s a good thing he’s being paid to be here, because otherwise no one would want to be seen here on this particular night. But hey, at least he hasn’t been reduced to the world’s most highly-paid escort.

Aušrine Vasiliauskiute is stuck out there on the dance floor with their “client”, right now. The client wants to dance, the client wants protection while he’s dancing; guess who got picked to go out there with him? Mmhmm.

Aušrine is probably the most beautiful woman on the planet; her beauty has nearly reached that point where it doesn’t so much conform to the desires and preferences of everyone around her, so much as those desires and preferences conform to her beauty. Yeah - wrap your head around that. She’s also widely regarded as one of the most powerful novas on the planet. She can lift nearly half a million metric tonnes under normal Earth gravity, but seeing as how she can alter the Earth’s gravity at will, the actual limits to how much mass she can lift are currently unknown, and not very likely to be exceeded any time soon. No man-made armor in existence stands a chance against even a half-hearted blow from the Lithuanian beauty’s fist, and anything sitting lower than the 10 spot on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness is basically screwed if she puts the pressure on it.

All of these impressive traits only add to the irony of the moment, however, because right now she’s dancing with a fat Marathi movie producer named Shehkar Rahman, and shaking the sexiest apple bottom on the planet to the beats of Abhijeet Sawant’s Tu Hai Rab Mera, from the Bollywood hit Lottery. Aušrine’s dancing, while not bad, is really only average, but there’s not a man or woman in the building who cares right now.

Standing watchfully at the edge of the dance floor, and trying not shoot themselves - or each other - out of boredom, are two elites who, though they might not be rated amongst the world’s most powerful novas, would probably be rated amongst its most dangerous.

The first is Peter ‘Einherjar’ Nord. Like Aušrine, he’s one of DeVries’ poster children of the new millenium. As gorgeous as he is combat effective, he’s equal parts GQ and Viking god. He’ll be taking home this year’s “Sexiest God of War” award for sure. Capable of flying faster than a MIG-17, and destroying main battle tanks with his bare hands, this sexy beast isn’t just a pretty face, no sir! Einherjar is fluent in fully five languages, and his IQ is in the upper 3-digits range. Go ahead - try not to be impressed! Polite, charming, photogenic, and dangerous, Einherjar hasn’t even been a part of the Company for a full year yet, and already he’s eating into the market shares of elites like Pursuer and even “The Stone Badass” himself. The only nova in this particular trio with any degree of experience in the close protection industry, Einherjar is also the only one who has any business being here tonight.

None of that really makes up for the fact that right now he’s standing around “protecting” some rich joker who’s currently wobbling his fat belly out on the dance floor with Aušrine, on the off chance that someone cares enough to consider this loser a target. The chances of this happening are precisely the same as Shehkar Rahman actually managing to score with Aušrine before her contract’s up. What’s sad is that, as far as any of them can tell, this is the only reason he actually hired Aušrine in the first place. How do you say “delusional” in Hindi?

The final elite in this happy little trio is Kazuo ‘Kurusu’ Kanai, professional Badass Motherfucker. Unlike Aušrine and Einherjar, DeVries does not market his image to the general public, nor are his statistics listed on N!’s Elite Ratings Chart. He is one of DVNTS’ “stealth novas”, his profile only made available to Serious Players who have reasons other than impressing someone for hiring a human-shaped killing machine. Kazuo’s powers are largely a mystery, aside from his Supe-su no Tuneru warp tunnels, but folks who’re prone to follow such things (and gossip about them) say that whatever those other powers are, they make him dangerous. How in the hell he managed to stumble into a job like this is a good question, but asking him would be a bad idea, to judge from the look on his face.

He’s doing his best to be a Good Elite and actually pay attention to something other than all the hot tail in this joint (which is difficult in itself, because Aušrine’s ass is enough to snag even the jaded Kurusu’s one good eye, making it difficult to tear it away long enough to look at something else) , but anything involving the word ‘good’ has always been difficult for Kazuo, so he’s not really succeeding.

