RP Tanzanite: Enter Stage Left



There was new blood in the building. Rut hadn’t been given many details about the couple they had retrieved, but he knew he’d be meeting them independently that day. A married couple, with unique abilities. While they would have been equally as useful if they weren’t, if they had generic strength or speed, unique abilities gave you a higher station within the organization. Rut was incredibly aware of this. He had been responsible for people’s promotions and status changes in more than one case. He believed in elevating those who were better than others.

Granted, he didn’t think poorly of the others. He just felt that those who were truly special, special like him, should be recognized for what they were. Gifted. Incredible. Powerful. So hearing that there were two newcomers and that they both had unique powers, really caught his attention. As assistant director, Rut had a special duty to these metas.

He was seated at his desk in his office, budgeting for the upcoming shipments, when a knock sounded at his door. He looked up from his paperwork, his dark blue eyes flashing as he took in Smokey Quartz, one of his Directors, standing alongside a man he didn’t recognize. So this must have been the husband.

He was… plain. Dark hair and green eyes and a simple face. A colored button-down with a neatly pressed collar, clean and relatively nice blue jeans, and loafers. His clothes were clean and orderly, and could easily have passed for business casual. Rut liked that. Another orderly and organized person would be a blessing in this disaster of a base. Smokey took a few steps into the office and gestured toward Rut, whose eyebrow quirked up.

“And this is Rut. He’s our Assistant Director, and he’s been here longer than almost everyone. He manages a lot of our day-to-day operations so that Ame and I can handle the bigger things and deal with bureaucratic garbage. If you need anything, he will always know where you can get it.”

Rut stood from his desk, straightening his simple goldenrod sweater and his dark-washed jeans. He reached out a hand across the desk, offering it to the new guy. “Rutilated Quartz, at your service.”

He had a thin accent, something that sounded faintly East Coast, but couldn’t quite be placed. Like he’d been working on getting rid of the accent for a while. “You can just call me Rut. Have you been assigned a name yet?”
Crime pays. Nobody had ever been able to convince Gregory otherwise, and they definitely weren’t going to start now. He’d traveled halfway across the country with only the money he and Jules could steal, or had gotten from shady pawn shops. Part of it was, admittedly, the thrill.

And part of it was a vocation. Something that said this was where they should be.

Greg didn’t believe in fate. He wasn’t religious, and he wasn’t a fool. But it was an impressive coincidence that they’d been getting a bid for that coffee table in their latest haul at the same time that Amethyst and Smokey were visiting a contact. It hadn’t taken much convincing to at least ask him to come and see their location, maybe draw up a contract with their assistant director. Gregory first, and then Juliette. He understood why they were being introduced separately – or at least, he had some ideas. If they took in metahumans, they didn’t want anyone’s opinion of him being colored by his much more obvious wife.

So he followed Smokey Quartz into the office, hands folded behind his back, eyes flickering across the scene as he listened to her explanations. In his mind, he listed the books on the shelves – sorted alphabetically, and by series, when applicable, though not genre; Greg sifted through the science fiction, biographies, and histories in the back of his mind, filed for later use, while he took a second to absorb the surface of the desk. A different part of his brain was set to compartmentalize and blueprint the tools at his disposal on the surface, though he knew he wouldn’t need any of that. This was a polite meeting, and unlike the rest of the world, Amethyst and Smokey Quartz had been accepting of his unusual ability. He had good reason to expect their people to do the same.

He smiled on cue when Rutilated Quartz stood and introduced himself, his muddy green eyes focusing with a keen sharpness. He took the offered hand. “Gregory Bletcher-Faul. At the moment, no. For the time being my wife and I will be acting as contractors, so we haven’t been assigned anything yet.”

He was well-spoken, but without Juliette’s more obvious accent, his own New Jersey dialect would be easily audible. From the brief observation of the office, he liked this man. Organized, with good taste. The sweater was a choice, but if he was to judge a person by what they wore, he never would have married Jules. Though, she made anything work in her favor. Rut, on the other hand, felt like he was leaning into a theme.

“Amethyst and Smokey Quartz tell me you’re the one responsible for making contracts happen. I look forward to working with you.”

“I look forward to working with you as well.” The man’s handshake was firm but reserved. Rut liked him almost immediately. This seemed like the kind of person that he would get along with. Behind Gregory, Smokey’s phone began to ring. He watched her carefully as she took her cell phone out and checked the caller ID. She sighed, cursing under her breath.

“Damn, I didn’t notice the time. Can y’all handle this for a bit without me? I’ll be right back.”

He gave a nod to Smokey as she waved and excused herself, then turned his attention back to the brunette man in front of him. “Well, Gregory, we don’t have many contractors here, but we’ll sit down and we’ll work up a contract together. Why don’t you start by telling me what it is you and your wife will be doing for us and what the Directors have already discussed with you?”

Rut retook his seat and gestured for Gregory to take one on the other side of his desk. As he sat, he carefully began to stack away the paperwork he’d been working on. He turned to the computer and unlocked the home screen with a long password, then began pulling up new documents and a contract base, one intended for adjustments for cases such as Gregory Bletcher-Faul.​

He didn’t cringe when Rut used his first name. There was a degree of familiarity that everyone seemed to share here, which he appreciated. It was better than “Mr. Bletcher-Faul” or worse, half of that surname. It didn’t feel right, just being Gregory Faul anymore – and Gregory Bletcher was just incorrect.

He took the seat indicated for him, keeping his posture relaxed but businesslike. His eyes followed Rut’s hands with a mild interest. Although, a mild interest still gleaned a lot of information for a man like Gregory.

