This Too Shall Pass 3 2 2

[13:08] <@Minaplo> [In the years after the First World War, the victorious Entente Cordiale allies dismembered the moribund Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Lausanne saw huge slabs of territories detached- Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon- and granted as mandates to the British and French. But this treaty was actually a revised, far less harsh version of an earlier treaty, the Treaty of Sevres, which would've, amongst other things, partitioned Turkey itself between three or four zones of influence, granted territory to Greece on both sides of the Aegean, and turned Constantinople (now Istanbul) into an international demilitarized zone of control.-
[13:13] <@Minaplo> [The harsh terms of the Treaty of Sevres stoked the anger of the Turkish nationalists, bringing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk- Turkish nationalist and war hero for his victories in the Gallipoli and Caucasus Campaigns- to the forefront of the national leadership. After inflicting decisive defeats on Allied forces, Sevres was scrapped and replaced with the Treaty of Lausanne.-
[13:15] <@Minaplo> [After his victory, Ataturk set about reorganising the newly-found Republic of Turkey. Convinced that Turkey would never be able to resist the Western powers without modernising, he set about sweeping reforms intended to modernise and secularise the country. This included adopting the western Latin Alphabet script with Turkish adaptations, social emancipation of women, the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate and the separation of Islamic and Secular Law, taking power from the Islamic courts and putting it into government ones.-
[13:17] <@Minaplo> [As a result of these changes, modern Turkey- appropriately for the country where west meets east- possesses a Western legal and civic system as well as a well-Islamified culture.-
[13:17] <@Minaplo> [This meant that in Turkey, alcohol was legally purchasable in shops… But was regulated strongly, both by legal and cultural pressures. Nearly 90% of Turkey's population were teetotallers.-
[13:18] <@Minaplo> [This meant that in Istanbul, most venues selling alcohol were designed to cater to foreigners. Western tourists and diplomats.-
[13:18] <@Minaplo> [And that, combined with security limitations, was why when Raphael was given (and possibly ordered) to have some alone time away from Sera and his maddening aura, he had a grand total of three permitted venues he could go to.-
[13:18] <@Minaplo> [One was full. The other was shut.-
[13:23] <@Minaplo> [This left only one option: the Ermine, a bar/bistro in the French style with aspirations of luxury fitting for the name. Tables were exquisitely worked, polished deals with leather-backed chairs; soft mood music played throughout the bar, predominantly Western or Westernised music. The liquor on sale tended to be heavy on spirits and wines, less so on beers, although certain choice beers were available. It was moderately busy, with many- but not all- of the tables full of relaxing diplomats, happy couples and the odd local.]
[13:37] * Raphael entered the bar alone, Chiisana left behind after some discussion. He was dressed well enough to pass by largely unnoticed in a high-class establishment like this… so long as nobody recognized his slightly famous face, or took note of his apparent age.-
[13:38] <Raphael> Even so, he seemed on-edge as he was led to his table, spending a little too long scanning the crowd and the bistro. He held a lighter in one hand, keeping it close to his side.
[13:50] <@Minaplo> [After about twenty minutes at his table- enough time to have a drink or two or, if Sera had been really bad, six- a shadow would fall across Raphael's table. "Excuse me, do you mind if I have a moment of your time? I don't want to be a bother."-
[13:59] <@Minaplo> [Looking up, Raphael would see a woman. She was slim and tall, with graceful long legs and straight, slender shoulders. She was easily taller than he was, in fact. She had fair, light unblemished skin. She had a high brow, with keen bright blue eyes and long black hair which fell in waves around her face. She was wearing an elegant black sleeveless dress that fell to around her calves.-
[14:00] <@Minaplo> [She was beautiful. Utterly, head-turningly beautiful. In some ways, she reminded Raphael of the devastatingly classic beauty Minerva was destined to become in ten years time… If she were much taller and had a fuller figure.]
[14:27] <Raphael> … Raphael did not gawk. A year in his new shape had worn away many of the rough edges that had plagued him in the early days.-
[14:27] <Raphael> Many, but not all.-
[14:27] <Raphael> The way he swallowed was deliberate and noticeable as he took her in, as was the faint reddening of his ears.-
[14:27] <Raphael> "… Of course not, miss." He said eventually, speaking carefully to avoid his voice cracking. It was a pitfall he knew from experience. "Please, take a seat."
[14:28] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, thank you." She said warmly. She had a very warm voice at that, warm and melodious.-
[14:29] <@Minaplo> ["I was supposed to meet someone here." She said. "But it looks like I've been, uh… You know."]
[14:29] <@Minaplo> [And yes, she took a seat.]
