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The Midnight Society

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Down at the edge of Midtown, directly across from Liberty Park, the cool fall evening was far busier along a stretch of 52nd Avenue that was normally the case. Dozens of luxury cars and limousines were pulling into the mansion of the Midnight Society, dropping off those that were among the richest and most powerful individuals in the city.

 

The massive mansion was set back from the street, with a stone wall sheltering the grounds from the sidewalk. Just inside the wall were large trees that were starting to shed their leaves and well maintained lawns and hedges. A large circular driveway lead to the front of the old stone mansion that had several towers and peaked roofs. Off to the right of the mansion was an entrance to the gardens, which stretched around to the back of the mansion and continued beyond.

 

One of the cars pulling into the mansion's driveway was a dark blue Bentley. Megan Howell was sitting the back, her mother and father talking up front as her father pulled the car to a stop and the valets opened the doors. The young blonde had pretty much mentally prepared herself for what the evening likely had in store. While there was bound to be a number of cute young men to dance with, she knew there would also be a great deal of business and politics dominating the conversations that she would have to endure.

 

Taking the offered hand of one of the valets, the teenager let him help her out of the car. Megan was wearing a sleek red evening gown that left her arms and shoulders completely bare, causing her to shiver slightly in the cool evening air. The dress was perfectly tailored to her lithe and athletic body. Her long blonde hair was fixed back, and went down past her shoulder blades. Around her neck she had a platinum chain with a good sized ruby (her birthstone) hanging from it.

 

The young blonde moved up near her father and mother as the valets drove their car off to be parked, coming up along side her father as he led them inside.

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They'd had the argument before leaving, and Richard was in no mood to have it again. Truthfully, he reflected, he didn't enjoy fighting with his girlfriend at all. "You look good," he finally commented, peering at Rose's reflection in the rearview mirror of the Corvette. "I like what you've done with your hair." She preened a little, and he smiled. Rose Sherman didn't get a lot of chances to socialize, and she certainly seemed to enjoy some of the more tangible benefits of dating the mayor's son. "And I'm sorry for what I said about the suit. You'll look very distinctive there, and that's a good thing." She hadn't taken his advice on costuming for this little soiree, and had been waiting for him at her apartment in a very attractive, quite formal woman's suit. It matched his own, actually, with just a few more feminine frills.

 

"Thank you," she said simply, relaxing a little bit as some of the tension in the car faded. "If they're so hung up on gender stereotypes that they won't accept the mayor's son because of how I'm dressed, they're not worth our time anyway."

 

"Hey, they hardly accepted Dad," commented Richard, pulling the car around into the Midnight Society's drive, feeling a quick swell of working-class pride that he was driving his own luxury car today (OK, so he'd grown up in wealth himself, and his father had paid for the car, but...well, it didn't bear much close examination). "Grandpa made his money with his own two hands, so most of these people think of us as jumped up hooligans." He grinned at her. "So you'll fit right in."

 

That earned him a punch on the arm. There was a reason he liked her so much. When he stepped out of the car and took her arm, tossing the keys to the valet, he spared a quick thought for the harness in the locked briefcase in the trunk, but then shook it off. This was Richard O'Connor's night; not Freedom Eagle's. Together, Richard and Rose headed into the Midnight Society, the mayor's son and his scientist girlfriend.

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A second car pulls up behind the first, this one a sleek black limousine with oddly thick windows. A solid-looking man steps out of the driver's seat, then goes to the back, where he rolls out an elegant mahogany wheelchair. He then opens the passenger's side door and helps a frail-looking but extremely well-dressed young Japanese man out of his seat and into the chair. With a nod to the valet, the big man hands him the keys and begins wheeling the chair to the enterance.

 

"Name?"

 

The young man looks resigned, as if he expected a challenge at this point. "Beniro Fujisama."

 

The greeter furrows his brow, then withdraws a notebook from his pocket and begins flipping through it, squinting at each page. It is a theatrical gesture; the membership of the Midnight Society is small enough for him to know the name of any member by heart.

 

"I am afraid you are not on the list, sir."

 

The man smiles thinly, nodding to his bodyguard- who produces a slip of card that he hands to the greeter. The card is cooly plucked from the man's hand, and it is examined a good deal longer and more closely than is strictly neccesary. Finally, a twitch passes across the greeter's face that makes it clear to everyone involved that his face would be wearing an expression of outright revulsion if he were not so polite.

