Directions

Madigan’s heart raced. There was no avoiding, no place to go. She moved to one side of the corridor, turning her back to the wall and standing still as Madame Aleski approached from the other direction. The Madame was moving quickly through the passage, her long, sure strides unwavering. Mr. Takaneo strode nearly soundless in her wake, nodding his acknowledgement of her statements, the only sound that of his wooden sandals on the metal grates of the floor.

“Governor Landon will be seated with the Klawsons,” the Madame said, barely turning her head, “and the Farrington delegation will…” her voice trailed off and she looked directly at Madigan, who felt that her lungs might burst suddenly from having held her breath for too long. “Cadet Williams,” she said, nodding slightly as she swept past. Her train of thought uninterrupted, she continued speaking to Mr. Takaneo, her personal drone hovering over her right shoulder, keeping pace and whirring softly.

“Madame,” Madigan managed, staying still a moment longer before she rushed down the hallway, anxious to breathe again, looking back for a last glimpse.

In the next bay, Madi leaned against the cold metal wall, closing her eyes and mentally painting everything onto a canvas in her brain. She had never seen Madame Aleski at close range before, and the thought that she had just had an encounter with the woman was enough to make her knees nearly buckle. The Madame was head of the entire Galactic Intelligence Community, responsible for the activities of tens of thousands of personnel, the security of countless diplomats and private citizens.

There were rumors she had an eidetic memory, able to recall everything she saw, heard, or read. Other rumors said that her memory was artificially enhanced, stored, backed up and cataloged by some system of software. Her pale skin was the result of never leaving the underground network of tunnels and transport, they said. Her white hair was the result of the close calls she had avoided, and that in her youth her hair black as a raven’s wing. They also said that she was over 90 years old, but as Madi had looked at her face, she couldn’t recall seeing a crow’s foot or even a wrinkle. The Madame’s legendary Caribbean blue eyes had been clear, bright and alert. Even her voice, authoritative and direct without being stern, was softer than imagined, as though she need not raise it to garner attention or get results. Her uniform was singular among the GIC; she wore a wool jacket (where had they even found a sheep?) with a tall belt around her waist, her unwrinkled skirt and heels Madi couldn’t imagine could be run in. Perhaps she had no reason to ever run. The gold brooch which marked her rank, with its black and white stones — “through the darkness and into light” like the agency motto — had been pinned to her lapel.

Mr. Takaneo was just as much an enigma. No one knew where he had come from. His pointed elven ears should have placed him among the Starburst city’s dwellers, but no one had been able to link him to that city. The rumors about him were just as outlandish. First, that he was the Madame’s consort, which, having seen him just now, made Madi think the Madame had impeccable taste in men. No one had ever heard him speak. He wore his own uniform of a bygone era, one bare, pale shoulder visible always. Madi remembered seeing the scar that arced across his left shoulder blade, said to be the claw mark of a Wildern he had fought and killed with a single blade.

Whatever their story was, the Madame and Mr. Takaneo were legends, and as Madi finally pushed herself off the wall, she realized that the Madame had called her by name. She wondered if it were possible she knew the names of all 812 cadets in the academy. Her thoughts reeling, Madi headed back to her room, sure that her best friend Thompson was going to love hearing this story.

Featured shoes: Reign Sybill Heels by KenadeeCole

Madame Aleski’s details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Tropical Sea by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: Bold & Beauty Scarlet in Porcelain by Jourdan McMillan
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Hair: Elikatira Karee in Essentials by Elikatira Tiramisu
  • Jacket: Erratic Mischa – Wrap Coat in Black by Erratic Rain
  • Skirt: Celoe Nikka Skirt in Pitch by ShaySibrian (no longer available)
  • Brooch: Alchemi Immortalis :Ami amet deli pencet” French Brooch (no longer available)
  • Hands and Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual; High Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Nude Mattes by Maia Gasparini
  • Drone: Neurolab Bee pet by Ono Zinner

Mr. Takaneo’s details:

