PHD #425: The Puppet Show
The Puppet Show
Summary: Solstice visits Tarko Farn on the Elpis…
Date: 27 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: None
Solstice Keenan NPC 
Colonial Pete's
Colonial Pete's is the long-awaited successor to Kythera's Aquarian Pete's, though this version is more bar than strip club. Not that there aren't any strippers here, in fact there's even a raised platform complete with pole built just for them. The majority of the room, however, is dominated by mis-matched tables and chairs and a long bar. Lighting is haphazard, the harsh fluorescents that came with the place usually left off in favor of lower lighting from scavenged lamps and even a bit of neon rustled up from somewhere and hung behind the bar. There's a pretty decent sound-system playing a wide variety of music, and a couple of low-tech bar games, like a mini pyramid arena.There are always a few burly-looking guys around to keep an eye on rowdy patrons, and especially to guard the doors to the back rooms, where the stills are kept along with (rumors say) a few private alcoves for those willing to pay extra for one-on-one time with the girls. A large black chalkboard that once adorned Cerberus' Ready Room hangs behind the bar. Scrawled on its surface beneath a crude picture of a steaming bowl are the words 'SOUP OF THE DAY: MOONSHINE.'
Post-Holocaust Day: #425

The request had been made for her to arrive and thusly, Solstice does. Warring with herself for the night before, she hadn't mentioned a thing of it to Keenan. Taking her time after CAP to change, she wears that simple black dress and heels, not wanting anything to look like it was missing - she borrowed the ensemble again. Her dog tags, still missing are something she also seeks. It is the loud atmosphere of Pete's that she walks into, faltering at the entrance as she looks around. The girls cause her discomfort, but the ECO shifts, brushing her long dark hair from her shoulder.

She takes slow steps inward towards the bar. Her honey eyes give a quick look around and it distracts her enough to have her stumbling into the side of an empty chair. Cheeks redden furiously and Shakes lowers her hands to push it back in, sidestepping as there are a few snickers from the group of younger men sitting around the table. They call out to her and she swallows, shaking her head and murmuring something before she moves on.

The music is violating, robbing many of the people inside of one of their senses, and when the colored lights from the ceiling turn, they rob one more sense. The place smells of perfume, sweat, and alcohol and the sea of bodies that she has to pass to get to the bar are an almost never-ending series of obstacles. Men make eye contact first and then lower their gaze over her body second. The women that don't appear to be working there judge her. Solstice's experience at Pete's is a different one indeed.

That's when she gets to the bar. The bar doesn't welcome her, although a few men at the bar appear as if they would by the way that their eyes gaze from her face to the center of her chest. The bar is a poor date, letting her hang there while being watched by eyes seen and unseen.

"Come this way." A voice suddenly rings out from beside her. One of the men beside the bar, a man that she's seen carrying a pistol once before, nudges her shoulder and motions for her to follow him. Tall with a belly that speaks of years of alcohol abuse, the bearded man turns his back to her and makes his way towards the corner of the bar.

The bar, as unkind as it is, doesn't try to touch her or eye her over like many of those around her do. Solstice ignores them, rather tries to as the heady scent and mixture of throbbing sensory overloading devices wall themselves in around her. Sweat. She can smell it. Sweat and desperation and it's all she can do not to choke on it and cry out - be reduced to a trembling mess. She grips the tainted edge of the bar top in order to try to center herself.

She gasps. It is a sudden sound mixed with a cry before she is turning to look at the man. Recognition filters over that fearful gaze and honey eyes try to find presence of a weapon. Hesitation takes over and finally she follows after, passing a look to the smirking chuckles she receives from her startlement.

Back in the sea of bodies once more and the ECO is breathing heavily, trying not to touch anyone. Her body is tense, worked over in such a way that a headache is already forming from the clench of her teeth.

The smell of cigarette smoke mixes with the sweat of the dancers and the swell of bodies. All too often does she have to maneuver around a patron that doesn't notice her in time, and on more than one occasion does it seem that a man or woman doesn't move on purpose, forcing her to brush her body against theirs.

The lights turn red for a moment, and a strobe effect cuts through it as she passes a nearby table. A middle-aged man is leaning back in a leather seat while a girl in a red thong straddles him, gyrating slowly against his chest. There is nowhere safe for her in this place…

…especially before her.

