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Rebirth of Slick
<small>((Continued from You know how we do it))</small>

Marcus awoke at his usual hour. It was a Saturday morning and he had the whole day to himself. As he stretched he felt the delicious soreness in his chest and back from the previous day at the gym. His evening afterward with Elouera had been much more enjoyable than he'd expected. It had surprised him, to be relaxed in the company of an intelligent woman, to actually let himself step back for a moment and let things happen. In truth, he found himself far more taken with her than he expected.

But now, in the cold light of day, Malik didn't like it. Relationships were a weakness he could not afford. And yet...he was going to be here for at least the next three years as a Sigma, rotating out of one Consulate and into another- longer if his plans regarding his apprenticeship to Ascendancy came to fruition. He felt confident that that would work out though. What was happening was the his destiny. But throughout all of that time, he was going to have to build connections and relationships with people as a matter of course. He couldn't keep everyone at arms length or it would be noticed. They could not all be simple pawns like Pyotr was. Nor could they be superiors and officials for him simply to gain favor with.

Marcus smiled at the acceptance of the risk. For some reason, he felt glad that doing so fit in to his plans. It's not rationalization, he told himself. It really is necessary. But any relationships that did form would be on his terms. That was a requirement..

Elouera had teased him a bit about his simple suits. They were well made, to be sure. The clothing allowance the EoA had provided him- not to mention a surprising and sizable annual cash allowance to be used as he needed- ensured that all it was well made. In truth, he favored simplicity and stark solid colors- black, cream, browns, greys and dark purples.. There was something timeless about them. In the years to come, his images in pictures and video would always be dignified.

But still, it wouldn't hurt to get a few suits and other items that he could wear in a more casual setting. A trip to the Imperial Tailors and Clothiers at the GUM would be a good way to spend his Saturday.

He rose and got himself ready. He wore a dark grey wool suit with a black shirt and lavender tie, his Sigma pin brightly prominent on his lapel. Except for at the beginning, he didn't think about using the Force. He'd chosen to obey Ascendancy's request, just as he chose whether he'd obey the protocols at the Consulate. He believed in them. And they would further his aims. And he'd show Ascendancy that he could be trusted.

In a way, he felt curiously free, as if he was at the mercy of the fate. He usually was not one to submit. Sith philosophy demanded that submission was to be rare, that it was their will that shaped the world. And that was something he'd certainly done in his life. He was 23 years old and had reached the Kremlin. Goals and aspirations he'd set from the time he was 15 had repeatedly come to fruition until finally a few days ago, when he had revealed his power to Ascendancy himself, as a man unafraid and ready to learn. Submission had not done that. His own will had brought it about.

And yet he felt free all the same. He was curious as to what fate had in store for him, for the new challenges now that he'd decided to step back and allow things to happen to him.

He made his way out of his apartments and ate breakfast alone before finding an exit onto Red Square. Saint Basil's colorful onion shaped domes dominated, along with the imposing bulk of the CCD Historical Museum. At this early hour, the streets were filled with hundreds of people milling about- tourists, hawkers and vendors, business people, shoppers. police and political officials. The loud cacophony of voices and conveyances filled the air as Marcus walked across the square. Usually he only watched the people to gauge their mood or to think about trends and ways to manipulate them.

Today, though, things were different. He noticed individual faces and found himself wondering at what was going on behind them. A father holding his little son's hand, the child pointing excitedly behind him at a man selling balloons. He watched closely for the tell-tale sign of irritation on the father's face, the sharp looks, the fear in the child's face, the threat of pain at the earliest opportunity. He watched for it. Nothing. He found himself looking wistfully at the pair as they kept walking. Something stirred inside him. Anger. Rage. Jealousy.

