Ivy's Bitter Poison
“It’s almost time, you two should get ready to head down.” I carefully adjust my wristwatch situated just below my brown leather gloves. My usual gray suit is put away for this evening seeing as I won’t be attending the socialite event. In its place is a tight, but breathable, black long-sleeved turtleneck, along with dark gray cargo pants. My platinum blonde hair is a tad messier than normal, but it’s not as if I had the time to fix it. I tap on the keyboard in front of me, sitting on a large desk I set up earlier in the day; the desk holds several monitors, all of which reveal different images from the camera streams inside the hotel where our target is presenting. The wiretaps and extra cameras set up by Tech and Fog a couple of weeks before are still up and running, luckily undiscovered.
“Ugh, I can’t get this on quite right…” I hear the clicks of her low heel and Ivy’s frustrated tone. I turn from the desk to see her dressed immaculately, but struggling to put on the nose prosthetic Fog barely had the time to craft for us. The dark emerald green dress she wears brings out the best with all the tan and brown tones from her natural features, not to mention how it hugs her curves. There’s a singular slit on the right side, giving her extra room for any necessary movement, and a keyhole neckline. She wears a single diamond choker as a statement piece, and her brown hair cascades beautifully in a half up half down style. Ivy continues to struggle with the fake nose piece Fog produced for her; this, on top of the green contacts, all to help make sure any security footage can’t track her actual facial features– we don’t need them looking for the actual Ivy. Fox has a similar mold on her face, but unlike Ivy, it’s already secured properly. Fox walks over to Ivy to help her, her own dress sashaying with her movements. It’s a deep navy blue cocktail dress; cinching details her abdomen and a princess neckline makes room for the silver accent jewelry that adorns her. The fake dark brown, short, wig really adds to how different she looks. She is also stunning; both women perfectly blend into their socialite aliases.
I want to tease Ivy for not being able to put on a silicone nose properly on her own, but we’re on the job. I can’t afford to let myself loose and become distracted. It doesn’t matter too much since Raven ends up chiming in for me. “You’ve been a part of this company for seven years, joined our unit six years ago, trained for three years total before taking more serious missions… and yet you can’t put on a fake nose without help?” The sniper scoffs while rolling her eyes. She leans against a pillar in the dimly lit room, the setting sun barely filling it with light. Her sniper rifle is already set up and ready to go if anything goes wrong. She wears her usual gear, a full body suit that’s a mix of cotton and leather. A white blazer rests beside her on the floor for her to put on as she picks up the other two from the venue after the mission is complete.
“I think that’s funny coming from someone who can’t fight her way out of much. If we take away your sniper rifle, what then?” Fox calmly suggests as she helps instruct Ivy on how to secure her nose. Raven herself has only been a part of this unit for three years.
“I can still put up a better fight than Ashe.” Raven sticks out her tongue at Fox and the older woman ignores her. We don’t have time for this idle chit-chat, and I’m sure that’s why Ivy hasn’t said anything herself. Ivy knows she’s an essential member of our group, and if there was more time, she would not hesitate to challenge anyone who dares provoke her. At the same time, she knows her limits and the ones of others. Even if she falters, she’s confident overall, and still a generous person. Skilled, intelligent, beautiful, and kind. She hasn’t let this field of work change who she wants to be, unlike most of us. Maybe it’s because she still has her family to go back to, unlike most of us. Maybe that’s why I…
“How do we look, Shadow?” Ivy’s voice interrupts my thoughts.
“You both look like you’re ready to get this mission over with.” I reply stone faced. A disappointed sigh escapes her glossy lips.
“I’ll get your real opinion later when we’re not on the job.” Both Ivy and Fox turn away, ready to walk out of the room.
“You both have everything? Skin wax, poison, weapons, ear pieces secured?” I ask.
“Yup, we got everything.” Ivy speaks up. They both hike up the skirts of their dresses, exposing their physiques more than necessary. They show off all the goods either lined in their dresses or holstered to their inner thigh where it’s not exposed. It takes everything in me to hide my true reaction.
“I would’ve believed you with a simple ‘yes’.” I hide my face with my gloved hand, pretending to look annoyed rather than embarrassed. They both drop the fabrics of their outfits; Fox quietly walks out while Ivy stifles a laugh. Raven and I remain in the stale room, the sunlight fading quickly, leaving the monitors as our main source of light. We’re staying in a building under construction a few streets over, but close and tall enough to set marks on the Eden hotel.
“You think they’re going to be alright?” Raven questions, not looking at me, but outside at the busy streets below.
“Why do you ask?” I hover over the monitors, ready to help direct the women when they arrive.
