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 The Lady of the House, Alexander Cross!
Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Jul 28 2012, 09:50 PM
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She was, effectively, alone in the house.

Her mother was at a call (she had been on the verge of insisting Miranda-Penelope come, but she'd been stubborn enough to make her mother late, and so hadn't been forced to go. It was a brute force solution and inelegant, but it had gotten them what they wanted, and was therefore adequate.) and her father was immersed in a meeting with several of his most prominent captains. (That would be Morganstern, Cyprus, and Rajit. Well-turned-out and professional men, all of them, and utterly boring.) Miranda-Penelope was in the pink room, which had the best carpet for working with cogs. One of the windup kittens had broken--its left rear leg had ceased to work, and so she was working on that with both pairs of hands. She would, she reflected, be the ideal engineer with any training. She had the extra hands engineer characters in books were always wanting.

Miranda-Penelope had just gotten the last cog in--this would be a modification, part of her ongoing project to make a kitten that would wind itself up by moving--when a maid entered the room. "Miss," she said, "And, er, miss, we have a bit of a problem."

Well. This couldn't possibly be good. She knew the servants tried to handle problems among themselves as often as possible. Therefore, if she were being asked about it, it was a large problem. Not large enough, however, to resort to disturbing her father and the captains. The easiest way, and, at the moment, the best way to find out what it was, was of course to ask. "What is it?" she said with the mouth of the body that was wearing green today (the other body was wearing gray).

"Well, Mr. Cross is here."

Oh. Alexander Cross, a frequent customer of their fathers. He often came to the house. She had listened in a bit--his business had to do with human trafficking, she believed. Nasty in its own right. He also usually sold Wonders, although she thought that was a bit odd, as surely they must be harder to handle. Nevertheless, she disliked him. There was something overly cold about him, and, truth be told, he scared her, just a little.

And she was going to have to keep him occupied whilst her father was still in a meeting.

Such a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

She wiped her fingers on the cloths she'd brought for such a purpose, and handed them off to the maid with the green-clad body. With the gray-clad one, she picked up the kitten and said, "Send him here, please. And bring tea after, if you would."
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Jul 29 2012, 02:55 AM
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Alexander Cross, CEO of Cross International, New Venice's main import and export of commercial and industrial goods, not to mention the third largest international trading company in the world, was not a man to be kept waiting. He was not in the business of human trafficking in general, he only removed dangerous wonders from society, at a price. The price was money. Money, and the wonder's freedom. He had never sold a normal human being. Normal humans got little money compared to the sale of wonders.

Most of his shipments came by boats. This wasn't the easiest mode of transportation, but it was the most convenient. That is why he was here today. This Hale ran one of the largest Airship businesses in the city. Alexander had been having talks with him in the past few weeks, often meeting at the man's house. Alexander had enough blackmail on the man to back up any deals they made.

He was a businessman first, and a blackmailer second, however, and would rather work things out peacefully and respectfully without incident. So far, their talks have been going well, but Alexander wasn't above airing a man's dirty laundry. Alexander disliked when he had to show one of the cards in his hand. that always left him one less to use later.

Alexander waited in said man's reception room, awaiting to be seen. He stood, looking out the window, at the street of the other rich homes, filled with other corrupt people. He turned around when he heard the footsteps of the maid returning. He listened as the help explained to him that the man of the household was currently in a meeting, and Alexander was to be entertained by the man's two daughters until the meeting was over.

Alexander was at first incensed, being pawned off on children until he was to be seen. Then he calmed down when he got an idea. He had it on good authority that the maa's twin daughters were wonders. That was not truly a well known fact. That was one of the things he could use to hold above Mr. Hale, if he cared. "Lead the way," He said, following the maid. They went down a corridor until they were admitted to the room with the twins.

Seeing them, he was reminded why they were wonders. They were identical twins. It wasn't that fact that made them wonders. It was the fact that they basically shared the same mind. He could really care less. In all truth, he didn't hate wonders, in fact, he could care less about them or their rights. All he knew was that they made him a profit, and these two wouldn't make him nearly enough for the trouble to collect them, no matter how rich they were, or the amount of ransom. They were too hot to touch, as those on the street were starting to say.

