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|Lilian Rook|| A couple of months later, in the Eastern Seaboard Urban Center, Lilian has kept her promise to her allies; but that's not exactly new. What's newer is that something Arthur did in a fit of punk teen panic seems to have not just lasted, but panned out. What's new is that the utterly ridiculously childish idea of 'smash all the records and make all the debt go away' orchestrated by the Watch (and unbeknownst to Lilian, her own two schoolfriends) has actually worked. Sort of. It was part of the solution.
Arthur's resurrected Bazaar still floats in city airspace. Given the considerable eyesore that it is, it has undergone some renovations, mainly courtesy of Lilian and her juniors. After all, the way she tied up the chaotic loose ends of the riots and the debt record raids was to buy the whole flying islet off of Arthur's hands and get it zoned as hers by . . . uh, probably some really unethical maneuvering, actually. Either way, the main difference is that it is functionally near-invisible from the ground, having had an ample go-over by a handful Enlightened with some talent in illusions and camouflage. Up top, it's a different story.
The bizarrely copypasted streets, several hundred meters in the air, are bustling. Without Lilian having really cared enough to insist on any meticulous urban planning restrictions, it's quickly become sort of a colour district of its own. Third Circle residents hustle from warehouses to factory workshops to spirograph semi-warpgate checkpoints, wearing hard hats and 'flec vests and protective gloves, but also they crowd in the streets for 'home cooked' and 'ethnic colour' stall food lunches and coffee breaks, they gather up in weirdly placed park plazas where people have moved their illegal gardens into communal pools, they bike to and from the extra, unneeded buildings where old world clutter is for sale or rent, movies to watch, games to play. An informal sort of daycare even exists now, for the few thousand now employed here and close families still working below, because Lilian also doesn't bother to check or vet the lists.
The Bazaar is so much larger than it actually needs to be that many families have stealthily moved up here wholesale, installed pirate internet and radio, and even run little low-budget mimicries of what they used to do forty years ago; from clinics to laundromats to soup kitchens. Utterly unsurpervised, it has become strangely, chaotically, harmoniously lived-in.
It is Lilian's given necessity to check up on the actual work here, and her more unenthusiastic task to take a general survey and census and make sure nothing Terribly Untoward is happening as far as civil administration decides. She considers the idea boring and laughable enough that she's invited the Watch only slightly 'under the table' to simply see what they've done. She waits in a circular copypasted park, filled with re-plotted trees and flower and herb gardens, with really stupid spirographic street splits going off in every direction.
|Candy|| "Hey, Irish!"
The familiar buzz of Candy's early-model motorcycle can't drown out his enthusiastic greeting. A newsie cap and motoring goggles can't conceal his grin as he winds around one of those weird street splits.
When he stops, pulling off to the side, it takes him a minute or two to get the bike's under-wheel kickstand deployed. He seems used to it. The goggles are pulled down, though the hat remains, and he's brought along that longcoat he's so fond of wearing for the cooler air. Really, several hundred years ago, he probably could have fit right in--at least in terms of his clothing and the bike, anyway.
He grins, walking up, arms wide. "Amazing what people will do when they're not forced up against each other, ah? This place is great."
|Arthur Lowell||>[S]: Epilogue
No sound, actually. Let's see what's going on. Arthur also waits in the park, relaxing, drifting, fingers laced behind his head as he reclines on nothing at all near one of the trees. He's liking this, oh yes, he's liking this very much. The chaos, the density, the life, the intensity of the humanity. He likes this.
He's waiting too. "I mean, I think it turned out GREAT." He rambles. "I just wish it was MORE VISIBLE. I want it to do TERRIBLE THINGS to PROPERTY VALUES. Ahh well, gotta make them COMPROMISES." Shruuuug. "Least it's got the VISUALS from THIS ANGLE. Looks GREAT. Hell," He rambles to Candy. "It's not even just THAT. It's the THIRD CIRCLES gettin' a big say in STARTING OUT! 'Bout fuckin' time they got to do the PLANNING and DESIGN."
|Karlan Nobles||It's never too late to get involved in allies' work, especially when there's opportunities to be had in... Actually, neither SilverAsh nor Pramanix know too much about what's going on in the area beyond what they've heard, so this is as good of an opportunity as any to see what's what.