 

"You are aware that, coming as the guest of a full member, you are entitled to the services of the Society for one night only?"

 

"And I am honored to have even that much."

 

Benjiro gives the greeter a bland smile, then gestures to his escort, who wheels him inside, and he gravitates almost immediately to the Howells.

 

"Thank you so much for inviting me here, Donald. The expression on the doorman's face alone was worth the trip- I think he expected me to try to hit him when he gave me a hard time at the door. They just don't know what to do when new money is polite at them."

 

"But enough of such sordid business. Who is this vision? Could it be your daughter? You told me she was smart, but I didn't know you'd gotten this lucky with her."

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Megan had followed her parents as they started their way into the expansive confines of the mansion and the crowd of people within. Of course they did not make it far before her father was stopping to talk with some client, or acquaintance, and Megan had on her warmest smile as she listened though the introductions and pleasantries, and the conversations that followed.

 

They had not moved very far from the main entrance when a young Japanese man in a wheelchair, pushed by a large man, approached them. Donald Howell turned to greet him with a smile.  "Your most welcome Benjiro, and I am sorry if they gave you a difficult time."
 

"Good evening Mr. Fujisama."  Erin Howell replied with her own warm smile, very much like her daughter's.  "It is good to see you again."

 

Donald seemed to beam with a bit of pride as Benjiro spoke about Megan.  "Yes indeed, this is Megan, our youngest."  He replied.

 

Megan smiled at Benjiro, and gave a slight bow.  "Good evening Mr. Fujisama, I am very glad to meet you."  She said in greeting.

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Megan had followed her parents as they started their way into the expansive confines of the mansion and the crowd of people within. Of course they did not make it far before her father was stopping to talk with some client, or acquaintance, and Megan had on her warmest smile as she listened though the introductions and pleasantries, and the conversations that followed.

They had not moved very far from the main entrance when a young Japanese man in a wheelchair, pushed by a large man, approached them. Donald Howell turned to greet him with a smile. “Your most welcome Benjiro, and I am sorry if they gave you a difficult time.â€Â

“Good evening Mr. Fujisama.†Erin Howell replied with her own warm smile, very much like her daughter’s. “It is good to see you again.â€Â

Donald seemed to beam with a bit of pride as Benjiro spoke about Megan. “Yes indeed, this is Megan, our youngest.†He replied.

Megan smiled at Benjiro, and gave a slight bow. “Good evening Mr. Fujisama, I am very glad to meet you.†She said in greeting.

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Richard O'Connor is the charismatic son of the popular, long-serving Mayor of Freedom City; if many members of the Midnight Society didn't hate his father's guts, he might be the star of this sort of party. As it is, the usual crowd of O'Connor loyalists was quick to come over and shake his hand as O'Connor and his date for the evening arrived; and Richard was just as quick to introduce Rose to some of the most important people in Freedom City. If her outfit offended anyone, they were too polite to say anything. "That's Senator Walsh over there," said Richard as he guided his date towards the punch bowl, "he helped Dad get into politics." They took up positions by the end of the table, drinks in hand and shaking hands with the crowd. He had a feeling that Rose was getting a little uneasy among so many society types, and he made sure to mention her to everyone they met. "She's working on the new orbiters they're building at Lonely Point; the single-use jobs. She's the brains of the team."

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Richard O'Connor is the charismatic son of the popular, long-serving Mayor of Freedom City; if many members of the Midnight Society didn't hate his father's guts, he might be the star of this sort of party. As it is, the usual crowd of O'Connor loyalists was quick to come over and shake his hand as O'Connor and his date for the evening arrived; and Richard was just as quick to introduce Rose to some of the most important people in Freedom City. If her outfit offended anyone, they were too polite to say anything. "That's Senator Walsh over there," said Richard as he guided his date towards the punch bowl, "he helped Dad get into politics." They took up positions by the end of the table, drinks in hand and shaking hands with the crowd. He had a feeling that Rose was getting a little uneasy among so many society types, and he made sure to mention her to everyone they met. "She's working on the new orbiters they're building at Lonely Point; the single-use jobs. She's the brains of the team."

