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A glittering spider
Spectra's gown was more carefully layered strips of cloth than an actual dress so that every step, bend, and movement she made seemed to come dangerously close to unraveling the whole thing. Although that was exactly the point.

Green orbs pale as frosted glass shone with all the mirth swirling around her. All other eyes, duller and blander, but filled with envy followed her breathtaking journey through the club. Heavy lashes defined their perfect symmetry and were two sparkling jewels perched atop the line of her cheekbones. The electric light of Manifesto struck and sparkled the copper of her skin and bounced blue from the seeming black night of her hair which was twisted to one side and cascading romantic curls down the front of her shoulder.

Outside this world, she was the supermodel sprawled across building ads blinking seduction and controversy in the effort to sell perfume, lingerie, lipstick, anything worthy of her face.

In here, she was a spider surveying the tunnels of her world, roaming and waiting for which fly was brave enough to come close. For the time, Spectra deigned to waft from the cacophony of the main club venue toward the private, luxurious lounges off Block One.

Where, as soon as she was shown in, she was met by the faces of modern day Lords garbed in an array of traditional white thawb, tunics, and long headdresses. She smiled gloriously at the reception and was welcomed with opened arms.
The things one overhears when in powerful company.

Of course, Spectra cared less. She literally tuned out the prattle darting around the room. It was like listening to chipmunks choking on nuts.

Then there was the additional complication of not speaking their language. Spectra was the decoration in the room. The centerpiece on the table. She mingled from entertainment to business at their beck and call without a care for what deals were being made. If anyone was numb to the churning of illegal waters, it was Spectra. She'd been thrown in with the sharks since she was a child.

She left the engagement after rearranging herself in the privacy of a VIP bathroom. Perched on the velvet cushion, her slender fingers plucked a wand of mascara from counter. Mid way through dabbing at the severe curve winging from the corner of her eyes, a knock flicked her attention to the reflection over her shoulder.

A middling aged gentleman in a suit and open collared shirt entered shortly after. Spectra glanced up and down his reflection, then dropped the mascara back on the counter with a sigh. She was picking out which perfume she was going to dab to her neck when she addressed him. Her clients for the night had requested no perfume for some reason Spectra didn't care to know. "Yes?"

In the mirror, she saw him glance around the room, empty but for the two of them. When he seemed satisfied with whatever he was seeking, he came to stand near and held out his hand.

Spectra set a crystal tube aside, stretched one long leg out from the slit in her dress, and pushed to a turn and she leaned on the counter behind. One long line from stiletto to hip, waist and neck. She smiled at the open palm. "Very well."

Slow and seductively, she pulled the jeweled barrette which held her curls aloft. A swift twist and the emerald setting popped open to reveal the device this same man gave her not two days ago. She snapped the barrette closed and set it alongside the perfume bottle.

"Happy?" She placed it in his hand and turned back to the mirror to finish what she started.

He held the device up to the light, nodded and sipped it into his coat pocket. "Pleasure doing business with you." His gaze lingered a moment longer on the woman seated before him, but if he was about to say something else, he stopped himself and left.
Another call, another argument over the benefits of a Wallet which Hood shot down with his usual reasons. The company had been approached in secret by the patriarch of the Talanov family. They had appeared in the news scant days prior when a 'trusted member' of their personal security detail seemed to have killed members of his own team and made off with the eldest daughter of the Talanov family, a sixteen year old girl. According to the news, police and the Talanov family were still waiting for ransom demands.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Talanov had little interest in bowing to pressure and paying a ransom. While his wife seemed ready to give in, he had sought out other options. The police had no leads they could act on, but there were always other ways. Like 'private security.'

In Moscow, there were many fine choices, but only one when it came to 'under the radar' side jobs. Pervaya liniya Security. They were publicly known to employ ex-military exclusively, predominately of countries that had fallen under CCD influence, and some of their members were known in the right circles to have particularly interesting skill blocks.

The job fell to Hood on account of he being among the cream of the crop of Pervaya liniya Security's best operators. He arrived at the office early that morning to get the particulars, and was less then pleased at the chosen meeting place. Manifesto. High society types were, more often then not, wastes of skin, at least in his opinion.

