Author Topic: :: April 16 2017 :: Sydney, Nick, Carson, Sileena Part 2  (Read 106 times)

Seth

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:: April 16 2017 :: Sydney, Nick, Carson, Sileena Part 2
« on: May 02, 2017, 08:02:27 pm »
Starring:
... just the quick and dirty for now, I'll fill this in later...

_____________________________________________


}. Nick "The Trick" Curtis .{
-{Alpha Wolf|Lvl 2|Geri}-
Liberi Cruenti Lunae
DH:RPO - Room Staff
[Carmine Complex]
{- is at or near the General access to the Carmine Complex: -} says to Everyone:

“So you haven’t met her yet?” Nick felt his fist clench at his side. “That’s reassuring…” Sarcasm was not particularly useful right now but with Carson spoon-feeding him information and with Neala at his side - the warmth of her skin bleeding through the material of his blazer - he was finding it hard not to be on edge.

He wanted to be inside, then, instead of in this entrance way. Wanted to be in the spacious interior of the venue so that he could give himself some breathing space. Usually, he’d want to let the wolf in him out, let that hot energy spread around and fill the room, but in this case, he wouldn’t dare. No offense, Carson, but that wouldn’t be to spare your delicate sensibilities. This time it would be because he couldn’t trust what his metaphysical wolf would get up to around the redheaded beauty and her delicious presence.

Carson checked his phone, and Nick turned his head to fix Neala’s bright green eyes with an unflinching stare. “I need you to behave,” he stated, voice barely even a whisper, even though all parties would hear it easily if they wished. Her smile broadened brightly in response. It didn’t make him feel any better.

The fix was in, the message clear. Here would not be the venue. Not if they wanted to play nicey-nicey with the mystery lady. Outside sounded good though. Even better, perhaps. The truth came unexpectedly then, Carson’s revelation (and the lead up to it) ensuring he had Nick’s full attention. He’d known Carson was looking for his sister, had known back when he’d had the emotional mix-up with Emmaline at the house, had known since in the back of his mind but had let it reside there. Carson wasn’t the type to openly refer to such things in passing. But now, his intent was clear. He wanted to find her, he needed to find her, and this was his chance.

”Then let’s go, Carson,” he could only imagine how much this would be eating the man up inside. “Let’s find out what she knows.”

He started for the door, pulling free from Neala’s contact for a moment, funny how that helped him breathe more freely. “Wait, Nick, Detroit?” her voice caught up with him. “Isn’t that your old stomping ground?”

”It is,” Nick looked back at her, and then to Carson. “So if she’s there…” he hesitated, regretted the ‘if’. “We’ll find her, Carson. Provided this isn’t a trap.” Yeah, he went there Cheery fucker that he is.



Carson Marrik
Wolf-Moderate-Level 1
DH|IR
[Carmine Complex]
{- is at or near the General access to the Carmine Complex: -}
says to ]..|Delusions of Grandeu:

As much as Carson might have hoped everyone had forgotten what had happened back in the beginning of 2012, he knew it wasn’t something the pack would easily let slip.

*********
2012
It had all began with a trip to a hospital, and a helpful woman named Brenda who’d had no idea what she’d started when she’d told a desperate man that a woman named Emmaline Grey had records with them; the hospital even had her phone number. The ages made sense, Emmaline’s records said 23 and by Carson’s count his sister would be 24 in 2012. And the last name, a switch from Marrik to Grey, that could easily be a false name - and certainly one he knew his kid sister might have used.
He could remember the desperation that rushed him to trying to reach out to her, the fear, anguish all mixed with hope when he learned that the woman was at the pack house, recalling how it felt to believe she was so close and yet possibly just as cursed as he was. A monster, but at least they’d have each other.
He remembered exactly the day he’d run into the pack house, ignored all the signs that the woman wasn’t who he thought she was. She didn’t have Emma’s scent. Not his Emma. And the resemblance wasn’t there. But in that moment, when enough of the clues added up to a maybe, to a single hope, a light after years of darkness, he had clung to her not caring what anyone thought, what anyone did, and despite all he might have known to be true. She had not been his sister. It was a defeat that had nearly destroyed him.
*********

But it hadn’t. He’d kept going. He’d made new allies, and together they’d discovered new trails, information that would have taken him many years, decades to uncover. If he’d gone it alone he didn’t doubt that he’d have met with disappointment in the end. But if he’d learned anything working with Tyler, it was that the vampire didn’t accept failure as an option. If the master of the city hadn’t given up on some big werewolf that held no power in Orlando, then how could Carson have done anything but push forward. Do what it takes. Do all that it takes.