[14:41] * Raphael smiled in return, almost without meaning to. "Well, we can't have that." He said gently, pushing aside a near-empty plate with a few scraps of salad and steak littering it.-
[14:41] <Raphael> The smile stayed on his face as he casually looked past her to check the rest of the rest of the bistro. Security details from both sides, others that looked local but had the telltale bulge of guns beneath their jackets. Gendarmerie? None of them showed more than the usual interest.-
[14:41] <Raphael> He returned his attention to his companion.
[14:42] <@Minaplo> ["It wouldn't be the first time." She said with a sigh. "I'm Monica, by the way."]
[14:44] <Raphael> "Raphael." He said as he gave her a respectful nod in lieu of a handshake. "And it's their loss, I'm sure."
[14:46] <@Minaplo> ["That's kind of you to say."-
[14:46] <@Minaplo> ["Raphael." Said Monica slowly. A warmth lit up her eyes and her smile widened. "Ah. I knew you looked familiar."]
[14:48] <Raphael> "Really?" He asked.
[14:49] <@Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. Sorry, if you'd kept to your script you would've known that I'd know." She said with a giggle. "You were supposed to say something about how what a lovely lady like me's doing in a dive like this, and I would've told you: I'm an information broker. I'm in Istanbul for business. And business should be a lot better than it is."-
[14:50] <@Minaplo> ["And do you know who's to blame for that?" She said, shaking her head. "The bloody Hermes Institute."]
[14:56] * Raphael gave her a curious look, one that seemed to be a little more -evaluating- than the last. Still, the smile remained. "I doubt they'd make the market any simpler, certainly."
[14:58] <@Minaplo> ["I don't mind competition, but them… It's like trying to beat light in a foot race." Complained Monica. "I speak to the UN, and they close the door. I speak to your lot and they say 'No, we have Hermes!'… Brazil was a wash."-
[15:00] <@Minaplo> ["Half the appointments I've made have been cancelled at the last minute because of Hermes undercutting me." She said. "I can't compete. I can't absorb expenses like they can, and they can delegate… I'm just a one woman operation, you know?"-
[15:00] <@Minaplo> ["N… Not that my info is bad. It's n-not. My info is great. I'm good at my job!" She said hastily, going a little pink. "But this is such a feral market, I'm being outdone based on organisation…"-
[15:01] <@Minaplo> ["… Which isn't to say I'm disorganised." Said Monica quickly. "It's just, uh… Economies of scale, you know."-
[15:02] <@Minaplo> ["What kind of a name is 'Brofessor' anyway." She muttered under her breath.-
[15:02] <@Minaplo> ["Sorry. I wasn't actually intending to talk about work quite so much. You don't really need the Wall Street Journal, do you?"]
[15:09] <Raphael> "Don't worry about it," he chuckles. "Seems like you might need someone to vent to, if you don't mind my saying so. It doesn't bother me."
[15:10] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I'm glad." She said, smiling again.-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> [For the next several minutes, Monica did just that.-
[15:11] <@Minaplo> […-
[15:15] <@Minaplo> ["… And so apparently that's why I only get half of what I was promised!" She said furiously, staring up at him, her drink untouched by her side. "That's some bullshit, am I right? I have bills to pay, and here I am getting stiffed by some rich fat cat Soviet commander all because weather delayed the German invasion by like, two days, so now my info's 'incorrect' and 'inaccurate'."-
[15:16] <@Minaplo> ["Then all I get is a lecture about capitalist greed. What a chump." Said Monica. "If I were a more vengeful woman, I'd make some phone calls to his wife, you know? Tell her where to find his little black book… Creep."]
[15:25] * Raphael was sipping at his own drink, nodding when appropriate but otherwise remaining quiet to allow Monica to fume. Finding a gap, he finally allowed himself to speak up. "You provided the information, it's the military's job to apply that knowledge sensibly. They should have anticipated the delays better than you could've."
[15:36] <@Minaplo> ["Yes! Exactly! Thank you." Said Monica enthusiastically. "Ugh. I actually lost money on that deal, you know…"-
[15:37] <@Minaplo> ["That's one thing that I have trouble growing used to in this business." She said. "Everyone treats you like garbage."]
[15:42] <Raphael> "The curse of being a contractor, I suppose." Raphael said, his sympathy evident. "Why continue, though, if you're dealing with situations like that?"
[15:43] <@Minaplo> ["Sunken cost fallacy, sweetie." Said Monica. "I've spent years and years building up contacts and friends and getting into systems on every continent, it seems like a waste to just leave that all behind, you know? Besides, I don't even know what else I'd do…"]
[15:45] <Raphael> "Contacts, friends and skills would all make you a valuable hire for an intelligence agency, surely? Similar work with more stability."