While the Baccarat Gala required a nice suit, Manifesto required an actual suit. Of the tailored variety. Luckily, for that sort of thing, Pervaya liniya Security had an extensive list of skilled personal stylists, one of whom was called in to get Hood ready for a night in the most glamorous club in the richest city in the world. The young woman who was put to the task of ritzing up Hood had her work cut out for her, especially when she asked if he could 'not look so angry' all the time. She stopped asking questions the first time she saw him without a shirt, after he studiously ignored her comment of a change room being available.

His arrival was less one of being 'fashionably late' and more so a lack of interest of spending much time inside the hell hole he was about to delve into. He could handle the scummiest, most violent places in the world, he had seen and done things that would make the hardest of business savvy men break, and had personally killed folks who were probably regulars at clubs like the Manifesto on more then one occasion, all without even a flicker of emotion. But such disgusting opulence was liable to toss another log on the fire, so to speak.

One of Pervaya liniya Security's drivers dropped him off at the door, in a limo of course, and after a long steadying breath he climbed out and made his way to the door, without snapping the neck of a single paparazzi along the way. Of course his arrival was perfectly timed such that those camera-hounds had other, more interesting people to focus on.

He made his way up the richly carpeted steps and to the first and 'impenetrable' line of security that weeded out the undesirables at the door. Mr White made the grade on appearance, perhaps, but the men at the door probably wouldn't have let him through had he not casually slipped them a crisp grand.

At the end of the day, his suit was still just of the 'off the wrack' variety, but it was expertly tailored to make best use of his dimensions. A black 3-piece suit, pinstriped of course, with an expensive silver Rolex for a bit of added gleam. Where most of Manifesto's male clientele stood out for their expensive jewelry, expensive escorts, and their near-predatory business savvy, Hood stood out for a different sort of predatory savvy. A room full of business world Alpha Males didn't take well to having a real wolf in their midst and he drew more then a few stares for it.

He casually adjusted his tie, thumb running along a silver tie clip to assure himself it was perfectly level, he flexed his toes in a pair of square-toed dress shoes polished to a proper shine (fresh off the shelf that morning, so not dreadfully comfortable yet), then made his way through the main room. Mr Talanov would be waiting in Block 1.

Hood could be subtle when he needed to be, but he was there to impress a high society would-be employer. The man didn't need a body guard. He didn't need a well mannered pet to watch his back in business meetings. He was after a killer. Hood didn't step around people, he went through them, and they were usually smart enough to get out of his way. The others were skilled enough to make it seem they were moving for their own reasons.

It was on his way to Block 1 that he noticed a familiar face in the crowd. A man. An American, actually. Not that anyone could tell just from looking at the fellow; the CIA usually made a point of their foreign operatives blending in nicely. The guy wasn't a wet-works agent like Hood and his team had been. It was pure chance that the agent didn't notice Hood in return. The fellow seemed focused on something. No, someone. A man that had just left one of the VIP washrooms.

While he wasn't surprised the CIA had agents so deep into the CCD, he was at least passingly curious as to what the fellow had been up to. A passing curiosity, because that was a different life. So he continued deeper into Manifesto, towards the hall that would take him to Block 1.

Edited by Hood, Sep 3 2013, 10:16 PM.
He left.

Still and poised as a warm pool of water, Spectra's attention returned to the face in the mirror. The complexion staring back at her was smooth as caramel, the lips full and painted fiery red, but there was a time hidden in the darker corners of her memory when her appearance was thin and wan. When the fallen slave was cast from the stars and landed among the heathen world of freedom, and danger, and hunger, and desperation kept her warm at night when the rats did not.

The man that just left only knew the woman which had replaced that wretch; though at her frailest, she was never without her charms, but the Spectra of today overshadowed the identity that paparazzi forgot. Every once in a great while, however, the old monster of her past flashed and flickered, before the glorious strobe of that inner fire was carefully camouflaged once more.

She was placing the tools of her trade once more in their carefully concealed case lost in the thought of times past. When she lifted from the cushion and sauntered to the full length mirror to appraise of her sensuous silhouette, that monster reared unchecked heat, devilish and dangerous, to her study.

She smiled.

That same look, of caged passion, of threatened force, of daring solitude, made photographers crawl on their hands and knees to beg for a chance she turn a cheek their way.