Alexander bowed slightly to the two, treating this as a business call, because it was. "Miss. Hale, and Miss. Hale. I am told to wait with you while your father finishes up his meeting." He said, straightening back up and checking his tie. "I hope I am not disturbing you too much today." In fact, he could care less.
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Jul 29 2012, 09:45 PM
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She rose when Mr. Cross entered the room, making certain to do asymmetrically. There wouldn't be any profit in selling someone like her, especially with the risks involved if there were to be some sort of mix-up...but still, it would be better if he didn't know. She didn't like people to know--the Tellermans were bad enough, and they were of no
consequence. He, on the other hand, was of very much consequence.

"Mr. Cross," she said, using the mouth of the green-clad body.

"It's our pleasure," she said with the mouth of the other.

"And it's quite alright, it's merely an issue of timing. The captains are so rarely all in the same place at the same time--it's the shipping schedule, you see. Very complicated. Please sit, there will be tea in a moment,"

True enough, the maid arrived moments later holding a tray of tea. Miranda-Penelope noted she had chosen the best china set to serve it in; servants were no less informed about the subtle politics of the upper class than her mother (and her mother was very informed). "Do you take sugar, Mr. Cross?" she asked, spooning one lump into one of her cups and two into the other. Truthfully, she felt two was overly sweet, but keeping up the appearance of disparity required attention to all the little details.
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Jul 29 2012, 10:20 PM
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One had to admire their dedication to the fabrication of their separate entities cover, Alexander mused as he took his seat. The chair was high back, if a little too fluffy and soft for his tastes, but it served it's purpose as comfortable sitting implement. He sat straight, his back fully against the chair as the tea was served. He waited for the help to finish before speaking.

"I am not particularly fond of sweets, I'm afraid," He said, picking up the saucer with his cup. He admired the choice of china. The help was well schooled in who to bring out the best sets for. "I seem to have spoiled that out of myself in my childhood." He took a sip of the hot tea.

In all truth, he was never one with a sweet tooth. He preferred bitter drinks to sweet ones. The same was with food, he was never one for cakes, or cookies, preferring biscuits and bagels to muffins and doughnuts.

"I am perfectly fine with waiting, I have cleared my schedule for this meeting." He said, as he set down the cup and saucer. That was the truth, he had no other meetings set for the rest of the day, just checking up on how the operations of his company was running. He noticed as the twins placed two separate portions of sugar n their tea. He, again, had to admire how they tried to keep their singularity a secret.

"You said your father has his captains currently in a meeting? How many airships does his company own, exactly?" He had gotten a number from the father already, but he had to bet if his daughters knew, it would be a larger amount than what he was told.
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Jul 30 2012, 07:47 AM
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"Oh, it isn't all of them," she said. "Only the three most important."

"Father delegates, you see. I'm afraid I don't really understand the system--" a lie, she understood it perfectly, although since her father refused to have any difference in the names of the ranks it could be a bit confusing at times "--but Mr. Morganstern, Mr. Cyprus, and Mr. Rajit are higher up on the chain of command." He was fishing, wasn't he? Well, it wasn't as though the number of ships wasn't common knowledge, or at least
easy to discover

The official number, that was. Her father had several ships that were...off the record, so to speak. For the transport of illegal goods. Or people, as it might be. One could buy the use of these ships, if one had a sufficient amount of money and knew to ask. And, if Mr. Cross with all his great wealth didn't know to ask, he didn't deserve to hire one a blackout ship.

"Oh, several dozen," she said. "We don't quite pay attention, you understand. It involves a great deal of business-related matters."