Normally Kazuo’s not really a sterling conversationalist, but tonight is special: he’s bored out of his skull. So he sidles up next to Einherjar and, indicating Aušrine - who’s still getting’ jiggy to the beats of yet another Bollywood musical masterpiece - he says, “ya know what’s sad? I betcha it never even crossed her mind that dancin’ with that loser isn’t part of her contract, and she doesn’t have to be out there right now.” He watches her for another moment, a smile on his lips, and then adds, “not that I’m complainin’, or anything…”

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One thing anyone ever notices after spending time in Einherjar's company is this: his pale blue eyes seldom cease moving.

That's not just when he's being professional, either. He's always looking around with a kind of laid-back intensity that's not paranoid so much as... simply seeing what inhabits his personal space, which depending on his mood can extend to about ten square miles around him.

No, really.

He's not stone-faced, though. No sir. He always seems to have a willing smile, a certain British charm that most who have ever met the average Brit assume to be a product of Bond films and nothing more. But for those that pay attention and see what's really there: behind the smile, the smooth rumbling voice and the educated English accent are those eyes.

They might be checking for suspicious behaviour. They might be reading a wine list or a novel. They might be crinkled up in a smile that is as infectious as it is heartwarming. Don't be fooled. The guy's a professional mercenary for a reason, and in the depths of each eye is a core of pure glacial ice.

Now Ein (as his closer associates call him. Oh, and don't call him Peter Nord, even if you're being formal. He's officially changed that name to Einherjar) is definitely not all business, all the time. He's as happy to let his blond hair down and party as the next Elite, which, considering currently is Kazuo 'Kurusu' Kanai, poses a truly mind-boggling picture. He's private with that kind of stuff though: occasionally disappears, drinks, gets laid, and gets down, then returns in time for his next assignment.

Did we mention yet that he still wears his old wedding ring? Oh yeah. He's off the relationship market, ladies. At least, that's the rumour. Dig around in the OpNet and you'll find the whole sad story next to the ads for boxes of chocolates and weepy romance novels (the OpNet is nothing if not an interactive experience: the ads are based on the typical demographic that goes looking for details on Peter Nord). Big, handsome, intelligent, dangerous widower with upper class charm and a warrior's eyes. Be still our hearts.

He has a knack of being able to focus his enhanced mind and ignore distractions, which is why DeVries teamed him up with Kazuo and, more to the point, Aušrine. In fact, he can be downright cold-blooded on occasion. Which is good, because right now the liquid nitrogen of his thoughts is being engaged by the smoking sight of Aušrine's blindingly beautiful behind weaving from side to side. Normally this sort of temperature collision would result in an explosion of some kind, or at least drooling, but Ein's eyes just keep on movin'... though they do stray back to the space in the middle of the dance floor more than strictly necessary.

He deadpanned at Kazuo's comment, eyes taking on a demeanour of astonishment. "You mean she doesn't know? Should we tell her?" Kazuo looked at him for a moment in mild disbelief, then saw the large Brit's mouth quirk in a grin. Both men, in unison, shook their heads, said "Nah!" and went back to contemplating the thing of beauty for another ten minutes.

Ein was bored. It was happening more often these days. Having a high triple figure I.Q isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when dealing with clients, most of whom are mind-bogglingly banal. Even though his particular mental focus is, well, mental focus, he found it relatively hard to take this job seriously. Shehkar Rahman, he had decided roughly thirty seconds into the D.V. briefing, then confirmed after five minutes talking to the client, was a foolish little man with an vastly over-rated sense of his own importance who just wanted some glamour and danger added to his image. It definitely wasn't a three-nova job. Hell, it wasn't even a three-baseline job. The silly bugger was a producer, for crying out loud. The biggest danger he was likely to be in was choking on his own neck fat while passed out drunk. This was a waste of time.

Still, at least it was a well-paid waste of time. And as his D.V. handler had said "It's exposure. There'll be A-listers around this guy. They'll see you in your tux lookin' good, professional and stylish, and they'll want you around them. Not just any node-jockey gets to be top flight Steel Armani, you know." Ein had looked at the pay offer, shrugged, and taken the job.

