Civic Duty

Phalanx (fā′lăngks′), n. A group of people or things of a similar type forming a compact body or brought together for a common purpose.

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Civic Duty

Post by Issy » Mon Nov 16, 2020 2:39 pm

(This entry crossposted with The Governor's Office, with thanks to Jaycy Ashleana)

Batten Industries and The Governor's Office

It was one of those perfect fall mornings as far as she was concerned; broken shafts of sunlight kissed the ground mildly, tempered by the scattered cloud cover above. The breeze wasn’t too strong, more a light stirring of hair in the late morning hour as she disembarked from the parked motorcycle under the auspices of the spiral tower in front of her. She palmed the keypad, powering the machine down before turning her attention to the surrounding greenery. The fact that it was still lush despite moving surely into the throes of Fall spoke as much to the prosperity of the company as the beauty of the building itself did.

Batten Industries - and Batten Tower specifically - was one of the remaining businesses she had been yet to visit during one of the four months she had been Baroness of Old Market’s district. Now, it seemed, with the addition of the ‘Governor’ title, time had come to pay her respects to Ed Batten and his enterprise through his surrogate, Isuelt. It’d taken a few days to research the company and its holdings but she hadn’t come up with a lot of information. What she had found, though, supported the proposition that Batten and the Governor’s Office had an amiable history that she could perhaps expand in the coming year.

Red bracketed her frame; silver-streaked red curls were held together in an artfully-tangled jumble and held together with white ribbons and cherry red heels graced her feet. Between she flouted the ‘no white after Labor Day’ rule completely and perfectly, pure white silk blouse tucked into white leather pants and underneath a matching three-quarter sleeve blazer. Jewelry completed the ensemble; two gold bangles on her right wrist and a long silver chain atop the blouse containing two coins and a small silver key. She curved her lips up in a friendly smile and pressed forward, heels clacking lightly on the ground with each confident stride.

She made it through security readily enough; she’d stopped carrying hidden weapons when she became enough of a weapon on her own so there was nothing to flag her for. Directed to reception, her smile turned to the blonde face of the building, Olivia. Across the lobby and near the desk, she waited politely until the woman was ready to speak to her. A few moments and then she stepped completely forward, tilting her head with a light grin. “Mornin’, I’m Jaycy. I’ve got a meeting with Isuelt.”

Olivia tapped her ear as she finished her conversation with the other end and smiled cooly at Jaycy. “Yes, good morning, Governor Ashleana. I’ve made sure that Ms. DeRomiano is awaiting you in the boardroom on the fifteenth floor along with some morning refreshements. You’ll find the elevator to the left of the desk, and it will take you there directly.” A slender arm, encased in platinum gray silk, gestured to Jaycy’s left where the faint ding of the awaiting car signaled it was ready. “And please accept this with Mr. Batten’s and Batten Industries’ compliments and congratulations on your new office.” Olivia slid a slender leather folder, wrapped with a grosgrain ribbon to Jaycy. Once Jaycy had the time to open it and inspect its contents, she would find the contact information for not only Isuelt DeRomiano, but also Edward Batten. As well as the most recent consumer catalogue for Batten Industries and their civilian products, including a small pamphlet of additional products that would be at the disposal of the Watch and Rhydin’s political figures, such as the Governor.

Once Jaycy entered the elevator, the doors smoothly shut and an automated response voiced its greeting. “Good morning and welcome to Batten Tower, the time is 9:02 am.” As the elevator ascended, it was not long before the voice spoke again. “Fifteenth floor. The main board room is to your right. Have a pleasant day.” The doors opened to reveal a brightly lit hallway which led to the left or right. On the right was a large set of double glass doors flanked by four potted Ming Aralia trees. Beyond the glass sat Isuelt at a long table, with a tray before her which housed a French press coffee maker and two baskets covered by white cloth napkins. Isuelt was monochromatic in a black blazer, a pair of black woolen pants and pumps. Her hair was swept back into a loose gathering at the nape of her neck. She was looking down at a tablet, tapping it lightly here and there. There was already a cup and saucer set before her, from which she sipped as Jaycy made her way from the elevator.

The redhead moved immediately out to release the elevator from its task and then, out of habit, shifted lightly to the side where she wouldn’t be in the way while she paused to acclimate to her new surroundings. She hadn’t yet peered into the folder nor breached the ribbon, instead keeping it tucked under an arm, fingers curled underneath to hold it. Green-gold gaze drifted first left to the end of the hallway that she could see before focusing on the right and the room (and lady) waiting for her. Her lips curled up in that pleasant smile and she stepped forward with the left to the doors, pausing to rap knuckles a few times in polite warning of her imminent arrival.