Like a drug, she drew upon the fire itself and suddenly she was standing beneath a waterfall of force so warm and fulfilling, she literally was a rose blooming to the glory of summer. The sense of it curled her fingers with joy, like some self-pleasuring toy, the power was orgasmic and she nearly laughed out loud at the metaphor. Sweeter than heaven and hotter than hell; it was so much better than sex.

She would know.

Two steps into the main bunker of Block One and her wings were lifted on the winds of men attempting to whisk her away. She curled perfectly manicured fingernails painted the deepest of greens, down the smooth jaw of one handsome Russian athlete while yet playfully tapping the muscular chest of a dark-skinned Bollywood actor. They literally moved at the tug of her strings. It was a dance, and she was twined with partners thick as vines twisted in the jungle.

"A drink?" She smiled at the question as though the man was offering her a diamond ring. A brush against her shoulder and she turned. Someone had brought her a sparkling water with cucumber and mint, but Spectra waved the thing away, but not before plucking the raspberry floating from the top and placing it to her lips.

Just then, as she was peering over the man's shoulder, tall as she was already the line of sight was perfect, and with the raspberry perched at her lips, she saw someone she thought dead.

Cucumber boy followed the visual, peering across the lounge toward whom had stolen the fleeting moment Spectra had given him her attention. He was not pleased by the revelation, he looked as though his heart had been carved from his chest to be overlooked for someone who was clearly an unknown.

She toyed with the raspberry, cold and moist from the drink, along the rim of her lip until she was certain Hood would catch her eye. Then and only then did she tilt her head and slip it between her lips with a pleasingly symbolic smile. That should bring back some memories.

Edited by Spectra Lin, Sep 4 2013, 03:24 PM.
It would be readily evident that Hood was not in Block 1 to make friends. He readily made eye contact with his 'betters' and few would accept the challenge for more then a heartbeat or two. Few were comfortable with what they saw in his gaze; cold, callous disinterest. They were possible employers, yes, but they were not so at the moment and as such weren't worth his time. He was no sniveling yes-man. People did not hire the company he worked for for their looks or their personality. They were hired for results.

His gaze swept the room; there was no shortage of eye candy to be had, unsurprisingly. Such women either flocked there on their own, or were found along the way and turned into pretty little bows for these rich pansies to tie in their hair, to show off and trade among themselves as a sign of power and importance.

Then he caught another familiar face in the crowd. One he hadn't seen in a long time, and the years had certainly been kind. Spectra had been quite the looker when he met her all those years ago, but the high life had certainly helped her fill out a bit, and in all the right places from what he could see from across the room.

The way that raspberry vanished certainly peeked his interest. There were few things from those years of his life that he remembered particularly fondly; most were just memories, without any real positive or negative to them. She was one of the few decisions he was, thus far, pleased with. He had been aware she was in Moscow; she was hard to miss in mainstream media and graced more then a few billboards around the city. He just hadn't expected to cross her path.

Hood offered a knowing smirk and adjusted his tie, subtly nodding his head towards the bar and tapping his watch as he did. He had work to do first, and had little doubt that spook was here to talk to her. He had no interest in crossing the man's path, and trusted she wouldn't bring up any questions about his presence at Manifesto.

Once certain she got the message, he returned to hunting for his would-be boss, and quickly found the man seated at one of the more private booths to one side of the room. Hood strolled over, pausing briefly to eye two fit young men in immaculate suits that were standing near Mr Talanov; personal guards, obviously. At Mr Talanov's gesture, they let Hood past and he took a seat across from the older Russian man.

The two's conversation was short. Mr Talanov had been watching Hood since his arrival, and had liked what he saw. When Hood presented the filthy rich Russian businessman with an information dossier (in secure digital format, of course) on both the dead members of his security team, as well as on the suspected kidnapper, the deal was sealed.

The whole conversation took less then twenty minutes. They exchanged information, and Mr Talanov provided Hood with a GPS tracking chip he had embedded in his daughter without her knowledge some years ago. Of course the man could have simply provided that to the police to see that his daughter was returned home and the kidnappers arrested, but this sort of insult required much more personal handling. And he wanted the kidnappers very, very dead for what they had done.

The job wasn't legal by any sense, but legality was a bit of a gray area when it came to men as rich and well connected as Mr Talanov. Pervaya liniya Security had little fear of a police investigation.