Malik felt them slither and feed on each other and they grew. He embraced the storm, letting it pass through him. I will not hide from my emotions. I embrace them. The fire of them burns away weakness, making me stronger. The mantra beat in time with his heart and he saw nothing as he walked until he stood in front of the GUM building. The storm had subsided, leaving the cold empty peace of acceptance. I have been molded by my past to be what I am today. His breath was deep, the chill seeping into his lungs, and he relished it, feathery breath wreathing his face.

He walked inside the building towards the Imperial Tailors, heedless of the immense walls and windowed corridor of ceiling above him. The cold sterility of the architecture held no interest to him today, it's mathematical precision and symmetry not stirring the usual sense of awe. It was subtle beauty he sought today. Buying new clothes would satiate him he hoped.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jul 21 2014, 05:17 PM.
Imperial Tailors was located at the end of a columned corridor, a simple maroon door against a black wall, the words "Imperial Tailors and Clothiers, est. 1991" in Gold. It was interesting, to say the least. There were no windows or displays out front, nothing to pull a person in. The man or woman who shopped here knew exactly what kind of a place this was. And that it was expensive, not to to seek its clientele.

He'd only heard about it through one of the aides he was friendly with when he'd asked about upscale clothiers. They'd made an appointment for Privilege Takeo with his personal shopper Bruno Fonseca.

Marcus opened the door and saw a very beautiful woman sitting at a desk. She must have been the receptionist because she rose and came from around the desk to greet him. Her auburn hair was swept off to one side into a knot and held by some sort of stone encrusted clasp. Her make up was subtle, designed to almost be invisible, and yet enhance and call attention to her natural beauty. She wore a sleeveless black dress, solid across the chest, thin gold belt cinched around her narrow waist, a peplum below it to accentuate the her shape, before extending to her knee.

He smiled at her. This was the kind of beauty that he was noticing today, the perfect symmetry of eyes and nose and mouth; the styled anarchy of hair flowing into a complex knot; the contours and sweeping lines of her very feminine body. This was architecture. This was the beauty and elegance of mathematics breathed into life.

"Can I help you sir"

"Yes. I am here to do some shopping. I'd like to avail myself of one of your personal shoppers to help me."
He paused. He didn't need to use the same shopper as the Ninja did. But he wanted to. It would be a point of conversation should they ever meet. He'd enjoyed Takeo's story as a kid and the way he'd risen out of his life to attain the position he had. Of all the members of the Sphere- or really anyone in the Kremlin- he was the one he felt he understood the best. Or at least, shared a connection with. The fires of childhood burned deep. "Would Bruno Fonseca available?"

She checked the schedule and then made a call before informing him that Bruno would be available in a little while. Marcus was invited to take a seat in their comfortable waiting room. The receptionist offered him whatever it pleased him to drink. Normally, he would have just asked for water. Today though...."Some champagne would be fine. Thank you."
It was time to start enjoying himself a bit. It had been years since he'd drank any alcohol. But a little drink might be interesting. It was a fairly casual day. When she returned, he sipped at it, noting the crisp flavor and the way the bubbles tickled his palate. His analytical side didn't noticed any dulling. If anything, he felt more relaxed and yet alert. He began to wander the room.

Here was where all the displays were, though of course not in a desperate and vulgar usage of floor space to maximize profits like some department store. Instead, elegant red gold and black curtains and panels highlighted walls mounted with view screens showing an endless collection of suits and dresses, shirts and shoes, ties, purses, and a host of other accessories. Materials and fabrics- silks, patterned and brocaded, as well as linen, cotton, wool, even blends and mixes, were everywhere available to touch and weigh against the skin. Some of them were soft metals- gold, silver, steel, chrome, even glass and platinum- that bent and flowed with the ease of cloth or shimmered iridescently in the natural light or with its own internal lighting. Some of the material was made of Mirasol displays, using interferometric modulation to display an infinity of images and patterns, both still and shifting. One could wear a suit or dress that subtly changed colors at the touch of a button.

