OldLogs:Harper Joins The Temple Of Pythia
Harper Joins The Temple Of Pythia
|Summary:||Marcus persuades Harper to have some faith.|
The doors are unlocked - construction workers come in and out, and there are trucks parked outside. There are people working on every floor, but it's easy to notice Marcus when she's inside. He's the one radiating a palpably supernatural aura of immensity, awe, and power. He's singing, quietly, to himself - and with every word, he's distracting construction workers, and there's a semi-circle around him almost constantly. He seems to be enjoying making their work harder, as every once in awhile one will wander away from his work to come listen and watch Marcus's, then another will snatch himself away, shaking his head as if confused.
What -is- Marcus's work? He's painting - oil on canvas. The depiction is that of a...disturbingly beautiful woman, covered in slickly wet-seeming scales from her belly up to her breasts, with hair a mass of thin tendrils. Her belly is swollen as if pregnant, and the hands that clasp it, lovingly, are clawed. He hasn't finished yet - nor even begun the face - but the background layers make it seem subterranean, wet, dark.
Who knew the minotaur was an insanely gifted painter, singer, and...about a thousand times prettier than Harper remembers him.
Harper goes where the money is, and when people she knows are moving up in the world? She's going to follow in the direction of the money. And where has the money taken her? Here, of course. She lets herself into the building, and ducks around some construction workers like she is meant to be where she is.
Like everyone else is the building she is drawn to the singing like a moth is drawn to flame. Her brow raises a bit when she hears Marcus' singing, and she comes to stand in the little semi-circle of construction workers to watch him a moment. Her brow furrows a touch, as if she doesn't quite comprehend what it is she's seeing, and then she shakes her head a little before she speaks up, just loud enough to be overheard, "Hey. Is Joey around?"
The singing is interrupted, and construction workers snap out of their reverie to go back to work. Without looking away from his painting, he says: "Nope. We're not open yet, Frank's Other Tiny Brunette." He focuses for a moment or two more on getting a brush stroke -just- right. The -texture- of the painting seems to be important to him - this is not one of those paintings that will give its full meaning in prints. You'll have to see it in person to truly -get- it. He turns, dropping a brush into a jar of water. He's in his normal clothing - hoodie, jeans, t-shirt - but streaked in paint here and there. Somehow it looks as good on him as a million dollar suit. Especially when he grins at her, showing teeth. "But if you have a question, I'd be happy to sell you an answer anyway. At a discount."
Harper takes a few steps forward to examine the painting. She tilts her head a little, as if this will help her make some sense of the image before she asks a little dryly, "You taking commissions for deviant art?" Her eyes search the painting. It is probably a little more quality than what is typically on deviant art. "Frank's?" She laughs a little, "Shit." Still, she smiles back at him when he grins at her like that. "Oh, I don't want to buy something from you. I want to get in with..." She nods her head a little, "All this."
"I'm painting the Dark Mother in every incarnation I can think of. Grendel's Mother. The movie - with CG Angelina Jolie? More accurate than most. There's a mis-translation that most people ascribe to that calls her ugly. The real translation is 'unearthly lady', with lady connoting nobility." He nods toward the inherently sexualized painting, blending sexuality, motherhood, and the alien appearance of the creature in a disturbing sort of way. It's the kind of Geigeristic thing that can leave people feeling aroused and scared and guilty all at the same time. "Painting, construction? Cafe work? Bartending?" He cocks his head to the side, looking her up and down. "Or are you talking about -signing up-? Everyone starts at field work." "Huh." Harper says, as if she were trying to sound like she understands what he's talking about in regards to the Dark Mother, or Gendel and his mama, too. Still, she does look at the painting with a little more interest once he's described it even if it is seemingly a bit over her head. When he lists off the jobs she shakes her head a touch, and when he mentions signing up she admits, "I'm a bit more of a specialist, if you follow."