With that, Hood took his leave, eyeing Mr Talanov's guards a moment before snorting derisively and walking away. He wouldn't be the least bit surprised to discover that Spectra had left already, or was on the arm of whatever man in the club she thought would be willing to stand up to him for her attentions. She liked to tease and flaunt her power, after all, and he couldn't fault her for it. It was well deserved. But, she would also know he wasn't the type to play along with those sorts of games. He'd just find her later, on his own schedule.
The next twenty minutes passed with Spectra immersed in the spotlight. She was the moon reflecting the light of the club. Spectra's glittering smile alone might as well be the bright orb in the night sky, drowning out every other pinprick attempting to twinkle. Men abandoned their dates for the mere chance to brush Spectra's hair from her shoulder, or they found themselves drawn to her side when left to the freedoms while herds of gazelle attended the powder room. Though these men never left with Spectra, her ghost followed them home. That night, when they fucked their girlfriends, their mind's eye painted Spectra's long limbs wrapped tight around their bodies. The shortest of moments and their fantasies were hers forever. As the nip of a tiny spider could fell a grown man foolishly tromping through the jungle, Spectra's power was immeasurable until it was too late.

Spectra herself with her dozens of roving eyes was immune to the web she spun. The flies were caught in the strands, but she let them fidget and struggle, especially when noted that her steps were drawn to the periphery.

Hood's rendezvous concluded and she followed his trailing around the lounge as he sought her out. She was not at the bar, of course. She drank naught but water; her luscious silhouette was too pure to defile with alcohol.

One of her companions had been regaling her with the tale of his training that catapulted him from amateur athlete to olympic champion. Cross-country skiing was his challenge of choice. The russian was a lean, handsome man and the face of major brand sponsorships, but Spectra placed a finger to his lips mid-anecdote, and smiled with the hardest of hearts. "Nobody cares, darling."

The blood drained from his face, and to his everlasting shame, Spectra left him alone with his immense disappointment. A puppy abandoned in exchange for one better than he.

A languid, familiar palm touched Hood's arm when she reached him, and drew him around. Knowing what she did of him, she assumed he was aware of her approach though she did nothing outwardly obvious to draw such attention...except to warm the air with her volcanic presence.

"For un muerto," she greeted him with unmistakable appreciation, gesturing a poised sweep up and down the sleek line of the man before her, eyes sparkling with these turn of events, and the languid beauty of her heavy accent, "you look," she paused with the attempt to pluck the english from the myriad of phrases swimming in her mind, "delicioso."
It wasn't often that Hood smiled. Or more accurately, that the smile wasn't a dangerous or threatening one. Or sarcastic. Okay, so it was rare that Hood had something that could pass as a pleased smile. When she found him at the bar, he had a glass of scotch in hand but had yet to sample it. At a hundred chickadees a glass he wasn't sure if it would live up to his expectations. A hundred dollars of his own funds, truth be told; Pervaya liniya Security foot the bill to get him clothed and in the door, but hadn't covered beverages. The quality of the company made up for the price of the drink though.

Now that she wasn't obscured by the sycophants and ritzy twits she had been leading around the room, he allowed himself a moment to enjoy the view. She'd been quite the looker ten years ago. Ten years of the high life had done wonders. There was even a hint of honest emotion in her eyes, that maybe she really was glad to see him alive and kicking. How many men could claim that of her?

"Reports of my death have been gravely exaggerated. And if I had a dollar every time someone thought I was dead, I could afford a second glass of scotch."
He grinned down at her, raising the glass of scotch and taking a sip finally. He savored it for a long moment and swallowed before eyeing the contents of his cup for a long moment, followed by a vague harrumph. It was good, but certainly not worth so much.

"Of course, as far as your friend in the other room, and his friends abroad, is concerned, I'm either in a shallow grave or a prison so deep it's never seen the light of day."
Another amused grin; he was pretty sure she knew him well enough to know he wouldn't have switched sides.

He didn't go so far as to touch her or be too familiar of course; she had a very carefully maintained reputation to maintain and just her coming to talk to him had probably made him a dozen very well-off enemies around the room. Hopefully most would let the implied insult pass without action, and hopefully others would be smart enough to decide against anything rash if they found out who he worked for. Perhaps that he had been seen in Mr Talanov's company would keep any of them from getting uppity.