Finally, the receptionist returned- she really was quite lovely- with a man beside her. He assumed this was Bruno.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jul 22 2014, 06:05 PM.
Bruno Fonesca was as handsome as the receptionist was beautiful. Tall, dark and handsome. A former model - as most in his circles seemed to be - Bruno had wide, long-lashed green eyes that seemed amused to know you were checking him out, while simultaneously judging your every flaw, seen or unseen. When he wanted them to. When he didn't, they lit up contagiously, bright and enchanting, above a brilliantly white, straight smile and a jawline molded after Gods.

Extending a hand, Bruno flashed that smile now. The receptionist drifted back to her station. "Dobro pozhalovat, comrade."
His was a distinctly Brazilian-influenced, but deftly fluent Russian. He was delightfully exotic.

Aside from a clean military crop to his hair, which was sharp, Bruno dressed smart, always. He knew what was on-trend, and skirted it with skill. He never followed; he always maintained his own aesthetic, which seemed almost outside of time at times. Today he wore a loose-fitted pale gray shirt with a low-cut asymmetrical neckline that showed the full length of that long, lean neck, and a peek at the well-built pecs beneath. The rest of the shirt draped his torso, high on the hip at the right, down to mid-thigh on the left. The cut gave him a kind of wind-swept look, without a hint of stitch or thread anywhere to be seen. The sleeves were rolled around sleek, copper forearms and he wore a simple, loose bracelet of clear, frosted plastic. It pulsed, occasionally, with a sort of calming white light.

Dark charcoal pants and long, white canvas shoes completed the look, which was down-played, but attractive. Casual, but smart. Subdued. Clean. Handsome.

The perfect man for the job.

"I would be Bruno,"

Bruno smiled, "and who might you be?"


Bruno Fonesca
The man was very clearly at home in his domain, his appearance at once effortless and unique. His close cropped brown hair glistened against his dark skin. While his own tastes did not run to men, Marcus did acknowledge that the man was very attractive.

At his question Marcus stepped forward extending his hand in greeting. "I am Marcus DuBois,"
he said simply."I would like your help in putting together a wardrobe of suits and casual wear. I understand you helped Privilege Takeo with the same not long ago."

He held the man's gaze for a moment more before sipping his champagne.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jul 25 2014, 04:18 PM.
The GUM, days before Christmas, was bustling with beauty and swollen with shoppers. Spectra held her luscious fur coat close at her throat and looked left and right. She was standing in the middle of the central causeway's highest bridge. Although elaborately styled iron rails kept her safely in the middle, she peered over the edge to the floor many stories below. There were dozens of people at her left and right, and many more on equivalent levels below, watching her. Those not part of the photoshoot were snapping their own pictures and videos anyway. Anyone brave enough to linger were scared off by their security.

A signal from the team and two stylists joined her on the bridge. Spectra soothed her nerves with a flutter of brightly painted eyelids and stepped onto the stool wedged between her and the bridge's rails. One of the stylists, a black-skinned, muscled man named Demidon, whom she called Dem's for-short, helped her.

"There, Miss Lin. Be careful."
He said.

Spectra curled one long, bare leg around the pedestal and hooked the heel of her shoe into the railing. The other she stretched longways along the top and leaned sideways to lay herself upon it. The team had bolstered the railing's upper surface with a narrow, transparent shelf that would help hold her wait while yet maintaining the magical appearance of floating on a precarious edge.

Dems made sure she was safely anchored and went about the process of arranging the fur coat around her body. She wore a flesh-colored body suit beneath but that was mostly for the public, it was built to make her appear nude under the furs that were draped teasingly around her hips. The positioning of her arms would do the same for her chest. Now to make the pose appear natural? To showcase the elegance and mystique of Spectra Lin while yet being the model by which to advertise Moscow's finest furrier? While the second stylist smoothed her hair and dotted her body with the final touches of makeup, Spectra transformed into a languid python hanging in midair.

