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Messages - Moira Chambers

1
Location: Prime Cuts

Moira felt a headache coming on. What's this guy's deal? The more he talked, the more her thoughts wandered to the bottle of wine waiting for her after all of this was over and done with. She was all but ready to zone out and let his words go in one ear and out the other when he said something that made her perk up.

"Listen, I don't mean to pry but I couldn't help but notice your backroom. That is, the dealings you may or may not have going on back there. Orville told me all about it."

Moira's gaze, which had been intently fixed on the man's eyes in contrast to her wandering mind, briefly flew in the direction of her cowering apprentice. Surely Orville wasn't that bad at keeping secrets? As much as the mention of 'backroom dealings' got her hackles up, she didn't buy whatever this guy was selling. She let him prattle on, her shoulders relaxing once he started talking about what a dangerous guy Lil' Sebastian was. He was bluffing. Of course he was. She felt a perverse twist of pleasure at knowing something he didn't; that he was actually talking to a member of Sebastian's rotten crew at this very moment.

The question remained; what on was this guy's deal? Was he working for a rival gangster, fishing for protection money? Or was this some kind of elaborate test by Sebastian to see how she would handle the situation?

"This is where I would normally hand you my business card, but I just realized I left my wallet at... home. So I'll have to owe you for the haircut and shave. But you can find me around if you need anything. My name is Holliday, owner and CEO of Acquisitions, Etc."

Moira stared at the guy in silence. Behind her, Octavia let out a muffled scream. Right. She still had her to deal with after she dealt with this guy. And here comes the headache. She wished she could tell both of them to just rut off. It was almost lunch time, wasn't it?

"Well, Mr. Holliday, she turned her attention to her datapad as she had so many times that day, typing as she spoke. "As a fellow business owner I'm sure you know what a backroom is, and that most shops have one and it's hardly a suspicious fixture. Orville, go take care of her," she waved her apprentice over, shoved the datapad in his hand and gestured towards Octavia. Then she turned back to Holliday.

"As touched I am by your concern for my well-being, we're not a charity. Do you have anything you could give me as collateral while I wait for you to swing by with an actual payment?"

---

While Moira had her hands full with the detective, Orville approached the weeping woman on the bench. He stood in front of her awkwardly, helpless in the face of the obvious distress she was in and uncertain what, exactly, 'taking care of her' meant in this case. He had a feeling whatever was troubling  her was beyond his humble skillset.

"Uh, Miss... Excuse me..." he finally pushed the datapand into the woman's hands, trying to make as little actual contact as possible. Moira's message was dry and to the point as usual, although if you looked real close, you could perhaps tell her patience was starting to wear a little thin.

"Sorry. I need to deal with this clown and then it's my lunch break. Please come back in an hour and we'll work out the details of your case."
2
Current Iscariot Episode / Re: Iscariot Ep 5: On The Hunt
November 18, 2020, 01:13:27 am
"I... don't..." Orville was more confused than anything. If would've been one thing had the man just been a belligerent customer, or an obvious crook, but he couldn't get a read on this guy's motives. Moira had scolded him in the past for being too quick to call her for help when a customer gave him trouble, but this was different.

"I think you may want to speak to Ms. Moira instead." He dug out his communicator to send a wave, keeping his gaze fixed on the man.

---

Moira was in the middle of typing Octavia a lengthy run-down of her options when Orville's cry for help came through on the small communicator she kept in her shirt pocket, announcing itself with a loud beep that went unheard by her patient. Tucking the datapad under one arm, she pulled out the device and frowned. Couldn't it wait? Orville was a good kid, but sometimes she really wished Sebastian had given her an assistant who was able to deal with difficult people on their own. Maybe a gentle giant who was happy to indulge in their secret hairdressing passion but able to throw down if a customer gave them lip.

It was probably too much to ask. She made a couple of hasty additions to her message and handed the datapad to Octavia.

"In a Core hospital we'd be able to surgically insert a completely internal cochlear implant, but those are difficult to come by on the Rim, and it's a complicated operation for a small one-doctor establishment like this. It may be easier to find a more old-fashioned implant which includes an internal receiver and an external processor. Excuse me, it seems like I am needed at the salon, would you mind stepping outside for a while? I will get back to you after I deal with it. Sorry for the inconvenience."