Carson knew that drive, that unwavering mission to find her, was what Nick was sensing now. It would be more powerful than any doubt, any concern for his own well-being, any threat that might lie in some woman he hadn’t met.
After all, the voice behind the message had been one Tyler told him was coming to help. She was part of finding his sister. She was here. It was almost all that mattered.

Years ago it would have been all that mattered.
But right now any creature with an ounce of empathy would understand that something else lay behind Carson’s words, his body language, the look he was giving the two werewolves, and especially Nick. He winced at the “if”, sure, but it was the latter doubt that, curiously, forced a response from the man who’d once had no other goal than to find a young girl who’d gone missing over a decade ago.
“You don’t have to do this, Nick. None of you do. Not your wolves, not your… friends…” he tried not to stumble on word choice as he glanced to the lovely woman at Nick’s side. “But I’ll owe you.” He swallowed, put a big hand on the other man’s shoulder. “I’ll owe you everything and more.”
Carson would wait to hear Nick out, take in every word spoken, and so long as there really was nothing else holding up the move to outside, he’d take the lead. Perhaps, in his mind, he wanted any risks in this being on his shoulders and not to fall on Nick and his allies if he had any say in it. If Nick let him, he’d lead the group through the exit and toward the moon.



Sileena
NPC | Snake | Alpha 3
DH|RPO Room Moderator
[Other location in Orlando]
{-Is in another location in Orlando-}
says to Everyone:

She had walked the path toward the moon, leaving Carmine and a trail of her scent behind. The voices outside the Complex grew distant. Beneath her feet, pavement and concrete quietly gave way to nature. She concentrated for a moment on what she needed, licked her lips, a slow wet circle, tasted wood in the air, a lake. Less people, and where they were they were further away.
She knew they would follow.
She continued on toward the lake, its surface a black mirror, water still a little warm from the day gone by, a hundred unseen places to hide things in the dark beneath the still surface.



}. Nick "The Trick" Curtis .{
-{Alpha Wolf|Lvl 2|Geri}-
Liberi Cruenti Lunae
DH:RPO - Room Staff
says to [Forced into the Hunt] C:

Of course he didn’t have to do this, and he was sure if Neala didn’t want to do it she’d make that very clear - if not in words, then certainly in her actions - but regardless, they both followed you out of the club. Security acknowledged the two owners of the club leave with the other werewolf and reported out back to Ronson. It hadn’t been part of what he’d known of the arrangements…but Nick was a big boy, Ronson had to figure he could handle himself, especially with the fiery little minx at his side. She’d have his bollocks if he referred to her as such. Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.

”Yer friend should be careful who he in-debts himself tae,” Neala spoke quietly, her voice wrapping around him like silk. How she did that, he’d never know.

”It’s a matter of trust - and he’s trusting us not to take advantage of that.”

She smirked and rolled her eyes. “Ah’m not sure which of you boy scouts is more adorable.” She walked ahead of Nick, catching up with Carson at the front, and Nick just watched her. If Syd had come; if she hadn’t been taking Saleetia home…this would have been so much easier. Wouldn’t it?

He shook his head, kept close, eyes and other senses drinking in our surroundings as we distanced ourselves from the complex, left the semblance of safety that the main road provided and crossed over the barren surrounding, rife for development, before finding the thin patch of trees that would lead us towards Long Lake, and further into a wooded area, if we kept along this route. His shields lowered, enough to heighten his senses, but not so much as to give away the power of his presence. Anything that was watching them out there would know they were here, anyway. No point in hiding - but then no point in giving away too much.