At least he had the best piece of rear-end real estate on the planet gyrating not twenty feet away from him. And despite radiating the aura of a berserker with ADHD, Kazuo was competent enough. The three Elites hadn't immediately disliked each other, which was a good sign for powerful people having to work together. He wasn't sure what he felt about them as people: Ein rarely leaped to conclusions about other novas, but professionally they were on the ball. Still, they weren't bodyguards by trade. It was just as well this idiot producer wasn't on anyone's serious shit list.

The more he thought about it, the more he felt sorry for Aušrine. Beauty like that wasn't altogether a blessing. Hell, he'd had to politely fend off a few rich Mumbai socialites tonight, letting them know 'discreetly' that he was working for Rahman, which prompted much discussion and gossip that, he was sure, the client would be ecstatic over. But Einherjar, though nova-gorgeous and comfortable with it, was not in Aušrine's class. He didn't make people moronic with their own projected desires. Part of that was the fact that his 'look' was more imposing than lust-inducing. Then you throw in the eyes, the size and the obvious intelligence, and people didn't see Einherjar as a plaything. He turned to Kazuo and nodded towards the middle of the floor, grinning slightly.

"I'm going to go rescue her, she's suffered enough." He turned and moved through the dancers, a tuxedo-clad Viking angling around to come up behind Shehkar Rahman. The fat little man was startled out of his carnal grindings when Einherjar's large hand gently took his elbow, getting his attention.

"Excuse me, sir." Ein's voice was purely professional as he winked at Aušrine past Rahman's shoulder. "We can't let you be exposed too much out here. Persons of note should avoid falling into patterns or staying in one place too long. Perhaps a short break in your booth?" Before your heart gives out watching Aušrine's figure bouncing around, you fat little pervert. he didn't say.

The combination of surprise at Einherjar's appearance along with the very reasonable sounding (and ego-stroking) suggestion that he was, indeed, a person of note as he had always believed, made Shehkar Rahman very malleable. With a nod and smile as he looked around to see everyone taking note of how solicitous his bodyguards were, the little man made his way over to his corner booth, where several Bollywood B- and C-listers were drinking too much on Rahman's dime and making eyes at his Elite bodyguards. Aušrine and Einherjar followed along behind, the large man's eyes still scanning idly on the premise that "shit always happens when you don't expect it to."

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As they move towards Shehkar's booth, Aušrine mouths out a silent 'thank you' at Einherjar, gifting him with a beautiful smile as she does so. She doesn't smile all that often, which is a shame, since it is easily her best feature - which is really saying something. She falls in beside, and slightly in front of, their client, covering the other side of the room as Einherjar (more out of a sense of professionalism than an honest belief that anything is actually going to happen), and simultaneously providing ample incentive for Mr. Rahmen to keep moving.

Aušrine is giving off heat like a radiator, and looks as though she's covered in a thin film of persperation from her exertions out on the dance floor, or perhaps (and far less likely) some kind of body oil. DeVries has been doing its level best to keep this fact as far out of the public awareness as possible, but in recent months Aušrine Vasiliauskiute's godlike levels of power have finally overtaken her and she's just started developing the first signs of 'QBS'. So far, the effects are only minor, but the parasurgeons are concerned, nonetheless.

The thin film isn't persperation, nor is it body oil. Aušrine's a long, long way from feeling winded - she isn't even breathing hard - and in point of fact, she actually feels a wee bit chilly. As for the idea that she's greased herself down with body oils for some reason? Seriously, c'mon!

If the baselines crowds in Prive knew what was actually giving Aušrine's skin it's glossy sheen, they might not be crowding in as close as they are. It's not that the underlying cause is dangerous or anything, it's just... troubling. In simplest terms, Aušrine's gravitational abilities have slipped ever so slightly outside of her control, and everything within a few millimeters of her skin now has its relative mass increased by a varying amount.

In most cases, this does precisely nothing to anything, but it does alter the evaporation point of the moisture in the air around her, causing it to condense on her skin. In dry climates even this is hardly an issue and the effects would hardly be visible most of the time. But Mumbai is not a dry climate and there is plenty of moisture just waiting for an excuse to condense on Aušrine's skin.