As sincere as she believed the woman's despair to be, she wasn't willing to leave her alone with all her medical equipment and supplies. Once Octavia finished reading the message, she led the woman back to the salon side of the establishment and gestured for her to go sit on one of the waiting benches next to the complementary tea (she reminded herself to brew a new patch once she was done with whatever nonsense this was) and pile of magazines.

She walked up to Orville, who was looking even more uncomfortable than usual, and his freshly-shaved customer, who was the picture of cucumber-like coolness. Whatever the issue was, it didn't seem very urgent, which made the interruption all the more irritating. Focusing on Octavia's case had momentarily made her forget about the liquid lunch waiting for her in one of the storeroom cupboards, but now she was feeling its pull again.

"And what seems to be the problem here?" Moira looked at Orville, then at the man lounging in the chair. Although she looked short next to Orville's lanky frame, she dwarfed him in demeanor; calm and willing to be civil, but with a palpable undercurrent of I swear to God I will throw your ass out if you cause any trouble.
3
Current Iscariot Episode / Re: Iscariot Ep 5: On The Hunt
September 29, 2020, 09:10:35 am
"Sorry. I know, no weapons. I really need to learn to do that with a coin one of these days."

Moira flashed a very brief, tense smile in response to the quip before putting her serious business face back on. At least Octavia seemed to be relaxing a little, contrary to her fear that the backalley establishment would freak her out. Poor girl had to truly be desperate.

"There was an explosion. I think I was very near the blast site. My ears rang for quite some time. A friend helped me equalize the pressure, which stopped the ringing and replaced it with absolute nothingness."

Moira listened attentively. This was familiar ground to her; back on Osiris, she'd had to tend to the injuries of bystanders after a vehicle bomb went off in the street. Even those who had been spared from the shrapnel had sustained various degrees of inner ear damage from the blast. Octavia's sounded like an extreme case.

"The doctor on the ship gave me this medicine that would help for a short time before going back to silence. I didn't get a peak at the name but it came out of a purple and blue bottle. The pill was mint green and a small round shape with a score groove down the middle on one side. On the other side was printed 42."

Moira nodded. Tuxerin. It was primarily intended for temporary hearing loss, or to tide over someone with permanent hearing loss until they were able to get into surgery. It was not a long-term solution, only a band-aid. She waited for Octavia to finish her story, then typed up her message.

"I'm going to examine your ears now. This might feel a little uncomfortable but it should not hurt."

The otoscope supplied by Sebastian's black market contacts was an older model -- not that a layman would have been able to tell at a glance. It had all the functions Moira needed to examine her patient's inner ear in addition to the ear canal. Her initial suspicions turned out to be correct; while Octavia's eardrums seemed to have healed fine, the scanners confirmed cochlear trauma, the kind that wasn't likely to fix itself. Thanks to the advances of modern medical science, it wasn't all that big of a deal --  a fairly routine operation back on the Core, one that she'd performed before.

Correction: it shouldn't have been a big deal.

Dejected, Moira set the otoscope aside and picked up her datapad. For a second she'd been so caught up in the excitement of getting to tackle something more intricate than your standard patch-up that she'd forgotten where she was. All the high tech medical equipment she'd taken for granted back home was beyond her reach. She typed up the first two sentences of her message on her datapad and stared at them, at the spark of false hope followed by the harsh reality that snuffed it out. Was that it then? Surely she couldn't help this woman. Surely it was a pipe dream.

Surely she didn't actually care.

Moira tapped the second half of the message, then handed the datapad to the woman.

"The good news is that you should be able to regain full hearing with the correct implant. The bad news is that I don't have the implant or the equipment to perform the surgery.

But I can try to acquire them. I'm sure it will take some time and I can't make any promises this far out on the Rim, but I can try. How long will you be staying on Iscariot?"


---

Holliday's soulful puppy dog eyes may have had some effect on Orville; if he seemed a little antsy before, now he seemed a little antsy as well as a little flustered. He managed to go through the motions of his job anyway, mostly as usual -- he wasn't that easy to crack. Sebastian wouldn't have trusted him this precarious position if he was. Still, he hoped the customer dropped this line of questioning soon.

"Your boss teach you to shave, kid?"

"Oh, no, I used to apprentice with a barber back home." Orville removed the warm towel and set it aside. "I'm mostly on Iscariot to practice my technique, expand my horizons, you know, learn the business side of things. I'm hoping to open my own shop one day."

He lathered Holliday's face, taking the opportunity to casually shift the conversation away from himself.