A moment later Jaycy opened the door and eased through, striding forward enough to set the folder very lightly on the long table. Head tilted and her smile broadened, quirked to grin as she took in the woman’s stylistic choice. “Light and dark - seems we had similar ideas,” she teased as a way of greeting. “Thank you for meeting me this morning, Isuelt. It’s a pleasure seeing you again, and I’m impressed by the tower that I’ve seen on enough occasions but haven’t yet had the right excuse to visit.”

Isuelt stood and nodded to the governor as she entered. “Good morning, Governor. I see that you received Mr. Batten’s compliments.” Isuelt gestured to the ribboned envelope in Jaycy’s hand. “Please…” Her arm then moved to indicate a seat near Isuelt at the table, in full reach of the pastry and coffee tray. “The pleasure is mine.” As Isuelt sit back down, she continued. “I’m proud to say that we have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the office of the Rhydinian Governor for some time, as well as myself personally. When I served as the Scathachian General here in Rhydin, we were always at the beck and call of the governor in office. I’d like to first say that nothing has changed as far as my personal regard goes. While the Scathachians have left the city, my loyalty is still intact. And as for the roles that Mr. Batten, Ms Kathryn Batten and all of their employees here go, that is doubly so. We are all pleased to serve our city, just as we always have been, no matter who is in office.” For someone who had always hated the political side of her life, Isuelt was getting quite good at it. And while years had gone by since the first true allegiance had been created between Isuelt and the Scathachians and Edward, as Ranger, and Batten Industries and the then sitting governor Fiona Helston, nothing had really changed on any of their parts for making sure that citizens were safe and imminent dangers were kept at bay. Ranger, Zulu, or Spartan were not flying around the city like they once had, nor were Scathachians stationed throughout the city to aid the Watch in protecting citizens and doling out justice. Still, the hearts of these “retired” heroes beat and desired peace above all else. “Now, what is it that I and Batten Industries can do for you and the city, Governor Ashleana?” Isuelt smiled at Jaycy as she leaned back in the black leather chair.

She’d easily slipped into her offered seat as the lady resettled, hands clasping in front of her on the tabletop and not yet reaching for either of the delights close at hand. “Before we get to that, mayhap it’s best if I let you know who I am and am not. Please just call me Jaycy; no need to stand on formalities and titles among friends and peers. I’m really just a simple woman.” The corners of her lips curved up perhaps just a little more at the words but they sounded sincere enough; perhaps it was that she tried to be even if she wasn’t always successful.

“For most of my time here in Rhydin I’ve been a dueler; the only politics I’ve gotten involved in were the Baronial kind. I’ve known many of the governors but tended to stay away from the…” Trailing off, she unclasped her hands so that one could wave in that almost universal thinking gesture. “... messes the City’s governors have made at points. Like adding dueling Barons to City councils or dealing with the Watch’s inefficiencies or the whole anti-mage registration campaign that’s happened a few times. I lived outside the City proper even though I own a business in Dockside, a ship at her docks, and keep my hand in the other districts through baronies. I fund the Old Market Recovery Assistance Program which has been seemingly helpful for this district and has been my duty after Harris nearly ruined it. I’ve helped fund shelters, had my Baronial holdings serve as places for people. I intend for the Governor’s Mansion to follow some of those same functions, if I can do it. I want to see everyone in the City able to defend themselves; Lilith, Hope and I have started working toward that goal with the Overlord Initiative. So these things I know. What I don’t really know is who the Scathachians are or were; I also don’t know things like how and where Batten Industries is involved in the workings of the City, technologically or otherwise. Obviously that folder will help me but I’m politely waiting until I’m back in my office to go over it.”

A soft chuckle escaped and only then did she reach out to the coffee tray, drawing a cup closer after pouring the hot liquid from the press into it and adding both cream and a little sugar. “All that so you know who you’re dealing with. So mayhaps the next question is what do I want for the City… beyond what you’ve no doubt heard in the speeches. I’m here, as I see it, to be a facilitator, to solve the seven thousand little problems that get lost in the way. I’m here to try and make it easier to communicate with one another, and see that we’re all a little better at the end of the day. I have an amazing mechanic and pilot who fixed a City well one of the first days, for example. People want schools built. Technologies like the irrigation system at the Solarium could benefit everyone if implemented smartly.” Pausing, she took a sip from her coffee, brows lifting in delight at the brew. “Mmm. That’s excellent,” she sighed and then continued. “It’s all things I’ve said before and it’s a starting point. So… knowing this… what can we do for each other?”