Carson Marrik
Wolf-Moderate-Level 1
DH|IR says to ]..|Delusions of Grandeu:

Carson was a few paces ahead of them when they first walked out through the door and took to the direction the message had demanded. And that was exactly what it was, a demand. The woman was well on her way to starting all of this on the wrong path entirely, and it wasn’t making Carson feel any better about what was happening. It wasn’t the start of his questioning her motives, the nature of her role in this endeavor, but it sure as hell didn’t pave the way for an amiable, cooperative relationship. If Nick was thinking on trust, and Sileena was focused on gaining an advantage, Carson was just 6’4” of genuine concern: for Nick, Neala, Emma,and even Tyler.
Where does a vampire disappear to for months? How would this be going down if he were here, if he hadn’t chosen Sileena, if he hadn’t had to? This was the beginning of an endeavor that was his best chance to finally saving lives, and not just Emma’s. Carson was keenly aware that he hadn’t asked as many questions as maybe he should have, that he’d depended on Tyler’s being here. That he’d let the vampire take the risks, take the lead, and -if he was being honest with himself- left his own responsibilities almost entirely on the vampire for nearly a year now while he let himself be okay. He’d found a place to get comfortable, to knock down walls he’d built up, to take pleasures where he could get them, to even start thinking about calling this place home, these people friends, and maybe one day make a family. But right now he realized all of that hinged on one thing: finding Emma. Rescuing his kidnapped sister. Succeeding in Detroit where Tyler’s own men had already failed. Twice.
And the woman waiting for them, somewhere ahead, in a place she’d chosen knowing they’d be off their own turf, outside their comfort zone, among those few friends that a stranger had allowed them? She was one of Tyler’s too.

And she’s a shifter.
Carson could smell the scent and knew it wasn’t human. There was human blood somewhere in its essence, sure, but that wasn’t all. There was a mix of the familiar with more stuff that wasn’t. He stopped for a moment, becoming immediately aware of the woman joining his side. He gave her a questioning look as he sniffed at the air, only continuing onward if they would give no sign against it.



Sileena
NPC | Snake | Alpha 3
DH|RPO Room Moderator
[Other location in Orlando]
{-Is in another location in Orlando-}
says to Everyone:

She sat near the lake with the trees at her back. Her legs crossed, hands in her lap, back straight, looking almost like the popular image of a mystic meditating. The black bodysuit she wore gave her full mobility. She wore it when she needed to know her choice of wear would not restrict her movement in any way, and could be quickly discarded if the need arose.
The water was nearby. She heard its gentle sounds. She licked her lips, a wet ring, and waited for their arrival. She wasn’t hidden, but the bulk of her power was. She stretched briefly, her back and shoulders shifted and slipped as if unhindered by joints, sockets, the limitations of a wholly human body long ago abandoned. Her nature had given her control over her body that no human being could match, that other types of shapeshifters would envy, and yet long years of training had far surpassed even that. Her body was her weapon. She knew exactly how to protect it, and how to strike with it.
She would be sitting there still when the others came into view, her eyes following them, no words spoken until they were close enough that a short run and a pounce would bring her to them. When they were near she would rise in such a way as to appear entirely fluid, a sudden straightening of her body, her head rising from low to eye level all in one motion, as cleanly as the single, smooth and whole form of a snake rising just before a strike and yet seeming not to move at all.



}. Nick "The Trick" Curtis .{
-{Alpha Wolf|Lvl 2|Geri}-
Liberi Cruenti LunaeDH:RPO - Room Staff
says to ~A Kiss That Says Goodby:

It was a humid night and being amongst the trees only served the emphasize that. Neala had fallen into step with Carson with her usual grace and effortlessness, even as the ground grew softer below them, even as her heels began to sink into the dirt. She didn’t touch the big tall figure next to her even though her closeness was tangible, except for once, when she stopped briefly, mumbling “here,” before laying a hand on his arm to steady herself (unnecessarily, one might add) as she bent neatly at the waist, one leg extending and tore a long slit in the pencil skirt. “tha’s better,” she quipped, “Thankin’ you.”

Behind the two of you, Nick was both amused, and trying not to react to the long expanse of leg that she had unleashed. Fucking nightmare, really.

Something changed then, and Nick and Neala both stopped moving forward, a tension in both of their forms, a readiness for…whatever. She tipped her head and nudged her nose in a certain direction and Nick’s attention followed her guidance to the figure that was rising up smoothly from the ground by a tree up ahead. Nick tried his own nudge of the head, suggestion she go wide to the right and he would take left, as though they were hunting together, but…Neala started out from Carson’s side, striding forward in a glide towards the bodysuit clad woman and only stopping a couple of metres from her, nostrils flaring, although there was nothing angry in her demeanour. “This is less dangerous?” She posited, making it seem almost like a polite query.