She maintained the position for almost an hour before the photoshoot was called. The hand that supported her weight on the shelf had fallen asleep. The foot whose high heel was hooked into the iron railings was cramping from the ankle's strange angle. Dems was coming up the bridge to help her down, and he could not come soon enough.
The man was fit, Bruno would give him that, and not unattractive at all. He had a nice, clean face and a sharp, well-defined hairline. A round head and smooth features, Marcus could probably model sports wear - Bruno idly wondered if he was a brief or trunk man. He glanced him up and down once and smiled at the extended hand. Trunk.

Clasping the man's hand in both of his, Bruno nodded familiarly at the introduction. "Of course - our new Sigma."
He smiled and held his hand a moment. "Please do forgive my ignorance, Mr. DuBois. Such an honor to meet you."
He took a step back and listened with a glint in his eye to Marcus' request.

Once again pausing to take in the man's current wardrobe, Bruno noticed the Sigma pin at last, on the man's lapel - he'd helped one of the man's predecessors not so long ago and recognized the very rare demarcation the two shared. He smiled at mention of Takeo and nodded gently. "It's always a pleasure to assist the Privelege,"
he said, revealing the frequency with which he assisted the man without having to spell it out completely. Marcus was a smart man - he was Sigma - Bruno need say no more. "Do you know him?"
Apparently not, unless Takeo had deliberately kept this man a secret. Bruno would have to make it a point to seem hurt the next time he saw the Ninja, if that was the case.

Edited by Takeo, Jul 24 2014, 12:44 AM.
Bruno's demeanor changed from mild condescension to affably charming at the mention of his name. It seemed that he was known, if not as himself, then as a The Sigma. Eventually, that would change, but for now, it suited him.

To the man's question, "No, I have not had the privilege of meeting The Ninja though I would like to."
He smiled at him, deciding on mild self deprecation. "I imagine you help many celebrities and others of power. I appreciate your willingness to help a clueless American in his new country."

He touched his lapel and smiled sheepishly, as if embarrassed. "I have been told that my dress is rather formal and simplistic. It suits my tastes. But I imagine that during the next few years I will need more casual or stylish clothes to wear."
He laughed softly. "As much as I enjoy working at the Kremlin, I obviously won't spend all my time there."
He winked and made his voice mockingly conspiratorial. "I could use something that might help me catch....the ladies' attention."
Then a wide disarming smile. "I hope you can help me."
Bruno flashed a beguiled smile. "You talk like that and you won't need a stitch from me."
He pulled a length of tape from his pocket and motioned for Marcus to follow him toward a bank of mirrors. "Some ladies do love a helpless man."
He smiled and guided Marcus onto the raised platform, two rows of bright, soft lights illuminating his dark, sleek features as Bruno began his measurements.

"I highly doubt you're as clueless as you say,"
Bruno spoke familiarly as he mentally saved the man's dimensions to his mind. "Though, you are correct. We do see many a celebrity in our trade."
In the mirror, Marcus could probably see his smirk. He was remembering the most recent celebrity to grace their clothierie, though hers was likely not a name with which Marcus would be familiar. She was known throughout the Moscow underground - a certain burlesque courtesan who often referred her clients to the Imperial Tailors. And one who no doubt was the cause of many of their torn suits and missing buttons.

"Of course,"

Bruno mused, strong hands holding his rope around Marcus' chest for a moment, "The one celebrity I would love to serve no doubt has his own tailor on staff."
He seemed distracted for a moment, but noticed Marcus' dark eyes on him and smiled his thoughts aside. "The Ascendancy, may he live forever, has yet to set foot in our humble shack."

Humble - the Imperial was quite likely the most prestigious tailor in all of Moscow. Be seen in Bruno's tape, as Marcus was at this very moment, and you may as well have been featured on the daily's front cover.