“They both were acting a bit weird.” The dark-haired woman states, resting her head on her palm.
“How so?” I keep my focus on the screens, but curious about her answer.
“I know Ivy is a capable person, but she was acting a bit childish. She’s nervous… and Fox, she, I don’t know. Something felt off.” She shakes her head, her carefree mind disturbed.
“It’s a big mission. You guys are used to small missions, or quick kills. This is no walk in the park, so everyone being nervous is understandable.” I rationalize. Unlike other organizations I’ve heard of, Secretary likes our kills to be as discrete or easy to cover up as possible. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to just go in, kill the target, and get out. “Even though Fox has done bigger missions like this herself, she probably see’s that Ivy is anxious, just like you do. It’s probably affecting her more than even she recognizes.”
“Are you nervous?” She casts a side glance at me.
“No.” A lie. “This group is capable, we’ll be fine.” I am nervous. If it weren’t for my gloves, I’d be picking at my cuticles; instead, I tap my finger against the desks’ surface, waiting for the first sign of communication from the two women. I do believe everyone in this group is more than capable, but that doesn’t mean something won’t go wrong. If it does, there’s a chance we could lose two team members. We haven’t lost someone from Unit 47 in a long time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.
“I guess if you say so.” She gives a dramatic stretch, slinking down to her sniping position lying flat on her stomach. “I’ll watch from here.” She refers to her scope as she peeks through. Even at this distance, 2250 meters away, she can easily make her mark. A remarkable sniper, Raven’s kills would be even higher if we didn’t always sideline her for emergencies only. Even though our job as assassins is to make the kill, the more discrete the death is, the better. Hence, why Ivy’s skills are highly sought after. For the jobs that don’t matter as much, Raven is often sent unless she’s on another mission, or no one is available to go with her. We don’t have solo missions in Unit 47, there’s always at least two people on the job. At least, so far this has been the case.
I look toward the computer screens once more, the displays illustrating the media setting up their cameras, security guards being stationed, and the servers putting the finishing touches with the dinning set up. I glance at my watch. It’s 1750 hours. 10 minutes until the events begin.
“I see their car pulling up to the venue.” Raven informs me. I look at the monitor with a view of the front entrance. Thankfully, with Tech and Fog’s technical skills, we have an enhanced camera system– with it I can see much better than the typical security cameras, almost like I’m watching a movie unfold before me. Surely enough, both Ivy and Fox appear out of the fancy sedan. An older woman operates the vehicle, dropping the two off; A favor Ivy had called in from a previous “art” client. Several other cars and elite groups stride their way up the walkway into the hotel.
Static sound enters my ears, signaling they finally turned on their earpieces. The compact model makes it practically invisible, but the battery life is small, so I instructed them not to turn it on until the last second prior to entering the building.
“Don’t speak, just grab the fabric of your dresses if you hear me clearly.” I speak into my own system. Just as instructed, both of them grab their respective dresses as they saunter toward the doors. “Perfect. Before you walk in the doors, here’s what you need to know. Within the last ten minutes several security guards have been stationed across the venue. There’s about thirty in total. You should already see six out front, there’s another six once you enter. Another eight are stationed throughout the dining area where the media is set up on the fifth floor. The last twelve block off the hallways to different stations, two guard the kitchen and staff area on the fifth floor, two block off the hall to the stairs and elevator on the same floor, with one at the rest on the elevators on every floor.”
I commit a quick scan of each monitor again before continuing, “There’s another man who is operating the elevators. Only one is in use, about twenty-six staff members total, and a small private orchestra. Twelve media teams are set up. Garner is already at his table with a few others, they’ve been served some generic champagne to sip on. Your table should be next to his. You’ll see your name plaques; Erin Chlades for Fox, and Claire Jones for Ivy. You two are in the art business– you contribute to the pieces in the hotel.” Luckily, Secretary trains everyone to understand and appraise art and jewelry pieces, the better to blend into the facade of the corporate building we assassins reside in. While we never do any actual appraising work, I think once our contracts all run dry, it’s something we could all consider a real job one day.
Ivy and Fox make it past the entrance, giving polite gestures and nods to those greeting them in. A few people at a time, they eventually make it onto the elevator to bring them up to the fifth floor. The liftman has everyone exit off, and they find themselves welcomed in on a wonderfully decorated story. The high swinging golden chandeliers, along with the elegantly flowing decor drapes, bring a sense of sophistication, and the marble tile makes a mockery of the ones in the Arrowspring’s residence. Everywhere you look is another beautiful person walking, talking, laughing, and flaunting; everyone is bragging about their own reasons for why they are there, money, connections, or even just the power behind their own last name. It’s hard to make out what every individual is saying with all the wiretaps, if I were on the floor I’d have a better time making everything out.