The man leading her stops, motioning to the bald headed and goateed form of Tarko Farn lounging in a black chair. Without a care in the world, the black marketer has a glass of ambrosia dangling from one hand, and another pointing to a seat across from him.

At some points during this labyrinth of pain and desecration of the all the morals she has tried to follow, Solstice nearly gags. Her hand lifts to cover her mouth, dark brows rising upward in concern and dismay. With each brush against another, a shred of her courage is drawn away, dragged free of her and left to hang in that twisted air.

The strobe light twists the images into something even more grotesque and frightening for her. Darkness mingling with flashes of light in deep red fall over her as well, painting the woman in the same throbbing sensation that all the others feel. Shakes cannot help but feel alone, vulnerable and scared to the point that she stares at Tarko. Her knees are nearly clattering together and it’s all she can not to keep from falling down. The heels are like two unhinged struts of a building, ready to topple and take her with. But somehow, she manages despite the dizzying flash of lights.

The seat is found, though it offers no comfort in the sea of distress that surrounds her and all within her, her nerves scream out. BAD IDEA. But that even is drowned out by the vibrating music that seems to feed the sickly life that claims the lives of those left of the human race within the establishment.

Tarko's eyes undress her, glancing to her athletic calves as she passes before him. A thinly rolled cigarillo is brought to his lips, and it's quickly brought to life by a spark of flame from a cigarette lighter. Without a word, he leans back in his chair and stares at her. His look says only one thing: She belongs to him.

Letting the raw emotion of his stare bear down on her for just a little longer, he motions for her to lean forward as he brings himself to rest his elbows on his knees. His breath reeks of cigar smoke and ambrosia, and from so close she can see a strange redness at his nostrils…a sign of other things in his system.

"So how am I supposed to take this? I tell you to come and you do, wisely without Keenan, but you come in that sexy black dress, Shakes." It's a name on her dog-tags. "I knew you'd come. You know that, right? He must be giving it to you right."

Her breath catches at the back of her throat like a sludge that suffocates her slowly. Solstice cannot help but feel that grime on Tauron again, the sweat, the gasps, the breaths, the threats and aggression and her eyes close. She shudders very visibly and her hands lower to clamp over the hem of the dress, legs crossing to assume a rather demure look.

Finally opening her gaze, she studies him and her worry grows tenfold at the small details he presents in his countenance. Slowly she moves to the edge of her perch, properly situated and only to have to lean forward. She doesn't not think on what that would give him, a view down the top of her dress. Not at first.

Her cheeks color at his words and she tries to find her voice, "I came to insist that you let Keenan be. He's cut ties and so should you…as for what he is giving me that is none of your business." But by the look on her face that would be a wild assumption that he is. Her hand lifts then, clamping over her v-neck and effectively blocking his view with an afterthought.

Her hand over the V-neck of her dress is too late indeed, covering up what he was looking at, rather than cutting off an opportunity he's yet to take.

Glancing to her eyes for the moment, Tarko brings the cigarillo to his lips, puffing on it quietly as he regards her. Every second that passes is a second spent being weighed by the man that still bears a purple-black bruise to the side of his face where Keenan attacked him.

"It's my business if I want it to be. Besides, what was it that you said again? That you were going to tell the military about me? About what? I'm the victim of assault." He shrugs, motioning to one of his men. "Hey, Kitt, bring me over that form the security officer left with us. I think I am going to press charges after all…" He starts, turning his attention away from Solstice, forgetting her.

Keeping her hand stretched out over that gap in the fabric, she is shivering a little. As her gaze falls, it is only when he speaks that she looks up. Solstice reacts, her eyes widening. "No." She says firmly - finding her voice at last despite the still present tremor running through her. "No…You have no need to press charges." She says. Inside she is cursing Keenan for that thrown punch. Her chin lifts and she eyes the man. "Give me those papers…" breathes, her words catching.

She has to readjust her words, "What do you want for those papers?" She queries then, her chin lifting as she tries to look stronger than she feels. Those bits of courage left hanging somewhere out behind her.