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Richard O'Connor is the charismatic son of the popular, long-serving Mayor of Freedom City; if many members of the Midnight Society didn't hate his father's guts, he might be the star of this sort of party. As it is, the usual crowd of O'Connor loyalists was quick to come over and shake his hand as O'Connor and his date for the evening arrived; and Richard was just as quick to introduce Rose to some of the most important people in Freedom City. If her outfit offended anyone, they were too polite to say anything. "That's Senator Walsh over there," said Richard as he guided his date towards the punch bowl, "he helped Dad get into politics." They took up positions by the end of the table, drinks in hand and shaking hands with the crowd. He had a feeling that Rose was getting a little uneasy among so many society types, and he made sure to mention her to everyone they met. "She's working on the new orbiters they're building at Lonely Point; the single-use jobs. She's the brains of the team."

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After a few more minutes, another Limo joined the parade of vehicles outside the Midnight Club. This Limo, however, stood out from the others, and that was by design. Hieronymus King liked to make an entrance, and the unbelievably long, black stretch-Hummer always did just that. It was loud, hideously expensive, and looked like a very sleek, very posh armored personnel carrier.

Once the beast of a vehicle came to a stop, King climbed out. He stood there, looking up at the mansion, a look of pride, confidence, and bravado on his face, like a sea captain about to take command of his ship. But his membership in the Midnight Society was not his true pride and joy. Neither was his personal APC. It was his granddaughter, Lucy. King reached up to help her climb down from Limo as she exited right behind him. Then the two of them, all decked out in tux and little black dress, strode up to the mansion.

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After a few more minutes, another Limo joined the parade of vehicles outside the Midnight Club. This Limo, however, stood out from the others, and that was by design. Hieronymus King liked to make an entrance, and the unbelievably long, black stretch-Hummer always did just that. It was loud, hideously expensive, and looked like a very sleek, very posh armored personnel carrier.

Once the beast of a vehicle came to a stop, King climbed out. He stood there, looking up at the mansion, a look of pride, confidence, and bravado on his face, like a sea captain about to take command of his ship. But his membership in the Midnight Society was not his true pride and joy. Neither was his personal APC. It was his granddaughter, Lucy. King reached up to help her climb down from Limo as she exited right behind him. Then the two of them, all decked out in tux and little black dress, strode up to the mansion.

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After a few more minutes, another Limo joined the parade of vehicles outside the Midnight Club. This Limo, however, stood out from the others, and that was by design. Hieronymus King liked to make an entrance, and the unbelievably long, black stretch-Hummer always did just that. It was loud, hideously expensive, and looked like a very sleek, very posh armored personnel carrier.

Once the beast of a vehicle came to a stop, King climbed out. He stood there, looking up at the mansion, a look of pride, confidence, and bravado on his face, like a sea captain about to take command of his ship. But his membership in the Midnight Society was not his true pride and joy. Neither was his personal APC. It was his granddaughter, Lucy. King reached up to help her climb down from Limo as she exited right behind him. Then the two of them, all decked out in tux and little black dress, strode up to the mansion.

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Lucy walked in, arm-in-arm with gramps. She was wearing a very expensive little black dress and was all decked out in diamonds, courtesy of dear old grandpa. Lucy King had been completely non-existent in the social scene until August when she began high school. Most of the society page reporters were surprised to find out that the infamous Mr. King actually had a granddaughter. He was notoriously disconnected from his children and their children, but for whatever reason, he'd taken a liking to Lucy. She could be seen in public with him frequently these days.

As they entered the mansion, Lucy tossed her long hair and flashed a smile at the other guests. "I'm going to get something to drink, grandpa. Can I get you something?"

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Lucy walked in, arm-in-arm with gramps. She was wearing a very expensive little black dress and was all decked out in diamonds, courtesy of dear old grandpa. Lucy King had been completely non-existent in the social scene until August when she began high school. Most of the society page reporters were surprised to find out that the infamous Mr. King actually had a granddaughter. He was notoriously disconnected from his children and their children, but for whatever reason, he'd taken a liking to Lucy. She could be seen in public with him frequently these days.

As they entered the mansion, Lucy tossed her long hair and flashed a smile at the other guests. "I'm going to get something to drink, grandpa. Can I get you something?"

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Lucy walked in, arm-in-arm with gramps. She was wearing a very expensive little black dress and was all decked out in diamonds, courtesy of dear old grandpa. Lucy King had been completely non-existent in the social scene until August when she began high school. Most of the society page reporters were surprised to find out that the infamous Mr. King actually had a granddaughter. He was notoriously disconnected from his children and their children, but for whatever reason, he'd taken a liking to Lucy. She could be seen in public with him frequently these days.