Static goes off in my ears, the microphones from Ivy and Fox’s own devices taking priority over the wiretaps sound. “Mademoiselles, welcome to Eden’s sixtieth anniversary, and the passing down from one generation to the next. May this company see more decades to come, and to continue doing business with you and the fine art you bring.” A generic host brings them to their table right next to John Garners, trained to recognize each guest that walks in. As if testing them, he doesn’t seat them directly, but waits for them to seat themselves. Without any hesitation, they confidently sit in the chair with the correct name plaques. “Miss Jones and Miss Chaldes, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your evening.” With that he walks away, greeting the next set of guests to walk in from the elevators. While the two ladies sit, a waitress brings over a tray of champagne, which both partake.
“Ivy, you have about fifteen minutes from now to replace one of the waitstaff. The dinner will begin soon now that most of the guests have been welcomed into the room.” I search around the different cameras to see which bathroom will be the least amount of trouble. “There’s a bathroom to the southeast hallway on the opposite end from where you are seated.” She’ll not only have to get to the opposite side without causing suspicion, but also target one of the three servers who look similar enough to herself.
Ivy looks over at Fox, pretending to talk to her. “Where’s the closest bathroom? It’ll be too difficult to get the right server if they’re not serving that side of the room. Looking around…” Ivy glances around the glittering room with her false green eyes. “It looks like Samantha is serving table four. She’ll be my best bet to try and pull a switch on which table I serve with the other wait staff.”
“The closest bathroom is by the elevators, but that is way too risky. The best bet would be the bathroom near the kitchen, if you’re okay with other staff possibly trying to take you to an empty room to rest.” I report.
“I can make sure that the only one who takes me anywhere is the girl I target.”
“Good. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
With that Ivy chugs the rest of the drink in hand. One glass won’t do much to her, I’ve seen her handle her drinks better than most adult men. She slowly gets up from her table and walks around a bit, pretending to wobble ever so slightly. There’s only a small window of time left for everyone who is up and socializing still. The dinner should start soon, and the kitchen cameras reveal how much pressure there is to cater an experience like this. The Samantha girl, who looks like Ivy, is beginning to head back to the kitchen with an empty tray in hand.
“Excuse me,” Ivy calls out to her. The girl turns around, her brown hair tucked into a neat bun, and her gray uniform pressed to perfection. Her brown eyes place their full attention onto the guest at hand.
“Yes ma'am, how can I help?” She looks concerned as she addresses Ivy’s poor stance and tired face.
“I don’t feel too well. I’m not very good with my alcohol you see… but since it’s a special occasion, I thought I’d try, but… it’s no good.” Ivy reaches out to the girl, who quickly helps Ivy stand up straighter.
“Oh my, here let me help you stand. Do you need to use the restroom?” Ivy nods, pretending to struggle with staying alert. “Let’s get you to the nearest one–”
“Please, I don’t want other guests to see me like this. Is there somewhere a bit more private?” Ivy pleads.
“The bathroom by the kitchen I guess.” She cordially guides Ivy toward the kitchen area, but she keeps looking back and forth, as if she is worried someone is watching her.
“Thank you.” Ivy relaxes as they start walking over.
“Of course, ma’am.” Samantha replies.
“Be careful.” I relay into her earpiece.
The two of them walk past a few staff members and security on the way over, each one inquiring if anything was wrong or anyone needed help. Ivy keeps insisting that she only wants help from this girl, not letting anyone else interfere. Samantha seems a bit more reserved when the security guards ask about the situation, but Ivy is quick to distract them, drunkenly stumbling words out of her mouth to confuse them. It doesn’t take much for them to let the situation go, but they keep a close eye on both of the women as they walk away.
“Samantha, is everything alright?” Another server walks up, placing a hand on Samatha’s shoulder as he glares at the security behind them. I zoom in, enhancing the images on my monitor, to get a closer look at our new ‘friend’. A taller gentleman with fair skin and gray eyes, who, if not for his social status, might be a promising bachelor. I recognize him from the lineup of servers we investigated. His name is Walter Smith, and he is the man I would’ve replaced on the floor if I weren’t stuck in this stuffy building.
“Yes, just helping a guest, she doesn’t feel too well, and,” she talks a bit under her breath, “and she’s really taken a liking to me I suppose. She won’t let anyone come between us.”