She wished she'd thought to hide the cat instead of putting it on top of the pianoforte in full sight. It would have been much easier to play the airhead socialite that way.
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Jul 30 2012, 03:01 PM
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Alexander internally smiled. The twins were being quite tight lipped. Their dislike of him was obvious, but that is what made this encounter so interesting to Alexander. He could tell they were well schooled in high society tact, better so than the help. You could classify the two almost the perfect daughters for such a family. That is, if it were not for their... affliction.

Alexander mentally noted the captain's names for later use. He had gotten a roster of all the captains employed by Mr. Hale, but didn't have the names of his head captains. Like it, know it, or not, the twins were giving him information regardless of their take on him. That too, is something Alexander enjoyed.

He knew the official amount, that was quite clear to anyone, like him, who does have money, and he had plenty to use. They were being difficult on purpose, he could tell immediately. That was fine. He would get information, with, or without their help. Any information he could get without having to without pay or subterfuge, the better.

He knew they were not idle socialites, just the determination to keep him in the dark from what he already knew was commendable, and showed they had much more going on in their heads than the latest fashion. He contemplated playing a card from his hand and let it "slip" that he knew what they were. They obviously had overheard conversations between him and their father, so they knew what he did, which made them some of the few people who knew he was associated with the wonder trade. If they knew that, they also would know that he had more officials in his pocket than most senators did. He even had a few of them as well.

"Ah, well, I'm sure such talk is dull to two social women like yourselves. The talk of old men can be quite uninteresting at times." He picked up his cup, sipping again, "So, have you two been to the theater as of late? I hear many of the young people like to view the plays." He made idle conversation, better to put them out there, instead of their information dodging.
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Jul 30 2012, 08:25 PM
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"You're hardly old," she said diplomatically.

"And we're hardly women." She was, technically, old enough to be wed. Old enough to have children. But that was not in her future, not ever. No matter how much her mother wanted it. Certainly if she'd been able to separate, she would have found herself advantageous (and adjacent) husbands, but, as it was, that simply wasn't possible.

A pity. There were plenty of rich, potentially influential, easily manipulated men of the right age. She would always have been a dependent, given the fact she was a girl, but being dependent on one's father was far different from being dependent on one's husbands.

"And, unfortunately--"

"--we haven't been to the theatre lately. Is there anything good?"

She could, at times, indulge like that. A certain amount of finishing each others' sentences was expected from twins, after all.
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Jul 30 2012, 09:36 PM
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Alexander almost laughed, almost. He can't remember the last time he laughed. It had been years. He was never the laughing type, always a serious child. "Hardly, I must be over three times your age, young lady." He countered. Debate was always his favorite subject in school, and despite his clipped demeanor, he could hold a decent conversation, when the situation required it.

"I beg to disagree, a girl could never hold a good conversation, no matter how well they are trained to." He countered again. Despite the wait, and the clipped, socially polite words, the conversation was not going as bad as it could. They were not being overtly cold, of course they had to be civil, being that their father would get business from Alexander, and they had to make a good impression on him, like every good child of a social higher class member of society should.

"I can't say I have. Work keeps me so busy, I rarely have time for such pleasures as the theater. I believe that they have two Shakespeare productions currently running. Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, if I am not mistaken. Without a doubt you two have studied the bard by your tutor, am I right?"
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Jul 31 2012, 09:19 PM
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"Point," she said, and smiled with just the right balance of amusement and demurity. Old was changing these days, what with the advances in medicine. But no one could call Alexander Cross young and be anything other than a liar.

"Well, it would appear that there you're wrong."

"We do happen to be girls, and we are holding a conversation that is apparently good."

"So either the conversation is no longer good because we're not yet women--"

"--or you're incorrect." She let just a hint of playfulness into the smiles. She was a good liar, after all. She could pretend she thought him charming.

"That we have. Miranda prefers the tragedies."

"And Penelope the comedies. There is a reason we don't go often to the theatre. We'd never agree, and going to separate shows is simply out of the question."
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Jul 31 2012, 10:53 PM
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Alexander was always right, always. He had too much life experience and intelligence to be wrong. If there was some kind of mix up, then someone didn't do what he said, when he said. Alexander was a perfectionist. He had an obsessive compulsive disorder to have everything he did be correct. He had to have everything correct, or heads were going to roll, most of the time it was literal.