  • Head: The Mesh Project Head – Classic by TheShops
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Pale Onyx by Arkesh Baral
  • Body: The Mesh Project Deluxe Body by TheShops
  • Skin: Clef de Peau Adam in Tone 0 by Marcopol Oh
  • Katahada: Tomoto Katahada Ohgiku in Black by Tomo Wachter (limited edition)
  • Shoes: CerberusXing Himo Geta 2 in Red by Kamayari
  • Hair: Tableau Vivant Knot by M4r1lyn Magic
  • Ears: Mandala Steking Ears by Kikunosuke Eel
  • Necklace: Mandala Gyatei Necklace by Kikunosuke Eel

Madigan Williams’ details:

  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in London Fog by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: YS&YS Mia 01 in Nude by Monicuzza Babenco
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Hair: Elua Gemma in Blonde by Miu Edman
  • Dress: ISON Wednesday Dress in Gray by Harry Hyx
  • Boots: Carazon Boot in Black by Harry Hyx

Scene Details:

  • Set: Xen CY Hallway by Xenius Revere

Bait & Switch

Dean thanked the assistant who had guided him through the labyrinth of cords and wires to the chair he sat in now. Half a dozen people were on the set, moving things, testing other things, using a language of their own to say that this was ready, and that was next to be done.

Charlotte wasn’t visible, but he had heard her laugh somewhere in the darkness that surrounded the one area that was well lit. He’d spent his time admiring the motorcycle on set, even though he had never ridden one. It looked like a powerful beast, and he appreciated that.

When she had told him she was a model, he hadn’t quite believed her. She wasn’t the lying type, and she was really attractive, but he remembered staring at her and the words not registering, and then he’d composed himself and said something he hoped was neutral. Seven months down the line, and she finally invited him to actually come to the set. In the meantime, she didn’t talk about her work, and he didn’t really ask. Seeing all these people today, and seeing that they were professionals and not holed up in some little warehouse shooting soft core porn made the whole scenario a bit more real to him.

So far, everyone had come and introduced themselves, shaken his hand in greeting, and smiled. They were all very attractive people, too, and if he had thought his way along a bit more, he might have been intimidated. But he was here at her invitation, and that apparently opened more than a few doors.

John, the British-accented photographer, called out, “Shooting set 3!” The noise level dropped around them, and Dean settled back into the canvas chair. A big, industrial fan started, John took his place behind the camera.

And then a tall, leggy redhead stepped into the lights, sitting gingerly on the bike, leaning forward to get her foot on the peg and steadying herself with her other foot on the floor. She reached out for the handlebar and raised her head. Dean froze, his mouth hanging open. The moment she looked up, he actually recognized her. THIS was Charlotte. And she was stunning. The fan caught her hair, blowing the long, straight strands away from her face. She looked toward John as he barked some movements she should make, and her eyes were the most intense green he had ever seen.

Flashbulbs popped and Dean shied back a bit at the bright glare. His eyes still weren’t able to reconcile the woman he knew with this person he was seeing. All the features were there, of course, but makeup, clothing, a different hairstyle, all made her into this person he barely recognized. It was remarkable, he thought.

A short time later, she came off the photo set, and put her hands on the arms of his chair just as the lights in the building came up. At close range, he could see exactly what sort of magic had happened to transform her from the Charlotte he knew, into model Charlotte. He kissed her nose, and decided that he really liked his Charlotte better.

Featured shoes: Essenz Stockholm in Black by Senzati0n Domenitzo

Other details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Deep Paris Shadow by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: Bold & Beauty Lindsey in Fair by Jourdan McMillan
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Makeup: YS&YS Kate by Monicuzza Babenco
  • Hair: LeLutka Pocahantas in Jessica by Thora Charron
  • Jacket: Addams Charlize Biker Jacket in Black by AmaliaRainwood
  • Shirt: Addams Rubik Tank Top in White by Amalia Rainwood
  • Jeans: Emery Kerr Jeans in Dark by Sunami Beck
  • Jewelry: Mandala Nyorai Silver Choker by Kikunosuke Eel
  • Hands and Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual; High Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Nude Mattes by Maia Gasparini

Scene Details

  • [Con.] The Garage Collection – Industrial Fan by Wavie Haller (gacha item)
  • (fd) Workspace Table by Toast Bard (gacha item)
  • Trompe Loeil – Brooklyn Carriage House by Cory Edo
  • [sau]mouse[Lite][Black] by NiR McBride
  • (fd) Camera + Tripod by Toast Bard (gacha item)
  • (fd) Umbrella Light by Toast Bard (gacha item)
  • (fd) Softbox by Toast Bard (gacha item)
  • (fd) Large Backdrop by Toast Bard (gacha item)

Crimson Darling

The knock on the door made her jump.