He gives a concerned look toward his co-worker, “Samantha, I know you like helping people, but you know they already–”
“That doesn’t really matter to me.” She interjects. “Although, I hope I don’t get in too much trouble if this takes too long. Dinner is starting soon. I don’t want to slow the rest of the team down.”
Walter sighs, but quickly recovers with a smile on his face. “I’ll cover for you if anything happens, don’t worry.” He playfully pats Samantha’s head and turns away to head back to the kitchen. “Try not to get us both in trouble again though!”
“He’s very handsome… boyfriend?” Ivy teases the younger girl.
“No… but he is very dear to me, you could say.” A sad smile adorns her, “I’m sorry we keep getting stopped by all these people, miss, I hope you can forgive their manners, they are only trying to help.”
Ivy half nods as she leans into Samantha for balance. They quickly make it to the bathroom by the kitchen and Samantha reassures Ivy that no one should walk in right now because of how busy everyone is preparing for the dinner to be served in the next ten minutes.
Ivy leans over the sink, the camera access in the bathrooms only possible thanks to Tech taking extra precautions. It’s not to my liking that a camera is in any bathroom, but our job throws privacy out the window. “I’m so sorry about all of this.” Ivy breathes out.
“No, no it’s okay. It’s our job to help take care of guests.” Samantha assures, helping to readjust the lovely green dress Ivy wears, focusing on the hems.
“You seem very sweet.” Ivy reaches down the slit in her dress, reaching for the syringe with a ketamine dosage of 10mg. It should keep the waitress knocked out without any severe side effects for about half an hour, based on stature and dosage.
“Well–” But she doesn’t get a chance to finish the sentence before Ivy hugs her so forcefully the two fall to the ground. Her crocodile tears begin to pour out, leaving Samantha confused. Unsure of how to react, the waitress just hugs her back, unaware of the thin needle of the syringe already poking into her thigh.
While Ivy takes care of her switcheroo, Fox proceeds to entertain the table now full of guests. From lawyers to contractors, they all attempt to impress her with small talk and personal wealth. Finding a break in the dull conversations, Fox excuses herself from the table and gathers her attire and walks up to John Garner’s table, introducing herself with the utmost elegance. “Mr. Garner, it is a pleasure to be here tonight. I’m Erin Chlades, I work with–”
“Arrowspring’s: the art and murals prepared for this hotel unit. It is an honor to meet you.” He stands up to greet her properly, extending out his gloved hand. Just like his picture we’ve seen so many times, his sandy blonde hair is brushed back perfectly and his iceberg eyes lock onto her dark ones. His grayish-blue suit compliments his features, his golden skin glowing underneath the lighting from the lavish chandeliers. He lifts Fox’s hand to his lips, gently kissing the back of her hand.
“Oh no, you don’t have to flatter me, this is your evening to celebrate. Would you mind if I could talk to you for a second?” She gives a flirtatious stare, batting her lashes expectantly. The aggrandized quality program Tech has installed on these monitors is amazing, it’s hard to imagine what he’ll come up with next. It’s a great advantage, so I can read the facial expressions of anyone I need to, even though I’m not on the floor myself.
“Of course, if you’ll excuse me gentlemen and ladies.” He walks away with Fox from his own table, taking her arm in his as he escorts her to a more secluded area. They reach the private orchestra, making it a bit harder to listen in on their conversation. Sneakily a bodyguard keeps a close watch over the two– Although, I doubt he would interfere unless Garner specifically called him over.
I can barely pick up on the conversation through Fox’s ear piece. “What is it you would like to talk about Ms. Chaldes?”
“I would love to educate myself on more of your guests here. I thought it would be a good idea to make a few connections, but harshly speaking, I don’t have a lot of time to talk to every single guest attending. I was hoping you could introduce me to the more–”
“Hoping to get some more clients? Then you won’t have so much time for me then, will you?” A snide remark stems from the gentleman.
Fox laughs off the playful suggestion. “Well, it’s only our first real meeting, and you’re already trying to keep me for yourself? How selfish.”
“When a man sees what he likes, he doesn’t let go of it easily. Business partner or otherwise.” He looks Fox up and down and adjusts his stance slightly. “So who are these people you’d like to get to know?”
“Well, what guests do you have here?” Fox gives a curious stare into his cool eyes.
“There are many guests here, the ones people are sure to think of; bankers, donors, contractors. But there’s also the smaller businesses I involve in this place. For example, over there at table six is the daughter of a small bakery down the road. She was hired to be the head of the bakery here two years ago when my father was in charge. Her baked goods are something guests swarm over during their stay here. She is definitely staying in the lineup for my takeover. Then there’s the french chef from two streets over. He is someone I am hoping to take on.”