"How about you, Sir? Are you staying or just passing through?"
4
SS Iscariot Crew / Re: Moira Chambers
September 02, 2020, 07:19:02 am
THREAD TRACKER

Episodes
"Iscariot Ep5: On The Hunt"
"Iscariot Ep4" [CLOSED]
"Iscariot Ep3" [CLOSED]


Asides
"Iscariot Asides: No Cutting In Line" (Francis and Moira)


Prologues
-
5
Current Iscariot Episode / Re: Iscariot Ep 5: On The Hunt
September 02, 2020, 07:07:20 am
Location: Prime Cuts

"Agreed. Let's do this."

That was all Moira needed. She responded to Octavia's firm nod in kind and gestured her to follow her to the backroom. She tried to put on a warm, encouraging face to ease the young woman's anxiety and hoped it came across as genuine. Daniel was always so good at this kind of stuff. That was probably the reason why he'd become a pediatrician while she'd made her career cutting up unconscious patients.

Once they got into the backroom, Moira waited for Octavia to look away before quickly locking the door behind them. She felt a pang of guilt for exploiting the fact that the poor woman couldn't hear the click of the lock, but she seemed so jumpy Moira worried she might slip into a panic attack if she realized she'd been trapped inside a shady backalley clinic. It had to be done, though; no salon clients had attempted to barge into the backroom uninvited so far, but there was a first time for everything.

The sharp smell of disinfectant still lingered heavily in the air. Moira thought she could catch a faint whiff of vomit buried underneath it, but she wasn't sure if that was just because she knew it was there. She hoped Octavia didn't smell it. The set-up looked shady enough as it was. She gestured towards the operating table slash examination chair, which was currently in an upright position, hoping Octavia would take the hint and have a seat while she typed another message on her datapad.

"Am I correct in assuming your loss of hearing is a recent development? Can you please describe how it happened? Was it sudden or gradual? Have you suffered any serious injuries or illnesses lately?"

Moira listed as many questions as she could thrust upon the poor woman at once; the more she could streamline this examination process, the better. She held the pad up for Octavia to read, realized she'd left out something crucial, tapped an addition at the end of the message and held it up again.

"Please call me Moira."

---

Location: Prime Cuts, Salon Side

"So tell me about your boss."

"Ms. Moira?" Orville's body stiffened for a second, then relaxed as he willed himself to play it cool. How successful he was would depend on how good the man in the chair was at sniffing out nerves. "She took over the salon after Ms. Priya left a while back. Don't know what else to tell you. Wouldn't want to get into trouble with the boss, you know? Heh heh... Not that she's not a nice lady, don't get me wrong. Say, are you sure you don't want a shave as well?"

Orville's gaze met Holliday's in the mirror, his face twisted into a customer service smile that was perhaps just a tad too wide.
6
Francis spared Moira the gory details, and she didn't know whether to feel relieved or disappointed. Maybe it had been rude of her to bring the subject up in the first place. She'd just kind of assumed Francis was so desensitized to his job that making small-talk about battering (killing?) people was akin to someone asking her about her favored incision techniques, but clearly that wasn't the case. In fact, it seemed to have put the man in quite an anxious state of mind.

"Oh boy. Listen. I think whatever you gave me has got me nervous, or whatever, but it would be a huge favor to me if you didn't mention any of the things I just said to Sebastian. Or anyone."

Moira stepped back without resistance when pushed, happy to give Francis his space. She raised her hands -- one of them holding the threaded needle and the other the end of the thread -- in a gesture that was supposed to be reassuring.

"Look, Mr Church, I know this whole..." She waved at the surrounding room which, for all its fluorescent lights and clinically spotless surfaces, would never be able to completely escape its shameful past life as a storeroom. "...operation's not exactly on the up-and-up, but for all intents and purposes, I am a doctor, and that means I abide by doctor-patient confidentiality."

Was she coming across as stern? Preachy? Bedside manner was never her strong suit. She tried to soften her demeanor.

"I can't go babbling about my patients' business to outsiders. That would be unethical." Do ethics carry any weight for a career criminal? "And unprofessional." That's better. "Whatever you tell me during an appointment will never leave this room. Not even if Sebastian asks."

Would Sebastian ask? She hadn't really considered the possibility before, which was stupid of her because it seemed like a very real one now that she thought about it. Sure, having someone patching up his goons with no questions asked was an asset in and of itself, but did Sebastian expect her to spy on them on the side? And what about the Hippocratic oath? Would there come a day when she'd be told to let her scalpel slip when Sebastian needed to get rid of someone who'd served their purpose?