Bruno stepped back and took another look at Marcus in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. A young girl approached - a junior sales assistant, or possibly a student intern - and he filled out a few sheets on a pad she balanced on a tray between her slightly shaky hands. She was enamored with Bruno, but had wide eyes for Marcus as well. She wouldn't last long in here with an expression like that; clients tended to complain about the staff that oggled too openly.

"Some more champagne, Mr. Dubois?"
Bruno asked, holding a steadying hand at the small of the girl's back. Once the Sigma gave his order, Bruno asked for a ginger ale for himself - a drink he thought of with the Privelege still fresh in his mind. He also asked the girl to check in the back for a box of wasps, and gently turned her away with an even more bewildered look on her face than the one she was wearing when she'd approached.

"Michele Deltorrino,"
he explained to Marcus and lowering his voice a bit to keep the girl out of the loop. "Her logo looks like a little bee,"
he shrugged his shoulders slightly and grabbed a nearby vest. "Let's try this on."
He held it aside. "Take off your shirt."
He waited with a gently encouraging smile, "Looks like you have good arms. No sense hiding them."


Bruno Fonesca

Edited by Takeo, Aug 16 2014, 01:09 AM.
Bruno was efficient and conversational at the same time, as he led Marcus over to the mirrors and began measuring him. He was a professional- no surprise there, given the clientele- and wrote nothing down until a girl came in with a tray and some papers where he wrote things down. Marcus noted the girl's nervous nature and wondered if she was new. She wouldn't last in this job if she didn't make the customers feel at ease.

Marcus ordered more champagne- he'd stop at that second one, as he could feel the slight relaxation already having taken effect. Too much more and he knew his senses would be dulled, which was not an option.

When Bruno was all finished he held out a cobalt blue silk vest and said "Take off your shirt. Looks like you have good arms. No sense hiding them."
Marcus couldn't help but chuckle at that, but he complied, slipping on it on. It was surprisingly light and cool. It did feel a bit exposed for him, though, to wear so little. He wasn't used to it, at least not in a public setting. But he was pretty sure Bruno meant to pair it with something else.

And he was partly correct. Bruno brought over a pair of black leather trousers and black boots. He also brought some accessories to accentuate the look.

Looking in the mirror, Marcus took stock of what he saw. It was definitely different that what he normally wore. And it was simple and yet a definitely statement. Was it him though?

As if sensing his internal musings Bruno began to make conversation again, this time, though idle, as he went over to a computer pad. "A Sigma is a great achievement. Your parents must be very proud."
Marcus looked at him sharply in the mirror for a moment, eyes narrowing. But the man's distracted face looked innocent of any malicious intent. And the truth was, for normal people, it might very well have been true. Marcus dismissed his suspicion. He was just making small talk. Aside from that, his life, especially up to the and since becoming a Sigma, wasn't exactly a mystery. There had been a few articles published about him since his acceptance.

Briskly, he said, "I don't have parents. And they certainly wouldn't have cared, even had they been alive."
His eyes flicked over the other materials as he said it, indicating his disinterest in the topic of his progenitors.

Bruno took things in stride. He knew what he was about, after all. While Marcus was the customer and a Sigma, Bruno had clients just as powerful and important- and more so. Of course, he didn't needlessly try to cause offense either. But he was not obsequious in the least. "Ah. Well then that makes your accomplishment all the more impressive. Chosen out of tens of thousands of applicants. When did you decide you wanted to be a Sigma?"

As Bruno spoke, he seemed to be going through materials and clothing on the screen. The girl returned with a glass of champagne for him and a ginger ale for Bruno. Marcus took it and then a sip. Despite that brief moment, he was enjoying himself.

"When I was 16 I read one of the biographies on the Ascendancy and decided that I wanted to be part of the CCD. From that moment forward, I made it my goal to somehow get here. When I found out about the Sigma program a year later that became my goal."
He looked at Bruno in the mirror. "Simple story."