Isuelt smiled as she listened to Jaycy; and in more than a few places did she nod her head in agreement. “Jaycy,” she paused to indicate that she’d gotten the familiarity notion, “I think that this city is lucky to have you. It’s a crazy place, but the people, for the most part are good-hearted.” She shifted in her chair and leaned forward, her elbows on the table. “I must confess that I’d not gotten to know you quite as well as I’d hoped in the years previous to this. I am remiss about that, not a question about it. So, I thank you for your candid approach to governing and to your introduction. Although I had seen you duel on a few occasions.” She grinned and continued, “In the years past, I worked with the Watch as something of a...a justice bringer, of sorts. The Scathachians, when they were here, were called Judges. We patrolled the city and helped out where we could. We were daughters and warriors of the goddess of war, Scathach. But now...well, they’re gone. And I have chosen to stay in Rhydin to watch over her. The city, that is.” She reached up and scratched her cheek lightly. “I would hazard a guess to say that within the files or at least the rolodex of the governor’s office, you’ll find reference to them, and to me.” She quieted, “As far as Edward Batten goes, he was in a similar employment. Not that we worked for money, just…” hesitating for the perfect word, “...extra muscle as it were. When the Governor needed us, we would set in to do things that the political office was unable to accomplish.” Swallowing lightly, she continued, “Not all of it was totally out in the open, but I know that the confidential files at your disposal will speak of some code names for us. Batten developed a suit of sorts to enable his ability to safeguard the city as well as, His code was Ranger. He had a small group that aided him, but for now, all is quiet and the need for him and his small army is null.”

She pushed her hair behind her ear and smiled at Jaycy, whom she deduced was a straight shooter. “I am Nails. As although my vigilante days, like Ed’s, are mostly behind me, I wanted to offer any service that I may. I love this city, Jaycy. I love the people. Wherever you can use me, feel free to.” Her brows lifted to punctuate her sincerity. “Thank you, by the way, for your service to the city thus far. The politics of governing so many different sorts of people with all manner of ideas and from all sorts of places is challenging to say the least.” She took a breath, knowing she’d been babbling on. “I guess what I’m trying to say is that I used to be useful to this city, and I’d like to again.” She softly smiled and leaned back in her chair.

The confidences offered faded her smile a little - not out of displeasure, mind you, but out of respect for the serious information Isuelt imparted. “First, there’s nothing to be remiss about; we’ve moved in different circles and while I’d seen you before I had little reason to talk to you, aye? We’re here now and that is mayhaps the right time as intended.” Her lips turned up just for a moment (to indicate friendliness, of course) before the lightened expression faded. “But since we’re being … candid … I’ve … taken work … that might be considered a bit vigilante as well. Mostly out of the City, but sometimes requests have come in closer to home.” A gleam crossed her green-gold eyes and face sharpened with a bit of a darker grin. “I’m no saint, by the way, Isuelt. I am a monster and I have to admit that; I have dragon blood - don’t ask - and have some of the benefits and downsides that go with being such a beast. I have and continue to consort with those who might seem … bad. But … I love this City too, and I love my people, and I will protect them how I can.” A small pause, expression easing and a warm smile finding its way as replacement. “Like you.”

Another sip. “I only hope that I can be as good for the City as you’re flattering me with.” Her head canted slightly left, studying the woman. “Have you meet Neeklyah Lang yet? She’s a younger woman, of course a dueler, but she has some ideas relative to filling where the Watch doesn’t, at least in Dockside to start with.” The words came slow, thoughtful. “I’m not meaning that you should join them or take over for them, but it might be a project that she could use a mentor with and someone who might have a little more experience with organized groups than I do to give her some advice if need be. The City is quiet, mostly, aye, but some of what we need now are visible fixtures as role models to help keep things quiet.”

She nodded, “I absolutely agree. And while I don’t think I’ve met Neeklyah as of yet,” her fingers reached out and tapped a few strokes into the tablet before her, “I would be happy to meet with her and see what she needs.” She smiled, “The experience of a general hopefully is not too imposing. I’ll promise not to overstep my bounds.” She glanced down at the tablet once more, satisfied with the note she had written to herself. “And Jaycy, if you ever do feel the need to establish a citizen’s committee as we once had, I would also volunteer my services for that. There used to be a GAC, a governor’s advisory committee.” Isuelt shrugged lightly, “Once a month it was a good place to check in and see what was going on in the city, and in some cases, the realm.”

“Neekylah’s a little stubborn, so subtle might be a good approach.” The grin that surfaced was just a touch conspiratorial. “Headstrong, I should diplomatically say!” The half-joking advice was a good tactic to stall while she considered Isuelt’s other words but eventually she returned to them. “I do remember hearing about the Committee, and I know about governors that have had town halls and other types of regular agendized meetings, but I’ll admit that at least to start with I’ve wanted to try a different approach. The few meetings I attended seemed to be a lot of discussion about problems with very little … resolution?” The redhead’s brows furrowed as she tried to decide whether that was the most appropriate word but she eventually shrugged and let it stand. “I’m trying to keep more informal and regular office hours where people can find me outside of the office; I’m working behind the bar at the Inn now, for example, and likely will have roving smaller meetings in the districts once I can work out the logistics.”

