EARTH Suits and Subtlety, or How to Cheat at Chess

Discussion in 'Private Roleplay' started by Lucrezia Dionisi, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    After her predecessor had finally abandoned the position to her capable hands, Letizia had spent her every waking moment slaving away at her desk (and, indeed, had often spent the night in her office as well – the couch if she was lucky, and the desk if she wasn’t).

    Though it was only a few months in reality, for the Deputy Undersecretary it might well have been years since her tour of the Outer Planets. The voyage was nothing but a distant memory now, inundated in the flood of work and responsibility that she’d shouldered upon her return. Even the stimulating conversation and fine food had faded into the background, forced to give way to more pressing concerns of governance.

    She was expecting another late evening in the office when her terminal chimed, rousing her from several tables of statistics, legal documentation, and half-finished propositions floating above her desk. A thin line formed in her brow as she swept the notification to the holographic screen.

    Oh.

    Letizia leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes.

    Well. She had extended a standing invitation. And she could use the distraction.

    She stood and slipped back into her heels with a smothered wince. The documentation collapsed at the wave of her hand, every sensitive piece of information safely locked behind layers of rolling encryption. Picking up her terminal to let in her unexpected guest, Letizia strolled over to the lounge.

    A few plush setées sat huddled around a carved mahogany coffee table, obscured from direct view with a half-wall that bisected the spacious room. She took the rightmost one with an appreciative sigh and began to whip her thoughts in order.
     
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  2. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    The adjustment back to 1G always brought discomfort. Anastasiya enjoyed the sensation though. The injections took the edge off as the body adapted but the transfer to moving in full gravity kept her sharp and focused. It took a few days to get used to. You just had to be careful, carefully pushing your body until you remembered your old limits.

    She'd fallen in with a FrontierCorp convoy heading back to Luna. They'd made good time and despite the captains' misgivings, not run into any pirate activity. The UNN and MCRN had stepped up their presence in the Belt in the wake of the peace summit attacks. The increased naval activity seemed to have had an impact on the reavers that plagued the Outer Planets though pirate was a glamorous term for the scavengers that preyed on isolated freighters and rockhoppers.

    The shuttle down to Luna was almost pleasant in comparison. The freighter hadn't exactly been spacious but expediency had taken priority over comfort. She reviewed her terminal to check her schedule. A call to the family's Dnieper estates was in order but business always took first place. She'd allow herself some time to readjust on Luna, she had her calisthenics programme marked out, and then she could focus on her work planetside.

    She kept her expression blank while the security double checked her credentials and scanned her for hidden weapons, explosives, and other gimmicks. For all they knew she was here to garrote the Undersecretary or hack their internal security servers. The inspection passed muster and her handbag was returned. Anastasiya was escorted to the lounge by one of the half dozen hangers on or assistants that seemed to flock about every political figure. The young man was robotically polite, keeping up a facade of conversation on their journey.

    He opened the door to the lounge, giving Lucrezia a slight bow of acknowledgement. "Madam Undersecretary" before his arm extended in invitation for Anastasiya's looming bulk to enter. She gave a smile now as she tilted her own head to the woman. "I trust this isn't a bad time?"
     
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  3. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    The tinny beep from her terminal gave her a few minutes’ warning before the visitor-escort pair appeared in the doorway of her office. It was just as well – Letizia took the time to pick out a spirit from her collection. Along with two heavy crystal glasses, the Stoli Elit was now sitting in the middle of the little table, adjusting to the perfect temperature for consumption.

    Letizia didn’t immediately respond, waving the CEO in as she dismissed the assistant with a gesture. Once they were alone, the Deputy Undersecretary measured the blonde with an appraising look and an unhurried smile.

    “I always make time for friends.” She leaned forward to grasp the bottle and poured them both a dram. “If that is indeed why you’re here, of course.”
     
  4. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    Lucrezia's assistant gave a slight bow as she dismissed him before shutting the door. "You did extend an invitation, it would have been remiss of me not to take it up" she said, moving to sit down. She accepted the glass with a nod of thanks, "Spasiba". She crossed her legs and lounged with a grateful sigh. "I assumed a woman as busy as yourself would be honest as to whether she was free or not. So I'm in luck today it seems". A small smile.

    "I haven't been down the well for a few months, I'm curious to catch up on local news. I trust you're in good health?"
     
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  5. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    “A woman as busy as myself, Ana, is only free when she decides to be free.” She gestured to the office, to the building writ large, “I must make time. For my husband, for my children.” A pause, a conceding nod. “For friends.”