"Just... take a few deep breaths," she said out loud, directing the words at herself as much as she did to Francis. "I'm going to stitch you up now. Should not take long. May I?"
7
Location: Prime Cuts

The arrow in the boot made Moira momentarily second-guess her first impression of Octavia not being part of the underworld, but the message confirmed her initial judgment had been correct. What she had here was a desperate drifter willing to cough up some major dough for surgery that was standard fare in elite hospitals on the Core, but a real tall order this far out on the Rim. Sebastian's gang must have spotted the lucrative opportunity to exploit her and swooped in like the vultures they were. The thought didn't sit well with Moira, but neither did the thought of turning the poor girl away... even if she had just threatened her with a sharp object.

The chime of the entrance bell made Moira look up and over Octavia's shoulder at the stubbly man swaggering in. Great. Just what she needed. When it rains it pours, indeed.

"I don't have an appointment. But I hope you'll see me anyway. I don't mind waiting. Just a shave and a haircut."

"It might be quite a while, but since you don't mind waiting..." Something about the man's roguish demeanor and the hint of cigarette smoke wafting around him instantly rubbed Moira the wrong way, and she couldn't really be bothered to hide the fact, not today. She turned to holler at Orville across the room. "Something came up. You mind taking this one if you're free before I'm done here?"

She turned back to Octavia, quickly tapped a message on her datapad and held it for her to read.

"That's not a simple request, but I'm the only person on this station who might be able to help. I'll have a look, but first you must swear to keep absolutely quiet about this and promise not to pull any more weapons on me. Do we have an agreement?"

She stared the woman down and waited for her response.
8
Location: Prime Cuts

"My name's Octavia, but there must be some sort of misunderstanding. I think I'm in the wrong place."

"No, you've come to the right place, alright..." Moira muttered under her breath as she eyed the message on the datapad, frowning. Was Sebastian just sending random travelers her way now? The woman seemed too genuinely clueless to be part of his crew. Then again, that man had his tendrils in the most surprising of places.

"I really probably should go." While Moira took her time assessing the situation, her customer turned to flee the store with all the confused terror of a startled woodland critter "Wait," the doctor called out, but received no reaction until she placed her hand gently but firmly on Octavia's arm and pulled her back. Something was off. The woman seemed a little slow somehow... No, that wasn't it...

"Are you... are you hard of hearing?" she tried to mouth the words as clearly as possible, tapping her own ears to emphasize the message. She cursed herself for not knowing sign language, but something about Octavia's bewildered demeanor led her to believe it might not be of much use in this situation anyway -- not if this was a recent development.

She held up a hand, indicating for the woman to wait while she dug out her datapad, typed in a message and showed it to her: "Do you have a medical emergency?"

She nodded towards the woman's own datapad and waited. She'd rather she write out her response than speak out loud, not only because she worried about prying ears, but also because Octavia didn't seem entirely comfortable speaking.
9
"Francis Church."

Moira froze for a second, then proceeded to carry on as usual and hoped the man hadn't noticed her reaction. She'd heard Sebastian and his minions bring up Francis Church's name a couple of times; the little big man himself spoke quite fondly of him -- the way you'd speak fondly of a well-trained dog. He wasn't quite what she'd expected him to be. She'd pictured him as more intimidating, mean-looking, maybe with a shaved head. Although now that she thought about it, of course looking somewhat innocuous would be a plus in his line of work.

"Hold still or you'll make it worse," she warned him when he began experimenting with wiggling his eyebrows.

"Not bad, not bad. I'll have to remember this the next time someone might hit me with a chair. Have you shoot me up beforehand, save myself the headache."

That actually managed to coax an unexpected smile out of Moira. It was small and weary, but it was more genuine than the fake customer service grimace's she'd been forcing on her face all day. "Well, as much I'd love to start a drug dealing business on the side, I don't think Sebastian would approve. All of this stuff technically belongs to him. Besides, I trust the other guy looks much worse."

Why'd she say that? The other guy could very well be dead. She didn't want to know the grizzly details.

Or did she?

With a start, she realized she kind of did.
10
Location: Prime Cuts

Orville took a look at the display and nodded. "Yup, Prime Cuts, you've got the right place. What can we do for you today?" He beamed at her and waited for a response; when he didn't get one, his smile faltered. He excused himself, disappeared into the backroom and returned shortly followed by a woman with rolled-up sleeves and a ponytail that seemed awful messy for someone in charge of a hairdressing establishment.