At this point, one might wonder why she isn't completely soaked if this is the case, but the answer is simple - it all evaporates again too quickly for it to build up to unmanageable levels. This is because Aušrine's core body temperature has, for reasons which are not well understood, risen by a full twenty degrees fahrenheit, leaving her with an average temperature of 118.6F at all times. Hence the the waves of heat pouring off of her as she walks towards Shehkar's booth. If their portly client does decide to get "grabby", he'll have an unpleasant surprise, as Aušrine - while not hot enough to actually burn anyone - is now, almost literally, "too hot to touch".

As they reach the booth, and Mr. Rahmen begins the arduous process of sliding his considerable bulk into it, Kazuo calls out to them as he makes his way over from the bar, where it would seem he's been conducting some transactions of a liquid sort. "Oi! I got yer rocket juice right here, you gaijin motherfuckers!"

As he approaches, they can see that he's carrying one mixed drink, three shot glasses, and a bottle of some as-yet unidentified alcoholic substance. He does this with the kind of casual ease that only the superhumanly dextrous can manage; the liquid surface of the mixed drink is perfectly still as he makes his apparently belligerent and careless approach, with not a single ripple of disturbance.

"This one's fer you, boss", he says, with apparently obvious pleasure, slamming the glass down in front of Mr. Rahmen, and then shoving a shotglass into the mildly confused hands of Aušrine and Einherjar.

"What is it?", asks Shehkar, not quite recognizing the drink, and not quite sure whether to be embarrassed or annoyed at Kazuo's loud behavior, or be pleased that three novas are showering so much attention on him.

"It's a godfather, Shehk", says Kazuo, giving the fat man an incredulous look, "aint you never seen the movies? This is the real shit, man. For Major Players only!." Then he says, with a wink (which is kind of gruesome on his one-eyed face), he adds, "Says so right on the label."

Shehkar gets a positively excited look on his face, like a small child who's just been given his first pop-gun, but Kazuo doesn't see it because he's turning towards Aušrine with his own look of excitement on his face. "Check this shit out, bijin!"

"Oh my god...", she says with mild disbelief, and (Einherjar notices) worry, "is that-?"

"Zanshin! Yuppa." He looks at Einherjar and Aušrine both and grins. "I didn't think you could get this stuff outside of Tokyo, but this place's got it!"

Somewhere during all of this Kazuo must have managed to pop the top on the bottle, because all of a sudden he's pouring 'Zanshin', first into Ein's shot glass, and then into Aušrine's. "We can drink the rest of this shit later when we aint on the job, but you gotta try a little now. Especially you, big guy!" Kazuo slaps Einherjar on the shoulder as he says this last bit, and for once, he has a target that can actually handle its force without flinching.

Raising his own, mysteriously full glass (when did he have time to fill that thing?), he shouts "Banzai!", at the top of his lungs, and then downs its contents in one go.

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Ein looked at the glass. He looked at Kazuo. He looked at Aušrine and shrugged, raising his glass and smiling at her with a 'when in Rome...' shrug.

"Banzai?" he suggested with a grin, his eyes sparkling. Aušrine wasn't so sure looking at that wild flash of mirth that Einherjar was alogether the cold professional he seemed to be most of the time. She was definitely unsure about drinking Kazuo's favorite drink. But the blond Elite's grin was two-parts challenge and one-part dare. And somewhat... okay, very engaging. There is worse company to drink with... Shehkar Rahman, for example.

"Banzai." she answered with another smile, her beautiful face then screwing up slightly (and STILL managing to scorch paint at twenty paces through sheer hotness) as she brought the glass up and downed it in one smooth motion in unison with Einherjar.

Kazuo watched in glee, trying not to laugh too soon. He knew his companions were tough bastards, but no-one gets through their first Zanshin experience without a cough or splutter. Hell, his own eyes were still watering. He was expecting high entertainment value here. He wasn't disappointed.

Aušrine stood firm for roughly five seconds, face flushing, shapely throat working overtime, those heart-melting and trouser-hardening brown eyes filling with tears that made even the gleeful Kazuo feel like a fucking asshole for a moment. Then the beautiful nova doubled over in a coughing fit as the Zanshin burned it's way down to her stomach.