"You though."
He waggled a finger at her with a pleased grin, "You have done quite well lass. Pass a dozen billboards, you're sure to be on five of them it seems."
He plucked a crisp Pervaya liniya Security business card from the pocket of his suit; it was considered uncouth in most circles to actually use a suit's pockets to hold things, but Hood was a soldier first. Pockets were there for function, not form. And their function was, indeed, to hold things. Hence the cards he kept stored there. He didn't know if she would recognize the company, but she was their kind of clientele. Rich and important.
Loyalty. It could be bought. Spectra wasn't so naive as to think hers extended to the United States as a whole, but she recognized the trade she made with a few of their special agents. They gave one another what each needed. The CIA flew back to Langley with an encyclopedia of information and Spectra soared into New York with a modeling contract. It was up to each party to make something useful of the trade. As Hood so deliberately described, Spectra made excellent success with her opportunities; self-acceleration was a talent of hers.

Trust, on the other hand, was as impossible to purchase as a star in the sky, and once captured, ought not ever be betrayed.

Spectra withdrew her palm from the soft panel of Hood's suit sleeve and slid bonelessly to a seat alongside him, close enough to appreciate the glint warming his usually chill blue eyes and drink in the familiar scent of his aftershave. Content, she rested an elbow on the bar and delicately perched her chin on the back of the same hand and examined him as his greeting tickled her ears like a whisper meant only for her. How many women could boast the same dedication he now shown only to her?

As a younger man, Hood was fixed in her memory as a soldier rather than a businessman. And he dressed as one as well. She appreciated the attire of both images to be certain. One, the hard eyes of a shadow that came and went as he pleased, blending into his surroundings and disappearing or appearing at will. A ghost. A spook. The moniker was well earned.

Yet the man who shared her company now was not the same as he which occasionally resurrected from the graves of long-buried memories. In presence as well as in action, for she had noted with long, flickering glances between the mundane conversations of the last twenty minutes, Hood was dedicated to owning the room itself, if not the entire club. He dismissed everyone as unworthy of his attention for more than a moment; almost everyone. How pleasing.

He was the aggressor between them without so much as having to make a single offensive move; Hood, chieftain, alpha, was content to sit and let the pack circle. A river Spectra was more accustomed to navigating herself, but was amused to witness his attempt at coursing her domain.

That he knew there were maneaters lurking beneath the surface elicited a series of surprised flutterings of her feathery lashes. She hardly referred to the maneaters as friends, but there was one or two piranha she'd bedded before. A particularly ferocious one in current company. She knew what he meant, however much as she was apathetic to the implication. She had no reason to betray his fortunes to those who thought him dead; Spectra was not needlessly cruel.

She rewarded his compliment with an assured twinge of perfect lips stained vixen red. "If I had a dollar for every billboard, I would have millions. Oh wait, I do."
Her devilish face murmured a soft, melodious laugh genuine as his former smile which danced forth to wrap him with tendrils of sarcasm, sharp as a pleasant electricity, the graze of a sparked touch rather than the sting of some painful discharge.

Moments following her arrival, the space beyond the bar filled with the outline of a crisp, handsome bartender trained to attend to every need of the females in his kingdom. That a queen graced the throne when he was used to waiting upon plainer courtiers, he was prostrate with the desire to serve. To Hood, he gave only a passing glance. Powerful men did not scoff at the price of scotch, though by sheer association with the goddess in his company, he was not treated as poorly as he perhaps deserved.

She uncurled from the former position in response, straightening with all the boneless wonder of an orchid reaching for the sun, or, more accurately, of a cobra called forth by the sensual sounds of music, until the falls of her hair slid beyond the slopes of her shoulders and down the arch of her back, bare to the very lowest point to of being indecent; though for a woman of her career, solicitation rather than decency was the reason for such architecture. The light of their surroundings shone on her dress and every curve to which it hugged her coppery skin. A potent highlight of her own as though a photographer whispered his inner desires straight to her ear. The bartender barely peeled his eyes off her.

Silent as the wallpaper, he placed a slender column of sparkling water before her, centered atop a black napkin embossed with gold foil lettering for Block One, Manifesto. The napkin cost more than the entirety of the tip Hood was likely to leave behind. As before, the water floated a bright pink raspberry and the scent of fresh cucumber wafted with the effervescent bubbles escaping their crystal prison. Though, this time, Spectra was content to leave the lustful symbol between them as some ever present reminder of what was once theirs. And could be once more. There were few men in this world capable of truly satisfying her rather than her bank account.