Getting an invitation from someone they've heard of in so many mixed tones, too, gives them even more reason to accept it and meet with Lilian face to face. Rather than dressing like the locals, the siblings are dressed to the nines as they usually are, complete with fancy coats and dresses that would probably help them fit in better with the very people that might have been unethically maneuvered against.
SilverAsh: "It's true. People often thrive when they're motivated to work together rather than dragged down by their peers."
Pramanix: "You'd know a thing or two about that, wouldn't you? ... Oh! You must be Lilian. It's a pleasure to finally meet you in person~"
|Rita Ma|| The last time Rita was up on one of these floating islands was horribly stressful. Faced with an impossible choice, she'd decided that the least bad option involved kicking her friend Lilian in the chest just to save her.
This time, circumstances are better. She's wearing a cute salmon-pink dress (maybe once red, but sunbleached over the years since) and a little brown bolero jacket, both as well-worn as hand-me-downs; it's the kind of thing she dons when she wants to blend in with the lower class (her natural environment anyway), but still look respectably cute.
"Ms. Rook! Mr. Candy! Arthur!" she calls out as she comes into view, waving brightly. Rita crosses the Bazaar with a little girly run, shopping bag hanging from her elbow. "Sorry if I'm a little late. I guess I got a little distracted. This place really is amazing!" It's the plants, true to form, that catch her eye the most. The pretty flowers fight with Lilian as the main object of her attention.
"People can do great things when they're allowed to take care of each other, can't they?" she adds to Candy, beaming. "Although... it's all sort of disorganized, isn't it? I hope that doesn't cause any problems for them. Or that they figure it out for themselves."
|Lilian Rook|| "Candelario." Lilian replies unenthusiastically. She is currently still held hostage by the need for thick leg-concealing clothing and the spiteful refusal to wear pants ever. "It's . . . alright." she sighs, putting away a physical clipboard that she seems to hold with some manner of zoomlet distaste. "It's already gotten rather out of control, but once I realized that properly planning and regulating it as per sustainable city codes was going to be about five hundred hours of effort, I really decided I just couldn't be bothered to do all of Lowell's work for him." She shoots floaty Arthur boy a pointed look. "Oh shut your hole. You haven't made a compromise in your life. I'm the one who has to do all the meeting in the middle here."
Lilian puts her chin in her palms and looks the new arrivals up and down. Her gaze lingers a little overlong on SilverAsh, and then definitely overlong on Pramanix; specifically her ears and tail. "Pleased to meet you. I assume you're friends of Candelario's? How odd, given that you look like perfectly respectable sorts." She softly snorts at 'dragged down by their peers'. "Well, they certainly don't lack motivation now. But I really wonder about what exactly was dragging them down."
Lilian allows herself a little smile at Rita running up. Partly just because Rita, but partly because she somehow always manages to find a way to look like the adorable little local girl just sort of wholesomely rolling around in the culture no matter what. "I do wonder if it's only a matter of time. I've repeatedly considered setting up a police station at least and hiring on some UCCS to reduce my liabilities, but . . ." Lilian gets a look in her eyes as she flashes back a year or two.
"There is a bullet hole in the fucking grandmaster of the Paladins!! Gun! Badge! NOW!"
"Well, once they get to bashing and robbing each other, I can at least cover up the first couple of cases and hire privat security then."
|Candy|| "Property values? You made that up," says Candy, playfully punching Arthur's shoulder as Rita makes her run-up. "Hi, Rita!" He offers her an equally girly wave, smiling warmly as she offers her response. Candy nods, arms crossed, at the two of them. "You give the people the okay to live their fucking lives, and look at that," he says, twirling around, arms held as wide as his smile. "They do it, and nothing explodes."