”Neala…” Nick’s voice was deep and rumbly again, feeling like he was using this tone more than usual tonight. Neala kept looking at the woman, measuring her up, but taking no further action as of yet. Nick neared, but did not come as close as Neala had. “You’re friends with Tyler?” This question was, at least, genuinely curious and unthreatening, even if it did have that teasing of cautiousness. “if so, we have some catching up to do.”



Carson Marrik
Wolf-Moderate-Level 1
DH|IR
says to Everyone:

The heat and humidity clung to Carson, his thin shirt hugging his form, outlining heavy musculature gained through a combination of good genes, strict adherence to a demanding exercise regiment, and a decade of fighting when he’d much rather have just survived. That, and finding Emma, anyway.

It was only her brief touch that made it past his total focus on what lay ahead; it took that just to make the worry and doubt cut back even a bit, and when it did he became very much aware of the woman and the wolf.
It wasn’t just her metaphysical energy, the wolf under her perfect skin, it was the way her body caught and captured attention. A hand on a shoulder, a careful pose, the reveal when a long slit was torn, and her deliberate words and their delivery. Neala was a beautiful woman. A commanding presence in her own right. She’d be aware of Carson’s glances, his slowed pace, his shifting focus - even if momentary. Anyone watching would be aware. He wasn’t the sort to hide it.
He gave her a smile as he lent his shoulder. “My pleasure, ma’am. Happy to oblige.” The smile was friendly, but an (unintended?) shine in his eye conveyed something more from an interested man to an interesting woman.

And then it all changed again. A moment ended with an awareness, and Carson caught the gestures, possibly some of the intention, between the two with him. And so Neala’s sudden departure from what may have been intended left Carson slowly catching up a moment later, even as Neala closed on Sileena first. And then Nick was there too, Carson took to his side. And after the others had talked, Carson tried to do better what the snake had possibly soured.

“I’m thankful for what you’re doing. Tyler said we could all trust one another. I’m glad we could meet… here.”



Sileena
NPC | Snake | Alpha 3
DH|RPO Room Moderator
[Other location in Orlando]
{-Is in another location in Orlando-}
says to Everyone:

She met the eyes of the woman who took lead. “Yes,” was her response. Short. Matter of fact. But she had looked the woman over. And the men. Their scent was a taste in the air. She had their measure, or at least a start.
When the smaller wolf man spoke it was to bark a command. The woman wolf stopped, waited for word, but it wasn’t submission. Not that. The smaller man asked a question, she considered it. The benefit of posing as friends. It carried obligations, too much effort, better a simple truth. “Not friends. He’s paying me. A lot.”
Finally the bigger wolf spoke. His voice was the one on the phone. This was Carson. The other was Nick, then. The woman may be one of several based on the heat coming from the men. Carson’s approach was easiest to follow on, so she did. But it was the other two whose messages were more important. Communication with them was key. But that would come.
“Tyler said a great many things. Most of that changed. None of you have heard from him?”



}. Nick Curtis .{
-{Alpha Wolf|Lvl 2|Geri}-
Liberi Cruenti Lunae
DH:RPO - Room Staff
[Other location in Orlando]
{-Is in another location in Orlando-}
says to ~A Kiss That Says Goodby:

It was a completely different thing to watch Neala as it was to watch the woman who bore the trio’s collective focus. You didn’t have to look too carefully to see Neala’s chest rise and fall, to see her muscles flex and relax in her arms and calves, to get that sense that she was alive and in tune with the woods that we had entered into - would be in tune with any forest, with grace, yes, but with that wildness and her vivacity heating her blood.

The woman was alive, but cold somehow, and her stillness was stark, and yet… And yet she was not at odds with these surroundings, it was more like…she blended in, and would wait, poised to attack, deadly and fast.

Nick stayed his distance and silently wished Neala would keep hers. Knew better than to try and tell her that. “And if somebody was to pay you more…?”

She directed the focus of her gaze, at least, on Carson, a suggestion of some recognition of him as the point of contact. Perhaps he just seemed more approachable. The scent of her in his nostrils was tantalisingly close to recognisable. Suggested reptilian? There were Weresnakes, and Werecobras…he’d heard of them but never come across one. It wasn’t everyday he got to meet a new form of lycan. Joy.