The tap of the man’s fingers indicated this was a regular password, likely personal, not work-determined. Greg watched the fingers move, almost in slow motion, catching each letter as it hit. Listening was out of the question – though the C key seemed to stick slightly, the keyboard had soft, round keys that made little noise. Rut used the right-hand shift twice, probably his predominant hand, and tapped the C three times in a row in the middle. He used the more convenient number pad, rather than the streamlined and easily disguisable numeral row, to add a 58, and followed it with another shift– this time to make a question mark, before hitting enter.

RebeccCarter58? was the final input. Two names, the a in Rebecca missing, likely as an attempt at something clever and unguessable. It was admirably close to clever, actually. The use of names and the personal touch meant Rebecca and Carter were people of personal significance to him, and 58 was either a date or an age. Parental names were like using your mother’s maiden name as the question for your bank account. Not only that, but in Greg’s limited experience, it was unlikely that anyone here had a healthy relationship with their parents. It could be one name, sure, but using the full name of someone close to you was risky, as the full password could be gleaned from one source. Was Carter Rut’s real name? Unlikely, given “Rebecc” was first. On instinct Greg could guess that Rut was the type who would have put his own name first. Rebecca, then, was the person of personal importance to Rut. Carter was likely a significant other, or a less favored sibling – but again, that kind of close connection, side by side, was unwise. So was a wife and husband pairing, but few people determined the in-laws on their first guess. Rebecca, a sister or close cousin, Carter, a brother-in-law or at least her fiance, 5/8 as a date. If he had used the numeral row, Gregory would have guessed the ? was a clever way of hiding the symbol as another letter to the unobservant. Instead, the ? itself had significance – disapproval, no doubt.

While he knew he’d never need all of that information, it came unbidden in the space between the computer opening, and Rut opening his tidy folder for contracts. It also told him several things he’d need to know about Rutilated Quartz during this conversation.

“We’re to be sub-contractors in acquisitions,” he explained, coolly, as if he hadn’t just read half of Rut’s life in a glance before even examining the contents of his desk. “Juliette and I specialize in finding and gaining ownership of rare or at least valuable items. Your directors seem to believe that will be useful to your cause, though I haven’t had the chance to ask them for clarification on that point.”

“Acquisitions, eh? That will be a new department, then. I’m interested to see what that means.” Rut smiled pleasantly at Gregory as he started to fill in and reword several of the lines of the contract base. The look on his face changed and became more serious. It was as though working on this brought out a strange inner focus that you rarely saw in people.

While he typed, his eyes occasionally glanced over at Gregory. Then, he turned away to print off the documents. He printed two copies, one for Gregory and one for his aforementioned wife. He turned back around and started to sort the papers into nice, neat stacks. As he did, his eyes briefly glanced up at the photo of himself and his sister in its perfect little frame, facing in at the corner of his desk. His eyes briefly brushed over the different organizers on his desk– towers that spun made of metal wiring in a clean chrome. They were full with different office supplies, from pens to rubber bands to erasers and little notepads.

“While we fill these out, why don’t you tell me about yourself and your wife? We don’t get many new people through here with powers that are unique. I would love to hear what the two of you can do, so I can better understand how to utilize you in our operations.”

He gave Gregory another cool smile, the kind that expressed interest but distance. A soft kind of respect shined in his eyes, which sparkled in the bright fluorescent lights. It glinted off his blonde hair, which was tied back neatly with what looked a leather strap, and made it look far more yellow than it actually was.​
The seriousness that fell over Rut had permeated Gregory since the moment he’d walked in. While he smiled and chatted, it was clear that there was a degree of focus that was ever-present behind the steady, muddy-brown eyes. He had only glanced at the desk, but he already knew the components present. He knew the location of every minor object in the trays and racks, and had several blueprints in his mind for their construction. He’d also picked out the singular item of interest – Rutilated Quartz and a young woman who, just by lack of other connection, he assumed was Rebecca. Rut was a professional.

However, he’d learned a while ago that the focus could cause unease in even the most professional potential clients. He had little tics set at appropriate times in conversation, meeting appropriate cues. He ran his hand through his hair with a little laugh as Rut mentioned his powers, his smile warming. It wasn’t an act, necessarily; it was a habit, just one formed consciously over the years.

“Juliette produces a series of energy waves that react negatively with technology. She compares it to electromagnetism, but that’s not quite right. She’s never been tested for it, has never been interested. She can put out any camera, mic, light system, security measures, alarms… you get the idea. She’s been vital for our operations, even if we have to replace her phone every week.”

He always went into Jules first. Usually they consulted together, and she was way more of a presence even if he was their spokesman. Distinctively metahuman with her bright violet eyes. Gregory preferred to sink into the background. He liked being underestimated. And there were few better ways to avoid questions about “situational adaptability” than putting it after the far more attention-grabbing electromagnetic waves.

“I’m quite a bit simpler,” he continued, knowing “simple” was relative. “Advanced perception and hyper-resourcefulness. Strong passive inductive reasoning, the ability to plan and construct with limited resources, above average awareness of my surroundings. Jules compares it to putting Sherlock Holmes and Angus MacGyver together, but she tends to exaggerate.”

Not entirely untrue, either. McGuyver also had luck on his side, and Holmes was backed by one of the finest educations in Europe. Both of them were conventional ‘good guys.’ Jules and Gregory were anything but good people. They survived, and neither had much care for what happened to the people they dealt with. There were normal people outside of their sphere – but they hadn’t had to deal with them, not really, since somewhere back in Massachusetts, when their reputation really started to grow.

But their reputation only grew because they were good. Both of them. They got the job done, and they didn’t deal well with double-crossing. Gregory wasn’t exactly taking in Rut’s personal experience for his health. He liked to have leverage. And he was quickly learning that Rutilated Quartz was not as smart as he thought he was.