Einherjar's face also reddened, his eyes tearing up and his face a picture of stoic agony before he too doubled over in an admittedly milder coughing fit. Kazuo was impressed: the blond gaijin must have balls of goddamn granite to take his first shot so well. As both his partners sputtered for a moment, wiping away tears and getting themselves back to some semblance of dignity, Kazuo laughed uproariously and put the cap back on the Zanshin bottle.

"Hey?! That's some good fuckin' stuff, hey?" He clapped both of them on the shoulders. "We'll have the rest later, after this chimpira is tucked away for the night. Is that the shit, or what?"

"It's terrible!" Aušrine managed as she straightened up, much to the disappointment of the patrons behind her. Her eyes were still crying and her nose was red. Naturally, she looked abso-fuckin'-lutely stunning with it.

"Ghastly." nodded Einherjar, also red-faced. He grinned through his tears at Aušrine. "We can't let Kazuo drink it all himself. It wouldn't be right."

Aušrine blinked at Ein astonishedly, then started to laugh, flapping a hand helplessly as she struggled to get the air necessary to speak through her seared oesophagus. Finally, she just nodded at his smiling face.

"Yosh!" exclaimed Kazuo happily. "I'll go tell the fucker behind the bar to hold this for me." He grinned and turned to plow his way back to the bar in his usual inimitable style.

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"So, a man walks into a bar", says Aušrine, smiling that smile of hers that's so surprisingly open and innocent-looking, "and he's shy. Like, really, really shy. But he sees a very beautiful woman sitting at the bar, and he really wants to go talk to her."

It's later that night, and three novas, a self-important movie producer, and a tag-a-long group of wishing-they-were movie stars are all sitting around a large booth in a shaded alcove.

Einherjar's still spot on the job, his eyes scanning the club ceaselessly and tirelessly in search of threats that aren't - and probably never will be - there. Kazuo's starting to look dangerous. He's still laughing at jokes (the few that are any good, anyway), and cracking a few himself, but he's getting seriously bored, and there's a definite edge to his presence by this point. Aušrine, on the other hand, is smiling and laughing, and has been doing a surprisingly good job of entertaining the baselines in the group. Though really, the only reason people often assume she's got no personality is simply because they've never met her, and her goddess-like beauty is all anyone in the media ever wants to talk about. The reality is that, if her beauty were only human, people wouldn't be able to help but notice her impressive charm and social acumen. But hey, life is what it is. Back to the joke.

"Wait", says Kazuo, "this isn't the one where there's a duck sitting at the bar, is it?"

"No, Kazuo, I already said it's a beautiful woman."

"Oh, ok."

"So, as I was saying", continued Aušrine, giving Kazuo a sidelong look, "the shy man really wants to speak to this beautiful woman, but-"

"Is there a donkey?", interjects Kazuo, with a mischievous gleam beginning to show in his eye. "This is the one with the donkey, isn't it?"

"No, Kazuo! No donkeys!"

"A rooster, then!"

"No Kazuo! Would you let me continue?"

"Are there any Catholic priests, Jews, or Protestants sitting next to the woman?"


"Is the guy really a pirate?"


"Is he gonna ask the bartender for helicopter-flavored chips?"

"No- what?!"

"Is he a magician who walked down an alley and mysteriously turned into the bar?"

"What? *Haha* - No! Kazuo, would you please -!"

"When he walked into the bar, did it hurt?"

"Oh my god, would you-"

"Oh, I know! He's an amnesiac, and he really wants to ask the woman if he comes there often!"

*sound of Shehkar trying to keep his godfather from being snorted out his nose*

"Ok, then are there any skeletons that're ordering drinks and a mop?"

"Oooo!!! Kazuo!"

"Is the bartender about to ask if this is some kind of joke? Oh, I got it! There's an -!"


The tabletop jumped a little bit, and Kazuo nearly slammed his head into it as he doubled over and cried out in pain. "What the hell was that for?!"

Aušrine just smiled and replied, "I told you to be quiet." Shehkar Rahmen, and indeed, most of those sitting at the table, were nearly crying they were laughing so hard by this point.

"Now", said Aušrine, trying to stop laughing and speak, "as I was saying. The shy man wants to speak to the beautiful woman. It takes him a while, but eventually he musters up enough courage and walks over to her. 'Excuse me', he says, 'can I sit next to you?'"