    “Although,”
    she let a smile slip, “if you’ve only come to catch up, I’m afraid the news will be rather short. And boring. Few of the matters I’m permitted to share might actually interest you.”

    Letizia replaced her half-finished glass back down and settled back with a long sigh. “But I’m well enough, considering. And yourself, Anastasiya? How fares your conquest of the Outer Planets?”

    This uttered with a perfectly straight face, and only dark, twinkling eyes to betray the mirth.
     
  6. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    "Slowly. We've been in negotiation with prison officials at a penal colony for more indentured labour. I should have two to three hundred of them once I've bought their contracts. They'll serve out the rest of their sentences at some of our facilities. Quite mundane. Even our journey here was quiet enough, not even a whiff of pirates. The increased naval presence from the UNN and MCRN seemed to have scared many back into their holes".

    She ran her finger along the rim of her glass. "You look well" she allowed, "It's good to see the burden of power hasn't gotten to you. And try me sure, you never know what I might find interesting".
     
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  7. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    A smile spilled over her face like red wine. Darling. Power isn’t a burden.”

    She considered the blonde in the other chair. Her gaze was a shrouded thing – somewhere between the widow’s funeral veil and the privacy screen of a limousine. And oh, the things that could go on in those leather backseats.

    Letizia had been privy to plenty; had conducted many more herself.

    Enough to know you could do the same thing from the comfort of a penthouse office in New Hague.

    “I was just at a function with John last week – ” she said and picked up her glass again, “ – that’s John Arnold, Chairman of the Prison Management Board – and he wouldn’t stop going on about his youngest son. Lovely boy, I’m sure, but, more importantly, a budding entrepreneur. He’s trying to get his start in the business world, wouldn’t you know?” Her eyes glinted over the rim of the tumbler. “In shipping, of all things.”
     
    #7 Lucrezia Dionisi, Sep 3, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  8. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    That delightful politeness, explaining who she meant without the bluntness of inferring her guest hadn't a clue. "Well that's parents isn't it? They absolutely adore going on about their children" a sympathetic smile. Childless herself but not wanting to give the impression she judged those who did have them. A look of mild anguish as she told her about his plans, "Oh well isn't that darling? But it's such a tough business. The poor thing will find his work cut out for him".

    She took another sip of her glass. "I mean I wouldn't go so far as to say cartels operate" such a thing could be prosecutable "But it's always hard to break into a market. Shipping to the Outer Planet can be...risky".
     
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  9. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Letizia canted her head in agreement. “Quite so. The market is positively ruthless, and I told John as much.”

    “But if someone were to lend a guiding hand to the young man…”
    She gave the remaining vodka a thoughtful swirl. “I’m sure his father would appreciate such generous sponsorship.”

    Her dark eyes flickered back to Ana as she finished her drink. “A vassal all of your own.”
     
  10. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    Anastasiya laughed, a pleasant sound. "A guiding hand eh? And I give off that warm maternal glow that would ensure I'd be the best babysitter?". One hand brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. "I suppose I could sub contract to him, give him the responsibility of doing a few of the shorter shipping runs for us. That would give him a start, more of a chance than he'd have if he just barged in on his own but the rest is up to him".

    Ana leaned forward with leonine grace, giving an honest smile. "I mean I can show him where the toilet is, I can even pull down his trousers but I can't piss for him. There's only so much I can do. And his father will have to realise that".
     
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  11. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    Letizia made a sound that might’ve been a snort on a more graceless woman. “John isn’t daft. He understands perfectly well what qualities need to be instilled in a man – or a woman – who wishes to brave the merciless ascent to ambition.”

    “The extent of what you do or don’t do, Ana, is entirely up to you,”
    she placed the jangling ice cubes back on the table with a mild smile. The fewer the details, the greater the plausible deniability.

    With a small gesture through the air, Letizia summoned a checkered hologram on the polished surface of the table. “I trust that you play?”
     
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  12. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    "Forgive me if I've judged him by his subordinates. Some of his underlings that I've had dealings with are as thick as two planks. But I suppose he does have to let his boy leave the nest sometime". A wider smile as Lucrezia told her it was her decision. Of course, if anything came of this the Neapolitan only had to give a Mediterranean shrug and say that she'd barely mentioned the whole affair.

    "I'm grateful for the heads up and the introduction. I'll do what I can" she affirmed, watching while a board flashed up on the table. Only the odd flicker in the light showed that it wasn't an actual one. "I have been known to from time to time" she said. Ana trained her mind as rigorously as her body. Others might find the abstract strategy games a nuisance but she adored their blend of simplicity and complexity. "How do you intend to determine who is which colour? An arm wrestle?"
     
