Sol Hertzog and family
Date: May 15, 2010
"The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, involved in many kinds of motivation, among other functions. The hypothalamus controls the "Four F's": fighting, fleeing, feeding, and mating." — Unknown
"For Want of a Boot"
Sol's Penthouse Apartment
'Satiated' is a fun word. It's also an accurate description of Porter's current condition. With furniture tipped over, paintings knocked askew, and fine South African port spilled on the carpet, it would seem that a great deal of effort has been expended on… redecoration. He managed to find his way back to Vasha's bed and crawl in, though the pillows have been scattered through the room and the covers are twisted into a hopeless ball.
Sprawled out with his head at the foot of the bed. a narrow flap of blanket covering his cash and prizes, and his arm pressed over his eyes, Porter snores quietly. He's smiling, too.
Though the bed is more than large enough for two… perhaps three… Vasha has chosen not to join Porter there. She has also chosen not to clean up the mess they made, that is a labor for lesser people. Pulling her robe over her frame, she ties it at the waist and slips out of the room, allowing the agent to sleep soundly.
The hallway is fairly barren and using her key, the woman locks her door from the outside so that the sleeping man inside won't be disturbed. Then she makes her way toward the dining area to join her benefactor and his family for breakfast. She is very unkempt. It was a busy night.
At the head of the breakfast table, Sol manages a smug kind of smile while looking down at the table. His maroon-coloured robe with gold trim is tied tightly around his waist as he looks on at the table much like a king overlooks his kingdom; in a way this is his kingdom. Theoretically. Breakfast has long since been served and most of the Hertzog spawn have left for the morning to go about their various activities. Save for the youngest who perches on her own chair at a kind of attention reserved for soldiers rather than teenage girls. She stares at the cup of orange juice she has yet to finish while crossing her arms over her chest, "I don't see why I have to go to school. It's not as if I'll actually work when I'm through."
Salvia, Sol's wife, sits at the foot of the table in her robe and shakes her head, "You must go to school— it's necessary. You must go. It is… your duty."
The teen stares at her juice, silently sulking before her dad's lips curl into a sadistic kind of grin, "Your mother finished school; look what that got her." Reaching for the paper he observes idly, "And she's right. It is your duty."
"Like you know anything about duty, father," the girl sneers. Yet she freezes at the look she gets from her father and returns her gaze to her orange juice.
"Ooohhhh," Porter groans, clamping his arm more tightly over his eyes. "My pieces. They hurt."
Moving more by instinct than intent, he rolls out of bed and goes in search of his clothes. Some items are missing and some have been torn beyond use or repair, but he manages to get his jumpsuit, his pack, and one boot organized in short order. Clomping around awkwardly, he swears under his breath as he searches for the other. "Balls-asses-bitch-ICBM."
Padding toward the table, Vasha pulls a chair opposite Salvia's and snaps her fingers to the boy serving their breakfast. Almost instantly, a plate appears in front of the woman with a small selection of her favorite breakfast foods. She's always about the fruit.
The happy family's voices were loud enough to drift down the hallway just ahead of Vasha, so she heard most of the conversation before entering. The entire clan remains silent as she settles herself in. Then she looks between the three faces and nods to them in greeting, almost as though giving her consent that they continue.
"You will go to school, simply because I refuse to look at your face while I am going about my day." Vasha sneers to the youngest as she cuts a slice of her apple and sticks it into her mouth. Silently, she chews on a few more bites before taking a cup of aromatic coffee and standing. "I am going to retire to my room. Have one of the servants join me in an hour, I have a task to be done."
She doesn't explain, she merely takes the cup with her back toward the bedroom.
Salvia wants to leave as Vasha sits down, but she can't make herself move. Instead, she remains frozen in one spot, wholly unsure of what she should or what should be done. Instead she nods silently.
Sol, however, feels the need to speak, with a sly smile spreading over his features. "You made quite the raucous last night." His smile is so large, in fact, that his canine teeth can be seen giving him an almost vampiric quality, like the cat who caught the canary. I'm sure your father would be intrigued to know his daughter is staying up all hours in the night…" he peers at her cautiously, "Doing only what I can assume to be some womanly exercise routine— " his eyes travel the scape of her body, taking in every contour.
The youngest pouts, but gets up from her chair, her unspoken teenage rage more than apparent in her very demeanour. She never gets what she wants!