Her lack of understanding comes through clear. That's one of the problems with Marcus. He senses -any- deception. It's...honestly a power he wishes he could turn off. "A specialist," he says, leadingly. He pulls over his stool, sitting - he tamps down the feeling of -enormity- as he sits, actively suppressing the ability so that it doesn't feel like he's coming down to her height from a bit over six feet...but from a bit over twenty feet. He gestures, urging her onward.
Marcus's magnetism is a bit overwhelming. It makes Harper feel unsettled, not as if she were creeped out by the large man, but like he is just /better/ than her. She runs her teeth over her bottom lip a little nervously, "I'm damn good at getting into secure websites. Databases where really important information is stored. That sort of thing."
"You're a technopath, I remember, yeah. So. Does that mean you can do our cybersecurity? We would pay you for that without you joining the Temple itself. But if you're dedicated, and want to move up in rank? Then you'd -have- to do field work. We don't let anyone handle the documents without field work first. You can do it in your own way. You don't have to go out into the swamp and start shooting paranormal creatures to dissect. But you'd have to do -work-. Get your hands dirty. Even if it's only metaphorically." He leans forward, settling his eyes on hers as he adjusts his body language to be a bit more imposing, a bit more -interested-, appraising.
"I can do cybersecurity." Harper says with a nod of her head, but there is a little frown on her face that fades as he explains that she can do it her own way. "Shit." She says, and then she laughs a little, albeit it is a touch nervous. It's odd. She's normally fairly confident. "I can do that. No biggie." Yeah, no biggie Marcus. "What do you have going on security-wise at the moment? It wouldn't do to go through all the effort of finding shit out only to get hacked."
"The only computers in this place right now are my phones, the POS systems for the cafe and bar upstairs, and whatever you brought in. The books - and they are all hardcopy books - are stored in an extra-dimensional space, except for some Barnes & Noble shelf filler for show in the public areas. Where we didn't want to reinvent the wheel, we bartered, stole, or borrowed. Everything that wasn't known that I have -made- known is handwritten in unique tomes that exist nowhere other than in their handwritten form and in my own - infallible, by the way - memory." He cocks his head to the side. "But as an organization grows, we'd want encrypted email and texting that's a bit less...public than, say, ProtonMail. We'd want secure phone lines. CCTV looked into an intranet that's as secure as you can make it. Keeping people with your own talents in mind, I suggest we make it...-fragile-. When it's accessed technopathically, and damage occurs, alarms go off.”
Harper looks thoughtful a moment as she absorbs what he's telling her. As if she's picturing it in her mind. "You're going to want to avoid wifi if a major concern is technopaths." She advises as she puts her hands on her hips and thinks. "I wonder if you could keep the servers in...uh, extra-dimensional space? While still keeping the connection intact. Because some technopaths aren't strong enough to grab signals out of the air. They have to actually touch the machine."
"I want you to assume that the entire government of Thailand, with its mundane and supernatural effort combined, wants to defeat you." Why Thailand? Let's not say. "I want you to assume that cyborgs with computers implanted in their brains are going to cut their way in here with LMGs and raid it. I want you to assume that spirits of technology will be invading us from the Shadow. I want you to assume that the God-Machine and all his angels are aligned against us. I want you to plan against vampires and werewolves and mortal sorcerers and psychics, I want you to plan against Beasts who can turn into an invisible swarm of beetles." He leans back, arms crossed. "I'll have to talk to my accountant to see what we can pay you. What were you thinking as a starting salary?"
"Uh...Thailand?" Harper asks in a confused tone, but as he goes on her eyes widen. She seems more than a little overwhelmed. "I know computers. I don't know shit about how to stop werewolves or vampires or the fucking God Machine." That last bit is said a little sensitively. She has had dealings with the God Machine before, and they were clearly not satisfactory. "I'm kind of new to this whole...you know, supernatural thing. I only knew about other psychics before coming here." She sucks in a breath, "I want to collect data for you, too. I don't want to do just cybersecurity." "Then you'll probably want to do some research, won't you? It's a good thing you know someone with access to the best library in the world when it comes to the supernatural, and someone who can, at a moment's notice, search the whole of human memory for any fact that you might need otherwise. Get to work on what you do know. Get to -reading- about what you don't know." She leaves out one thing, and he asks again: "Salary expectancy?"