As they entered the mansion, Lucy tossed her long hair and flashed a smile at the other guests. "I'm going to get something to drink, grandpa. Can I get you something?"

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"I'm going to get something to drink, grandpa. Can I get you something?"

"Oh, no thank you, dear. You run along and have fun." King appeared completely collected, and he smiled easily as his granddaughter left his side to find the refreshments. He watched her disappear into the crowd of expensive gowns and exquisitely tailored tuxedos, with a gleam of . . . something akin to fear in his eyes. It was there for just a moment, barely a flicker, and then it vanished. King have never been afraid of anything before in his life, because he had never truly loved anything. But now with Lucy in his life, the world was a scarier place. King's demeanor returned to its usual friendly but impenetrable facade.

King strode across the room toward the newcomer.

"Mr. and Mrs. Howell," he announced loudly. ". . . esquire," he added with a charming little grin. "And the young Miss Howell. How are you this evening?" Then without waiting for a reply. "Who is your friend? Please . . . introduce me," he asked, turning and extending his hand to Fujisama.

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"I'm going to get something to drink, grandpa. Can I get you something?"

"Oh, no thank you, dear. You run along and have fun." King appeared completely collected, and he smiled easily as his granddaughter left his side to find the refreshments. He watched her disappear into the crowd of expensive gowns and exquisitely tailored tuxedos, with a gleam of . . . something akin to fear in his eyes. It was there for just a moment, barely a flicker, and then it vanished. King have never been afraid of anything before in his life, because he had never truly loved anything. But now with Lucy in his life, the world was a scarier place. King's demeanor returned to its usual friendly but impenetrable facade.

King strode across the room toward the newcomer.

"Mr. and Mrs. Howell," he announced loudly. ". . . esquire," he added with a charming little grin. "And the young Miss Howell. How are you this evening?" Then without waiting for a reply. "Who is your friend? Please . . . introduce me," he asked, turning and extending his hand to Fujisama.

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"I'm going to get something to drink, grandpa. Can I get you something?"

"Oh, no thank you, dear. You run along and have fun." King appeared completely collected, and he smiled easily as his granddaughter left his side to find the refreshments. He watched her disappear into the crowd of expensive gowns and exquisitely tailored tuxedos, with a gleam of . . . something akin to fear in his eyes. It was there for just a moment, barely a flicker, and then it vanished. King have never been afraid of anything before in his life, because he had never truly loved anything. But now with Lucy in his life, the world was a scarier place. King's demeanor returned to its usual friendly but impenetrable facade.

King strode across the room toward the newcomer.

"Mr. and Mrs. Howell," he announced loudly. ". . . esquire," he added with a charming little grin. "And the young Miss Howell. How are you this evening?" Then without waiting for a reply. "Who is your friend? Please . . . introduce me," he asked, turning and extending his hand to Fujisama.

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Megan turned to look at the voice that called her parents name. Though she had heard some of the rumors about Mr. King’s hard business reputation, it was not the first time someone in his position had such a reputation.

“Good evening Mr. King.†She said with a warm smile.

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Megan turned to look at the voice that called her parents name. Though she had heard some of the rumors about Mr. King’s hard business reputation, it was not the first time someone in his position had such a reputation.

“Good evening Mr. King.†She said with a warm smile.

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Megan turned to look at the voice that called her parents name. Though she had heard some of the rumors about Mr. King’s hard business reputation, it was not the first time someone in his position had such a reputation.

“Good evening Mr. King.†She said with a warm smile.

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The Emissary simply landed with a sort of absent minded grace before the walkway to the manor's entrance. He had pondered wearing a tuxedo for the event, but he found to his consternation that people seemed.. dissapointed, he thought? When he did not arrive in costume to these kinds of things. And truthfully, his regalia was meant for both war and ceremony. Still, he had removed the cape and left it at the embassy. These were sometimes tightly clustered affairs, and that one time someone had tripped over it had made him feel badly for days.

Honestly, while he enjoyed some of the social functions it was his duty to attend, these sorts of gatherings always irked him faintly. The questions a bit stranger, the gazes a bit more.. off. The people ocassionally having a feel of flowers left too long in a vase. Or if more energetic, of predators, stalking, loping and circling. It seemed wrong to have a party, that was not actually a celebration.

Regardless, they had invited him, and it would be rude not to attend.