He stops, his motorist's scarf flying out to the side, and his smile turns into a mischievous grin, pointed right at Rita. "Well, nothing that's worth a shit, anyway, ah? Hahaha."
Turning back to face Lilian, "Arthur's hole oughta stay open, if you ask me," he responds, hat in hands. "And so should this place! No private security. Let them figure it out themselves, and they will. You gotta have faith that they ain't gonna burn the place down a month from now." Twirling a finger in the air, "They got what they need. Besides," he grins.
"You don't wanna live in a world where you -need- the fucking uniforms, do you? I sure as shit wouldn't."
|Arthur Lowell||>Arthur: Greet the others
"What's up," A nod to the pair of nobles. "CHESS SET," A nod to Rita. "SEA LEGS," A nod to Candy. "CANDLES. Yeah, no worryin' about the LATENESS or whatever. And, right? Hell, it looks GREAT. Fuck, people look like they're HAVING A GOOD TIME. Got some HOPE in 'em! Sure as fuck need a lot of that these days, damn bro." He drifts down to stand.
"People wanna GIVE SECURITY and people wanna GET SECURITY. So long as you LET THEM, it's just gonna HAPPEN ON ITS OWN. Bet'cha there's some NIGHT WATCHMEN type shit going on ALREADY." Lilian's got a point, though. "Or not. Yeah, it's all pretty heavy on being an EXTREME CASE here, guess I didn't COMPROMISE for shit. But hey, I can always be MORE BULL-HEADED. I ain't ever gonna SHUT UP." We won't discuss the topic of Hole, only of the shutting in general.
|Rita Ma|| Rita returns the little smile with an utterly wholesome sunny expression. "Do you really think that'll happen, Ms. Rook? People need police for a lot fewer things when they have enough to live. Deprivation is where most 'crime' comes from, after all."
Candy, meanwhile, earns a reproachful little frown. "When they're just living, that's okay. But I wouldn't want a ship or a factory where nobody's in charge. You can't just never organize yourselves unless you're going to be farmers forever, you know."
While other conversations are happening that don't involve her, she crouches down and looks at a particularly enthralling flower with awe. She doesn't dare pick it, but when she straightens up, a perfect copy of it is somehow decorating her hair.
She finds a bench to sit down on and takes the spoils out of her shopping bag, arraying them in her lap. A couple of games to take home, some treats she thinks Liza will like (sadly, not much raw meat here for her), and an old bird-watchers' guide.
"Ms. Pramanix and Mr. SilverAsh have been really nice to me, Ms. Rook," Rita chimes in after their introduction. "I hope you get along okay!" After a little further pause: "You really don't trust the police here either, do you, Ms. Rook?"
|Karlan Nobles||Pramanix: "We've worked with him a few times before. Quite the interesting fellow, isn't he?"
SilverAsh: "He does have a way with words, certainly. I thank you for your kind assessment of us, Dame Rook."
Noticing the stares, Pramanix's tail swishes once, and she's not all that subtle about watching Lilian's eyes just to see if that gets a reaction. "A lot of things could motivate people to hurt others like them. Pride, promises, spite... It's sad, isn't it?" She 'asks' without really asking, softening up a bit once Candy and Arthur identify the potential differences between this place and home.
"There will always be ill-intentioned actors, of course, but that's where a security force can truly work wonders." SilverAsh comments afterwards, looking over at one of the food stands and badly hiding the fact that he's trying to get a better look at one of the signs without actually moving from his spot so he can look like he's gazing thoughtfully into the distance.
"A police force funded by and presumably answerable to the people could work well, but a private force could be far more practical depending on who you'd prefer they answer to. I've had more success with the latter."%
|Karlan Nobles||Rita vouching for them, meanwhile, has both of them warming up a bit more to both her and Lilian.
Pramanix: "Well, of course! You've been nothing but great to us, and there's no reason not to."