Footsteps. Worse, the voice of a child..
In that instant, Porter gives his boot up as a lost cause. Then, quickly, he strips off the other one and digs his toes into the soft-knapped carpet. "That's better," he murmurs to himself once he's back on balance.
There are five points of contact on his pack's harness. Each is attached, checked, and rechecked with the brisk thoroughness of a man performing an important operation for the thousandth time. When he's finished, he ghosts over to the door and settles comfortably in the shadows next to the opening. Silently, he draws a short, wide-bladed combat knife from an inverted sheath attached to his vest.
The lock is turned and the door opens to allow one of Vasha's legs to enter, followed quite nicely by the rest of her. She turns her back to the man in the shadow in order to close the door again, not bothering to lock it once she spies the bed is already empty.
Stepping forward a few paces, she hugs the mug of coffee with both hands and takes a sip as she surveilles the mess. A small smile twitches to her lips as her eyes dart from the paintings, almost visualizing the moment her back hit it. She walks over toward the small table and sets it upright with one hand, just to have a place to put the mug.
A sudden breeze sucks the drape over the window in a very odd fashion, causing Vasha's head to tilt in curiosity. She didn't bother asking Porter how he got in the night before. Pushing the curtain aside, she spies the neat circular hole cut into the glass, then she lets the fabric drop again.
While Vasha had snuck down the hall, Sol had stood up from the table and followed her to her room, hanging well enough behind so as not to attract her attention. Finally he steps up to the room and forces the door open. His eyes dart around the room as his lips curl into a kind of frown-smile— the kind of smile reserved for business dealings of a questionable nature, polite but obviously not smiling or pleased.
"What the hell happened in here?!" he demands, something he doesn't do ever with his supposed mistress.
Unlike Vasha, he doesn't notice the breeze coming in from the window, but he does notice the odd disarray the room is in— it's impossible not to! His mouth gapes open.
His facial features change from disapproval to something far more sadistic as his eyebrows arch, his eyes narrow, and his lips curl. His thoughts are almost transparent in his expression. He's going to tattle.
Porter narrows his eyes. This situation has just gotten very complex. His fingers shift and squeeze the articulated grip of his knife.
Don't breathe. Don't move. Don't blink. Eyes closed to prevent reflection and refraction. Muscles loose to stall cramping.
Impotently, he can only wait and listen.
Turning away from the window, Vasha's hazel eyes focus on Sol but through her peripheral vision she can see the dark mass near the door. "What happens in my room is my business. You would do well to mind your place, Old Man." Calmly, she sashays toward one of the overturned chairs and tips it upright, angling it away from the door.
"What would my father think if he was told that you were adding to the difficulties in my life?" Not to mention the complications that she's already added on her own. Gazing at the carpet, she spies the slip of paper with the number on it. She casually reaches down, allowing everyone in the room a good view of what is in the robe. A calculated ploy.
Pointing to the cushion, she gives Sol a silent command to sit. Whether he does or not…
"What would your father think if he knew you were having secret visitors in the night?" Sol arches a single eyebrow, he's still smiling that same distant yet smarmy smile as he takes the silent command and he sits on the cushion. As usual he's taking orders rather than giving them, even if it's in silence that he does so.
"Perhaps our… arrangement should be revisited?" he asks with a queer tilt of his head before laying his palms flat on the cushion and leaning back against them. His eyes scan the room again, judging the mess, not just the costs to him, but it's an estimation of a different sort. What could a secret like this be worth?
When the sound of conversation shifts a few feet from his hiding place, Porter relaxes just a bit. Then, moving quietly on his bare feet, he slides around behind Sol and inches toward the window. Slyly, he winks at Vasha and lifts his lips in a silent-yet-dramatic shushing gesture.
En route, he stoops to pick up his discarded boot. It's tucked under his arm as he passes Vasha's vanity, where a half-drunk glass of port has been left carelessly lying about. That's scooped up as well, hastily finished, and set back down. As an afterthought, he picks up a fresh cigar and tucks it into his breast pocket.
It only takes a few more seconds for him to reach the window. He throws his boot through the hole and watches it plummet toward the ground for what feels like a very long time. Before it impacts, he turns to glance at Vasha over his shoulder. "Bye," he mouths silently.
Then he jumps out the window.