The business card won her expensive attention for long enough a moment for her frosted green orbs to graze the name printed there. If she recognized the name, it was quickly forgotten in the way foreign words never adhere long to one's mind. "For me? What a thoughtful gift."
She teased and tugged the card from between his fingers until it was wrapped firmly in her own, firm enough to hold the paper steady, yet not so rough as to crumple a single corner, a perfect combination of finesse and rigorous passion. At the symbolism, Spectra smiled expertly.

She quickly flattened it to the bar and slid it back toward his scotch glass. "Sadly, there is no more room in this dress. Mind holding onto this for me?"
He could give it to her later when she was free to deposit it with the thousands of others hoping to win her generosity. Assuming the implied invitation was accepted of course.
Hood nodded slightly and tucked the card away. Fashion had always eluded him; function over form. Why wear something if you could do nothing with it? Of course, in her case it made sense. But didn't women always have a purse or some such at hand? Or a lackey who carried everything for them. She was probably the sort to have a personal assistant of some sort.

"Well, an excuse to check in on you some time. I wasn't aware you were in Moscow, but it makes sense."
Another sip of scotch and he set the glass aside. The last decade had been better to her then to him, at least on the surface. On the surface, not much had changed. A few more lines around his eyes, the usual signs of aging, and time had been kind to him in that respect. It was the experiences of the past decade that had taken their toll.

Of course, North American culture and military bravado and tradition had conditioned him well to burying his stress. His job offered him the opportunities to let it out, but such times were all too rare and probably not the healthiest of ways to deal with it all.

"I have some business to attend to. Probably going to keep me busy the next few days. I'll look you up when I'm done. Have coffee or something. Whatever you rich folks do. It's frowned on to kill paparazzi still, yes?"
He worded it as a statement of fact, as if 'no' wasn't an option, but it was more so just to tease her a bit. He wouldn't be one bit surprised if she either shot down the idea or gave him a place and time of her own choosing.
Hood's initial reaction wrapped a silken shade of satisfaction around Spectra. No few onlookers missed her interest in the stranger with whom won her undivided attention, for her posture presented the clues to such inner works of sexual politicking. Delayed though it would be, his acceptance of her invitation was gratifying. Spectra brushed a dark lock of cinnamon tinged curls behind her shoulder and pivoted to better angle her legs for those insects dangling from the periphery of her web wondering when the glittering spider would return to the nest.

However, the latter half of his answer severed any such pleasure she'd derived from their encounter, if not clean through, then the head of the beast dangled by a swatch of skin sure to split at any minute and send heads rolling.

She straightened. If not by tension, then by disappointment. Spectra was not accustomed to being blown off. No amount of money purchased her allowance to be treated such - at least figuratively speaking. Literally, on the other hand, was another story. In the world of beauty, she was reigning empress; in the adult film industry, she was the newest star gilding her luscious name on the city's version of Hollywood Boulevard.

Not even Hood's threat to pop the heads off a few cameramen was enough to reconcile the previous insult. For she knew it was not for her benefit he was willing to dirty his hands, but rather his own. He slept in the heavy blankets of secrecy, while Spectra spread her legs to the spotlight.

"Then whenever you can spare the moment,"
her lips twisted the generally accepted response to being dismissed. She knew what it was, of course. Powerful men fully aware of their own sphere's of influence always descended into the same condescending tone. Spectra was a master at deferring to such chauvinistic desires. For the right price. For Hood, who consented to carving a few moments to spare for her, she expected adequate reparation as apology--with his tongue particularly.

She recrossed her legs the other direction so the slit in her dress fell provocatively along the unforgiving length of her thigh. Symbolism, yes.

Gaining access to her was not going to be easy, even for an American Spook. A name would need given to her handlers, otherwise he might lose himself in jungles of conduct so thick he might never find his way out again. "Mira, don ocupado,
she teased in return, referencing his schedule, "by what name do you call yourself this month? Or is it still,"
her lips formed a perfect ring as she whispered his secret tag, "Hood?"
Identity was one layer of mystique Spectra respected. After all, Hood knew her given name. So long as he never betrayed it, she would do him the same favor.

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