”There hasn’t been a peep since he up and left,” he chose to go along with this, hoping for more information. “He’s had no less incentive to be around, that I know of. So something’s very much going against the grain of expectation…The question is, what do we do about it?” He wanted to ask what this had to do with Detroit and with Carson’s sister, but that was still processing in his mind. Did that relate to Tyler’s situation? Or was that something else entirely. Carson had presented this information together, as if they were somehow linked. Nick just wanted to know how.



Sydney Taylor Acostus
That’s Ms. Growly to you!
Mod Level 2 – Wolf | Liberi Cruenti Lunae
DH|RPO - Room Staff
[Vehicle]
{-Is driving down a street}
says to Everyone:

- She had gotten Saleetia back in one piece even spoke to Mitch about the girl and what had transpired at the club. Though she hated leaving Nick there alone especially after promising to have a good night or was it he was supposed to show her one. Either way the little minx had shrugged her shoulders to the thought and headed back for the door after being sure Sal was seen to and a bedroom given. Stopping short as James came in the door smelling like that of sex and another woman Syd gave him a knowing smile and continued on. He reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling him towards her for a kiss and she placed a hand up and spoke. “You smell foul” Was all she would say as he released his grip on the upper bicep. Leaving her to head back to the car. She wasn’t mad or even upset, it was what he wanted, how he and Nick were alike in that gaming field that kept her pulling away from those types of beings. Long legs, a killer body, blonde hair that rocked such dark embers yeah she knew what she had and the self esteem to go with it? SO why the fuck was she pining after a lost cause and seeing a man with commitment issues? Cause she was no better than them in the ranks of what she wanted. She was much older than her 21 she was when she first turned. She had come along way and knew what it was she wanted. Moving with the air of fuck that she slipped behind the wheel of her car once more. Sent a text off to Nick asking if he was still at the club cause he owed her a night of fun before putting the little two seater into gear and headed out.

The radio blared while she drove, though she did wonder some how a few members were and if they would be around come the 10th of the month for the full moon. Carson had been one, she hadn’t seen much since the fight or brawl two months back that broke. Hadn’t asked how he was and if he had been ok after taking on some of the unruly pack mates. Though she did think that was kind of him or was it brave of him to stick to the underdogs in the match. Either way she would soon find out. Hell she might hijack someone’s phone and get his number.. How to get Nick’s phone… Simply ask for it.




Sydney Taylor Acostus
That’s Ms. Growly to you!
Mod Level 2 – Wolf | Liberi Cruenti Lunae
DH|RPO - Room Staff
[Vehicle]
{-Is driving down a street}
says to Everyone:

- There was no feed back by the time she reached the club to indicate Nick was still there. A thought would raise through her troubled mind wondering about that call he had gotten and just what mess he was in. A low growl escaped her lips as she shook her head and continued to drive passed Carmines, well actually she had to turn around somewhere or she would be hell who knows. Though she did know of a few other out of the way bars, that catered to their kind, even allowed those of the pack to come and hang for a night or two.

So with her heel to the petal she made her way along the darken street, heading back away from the city she would take a detour North around I-4 and its parking lot. The Attractions had let out by now leaving her with a little bit of that traffic on the back roads of actual people of Orlando so when she had to hit her breaks a few times so people could turn off she was alright with it. Hitting the I-4 well after all the attractions and the down town mob house she would swing up towards the I-95 heading towards Daytona. They had some pretty sweet fucking clubs to hit and most stayed open all night. Even the Chip and Dales of the behind the scenes though tonight she simply wanted a drink at the bar to sorta relax. It took her a good 45 minutes to reach the place in which held her attention pulling off i-95 at the 400 she took it straight to US-1 until she saw the exit for the I-92 which would dead in to A1A. South Atlantic Ave. Ahhhh the Ultimate beach goer if you asked her and for some it was a quiet night to hit the soft warm sands and soak her feet in the ocean.



Carson Marrik
Wolf-Moderate-Level 1
DH|IR
[Other location in Orlando]
{-Is in another location in Orlando-}
says to Everyone:

There’s a magic in the way women move that the universe has been unable to match. Any man paying attention can see the strength without rival, the cunning sharpened by ages of steeled intent and purpose, the flow of form like water and wine and all things divine. Every woman he’d ever known knew how to cast a certain spell that left the other side helpless and devoid of any purpose but utmost attention and devotion. Neala’s spell was one of captivation and command, perhaps. Sileena’s was one of diligence and determination. Both held movement as motive, every bit as deliberate as it was instinctual. And practiced.