"Oh! I have heard this one!", shouts Kazuo - who apparently doesn't know how to learn his lesson in the first place - "this is the one where - Argh!!" Kazuo's bent over the table again, obviously cradling an injured leg. "Goddammit, Ashe (Kazuo's nick for Aušrine), I think you broke it!"

"If you interrupt me again, I'll make sure it's broken, Kazuo."

Kazuo, still bent over trying to reach his shin, looks up and to the side at Einherjar and says, sarcastically, "you see what I have to put up with, man?"

The big Elite just chuckles and says, "It's criminal. I'm surprised you've lived this long."

"No shit. Hey, you lookin' for a partner?"

"Anyway", Aušrine cuts them off, "I was telling a joke. Do any of you want to hear it or not?" The other two novas just chuckle and nod their heads, but the baselines are looking almost desperate as they all make absolutely certain that Aušrine knows just how badly they desire to hear her joke. When the hottest woman you've ever seen in the flesh wants to give you an excuse to laugh along with her, you generally take it.

"Ok, so where was I? Oh, yes. The man walks up to the woman and asks if he can sit with her. This beautiful woman, she just stares at him, and then shouts at the top of her lungs, 'NO! I won't sleep with you!' Everyone in the bar turns and stares at her, and then they all look at the shy man, and of course, you know what they're thinking! So the shy man, he goes back to his seat and tries to recover from this."

At this point, Aušrine pauses for a moment so she can take a sip of her drink. Everyone seated around her finds the act of watching her mouth and throat work as she swallows to be every bit as engrossing as her joke, perhaps even more so. She sets her glass back down and continues. "After a little while, the beautiful young woman approaches the man and apologizes. 'I'm sorry if I embarrassed you', she says, 'but I'm a psychology student (Aušrine's English, though good, isn't perfect, and she actually pronounces the 'p' in 'psychology' - which is just adoreable), and I'm doing a thesis on how people behave when they're placed in embarrassing situations'. She then smiles at the shy man, waiting for his response, but he shouts at her, 'Five hundred dollars for one night! That's outrageous!'"

She smiles and cocks one of a pair of the sexiest eyebrows currently in India, as if to ask 'well?'. Everyone chuckles, giggles, or laughs obligingly. Kazuo mutters something about how his version was better, but the smarting in his shin is enough to keep him from being too loud about it.

Aušrine allows herself a girlish laugh as well, and then says, "So that's my joke! Now it's your turn, Mr. Rahmen!"

The fat movie producer, still laughing (and rather more loudly than the joke really deserves), holds up his hand and replies, "I will, my dear, I promise. But first, I need to excuse myself." Einherjar and Kazuo were both forced to scoot off the bench seat so that Shehkar could get out of the booth. Once standing, he turned to them and said, "those godfathers are good, Mr. Kanai, but now I feel like I'm going to burst. Mr... ah... Einherjar, would you please accompany me to the Men's Room?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Of course." Ein smiled at Aušrine slightly before turning to escort their rather tipsy host across to the Prive Bar and Lounge's restrooms. This place is pretty swanky: attendants by the door and sinks, combs and grooming products on demand, even an automassager chair. Very nice, and totally over the top. Ein sees his 'principal' into a cubicle and stood by the sinks at the far end of the restroom, covering the length of the place with that blue laser stare and trying to ignore the sounds of men relieving themselves with obvious enjoyment.

The door opens then, two more men entering the restroom. Ein's professional instincts tingle, and he pays particular attention to the larger of the two. Both are Japanese, the smaller one handsome and stylish in his Buendia tuxedo. The latest one, Ein notes in passing. He himself wears the Summer 2006, considering it more flattering for a larger man. The larger man is older-looking, and has the cool gaze of a bodyguard... or a leg-breaker. The younger one's face is flushed from alcohol and excitement, and Ein judges him to be 20 years old, give or take. He's waxing effusive in Japanese to his stoic companion, who is nodding quietly whilst exchanging a professional glance with the large Elite. Neither man nods, or scowls, or does anything so macho, but they do acknowledge one another.