SilverAsh: "It's refreshing, to say the least. We could certainly be in much worse company, considering the circumstances."
Pramanix: "You're never going to let that go, are you?"
SilverAsh: "I have no idea what you mean."
|Candy|| "In charge? No, no," says Candy to Rita. "I'm just saying I don't want any cops here. 'In charge' is... that's something else, to me. Something I'd have to think about." He smirks. "Being a farmer and all. But your ships sail better without the fake harpoonists, don't they? The ones that shoot the people instead of the monsters."
"If there's gonna be somebody defending the place, why not the people who live here? They're already making a home out of it," he points out to SilverAsh. "Shit, I could make it happen. Rotating shifts, everybody who's able knows how to do it but nobody's 'the cop.' It don't get much more 'answerable to the people' than 'by the people,' ah?"
|Lilian Rook|| "I'm afraid he didn't." Lilian groans to Candy. "People pay quite a bit to earn a comfortable spot in the First Circle especially. Having a giant ugly piece of bastard architecture floating overhead and blocking out the sun makes it a less desirable place to live. That means if you sold your home, people would offer less money to live here. And since you borrowed all the money to buy it, and are slowly trying to pay it back, that gap in value wipes out the money you paid into it and not the money you owe, making you poorer because Lowell is a know-nothing ass. That's the simplified version."
"I don't want to live in a world where a lot of things are true. Unfortunately, this is that world." Lilian sighs forlornly at Rita. "Crime is a near-unvoidable constant. If the law isn't looking then people who want to hide from it will show up here soon enough. I'm hoping it'll just be a few small timers pawning off contraband. The people here have money to buy it now, after all. I don't relish the idea of having to crack down on something else." She looks over meaningfully. "I don't want to fight these people. I don't want to be disappointed by these people. It's not fair."
She has to think a little as prompted. "No, I don't think I trust police generally. I've not had . . ." Her face sours. "I've not had the best experience with 'enforcers'. People often like to bring up the words 'law and order' when speaking of the Paladins, and sometimes even the Immunes, but I don't think it's the same. The platonic ideal of those is one who, through exceptional effort and sacrifice, ensures that those weaker than them can choose how to live their lives, instead of being chosen for. Police tend to be . . ." She clearly struggles to find the most diplomatic, career-maintaining words she can. "Very ordinary people, who . . ." It turns bitter anyways. "Who choose for you. Their necessity is unfortunate. A 'night watch', as Lowell proves it, isn't exactly organized or accountable."
She laughs drily at SilverAsh's assessment of Candy. "Yes, he does. Such as the one about frogs 'bumping their asses'." Lilian's eyes are naturally drawn to the swish of tails. Girls with tails. Betailed girls. Exotic girl parts. "I might be able to draw on the Paladins team I was recently given command of. Under the guise of community service, perhaps. Stand on street corners, speak to people, help out around the place, and generally earn some extra pay on a cushy assignment." She muses. "I've already sunk a rather queenly sum into this, and it's just now starting to turn towards getting back into the black. It turns out there are quite a few more eager buyers than I initially expected. Specifically, eager to buy from myself."
"Ever since all records of the Urban Center's locally managed social credit calculations regarding the Third Circle mysteriously went up in smoke, civil administrators have been scrambling to calculate the total value of outstanding civilian-invested debt, and double and triple recalculating it as it keeps turning up less than certain people swear it is. Certain policy decisions are being bottlenecked by that figure, which has sort of become a diffuse responsibility of all these people put together." Lilian makes a really really uncomfortable noise. "Those people were right. Even seeing the figures being thrown around, it bothers me a little that Matthew could just . . . pay it. Never mind split six ways with the other local council members."
"IT'S TRUE," Arthur says, giving a firm, happy nod. "I AM a KNOW-NOTHING ASS, that's for sure." He makes dismissive waves about some of the rest of what Lilian says though. "NOT ACCOUNTABLE, pfff. Most of the times, a TOP DOWN SYSTEM with PEOPLE and BLAME and shit, it just means they AIN'T ACCOUNTABLE. Eh, these guy's are gonna FIGURE IT OUT. SOMEONE WANTS IT, well, then SOMEONE GIVES IT. Got those fuckin' EASY RULES up here."