Holding up a hand to stop the gun-owning man named Kitt, Tarko turns back to Solstice once more. Again, that look comes. He owns her at this point. Flashing a broad smile in her direction, almost mocking her, he leans back in her direction as he puffs on the cigarillo. The flavored leaf is sweet, smelling of stained ambrosia.

"I heard someone found a pair of dog tags around here that says you're an officer. That means you've got resources, access to things. Just so happens that I have a few things I wouldn't mind getting over here that you could…" He pauses, watching her face. "…you ever done any mule work? Delivery? Your boy has. Might be something' you two could bond over."

At his request, Solstice's brows furrow and she sits back, hands trying to be modest in where they are placed to add in some level of comfort. It is Tarko's eyes that seem to sear through her though. "I cannot get you anything. I am too new. Picked up off Tauron." She starts, placing it out there as she considers the fact they found her dog tags. Shifting, the ECO looks up at the others around them, nervously assessing her possible escape route.

Shivering, her eyes close and she tries to find her courage. Keenan. Slowly those honey eyes open again - she had a reason to be here. "I am merely here to cut ties with you, not to make new ones. There must be other options."

"Oh that's not happening. Either you or Keenan, that's how this is going to go. You're much better company than he is, and to be honest I've got a mind to break a few of his fingers, so it's probably better that it's you for right now." Tarko's reply is simply, buried under the weight of the man's overconfidence. Predatory as ever, he leans in closer, making sure that she can hear him.

"Before we last split, I let you know that I have people over there and that if I didn't get what I want that things were going to happen. Do you think for one second that I'm gonna risk myself in any of this? Shakes you're not too bright a girl if you think I haven't taken my time to get this started…" He pauses, reaching out to touch her hair affectionately. "…now you need to start thinking about what you can get me. I want a wireless. I want supplies. I already have uniforms, did you know that?"

The mention of harming Poms as Solstice a little more gathered now. Focusing on the slime of a man, she has a reason to try to push through. But as he settles his gaze, she cannot help but feel utterly disgusting. Her skin crawls and it is only accented by the brush of his hand through her hair. She jerks back and her eyes widen. Her hand lifts and if he doesn't move she will slap him without hesitation. "Don't touch me!" She proclaims, barely catching the list of things he wants and what he has. Shaken some, she lives up to her call sign again and her hands tremor.

She is almost standing now, rising rather swiftly as if she is thinking better of being here.

Tarko leans back, dodging the swinging open palm coming from the pilot before him. Trapped with her in the corner of the room, there's not too many that would see it from their vantage point.

"I'll give you a little time to think it over. You have less than a week." Tarko replies, pulling something out of the cargo pocket of his black pants. It's a small, black, wool glove. Turning it over in his hands, he rudely tosses it at Solstice's feet. Whistling for one of the girls to come over and give him some attention, he has only a few moments more with Solstice before they're interrupted by the girl.

"Hey Shakes? If I'm ever not here, talk to Kitt here." He motions towards the man who led her over. "He handles all of my paperwork for me, and he knows where I am all of the time." He smiles broadly. "Maybe if you get lonely, or tired of frakkin' him like he's frakked everything here…I can show you how well I treat my girls."

Missing, her hand cannot seek retribution but instead, she stands there, turning her head down to the item he flings at her. She had not needed to look at him and Solstice instead reaches down for it. Picking up the glove slowly, she studies it - uncertain of what it is. But her honey eyes lift at his words and her face pales a little, even more so as the woman joins him. She twitches and swallows, taking a step back with a soft click of her heels that is swallowed by the music. "Don't hold your breath…” she says and turns, trying to bury herself in the crowd and get out.

Anger, regret, uncertainty, all mix to make her a frantic mess trying to get out. Caught between bodies, she is thrown around, her hands lifting to try to press herself through as she gasps and sidesteps, slamming into the ground and jarring her left leg. Wincing some, she lifts her leg and gets a look at some broken glass. She is nearly trampled as her fingers attempt to pluck at it, blood trickling down her leg. She is forced to forget it and rises.

Blood dried by now, she had gotten a few looks on her way through the hallway. Solstice pulls the hatch open to the berths, something like a cold winter settled to her expression. Her dark hair clings to the side of her face a little and she smells of smoke and alcohol. The click of her heels sound and she is pushing the hatch closed, her dress shifting around her legs. She winces some as she twists with her leg, the glass still buried, at least a piece she can feel but not see.