Moira managed to do an admirable job hiding her annoyance at being interrupted just before lunchtime; unfortunately, the pungent sting of disinfecting alcohol with a whiff of bile lingering around her was harder to mask. She hoped it wasn't too noticeable, but even if it was, well, smelling like disinfectant was just a sign of cleanliness, wasn't it? She ushered Orville back to work, approached the newcomer, crossed her arms and took a quick glance at the text on her device before making eye contact with her -- or whatever eye contact she could make through those sunglasses.

"How can I help you?" She studied the young woman, trying to gauge whether she was here for the legal or illegal side of her business. Between her unkempt hair and the sickly pallor on her cheeks Moira could see her going either way, but there was a certain skittishness to her demeanor that was more suggestive of her shadier clientele.

The doctor glanced over her shoulder to see if the other customer was listening in, but Orville had already managed to suck him into an enthusiastic back-and-forth about the station race from the other night. She had to admit that the boy's gift of the gab could come in handy sometimes. Still, when she turned back to the young woman she lowered her voice just in case. "Are you... one of Sebastian's?"
11
Location: Prime Cuts

Orville, the young man giving the gentleman a haircut, was currently thanking his stars for his boss being a callous weirdo. Earlier that morning, one of Sebastian's guys had showed up at the backdoor, drunk as a skunk and bleeding profusely from his forehead. He'd apparently gotten into a bar fight, and when Orville had pointed out that it was quite a feat at 10 o'clock in the morning, Moira had shot him a dirty look. Joyless and professional as always, she'd patched the man right up, and he'd thanked her by blowing chunks all over the floor of her infirmary.

Orville's heart had sank; he thought he was maybe starting to get used to the sight and smell of blood (he'd only passed out twice this week), but vomit was another thing entirely. Much to his surprise, however, Moira hadn't delegated the unpleasant task to her assistant but had told him to mind the store while she took care of it instead. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Orville didn't press further. He was just happy to be cutting hair instead of mopping up puke.

* * *

In the backroom, Moira swapped out the dirty water in her bucket for a fresh batch and glanced at the clock. It was almost lunchtime, just as she'd thought. It hadn't been the rumbling in her stomach that had alerted her to the fact, but the tingling in her mouth, that craving for the second drink of the day that usually struck her around this time. She'd have to finish cleaning up this mess first, though.

The vomit itself didn't bother Moira; by now she was so intimately familiar with everything that was inside the human body and came out of it that it did little do repulse her. She'd been more put off by the man's demeanor, the way he'd slurred his speech and thrown up his breakfast (composed almost entirely of liquids by the looks of it) when it wasn't even noon yet.

Glass houses, a voice in the back of her head reminded her. She shook it off and rolled up her sleeves for another round of mopping. She was almost done with cleaning up the chunky stuff; after that all there was left to do was to disinfect every surface of the room, and then she could wind down with a glass of wine. It was looking to be a quiet day, and Orville would be fine on his own... provided no unexpected customers (or customers) showed up.

* * *

"Good morning, Miss!" Orville looked up and greeted the young red-haired woman as she entered the salon. For a split second, his gaze was drawn towards the mess on her head before he caught himself and quickly locked eyes with her again. His smile was a little goofy but seemingly genuine. "Do you have an appointment?"
12
As Moira put away the rag and proceeded to disinfect the man's wound, his eyes suddenly rolled back in his head and he appeared to convulse. For a second she was scared her patient was having a stroke, but then he seemed normal again, speaking perfectly coherently.

"Yeah. That's exactly what happened. Good guess. Great guess, actually. You see many chair related head injuries in your time as a cosmetologist? First time for me. More of a table guy."

Don't get cute, Moira wanted to warn him. Friendly banter was easier to deal with at the salon because there she was playing the role of Moira Chambers the moderately successful beauty school graduate. Under these halogen lamps, however, she felt seen for the Dimitra Lee she really was, and she didn't much care for the woman. She supposed she'd brought this onto herself by making that cheeky comment; it hadn't been a serious guess, but given the line of work she assumed this guy to be in, the answer didn't exactly surprise her.

Moira chose to hold her peace and turned to rummage through her cabinets in silence. She turned back around, syringe in hand, just in time to meet her patient's gaze before he slapped her in the face (not literally, though she might actually have preferred that).