Bruno looked up from the screen he was working on, a small smile on his face. "Simple? I don't think I'd call that simple. I take it that no one helped you."
Marcus thought about the various teachers who had tried to "mentor" him or the students he'd "worked" with on projects or in study groups. He supposed they could have been said to 'help' him. But given the fact that he controlled the relationship with them, chose what to show and to take from them, he decided not to view it that way. He nodded to Bruno. "Well then, not simple at all."

A quick swipe at the screen and he turned to face Marcus. "Alright. I think I can find something that works for you. This one, of course. But I have some other items for you to try on."
Marcus smiled, immediately getting it. Idle chit chat indeed. The man was good, very good. The conversation had had a point. He was getting a feel for Marcus, for the type of man he was, the image that he wanted to project.

As if reading his thoughts Bruno explained. "Clothing is about showing people how you view yourself, how you want the world to view you. In your case it is simple. And you'll forgive if I offend. I am only making assumptions, you understand. You are a man who has ascended from humble beginnings to the heights of power. You did not do this based on birth or family connections. You did this through sheer force of will and hard work. Your clothes must reflect that. You are not a scion of a rich house, a spoiled monied brat. So you should not dress as one."

The girl came back, along with a couple others, all equally attractive- clearly that was a prerequisite for working here- with clothes and shoes. It was a bewildering array and for a moment Marcus stared at it with a bit of apprehension. Again Bruno seemed to read his mind. "For most of these, you will see very easily what works together and what doesn't. The chief thing to remember is this. The outfit you where will create a subtle psychological effect on people. So I have chosen items that accentuate your natural physique. As I said, you have good arms. And you are broad in the chest and back. You are not too tall, but that is fine. You have a narrow waist. Those two things together create the illusion of largeness, regardless of actual height."

As he spoke, he pulled out items of clothing out to show him. A long navy blue pea-coat with a slash across the chest; long black wool jacket with tuxedo lapels; shiny boots and shoes in brown, blue and black ; a grey leather jacket; a black shirt- streaks of cotton and silver-cloth across arm and chest; leather pants in dark purple, black, grey and dark brown; wool sport coats in brown and blue and black checks; thick scarves in an assortment of colors and patterns; a tuxedo jacket; sport coat of navy blue crushed velvet and one of shiny platinum-cloth; v-cut t-shirts in blues and blacks and whites and grays and browns; athletic shoes in black and reds and blues and grays and whites; brown hiking boots. The list went on and on. Through it all, Bruno explained.

"With these clothes, it is simple. Your goal is to express your power and individuality. Many of these things don't go together, at least from a conventional perspective. But that is just the point. You are going to mix and match things that don't normally seem to go together. They will be jarring and demand attention- but not too much. Nothing here will make you look like a buffoon or a clown. But they will be unconventional- individualistic."
He laughed at Marcus' look. "I am not saying dress like that when in the Kremlin at a meeting or when speaking to Ascendancy, may he live forever. Though of course, individually many of these items would be fine in that setting."
He pointed to various jackets and vests. "But when you go out- here, for example, or to a restaurant or wherever- this is where you will be able to be most creative."

Marcus looked at everything. "Well, I guess we should get started then."

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Aug 17 2014, 04:16 PM.
After a couple hours of trying on clothes Marcus was tired. His irritation had grown as the time passed though he didn't show it to Bruno. When he left he chose the gray vest with the purple leather pants and black boots and a black pea coat on his arm. While he felt naked he didn't really care. Fuck everyone. He was done. The remainder of his clothes would be delivered to his apartment at the Kremlin. For now, he was good.

Except there was a crowd as he made his way through the GUM. His irritation flashed and he suppressed it. The masses were in front of him but he looked ahead as he walked and people parted. A woman was draped on a rail. He was a fool not to know her. He stopped. Spectra Lin. His lip curved into a smile. More dangerous than any spider he'd wager. But worth the glimpse. He watched her disentangle herself from the rails.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Aug 24 2014, 01:10 PM.

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