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A Deal between Devils

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A Deal between Devils Empty A Deal between Devils

Post by krzy on Thu Nov 14, 2019 12:35 pm

Xand...whoops, MR. Slate has just finished modeling his office--complete with a fireplace and a state-of-the-art panini press--at CMV headquarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

This footage you're watching is courtesy of the cameraman Slate invited over so that he can give the CMV Universe a glimpse of his sanctuary without risk of inhaling their body odor or having them track shit [hereinafter Rubik’s career] onto his plush rug. Slate’s speaking in a hushed tone when the cameraman enters the room, a scowl twisting the lips that ruined a marriage down into an inverted rainbow.

Slate affords the cameraman a quick glance then waves him over to an open chair in front of his solid mahogany desk. The cameraman jumps as Slate pounds the desk with his fist.

“What do you mean you’ve changed your mind?” Slate growls into the receiver, his voice noticeably a decibel higher than the whisper he was once speaking in. “This idea, this whole plan, this operation revolved around YOU and YOUR commitment, you cretin.”

He leans back in his chair, blowing a lungful of air into the room.

“I tailor-made so many things under the assumption that you wouldn’t be a flake, but I guess this one’s on me for not seeing from the start that you’re an overachieving pissant.”

Slate’s voice steadily rises, a vein visibly throbs on his temple.

“I guess I should be ecstatic,” he scoffs. “Better I find out now than after I invest even more resources into making you look like you’re worth a damn.”

A silence falls over the room. He delivered his words like a prizefighter might a right hook, and he now smiles smugly in satisfaction. Perhaps whoever is on the other line is better off cutting ties now, than being stuck under the beck and call of such a tyrant for an indeterminate amount of time. If this poor guy plays his cards right, he can just keep his head down and make a career for himself without further drawing the ire of the boss. Slate’s eyes widen as though he were reading this narration. But he can’t…….right?

“And one more thing,” Slate says, his voice lowered to sound a little more menacing. “Your career in CMV? Consider it over. You’ve thrown that away along with the custom glove I was having made. If I even catch a whiff of you around these parts, I will make your life a living hell. You’ve left me up [Rubik’s career]’s creek without a paddle, and I don’t take kindly to being forced to make sweeping adjustments at the eleventh hour.”

The bang echoes in the room when Slate hangs up the phone. He closes his eyes, taking a moment to center himself.

“Unfortunate, isn’t it?”

The camera snaps around to the source of the voice. Tailcoat Val leans casually against the door frame, mask on, umbrella resting on her shoulder.

“The way plans can fall apart,” she continues. “So swiftly and oftentimes for no discernable reason.”

She fully walks into the room, arms behind her back. She deliberately lets that last sentence hang in the air. She walks over to where the cameraman is seated and just...stands uncomfortably close to him despite there being two other chairs around. Wait, now there are three? How the fu--

The cameraman finally gets the hint. He has the seat directly across from Slate. The moment he stands up, Val kicks the chair to the side. She props herself onto the edge of Slate’s desk, her leg gently swaying as it hangs in the air.

“I wonder,” she begins, her voice measured and calm. Slate watches her curiously as she thinks over her next choice of words. “Now that the foundation is crumbling, do you watch your project collapse in on itself, or do you take the logical steps to repair and rebuild?”

Slate crosses his arms over his chest, smiling proudly. “I wonder,” he mocks, “if you’re here to beg for a job because you know that Ken Donahue would rather die that have you step foot on his show again.”

The words elicit no immediate physical response from Val. She picks up a pen from Slate’s desk and absentmindedly twirls it between his fingers.

“He’d rather die,” she says, not asks, as though it weren’t meant to be a figure of speech. “For someone with a deathwish, he has indeed taken great care to ensure a sizeable distance was put between his throat and the blade.”

Val tilts her head back to expose her throat. She drags the pen along the base of her neck to punctuate her point leaving behind a line of black ink that a bit of red soon begins to seep through.

“You frame it as defiant, authoritative. Perhaps ‘cowardly’ is a more apt description,” she winks at Slate. “‘Naive’ if you wish to spare his feelings.”

She stands and slowly walks around the desk while she talks.

“My presence was never outlawed from the entirety of this company. Just a fragment of it. One that I consider uninhabitable for the time being.”

Slate chuckles until his breath hitches when Val drags her index and middle finger from one of his shoulders across to the next.

"So you've come here, because you think I'll compromise and hire you?" He laughs dryly keeping an eye on Val who's now sitting on his desk again. Within arm's reach.

Slate continues, "Think about it, Ken takes every stray, flea-ridden mutt off the street and parades it around like it's purebreed. If you're not good enough for him, why would I let you run wild on my show?"

Val cocks her head to the side. "Compromise implies you lose something in the exchange." She looks down at the pen, a blur as she spins it. "If I'm not mistaken, there's a hole you need filling."

Slate's immediate response gets caught in his throat. "And you?" Slate counters.

Val pauses to consider the question. In a flick of her wrist, the pen flies through the air and would have connected with Slate's eye if he didn't duck with the cat-like reflexes that has saved him from many an asswhoopin'. By the time he lifts his head back up, Subject:ZERO blocks his line of sight, seemingly standing as wide as Slate's desk.

Slate attempts to stand, ready to valiantly fend off this ambush. A gentle hand on the shoulder from Val, who's standing behind him now, keeps him in his chair.

"What I need is beyond your comprehension," Val finally says. She doesn't flinch when Slate swats her hand off his shoulder.

"But you're gonna bully your way into getting it? Maybe you forgot, but I've dealt with worse. Unlike Kenny over there, I can put up a fight."

Val pulls off her mask, revealing a wicked smile. She leans over, her lips an inch or two away from Slate's ear.

"Not a compromise. I operate in quid pro quos." Still bent over, Val's eyes scan ZERO who hasn't so much as twitched since his appearance. There's a sparkle of admiration in those eyes of hers. "He's incredible, isn't he?"

She starts walking toward him.

"The V-002 experiment proved fruitful. It allowed me to push Nucleo beyond what he once was."

Val runs her hand down ZERO's torso, transfixed by her own creation.

"He's completely subservient to me." Her eyes snap to Slate, and she's smiling again. "To us?"

Slate's eyes widen, then as his brain fully processes that addendum, a calculating look passes over his face. It wasn't a question so much as it was an offer.

"I plan to rule this roster with an iron fist," Slate says. "And to do that I need a weapon that won’t hesitate to decimate any man I aim it at. You're telling me--" Slate's voice trails off as he stands up and approaches the two. "He will be that weapon."

Slate waves his hand in front of ZERO's face then resorts to poking him to force a reaction. He remains a statue, the occasional blink the only certainty he lives. If that were a test for something, ZERO apparently passed based on Slate's nods of approval.

"Val, I want you to understand something," his eyes lock with hers. "The second you even think about crossing me, you'll wish Ken Donahue was still the worst you had to deal with because I'll make what he did look like child's play."

Val tsks, ignoring the threat. "You think too small. Why settle for a weapon, when you can have an arsenal?"

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