"So, you must have screwed up big time to be here, huh?"

Moira's entire body tensed up, her jaw clenching and her knuckles turning a shade whiter as she tightened her grip on the syringe. Then, just as quickly as it had seized her, the tension left her body with a soft sigh.

"Clever boy," she muttered. "Guess I can rule out any serious brain injury."

She approached him without further ado, eager to nip that painful conversation in the bud and get back to work. "I'm going to inject a local anesthetic now, Mr... I don't believe I caught your name."
13
Location: Alice's Restaurant

"I have upset you, and I apologize. That was not my intention."

"That's quite alright," Moira said, more out of habit than actually feeling like the nosy stranger needed her forgiveness. Her attention was still focused on Sebastian's goons and the increasingly ugly scene they were making. A tiny voice inside her was telling her to step in, to stop them, to do something -- but what could she do? For all intents and purposes, she was on the same side as these crooks, and she wasn't confident enough in her position in Sebastian's food chain to step out of line on her first official day in the gang. So she just stood there, frozen in place, even as the situation turned violent.

"Is Sebastian a problem for everyone?"

The stranger said something, but Moira didn't register the words. Her gaze followed the two goons as they walked past her and out of the diner, their point made for now. She glanced at Alice from the corner of her eye, trying not to stare at her openly lest that be taken as an invitation to initiate conversation. The diner owner seemed to have taken the whole thing in her stride, looking admirably calm -- but Moira knew well enough what turmoils could lie under a seemingly calm surface.

"What?" She spoke suddenly, a conspicuously long time after the stranger had addressed her -- if they'd even said anything in the first place. She glanced at them, only now noticing that they'd stood up as well. She could feel her bottom lip quiver slightly and hoped it wasn't too obvious to onlookers. "I have to go." She hurried towards the door, doing her best not to glance in Alice's direction.
14
Iscariot Archived Episodes / Re: Episode 4: Sectors/Shops
February 24, 2020, 11:43:15 am
Location: Alice's Restaurant

"No, Sebastian did not send me. I do not know how he would send me anywhere, as I do not work for the small gentleman."

Then what was their deal? They weren't a fed, that was for sure; a fed would already be waving their badge in her face, and an undercover fed would certainly be better at blending in and getting their target's guard down. Moira was growing increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation, and her motivation to pretend otherwise was wearing thin.

She found her gaze once again drawn towards the table where Sebastian's men sat. They were talking to Alice now; something about insurance, which was gangster speak for extortion. Alice didn't seem too fazed, though, and she was soon joined by the gentleman at the counter who seemed to have a handle on the situation.

"I would wager he sent those individuals, and you do not seem pleased by their presence. Do Sebastian and his men worry you? Is that why you seem frustrated?"

"Hm?" The words pulled Moira from her thoughts, and she turned back to her interrogator whose face was blank as ever. Why was she sticking around for this, anyway? She owed nothing to this person, and she had a liver to abuse and hideously off-key singing to endure.

"You know what, I need to get going. Enjoy your coffee." With those words and not so much as a smile, Moira got up from her seat, ready to head out.
15
Iscariot Archived Episodes / Re: Episode 4: Sectors/Shops
February 20, 2020, 07:46:00 am
Location: Alice's Restaurant

"Are you alright? Your body language and demeanor suggest you are feeling frustration or sadness, is this accurate?"

"None of your damn business," Moira wanted to say.

"I'm alright, thank you very much," she said out loud, although there was not much gratitude in her expression. When Alice checked if she was sure she didn't want to stay for dinner, she simply shook her head. "Maybe some other time."

That should've been it, and Moira would've just gotten up and walked out if it weren't for the fact that her interrogator took a seat across the table from her, no permission asked. She almost did just get up and walk out anyway, but something about her unwelcome dinner date gave her pause.

"Did Sebastian send you?" They didn't look like his usual crew, but you could never be too sure. After all, in a sense, Moira herself was part of Sebastian's crew now, and she at least hoped she didn't look the part. She glanced in the direction of the two men who'd entered the restaurant earlier, but they seemed to be more interested in Alice than her.
16
Iscariot Archived Episodes / Re: Episode 4: Sectors/Shops
February 18, 2020, 08:53:43 am
Location: Alice's Restaurant

Moira cursed herself for looking up long enough to notice and be noticed by the two goons. She hoped they weren't here for her; she didn't really feel like dealing with any of Sebastian's business on top of the excruciating day she'd had. Instead of returning the Tall Man's smile, she quickly looked down again and pretended to be completely distracted by her tragic hands. It was no use; she could soon sense the man approach her and stop next to her booth, looming over her until she finally gave up her act and turned her to look up at him.