Click click click continues on as she moves for her locker, looking distant and not at all happy as she drags it open with a resounding rattle.

There's the sound of shuffling feet from further in the berths. Keenan, having just returned from the laundry, sets his laundry bag down on the mattress beneath his bunk and steps in Solstice's direction.

"Shakes?" He asks, stepping over towards her. His eyebrow is bandaged and he's got a wicked looking black eye lording over the left half of his face. He stops, glancing over the dress and the blood trickling down her leg. "…Shakes…I thought you said…" He starts, knowing damned well that she promised she wouldn't go back.

Solstice tries to ignore, thinking it best due to how her anger is starting to fester. The betrayal..and her feelings having been crushed. She manages to ignore him, rather well. She reaches inward for her sweats, dragging them out, she moves past him towards her bunk. Keenan gets the cold shoulder and her jaw is set in a defined locked position.

Settling to the edge of her bunk, she curls her leg up to her after she slides her shoes off. Her fingers lower and she tries to drag a nail along the laceration to find the piece of glass.

Blinking, Keenan moves to lean against the bunk that her locker rests against. A look of immediate concern falls over his bruised facing, making him look for a moment as if he's slowly falling apart. Folding his arms across his chest, he carefully tucks away his bandaged knuckles, not knowing how to approach her.

"Did…I do something wrong?" He asks, testing the conversational waters with his foot first. "I didn't go back over there, like we agreed, and what happened to your leg?" He asks, unfolding his arms and leaning in, as if preparing to take a look at it.

His presence causes her brows to furrow and her lips press together. His words grate across her nerves and Solstice does her best not to let it get to her. Gasping, she jerks the piece of glass free finally, the divot in her knee welling with blood that starts to trickle slowly again. She's bricked her finger though and the smear of crimson stains her leg as the glass clatters to the floor softly and stops bouncing.

His leaning in then though gets a sharp jerk back and she says finally, rather forcefully. "Do not touch me."

Raising his arms as of to show that he's not holding a gun and that she doesn't have to shoot him, Keenan lurches back. She's slapped him before, and she didn't seem as mad at him back then. Whatever it is that he did…it's bad.

"Solstice? Would you please tell me what this is about? I uh…" he motions towards his bunk. "I was just doing laundry, and I thought everything was okay. I haven't heard anything from Bootstrap or Toast yet about the stitches. Did they bother you?" He starts firing off theories, shaking his head once quickly. "Better yet, what the frak were you doing going over to the Elpis? Wait…were you at the Elpis?" His curiosity starts turning towards the possibility of her dress being worn for…a date?

Her cheeks flush with her anger and Solstice has to do her best not to yell at him. Pain tears at her and it’s not from her wound. She grabs the glove from her bed top and stands. She steps up to him and slaps it against his chest, letting him take it and then meeting his gaze. "So …I was just another of many?" She hisses. He may have done questionable things, but she could overlook that. "Just another set of legs to spread for you…” Her voice catches and pain edges there. Releasing the glove she steps back, anger wearing a mask of sorrow at points. Pain. Rawness fills her and it’s like she had been wronged all over again. "You take care of your own problems…maybe another woman will be so foolish…” She says harshly. "Maybe one you have frakked before." Her hand trembles as she presses her curtain back further and reaches down for her sweats grasping them and moving for the head.

"What the?!?" Keenan manages to get out, a betrayed look on his face. Glancing down to the wool glove she's planted against him, he glances down to it. "Wait this is your glove." He starts, pointing towards laundry bag on his bed.

Resisting the urge to stalk towards his bed to grab it for her, he tries to step closer to her. "Solstice, wait, I don't know who told you that but I swear on my soul that it's one hundred percent bullshit. I found a glove just like that in my laundry bag, I thought it was yours." He points out, looking hopeless and confused. "One of many? The frak are you talking about?"

Tears start to taint her gaze and Solstice keeps them at bay by sheer willpower. The idea of the glove being shared causes her heart to skip a beat. Fear wells within her anew, but Keenan hasn't escaped her wrath either. "I got this glove from Tarko." she says in a rush, "And he says that you frakked everyone over there…" She is hurt.