He makes a funny noise at the idea of everything being diffuse. "Man, I didn't even get to do that. I'da TOTALLY DONE SOME PUNK SHIT for that. But just SPREADING IT AROUND... well, it's gettin' PICKED UP, you said? The BIG TAB?"
|Karlan Nobles||They're about to ask about fake harpoonists right up until Candy mentions that they shoot people instead of monsters. That immediately gets an understanding grimace from Pramanix and a disapproving frown from SilverAsh.
SilverAsh: "That's exactly why I'd rather have the private security force."
Pramanix: "They'd be more honest about who they're working for, at least."
SilverAsh: "A locally sourced shift as Candelario described /would/ be far more fitting, though, if personal control isn't the end goal after all."
Lilian's talk of the ideal police force, meanwhile, gets some more nods from the pair. "I just know there's people out there that would fit that ideal you're looking for. It's just finding them that's..." Pramanix replies, trailing off as she notices where Lilian's eyes are going. "... The tricky part. Like..."
She trails off again, still swishing her big fat floofen around juuust slowly enough to be a plausible idle animation rather than an intentional thing. It'd be the perfect crime if she wasn't staring right at Lilian, clenching her teeth with that telltale dimple in her cheeks from trying not to giggle the entire time.
SilverAsh, noticing Pramanix's distress, picks right up from there. "Screening people is a task in and of itself, moreso if you need your interviewers to make such nuanced assessments in a limited time." He mutters 'frog asses' briefly in confusion, glancing over at Candy once before considering the rest of the problems raised at hand.
"I take it they're not willing to simply let those numbers slide, if they're doing that much accounting just to get it 'wrong' again. But if someone is 'picking it up'-" He nods once towards Arthur. "-That... No, you're right. That does sounds a little too convenient from what little we know about this..." He mouths 'First Circle?' at first, shakes his head, then continues. "This council. Do they have any leverage over you or your name that they might use to force your hand in other areas by doing this?"
|Rita Ma|| "Thank you, Ms. SilverAsh! Thank you, Ms. Pramanix!" Rita can't help but bask in their approval, even if it's coming somewhat at SilverAsh's expense. "What you did for me at that mansion... of course I haven't forgotten it."
"Your ships sail better without the fake harpoonists, don't they?" Rita nods earnestly, smiling from Candy's agreement. "That's right. I hope they don't put any here, too. Ms. Rook is right: they're here to choose for you. Even 'private security' would be better, though I'd like a local night watch best."
"About organizing yourselves... right now, the free territories still use guns they stole or already had, right? But someday those guns will rust. And Mr. Ibanez will still want his land back. Someday, you'll have to figure out what a gun factory in the free territories should look like."
The mention of the debt figure being recalculated over and over again brings a strangely proud smile to Rita's face. "Then one of them will just have to pay it all off, won't they?" she says, with just a little dash of glee.
"It was never really about profit, though. It's not like they expect it to be repaid.Debt is mostly about controlling people, I think. When someone has nothing, or has less than nothing, you get to pretend like they're a burden on society, even though it's those people who are sometimes working the hardest.
"And that lets you do all kinds of terrible things to them, and pretend like it's for the benefit of 'society' to do that. It's the control they don't want to give up, I think."
|Candy|| She likes the one about the frog. Candy smiles--he likes that one, too. "It's a good saying," he says to SilverAsh. "It basically means you're hoping for something stupid to happen."
"...well, the Paladins can't be all bad if you and Tamamo are in there. But the law's fucking stupid nine out of every ten worlds," says Candy contemptuously. This, evidently, is one thing he -will- get into. "It only ever helps anybody by fucking someone else over. And a lotta the time, it doesn't even help--it just fucks one person over so now both of you are fucked. What kind of sense does that make?" He sighs, exasperated, his hands having made several animated maneuvers throughout.