Only it wasn't the toothy grin of Sebastian's disheveled lackey that greeted her, but the expressionless, bird-like stare of a sharp-dressed stranger she'd never met before -- at least she didn't think she had, and she figured she'd remember someone with such striking bone structure. Before Moira could inquire what they wanted from her, Alice joined them, her demeanor just as relentlessly chipper as it had been that morning. Jesus, where did this woman get her energy? Moira could use some of the stuff herself.

"...What can I get the two of you to drink?"

A kind of panic rose in Moira's throat, not so much at the assumption that she was here to have dinner, but at the assumption that the intruder was joining her. Having to chat and bond with customers had all but drained her social battery for the day.

"Oh, I'm afraid I can't stay for long-- I just wanted to apologize. About this morning. I was rude. Orville loved the pastries. He's got such an appetite, I hardly got a bite myself-" Moira stopped herself mid-sentence. She'd tried her best to focus on Alice and ignore the stranger hovering next to her table, but she felt their gaze bore into her with an intensity that was difficult to ignore.

"Can I help you?" She was able to stop herself from visibly frowning, but unable to force a smile.
17
While Moira washed her hands and pulled on her gloves, the man prattled on about her hairdressing business, a topic she found deeply uninteresting. At least he was forming coherent sentences, which was a good sign; if he did have a concussion, it was a minor one. She wet a clean cloth and turned to face her patient just as his small talk took a turn.

"This isn't the first time I've gotten stitches. I was in the Marines. Discharged in '01, got hit by a mortar blast. In the pi gu. I won't go into details, but there were a lot of stitches."

"That's... good to know." The slightest quirk of an eyebrow was the only thing that suggested Moira had even registered his words as something unseemly. "I suppose I was going to ask for your medical history anyway at some point."

Truth be told, she couldn't bring herself to be too scandalized -- maybe if he had been a salon customer, but there was really no such thing as over-sharing when it came to doctor-patient relationships. She herself had had to patch up a buttock of two (and much worse) during her stint at the ER; gang warfare was hardly a glamorous affair, contrary to what the kids who got involved in it might have thought.

She gently wiped the blood off the man's forehead with the cool, wet towel and inspected the wound.

"Well, good news is that it's not a very deep cut, so you're going to get away with considerably fewer stitches than last time." Getting a closer look at the injury confirmed her initial suspicion of blunt force trauma. She frowned and grabbed the man by the chin, gently turning his head to get a better look at the swelling.

"But you are going to get a hell of a bump. How did this happen, someone smash a chair over your head or something?"
18
Iscariot Archived Episodes / Re: Episode 4: Sectors/Shops
February 13, 2020, 10:33:10 am
Location: Sector 3A corridor

Moira's first day running a salon was over, and what a day it had been. Her first customer had been a rude, hungover young man who, as it later turned out, hadn't even booked an appointment but had simply stolen someone else's. At the end of the day there was no harm done, since the imposter had paid for the service and the real customer had showed up late, saving her from the embarrassment of getting caught in the act of getting swindled. Yet, as Moira made her way towards sector 3A of the station, she found her thoughts drifting back to that encounter. It gnawed at her, the unnerving symmetry of her first customer being a sad drunk assuming an identity that wasn't his. It almost felt like an ill omen of some kind. Moira shook the thought off. There were no omens in life, just coincidences that were consecrated by superstition.

The lights of the karaoke bar beckoned to Moira, but she turned her head away and walked past them. She had somewhere else to be. Besides, she hated karaoke: even now, she could faintly hear some heavily intoxicated woman butchering a ballad she was quite fond of. That made resisting the siren call of the bar easier. For now. She would most likely find herself there by the end of the night, whether she really wanted to or not. But first, she had a first impression to amend.


Location: Alice's Restaurant

Alice's Restaurant was gaudy, but in that kind of charming way where you could tell there was genuine passion behind the aesthetic. It was also busier than Moira had expected. She had hoped to just have a quick word with Alice and then be on her way, but the owner was engaged in conversation with another customer at the counter. Moira stood dumb for a moment before begrudgingly sliding into an empty booth on the white rose side of the restaurant.