He recalled a focusing mantra from the echoes of his collected memories, and repeated it internally as he made his way inside after presenting his invitation. It let him recall something more pleasant, a memory only half known, half felt from those disparate imprinted souls that made his own, but he knew it was a happy one all the same. It allowed thusly for the smile of acknowledged greetings that gently graced his features to actually be genuine and warm, even if it was from something else entirely.

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The Emissary simply landed with a sort of absent minded grace before the walkway to the manor's entrance. He had pondered wearing a tuxedo for the event, but he found to his consternation that people seemed.. dissapointed, he thought? When he did not arrive in costume to these kinds of things. And truthfully, his regalia was meant for both war and ceremony. Still, he had removed the cape and left it at the embassy. These were sometimes tightly clustered affairs, and that one time someone had tripped over it had made him feel badly for days.

Honestly, while he enjoyed some of the social functions it was his duty to attend, these sorts of gatherings always irked him faintly. The questions a bit stranger, the gazes a bit more.. off. The people ocassionally having a feel of flowers left too long in a vase. Or if more energetic, of predators, stalking, loping and circling. It seemed wrong to have a party, that was not actually a celebration.

Regardless, they had invited him, and it would be rude not to attend.

He recalled a focusing mantra from the echoes of his collected memories, and repeated it internally as he made his way inside after presenting his invitation. It let him recall something more pleasant, a memory only half known, half felt from those disparate imprinted souls that made his own, but he knew it was a happy one all the same. It allowed thusly for the smile of acknowledged greetings that gently graced his features to actually be genuine and warm, even if it was from something else entirely.

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The Emissary simply landed with a sort of absent minded grace before the walkway to the manor's entrance. He had pondered wearing a tuxedo for the event, but he found to his consternation that people seemed.. dissapointed, he thought? When he did not arrive in costume to these kinds of things. And truthfully, his regalia was meant for both war and ceremony. Still, he had removed the cape and left it at the embassy. These were sometimes tightly clustered affairs, and that one time someone had tripped over it had made him feel badly for days.

Honestly, while he enjoyed some of the social functions it was his duty to attend, these sorts of gatherings always irked him faintly. The questions a bit stranger, the gazes a bit more.. off. The people ocassionally having a feel of flowers left too long in a vase. Or if more energetic, of predators, stalking, loping and circling. It seemed wrong to have a party, that was not actually a celebration.

Regardless, they had invited him, and it would be rude not to attend.

He recalled a focusing mantra from the echoes of his collected memories, and repeated it internally as he made his way inside after presenting his invitation. It let him recall something more pleasant, a memory only half known, half felt from those disparate imprinted souls that made his own, but he knew it was a happy one all the same. It allowed thusly for the smile of acknowledged greetings that gently graced his features to actually be genuine and warm, even if it was from something else entirely.

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Richard found himself alone just in time for the arrival of all the new faces, and for a very good reason. He couldn't precisely fault Rose for going off to buttonhole Dr. Hiryoshi from Grant Conglomerates about astro-medical research plans; not when she had her career to think about when her time working as a lab tech for the government came to an end. After all, half the reason they'd come to the party was so she could meet people who could give her the job they deserved.

Perhaps he was left to his own devices, but he was a man with considerable devices. He nodded a cordial greeting to Lucy King, making a mental note of exactly what the granddaughter of Hieronymous King actually looked like, before he boldly strode up to the newest arrival at the party. "Emissary, isn't it? Good to see you! My father speaks very highly of your diplomatic work around the city. Richard O'Connor." Richard is all smiles, and considerably more jovial than any figures in blue and gold Emissary might be familiar with.

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Richard found himself alone just in time for the arrival of all the new faces, and for a very good reason. He couldn't precisely fault Rose for going off to buttonhole Dr. Hiryoshi from Grant Conglomerates about astro-medical research plans; not when she had her career to think about when her time working as a lab tech for the government came to an end. After all, half the reason they'd come to the party was so she could meet people who could give her the job they deserved.

Perhaps he was left to his own devices, but he was a man with considerable devices. He nodded a cordial greeting to Lucy King, making a mental note of exactly what the granddaughter of Hieronymous King actually looked like, before he boldly strode up to the newest arrival at the party. "Emissary, isn't it? Good to see you! My father speaks very highly of your diplomatic work around the city. Richard O'Connor." Richard is all smiles, and considerably more jovial than any figures in blue and gold Emissary might be familiar with.

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