The younger man also spots Einherjar after combing his hair back into perfect place, and his eyes light up before he comes over, stopping a short distance away and giving a respectful bow of greeting. Ein nods in return, noting that the bodyguard is watching keenly.

"Einherjar-sama. Forgive me for approaching you while you are obviously working, but I was wondering how you find being employed by that fat idiot Shehkar Rahmen." The young man's voice is loud and obnoxious, and also calculatedly so. He's obviously supposed that Ein's presence here means that the movie mogul is here too. An outraged sputter and a bang from the nearby cubicle confirms that fact, followed by some impressive muttered cursing in Hindi. Ein doesn't appear to notice, and merely smiles politely at the brash younger man.

"Mr Rahmen is a considerate and generous employer." he states as though there could be no questioning that fact. The youngster's eyes glint with amusement.

"Of course. You are a faithful man, Einherjar-sama. Very professional. I am Yoshida Kaemon, and I am honored to be in your presence." The kid bows again, a little lower, and Ein recognises the name. This young man is the son of one of the Nakato-gumi's mid-rank oyabuns, and a front man for the organisation's legitimate enterprises, particularly those relating to media, broadcasting and the entertainment industry. Why he wants to insult Rahmen is anyone's guess, but Einherjar suspects Bollywood politics. Wonderful.

A flushing noise and Shehkar Rahmen emerges from the cubicle in all his red-faced glory, crossing over to the sink and washing his hands before turning to the attendant and snapping his pudgy fingers for a towel. Drying himself off with a too-casual air, the producer turns to leave. "Mr Einherjar, if you would be so good as to escort me back to the table. The air in this place is a little rancid. It's not the attendant's fault, I'm sure. Such places always attract filth."

The fat little man scores points for the put-down, but loses them for lack of common sense in Ein's estimation. With a slight nod to the two Japanese men, Ein follows Rahmen out of the restroom, a nagging feeling between his shoulder blades accompanying him out. The Elite finds himself hoping that Rahmen decides to continue his partying at home, just in case Yoshida decides to stick around and try to even the score. The last thing Einherjar wants is to be stuck between TWO spoiled media producers...

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's almost a full hour further into the night now - or rather, the morning - and everyone's back to chatting and laughing, and doing all the things that people are supposed to do while being seen at the hottest club in town. Even Rahmen is back to being jovial, and has all but forgotten about the 'filth' in the Men's Room. Aušrine and Einherjar have been keeping up the job of being not only good bodyguards, but also the evening's entertainment - which wasn't exactly in the contract, but they're both rather tolerant novas, and charming a crowd of baselines has never been difficult for either of them, so they've adapted. Kazuo, on the other hand, is neither tolerant nor charming, but he is entertaining in about the same way a multi-car high speed car accident is. Hey, it's something at least.

"No, really", says Aušrine, "Dutch police had been using Detection Dogs for years; that was how the precedent was set, and how we proved the evidence was admissable in court. In fact, several of T2M-Eu's biggest CZ busts were successful because of that ruling. Right, Kazuo?"

"Mmm", says Kazuo, about as non-committally as it's possible to sound without actually using words.

Aušrine gives him a look, but continues unfazed. "Anyway, the results are only admissable in conjuction with other evidence, but it can really help - especially because criminals never think about the smells they're leaving behind at the scene of a crime." She says this last part with a gleam in her eye and a smile on her gorgeous lips that makes it obvious she really appreciates the irony of her statement. In fact, that gleam makes it pretty obvious she appreciates anything that will land a criminal in prison, or that makes them look stupid.

"Now, tell me how this works again", says Shehkar, looking a little confused (and very inebriated), "I'm not sure I've understood correctly. They actually put together a police line up, like in the movies, and have a nova come in and smell the suspects until he finds the right one?"

"No, no!", Aušrine answers, giggling a little at the idea, "again, we based it off of the way the Dutch police had been doing it. You see, they first prepare six stainless steel pipes by boiling them - to remove any trace scents, you know. Then they bring in five detectives and the suspect, and they place them in separate rooms with the pipes, which they must hold for five minutes. After that, they take all of the pipes (being careful to only touch them with tongs or sterile gloves) and line them up in a single room. That's when they bring in the dog (who has already been allowed to smell evidence from the scene of the crime), and - if the suspect really is the criminal in question - the dog will ignore the pipes held by the detectives and indicate the one held by the suspect."