“Crimson,” came Margie’s voice in a near whisper from behind the door, “it’s about Randolph.”

Xi Xi sighed and rubbed her thigh where the prosthesis met her flesh. Randolph had left only fifteen minutes ago, but apparently had not gotten far.

“What is it?” she asked, and Margie’s blond ponytail swung around the door before her pinched little face was visible. Her mouth hung open as she looked in. Margie wasn’t usually privy to seeing Xi Xi as Crimson Darling, her work persona, especially seeing her so quickly after a customer had left. Her watery brown eyes were as big as saucers. They scanned the worktable, the sitting room, and seemed to take note of the made bed in the distance. Margie probably thought Xi Xi slept with her clients, but she wasn’t about to correct that thinking. Skills like hers were best hawked by the people who knew her worth was more than merely physical.

Xi Xi turned her head and pushed her hair out of her right eye, staring at Margie. “Yessss?” she prompted, irritated by the interruption.

“Randolph says he would like to come up and talk to you for a while, if you ‘are amenable,'” Margie said, imitating Randolph’s accent.

She really didn’t want to see him again, even though he was partial to telling her things that were of interest to her. Randolph worked for the Illirium, an underground network of information runners she shouldn’t have known about. But he paid her well to keep his secrets, and she knew he often tested her by telling her things that no one else knew, just to see if the word got around. Of course it hadn’t. Xi Xi was legendary for the length she would go to keep her secrets. The dull ache in her leg reminded her of just how far that was. Those who wanted their secrets kept paid her well to keep them. Since that money came while she learned things, it was a trade she was often willing to make.

“Tell him I have 30 minutes, have him pay Money before he comes up, and prompt him away when time is past.” Margie nodded and ducked back out of the doorway. Xi Xi tightened the strap that held her leg to her thigh, then checked the movement of her foot via the electrodes, to make sure nothing had been disconnected while she had prepared to remove it. She could only hope that Randolph had something interesting to say tonight. If he didn’t, it was going to be a very long half hour indeed.

Featured shoes: [ContraptioN] Classic Leg Prosthesis in Gunmetal by Faust Steamer

Other details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Palest True Grey by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: L’Etre Xiaoyu in Buttermilk by Dam1710
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Hair: LeLutka Dakota from the Range set by Thora Charron
  • Lingerie: Dead Dollz Victoria in Brown by Kiddo Oh
  • Watch: Mandala Billionaire Genius in Brown by Kikunosuke Eel
  • Hands and Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual and Mouse; Flat Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Nude Mattes by Maia Gasparini

Scene details:

  • NOMAD // Microscope by Piraiyah Novikov (gacha item)
  • [TheForge] Lampv1.2 by wiredexperiment (Premium from Epiphany)
  • NOMAD // Armillary by Piraiyah Novikov
  • -David Heather-Industrio Book Stack2 by Gianni Broda
  • Fashionably Dead Cat – 02 Sleeping Curled by Toast Bard (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Crumpled Newspaper by warehousefifteendesigns
  • +Half-Deer+ Great Horned Owl – Brown (Forward) by Halogen Magic
  • Paper Moon Qitou – Paper Parasol – Peach/Lotus by Sohma Dix (gacha item)
  • [ContraptioN] Decor: Mark’s Lamp by Faust Steamer
  • junk. bartlet wheel table. worn. by Tab Tatham
  • junk. redfern chair. mustard. by Tab Tatham
  • Bazar Paris – Wine set by Ria Bazar
  • Zigana . holiday spirit . books by Nalena Fairey (gacha item)
  • Ex Machina Bookcase Ending Element by Hatris Panacek
  • Ex Machina Bookcase Element B by Hatris Panacek
  • junk. cage stool. by Tab Tatham
  • POST: Damaged Gorodetsky Nouveau Rug by Van Auster
  • Ex Machina Prof Baltazar Lab Table by Hatris Panacek
  • Ex Machina Vulcano 2 by Hatris Panacek
  • Ex Machina Zeitgeist Clocktower Skybox by Hatris Panacek