"The terms 'girl' and 'woman' are opinionated terms for someone your ages." she said, making a steeple out of his fingers and looking over his fingertips. "It is possible," He said, his eyebrows nearly twitching when the twins said he was wrong. He was never incorrect, never. "That based on opinions, we are both correct in this. When I was your ages, women were women by now, most engaged to a man by this point. May hap in this day and age, that definition for woman had raised since then."

When the conversation shifted to Shakespeare, Alexander relaxed slightly. He was impatient with those who tried to tried to prove him incorrect. "Ah, I would have to say my preferences sided with Miss. Miranda," He said, playing along. He knew they were lying, that both bodies didn't truly have separate opinions, but he wasn't going to let her on that he knew. "I prefer the tragedies. I would have to say Julius Caesar is my favorite." He turned to one of them, "Tell me, Miranda, what tragedy do you prefer?"
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Aug 1 2012, 10:12 AM
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"Quite possible," she said, "Although at this point, I don't think either of us will ever be engaged."

"Highly unfortunate, but true." And that was the way she would keep it. There were measures in place, just in case she were to fail--hidden money, a map, a train schedule, a list of the tiny, desperate places outside the city that would take a self-taught girl on. A list of doctors who would neuter her, if the money was good enough. (Things happened on the road, she knew. And she didn't plan to be saddled with a child.)

Shakespeare was a better topic. She sensed she'd somehow made him...not angry, perhaps. Upset. Which, she felt, was unwise. "I like Hamlet best, although Othello is a close second."
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Aug 2 2012, 07:05 PM
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If Alexander could read her mind, he would have told her the word was irate. Questioning him made him irate, because he always had the information beforehand. It was rare that he asked question he didn't know the answer to. He was a well prepared person, and rightfully so. In his line of work, he had to know, and have, all the tricks. It was how he operated.

"Ah, both choices are good examples of the bard's work. I imagined you would choose Romeo and Juliet. I hear a lot of the younger generation enjoy all that action and romance, even if the two perish at the end. It's quite a best seller, when the theater decided to showcase it."

His conversations never lasted this long, not without a business deal being made, and they were working out the issues, the specifics. Social calls he made were usually short, mainly because he was a busy man, and couldn't stop to chat. That, and he just didn't like to be bothered with other people's opinions, or concerns, or thoughts.
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Miranda-Penelope Hale
 Posted: Aug 3 2012, 04:56 PM
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She shrugged, realizing belatedly she had done so in tandem. Such things were prone to happen with twins from time to time--but that was no excuse for slipping up. She needed to be careful. She needed to watch herself. Always. "To be honest, neither of us find it that captivating," she said. Quite true; the titular couple was, to put it bluntly, a pair of idiots. And she didn't know what sort of young girls Shakespeare had known, because the entire Mercutio debacle--no. If she were ever to meet a boy who was in the least suitable, and he put a sword through her brother, she would pay to have his head cut off and his body dumped in the harbor, and she would do it with such speed that he'd be in two pieces before he even realized she knew.

She did wish her father would hurry up.

As if her thoughts had summoned the maid--oh, if only; how lovely that would be--she appeared in the doorway. "Mr. Hale has finished his meeting now," she said. "If you're ready, Mr. Cross?"
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Alexander Cross
 Posted: Aug 3 2012, 11:11 PM
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Alexander was almost happy to be rid of the twins. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find subjects of conversation. Especially with passive-hostile company. He had experience with that, fortunately, with more dangerous people than twin teenagers. Still, it could have been a lot worse than it could have been. He had been able to tolerate most of it, even if they had the gall to question him. But he had breezed over that.

Alexander finished his tea and stood when the maid announced that Mr. Hale was ready to see him. He straighten his tie. He turned to the twins and said "Well, thank you for accommodating me." He turned to the help. "Please lead the way." And followed her out.
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