Candy then points, excitedly, with both hands, at Arthur. "Yeah! I don't wanna believe that we need guns and sticks and written down bullshit--" he says, slapping the back of his hand against the opposite palm with each article, "--to keep us from robbing and beating and doing fuck knows what else to each other." He pauses, then stands up straight and shrugs. "So I don't," he says simply.
But Rita brings up a good point. "I know, I know," he says worriedly. "I been thinking about it a lot, ever since that French guy did... all of that. When we was fighting, that factory was me, but it wasn't the whole fucking territory fighting with me, you know? There are a lot of guns I made floating around out there, but... Well, maybe when I start figuring, I'll give you and Liza a call, ah?"
|Lilian Rook|| "Most often, people who are definitely accountable to a system find out how not to be, and then invest a lot in making sure it isn't changed." Lilian says to Arthur in very backhanded partial agreement. "'The big tab' diminishes one way or another. This is barely a tenth of the total employable 'spare population', but of course they have friends and family and neighbours down the street. It disseminates into the community, one way or another."
Lilian finally looks away from Pramanix uncomfortably, for her partner asking an innocent question. "Nothing more than what you'd expect by Matthew being on it." she says. Several long, weird seconds go by. Something seems to dawn on her in slow motion. Something that she needs to specifically said out loud, she realizes. "My father." Lilian forces her jaw to work robotically. "Take that as you will." It prompts a harsh little laugh at Rita's pearl of wisdom. "There are plenty of ways to cast someone as a burden on society. To make it seem as if you owe them everything and are taking and transgressing when you get what you need."
Lilian shakes her head slowly. "Well, most of them have probably pinned futures and bonds to the value of total debt as an indicator of stable growth. There's a lot of money sort of in flux as to whether it exists or not. Money isn't . . ." She wonders, silently, at why she's said this to Rita twice now. "Money isn't real, like that. Once you have what you really need, it stops being tangible and is sort of made up and goes away."
Lilian flinches at Tamamo's name. That's not normal. She forces a smile. "Thank you. There's more good in them than bad these days, I think." To Rita. "As it is now, I've handled most of the organizing myself. It's my prerogative, as the technical owner. What we're seeing here, as far as I can tell, appears to be layers of organic organization forming up around the basic structure of what I've done to ensure productivity. Everyone knows that they're being paid ten times here what they would down below, because many of my peers, and some rather large organizations, are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for to end results of what I'd worked out with Stark, and I don't have much use for pocketing the majority of it."
"They're not stupid; they know that needlessly rocking the boat merely endangers a good thing, I'm sure. I have a few foremen, a few accountants, some shift supervisors I've had them hire under my review, and some trade analysts I've brokered above. I've split things relatively by age and experience and simulated most potential futures regarding it; it's rather simple. The way the money flows is obvious. They have extra to spend, now. Rather than getting it all out in three years, they'll get it out in three years and four months, and enjoy fine coffee and taking their families out to the cinema along the way. Thus whoever else can ply a hobby for a modest fee earns a spot in the community, and so on. Really, it's whoever is directly employed under me that has the most to lose immediately, and have the greatest ability to affect the Third Circle as a whole. It seems that they're somewhat deferred to. Doing good work and fighting the good fight." A beat. "Us against them. Myself, somewhere in the middle."
Arthur feels pretty uneasy about where this all is going. "Geh. Fuck. Plenty of BAD SHIT still. Whatever, they've got an ALRIGHT FOUNDATION here. Gonna have a GREAT CIRCLE if they can KEEP IT. At least it's mostly dudes willing to HOLD ON for some HOPE, and mostly the kind of BASTARD that knows some's needed." He winds up rubbing his face and making another weird noise. "WHATEVER. It's a BETTER SITUATION than the START. LESS RIOTS because of LESS REASONS TO RIOT."