Aušrine pauses to make sure they're all following the story so far, and then continues, "So you see, it was a simple step from there to using novas with enhanced senses of smells in the same way. Especially as some novas have senses of smell that are even more accute than any dog's!"

One of Shehkar's b-rate hangers-on jumps into the conversation here and asks, "but how do they ensure the nova isn't simply jumping to conclusions, or just making a mistake? I don't know how comfortable I would be to have my freedom decided by someone's nose, nova or not!" This last remark earns several nods of agreement from the others at the table, and they all turn back to Aušrine to hear her answer.

To everyone's surprise, however, Kazuo's the one who answers them. Aušrine looks pleased - clearly, Kazuo doesn't bother to back her up like this very often.

"They use a double-blind technique", he says, looking annoyed that he even has to explain this - like they should already have a full and complete understanding of obscure T2M evidence-gathering techniques fully committed to memory.

"First, they roll dice to figure out what order to put the pipes in, and let the nova have a go at 'em. That way no one knows which pipe is which - not even the other officers on hand to witness the nova's selection. Only the guys who laid 'em out know, and they aren't in the room when the Detection Nova comes in. But they also bring in a second set of pipes, and let the nova take a crack at those too. One of the pipes in the first set was touched by the suspect, the other by a bunch of random guys."

Kazuo looks around at the b-listers, but apparently gets the feeling that they're either not listening or very stupid (take a guess which one it is), because he finally elaborates further. "That way, if the nova's nose really is full o' shit, he's got eleven wrong pipes to choose from, an' only one right one! An' even then, if the suspect isn't the right guy, then his scent might not match the scent from the evidence, and then the nova won't pick anyone. S'pretty damn foolproof, if you ask me."

"Exactly!", says Aušrine, holding her hand out to Kazuo in affirmation, "that's what I've been saying!"

At this point everyone shares a moment while they consider living in a world where you can be convicted using only nova's over-sensitive nose and a person's crotch oder - a sobering thought, indeed...

After a suitable pause, Shehkar finally places both hands on the table and says, "well, on that note, I think it's time we we called it a night, my friends." Some of the fringers lining the rest of the table let out whiny little murmers at this, but it's clear that Shehkar means it, and it's time to go.

Kazuo, using that preturnatural grace of his, somehow manages to get past both Shehkar and Einherjar before either of them has fully stood up and gotten out of his way. He immediately makes a beeline for the bar, presumably to settle up for the lot of them (using Shehkar's card, of course) - and to make sure that bottle of Zanshin is still waiting for him.

It is precisely at this moment, while everyone is still in the process of extricating themselves from the wraparound bench seats they've been sitting in for hours, and talking noisily amongst themselves, that Yoshida Kaemon and his own bodyguard suddenly appear again, as if out of nowhere. Ein's spider-sense immediately begins to tingle (metaphorically speaking, of course, since he doesn't actually have a spider-sense).

Yoshida is looking right at Aušrine and grinning, and has exactly the sort of look in his eyes that Einherjar really doesn't like to see when he's doing close protection work.

"Ms. Vasiliauskiute, it is an honor to finally meet you."

"Oh... hello...", says Aušrine, looking a little unsure of herself, and of the situation. She glances over at Einherjar with a questioning look.

In a move that will astound, scandalize, and bewilder patrons of Prive Bar and Lounge for many nights to come, he bows to her and says in an excruciatingly clear voice,"My apologies if my words are too direct or offensive, but I was wondering; have you told Mr. Shehkar yet that he doesn't have a chance in hell of sleeping with you, or are you holding out in the hope that he'll up the amount of your contract?"

There is a moment of seemingly utter silence before Aušrine manages to gather her wits.

"What?!", Aušrine shouts, and stares at the man in absolute disbelief.

"How dare you?!", exclaims Shehkar Rahmen.

"Ar-regh?!!?", hollers a very angry sounding voice in Japanese from somewhere over near the bar.

Einherjar's (metaphorical) spider-sense is fairly screaming by now...

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