The Players: Sian, Cato
Even though Sian was given access to the Auxilius accounts (both to get herself situated appropriately and should the need arise such as entertaining one of Cato’s guests for a few hours), she did not abuse it. She purchased a simple wardrobe of modular pieces that would allow her to blend in: both by looking the part of an attache to the aristocracy and by wearing monotone hues to not draw attention to herself.
Her suite remained however it was when she was given access to it. All that the woman has added was what she arrived with (the clothes on her back and the gear necessary for her work) and the new wardrobe.
She has spent the past week acclimating herself to Cato’s schedule and routines. And today, as with any other day (for at least the past couple of days), she meets him at his door in the morning with his caffeinated drink of choice and a tablet with a curated selection of news articles prepared and whatever messages are most vital.
They walk, she provides his schedule for the day. “...and after lunch you have a meeting with Lieutenant Arlo. The one who wanted your recommendation.” Her grip tightens on her own tablet, just briefly. “I was unable to redirect him any longer. He was smart enough to seek an introduction from one of your peers.” Meaning refusing to see the Lieutenant could be seen as a slight to the peer. Cato can still reject his request, but it’ll be a touch more difficult now. And it reveals Arlo as someone who has some skill at playing the game.
Cato’s expression remains impassive as he gets the morning briefing, the only hint of expression coming from the slight flick of his lip at the fact that he is going to have to deal with the Arlo individual and that he had skimmed past the road blocks that had been put into place. “Very well,” Cato says at last. “It will be curious I imagine to see a representation of what he considers himself to be in a conversation.”
Accepting the drink and having some of it, he then puts the cup aside and looks at Sian steadily, “You are fitting into the new role and expectations well?”
As she was getting used to this strange sort of master (one both like and unlike what she was trained to expect and work for), Sian’s expression remains still. In those first couple days, there were lots of glimpses beneath the mask. Surprise. Uncertainty. Gauging how to respond. Now she handles such queries with a much greater ease.
Holding her tablet to her chest, she dips her head in a nod. “I believe so, sir. Of course, final evaluation is yours and yours alone.”
“Yes, it is. But if you are uncertain of your abilities than how can I be certain of them?” Cato asks levelly before tucking the data report under his arm and once more picking up his beverage before beginning to walk. He is still in the window where he must wear white, a period he is looking forward to being out of within the next month or two. “So tell me what you remember of this Arlo from the dossier. I have bits in mind but want to see if they all recall as I believe they should.”
The steps Cato is taking is soon revealed as being a path that he takes on mornings that he will have his first meal at the cafe located two blocks away from the housing.
“Overconfidence can be as bad or worse than underconfidence, sir.”
Sian keeps stride, adjusting her own as necessary. Always just a pace behind and to his left. Ready to take the drink once he decides he’s done with it.
“Lieutenant Arlo is from a prestigious family -- though not as prestigious as your own -- and is the second son. This seems to have given him something of a chip on his shoulder. His elder brother will inherit the family holdings and estates and his younger brother is doted upon by their mother and given rather free rein. Arlo attended OCS and took a commission, but he has seen little by way of combat.”
Sian pulls out her tablet, but not to reference any information. She’s sending a missive ahead to the cafe to let them know of Cato’s imminent arrival and to put in his order. “He’s fairly skilled as a tactician and certainly capable as a politician, but he’s untried and untested. It’s caused him to take a few risks -- such as this one -- and it’s more luck than skill that they’ve been successful thus far.”
“I see, and he may see in me a reflection of what he wishes to attain. Does he have any relations outside of his family, business associates, anything of the like we should be aware of?” Cato asks while walking, a slow smile starting to touch the corner of his lips and then into his eyes. “And if not, do we know what social interests he might hold?”
“There is Anders,” the peer mentioned earlier that the Lieutenant used to get his foot in the door. “I am uncertain how close they are,” Sian continues, tucking her tablet under her arm once the breakfast order is placed. “But evidence indicates they are close enough for Anders to risk the introduction.” Or at least be willing to cause Cato some annoyance.
“Socially, he is simply playing the game these days. The appropriate parties. The appropriate dining venues. However, I was able to find-” She pulls out the tablet again and shifts through some data before extending it to Cato for his perusal. “He has engaged in a fair bit of gambling in the past. Not the usual poker night in the barracks, but he’s been seen at a number of various races in the system. And not always conservative bets, either.”