[15:46] <@Minaplo> ["You'd be right, if I didn't have a record in… Well, you know. Info's my business. Selling info. To other people." She said sheepishly. "I can't be picky with who I sell to, and so I'm not what they'd call… Reliable."-
[15:47] <@Minaplo> ["But I guess at the end of the day, I enjoy being my own boss. There's a kind of freedom in there… I like that."]
[15:50] * Raphael nodded slowly, taking another sip of his drink. Little left but ice cubes now. "I can understand that…"
[15:53] <@Minaplo> ["Don't suppose you get much of that in the military, huh?"]
[15:56] <Raphael> "Hah. Not a lot, no."
[15:58] <@Minaplo> ["You've been in the military for awhile. Sorry, not trying to… You know." She said with a light blush. "You ever get tired of it?"]
[16:03] <Raphael> "… Sometimes." He admits, the answer coming a little more reluctantly this time. A little too aware of her job, perhaps?
[16:15] <@Minaplo> ["Ah… Sorry." She said awkwardly. She turned and started on her drink.]
[16:18] <Raphael> "It's alright." He says, forcing a smile. "I hope you understand if I'm a little on edge, miss, all things considered."
[16:19] <@Minaplo> ["No, I understand." She said. "You're probably here to relax, and here I am…"]
[16:24] * Raphael waved a hand dismissively. "Being alone with my own thoughts is no better, believe me."-
[16:25] <Raphael> "If I may ask, did you know who I was before you came over?" He asked gently, watching her closely.
[16:27] <@Minaplo> ["… Yeah. Well." She coughed delicately. "I mean to say I had a pretty good suspicion, and it turns out I was right."]
[16:32] <Raphael> Raphael just nodded, not seeming overly perturbed. "But you -did- have a meeting here…?"
[16:35] <@Minaplo> ["Theoretically. It didn't pan out. Some UN clerk…"]
[16:36] <Raphael> "Alright."
[16:40] <@Minaplo> [She drummed her knuckles on the table.-
[16:41] <@Minaplo> ["I should probably get going." She said, draining her drink in one fell swoop.-
[16:41] <@Minaplo> ["Ahh…"-
[16:41] <@Minaplo> ["Tell you what, why don't we meet up later? Somewhere else, at least? Some place that isn't intrigue central. I travel around a lot." She reached into her purse, pulling out a business card…-
[16:43] <@Minaplo> [It had her name and phone number, and a picture. Apparently her name was Monica Messina.-
[16:44] <@Minaplo> ["And… Because you listened to me, I'll give you a little tip. Let's call it a sample of my truly impressive arsenal of capitalist greed-enabling info."]
[16:59] * Raphael accepts the card politely, giving it a look over before slipping it away in his breast pocket. "… a tip? I wouldn't turn one down."
[16:59] <@Minaplo> ["You've heard of the uprising in Finland, yeah?"]
[16:59] <Raphael> "The broad strokes, at least."
[17:00] <@Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. Here's the thing: something's fucky with it."-
[17:02] <@Minaplo> ["I don't have any specific details, but the Germans weren't expecting it, even though it helps them. They had specific plans in place on how to handle and/or support the uprising, and it wasn't supposed to happen, especially like this. The Germans were intending to send military supplies to Finland to help equip the uprising, you see. But it happened before those weapons arrived."-
[17:02] <@Minaplo> ["Yet the uprising seems to be armed." Said Monica. "That means they're being armed by someone else… And their strings are being pulled by someone else as well."]
[17:11] * Raphael frowned slightly. "… That's interesting to know. Thank you, Monica. I'll be sure to pass that along."
[17:11] <@Minaplo> ["Good." She said, getting to her feet. "Have a good night, Raphael. I'll see you around."]
[17:16] * Raphael smiles a little. "And Monica, this other meeting? Is it to talk, or for work? Because if it was work you wanted, there are better people to be in contact with…"
[17:17] <@Minaplo> ["Talk maybe, work maybe. Probably both at the same time." She said, grinning. "To be honest, I'd prefer to use you as my contact if that's alright. You haven't been a dick to me or shortchanged me- yet, I guess- or tried to feel me up so you're better than most. Sound good to you?"]
[17:19] <Raphael> "… Mmm. I think I can do that." He nods, tapping his pocket. "Now's a busy time for us, but I'll be in touch."
[17:19] <@Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. Trust me, I should be able to find you if I have to… Hopefully."-
[17:19] <@Minaplo> ["But you have a good night now." She waved and started to head off, still looking back; she only narrowly weaved around a waiter bearing a tray of drinks.]

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License