Swallowing she turns, moving for the head, trying to beat back her worries as to how the gloves got there. Someone in the berths. Someone in the Wing. Her already unsteady trust with them is shattered and suddenly the woman feels utterly alone. Pain has followed her every step, why not now?

Keenan turns, following close on her heels. Oh no…Tarko is not going to do this to him. "What? Solstice why would you go back over there and don't let that son of a bitch get into your head. All he does is lie." He swallows, feeling utterly helpless against the uphill battle that the bad, bad man has placed before him.

"Solstice…" He starts, taking a deep breath. "…I swear to you I only dated a girl from Pete's once and that was back when it was on Leonis." He shakes his head. "Gods dancers are…greedy, lonely, selfish people sometimes. I don't know any of the new girls over there really. Ever since the Cylon attack I've been a mess. I wanted to be alone." He tries to get in her way, trying to force her to listen. "Please, you've got to believe me. He lied, Shakes."

Her fingers still curled around the glove, their display is going to carry but the ECO doesn't care. Instead, she mutters at his continued insistence. Tears finally start to truly glisten and it’s everything she can do to keep from slamming her hands into him and pushing him away when he gets in front of her. "Believe who?! Every man has hurt me or lied to me save for Bunny and Priest." She gasps, pain searing her throat and lungs - fear clogged in there as her mind spins over the glove.

"I thought…I thought you were different…." She had nearly given herself to him, had pushed all her boundaries and now she felt torn. Men were evil. Men were meant to make her hurt and now she remembered why she stayed away.

Keenan takes a few quick steps back as he's pushed. The shove is one of those angry, hard ones, and he'll be sure to feel her handprints on his chest for quite some time. His gaze turns to the ceiling and his hands run over his face. So…so frustrated.

"Solstice, please, just stop okay?" He pleads, not backing down from her. "When we were over there, did I even bother looking at another girl? Have I ever given you one hint that I was interested in another girl? So he gave you a glove, whatever, he's an asshole. GODS, why did you go back over there?!?" He groans, shaking his head.

Daring once again to step forward, he reaches for her shoulders. "Please, I am different. If I was that kind of guy I would have taken advantage of you. Tarko is getting inside of your head." He pauses. "Frak this…I'm going to Toast. This ends now." He says, suddenly turning to storm for the door.

Trying to get a word in edge wise is hard at this juncture. No, no he does not get a hold of her and Solstice twists away. "I went over there because I …I love/d/ you…at least I thought I did. Gods damn it…” She hisses. Pain tears her chest, causes her to find it hard to breathe. "And if you go!" She says, taking a step after him, "He will know." She throws the glove on the ground. "Someone was here…someone who has security access to put that damned glove in the laundry." She says sharply. "Can't you see!?" Trapped. They are trapped in his web - her included now. "If they can do that…unnoticed…it means they can do other things." Kastor. Solstice seizes on that thought and she lifts her hand to her face. Frak a shower, she needs to find her brother.

Throwing her sweats down, she begins to try to dig out proper shoes from the locker. Kastor would be one of those constantly on the Elpis when he could be.

The glove. He's been so busy trying to fight to keep her that he hadn't thought of it. The sudden realization stops him dead in his tracks, turning around to look at the wool glove on the floor. A pit forms in the center of his stomach, forcing him to taste bile. Everything around him turns to gray.

"This is my entire fault." He says, stepping over to his glove on the way to his locker. Angrily, he punches in the conversation for his locker. Opening it up, he yanks his Dragon Mark XIX sidearm from its holster and cracks open the cylinder, checking the barrel. "I love you too." He murmurs, his arm snapping as he whips the chamber shut. "Stay away from the Elpis. If you hate me? Fine, stay away from me, just know that he lied. There was only you. Like it or not I'm not letting you stay in this anymore."

His words matched with the sidearm causes Solstice to give pause. But as she stares at the unsaid impending actions, the ECO is still lingering on something else. His proclamation of his feelings and declaration of his innocence melding together into one. It steals her anger and replaces most of it with fear. Shakes steps forward, dropping the shoes she was going to pull on. "No." She says firmly, seizing his arm with her hand. "You are not going to do this, so help me." She says sharply. "If you fail? What is there to stop him from not allowing me to stay out of it?" She asks him.

