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"Rogue in Velvet", part 1


Rogue in Velvet
(-- part one --)


     Good evening, sir, madam, and welcome to this year’s Institute of Neuronics Winter Charity Ball. May I take your coats?

     “See, Daani? Aren’t you glad you came?”

     “Mm. I’ll reserve judgement until we’ve been here a bit longer,” relinquishing her heavy winter jacket, Daani – Eria’dane Dawnstep – didn’t feel quite so excited to be here as her friend. She was a dainty young star-marked “fawn-and-chocolate” Vulline, average of height and short of pelt, and if you discounted her consort Uuvern, a good-natured honey-bronze-scaled Ondrai neuronicist and one of her flatmates, she had absolutely no connection to this society whatsoever. She had no links to this community, no understanding of it, or even any interest in “Synthetics”, as the science had become known, and as a direct consequence of this she felt not so much “out of her depth” as “on the point of drowning”.

     It’ll be good fun, he’d insisted. Great food, good company, great music and dancing, you’ll love it! What he hadn’t mentioned, she’d realised halfway through dinner, was that although the company might be vaguely good-looking, and actively and interestingly chatty, they’d also be fundraising. And that was the key to her current and rapidly increasing boredom. Because she’d managed to lose Uuvern in the crowds, and now everyone assumed she was a potential sponsor, and wouldn’t. Leave her. Alone. She was tired of the forced smiles and gritted-teeth apologies. The minute I find you, Ginger, I will strangle you, I SWEAR.

     The bathroom was a crowded sanctuary, full of like-minded females tired of trying to make smalltalk with one-track males who always, always steered the conversation back to stilted, uninteresting subjects. No matter what you started talking about, you’d always end up talking about Synthetics, and Eri had been forced to run to the bathroom not because she’d drunk too much but to keep herself from screaming her frustration at some poor mad scientist with frizzy hair.

     The bathroom was crowded, though – filled to capacity with too many bodies, applying makeup, chatting, some even actually visiting the lavatory! – and eventually Eri decided she’d just have to brave the outside again (that, or find a better hiding place). Perhaps she’d actually be able to find Uuvern, anyway – and give him a “damn good talking to”, as her mother always said.

     She was sweeping back from the bathroom and towards the main hall where the dancing was in full swing when she spotted The Stranger, standing a clear foot or so taller than the crowds near him, holding court over a cluster of admiring women.

     Kiravai. The mere thought of the word sent an immediate chill up her spine. The imperious aliens rarely set foot outside their claimed territory unless it was to take something they wanted, and certainly didn’t willingly mingle with the “dirty, scruffy little animal-creatures” that formed the basis of the Coalition.

     And yet… for a Kiravai, he was… different. No, that was a bad description, he wasn’t just different, he was a complete free radical – he wore a smart suit and was the typical gargantuan beanpole when it came to his height, but that was about as far as the similarity stretched. To start with, his skin was green – a pale greyed jade, pleasantly soft and rather understated, but still green. Either he’d had that extortionately expensive cosmetic therapy she’d heard his people were famous for (but still, why pick green?) or it was a birth defect, but if it was he didn’t look ashamed of it, far from it. Even his feathers–… no, scratch that, he had hair, and that was green as well, hanging in fashionably shaggy dark moss-coloured curtains over his eyes. His suit was one of those ridiculously expensive ones, the sort only the mega-rich could afford, and yet the shirt below it was unusually closely cut, showing off his powerful build when he moved. And even that was unusual – most Kiravai seemed to see muscles as vulgar, and yet he seemed almost to revel in looking powerful.

     There was a trio of giggling females clustering around him, and from what she could overhear he seemed intent on discussing everything except Synthetics… She found her curiosity unexpectedly piqued. Just who was he? The partners of the trio of ladies drifted closer and whisked them away, looking somewhat leery of the Stranger, who gave an exaggerated bow and wave and triggered another excited, swooning wave of giggles from the girls, and Eri was about to take her chance-

     Far bolder than Eri would ever be, a skinny little albino Nyen (looking obscurely out of place at such an up-market party) sauntered over to him; Eri sighed, inwardly, and prepared herself for a disappointingly quick exit on the cob’s part. The little hind asked something that Eri didn’t catch, cocked her head and let her blue ringlets fall seductively over one pink eye, then brushed her fingers tenderly (and unashamedly sexually) over his stomach, his waistband, lingering over his groin before pretending nothing had happened.

     Unlike most cobs, who’d have run a mile at the outrageous uninvited intrusion into his personal space, he smiled, leaned down closer to her, and whispered something into her ear… The hind actually blushed, then feigned an expression of disgusted outrage (but her tail still crept firmly around his thigh and flickered like a serpent’s tongue between his legs). It made her curious to know exactly what he’d murmured into her ear to get her to colour up like that, and the idea of some kind of exciting, libellous rumour coming from a stuffy, prudish Kiravai only served to intensify it.

     “Daani? Eria’dane!” a familiar voice called, attracting her attention.

     “Uuvern-…?” she turned, and sure enough there was a patch of smartly-dressed bronze scuttling over to her. Her relief at finally finding her consort turned rapidly into temper. “Goddess be damned, Vern, where in all Alo’s holy names did you piss off to?!”

     “Hey, hey, they asked me to give a presentation, remember?” Defensively, he spread his hands as best he could without slopping his half-glass of wine. “A presentation on neuronal biomimicry, the one I’ve been practising all week? Remember?”

     To her great shame, she did at last remember. She also remembered she was supposed to have gone to lend him some moral support, and all the pestering idiots after her money had put it completely out of her mind. “Oh, damn-…” she covered her face with her hands. “Vern, I’m sorry, I completely-”

     He smiled, and took her hand. “Oh, no harm done. Once I got into the swing of things, it all came pretty naturally. Come on, I’ll treat you to a drink.”

     “Wait, wait, Vern-” she hung back for a moment. “Who’s that Kiravai here at the moment?”

     “Which one?” Uuvern drained his glass. “I know three or four…”

     “Er… well, he’s a greenish colour.”

     Uuvern grinned. “Eri, if you’re going to try and wind me up with smalltalk, at least get your facts straight. You don’t get green Kiravai.”

     “No, I’m being serious! Look over-…” she turned to point, but her words petered out; he’d vanished. “…all right,” she sighed. “Never mind. I… must’ve been mistaken. Trick of the light, or something. What was that about a drink?...”

---------

This, I hasten to add, is nothing like the stupidity I (to my later shame) posted the other day. So it's "safe." ;)
Edit: I probably should link part 2 to this, for completeness' sake...

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
duraji_synth
Mar. 2nd, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
Aww... this story is too much of a tease... :p
keaalu
Mar. 2nd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Heh, howso? I know I ended it rather "abruptly", but that was more out of "er, the next paragraph isn't finished" than any outright desire for a cliffhanger. ;)
duraji_synth
Mar. 3rd, 2007 05:47 pm (UTC)
Mostly because I wanted to see more of Iios. <3
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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