Now /this/ is something Harper is uncertain on. When one has made their living the majority of their adult life by stealing from others it's hard to know what exactly someone might get paid to do a job. So, she throws out the first number that comes to her head, "Uh...a hundred thousand a year." She thinks a moment before she follows up with, "And health insurance if you're giving it to the bartenders and baristas."
"I will discuss it with our financial department." The cult has a -financial- department? He gives her a look. "You can always tell how someone values themselves by what they're willing to sell their time for. If I demand only forty hours a week from you, you're taking home - after taxes - around eighty-three thousand dollars." Marcus...has the US tax code memorized? "If you work forty hours a week at 52 weeks a year, then you consider one hour of your time worth...thirty-nine dollars, ninety cents, and about forty percent of a penny, roughly." Roughly. "When I know what someone's willing to work for, what someone is willing to sacrifice an hour of their life for, it lets me know a lot about them." He reaches into his pocket, and pulls out his wallet. He unfolds two twenties, folds them together, and puts his wallet back in his pocket. He offers them to her. "The seventh floor has had no work done. It's an empty room. If I asked you to go up and sit in that room for an hour, without turning on your phone or a computer or reading a book, to sit completely still with your eyes closed...would you do that for forty dollars?"
"Uh..." Harper begins when Marcus begins going through the whole process of telling her exactly how much she'd make an hour. She lapses into a bit of an awkward silence and sort of just stares at his face with a...well, bewildered may be too strong of a word, but it's clear she doesn't quite know where he is going with this. And when he reaches the point her face scrunches up a bit, "Um, well, no. Because you're not paying me to sit in a room. You're paying me to do something I have talent and skill in. You could go find a hobo outside and pay him a lunchable and a 40 ouncer to sit in complete stillness in a room with his eyes closed. You know...free market and all." She shrugs then, "I mean fuck I'll do it, man. But it's a waste of your money." "So you -will- sell an hour of your life for forty dollars, even if you are not doing something that you have talent and skill in? You, a mortal, will sell one hour of your life to do something you will take no joy and considerable boredom from?" He leans back, pursing his lips, as if this answer surprises him. "Interesting. Here." He reaches out, the two folded twenties offered. "You can take a chair up if you don't want to sit on the floor."
"Well..." Harper says, and her face scrunches more. She stares at the 40 dollars a moment before she admits, "No. I was just agreeing to do it because you seem to be testing me. I don't know if you want me to prove my loyalty or that I'm a greedy bitch who will do anything for forty bucks, you know? This feels like a test, and I don't know what you want me to say." She doesn't take the 40 bucks yet.
"Everything is a test. There's no right. No wrong. There is only -true-." He keeps the money held out. "You are willing to do this, or you are not. Either says something about you. I don't need you to prove your loyalty or your greed. If you are loyal, I will ask you if you are loyal, and if you say yes but do not mean it, I will know you are not. I want to know what kind of woman you are. The kind who will do something she cares about for less than she is worth, or the kind who values herself at a certain level and will sell herself for it regardless of what she's doing, so long as it does not exceed in effort her chosen work. Would you be a forty-dollar-an-hour babysitter. Bartender. Whore. Barista. Car salesman. Ditch digger. Executioner. Librarian. Dog walker. Massage therapist. Counselor. The answers to all of them tell me something about you. When you join this Temple, you join the Accords, if you are not already Accorded. If someone kills you, I will negotiate your weregild or murder your killer. I need to know what you are worth. Who you are."