Whatever lies she may believe, Solstice is not about to let him go. "No." She says again, reaching to take that sidearm if she can.

Keenan's not about to get into a wrestling match over the firearm, but he's not about to give it up either. When her hand reaches for his forearm, he lets her put it there, but his grip is tight on the weapon. Unwilling to let go, he turns to look at her with a face that's almost eerie with calm.

"Solstice let me go." He says firmly. "Let me go." He repeats, not willing to fight her and instead opting to try to talk her down. "That son of a bitch tried after my sister. Now he's getting to you. Everywhere I go he's there, and if I don't go over there and let him know that he's not in charge this is never going to end." His words are calm, and in his eyes it's clear that he's chosen this course of action. "He lied about me, but more importantly he's gotten to you. He's scared you, and now he's got someone putting shit in my laundry bag. Frak him." He turns his attention back to his locker, reaching for his spare magazines. "I'm not letting him do this to you. He can frak with me, that's fine, but you? No. Not happening."

Concert wells up and Solstice does not let go, instead she stares at him. "Tell me what you said earlier. Just a moment ago." She says softly. But there is a narrowing of her gaze upon him with that request. The ECO does not step away, instead remains tucked close to his side. Breathing deeply, she holds his gaze. "This is not how you deal with problems now. You once told me you never 'rolled' anyone. I don't want you to ever roll anyone. Not for me, not for you, not for any reason…hear me?" She says, swallowing. Still this part of Keenan scares her a little. Trembling at his side, the barefooted woman steps in, facing him before she tries to get him to look at her fully. "Do not go…if you survive, this will ruin everything for you. If you don't. Either way….I lose you." She swallows past all that pain that Tarko has managed to plant, no matter how untrue.

The hardness behind his eyes fights to remain in place, but her words sell themselves. It's true. What he wants to do will secure him nothing, and should he get through it with his life at the very least he would be looking forward to imprisonment. At the worst? Execution. His grip on the Dragon loosens enough for her to pull it away from him, the safety still engaged. He lets her take it.

Pushing the extra magazine back into his locker, he locks eyes with her once more, squaring his jaw. "I meant it. I do love you." He says, shaking his head a few times. "Let's not…" He stops himself, sighing. His voice is low and conspiratorial. "…Solstice, we have to tell Toast and Bootstrap. The fight was one thing. This is getting serious. If he can get to us, then we've got to let someone know just in case something happens. Don't go anywhere alone. Please."

The heaviness of the gun enters her slender hand and she lets it fall back to her side. Those honey eyes remain on his and she swallows when he professes again and her eyes finally drop. "They do need to know…as does security. We may wish to speak to the es-two and the em-ay-ay." Keeping the gun in her hand, she gazes down at it and fingers the trigger along its side. Solstice thoughts seem to drift wildly a moment and then she closes her eyes. She still hurts, even if what was said was lies, it hurts to think about.

Slowly and in silence, she empties the gun of its present clip and lifts it to the shelf in his locker. Setting it inside, she sets the shells next to it. "Promise me you will never pull this for any other reason than a Cylon…” she whispers.

His eyes tilt to the gun resting in the locker, and then back to the serious look that's blanketed her. The seconds pass, but more in honor of the severity of the situation than out of trouble with the decision. "I promise." He says, his hands coming together to wrench against each other. Frustrated and a little fearful for the future, he frowns.

"I'll drop by the CaG's office if I can't find Bootstrap. He's my SL and I can't go over his head without trying to put it through him first." He sighs, folding his arms and leaning against his bunk. His eyes tilt to the floor. "I promise."

There is a slow nod from Solstice, accepting his promise before she closes his locker to hide the gun from sight. She lets out a long breath, tension draining some. Her lips part and she casts a glance up at him, still wounded by the lies. "I am sorry…” She says. Part of her still feels the worry over the gloves, everything Tarko said to her. Shakes feels the weight remain heavily on her and she takes a step away from him, moving to gather her sweats with a trembling hand. She can still smell the smoke on herself, on her hair. The touch he had given her causes the woman to shudder in afterthought.

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