Her hair was impressive – she’d worked the dreads up so she had something of the Medusa about her; she liked there to be a little bit of theatricality about these meetings – people expected it and she didn’t like to disappoint.
Cheroot – one of their footsoldiers, even if he didn’t agree that he belonged to anything other than himself – she fed him the lines they fed her, but she didn’t edit them like they asked her to. What were they going to do? They couldn’t come and go like she could, and they couldn’t trust anyone half as much as they could trust her. But she was a player in the game and every player has an angle or they are not playing.
Moonwire – a late addition to the game. Mistral had not met her yet, but she had a leash strung to her. She needed to reel her in … not much, but a little at least. Moonwire was a catalyst and she was doing her job well, but there was a timetable for certain things to occur and, not that they had to respect it exactly, but if there were not to be alignment issues with every sanctioned action, then they had to at least match up to some degree.
She had met with Cheroot and now she was meeting with Moonwire. A meeting of serious import that would be disguised as a casual drink … wasn’t that how business was always conducted in polite and impolite society?
The bar was a favourite: The Widening Gyre. She liked the Bosch on the walls – the way they had managed to wrap the entire place in apocalyptic imagery. When people first walked into this place – a bar where you could still smoke – she watched as they squinted through the people-sponsored smog and started to focus in on the nightmare pictures that surrounded them. Some of the expressions on their faces were priceless.
Moonwire was unfazed – that more than slightly impressed Mistral, though she wasn’t sure why; this woman was going to be tasked with stopping a very real apocalypse herself, so why wouldn’t she be able to handle some pictures on a wall. Moonwire walked straight up to her – didn’t have to ask the barman, just seemed to know straight off who it was that she was supposed to be talking to.
‘What are you drinking?’
‘Nice,’ she raised her fingers and whooshed the picture over to the barman, who smiled, clicked his fingers and sent the beer floating to the table.
‘So, let’s cut to the chase right? I hear you aren’t one of these oracles that like to orate unnecessarily.’
‘Ah, OK, I had heard you were a straight arrow – not a winding road like our friend, Cheroot.’
‘Well, time is of the essence, right?’
‘Sure, to a degree.’
‘Well, don’t start playing dumb now – we all know that most of us who drink in this place and play these games are a little more lucky with our handling of time than the average bear, right?’
‘Yes, of course. I just don’t …’
‘Don’t want to miss anything, right?’
‘Don’t worry, you won’t.’
‘I would ask how you know, but I don’t suppose you would be much use as an oracle if you didn’t.’
‘True. Which is going to make what I say next seem a little odd.’
‘We need you to slow up a little and follow the lead of whatever person we send to tell you what state the timetable is in.’
‘You want me to slow up? Follow a timetable? I understand that my purpose is to push things forward. If I step up the pace and get things moving a little quicker; if I choose to edit the script; if I do what I am supposed to do, aren’t you just going to have fall in line and run a little faster to keep up? We are talking about the future and we are talking about prophecy – is it an exact science? No. Do things need to happen? Yes. Am I the one that is going to make them happen? Well, you tell me. The future can’t arrive too fast as far as I am aware. If I get the jump on the Prosaic and I force their hand and make them act faster then that is what happens.’
‘Well, OK. I don’t think this is going as well as I want it to. This is not how this is supposed to happen.’
‘Not falling into step with your vision? Are catalysts supposed to really play by the rules? While you are looking in your teacup and prognosticating we are out there on the streets stopping people from dropping like flies. Do you think the Prosaic are going to bend under to some kind of rules?’
‘Ah, well, out of the mouth of babes. I had told them it was useless to come down here and speak with you about this. It is like trying to hold back a tsunami.’
‘The universe needs a tsunami and it conjures one up. You see where the path bends, but who ever thought they could control that? I do what I do because it strikes me that I must do that. Is there a plan? Sure – defeat the Prosaic; beyond that? I take each footstep as I see fit. And who sent you to speak to me?’
‘Players of the game.’
‘Ah, the mysterious players of the game. Great Chess Grandmasters moving behind the scenery. They create; I create … do they move me or do I move them? It’s all a matter of perspective, right?’
‘Sure, I see change snaking out from you. You are brave and reckless and whether you survive this or not, I am glad I met you. I can see how you would work well with Cheroot.’
‘OK, so that kind of sounds like this meeting is over.’
‘I guess it is. and you didn’t even touch your drink.’
‘I’ll brown bag it. Don’t worry. Sorry if I came off as disrespectful – I didn’t mean to.’
‘Of course you did. It’s fine; I have been here before. I remain unsurprised. We won’t meet again, whatever happens.’
‘People are telling me that a lot lately. I seem to represent ending cycles.’
‘Well, they have to end for things to begin anew.’
‘True, goodbye, Mistral.’
‘Happy beginnings, Moonwire.’