“Ah the famous French bistro on Allware’s lane? It’s probably the best food you can come across on this side of this territory.”
“That’s why this location is essential for the hotel. In all of Lynti, this region is the key to bringing together more people from both poorer and richer sides. I hope that the combination of delicacy and accessibility will help more people enjoy the finer things life has to offer. Of course, everything comes at a price…” He looks away from Fox, surveying the room. “But, you only get to experience life once.”
The region of Lynti is the best to do that. On the border of rich and poor, this is a great place to get lots of traffic from both societal ends. It’s also the shore closest to the neighboring territory of Seybral, and while Seybral and Lynti’s governments don’t get along well, there is a huge influx of Seybralians attempting to immigrate over.
Four territories; Niastein to the North-West, Lynti centered, Tule Isles to the East, and Seybral to the South-East. These territories, collectively known as Tirea, only exist in-between the United States and Russia because of a massive volcanic eruption in the late 40s after the world war. After the war, several citizens from different countries started migrating over, with their home countries fighting over its placement. The richer families from China and Korea populate Niastien, while mostly the United States and Canada populate Lynti. Seybral is also run by former US citizens and Canadians, but there’s lots of turmoil between the government and its people. This leaves the South Americas taking the Tule Isles. The US won the territory battle, but we each have our own forms of government, like we’re our own nations. Honestly, living in Tirea feels like its own world.
“Surely there are other people you can introduce me to, still? Bankers, contractors, chefs… while I’m sure they’d be amazing clients for me and my partner, they aren’t exactly the type to seek out the work I provide. Surely, there are others who are in attendance.”
“Well, aren’t you curious about the attendees.” Garner reflects.
“I’m always curious.” Fox pushes back.
“Curiosity killed the cat, you know?” John comments, giving Fox a cold stare.
“And satisfaction brought it back.” Fox persists.
His eyes ease up and a small chuckle escapes from him. “Well if you’re so insistent, I can entertain a beautiful lady when I see fit. But there are some dangerous people I would hate for anyone but me to get involved with.”
“I like a little danger.” Fox playfully rests herself closer to John.
“I could maybe entertain you myself later this evening.” He gives an expecting look, but never once outwardly making it seem like he is hitting on her, just making it look like he’s entertaining a young ambitious lady. But anyone could tell what his words actually mean.
“I would love to be entertained by you, but unfortunately I have other plans tonight that I can’t skip out on.”
“A rain check then?” So he isn’t the loyal husband everyone describes him to be. Politics.
“Dammit.” I resist the urge to pound my fist on the desk. He barely budged, not giving a single hint as to who his contacts are. If Fox pursues it any further now, he’ll be skeptical about her intentions.
“It’s not the end of the world. Even if we can’t get it out of him, we’ll just have to do our own investigations of each guest. It’ll be a pain in the ass, but we’ll figure it out.” Raven pipes up, still looking through her scope. She’s right, but it’s such tedious work for information that is sitting up in that prestigious head of his.
The bell chimes signaling dinner will start soon. Garner kisses Fox's hand gently before returning to his table, and she to hers. Everyone who is standing makes their way back to their seats, but the chattering doesn’t die down. Even with a few attendees missing, people still talk back and forth with one another at their respective tables. Three minutes till, and Ivy still hasn’t made her way out of the bathroom yet. Even though the camera angle isn’t the best, I can tell she’s just barely putting on the finishing touches with her skin wax and makeup to blend in to her new facade.
“Ivy, there’s only 3 minutes left. You have to hurry.” I relay into our communication devices.
“I know, I know, I just, give me a second I’m almost done.” She mutters under her breath.
“Do you think you can mimic her voice and actions well enough?” I question, worried about the time slowly dwindling down, like I can hear each individual grain of sand sifting its way through an hourglass.
“I guess, it shouldn’t be too hard. She seems like the shy and clumsy, but kind type. It might look weird if I’m a bit assertive in order to switch places with whoever is serving John's table, but I’ll just, I don’t know, I’ll figure it out. Wha–” Ivy balances herself after stepping back from the mirror, almost tripping over the unconscious body lying on the floor that now wears her emerald dress.
“Just be careful, and try not to get caught.” I sigh into my microphone.
“Hey, if she gets caught, I’ll finally get to do something interesting with my rifle.” Raven gives a smirk as she focuses her breathing, like she’s getting ready to shoot.
“That’s the last thing we want to happen tonight.” I remind the sniper. She shrugs, casting my comment aside.
“Okay, I’m ready.” Ivy declares, her hair now up in a perfect bun and her uniform on just how Samantha wore it. Now the mission really begins.