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  13. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    “Oh, goodness, no.” Letizia let loose an airy laugh. “You would beat me quite soundly, I’m afraid – but I should think we both enjoy a challenge too much for that to be interesting, no? Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that if this were… say, a thousand years earlier,” she leaned forward, voice reduced to the satin whisper of conspirators, “the power balance may have been tipped in your favor.”

    “But—”
    it passed just as swiftly, “we are here now – the modern age. Finesse has prevailed over brute force. When we want to hurt, we spill money instead of blood, and we fight most of our wars on boards not unlike this one. Do you think our Indian ancestors had any idea of the irony their game would come to represent?”

    She pursed her lips and keyed another invisible sequence into the air. The darker set of figures appeared before her as the whites materialised before Anastasiya. Letizia leaned back into the cool leather with a slim cigarette between her fingers.

    “The opening gambit is yours.”
     
  14. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    Anastasiya barely glanced at the board before she pushed her king's pawn forward. "Enough blood still gets spilt" she murmured, sipping at her drink. "Though there is something to be said for brute force at times". She shook her head after looking back at the board, "I think in their own way they were prophetic. Some things about humans don't change. The game is timeless".

    Her finger rested on her queen for a moment with a smile, "Though I do get some satisfaction when I'm reminded who the strongest piece is. That was my favourite part as a girl".
     
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  15. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    “Naturally,” Letizia conceded, smoke curling in lazy wisps between her painted lips. “But we’ve become ever so good at spilling it as far from home as possible. God loves a proxy war.”

    She laughed, dark eyes flickering to the blonde. “Quite the progressive decision at the time, no? Pawn to c5.” The board adjusted for her command, and Letizia dragged another plume of smoke into her lungs.

    “So who taught you?” She gestured to the game between them. “A parent? A friend? A lover?”
     
  16. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    "Business does too" Ana smiled. Her own freighters had carried armaments plenty of times. A shrug at Lucrezia's comment on the piece "Or maybe they just knew where the reality was. I think in some countries they didn't call it a queen but an advisor. The real power behind the throne".

    She frowned at the board but moved her king's bishop out. A laugh then, "A lover? As if I'd been patient enough to listen to them explain it. No it was my father. Mother too played but never had the patience to explain to us children. I used to hate it. My sister and brother were always better at it. I was in my twenties before I began to appreciate it".
     
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  17. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    “Perhaps. I won’t pretend I know enough about ancient India to speak with authority on the subject. But back home?” she trailed of with a minute smile as she considered the board, “suffice to say I’m hardly the first Italian to be greeted by vecchià zoccola intrigànt instead of hello.”

    If the fondness with which she spoke the words were anything to go by, Letizia found nothing but amusement in the particular brand of hate people direct at politicians when they feel especially helpless.

    “Queen’s knight to c6,” she breathed out along with a mouthful of smoke. “Personally I’ve always reserved deeper wells of patience for the people that please me well… but then I’m an only child. Siblings breed tolerance as well as temerity, no?”
     
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  18. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    "She enjoyed the competitive game so I can see how it might have irked her trying to explain why bishops can only move diagonally to a five year old" Ana said, "A parent's patience might run deep but all wells dry up eventually. And besides, she had my father to teach us that".

    A breath as she moved her knight out. "Siblings are passable. We get on relatively well. It helped make it clear to us that we weren't the centre of our family and that others beyond our own individual selves mattered. I still play the occasional game with them as it stands but it's a slower affair when I'm out in the Belt. Thankfully chess is a game that rewards patience".
     
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  19. Lucrezia Dionisi

    Lucrezia Dionisi Hell in High Heels

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    “And to think I used to believe that living in different timezones made relationships complicated,” Letizia said with a small shake of the head, eyes settled on the game between them once more.

    “It’s only a matter of a seconds from Luna, thankfully. But to have all your communications suffer the long-distance delay between the Outer Planets and Earth… Why, it’s almost like being back in the middle ages, sluggish correspondence and all.”

    She gestured for her active knight to move up into the centre. “Doesn’t it bother you?”
     
  20. Anastasiya Tereshchenko

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    Anastasiya laughed and shook her head, "The world moves too fast sometimes. Out there you get a sense of the scale there is. I mean before administrators in Hong Kong, India, Vladivostok, Tierra Del Fuego, they could go weeks and months on the vague instructions they had. Sending word back could take two months, awaiting the answer, another two. Now that is freedom".

    Her fingers drummed on the table before she made her move. "So in that sense a delay of a few hours for a message or transit time of a few days, that isn't an issue for me. It teaches patience. And allows me to consider my moves"
     
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