“That is indeed useful. This is what we shall do. I want you to discover if he has any large wagers outstanding or any debts. If he does not, let us monitor him for his next large wager and ensure he loses. Once he is in financial straights, we will through a series of go betweens transfer money to Anders who will be instructed to pay off the debts. We will make sure that these movements go through very questionable sources keeping a track of them all.” Cato explains this all and lays out the plan to establish a blackmail file on Arlo through Anders.
“This will provide us a barrier between him and myself regarding his finances and we will appear to remain ignorant. But this file will give us the leverage necessary to manipulate, and if necessary, have Anders remove him.”
All through the explanation, Sian is silent. She’s alert and attentive, but silent. In the end, she dips her head in a nod and looks to her tablet again. A few gestures are made across the screen. “Of course, sir. I will begin the investigation today and let you know as soon as I’ve found something.”
There is a glance up and sidelong to the man as they near the cafe. “Is there anything else?”
“I do not believe so, does the plan appear sound?” Cato asks, not seeking affirmation of his intents but rather confirming the understanding from Sian of the goal and to test if there are any gaps he may have missed. “I do not wish to leave this… Arlo an avenue of self support which cannot be controlled. If he wishes to bypass protocol than I shall make him pay the price for doing such.”
“Are you certain Anders will perform as expected? He is your peer so he may balk at being instructed to do as we ask.”
It seems, otherwise, that Sian understands the intent behind the plan and how to see it through. When they reach the cafe, there’s no waiting: they’re expected and led to Cato’s usual table where drinks already wait. Tea for Sian. She sits, but keeps working on her tablet as she does; trusting the cafe’s staff to see to the meal properly.
Cato sits as well, preparing his napkin just so and getting settled in, “I expect Anders to perform as he would normally do such. With enough application of pressure that his suggestion is indeed one with gambling habits it will be in his own interest to address those habits. And by providing him the means to do so which, in his mind will keep him clear of any questionable actions, he will take it. Meanwhile, we will retain the information on both accounts and be able to encourage certain decisions when the time comes.” Lifting his glass to sip at the morning tea from the table, Cato goes on.
“We will find several of the avenues of revenue that Anders utilizes for support, and then we will see that the labor unions of those revenues are compensated by our coffers. Those unions will then exert pressure on their members to support policies we prefer. Anders will of course come to support those policies as well, as in failing to do so would cause disruption to his revenues and larger issues.”
After a moment, Sian sets her tablet aside. All of her notes squared away, it’d seem. She ensures everything is as it should be for Cato (he has his tea, for example) and settles in to drink her own. She nods along with what he says, but doesn’t provide anything further herself. She’s a cross-trained student of the Academy: a spy and an assassin both. Someone who was trained fully in infiltration tactics, perhaps, would have a greater understanding and maybe even be two steps ahead of Cato in regards to these plans.
But they wouldn’t be as good an enforcer or bodyguard.
It is the downside of receiving one such as her. She’s not a specialist. But she has the capacity to learn, at least. “I will begin investigating into the Lieutenant today.”
“Excellent. Report as soon as you have gained the relevant information regarding the Lieutenant. I will not need protection services throughout the day. I will be attending some bureaucratic hearings and meetings as well as speaking with the heiress of one of the duchy’s on a lesser world. I suspect it will be yet another attempt at securing blessings regarding one arranged marriage or another.”
There is a thoughtful expression, but Sian dips her head in a nod finally.
The meal is brought out and blessedly, there’s no mistakes to it. They’ve learned their lesson after that one time…
“I’ll continue getting myself situated and adapted to High Centre. Is there anything in particular you’d like me to see to?”
“No, not at this time,” Cato says quietly with his own thoughtful look. “You have been conducting yourself very well to this point, continue the excellent work. But for now I wish to eat alone. I require my thoughts and a lack of distraction. We shall convene ourselves again this evening.” With the dismissal, the Regency aristocrat turns to his meal and begins to eat it with a meticulous, thoughtful manner.
“Of course, sir.” Sian gathers up her own meal and her tablet. With a respectful nod, she backs away from the table to resume her own meal (and her work) elsewhere in the cafe.