"I feel like I should be paid forty bucks just for this conversation." Harper says, and she might be just a little prickly at this point. She crosses her arms over her chest and shakes her head. "All of those things have a different value. Two of those things you couldn't pay me money to do, and I'm greedy. I'm real greedy. I still wouldn't do it. At least not for money." She then asks, "What would you pay for a mortal?"
"Mortal is not a useful descriptor. You are a descendant of the Dark Mother. Just because I will live a few hundred years at a minimum and survive being shot point-blank in the head with armor-piercing munitions coming out of a fifty-caliber rifle does not make me -immortal-. There are humans. And there are monsters. You are a monster. Thus, you are family. I will pay you the least I can because if I can pay you less then I can get -more-. Because I am greedy, because I am hungry, because I do not yet know your value." He leans forward, elbows on his knees. "I want you to agree to work for me regardless of the salary, and trust that I will pay you what you prove you are worth. I want you to shake my hand on that deal right now. Based on what you know about me. About Joey, who is my Broodmate. Hell, what you know about Lucas Winters, if you know him. I want you to look around this building. And I want you to decide, right now: Am I a part of this, or am I simply being paid to do a job."
Harper is stunned into a silence at Marcus's words. There is some fear there, as if he's suddenly become an authority figure of some sort, although what sort she cannot quite place. She looks vaguely unhappy. Bothered. Still, in the end she nods stiffly, and then she extends her hand to shake his.
He shakes her hand, and the feeling of it is like...finality. He smiles at her, warm and bright. "Welcome to the team, Field Agent Collins." He pauses, and leans in, slowly, holding onto her hand. "One more thing," he murmurs, "Now that you're going to be taken care of, financially? I want you to stop with the cybertheft without clearing it with me. I can give you targets. -Better- targets than retirement accounts. Ones that will be easier on your conscience, and...well, won't make me want to take you to my Lair, hunt you down, and make you suffer to satisfy my need for justice. Yeah? I'm not saying full white hat. But let's do damage where it benefits us."
Harper's eyes widen in fear and...well, guilt. She looks very guilty. "...Oh...um..yeah. Sure." She pushes her hair behind her ear and mentions a little meekly, "So..uh...Frank and I have this thing going on. With phones. It's not a big deal to me so much as it's making Frank money, and he really doesn't have a source of income beyond the usual." You know, Marcus, the usual. "But all that other stuff? Consider me done."
"You can keep doing the phone thing. I presume that's why Joey's always got a purse full of phones." He leans back, releasing her hand as he does so. "Official induction will require a trip to the Well. There are rules to follow. But they are easy rules, Harper. You'll fit in fine." He gives her a half-cocked grin, and holds out the two twenties again. "For your time."
Harper nods a little at the mention of purse full of phones. They got a real criminal enterprise going, after all. She doesn't ask about the Well or the rules, but clearly this is a result of being overwhelmed as opposed to a lack of curiosity or concern. She stares down at the two twenties in his hand for a moment before she reaches toward to take them, and shoves them into her pocket. "You probably need my phone number."
"No. You know where to find me. And I'm a goddamn minotaur, Agent Collins. I can find you anywhere. And be there in...oh, ten, fifteen seconds if need be. I'll come get you if I need you." He leans back on his stool, and nods toward the cafe. "There's already drip coffee if you want it. No espresso yet. And a basic bar already installed upstairs, but no bartender on duty." He turns, looks at the painting behind him. "But I need to work on this. Before the inspiration fades. I draw deeply on the Well for my artwork, and every draught is...different."
"I do?" Harper asks in a confused voice before she says in response to his statement. "Uh...oh. Wow. Okay." She glances towards the cafe before she says, "Thanks. I'm probably going to go outside..." Because suddenly she's sort of just...cold. And she doesn't want to be here anymore. "See you.""See you, Agent Collins," Marcus says, turning back to his painting. "You're cute when you're terrified. That's going to be lots of fun later when I drag you through my Lair to the Well, and you see my true form." Those last words offered -just- before she slips out the door.