"If the idiots get that they shouldn't ROCK THE BOAT I BUILT, good enough for me. Turnin' this into your FEY SKY KINGDOM is kind of a GREAT FIT, too." He rambles idly to Lilian. "Lemme know if it's ever got any PROBLEMS or whatever, I never did get to BREAK ANY NOSES after gettin' RILED UP in the RIOTS."
|Rita Ma|| "I'd be happy to help, Mr. Candy," Rita says brightly. "My brother knows a lot more about the politics and economics of it than me, but... I think I picked up a little bit along the way. Whenever that day comes, I'll be there."
A thought echoes through her head, unbidden, when those last few words leave her mouth. 'Thirty good years.'
She stares down at her hands in her lap for a few moments, expression faraway and neutral. Lilian's words call her attention back to the present. "Mmmm. That's really good, isn't it? That they're setting up other services for each other."
"The more the people here can pay each other for food, and clothes, and housing, and not buy those from the other Circles... the longer that money you pay your workers circulates in the community. Right? If they had to buy all their groceries from rich people, it'd go away really fast. The more independent they are, the more they rely on each other, the more good your money does. Like... making a little tidal pool. Or fission."
She probably learned about the latter from Liza.
"Us against them," Lilian says. Rita replies: "Thank you for helping us, Ms. Rook."
|Candy||"Thanks, Rita! ...I guess I *am* overdue to meet your brother, ah?" There's a dangerous gleam of mirth in his eyes as he utters it.
Lilian flinched at Tamamo's name. *What's the matter?*
He can't stop his eyes from asking the question, even if his mental presence is hidden. The forced smile doesn't do enough to hide the expression of concern, but it does diminish slightly. "Maybe," he says. "Ishirou's there, too," notes Candy warmly.
Is everything okay? Normally you glow when you think about her. ...this is about the red thing, isn't it. The wish.
He doesn't bother hiding his presence for that one.
|Karlan Nobles||"Don't worry about it. It was the least we could do, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat. "Pramanix gives Rita a reaffirming thumbs up at that.
"I take it your father has some manner of political sway over things, then. Or...?" SilverAsh starts, furrowing his brow slightly at that mention of Lilian's father. More specifically, how she mentioned him. There almost seems to be a glint in his eyes at that, as if understanding completely, but it's just as likely that he's misinterpreting it entirely.
Pramanix, too, has to turn her attention back to the matter at hand once Lilian pulls her eyes away. "He'd like you to be indebted to him however indirectly, then!" She chimes in, perhaps a little too eagerly before clearing her throat. "... Just like Rita said. It wouldn't make sense for this Matthew to pay for it and then actually let the debt be cleared so easily. Otherwise, he'd have done what was done here himself without needing your aid in the first place."
"But... That still leaves the problem of actually figuring out how to get the debt matter handled without involving Matthew or the council, doesn't it? Waiting for that frog ass?" Pramanix glances over at Candy as if hoping for some kind of confirmation there.
"Bumping them." SilverAsh corrects with absolute certainty despite still not quite understanding it. "Not yet, I don't think. So long as these people can retain independence, our intervention won't be needed. But if it is... We're not Paladins, and we aren't formally associated with Dame Rook's house." He glances over at Arthur during the rambling, then strokes his chin. "So if we were to break people's noses, it wouldn't come back to her... But there's no need to rush things if they're going well already."
The siblings look towards Lilian again.
Pramanix: "Until then, please. Rest well, friend. A friend of them is a friend of ours!"
SilverAsh: "And if you are ever in need of more heavy-handed efforts, my company will be open to discussions."
Pramanix: "Do you always have to make it sound bad?"
SilverAsh: "I have no idea what you're talking about."
|Lilian Rook|| "If they keep it?" Lilian's eyebrow rises smoothly in 'are you serious' sarcasm at Arthur. "Do you think I'm about to relinquish it so easily? Don't get me wrong, Lowell. I have absolute faith in these people to take the helping hand offered and do what benefits them, and not at all what benefits the people they were already angry about. The reason I got away with this is simply that I broke the line of sight between them, and now they don't have to think about each other." An emotionless smirk takes over. "I'll let you know when I need to break a nose I don't feel like."