Her hands curled around the cup, lifting with both of them for a sip before easing it onto the saucer and pressing fingers into it lightly; the warmth was delightful. “That isn’t to say I’m not assembling a cabinet, or committee, or not interested in having larger-scale meetings. I’ve been doing so more informally at the moment, like having Shelby as my go-to for civil and or mechanical engineering, or Cygni as an advisor to district relations, or Koy as Minister of Culture or whatever she made her title.” She flashed a quick grin at the mention of Koyliak and the self-appointed moniker. “I think part of the idea of not having a committee, per se, is that I want everyone to feel like they have a part in the government and have a place… not just the people I choose for there to be one. Like, for you, if it weren’t too obvious and out of place for you as a representative of Batten Industries…” Out of habit she held up a hand before returning it to the mug, turning a bit of colored cheeks and sheepish grin at Isuelt. “... and I don’t think it would be, by the way, especially with your connection to the Scathachians, but I would love to see you outwardly involved with the City’s Defense, and with the … well, not policing or Watch, but … policing and the Watch.” She grinned fully; no doubt Isuelt knew of the Watch’s reputation beyond what Jaycy had somewhat politely referenced earlier.

“I think that’s a fantastic idea.” Isuelt deeply nodded her head. “All of it.” She lifted her brows for exaggeration. “I like that you’re behind the bar at the inn. That’s the best place to be to pick up on what’s going on. And I love that people are getting involved with everything.” She too couldn’t help but smirk at Koy’s title. It fit. Seamlessly well, at that! “And I would love to be a liaison for you with the Watch and the city’s defenses.” She knew that both Edward and Katt Batten would back her on this as well. And was it right that she felt a flutter in the pit of her stomach at Jaycy’s offering of working with the Watch? Maybe she’d have more occasions to check in with Lieutenant Cullen, though she was fairly sure that that proverbial ship had sailed. “I am, as ever, at your service.”

The grin remained as she responded. “Ever at my service, aye? I ask now, because this isn’t the only thing I’m interested in. I want to play with some of your toys, too.” A hand left the cup long enough to pat the folder that was close but not too close. “I intend on looking through the catalog today and placing an order in the next few days.” While her tone was teasing, the flash of interest that lit the gold in her eyes showed her sincere intention to peruse the technological offerings and make selections that might provide a benefit. She was sincere in her desire to advance the City through technology, after all.

Of course, though, there was the other side of the coin. “What can I - and the office - do for you?” The offer was genuine, and easily made. “Especially to make this type of position easier?” Funding, she could easily provide. Physical space, too, she could find. She could even grease wheels if necessary. Her head tilted. “Does Batten have permissions in the camera and drone systems?” While she would have to be careful to not get caught in her own spying, it seemed relevant and fair that if they were going to work together, particularly in this capacity, they should have some reasonable access to the tools available through the CIty.

Isuelt nodded, “Batten Industries of course would give permission to the city to use its network of surveillance cameras and drones. I believe there was some sort of contract a few years back.” Of course, she said nothing of Ed’s personal system. She was more than aware that he used it for his own projects and she had never spilled one of his secrets in all the years she had known him. She certainly wasn’t going to start now. “His sister, Katt, would also be a keen ally,” Isuelt smiled. “She’s away just now, but on her return I know that she would want to see how she could help.” Isuelt tapped a few more times on the tablet. “I’ll make the necessary arrangements and draw up a renewed contract.” Wow, she was really getting good at this stuff. For someone who used to be all leather and steel, she was glossing her way around her new situation pretty well. She looked to Jaycy, “It’s been my absolute pleasure talking with you today.” Her lips curled into a warm smile and her chair only creaked slightly as she stood up.

“Katt I’ve heard of and seen and mayhap even briefly met once upon a time. She’d be welcome however she’d be interested, and I look forward to getting to know both - all of you, mayhap - better.” She finished her coffee, unhurried even though she knew the meeting was at an end. It was quality and deserved the respect of being finished, not in languishing to grow cold before eventually being tossed. There wasn’t much left, though, and she eased the chair back before pushing to her feet. “Thank you, Isuelt, for the meeting and for all you all do for the City. I’m very glad we know each other now and I look forward to what the future holds.” Jaycy didn’t extend a hand to shake like some might have done, instead choosing to quirk a lopsided, friendly grin toward the woman. She picked up the leather folio and tucked it under her arm. “Have a good day, and my compliments to Mr. Batten, your architects, landscapers, and designers. And your coffee supplier.” A wink and then she turned away, tracing her path back through the building, down the elevator, and then out to her bike, tossing a wave to Olivia along the way.
Isuelt DeRomiano
Batten Industries

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