She let her gaze wander across the room, scanning the illustrations lining the walls. She'd never been a fan of Alice in Wonderland as a child. While her older sister Adora had been enamored with Wonderland, Moira had found it deeply off-putting. It had struck her as a hostile place, the absurdity and unpredictability disturbing rather than whimsical and fun. She preferred the real world, where things made sense.

Most of the time.

Moira's gaze fell. She stared down at her hands, pale and bony, with long, nimble fingers. A surgeon's hands, that's what they'd once been, now only good for holding scissors and running a comb through hair. Not if Sebastian holds his end of the deal, she reminded herself.
19
"No no no no no. I'm just here for a haircut. It's fine. I'm fine..."

Moira sat in stunned silence as the two patrons descended into an awkward dance of oh-no-I-insists. Her gaze drifted towards Orville, who had stopped sweeping and was now staring at her, eyes wide. He pointed frantically at the man sitting next to her and mouthed something. She frowned. It wasn't until he placed his hand palm down next to his waist like he was patting a very short man on the head that Moira understood what he was getting at.

"If you really don't mind..."

"Right. That's enough of that." Orville's charades had been all the confirmation she needed. With a surprising amount of force for a woman her size, Moira pulled the man up from his seat and wrapped an arm around his waist, ready to support him in case he felt light-headed and threatened to topple over.

"Orville, you take over for a while. I'm... going to see if we've got some band-aids." She ushered the man towards the backroom, offering an overly chipper smile to the other patron who was still standing next to the chair, arms spread out helplessly.

"I mean, I'd hate to impose, I can come again later if this is a bad ti-" Moira slammed the door closed behind them and double-checked that it was shut tight before she got down to business.

"Sit down." She gestured towards the operating chair in the middle of the makeshift infirmary, its back rest currently in an upright position. "You should use the back entrance next time. Didn't Sebastian give you a code? Ugh, I'm going to have a word with him later..."
20
"I don't like it."

Moira bit her tongue. She'd seen this coming. The woman had been one of those customers, the kind that were an awful talkative when they first got in the chair, then grew silent and glum as you worked on their hair, but assured you everything was fine every time you asked them if something was wrong, and then when it was too late to course-correct, they started complaining as if mind-reading was supposed to be a part of your skillset as a hairdresser.

She found herself fondly reminiscing about her days back at the hospital. At least there was something objectively wrong with sick and injured people, even if you sometimes had to sort through your patient's fèihuà to get to the bottom of it. This, however? This was just all fèihuà, all the time.

"Anything in particular you're unhappy with?"

The woman turned her head from side to side, sternly inspecting her perfectly fine bob cut in the mirror. "It's not what I asked for."

Qù chī dà biàn, you stupid cow, I asked you six times if everything was fine, you could have said something at some point, how do you expect me to know something is wrong if you don't tell me? How???

"I'm sorry you feel that way. But with all due respect-"

"It's fine. It's fine!" the woman exclaimed in a voice that made it very clear that it was not, in fact, fine. She threw her arms in the air and got up in such a huff that the breeze sent the piles of hair Orville had been diligently sweeping up flying all across the floor.

"It's my own fault, really," the customer continued her rant when Moira was ringing her up. "I knew this place was under new management. I should've prepared for disappointment. I mean, I'd heard lots of good things about the previous owner, it was foolish of me to trust that the quality would be the same even with her gone..."

Moira was no longer listening; something more interesting had caught her attention. A new customer had entered the salon while she'd been distracted, which in and of itself was nothing exciting. This walk-in, however, was bleeding profusely from his forehead.

"Have a nice day, please don't come again if it's that bad." Moira shoved the change and receipt in the dissatisfied customer's hand without turning her gaze from the man on the bench. The woman muttered something angry and inconsequential as she stormed out of the establishment. Moira walked up to the injured man and eyed the bloody rag in his hand with concern. "Can I help you, Sir?"

Had he come to the right place? She couldn't tell at a glance whether he was in a disoriented state or not. Although now that she got a good look at him up close, he appeared to be dressed like he just got back from robbing a bank.

Then it clicked.

"Did..." She stopped herself and glanced over her shoulder. The other customer waiting for their turn had raised their gaze from their cortex reader and was now eying the bleeding man with alarm. She gave them a wave of her hand to indicate the issue was being taken care of, then slid on the bench next to her potential patient.

"Did Lil' Sebastian send you?" she asked, keeping her voice low.
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