Carson took a breath when he realized he hadn’t done it for awhile. He heard Nick ask about money, winced a little though he was as interested in the thought behind it as Nick probably was. Money. What a connection to bring to this. Nick laid out the loss of Tyler well enough for the both of them. Sileena would already know what that meant to them, at least she would if she’d been given the same directive he was. Act if there’s no word. Move if there’s no progress. Talk, if there’s no word. Meet if there’s no other choice.

When Sileena’s gaze turned to focus on him he wished it hadn’t. He had a moment of doubt toward her intentions, pushed it aside because of what this meeting meant. He wasn’t interested in her trying to poke away for information on Tyler. That could happen later. What mattered was the reveal to Nick, to whoever it took to move on Detroit. If she wouldn’t drive it forward and assume trust and cooperation all around, then he would.

“You know we haven’t, Sileena. That’s why you called me. We’re here to talk about Detroit. My sister’s there. Please… don’t delay this any longer. I said we can trust one another. I trust Nick. And if he has faith in Neala, then I vouch for her too. Tyler paid you. So you have what you wanted from this. What’s he paying you to do? Cause if you could start doing that I think my sister might not suffer longer than she needs to.”
The thought of a young, innocent girl I danger reminded him of Becky. Which in turn reminded him of Sydney and what she’d done for a young girl who was once feeling so worthless she would try to take her own life. Sydney had gotten her in touch with the modeling agency. Sydney had only ever been kind. It was odd that a thought of his sister, of regaining a family, made him think of the pack and the good people he’d met there. But he’d have time to dwell on that when Emma was in his arms.



Sileena
NPC | Snake | Alpha 3
DH|RPO Room Moderator
[Other location in Orlando]
{-Is in another location in Orlando-}
says to Everyone:

The wolves were focused on moving forward, so forward it would be. Tyler had given no restrictions on what could be shared regarding Detroit, and even if he wanted to now, too late for that. He was gone.
She had to assume the rest of the money would come. Per head, if need be. If not, she’d get out when the bill ran due.
Tyler, Carson, maybe they had their reasons for holding back. She had none. It was a job. She’d speak, her cold eyes passing over each in turn, assessing as she divulged.

“I’ve done some digging, but in truth I know what Tyler told me and little else. A collection crew working for Tyler was in Detroit on a lead about your missing sister. They found a man who claimed to know where she was, wouldn’t reveal it. The vamps could have pulled it from him, Tyler requested he ask the questions directly. They were bringing the man to him. And suddenly they weren’t. No word from ‘em. Tyler sent more men to Detroit, this time with violence in mind. Take the guy, any means necessary. No word back from that team either. But it did stir up some complications. With the wolves and the vampires there. Out-of-towners, strangers, Tyler, stirring up trouble. Readied for a fight. That approach might not work anymore. So there’s the more diplomatic approach as alternative.”
Eyes focused on Nick. “I was told Nick has connections there. And Tyler tells me the wolves are protecting the guy, might have taken out the teams. Nick has relations with the lycans there, maybe clout or a network to call on. A way in. Working things out, the talking type. A rational negotiation to yield the information we need. Both toward Emma, and on the missing from Tyler’s team. Or to say an attempt was made, at least. Because I was hired to do what he didn’t want any of you doing.”
She made barely a movement, but somehow every cell emphasized the message that followed. “If the talking doesn’t work out. I’m paid to kill so that you don’t have to.”
She drew forth a small, cloth pouch. From where would be a mystery. Two small metallic objects inside. “You choose a small group. Meant for diplomacy. Trustworthy people. Nick, Carson, I’m told you’re needed. The rest, your call. You two will keep one of these on you at all times. That way I’ll know things. And that’s good. I would go to Detroit first, just a few days ahead of you. You’d get a message when it’s go. And then, no delay, you’d go. I’d be ready. You’d… talk.”
There it was. Short and simplified. Go or no. At least, that’s the way it was for a contract like hers. “I move if you say you’re ready to move. If not, I have other contracts waiting. So…” Looks around at the faces. “Are we go?”