Lilian falls to inspecting Rita as if she'd just noticed some feature of hers for the first time. "I've never heard anything about your brother before. I wonder what he's like, now." she muses aloud. "It sounds as if you got a few good things from him." Her smile is weak and bitter. "That's . . . a surprisingly developed understanding, yes. It's idea that it does that, too, instead of vanishing into people's personal savings who then run off after a while." And then the implicit bitterness again. "I don't mind helping you, Rita." says Lilian. "Even if I can't ever be one of you. Or one of them."
She tries to laugh at Candy. "Well, he used to be a nasty little twink for a while. I'm glad he inspires your confidence now." She tries not to look at him further. Normally she can't stop looking down on him. It's probably not fine.
"You could say that." Lilian replies tensely to SilverAsh. "Enough to make things more difficult than they should be. He has no interest in stopping me from fixing this problem for him, though. He's perfectly happy to let me spend and bleed so he doesn't have to cover anything. Always." She sighs, running her fingers across her cheek. "It'll be paid through the populace themselves. Even with this floating abomination up here, plenty of ample reason to leave for greener pastures in the Multiverse, taking friends and family with them. Since the administration can't prove unsettled accounts, no doubt there'll be a flat compensation fee for 'lost labour'. It'll be covered by the profit of their own work here. I've at least made sure they know they're keeping the results of their work here, and that I'm not skimming most of it off the top. If there were still something to change . . ."
Lilian pushes herself to smile instead. "Well, shall we go inspecting? Perhaps grab some local coffee? See the sights? I get to list this as work, you know. I don't often get credit for just talking with friends. Leaving my hands off and trusting them not to mess it up so far has worked, after all."
|Rita Ma|| "I guess I'm overdue to meet your brother, ah?" "I'm overdue to see him too," Rita answers with a little bittersweet smile. "We'll figure it out, someday."
"I learned a lot of good things from him," she adds to Lilian, a little proudly. "But don't give me too much credit, okay? I've just been in a situation like this before. It's easy to learn the difference between buying something from a rich person, and buying something from your neighbor, when it's hands-on."
"Even if I can't ever be one of you." Rita's smile is bittersweet. "Yeah. I know what you mean." The understanding is real, not merely sympathetic.
The forced smile on Lilian's part makes her own a bit less bitter. She tucks her spoils away in her bag and stands up crisply. "Oh! I'd love to, Ms. Rook! ... What's coffee, though? Ms. Grier mentioned it a couple of times as an ingredient in drinks, but..."
|Arthur Lowell||>Arthur: Take a tour!
"Hell yeah! I mean, I'm not about that COFFEE, but they usually have COOKIES AND STUFF." Somehow, Arthur's struggle to keep ahold of his humanity and stunt his psychological development has made sure that he keeps a bastard young-person's tongue. "Let's go SEE SOME SIGHTS, I love BAZAAR VISITS. I can do some BUYIN' too."
A short pause.
"Yeah, not really had much of a chance to just depend on other people, right? Shit, I'll do my best, try and make that keep working."
|Karlan Nobles||"Of course he wouldn't. I certainly wouldn't turn down free problem solving, especially if I'd benefit from success or failure." SilverAsh replies with a firm nod, going stiff for a moment when he can practically feel Pramanix giving the evil eye off to the side. "... Although I would have enough sense to repay my benefactors after the fact, official channels or otherwise."
That gets her to stop glaring. Pramanix even goes right back to looking chipper again when Lilian recommends seeing the sights. "Oh, that would be lovely! It's not every day I get to come out like this, so I plan to make the most of it! Like a... Girls' night out. Informally." As she bounds over to invade Lilian's and Rita's personal space, she holds herself back at the last moment to glance back at Arthur, Candy, and SilverAsh.
"Which makes you our chaperones then, yes? Come, come~"